We woke up a reasonable time, but it seemed we were both jet-lagged. I suppose traveling the night before really tired us. In any event we were excited about the day and found out what everyone says – there is no way to describe the Norwegian coastline landscape. Pictures do not do it justice. We landed in a little town called Risøyhamn about 10:30AM, but we stayed on the ship, since it was a short stop.
We had a wonderful lunch onboard, then landed in Storkmarknes and we did disembark. We only had an hour, but we walked around the little town just checking it out. It was 43 degrees and a little misty, but it was nice to see a town North of the Arctic Circle. Probably 20 people got off the ship, so it was not crowded at all. This is the “home town” of the shipping company “Hurtegruten” and we are actually on a cargo/expedition ship. I suspect that cargo shipping along the coastline is not as financially rewarding as it once was and that tourism seems to help the shipping company. We quickly found it is not the usual cruise line you find in the States. The only entertainment is the Expedition Team and they give talks about the region throughout the trip and this is announced throughout the day. We got our first real look at the ship today, as we were so tired when we boarded that we never looked at it.
The name of our ship is the Nordlys and it is considered an expedition ship. It was built in 1994 and has a passenger capacity of 590. We found out there are only 200 on board and nothing ever seems full. The length is 400 feet, but seems huge, particularly when navigating the fjords. We found out that they do a Christmas trip every year with the ship being decorated and special events. It was really enticing to hear about that. When we first boarded, we were encouraged to upgrade to a suite for $500 more, since our cabin was in the back of the boat with a lot of boat noise. We declined, since we had wanted an inside cabin because of the 24 hour a day daylight. We were told there were no inside cabins left. We didn’t find out that there were 200 on board until later, so I think this may have been a fabrication. In any event we are happy with our cabin and it was actually nice to have a window. The curtains keep most of the light out and we have had no trouble sleeping.
We have been cruising along the coastline until we entered a fjord near the town of Digermulen. It seemed you could almost reach out and touch the rock face, but it was probably 20 feet away on either side, which is still incredible considering the size of the ship. It looked as if we had entered an area that was larger, but ahead, it didn’t seem we would fit. Sure enough, it seemed we nearly stopped then we heard the engines and the ship’s captain guided us into a 180 degree turn and exited the fjord. It was totally fascinating and an incredible navigational feat. There were waterfalls coming from the rocks and also tiny fissures that allowed water to escape. Some were so small that it looked like a water hose was just inside the rock. It has to top my list of one of the most incredible things I’ve witnessed. This was around 5:00PM and we rushed to dinner to get finished prior to our excursion (horseback riding in Lofoten). Dinner was fabulous with every type of fresh fish you can imagine and everything was delicious. Shannon even tried several things and liked every one of them.
At about 6:45PM, we disembarked and met our driver outside of the ship. There were 5 other people on the excursion. We drove along the coastline for about 40 minutes and arrived in Gimsoysand around 7:45PM. We elected to wear coveralls, since it was 45 degrees, and it proved to be the right decision as we were toasty warm. Only our faces were exposed. We met our guides who gave us coveralls and a hard hat and then took us to meet our Icelandic ponies in the barn. Mine was a mare named Embla and Shannon thinks her’s was named Frieda. They had just gotten my pony a couple of weeks ago, so I was test-piloting her. Shannon’s pony was very gentle and followed the guide pony. The only problem she had was that her pony wanted to eat along the way. Mine wanted to be in front and we were scolded right off when I tried to get out my phone without dropping it and my pony wanted to get beside Shannon’s pony. We walked around a riding ring to get accustomed to the ponies and then we went across the road to the beach and took pictures. We then followed the lead horse around a track for about 90 minutes, then returned to the ring for those that wanted to ride a little faster. The scenery was breathtaking and seeing the midnight sun was just an amazing experience. It was overcast, but we still got a sense of what it was like to have daylight for 24 hours. We saw camping on the property and some fabulous vacation rental homes that faced the ocean. We finished about 9:15PM and raced back to the ship to meet it before it departed. It rained the entire way back, but our driver was experienced and got us back safely. The ship was at a different port.By the time we left it was 43 degrees, but our phone said it felt like 37. We were not quite ready for bed when we arrived at 10:00PM, so we went upstairs for a coke and beer. Afterward we both went right to sleep.