Sunday, 20 April 2014
Part 3 – KONG HARALD of Hurtigruten
Sunday 23rd March 2014 (continued)
I waved STAVANGERFJORD off and then went in search of a late lunch.
I found a small café near the water side of another street, and spent a dry and warm hour in there as I watched the world go past. Then it was time to dress for the rain again and return to the Hurtigruten terminal to ask to visit KONG HARALD. I had seen her berth earlier at the quay adjacent to Fjord Line’s, so was keen to see what she was like on board.
She was launched in 1993, the same year as RICHARD WITH, to mark Hurtigruten’s centenary and is named after today’s King of Norway, Harald. She is 11,204 gross tons, and can carry 622 passengers and 20 cars, with a service speed of 15 knots.
I was soon on board and admiring all the lounges, bars and artwork.
These ships are all very individual in their styling and decoration and I consider it a great treat to be allowed to visit the ships in port. The Hurtigruten ships are a way of life in Norway and have been now since 1893, so a familiar sight around the coast. Once again I enjoyed my visit to a Hurtigruten ship. As I walked home the rain increased and I was really looking forward to a hot meal and relaxing back in my Bergen hotel. The weather forecast for Monday was good, and of course I was due to sail on the brand-new BERGENSFJORD, so there was lots to enjoy.
To be continued….
Sunday, 13 April 2014
Part 2 – STAVANGERFJORD of Fjord Line
Sunday 23rd March 2014
Waking in Bergen this morning I could actually see the top of the mountain just at the back of the hotel, so I hoped that was a good omen despite the weather forecast.
After breakfast I walked again to the Fjord Line/Hurtigruten terminal as I knew that Fjord Line’s 2013 new-build STAVANGERFJORD was due in just before 2 p.m. and I really wanted to see the ship arrive. Ship details include: gross tonnage 31,678, maximum passengers 1500, cabin berths 1188, car capacity 600, and service speed 21.5 knots. Last year I had been lucky enough to get a copy of the new brochure about the ship, and then a friend had sailed on her last year and enjoyed the new cruise ferry which Fjord Line described as a lifestyle liner. His fascinating write-up about the trip can be found in the Winter 2014 issue of the Ocean Liner Society magazine ‘Sea Lines’.
I had booked with the Fjord Line Bergen office to sail on her myself on 24th March 2014, doing a mini-cruise from Bergen down to Hirtshals in northern Denmark, via Stavanger. My ticket was e-mailed to me recently, and then the following week another ticket arrived – and this time I was to sail on the very new BERGENSFJORD! I was very thrilled with this, as she had just come into service with Fjord Line, and I wrote back to Fjord line to say so.
Suddenly today I was in for a double treat, as here was one new ship arriving and I could photograph her from a nearby quayside, whilst knowing I would sail on the other one on Monday 24th.
I arrived at the Fjord Line terminal hoping to get a closer picture of the ship but that was not possible. However, the check in staff at the desk included the man from the Bergen office who had made my bookings so it was fun to introduce ourselves and have a quick chat. He then asked if I would like to visit STAVANGERFJORD with him and a new member of staff, for a very short tour, so of course I said yes. He obtained permission for me to go on board, and we were soon on the overhead walkway to board the ship. There was what felt like a ‘meet and greet’ group waiting for us – all gold braid and smiles – and we were then given a very fast walk round some of the main rooms, and outside in the rain to see the Hundehotell with its solitary doggy occupant.
I managed to get a few photographs as we hurried around, and then it was time to go ashore, and thank Kai for his kindness in arranging for me to visit the ship.
The ship was due to leave almost immediately so, as the day’s Hurtigruten ship arrived and berthed on the adjacent quay, STAVANGERFJORD slipped her ropes and set off for her journey to Stavanger and Hirtshals, south through the Norwegian fjords.
To be continued….
Friday, 4 April 2014
Part 1 – M.S. TROLLFJORD
22nd March 2014
I flew with Norwegian Air on an early flight from London Gatwick to Bergen in Norway, prior to joining the brand-new Fjord Line cruise ferry BERGENSFJORD on 24th March. As we took off I was able to see some of the London city sights as we gained height, including the tall building called The Shard, and then the Tower of London, and then the O2 Arena near the old Royal Victoria Docks (see February 2013 blog).
Soon we were over the east coast and heading north/north-east over the thick cloud cover far below.
I had been following the weather information and forecasts for my time in Bergen, and we were soon enveloped in thick cloud, with the occasional sight of a snow-covered mountain top as we prepared for landing. I caught the airport bus into the city and soon walked to my nearby hotel. As expected, it was raining.
I knew that the day’s Hurtigruten vessel would arrive about 2.15 p.m. so struggled into my cold-proof, water-proof and snow-proof clothing and set out for the Hurtigruten Terminal in the next harbour. From under my buffeted umbrella I could see the wonderful UNESCO-protected Bryggen buildings along the waterside, but the Fish Market further along was deserted.
M.S. TROLLFJORD had arrived and was bunkering, in readiness for her 10.30 p.m. departure from Bergen.
I already knew that the Hurtigruten company welcomes any visitors to their ships in their ports of call, and so wanted to see what this vessel was like on board. I was welcomed and directed up to an official near the overhead walkway, who gave me a visitor card and showed me where to get on board, so I was soon walking onto my third ship of the year.
Some passengers were already settling in and obviously enjoying their surroundings, and many of the English ones were keen to talk to me and know what I was doing as I wasn’t sailing with them.
I had a very interesting time looking around the ship, and comparing it with others in the fleet I had visited (RICHARD WITH, NORDNORGE and POLARLYS (see 2011 blog), or sailed on (NORDSTJERNEN, see 2011 blog), and felt very grateful to be able to visit TROLLFJORD this time. The coastal voyage is something I would certainly like to do one of these days.