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A Winter trip on MS Lofoten, Jan/Feb 2016

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  • A Winter trip on MS Lofoten, Jan/Feb 2016

    OK, here goes! The usual start-of-voyage cabin photos first, obviously. N501 on Lofoten was, I found, small, clean and a bit worn. It's a single cabin, so I suppose I shouldn't have expected anything other than small. The usual Lofoten idiosyncratic charm is evident in the four different lights in the cabin (not counting the bathroom), all individually switched, all of differing types and all totally inappropriate: the main light is very slow to brighten and not very bright at that, while the reading light by the bed is a very harsh fluorescent tube and probably the brightest one in the cabin. Look at it in the right way and it's charming!

    The cabin is behind the panorama lounge. Come out of the lounge and, instead of going down the stairs, go around the top of the stairs and down a short corridor, and you find N500, a door to crew quarters, and N501. The outside window is at the foot of the steps to the bridge wing on the starboard side.

    The view in from the window:

    The door into the cabin is on the right, beyond the bed/settee. The telephone by the door is, I think (Nari?) a new thing. The two red lights are buttons to switch on (i) general announcements and (ii) northern lights sightings, so you can switch these off in individual cabins. They are also very bright and work as nightlights - more charm :-)

    The view from the cabin door: firstly, towards the window,

    (bright reading light switched off!). The bed/settee wasn't as comfortable as A220 I had last time, it seemed older and more worn. It wasn't as well-balanced either, and needed a good shove to get the bed out and to put it away again.

    Secondly, looking right from the door:

    My first Ambassador fruit basket :-) The other basket contained toiletries, which I didn't use (but the tin of Lofoten soap is a nice souvenir and is now in my bathroom). Plenty of space in the wardrobe, but only one shelf and no drawers, The bathroom is on the left, with a perfect suitcase-sized space in between.

    Another inside shot:

    The aircon / ventilation unit is on the ceiling top left, and there's a heater with a thermostat control (which works!) behind the small circular table. The weird photographer dude is some bloke who hung around there a lot, with a camera seemingly permanently attached to his face...

    To sum up: classic Lofoten, all slightly scruffy, but warm, comfortable and cosy :-)

    Finally, the leaving-Bergen-in-the-rain photo,

  • #2
    Day 2

    Early start today: it was announced last night that breakfast this morning would be from 0630 to 0730 only, since the crossing of the Stadhavet (0800-1000, roughly) was going to be very rough. I'm most definitely a morning person, so was happy to get up at 0615 for breakfast and to see Måløy; others seemed rather less happy! One woman turned up to breakfast in pyjamas and dressing gown - I don't know if this was to make a point, or if someone had a quiet word with her, but it didn't happen again... To make up for it, we had a 4 and a half hour brunch, from 1000 to 1430 and I suspect some people stuck it out for the full four and a half hours.

    This is why I'm a morning person:

    I mean, who wouldn't get up at 0615 for that?

    As it turned out, Måløy was wild and wet and windy, so I ddn't see much. And the Stadhavet was rough, as forecast: really not breakfasting conditions. Torvik was again wild and wet and windy, so I got off just for 5 minutes. The rest of the morning passed, looking much like this:

    Ålesund was, guess what? Wild and wet and windy. I waited on board for an hour, but conditions didn't improve, so I headed out anyway and up to Fjellstua. I was soaked by the time I got up the steps, so I took one single quick misty photograph and dashed back to the boat, in the howling wind and lashing rain, to change and warm up.

    More mealtime changes were announced. We were around 100 or so passengers, so two sittings for dinner (the new shiny silver service dinner. I'm not convinced, but anyway...). Except tonight, when there would just be one as we would be crossing the Hustadvika around 1800 (early, having skipped Molde). So we left Ålesund, to the surprise of some on the harbour, into the force 10 and rising storm...

    And oh, was it wild! It was magnificent. Tucked into various sheltered corners out on deck, bracing and trying to time photographs with peak pitch and roll, when the ship is instantaneously hardly moving. Just enjoying the enlivening experience of being out there while the storm raged around us.

    Kristiansund was also cancelled, as the Captain wanted to keep us ahead of the worst of the storm. So I secured everything in my cabin, got an early night, and slept well in all the rocking and rolling.


    • nari
      nari commented
      Editing a comment
      What a story -wonderful storm photos, enough blue light and waves to sink a battleship, etc.
      I was impressed by 1) the phone, 2) the bowl of fruit (I did 5 voyages and never got an Ambassador card, even though they said it was coming..) but that is just a minor curiosity. The room looked crowded, but sometimes the perspective in photos can be misleading.
      Climbing Mt Aksla in storm conditions sounds very hardy - but then what's a bit of rain and wind in order to get up on heights and photograph the big picture...

    • billplumtree
      billplumtree commented
      Editing a comment
      The room was very crowded. It was narrow to start with, and the circular table was completely the wrong shape to make the most of the space, it just got in the way mostly. All quite charming :-)

      And Aksla - by the time I got up there I didn't really care how the picture turned out! I took one and didn't check to see if it was ok, just turned round and headed back down again.

  • #3
    Day 3

    That long morning in Trondheim and long afternoon at sea day. I didn't rush to get up today, since I'd visited Nordkapp last time and I wasn't able to walk into the city. So I had a leisurely breakfast and an easy wander around the harbour, all very pleasant and undemanding. I remembered that it took until the end of day 3 for me to start relaxing last time round, so at least I'm improving on that score.

    I took the obvious BIG NORDKAPP - tiny Lofoten pic, from the other side of the snowy harbour (yes, we had snow by this point, which I'd been looking forward to),

    This one particularly appealed to me for the impression of 35mm film strip created by the row of windows and their reflections:

    I watched Nordkapp depart, and then noticed the cormorants perched in the harbour. This is a crop from the one in the Lofoten thread

    Then I mooched around the harbour area for a while, enjoying some of the architecture

    and, of course, Lofoten herself

    until it was time to leave.


    • #4
      Day 3 cont.

      So to the long afternoon at sea. What better way to pass the time than knitting? I witnessed the birth of the knitting circle, when Menap (from Thailand) asked Assumpta (from Ireland) if she would help him to move on from simple scarves, and she started him to work on a sock.

      He only managed to knit one sock during the voyage, but luckily it was probably big enough to get both feet in at once.

      I took the usual dining room pic,

      of course, before the light turned that gorgeous blue and died,

      Once we reached the open sea , we caught the swell following yesterday's storm and had another rough ride. I noticed, though there weren't any announcements, that we missed out going through Stokksundet:

      We also again had a single sitting for dinner again, followed by another delightfully rocky night.


      • #5
        It seems that you missed out on a few things, but there's no accounting for the weather. Imagine if you had been on a small fishing vessel.....!
        Sometimes in rough seas one needs four hands to hold everything down on the table. I recall in the Drake passage there was a system - the current and the wind come from due west, so someone with a sharp eye yelled: All hands to the table!!
        Which meant we never lost anything off the table but pranced around it like a bunch of jazz dancers.
        At least it was predictable, with a full-on beam sea.


        • #6
          Such a great report. I like also the storm pictures. I am surprised that you managed to get N501 as a late booker. I was expecting, that the cabins on that deck would be the first which are occupied. Is N501 really a single cabin. I know other pictures with two beds in there. Are these wrong? 100 passengers on a winter trip is an impressive number, i remember much smaller countings in former years.
          Lofoten '07 ...... Nordnorge '11


          • billplumtree
            billplumtree commented
            Editing a comment
            Thanks Ralf. I was surprised too - maybe it was a cancellation? It is definitely a single cabin, and is sold as such. The fittings are still there, and were obviously used, for the upper bunk bed - but it would have been a *really* small cabin for two.

        • #7
          Day 4

          I didn't bother getting up early for the crossing of the Arctic Circle, as I knew it would be dark anyway. So I had a lie-in instead, relatively speaking, and was downstairs to wave at Polarlys and for a quick breakfast at 0815. Only a quick breakfast, mind, because the run-in to Ørnes along Meløyfjorden, as dawn broke, was just magnificent.

          The pre-dawn blue was up to the usual standard I'd already come to expect,

          And dawn itself, when it arrived, wasn't so bad either

          In fact, the scenery can speak for itself.


          • nari
            nari commented
            Editing a comment
            Being a geology freak, the tone of your photos is inspirational to think more about how these particular mountains evolved during the collision process of two continents. Apart from that, they are spectacular in themselves.

        • #8
          Day 4 cont

          And those tiny fragile-looking cabins, below huge mountains and cliffs. Wonderful.

          I skipped the ice-cube treatment shortly after Ørnes too, and instead took the opportunity to survey the wide variety of headgear on display.

          I decided this one was the winner:

          On the way to Bodø, I kept myself entertained by experimenting with panoramas. This is Fugløya island:

          I still don't 'get' Bodø itself though, it just doesn't really do anything for me. I had a short walk around, and enjoyed the snow and ice, but.... Maybe it's just me.


          • nari
            nari commented
            Editing a comment
            I never 'got' Bodo either, even over 5 trips. It is excused however by the country eastwards - the mountains.

        • #9
          Day 4 cont

          Sunset! That's something Bodø is good at. This one happened shortly before we left at 3pm:

          Leaving Bodø, we passed Landegode and its lovely fyr,

          as the sun left us completely,

          and set off across the (by now relatively calm) Vestfjord.

          I took the opportunity to switch from second sitting for dinner to the first - I mean, who eats at 8pm? One of my new dining companions was very much a people person. In fact, the peoplest people person I've ever met. He seemed to know all the passengers - and crew - by name (this is still only day 4, remember, and day 1 only started at 6pm), all about them having a sick mother or a messy divorce or a bad leg. If only I'd thought quickly enough, I could have made up an entirely imaginary name and personality for myself...

          Approaching Svolvaer at 9pm, we had our first announcement of northern lights (while the second sitting were eating, so that switch was well worthwhile). As I was disorganised and very much out of practice, I got only lots of blurry photographs of them, and then they disappeared. Grrr. Let's just hope they come back again, and that I'm a bit better prepared when they do. A few minutes later, in Svolvaer itself, it started to snow heavily just as we arrived, and standing on a stationary dock even I couldn't miss this opportunity:

          That, to me, was much more pleasing than any northern lights display.


          • nari
            nari commented
            Editing a comment
            Quote: That, to me, was much more pleasing than any northern lights display.


        • #10
          Thank you for this splendid report from one of my favourite subjects!
          Regards; Sigve.


          • billplumtree
            billplumtree commented
            Editing a comment
            You're welcome, Sigve. In case it's not obvious, she's one of my favourite subjects too :-)

        • #11
          Very special report. I share your feelings about Oernes and Bodoe. However Bodoe is developing and now a nice opportunity to go shopping and fill up the thing you need on board. Approaching Oernes is indeed one of the most wonderful areas of the Hurtigruten route. Very nice study of the headgears! I am not able to declare one of it as winner! They are all outstanding!
          Lofoten '07 ...... Nordnorge '11


          • #12
            Day 5

            We were in Harstad from 0645 to 0800, so that was always going to be worth getting up early for. So 0700 alarm it was, and Harstad didn't let me down, with beautiful deep blue skies, moonrise over the hills, and Richard With all coming together just before we left

            Dawn was just breaking behind us as we left port,

            but hadn't yet reached Trondenes church,

            The light eventually caught up with us, heading north-eastwards,

            for a brief period. The clear skies didn't last long, however: this snowstorm approaching Grytøya Island, soon enveloped us too:

            and the rest of the morning was grey and snowy. Not in a bad way though, not with scenery like Dyrøya, on the way to Finnsnes


            • #13
              Day 5 cont.

              A snowy Finnsnes, and Gisundet, came and went under grey skies. But the best scenery of the day, in my view, was in Straumsfjorden, the long narrow run-in towards Tromsø.

              I loved the way that the grey skies and snow made the landscape almost monochrome and then, when the cloud thinned and the snow eased off, the houses popped with colour.

              And Tromsø too popped with colour when we arrived at around 2.30pm,

              though that didn't last long, as we only just made it before the sun went down,


              • #14
                Day 5 cont.

                And so the entertainment for the rest of the afternoon, and fine entertainment it was too, was watching the light change on the Arctic Cathedral.

                All from the comfort of the deck, with a warm cup of coffee to hand :-)

                And, speaking of coffee: no more coffee deal! :-( It ended at the end of last year. I had a suspicion that this would be the case, since it was mentioned in the 2015 literature but not the 2016, so (being something of a coffee and tea addict) I took a small kettle just in case, and used it a lot. I don't know if this means no more little red insulated mugs, but I certainly didn't see any apart from the one I brought and that of another very disappointed passenger.


                • nari
                  nari commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Wonderful moody photos. The no-free-coffee deal is quite a disaster, though not unexpected. It was something extra that appealed to many passengers, but easily abused, I guess.

                • Tommi
                  Tommi commented
                  Editing a comment
                  We should drink less coffee, or do it the "Ralf style"! :-)

                • nari
                  nari commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Actually Tommi, the latest on the caffeine scene is that we should drink more coffee, not less. On a TV Science program here sometime ago, it stated well defined cardiac benefits and also general health improvements with regular coffee intake.
                  Of course, as with all food intake, they could change their minds in a year.....

              • #15

                The pictures in this thread are awesome! What a nice momento from a very nice trip!

                Make me want to jump on to a ship right away and take it northwards.
                With best regards from Jan-Olav Storli

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