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15th March, 2015

Geiranger Fjord

Two fjord pilots boarded just south of Alesund as we passed the mass of black mountain silhouetted against the stars at Breidsundet, and for the next four hours we continued sixty miles deeper into Norway. The dawn broke in spectacular glory, with the sun reflecting off the snow-capped peaks long before it rose above them, and as we turned finally towards Geiranger for the last nine miles of our journey, the sides of the fjord seemed to close in upon us. Because we are still very much in the Norwegian winter there was no fresh spring growth, just black rock, the brown remains of last year’s vegetation and a few leafless trees clinging to exposed ledges. The falls were almost waterless as the mountain snow had yet to melt, the fresh water of the upper reaches of the fjord started to show the first indications of ice, and as we rounded the last corner a thin layer covered our path. We became an ice breaker, of modest requirement of course, but it was a first for me in this magical place.

We were the first cruise ship of the year and received the three canon salute on our final approach, the loud bangs scaring the sea birds that had been standing on the ice. By the time the first tender was heading for the jetty the sun had risen sufficiently to bathe the village in a contrasting brightness, and the temperature began to rise, slightly, from the 1 degree I had witnessed first thing. Still the passengers went ashore wrapped up to the nines, as did we when venturing ashore for a walk up past the waterfall and then along the fjord’s coastal path. It was superb, bracing and peaceful, a far cry from the hustle and bustle during summer when up to five ‘mega’ ships can be anchored.

A cold wind blowing down from the mountains picked up during the day, but by that time most of the folk had returned and were comfortably ensconced on board. We let go our mooring lines around five, but I had sent one of the tenders down the fjord with our photographers to await our ‘appearance’. Holding back in order to let them get into position, we eventually came around a bend as they filmed us emerging, as it were, from behind a great wall of black and grey. More shots were taken as we slowly steamed past one of the great waterfalls that was actually in modest flow. I wait now, somewhat eagerly for the results.

Captain Philip Rentell

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