A Travellerspoint blog

Geiranger At The Head Of The Fjord

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

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Discovered another advantage of a balcony stateroom, you can get up in the middle of the night and without bothering to dress you can step out and capture a sunset. I was lucky that it was mild out as I was out there for about 15 minutes. Well worth the bit of chill.

Got up this morning to find the ship sailing up a fjord between massive mountains, numerous waterfalls and in company with two other liners. There was the Costa Pacifica we've met before and a little ship the "Saga Saphire". There were also some local ferries as we made a brief stop in Hellesylt to drop off some passengers for an overland excursion. Back out the way we came and into another fjord where we meet yet another ship the "Holland America Line's" Rotterdam.

By 11:00 we've arrived at Geiranger at the head of the Fjord. The Costa ship is tied up to two permanent buoys, we will be riding at anchor close to the edge of the fjord. While we prepare to tender ashore the ship is subjected to an annual process, the magnetic compass needs to be recalibrated. A specialist operator and some piece of kit will adjust the compass as the ship spins and points to the four cardinal points.

Before long there are craft of all types on the water. Tenders form the Costa Pacifica, the Rotterdam and the Island Princess mix it with local ferries and sightseeing vessels. We are directed to Deck 3 where we board the tender and although there are only a dozen of us we head for the pier. The first thing you strike is a souvenir and clothing shop, it is two stories high and has an escalator. Before long you can't move in there as large crowds come inside out of the rain.

We deploy the rain jackets and set out to explore. All through the carparks and foreshore area there are motor-homes of all descriptions mixed with tour-buses from many European countries. One of the features of the town we'd observed from the ship was a massive waterfall or cascade discharging huge volumes of water. We set out to take a closer look and found ourselves climbing a set of steel steps alongside that raging torrent. I thought we'd go part of the way up but Jenny was determined to reach the top. It was an exhausting climb and the spray and drizzly rain made it extra challenging.

We made it to the top and decided to follow the road down. That turned out a bit tricky too as there was no shoulder on the cars and buses needed all of the narrow road. Eventually we scrambled down after visiting a quaint octagonal wooden church on the way. Down at the tender pier we expected a long queue and were surprised to be ushered aboard and taken back to the ship as almost sole passengers.

We stripped off our wet jackets and made our way to the buffet. just as the lunch service ended. Some of the dishes were being removed but there was plenty of food still available. There was plenty of seating choices as there were only a few passengers. After lunch we rested our weary bones and I started this entry. There are also 189 images to be examined, Jenny got her camera out as well and contributed a fair number.

The last tender was being hoisted aboard we headed up to the buffet for dinner. The crowd was bigger than usual and I suspect many of the early seating guests had just returned aboard. We are not attending the production show tonight so I can finish this off. I won't be able to post it as the mountains on either side block out the satellite signal.

Tomorrow we dock at Haugesund, Norway, our last port before we head back to Dover.

Today's temperatures were a high of 14 °C and a low of 11 °C with overcast sky and light rain. As we sail southward we are experiencing increasing periods of darkness overnight.

Until next time. Wishing you good health and safe travel.
Have a great day and stay well.
Cheers .. Tony

Posted by greynomadm 21:30 Archived in Norway Comments (0)

At Sea Heading For Geiranger, Norway

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

The ship is a little lively this morning as we continue a Southwesterly course off the West coast of Norway. The overnight conditions were calmer than predicted and the rain is just a series of light showers.

Our schedule is pretty much standard for a Sea Day. Destination Lecture covering Geiranger and Haugesund, Battle for Britain lecture by Frank Sandstrom and after lunch the afternoon movie "Lion" featuring Nicole Kidman, Dev Patel and Rooney Mara.

It is a formal night so we will 'dress up' a bit even though we are dinning in the buffet.

Lovely dinner in the buffet and with more staff than passengers the waiters were almost falling over each-other to top up water, clear used plates and help with the chair. They are normally very good but without the crowd to obstruct them, tonight they were brilliant.

Tonight's show is an Around the World musical journey by piano entertainer "Naki Ataman" with the backing of the drummer and base guitarist from the house band. Naki took us on a whirlwind ride through 20 countries playing a medley of iconic tunes from each. After 50 minutes of non-stop play he received a well-earned standing ovation. Jenny didn't want to go and I tried to convince her to get dressed and attend the late show. She didn't but I certainly enjoyed this end to the day.

Tomorrow we will visit Hellesylt and Geiranger.

The satellite link is still flaky but I should be able to update my postings.

Today's temperatures were a high of 12 °C and a low of 11 °C. As we sail southward we are experiencing increasing periods of darkness overnight.
Until next time. Wishing you good health and safe travel.
Have a great day and stay well.
Cheers .. Tony

Posted by greynomadm 11:55 Archived in Norway Comments (0)

Gravdal, Lofoten Islands

Monday, 10 July 2017

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Our route into the harbour passed many spectacular mountains, all shrouded in clouds. The weather is deteriorating and we look to be in for a wet day. It is difficult to distinguish a town but there is a spectacular church. A brief view of the church at extreme zoom could well be the shot of the day.

There are two other ships here, alongside the pier is the "Berlin" of the "ILT" line and anchored out in the bay the "Costa Pacifica" who will need to tender their passengers into the jetty.

The "Berlin" is a small ship and according to a fellow passenger was built in England about 1946. She saw service as a liner on the transatlantic run from Liverpool to Montreal. If my informant is correct that makes the ship over 70 years old. I should look that good.

We went ashore soon after we were cleared and browsed around the small shop at the end of the pier. Made some enquiries and found that the distance to "town" was something like 4.5 kilometres. Certainly too far given the nature of the weather, to be honest, too far under any conditions. They were selling shuttle tickets at 10 Euro each for a round trip. We bought two although the first shuttle was still an hour from now. Went back aboard for a while and ventured out again better informed.

By this time there was quite a crowd, Germans from the Berlin and Italians from the Pacifica mixed with our multicultural lot trying to find out how to get to town. We knew and had tickets so we started a queue. When the bus pulled up there were over 40 in the line. Then the fun started; some had bought tickets for a "bus tour" and went off to form a new queue others thought they could pay the driver and were politely told to buy the tickets at the shop. Even though quite a number were redirected the bus filled and left with people still waiting.

As we drove into town we passed many who had decided to walk. There wasn't a footpath and not even a verge so the bus had to frequently stop to allow for them being on the road. Glad we were not part of that. Town drop-off is at a regular bus stop providing some shelter, not required at this stage but we could be standing there for a while on the return trip. Town consisted of one mail street, some speciality shops and a large car-park at the rear. At the end of the street was a three-story shopping mall including two huge supermarkets. The retail capacity must service a large area although today there were were few people about. Opening times were very generous 10:00 to 23:00.

It was interesting to browse the supermarket shelves, taking in the variety of products and trying to calculate the prices in Australian Dollars. Especially in the clothing shops the numbers look pretty big to start with - something like DNK 799. Rounded up that's 800, divide by 100 that's 8 and multiply by 16 and we're looking at AUD 128 for a lovely lamb's wool jumper. Not mental arithmetic when the numbers are smaller and not so conveniently rounded. Norway is an expensive place to live.

On our way out a passing shower had us digging out the raincoats and heading for the shuttle bus stop. As luck would have it the last passengers were just getting off. We were aboard before we got really wet and were soon on our way. On arrival at the pier the queue of people heading into town was still over 50 as there were 15 or 20 still there when the bus left. We returned to the ship for the second time just before 12:00 intending to go ashore again if the weather improved.

After lunch the rain had intensified if anything and we decided to stay aboard. I went off to see the afternoon movie - The Lego Batman Movie. I had no idea what to expect and was hard put to last the first 10 minutes. Not my favourite genre and when I left there was no one else remaining. Started to write this before heading up to deck 9 for dinner.

At about 17:15 the Berlin slipped her lines and left her berth. A small cargo vessel, described by another passenger as "the pickup truck of the sea" moved into the space, was tied up and discharging pallets of cargo in just 10 minutes. This utility craft carried some shipping containers and general cargo on the open deck in addition to the pallets unloaded through a large hatch in the side of the ship. She didn't waste any time and was all done and on her way in just 40 minutes.

After dinner we staked out some seats for the second performance by George Casey the immaculately dress diminutive Irishman from the USA who had us laughing for almost an hour. He didn't repeat a joke from his previous show last Thursday.

I thought it amusing when two of the ships have Pacific in their names but couldn't be further from the ocean they are named after.

Tomorrow is a Sea Day on our way to Hellesylt.

The satellite link is still flaky but I should be able to update my postings.

Today's temperatures were a high of 12 °C and a low of 10 °C. We're finally expecting a sunset at 23:30 !!
Until next time. Wishing you good health and safe travel.
Have a great day and stay well.
Cheers .. Tony

Posted by greynomadm 21:40 Archived in Norway Comments (0)

Sailing South Towards Gravdal

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Slight seas and grey overcast as we sail down the West Coast of Norway. At times the coast and rugged cliffs are visible on the Port side of the ship.
Attended the Destination Lecture where we were shown some beautiful images of the Gravdal and the surrounding area. From what was said this port will be a bit of a challenge as we don't have a booked tour and the "town" is some kilometres from the dock. The recommendation is to hire a car but he suggested if that option should be booked ahead.

After lunch we attended a talk by the Future Cruises Consultant. Her topic was mainly about the deals to be had on Repositioning Cruises. The majority of these are the Transatlantic voyages from the US East Coast to Britain, the Mediterranean and Northern Europe. The two exceptions were the relocation to South America and the other from the US West Coast to Asia. At the end of the presentation there was some extended discussion about the roll-out of the Ocean Medallion which is replacing the current Cruise Card. The audience opinion of this change was mixed.
Stayed in the Lounge for the Afternoon Movie. When it started it was not the advertised one. It took some time for the mistake to be rectified. "Miss Sloan" the movie had an intricate plot, some brilliant acting and a sensational climax. There was enough intrigue and suspense to maintain full attention. There wasn't the usual snoring from the audience.

After dinner we went back to the Lounge for tonight's show. She's Becky O'Brien, she's 4'8" tall and has an unbelievable voice in both range and volume. She provided an uninterrupted sequence of songs made famous by Judy Garland. Totally blew us out of our seats.
Tomorrow we dock in Gravdal.

The satellite link is still flaky but I managed to update my postings.

Today's temperatures were a high of 11 °C and a low of 9 °C. Still in unbelievable 24 hour daylight.

Until next time. Wishing you good health and safe travel.
Have a great day and stay well.
Cheers .. Tony

Posted by greynomadm 04:16 Archived in Norway Comments (0)

Nordkapp - North Cape

Saturday, 8 July 2017

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Our ship sailed into the port of Honningsvag located on the southern shore of the island Mageroya the Northernmost city in Norway. The weather looks promising and the temperature milder than expected. We've been warned that visibility could be limited and the wind could reduce the actual temperature of 11 °C. An announcement from the bridge drew our attention to some reindeer on the port side. These were the first form of wildlife we'd seen.

Our Shore Excursion today consists of a coach ride to Nordkapp or North Cape. Located on a headland that juts 350 meters out of the Barents Sea at Latitude 71° 10' 21" North claims to be the Northernmost point of Europe. The ride out to the cape was on a well maintained but narrow road through surprisingly hilly terrain including some sections of multiple switchbacks. The traffic was mainly other coaches, caravans and mobile homes. Large patches of remnant snow and numerous lakes made for an interesting landscape. At one point we stopped to allow a small family of reindeer to cross the road.

We arrived at the destination under a clear blue sky and just enough wind to remind us that the exposed areas were very cold. The facilities were much more extensive than expected. First priority being the toilets located level -1. Along the way to the theatre at level -3 we saw the Post Office on level -2.

The theatre features a 15 minute film repeated every half hour, with 10 minutes to go we decided to take a seat for for the 10:30 show. There was no trouble finding a seat, the auditorium was on a grand scale. The film provided a spectacular view of the area under the various seasonal and weather conditions.

There were displays of historical events, a small chapel and a sound and light cave at the end of a long tunnel. Back at ground level there was an extensive gift shop, a bar and restaurant. All immaculately maintained and spacious enough to accommodate the hordes of tourists who visit during the summer season. There were also tourists who crowded the extensive car-park with caravans and mobile homes. All told they claim over 300,000 visitors a year.

There is a steel hollow globe mounted on a plinth at the correct inclination of the earth. With all those visitors it was impossible to take a clear shot. I decided to include Jenny in a distant shot looking North out over the sea. Turned out pretty well too.

Back on the coach and returned to Honningsvag under clear sky and bright sun. On arrival at the port we found two other ships had joined us. The "Costa Pacifica" dominated the scene and added a significant number of people to crowd. There was also the "Nordkapp" a smaller ferry vessel of the local "Hurtigruten" line. It is one of a number that visit the various Norwegian ports from Bergen to Honningsvag on a regular basis.

After lunch we walked ashore and visited a number of the shops on the waterfront. We found a colourful small picture book of Norway with many of the places we've visited and those we are not likely to see.

Settled at a window in the buffet overlooking the carpark where the tourist coaches were returning and unloading hundreds of passenger for each of the cruise ships. We have an 'all aboard' time of 22:30 which caused me to plan a photo of the ship from the shore with all the light on. Then I realised it was not going to get dark !!

After dinner we went to see the folkloric show in the Cabaret Lounge. Named "Our Northernmost Life" the cast of four young women who combined action, dance and song to describe the various features of their island. The theme in general tried to ask and answer the question "Why would anyone Live here??" Unlike any of these local shows we've experienced.

Tomorrow is another Sea Day as we sail towards Gravdal.

The satellite link has improved so the backlog was cleared. Sorry about the flood.

Today's temperatures were a high of 11 °C and a low of 9 °C but I think it was hotter than that. Still in unbelievable 24 hour daylight.
Until next time. Wishing you good health and safe travel.
Have a great day and stay well.
Cheers .. Tony

Posted by greynomadm 07:29 Archived in Norway Comments (0)

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