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2nd March, 2014

Tromso, Norway


I had asked all the passengers at the welcome party that if I were to see the Northern Lights at any time of night were they happy that I told them. Well there was a resounding applause so this gave me the go ahead. After we had left the Fjords of Andalsness, having dropped off our pilot at 10:30pm, around about 11:00pm we saw the green haze in the sky. As a result I made an all call around the ship and many passengers got their first glimpse of the Northern lights. This went on until midnight.

Then at 2:15am I was called in my bedroom, by James, the Officer of the Watch, with “Captain you had better come and have a look at this!!” As I walked through the door of the darkened bridge, and went out to the bridge wing, the whole sky was lit up. I did a quick 360 degree look and this was quite spectacular so I started in towards the PA system. As I was just about to press the talk button, the sky started to clear and the lights diminished!! Such a great shame but this is how it goes

I left orders to call me again if the lights appeared but sadly they did not. However it was good to know we have the activity in the area. So we enjoyed a day at sea before Tromso and again the weather has been very kind to us, winds from the south and low swell, so for these latitudes and this time of year, we were very happy with this.

I was back on the bridge at 3:30am the next morning, piloting the ship into the pilot station, 23 miles west of Tromso and once the pilot boarded, we ran back up to full speed in order to make a timed arrival at the berth for 7:15am.

As we approached the berth, we were actually on a different berth than originally thought, we were on the berth south of the Tromso Bridge, but this was at the centre of town so I was happy with this. The only difficulty was that the current running through the bridge and past our berth can get up to 5/6 knots so care was needed when berthing. I started swinging the ship towards the berth early and then allowed the ship to drift northwards intentionally and then turned more in order to position ourselves on the berth.

 Dog sledge ride

It was a very crisp morning, clear blue skies and very cold but again as we are all wrapped up, the scenery and experience was stunning. With the many tours available here in Tromso, most were lucky enough to be able to do two shore excursions within the time spent here today. Dog sledding and reindeer sledding was of course the most popular trip, and with the fantastic weather we’ve been experiencing it has to be said it was the perfect day for it. Tromso, lying 200 miles inside the Arctic Circle, is commonly known as the gateway to the arctic. This is because it was used as a starting point for hunters looking for artic foxes, polar bears and seals.

Those who enjoyed the dog sledge ride saw somewhat more than 240 huskies in the wilderness centre today. To the delight of many, photo opportunities where also available whilst having a guided tour around the dogs kennels. For those visiting the reindeers a few chose to enjoy a traditional Sami meal consisting of vegetables and reindeer meat. This is something I’ve tried on a previous cruise in a rather large lavvo tent with the local Sami people.

For our guests who weren’t quite as adventurous the Polar Museum, an overview of Tromso or a city panoramic tour and planetarium were available. Learning about the mystical phenomenon of the Aurora Borealis was what those who chose to go on the planetarium tour did today. Tromso is a charming mix of old and new, with some fantastic architecture which is really displayed in the impressive glacier like Arctic cathedral, which features one of the largest stained glass windows in Europe.

Departure was at 5:00pm today as we prepared to set sail towards our next port of call, Alta. We had to sail around the southern end of Tromso and then turn north. This would take us under the bridge next to the airport which had a clearance of 41 metres. Our funnel is 39.6 metres so we just squeezed underneath. Good calculations with the ballasting by the Staff Captain I feel!

We had to inform air traffic control at the airport as we would pass right ahead of the runway and any plane on final approach would be blocked by our ships bulk. As a result, we had to time it to pass by the end of the runway when no planes were landing or taking off. Once clear of the narrows we built the speed up to full, as we sped through the night towards Alta. The evening’s entertainment through in the Britannia Lounge tonight was with our resident production company The Explosive Cast. Titled ‘All you need is love’ this was a great tribute to the Beatles.

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

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.