Sunday, 27 April 2014
BERGENSFJORD 2014 Part 4
Monday 24th March 2014
Hooray, sailing day at last, and there was blue sky and sunshine outside, just as the Bergen weather forecast had predicted. My hat had dried very nicely overnight on the hotel bathroom floor, which seemed to have underfloor heating or piping just where it was useful!
The Saturday afternoon snowstorm and Sunday afternoon rain were a thing of the past and, after breakfast and checking out of the hotel, I enjoyed my stroll along Bryggen until I reached the shop with the beautiful purple ‘hoodie’ jacket in the window.
Retail therapy achieved, I could continue my journey to the Fjord Line terminal to check in for the mini-cruise on BERGENSFJORD. I was to sail from Bergen to Hirtshals in Denmark, via Stavanger, and then return to Bergen, arriving back on Wednesday.
I soon checked in but had to wait for the ship to arrive at 1.00 p.m. before boarding at 2.00 p.m.
I had a 4 berth inside cabin, with one berth prepared as a bed and another as a settee, with the other two berths out of sight up in the deckhead.
I had time to look round the ship before going on deck for sailing.
We had to wait as the daily Hurtigruten ship came along – it was the little LOFOTEN, which was a lovely sight in the sunshine.
She was launched in Oslo in 1964 at 2,621 gross tonnage, so the 400 passengers are offered a voyage of real nostalgia. She was refurbished and refitted in 2003 with most of the original style and atmosphere being preserved. She seemed so small, looking down from the lofty heights of BERGENSFJORD’s Sun Deck, but she came alongside the Hurtigruten terminal bow first, without turning, so we were able to sail away from Bergen soon after.
Sailing through the fjords was a pleasure, all within sight of snow-covered mountains as we headed south. I had a late lunch in the Oasis Garden Café midships on deck 7 and then headed forward to the Fjord Lounge, and was so impressed with the views ahead and around. There was raised seating around the Bar (and beside the beach-view floor detail) and ample seating on a lower level around the small dance floor so everyone had a good view forward. I liked the two velvet-covered gold-framed chairs – which proved very popular and were rarely empty during my time on board.
To the starboard side aft of the Lounge was a small Cigar club, then aft again was Reception; beside that was a very small 24 to Go shop selling toiletries, sweets, coffee drinks etc.
Facing Reception was Bungalow Wine and Tapas bar which reminded me of the trivial thought that in the UK I live in a bungalow. At the aft end of this was a small grand piano, where the talented English pianist entertained us on several occasions during the voyage.
Just aft of this is a semi-circular area leading back to the Oasis Garden Café, and I particularly enjoyed seeing the celestial engravings/mapping on the marble-look flooring here.
Further aft again are seating areas with interesting furnishing details,
the children’s play room, the Greig Gourmet Restaurant, and with the Commander Buffet restaurant taking up the whole aft width of this Deck 7 area.
Below on Deck 6 was the Car deck with a capacity of 600, and the Tax free shop;
standard and luxe cabins are on Deck 8, and suites and standard cabins are on Deck 9. Deck 10 was the Sun Deck with Sky Deck Lounge, air-seating, conference area with bar, and the necessary Kennel. Above all this I could see the three LNG bright red painted gas vents, which have been made a feature of the ship.
Fjord Line’s President/CEO Ingvald Fardal said the Fjord Line owners, colleagues and partners shared a dream to build two large modern cruise ferries packed with environmentally friendly technology to serve the market for leisure, business travel and cargo between Denmark and Southwest Norway.
The vessel was designed by Falkum Hansen, to be built at their Norwegian Fosen yard, north of Bergen, with a bulbous bow, and a hull designed specifically for the North Sea wave conditions and height. The hulls were constructed in Poland and then towed to Fosen for outfitting and completion, so this dream seems to have been achieved spectacularly with the 2013-delivered STAVANGERFJORD and now this 2014-delivered BERGENSFJORD.
Last year I read in the Fjord Line house magazine that Falkum-Hansen and his team took their inspiration from maritime history and the Norwegian America Line’s golden era in the first half of the 1900s, where the old liners were very elegant but not always so large, and they wanted to follow that theme. These ships are 31,678 gross tons, with a maximum passenger capacity of 1500, and car capacity of 600.
So this was in my mind as we sailed towards Stavanger, arriving just after sunset. I sat in the Fjord Lounge forward with some new friends and enjoyed their company as we watched the activities in the harbour around us. An announcement was made by the Captain that all open decks were closed as LNG re-fuelling was now taking place but that was soon completed and we sailed at 10.40 p.m. That was another interesting day and I was soon lulled to sleep as we sailed south to Denmark overnight.
To be concluded….