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15th July, 2016

Tromso is probably best known for two reasons, the first being that it was the place where the German battleship Tirpitz was finally sunk by British bombers during the Second World War, and the second is that it has often been called ‘The Gateway to the Arctic’. In the 19th century it was a base for Arctic explorers and the Polar Museum, located in an old customs warehouse dating back to 1830, is popular for visitors who wish to take a glance into this exciting period of history.

Our berth, where we stayed overnight, is conveniently close to the city. Major construction works are going on alongside as a new cruise terminal is to be completed in 2018, so Tromso may yet again be the gateway to the Arctic, this time for cruise passengers who may fly into to the airport in order to join a ship for a voyage going further north than ours.

We had four excursions taking in everything this part of Norway has to offer, including the unusual modern aluminium clad Arctic Cathedral built in 1965. Some went to the Wilderness Centre to meet the 200 huskies, while others had a chance to meet the Sami people and their reindeer. Behind us the daily Hurtigruten vessel came in for a four hour stop before proceeding to all ports north.

After a morning of ‘duties’I popped ashore with Mrs R for a quick stroll and happened to meet Julian, our Food and Beverage manager who was just leaving a ‘tourist’shop with a number of large bags. On venturing to ask what he had been up to, I was invited to look at the contents. Inside were quite a number of those tasteful plastic Viking horned helmets one might see at a fancy dress. When I raised an eyebrow he explained they were for a very special Viking lunch he was organising for our next sea day. I look forward, with a certain degree of trepidation, to seeing a number of our Filipino waiters serving passengers while dressed up to look like Viking marauders.

Captain Philip Rentell

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