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23rd June, 2017


At 0300 this morning we crossed the Arctic Circle and entered the Arctic Latitudes. I awoke of course as I felt the “bump”. Chatting to some Guests later I heard a number had woken themselves up for this great event. It was a bit too early to have a “crossing the line” ceremony, and somewhat chilly, so instead all our Guests received a certificate and had an Arctic Champagne & Caviar breakfast – true 5 star Saga style.

It was a mid-day arrival into Akureyri and after entering the fjord about an hour before, Peter our 3rd Officer had the Con this morning as we made our way to the pilot station. There was fair amount of “liquid sunshine” and shortly after the pilot boarded the wind freshened to 25 knots. I took the con approximately 1 mile from the berth, and at a speed of 6 knots with our berth abeam we started a 180’ turn back into the wind and using the breezy conditions we worked our way alongside. We were all fast alongside by 1200 and our first tours were heading off at 1300 hrs. There were 4 tours including: Nature, Folk & Flora, Whale Watching, Leisurely Akureyri and Godafoss Waterfall, and Myvatn Nature Baths.

Named after the Akureyri, one of the numerous spits of land in Pollurin, the capital of northern Iceland was originally settled by the Vikings during the 9th century AD. Danish merchants later based their summer camps here and in 1778 the town was granted a municipal charter by Denmark. The outstanding natural harbour and productive agricultural region surrounding Akureyri fostered the development of the town and today’s visitors will find a wealth of entertainment and cultural attractions including museums, lovely botanical gardens and the church.

We remained in port overnight and I took the opportunity to indulge in a full body massage from our Decleor Spa Manageress – wow it was fantastic and comes highly recommended. I decided to have a quiet night in with room service which was excellent and was fresh from the main galley. I watched the first 2 episodes of the Night Manager – a series I have been intending to watch for quite some time – I wasn’t disappointed and now I can’t wait to watch the next episode.

At 1230 on Saturday I headed off the ship with the Port Agent and Charlotte, our 4th Officer. I had been asked by our Saga Head Office to go and look at a potential new port in the NW corner of Iceland. After a 1 hour drive through some beautiful countryside, and a few tunnels, we arrived at Siglufjordur, where I met the local Harbour Master. He was an ex Fishing Trawler Skipper and a real character. We had a quick coffee in his office and then he produced a bottle of Cognac!! Whilst I am quite partial to this I had to abstain as I was driving the ship in 3 hours!!

Anyway the port review was very beneficial and Siglufjordur is a very pretty little town. We had a good tour round despite the rain and then shortly before leaving I noted a very large fishing trawler on one of the berths that looked very new. I asked the Harbour Master if we could have a look round and before I could say another word he had shot up the gangway and then shortly afterwards beckoned us on board.

The trawler was only 3 months old, approx. 85m long and had all the latest equipment (photos attached). The Bridge was very high tech and made me think of our new ship “Spirit of Discovery” which I know will also have all the “bells & whistles”. We had a great look round the Bridge and met the Chief Engineer (the Captain was ashore) who explained some of the equipment. The trawler was able to operate 2 nets at a time, and could trawl to a depth of 1,000 metres. The nets also had sensors on them such that they could see and assess the weight of fish entering the net at any time – amazing!!

At 1500 we left the trawler and my new friend the local Harbour Master (still no cognac!!) and got back to the ship for 1615. With everyone on board we then sailed with Franko, Staff Captain “driving” out. At 1930 I was again hosting a table – I really enjoy meeting guests as they are so interesting and so many have led very exciting lives.

See you in Isafjordur .

Captain Julian Burgess

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.