The next leg of our trip is a voyage on the Hurtigrtuen Coastal Ferry, the MS Lofoten, from Bergen to Kirkenes and back to Bergen. Travelling through the famed fjords, across the Arctic Circle and over the top of Europe to the end of Norway and back! MS Lofoten is a grand old girl, the oldest and the smallest ferry in the Hurtigruten fleet. Along with the 100 'cruising' passengers, the ferry carries cargo and up to 300 day passengers stopping at 36 ports, towns and villages along the 2500nm journey.
|Ruteplan - Bergen to Kirkenes and back!|
Our cabins are on C-deck, in the bowels of the ship well away from the engine noise, the flushing of the shared toilets and the clatter of day passengers. Our inside cabins are wonderfully dark for sound sleeping during the endless daytime of the Arctic north.
|Cabin 103 - remarkably roomy|
The meals on board are plentiful and delicious. Breakfast and lunch are a buffet and, with a nod to its 1960s heritage, dinner is a set menu with assigned setting and full silver service. We gorge on salmon in all its forms, cheeses, home made ice-cream, caviar and reindeer. Hunger is definitely not an issue.
|The dining room set for breakfast|
|Fancy - even down to the engraved silver napkin rings|
We stop day and night. Sometimes for several hours enabling a shore visits and at others just a quick 15 minutes to offload/onboard passengers and cargo. The cargo is craned on and off with the cargo stored on deck or in the cargo hold. The cargo ranges from roofing materials to small boats, agricultural equipment to unidentifiable pelleted and wrapped parcels.
|Off-loading precious cargo|
|What on earth is that??|
The crew is attentive and happily assist with any request from a fact about the area we are passing through to fixing the arm on my reading glasses. The restaurant staff are professional and hysterical. We are not drinking (gasp!), a decision made easy by the $20 glasses and $100 bottles. We told the waiter we were unable to drink because Wendy is an alcoholic and we cannot drink around her. It has provided much mirth...
|The lovely Heidi|
|Divide by 5.5 and that, my friends, is why we weren't drinking!|
Our fellow passengers are a slightly older crowd from a wide range of countries. Manfried from Germany is our 72 y-o walking buddy and GPS. He has an uncanny sense of direction and, between that and his brisk gait, we are never at risk of missing the boat! Etienne from Marseille is travelling with his parents and 97 y-o grandfather. Grandpa is amazing negotiating the steps and rolling deck with his walking stick hung around his neck. John and Pat from the Napa Valley, quick with a joke and an invite to view his slide show each evening. Galena (Galena, Galena vacuum cleaner - how else are we to remember?) from Holland is the uber participant in on-shore excursions.
The daily routine involves a lot of eating, lounging in the Panorama Lounge or on the Outdoor Explorer Deck ( how intrepid!) enjoying the stunning scenery and going ashore at every opportunity. Sometimes this is to do an organized shore excursion, sometimes a wander around the town and, most frequently, a run to burn off some of the calories consumed. An hour stop means 5km, an hour and a half is 10km... Time is not an issue due to the 24hrs of daylight.
|The Panorama Lounge|
|Enjoying the sun on the 'Explorer Deck'|
|Prime spot on the 'Explorer Deck'|
|Doing it tough on the 'Flag Deck'|
|A visit to The Bridge|
The boat is well equipped for rough weather with the tables all bolted
down and the chairs on chains thus limiting the damage by a bouncy sea.
'Stormy Weather Bags' are liberally sprinkled around the public spaces
and each cabin well supplied. And due to the chilly water, our life jackets are partial survival suits!
|Sturdy chains to prevent chairs flying around!|
|Hope we don't have to deploy these babies!|
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