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4th March, 2016

Alta, Norway

Following yet another smooth trip we arrived at the port which for so many was undoubtedly the highlight of the cruise, Alta. I berthed Saga Sapphire shortly after 8am on Friday the 4th March and we are to remain alongside until Sunday the 6th March. The approach to the berth in Alta is an interesting one in that the berth is exceedingly close to the end of the runway at Alta airport, and indeed clearance must be sought from the Control Tower at the airport before the approach is made so as not to be a nuisance to pilots making their final approach.

lta sits at the mouth of the top of Altafjord and is made up of three villages - Bukta, Elvebakken and Bossekop, where the indigenous Sami people used to hold their bi-annual market. The nearby town of Kafjord is also well known as it was where one of the world’s largest battleships “The Tirpiz” was based during World War II and was the German headquarters for the North West. About 13 miles out of the city centre stands one of Alta’s better known modern attractions the Alta Igloo Hotel. This 30 bedroom hotel was first constructed in the year 2000 and has been built here every year since out of ice and snow. The hotel is open for three months while the weather is cold enough to prevent it melting away.

Throughout our extended there were a myriad of tours available including dog sledding, a snowmobile safari and reindeer sledding.

One of the most interesting tours on offer in the evening was an overnight at the Sorrisniva Igloo Hotel. This allowed the more adventurous of our guests the opportunity to stay overnight at the magical ice built Sorrisniva Igloo Hotel. A short 30 minute coach journey through the countryside brought passengers to the famous Ice Hotel. Upon arrival passengers were met by Sorrisniva who was the local tour host giving passengers a little bit of history regarding the hotel which is rebuilt every winter. Passengers enjoyed a welcome drink and were able to take an in depth look around the hotel before being served a choice of a two course dinner, either locally sourced reindeer or salmon. After dinner passengers had the chance to enjoy bright blue vodka from the ice bar where even the glasses are made of ice. When it was time to retire the private igloo bedrooms certainly offered a memorable end to the night, with reindeer fur lined bed and warm sleeping bags making the -5 degrees temperature much more comfortable. The following morning there was a chance to enjoy a sauna and buffet breakfast in the restaurant before making their way back to Alta by coach and the warmth of Saga Sapphire.

Sadly the Aurora did not make an appearance on our first overnight in Alta, however the second night was a VERY different story indeed. At around 10pm I was stood on the Bridge Wing when the sky above erupted into the unmistakable colours of the Aurora, I immediately made an announcement to everyone onboard and within seconds our open decks were flooded with passengers, gasping in awe at the stunning show above, our ‘Search for the Northern Lights’ is now very much complete!

With everyone safely onboard we departed on Mothering Sunday (and yes I remembered to send the card!) and now make our way slowly south, next stop Narvik.

Captain Wesley Dunlop

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.