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24th February, 2020


When I got the email from Captain Burgess asking me to write the blog about Alta, I inwardly groaned!  Captain has asked me to blog on the port with the most tours, the longest possible dispatch, the most challenging tours and of course the coldest port of call… and then tells me to keep it short!!

Where we berth is right next to the local airport and I am astonished that aeroplanes can land in a snow blizzard, they have this landing down to a fine art!  No snowflake (or 300 billion) are going to stop these pilots!

Well it was a military operation over the last 2 days, our poor guests thought they were coming on vacation however, I had them out and about, on and off buses and just when they thought they had 30 minutes to freshen up, and I had them on the move again! 

We had a total of 47 buses on tour in Alta over the 2 day period with a total of 1498 guests on tour The day temperature was between 2 -12 degrees with a variety of horizontal snow, blizzard, sunshine and blizzard again all in 1 hour!!

We had a great variety of tours over these 2 days, from Reindeer sledding, dog sledding, home visits, cultural city and Cathedral tours to visiting the Ice hotel and even ice sculpting!  A few brave souls overnighted in the Ice hotel and reported that it was a once in a lifetime experience; even though they had to dress like an Eskimo to visit the loo at night and then try remember which curtain to open to get back to their room!  It was a beautiful room however…

My personal experience was rather limited in Alta, I had the delight of spending 2 days in the parking lot loading busses however together with our amazing housekeeping team (out with a smile, sanitising buses all day) we made our own fun….

In the evening, I did manage to join the 17th bus out to the Aurora camp.  We had 2 camps we took all the guests to in the hope to see the lights, I was at camp Solvag which was a lovely camp with lots of Tipi tents to hide from the cold and delicious hot chocolate and cake to warm the heart and body.  At around 22:15 the skies cleared and we got some lovely sights of the Northern Lights, we were very fortunate.  The show lasted about 45 minutes….even though us brave souls stayed out there until well after midnight.  Chef George and his remarkable team provided a great spread for us when we returned, cannot possibly go to bed hungry!

We were very fortunate to get 33 of our crew out this night as well; they had their own campsite to visit.  They spent more time playing in the snow, making snow angels, snowball fights and trying to build snowmen then actually watching the night sky, however they too saw the lights.  I wonder how many selfies were taken that night!

Well I have learnt two very big lessons being in the snow, biting wind and ice for a couple of days.

  1. The only clothing that keeps you warm is from animal products, silk, wool, leather etc, synthetic material is useless when you are in the land of snow and ice.
  2. Pens freeze, I had no idea that my pen would freeze, monitoring dispatch with a frozen pen is no fun, and I have now invested in a pencil!

Coming from South Africa, I must admit I hate the cold!  I was not brought up with snow and ice and although this is a great novelty, I must admit if I ever see another snowflake, again… will be too soon!

Best wishes to you all.

Judi, Explore Ashore Manager

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