Saturday, June 3, 2017

North Cape Cruise Post 2

Blog Post 2 -

May 26, 2017 – Copenhagen

The parties continued quayside until the sun began to come up, and the noise came right in the open windows where we were trying to get some cooler air.  By the time the parties ended the sun was now coming in the window and lighting up the room.  We are as far north already as Ketchikan, so the long days are no surprise.  Our solution was to close the drapes and turn on the fan.  Sleep still mostly eluded us, so about 0630 we freshened up and headed downstairs for an expansive breakfast buffet.  The pickled herring was delicious!

Most stores do not open until 1000, but we headed out at 0900 anyway and searched for a spare battery for one of the Nikon cameras and a memory storage device for the iPads, knowing we would be taking lots of photos.

The pedestrian shopping street “Stroget” stretches for many blocks with every type of store imaginable.  It is purportedly the longest pedestrian street in Europe.  We decided there are no direct routes anywhere in Copenhagen, with the many canals which intersect the city, and the heritage of the old buildings which seem to be constructed in haphazard locations long before modern city planning.  Nonetheless, we found both the batteries and the memory devices.  Prices are much higher than in the USA, especially for LI-ion batteries which are taxed at a high rate.

Returning to the hotel we sat outdoors on the quay and enjoyed both the sun and delicious fresh asparagus salads before returning to the room for a much needed nap.

After another walk in the afternoon down as far as Vor Frelsers Kirkland (Our Saviors Church), with a unique spiral staircase around the outside of the campanile.  The line to climb the staircase was very long so Patrick decided to pass on the opportunity.  Returning to the hotel, we listened out the room window as a concert began across the quay.  It will be another noisy night.

Love Locks o the bridge at Nyhavn

Classic Car outside chocolate store

May 27, 2017 – Embarkation and Departure

The noise overnight was not too bad, perhaps because we were so tired.  Jet lag is catching up to both of us.  The weather continues to be nice, with sunny skies and temperatures in the 70’s.  We enjoyed another breakfast buffet and then a walk to stretch the legs before the driver picks us up at 1130. The tour busses were already out in force, with groups of people crowding around the popular scenic stops.  There are 6 cruise ships tied up just north of the hotel, ranging from huge to a 328 foot ship.  The Seabourn Quest looks tiny out at the end of Ocean Quay behind two large ships.

The check-in formalities were quick and we were able to board Seabourn Quest about 1230. The staterooms would not be ready until 1400, so we sat on the pool deck and enjoyed lunch with several other guests. Promptly at 1400 the announcement that the staterooms were ready was made.  Arriving at suite 611, our home for the next three weeks, the stewardess, Natalya was waiting with champagne and canapés. Our luggage was already in the suite so we spent some time unpacking before attending the required safety briefing at our emergency gathering spot in the restaurant on Deck 4. After the safety briefing we headed back to the pool deck for the sail-away celebration.

Departure was delayed somewhat due to the number of cruise ships all scheduled to depart at the same time and the late arrival of guests from the massive British Airways computer system failure at Heathrow.  Finally, at 1745 the ship’s horn blew announcing our departure and the ship joined the parade headed north towards our first destination, Flam Norway.

Our Route to North Cape and Return

May 28, At Sea

The weather on our first day at sea was a sharp contrast to the sunny weather in Copenhagen. The temperature had dropped by 20 degrees and there was occasional rain and fog thick enough for the ship’s foghorn to sound.

We attended three of the “conversations” or lectures that Seabourn has on sea days.  The evening was the first of three formal nights and also the Captain’s Gala reception.  After the reception we tried “The Grill”, a new dining venue with Thomas Keller dishes in a classic chophouse atmosphere.

May 29 – Flam, Norway

Sometime during the night the ship entered Sognefjord, one of the longest and deepest fjords in the world.  We docked at Flam shortly before 0800.

Cruising Sognefjord

Flam has expanded somewhat since the first time we were here and the number of tourists in addition to the ship guests was amazing.  We had separate shore excursions here, with Miriam doing a “Mountains and Waterfalls” guided bus tour to some of the other scenic areas, and Patrick venturing out in a Kayak for the first time in Norway.  There was not a lot of wildlife other than herds of goats and some birds, but plenty of waterfalls cascading down the steep rock walls of the Aurlandfjord, the final stretch of Sognefjord.

View from Nos viewpoint, Flam


Main Dock at Flam

Patrick Kayaking at Falm

The Seabourn Quest looks tiny at the end of the fjord

Seabourn Quest backed away from the pier at 1700 and headed back down the fjord for the 280 nautical mile voyage to our next destination.

May 30 – Aalesund, Norway

The weather overnight was much rougher out in the North Sea, but smoothed out as we approached Aalesund, arriving at 1000 and docking in the protected inner harbor amidst the Art Nouveau architecture of this town of 48,000.  The original town was mostly destroyed by fire in 1904 and the city planners rebuilt with stone and concrete in the art nouveau style for most of the area destroyed by the fire, so the inner city has a very consistent look and feel.

Kayaking in the art nouveau inner harbor 

Goats joined us for lunch kayaking

One of the many sculptures in Alesund

These building were originally fish processing buildings
Overlooking harbor at Alesund

Miriam took a lengthy walking tour exploring the details of the inner city and museums, as well as the quaint inner harbor.  Patrick again ventured out in a kayak on a tour across the bay for a picnic on a small island followed by a paddle through the inner harbor.

The ship departed at 2000 and then went in several circles in the bay to re-swing the magnetic compass before the ship headed even further north.  The seas increased again overnight as we headed for our next destination Svolvaer, 450 miles away in the Lofoten Islands.

May 31 – At Sea

The weather cooled even more with highs of 39 degrees, NW winds to 35 knots and large swells from the northwest.   The ship passed through rain squalls and then sun patches all day.  We were able to attend several additional lectures or “Conversations “ on history, marine mammals and the Viking sea migration patterns.  Our evening entertainment was provided by Richard Wright, who we may have heard singing in the “Lion King” in London in 1999.

At 2115 the ship’s horn sounded signaling that we had crossed the Arctic Polar Circle. We will be North of the circle for the next few days.

June 1 – Svolvaer, Lofoten Islands

The wind and seas gradually calmed as we approached our anchorage in front of the town of Svolvaer. After a brief delay anchoring the ship the tours began. Miriam is doing a “Lofoten Vikings” cultural tour and Patrick went kayaking along the coastline as part of his tour. In the afternoon we both took part in a limited Zodiac tour up Trollfjord where we met back up with the ship. We did see some white tailed eagles and some trolls on the cliff in Trollfjord, but were a little disappointed that the captain decided to not enter the fjord with the Quest.  Although beautiful, the fjord pales in comparison to Princess Louisa Inlet in British Columbia.

Artifacts in Lofoten Viking Museum

Lofoten Viking Museum

Entering Troll Fjord in Zodiacs

White Tailed Eagle in Trollfjord

The Trolls 


Quest Approaching Trollfjord
Waiting to reboard Quest outside Trollfjord

June 2 – Tromso

This city of 72,000 is both on Tromso Island and the mainland, connected by a bridge since 1960.  There is a charming city center, with an increasing number of new buildings gradually displacing the original buildings built by either the Bergen Trading Company or the Tromso Trading Company.  Tromso is also the area where the British RAF finally sank the German battleship Tirpitz after several attempts including mini-submarines.  Several movies have been made commemorating those events.  Patrick’s afternoon RIB adventure went to the site of the sinking.  The RIB trip also went by an island with two musk oxen.  Miriam took a tour that included a cable car ride above the city and a tour of the Arctic Cathedral.

Roald Amundsen - Norwegian Explorer

Norwegian Cathedral Tromso

Tromso Harbor

Arctic Cathedral

Fish Heads Drying

Arctic Cathedral Stained Glass

Fishing statue Tromso

June 3 – Honningsvag and North Cape

The weather offshore forced the cancellation of the planned Zodiac tour to the Puffin colonies and a cruise by North Cape.  Winds were 25-30 knots, seas to 8 feet and intermittent snow squalls.  It was snowing all day, but not hard enough to get any accumulation.

Approaching North Cape by bus

The North Cape Monument

Steep Cliffs at North Cape

Children of the earth monument

Children of the earth monument - North Cape

We were rebooked onto a guided bus tour to North Cape.  North Cape cleared enough to have decent views, so most of the experience was there, even with the Zodiac trip cancellation. The monument was found to be misplaced when decent surveying systems were invented, since the next point west is actually 1.5 kilometers further north.  Nevertheless we reached 71 degrees, 10.21 minutes North Latitude.  The ship will actually go a little further north when we depart Honningsvag. Before departure we had a caviar, vodka, gravlax and aquavit celebration.

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