CRUISE IN THE NORWEGIAN FJORDS AND SVALBARD
As an islander I have always seen ships as a means of transport to reach what in Sardinia we call “the continent”.
My style of traveling is very different from seeing a ship as a comfortable hotel/restaurant on which to spend most of the time, as if the portu cities were only a secondary interlude between a meal, a dance, a karaoke song, a dip in swimming pool and well-deserved rest at the end of the day.
The Hurtigruten can be used in both ways, so I have chosen it.
In 1893 the government studied a way to improve connections along the Norwegian coast.
Hurtigruten was a great innovation, since it allowed to arrive in 7 days from central Norway to Hammerfest, in the north, compared to the first necessary 21 days in summer and 5 months in winter.
This was primarily a postal service but now is a locals and tourists service.
Every day 11 ships run the fjords serving the 35 ports from southern Bergen to Kirkenes, on the border with Russia, twice a day.
Moreover, in certain periods, it is possible to use the Hurtigruten to explore Svalbard Islands, the European west coast from Hamburg to Lisbon and perhaps continue to the Azores and Canary Islands, Iceland, the Northwest Passage (from Greenland to Alaska via Canada), the Caribbean, South America (from Costa Rica to Chile along the Pacific Ocean) and Antarctica.
In short, fantastic places to see at least once time in our life.
I booked after I exchanged lots of emails with the Hurtigruten booking service. They were really helpful and kind, and this is always an important aspect. Seriousness was then amply demonstrated by perfect organization.
CLASSIC CRUISE IN THE NORWEGIAN FJORDS
Along the Norwegian coast I chose the MS Nordkapp ship.
I went up to the port of Bodo, arriving 2 days later at Honningsvag.
On the way I took the excursion to Lofoten (from 19.00 to 22.00) and I used the 4 hours to discover a little Tromso (where I would have stayed anyway for 2 days when I returned from North Cape).
The ship, built in 1996 but renovated in 2016, was very clean and perfectly organized.
The numerous screens present in each bridge show the location, route, points of interest and proposed excursions. During the day you can participate in conferences or videos that describe places, natural phenomena and cultures that are encountered during the crossing.
It is possible to make the ticket for the bridge passage only for routes not exceeding 18 hours.
The cabins range from the luxurious suite on the upper deck with double bed and living room, to the cabin for 2 or 3 people on the lower deck.
There are 3 restaurants (I only used breakfast and it was spectacular), a fitness room, sauna and outdoor hot tub.
In the panoramic room on the top floor there is a bar.
The gift shop is obviously ample and with a great offer, from postcards to winter jackets but, as happened to me all over Norway, they do not put the Nordkapp stamp on the passport.
SVALBARD CRUISE: ARCTIC EXPEDITION
Sailing in the Arctic on the MS Nordstjernen is certainly an adventurous expedition.
This ship was built in 1956 and makes the trip to the North Pole more fascinating. I spent 5 days on this ship, from Longyearbyen to cross the 80th parallel north.
The wait was great and I really felt like an explorer.
Unfortunately I didn’t see polar bears or whales but this is another story (read here).
With the single and double rooms sold out for some time, speaking by mail directly with the Hurtigruten booking office, I immediately accepted the proposal for one of the larger cabins of the ship, with sink and 4 beds, but shared bathroom in the bridge, a price similar to that found for a single cabin on offer.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner are of excellent quality although not too abundant.
Breakfast is the most abundant, with a good selection and a self service buffet.
Lunch and dinner are served at the table, where the place will be assigned to you when boarding.
I was amazed that the very kind and precise staff on board always remembered my name and place.
In this ship you are not on a cruise but you participate in a real Arctic expedition, with descents from the ship by catwalk or zodiac rafts in semi-abandoned Soviet cities, glaciers, beaches where you can swim in icy water, scientific stations. It is in fact probable that among the passengers there are scientists who are carrying out climate studies.
The crew members will always be present and available for any explanation.
They always put safety first and explanations on what to do are always clear and possibly repeated. Really good!
It was certainly a nice experience, maybe a little sad by the total absence of animals.
But there are not certainly errors of the organization.
We should reflect on the causes of natural damages that, in extreme places more than elsewhere, are obvious and dramatic.