As we left Tromso, the locals were telling me tonight might be the night for the Aurora Borealis.
As we sailed past the airport, our pilot had to call air traffic control to get clearance to pass by the end of the runway and flight path. A passenger plane flew past the Wheelhouse and landed just before we passed by. I bet it made a great sight for the passengers on the plane looking down our funnel as they passed by!
We continued through the night. Then at 8.55pm the green glow of the Northern Lights came into view. As promised, I made a ships’ all call to the passengers, they all left the dining room - it was like the Marie Celeste according to the Maitre D. One minute he had gone into the galley to get something, the next he came back and the room was empty, with half-finished dinners, wine glasses still charged and chairs askew - you can imagine the scene.
But there it was, spreading across the sky as we looked, this amazing and awesome spectacle. The lights were switched off on the ship for a better look. I was so pleased as this is what we had come up to see and it was there for all to marvel at.
Again at 11pm, as if waiting for the main show to finish, it appeared again, this time with more vigour and style. Sharp shards of green, flickering light - it was as if you were watching a science fiction movie, incredible.
We continued through the night to our next port of call, Narvik. A beautiful day arose as we approached. We arrived in Narvik at 8.00am and the restaurants were buzzing for breakfast by 7.00am.
Passengers are showing each other their favourite photographs, and there are a lot to choose from as this cruise has been so very rich in incredible scenery. In many of our ports we have been the first passenger vessel this year. The tourist season does not generally begin until April, when much of the snow has melted away. We are literally viewing sights that no passenger vessel may have seen before.
As well as showing each other photographs, many guests are discussing those that have been put on display in our Briefing Room. I should explain - our photograph lecturers select a collection of our passengers’ photographs for display every day, some are shown on a digital photo-frame, whilst others are made into glorious A3 photographs, to be kept by the snapper as a happy memento of the cruise.
Today's first tour was a dream come true for railway buffs. Guests were taken on the Ofotbanen Railway through the mountains from Norway to the edge of Sweden to view even more spectacular scenery. I have met one passenger who is a serious railway enthusiast and according to him today's excursion should be put in the 'Great Railway Journeys of the World' - that is quite some recommendation.
The train for this trip literally stopped alongside the ship at the berth, and took guests high into the mountains and through a tunnel where painted flags mark the border between Norway and Sweden. On their arrival at Riksgransen, coffee and cake was served at a local hotel and some free time was spent before returning to the train and the journey back to Saga Pearl II in time for lunch at 1.30pm.
Our other excursion was called 'Pride of Narvik’, a shorter trip that gave a taste of Narvik's attractions. Part of this included a cable car journey up the Fagernesfjellet Mountain, affording views of more great scenery and a coffee stop at the panoramic ski resort some 2,100 feet above sea level.
We departed Narvik this evening at 7.00pm. After the mountain air and the days’ activities it was surprising to see so many guests around this evening, but having looked at the programme of events I could see the attraction. Kim and Magnus, our classical duo gave another recital in the Discovery Lounge, before a complete contrast - our brilliant production team put on another showstopper of a revue with "Love Sweet Love". The costumes, as well as the cast, are brand new, as are the shows themselves. The cast rehearse very hard, often late at night when I am expecting the pilot and walking the public rooms, and there they are, in the early hours of the morning, using the Discovery Lounge to practice - and their hard work really does show.
Horst and our other Austrians, Alfred, Food and Beverage Manager and Mathais the Maitre D all went sking. I got an excited phone call from Horst this afternoon on the slopes. He was like a child, all excited at the snow and sking.
As we sailed away, the sun reflected off the mountains making for a stunning exit from Narvik.