The Hurtigruten fjord cruise ships serve both vacationing cruise passengers like us, and local passengers and freight traffic moving from town to town. During our six night voyage from Bergen to Kirkenes on the far north coast, our ship the Kong Harald stopped at 34 Norwegian ports. However, only six stops were long enough for us to go ashore, ranging from 55 minutes to four hours. The scenery while cruising and while ashore was spectacular, and it was very difficult to pare down the photos to a reasonable number.
Across the Arctic Circle
At our first stop for an hour in Ålesund we were only able to take a short walk along the picturesque docks and through town before heading back to the ship. Our three-hour stay in Trondheim gave us time for a guided tour of the Nideros Cathedral, dating from 1070 AD, and a long walk around the beautiful city. Between Trondheim and Bodø we celebrated crossing the Arctic Circle with cups of ice poured down the backs of willing participants, including our friends Jeff and Barb.
We spent the two-hour stop in Bodø on a high-speed rigid inflatable boat (RIB) travelling to a narrow straight where tidal forces pull water in and out of the Skjerstad Fjord with such force that it produces some of the fastest moving tidal water in the world. Along the way we also viewed and learned about unusual rock formations and eagles nesting. [Photos from this excursion are courtesy of Jeff.]
Svolvær to Trollfjord
In Svolvær we observed racks of cod drying in the sun on our way to visiting a quaint World War II museum with artifacts and displays from both Norwegian and German forces. As we toured and left the harbor around 10:15 pm the sun shone brightly on the colorful boats and buildings. Between Svolvær and Tromsø our ship entered the very narrow and spectacular Trollfjord, named for several rock formations that look like giant trolls peering down from the mountainside. The midnight sun behind the mountains and dark storm clouds made for some spectacular scenery on this leg of the cruise.
Tromsø to the North Cape
In Tromsø we had four hours to wander around the city. In a small restaurant and museum we learned about the cod fishing industry and tasted cod liver and cod liver oil. The nearby extensive Polar Museum told the stories of life in the arctic, including the whaling industry, and seal and polar bear hunting. From the port in Honningsvåg we rode a bus to the North Cape, the northernmost point of Europe accessible by road. The North Cape monuments and visitors center sit on a plateau 1000 feet above the ocean with sheer cliffs disappearing into thick fog half-way down. This was our final port call before disembarking in Kirkenes, Norway the next day.