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::: Nordstjernen :::

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    There were no “day sheets” issued as I’m used to…notices were posted at the entrance to the dining room, and, the day’s activities and timings displayed on the large flat screen in the aft lounge. I was not always remembering to photograph this as I ought to have done.

    Anyway, at about 6pm, some time before claiming an Ambassadors’ Club welcome drink and heading for dinner, MS Nordstjernen left the pier at Longyearbyen and was on her way to Barentsburg.

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      Re: ::: Nordstjernen :::

      A beautiful opener for this trip and again we may participate to your wonderful narrations.
      But what a surprise: No nocturnal activities on this trip! You are a real kind person, maybe this explains your "supposedly-separated-from" status.
      I never would have been (and never will be) so considerate. Baaah, so we have to concentrate on day pictures.


      ...can't wait for the continuation though...

      Lofoten '07 ...... Nordnorge '11

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        Re: ::: Nordstjernen :::

        I do like your pics, Cecilia.....and your self-mockery.So impatient to read again about your love story with the proud NX.

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          Re: ::: Nordstjernen :::

          As always, a great beginning of a truly enthusiastic trip-report. You are so careful to document every detail worth to be documented.
          Looking forward to see how this trip evolves.

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            An evening in Barentsburg

            Day…Night…

            It was still, just, theoretically, the Midnight Sun period at the latitude of Longyearbyen. The look of the photos would be influenced by the changes and variations of weather rather than by the clock. Later in the voyage there would be sunset-coloured sky and later still came blue-hour evening and night darkness as the ship continued south along the Norwegian coast –an extraordinary experience, like seeing the changes of light and season speeded up in time-lapse.

            So although one was to drift into retiring by the clock and habit, the first evening aboard Nordstjernen would be the exception, for the ship would dock at Barentsburg after dinner, and there was to be a excursion ashore in this Russian settlement. Even a chance to buy a vodka or two and continue on to some local entertainment.



            Here is the ship at Barentsburg, as people make their way up the many steps of the wooden staircases.

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              The local Russian guides were waiting for us, and we are grouped according to language. If we look a little cold, it was, up on the higher level more so than at the pier. You can see a lot of building work in progress on this photo, both renovation and new construction.

              Did I mention that I have been here before? I was in Svalbard in 1999, before I started taking digital photos and before Hurtigruten got together with Spitzbergen Travel. I see changes in Barentsburg, and, despite the new buildings and prettification of some older ones with mural artworks, I came away this time with more photos suited for that favourite CVF thread “abandoned houses and properties”…but then I’m attracted, pulled in to such places and subject matter… and, as in 1999, the weather played along. There are some places in the world that to me just don’t look right in bright sun beneath a vivid blue sky – Barentsburg, definitely. The landscape of Scotland’s Glencoe is another.


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                There will be many more photos for other threads sometime, but here in the story of the ship and of this voyage, you have to imagine continuing along with that group, until the guide leaves us in a little souvenir shop and bar. I didn’t move on to the folklore show later (those that did seemed to have enjoyed it), but a few of us lingered over a second vodka and conversation. And of course we were talking of ships and voyages and travellers tales.

                We, like the majority of guests on the cruise were repeat “Hurtigruters” in one form or another, whether on Fram’s explorer cruises (you’ll have noticed many Fram blue jackets around), or on the regular coastal route. There was indeed much “Hurti-wear” in evidence throughout the voyage …and among those who got off to an earlier start in this passion, tee-shirts from Harald Jarl and other older traditional ships.





                And so, after Hurtigruten biographies exchanged and an evening of convivial conversation I returned to Nordstjernen. Cabin-mate had already done so, but I knew I would not disturb his sleep as he was eager to make the most of internet computer connection which wouldn’t be possible for the next few days. Ah, good, he took a photo of the day notice for what is to come…

                I do love that quotation of Amundsen…“Adventure is just bad planning” !


                (Photo taken by D. Taylor)

                EDIT: I've just noticed that they’d made a mistake with the date …which was Wednesday the 22nd August!

                In the next instalment we make our first landing with the Polar Cirkel boats in Magdalenefjord...
                Last edited by Seagull; September 8th, 2012, 15:54.

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                  Morning landing at Magdalenefjord, Wednesday 22nd August 2012.

                  The day did not start well when cabin-mate, assuming that the breakfast buffet was free seating (as had been his previous experience on both Trollfjord and Fram), plonked some plates of food down to “reserve” a strategically nearby table while experimenting with the toaster. I was not to be believed, and my first attempt to relocate to our assigned table nearly resulted in a tantrum reminiscent of Vigeland’s sculpture “Sinnataggen”! I hate these embarrassing situations. To be fair, the travel documents had included all sorts of booklets and info irrelevant to our particular ship and voyage, but then it had been issued by booking office staff based far away in Estonia. (And cabin-mate did say he’d apologised to the table’s intended occupants later…).

                  I’m mentioning the subject of table allocations while you have that day programme sheet photo conveniently to hand.
                  [added as EDIT: OK, this ended up at the top of a new page, but that day programme photo is only a click away )
                  There was only one sitting for lunch throughout the cruise. To accomplish this, the cafeteria area was set out as an extension to the restaurant, and our table, 19, was in fact there. I found this very convenient for slipping out to the aft deck for a quick photo should something exciting happen during mealtimes! The main disadvantage (other than the obvious one of distance from the buffet servery) was that the spacing to the table behind was a little cramped, with occasional clashing of chairs when buffet visits coincided.

                  Whilst dinner was a served three course set meal (and very excellent it was too), lunch was a buffet, and to ease congestion at the servery and expedite drinks orders, the three sections of the “restaurant” were at staggered times, as you can see on the sheet. However, the order did not consistently rotate day by day as expected, leading some in the cafeteria (which was usually last) to mutter darkly about being “second class citizens”. But then the announcement calls to lunch on the PR system didn’t always match the daily sheet either! To me these idiosyncrasies are somehow part of the charm of an old traditional ship and a unique voyage, and I am delightedly sharing these reminiscences with you all in that spirit.

                  There was a particularly distinctive aspect of the call to meals which I will save till later, as it requires some experimentation regarding sound files!

                  After breakfast came the mandatory briefing which admirably covered aspects of information and recommendations of the official body concerned with Arctic Tourism in Svalbard, as well as the more obviously important safety information regarding polar bears and the requirement of our guides to be armed. The procedures of landing with the Polar Cirkel boats were explained, the life jackets demonstrated, and questions answered.

                  Soon I was out on deck, watching the deployment of the Polar Cirkel boats.



                  This shows the stairway being lowered –its arrangement will be clear in the next photo. Everyone soon became used to the safety rule of one person at a time on the stairs.
                  Last edited by Seagull; September 8th, 2012, 22:48.

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                      There was no wind that morning, making it feel considerably warmer, and it was a delight to watch the first landings onto the beach.

                      I remembered fondly how I’d watched the boats loaded onto Nordstjernen at Stokmarknes in March, ready for the Svalbard season. Memories too of some of them – they have names – from other Explorer Cruises on Nordnorge and Fram. But there is another charming aspect which I already mentioned elsewhere here on CVF and that is the mascots!

                      Now meet Tulla who works on PCB Ylva!
                      Last edited by Seagull; September 8th, 2012, 22:10.

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                        Soon I too have landed on the pebbly beach

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                          Here is the magnificent view back to the ship.







                          I join a group with an English-speaking Swiss guide, Stéphane.

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                            Naturally I took many more photos during the walk than are appropriate here, but I do have more of Nordstjernen!



                            …and even, as she gently rotates at anchor, that CVF favourite – the head on “pakarang view”!! ...or rather the "reverse" in this case!

                            Last edited by Seagull; September 9th, 2012, 13:47.

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                              This is a favourite image of mine. Not for specifically geological reasons – I didn’t examine this huge rock closely – but there is something dramatic about it, this triangular rock with the ship in the distance, and in my imagination the juxtapositions of the rock strata and the wood seem to take on the appearance of some giant hammer embedded in the rock, like a set for a Wagnerian opera.

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                                Possibly the reason I had not looked closely at the rock was that there had been a distraction happening in another group just then. On such a calm day and the shallow water at the beach, it had been mentioned that it was possible to swim in the Arctic Ocean, and someone actually wanted to experience rather more than just momentarily sticking a finger in it! This gentle giant would be the first to laugh had he known our guide had just been talking about thickness of blubber in whales a moment before!

                                He later received a special card, signed by all the crew.

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