BERGENSFJORD 2014 Part 5 (the final one)
Tuesday 25th March 2014
It had seemed a short night when a public broadcast announced it was 6.30 a.m. and we would arrive in Hirtshals at 7.30 a.m., so there was time for coffee before going on deck to watch our arrival at this northern-most port of Denmark.
Soon I disembarked and joined a Fjord Line coach trip available for passengers – we had breakfast served on the coach and spent the day seeing some of the countryside and the small town of Flensburg before returning to the ship. It felt as if I was coming home, and I was very glad to be back on board BERGENSFJORD.
After dinner I met my friends again and we spent an entertaining evening in the Fjord Lounge watching the dancers during the Disco Medley and then enjoying the singers at Showtime at 11 p.m.
When that finished we went to the Bungalow to listen to and sing with the English pianist, who was rather astonished to find an English passenger on board. It had been a long day but an excellent evening back on board as we sailed north again towards Norway and our scheduled arrival at lunchtime back in Bergen.
Wednesday 26th March 2014
I enjoyed breakfast watching the sunshine on the Norwegian coastline as we sailed along.
I asked at Reception whether it might be possible please to visit the Bridge, and a little later I was invited to accompany a member of staff up there. The views of the surrounding fjords and snow-covered mountains from our ship were absolutely superb in the clear light and air and I felt so lucky to be welcomed by the Captain and one of his Officers on his Bridge, just for a few minutes.
Another highlight of the morning was taking more photographs of the huge picture which hangs over the forward staircase of BERGENSFORD. One of my friends had previously advised me to make sure I went to see it, and it was mentioned in the Fjord Line brochure I had from last year. There was a small sign beside it describing the artist Per Krohg and the painting, which was done in 1956 to hang on a particular ship of Norwegian America Line.
it is four metres by seven metres in size!
This was a rather exciting moment for me as my mind went back to last August 2013, when I was on a very small ferry sailing from the Great Harbour of Piraeus in Greece towards the island of Salamina. My travelling companions wanted to do a different short trip that morning so we were to meet again later that afternoon. During my 40 minute little trip I could see a half-submerged ship’s hull, which I had seen a few times in previous years but not so clearly, so I photographed it from several angles as we headed towards Salamina. The name was RASA SAYANG. I did some research and was later able to find out from Simplon Postcards more about the vessel, which in fact was “BERGENSFJORD - DE GRASSE - RASA SAYANG – GOLDEN MOON”.
“BERGENSFJORD was completed in 1956 by Swan, Hunter & Wigham Richardson, Wallsend-on-Tyne, Newcastle, for Norwegian America Line. She was 18,739grt and carried 878 passengers. BERGENSFJORD was acquired by the French Line (CGT) as the DE GRASSE (2) in haste in 1971 to replace the ANTILLES which had been lost in a fire in January that year. Bought in March 1971, she was delivered to CGT in November. She was not profitable on the Le Havre-Southampton-Caribbean service, and spent 1972 cruising. DE GRASSE (2) was sold in 1973, becoming the RASA SAYANG. In 1980 she was sold to Aphrodite Maritime Co, Greece. On 17th August 1980, a fire started in the engine room whilst she was under refurbishment at Perama, Greece. She was towed out of the docks and capsized and sank near the island of Kynosoura, some kilometres from Perama.”
That was the wreck I could see partly submerged in the water on 29th August 2013, and the picture in front of my eyes was the painting that was commissioned by Norwegian America Line in 1956 to sail on that very ship - BERGENSFJORD. I find it astonishing that life throws up such incredible coincidences, and something at which to marvel.
Life seemed just a little more calm as we arrived back in Bergen and I had to disembark from the BERGENSFJORD of 2014, which deliberately displayed the painting from the BERGENSFJORD of 1956, as a token of Fjord Line’s mark of respect to their Norwegian maritime heritage.
It had been such an enjoyable trip on this brand-new lifestyle cruise ferry, with new sights and new friends as well as good memories.