This journey was called the Artic Awakening by Hurtigruten as Spring came to the coasts of Norway and the sun was rising in the sky and the days were getting longer. The Coastal Voyage from Kirkeness to Bergen was on the MS Finnmarken. This was a 6 day journey South calling at many ports and this post is a summary of the voyage with links to my daily blogs.
— Hurtigruten Cruises (@UKHurtigruten) July 10, 2015
Our journey started at London Heathrow with a scheduled flight to Oslo. Hurtigruten had provided us with a pass to a lounge in Terminal 2 while we waited for the flight. Hurtigruten had also provided us with passes for all our airport transfers, so once in Oslo we caught the SAS bus into town. Note this was a very comfortable pass and had free (fast) Wi-Fi!
Our Hotel for our two nights in Oslo was next to the Central station and was within easy walking distance form the bus station. In Oslo we took in the sights visiting the opera house, the palace as well as the shops and we had some excellent meals.
Our journey to Kirkeness started very early in the morning (about 05:30) to catch the bus back to the airport and catch our internal flight to Kirkeness. This was the start of Day 1 of our Coastal Voyage.
This was our cabin (excuse the mess but we spent most of our time up on deck). We left the settee bed down for the whole voyage and used the chair to hold all our thick coats and jumpers!
When you board the ship we recommend that pick up thermal mugs as these can be used in the café for bottomless cups of tea (or coffee) at any time of the day and really do keep the drinks warm out on deck.
Unlike on cruise ships where safety updates consists of worrying about how to put ion a lifejacket on the Finnmarken we had to know how to put on full Artic survival suits.
The MS Finnmarken is one of Hurtigruten’s working ships that make the journey up and down Norway’s coast every day carrying passengers, cars, cargo as well as tourists like us. Separate ramps for passengers and cargo. The third picture below shows the view through the cargo deck into the decks below the car deck. This is where the cargo vanished at the busy ports.
The ship has a wonderful forward deck for viewing the coast, a promenade deck that gave great views of what was happening in ports, a panoroma lounge with really comfy seats (and free wi-fi if you must), a swimming pool (and sauna) suitably steaming in the cold air, beautiful décor with paintings as well as other interesting pieces, entertainment and dancing in one of the bars and on the top deck examples of how cod is dried in the air.
Summary of the Voyage (click the links below for more details of each day)
On the third day we left Tromso at 01:30 and had numerous short stops with lots of fabulous views. After spending time in Stokmarknes we passed through Trollfjord and had fleeting views of sea eagles.
After leaving Stamsund in the late evening on the third day we had a spectacular view of The Northern Lights for a couple of hours. Totally unexpected being so late in the year and so far South of Tromso.
The fourth day had a number of highlights including crossing the Artic Circle going South and also passing by the famous Torghatten mountain which has a tunnel of 16o metres long.
After travelling through the night we arrived early on the fifth day in Trondheim for an extended visit of nearly 3.5 hours. For the rest of this day we called at only a further 2 ports.
Our last day was a gentle sail into Bergen in fantastic weather with lots more views of Norway’s coast. It may have been cold but we stayed on deck for the majority of the morning keeping warm with copious cups of tea from our thermal mugs!
After docking in Bergen we had an easy transfer to the airport. A slight glitch was the news that our flight had been cancelled and we were now on an earlier flight that left 30 minutes after our arrival at the airport. SAS staff did a great job getting us (and the other affected passengers) through boarding and onto the plane to Copenhagen. We then had an extended wait in Copenhagen for our flight back to Heathrow but this did us time to have a meal and to catch our breath after our hectic time catching the plane to Bergen.
Leaving Copenhagen were routed over the Oresund Bridge and I managed a grab shot using my iPhone.
If you are thinking of doing the round trip or like us half of the voyage then I recommend this book as it details where you are each day and what you can see from the deck.