We carried two pilots with us from Bergen so there was no need to slow down to pick anyone up before we entered Sognefjord, Norway’s longest fjord, at around midnight. The Fjord itself at its maximum depth reaches 1308 metres, which is 4291 ft. The inner end of Sognefjord is southeast of a mountain range rising to about 6500 ft above sea level and is covered by Josteldalsbreen, continental Europe’s largest glacier.
The Saga Ruby traversed the fjord en-route to the first of two ports of call within its reaches under a moonlit sky. And would have been greeted by the sun a little after 5am were it not for the imposing mountains that contain it, reaching up towards the sky, like dark teeth trying to eat the morning twilight. Arriving off of the berth at Flam at 7am we had to wait 20 minutes for linesmen to arrive.
Evidently Flam’s linesmen, or longshoremen as they are sometimes called, are not morning people. Perhaps it had something to do with Friday night and the presence of Flam’s microbrewery within a stones throw of the berth, a possibility that I can only speculate upon?
Once secured alongside our passengers disembarked in a cool 55 degrees F with the promise of a warmer afternoon once the sun had ascended the sky enough to peer over the encompassing mountains.
Flam’s main attraction of course, is the railway which climes 2835 ft in less than 12.5 miles making it the steepest unassisted railway climb in the world.
The lack of available shoreside security after 7pm meant that everyone had to be back in time for Executive Chef, Louis Chalus’ Norwegian dinner. This gave me the opportunity to depart early so that our passengers would get to see Sognefjord and its inner most arm, Lustrafjord, in daylight hours so as not to miss out on the spectacular scenery.
Skjolden, which is situated at the end of Lustrafjord, was our destination. Arriving a little after 10pm the Saga Ruby moored alongside the new berth and took the opportunity of the still summer air to throw a deck party on the afterdeck. In competition with a local concert situated in the village to celebrate an annual event where athletes and enthusiasts traverse a 6500 ft local mountain in a biathlon of cycling and running, the Cruise Department entertained our passengers until 1am with music and dancing. I myself took full advantage of our overnight situation alongside, and went to bed for a full nights sleep!
The following day gave rise to the best day of weather of the cruise so far, and it truly felt like summer with temperatures nearing 80 degrees F. I’m sure that this made exploring the wonderful glacially carved landscape of the region all the more enjoyable, whether as part of a tour, or as an independent tourist.
It certainly made the sail away more resplendent with some of the village’s occupants on the shore to wave us off, and the throaty sound of the ships whistle reverberating around the fjord in salute as we started our journey of 123 nautical miles to find the open sea.