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13th April, 2019


Dear Blog readers, I am back after my short two week leave and straight into a rather busy Norwegian Saga, with just two sea-days, there is a lot to pack in. Our run up the North Sea yesterday was uneventful. The day started cloudy and brisk, but by the afternoon Mr Blue Sky started to appear. The week-ahead forecast was very good and indicated the potential of rather fabulous weather. Makes a change for Captain Stormy!

I was late leaving Dover on Thursday and I had hoped to make up the time for Bergen, but this wasn’t proving to be the case, besides, it’s all uphill from Dover to Norway! I was on the bridge early this morning to witness the morning twilight over the Norwegian western shore, a glorious start to the day. Indeed, arriving later had benefits, my Guests could witness the beautiful passage inwards. If I had arrived on time, the spectacular part of the passage ‘the narrows’ and passing under the road bridge would have been at 0630, a bit early for my ‘sleepyheads’.

With the Pilot onboard at 0715 I discussed the need for alacrity on the run-in to the berth and to take priority over other traffic movements. This the Pilot arranged with the VTS and agreement was achieved within ten minutes. It was probably the fasted run-in I have done to Bergen, and whilst not ‘hanging-around’ the passage inwards afforded the opportunity to take in breath-taking scenery.

Simon, the Staff Captain berthed this morning. Because of our lateness we opted for bow-in parking, avoiding the time consuming manoeuvre of a ‘swing’. Getting a bow-in manoeuvre done properly is not an easy feat, it’s all about the approach and being in exactly the right place. Text book, I have to say.

Once alongside, the ship was cleared ‘on-arrival’ and the Tours got underway. Leo, the Shore Excursion Manager along with his team, and the Shore excursion agents had managed to manipulate the tour times so that we had a full day experience in Bergen. This did require a two-hour later departure, but well worth it.

The weather, what can I say, outstanding. Yes, it’s not ‘hot’, but beautiful blues skies, still air and with the back drop of the Fjords, outstanding. The day drew to a close and it was clear the Guest loved the port of call. I have to say, most times I come to Bergen, it’s raining!

With on board and visitors ashore the gangway was landed ready for our departure to Rosendale. The Chief Officer, Hugo, was driving out this evening and this required a swing off the berth. With the wind blowing on to the berth, it was necessary to ‘walk’ the ship forward to take advantage of the end of the pier – allowing the stern to be lifted into the wind. In one sense a delicate manoeuvre, in another ‘giving it the gun’.

With the ship swung we retraced out steps of this morning and by 2030 we were heading south toward the island of ‘Huglo’, the turning point where we enter Hardangerfjord, the 4th longest Fjord in the world. The fascinating thing about these Fjord passages at this time of year is the strange night-light effect. The calm waters reflect the dull light of the night skies whilst the fjord topography is in pitch black, only illuminated by settlement lights dotted here and there with the snow caps merging into the sky. Quite beautiful.

Long day, time for bed – just getting into the swing of being back onboard.

Captain Stuart Horne

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

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