Aboard the Hurtigruten to Kirkenes

Monday 27th June

It's just after half past seven in the morning as we walk to the quayside at Harstad to board the 'Nordlys' for the northbound Hurtigruten voyage to Kirkenes. We had been able to book the last available cabin which, in contrast to the one we had on our December voyage, was an outside cabin with a view of the sea rather than a view of a lifeboat!

As far as Tromsø we were travelling as deck passengers so we made our way to the upper decks to witness the arrival of the southbound Hurtigruten which arrived just before we sailed. The 'Trollfjord' was the only one of the Hurtigruten ships that we hadn't seen on our previous trips so I was pleased to have seen it at last.

Click on the photo to see a larger panoramic image of Harstad harbour.

The ship headed out into the Vågsfjorden past several small islands and the much larger island of Grytøya in the distance.

A final look back at Harstad.

To the south the mountains rise up to over 1100 metres above sea level.

The Dyrøybrua links the island of Dyrøy with the mainland.

The small port of  Finsnes was reached at 11:15...

....and the usual stacks of palletised cargo  awaited the ship.

Two catamarans on the Tromsø to Harstad fast boat service passed us whilst we berthed at Finnsnes.

Leaving Finnsnes the Gisundbrua is seen. This crosses the strait between the mainland and the island of Senja.

The bridge is 1147 metres long and has a height of 41mm above the water. (12:12)

(12:42) The ship heads north through the particularly narrow section of the Gisundet (The Gi Sound) opposite Gibostad

(12:44) Passing the settlement at Gibostad.

(12:46)

(12:47) The ship is now in the Straumsfjorden

(13:55) Mountains on the mainland

(14:39) Approaching Tromsø with the mainland on the right...

....and the town on the island to the left

Passing the Polaria: this arctic aquarium is housed in a building modelled on ice floes. The glass structure contains an old seal hunting boat the M/S Polstjerna.

The Arctic Cathedral seen across the Tromsøy Sundet (Tromsø Sound).

We arrive at 14:30 and are able to get access to our cabin which was an outer one similar to the one we had in the ship on our December 2016 trip. This time our view wasn't blocked by a lifeboat and even better there wasn't a walkway outside.  After a visit to the town to buy supplies of fruit for the journey north the ship left Tromsø at 18:30.

The 'Nordlys' at the quayside in Tromsø.

The map shows the route from Tromsø to Kirkenes. Click on the map for a larger image

Looking north towards the bridge.

The ship is sailing north up the Grotøsundet with the mainland on the left in this view looking south.

Over to the east Lyngen peninsula the Lyngen Alps where the mountains rise to over 1600 metres with numerous glaciers - click to see a larger image.

This telephoto shot is, I believe, the Forholtbreen glacier.

The flag is still flying as we pass the entrance to the Ullsfjorden.

Looking straight up the Ullsfjorden.

21:20 - looking west as the sun begins to sink in the sky.

We pass the 'Kong Harald' with the usual exchange of siren blasts echoing around the mountains.

22:10. The sun lights up the mountains on the mainland ...

...but on the west side the fjords on the island Arnøya are almost silhouetted against the bright sky.

22:35 Approaching the first port of call at Skervøy a few minutes later than scheduled

There are several trawlers at the quayside...

The quayside at Skervøy looks a little more inviting than it did on our winter trip seen below.

http://steverabone.com/Norway%20Winter%202015/wpeB.jpg

Heading away from Skervøy a little late at 23:14 fingers are firmly crossed that we will see a full midnight sun.

(23:30) The ship is now heading out into one of the stretches of open see

Looking back to the island of Arnoya

00:05

Tuesday 27th June 2016

During the night the ship called at  Øksfjord and Hammerfest which would see on the southbound voyage. The first 'daytime' port was at Havøysund from 0845 to 0915

08:20

After breakfast it was time to go on deck for the approach to Havøysund. The bridge linking the island on which the town stands to the mainland can be seen in  the distance.

We passed the southbound Hurtigruten, in this case our old favourite  the 'Lofoten' just before we docked at Havøysund

The fork lifts get ready as we dock.

Looking across to the mainland with the prominent peak of Sukkertoppen (382m) on the right. Click on photo for larger image

As we head north the profile of this mountain becomes even more distinctive. The main road from the island runs along the foot of this peak by the shore.

As we leave the island of  Havøya is on the right

The ship now sails through the Magerøysundet with the mainland on the right

Over to the left are the cliffs of the southern part of the island of  Magerøya. The main E69 road passes under the sound in the Nordkapp Tunnel.

The main town on Magerøya is Honnigsvåg and it is immediately obvious that there is a big cruise ship in port.

Honnigsvåg

The Dutch 'Prinsendam' cruise ship was moored in Honnigsvåg but we didn't see any obvious groups  of passengers.

We had decided to go on the rather expensive excursion to the Nordkapp. In 2016 this was about £100 of which about £30 covers the cost of visiting the actual Nordkapp Visitors' Centre area with its various museums, sculptures, restaurants, shops etc. etc.

Supposedly the North Cape is the most northerly point in Europe although, of course, it isn't. It is, however, the most northerly point of the European road network and is the end of road E69.

On the outskirts of Honnigsvåg was one of the racks for drying fish that we had seen on the Lofoten islands.

The road to Nordkapp climbs from sea level at Honnigsvåg to just over 300m at Nordkapp. The total distance is 34km.

The map shows the route from Honnigsvåg to  Nordkapp.

The photos below give a taste of what the journey is like.

The hotel and camping area at Skipsfjord

The climb up onto the plateau.

Looking back to the Skipsfjorden.

The vegetation is most definitely Tundra on the plateau.

The Tufjorden from about 200 m above sea level.

The road drops to sea level again before climbing...

....high above the Tufjorden...

....and onto the Nordkapphalvoya where there were several large herds of reindeer.

Eventually the dome of the Nordkapp Visitors' Centre came into view.

We decided to walk around the plateau to get away from the crowds. This is view northwards

The globe on top of the cliffs.

Another cruise ship passing by on its way to Honnigsvåg

This was definitely as close to the edge of the cliffs that I was going!

Monument to the visit of the Norwegian king - Oscar II - in 1873.

The “Children of the World” (Verdens Barn) sculptures.

This series of seven circular sculptures were designed in June 1988 by children aged between 8 and 12 years to symbolise friendship, hope, joy and working together. The children spent seven days at North Cape to create the sculptures which is dedicated to Peace on Earth.

Nearby is this statue "Mother and child"

The globe, the symbol of Nordkapp.

At 71°10’21”, North Cape is 2,102 km from the North Pole .

However, the promontory of Knivskjellodden, seen above, is actually 1,457 metres further north.

On the return from Nordkapp the tour bus stopped off at a supposed Samai camp..

... complete with tent. Ugh! Fake tourism culture!!!

The cruise ship we'd seen from  Nordkapp, the "MSC Splendida" was now berthed at Honnigsvåg.

After leaving Honnigsvåg the ship heads out into the Barents Sea and with nothing to see for an hour or so we went to a talk about the Sami people of northern Scandinavia.  There were several excellent talks given during the summer voyage and much better than the ones on the winter 2014 journey.

After about an hour and a half the ship heads into the Kjøllefjorden and passes the....

...incredible rock formations at the entrance to the fjord.

These include the Finnjerka stacks. In the distance at the head of the fjord is Kjollefjord

A closer view and below...

....in winter the rocks are floodlit as the ships pass. (see the Winter report for more photos)

The rock strata on the cliffs of the Kjøllefjorden are near vertical.

The houses in Kjøllefjord are protected by avalanche fences.

Kjollefjord pier. On the quayside is a coach ready to take some of the passengers on an excursion. They would rejoin the ship at the next port Mehamn.

The ship then sailed out into the Barents Sea before coming closer inshore at the entrance to the Mehamnfjord.

Mehamn with the hills of Nordkinnhalvøya. The name suggests it is an island but it is actually connected to the mainland by a narrow strip of land just a few hundred metres wide.

Mehamn quayside.

After Mehamn the ship sails out into the open sea again on its way to the next port of Berlevåg.

It's a major fishing port (click on the photo for a larger image) and because of frequent damage in winter storms..

...the breakwaters are now protected by tetrahedron shaped concrete blocks which interlock. Even so some of these have broken a way in bad weather.

The northbound and southbound Hurtigruten are scheduled to be at Berlevåg at almost the same time so there is some entertainment to be had as one ship leaves and the other arrives. We were first in at the pier ...

...but the 'Midnatsol' arrived and pulled alongside us.

As the 'Nordlys' backed out stern first the 'Midnatsol' swung round to take our place. Much siren blasting and flag waving of course!

As it was now 22:45 it was time for bed.

Wednesday 29th June 2016

It's 06:50 and I'm up to see the port of Vadsø which Hurtigruten only visit on the northbound voyages.

It's a major fising port...

...but the port area is away from the town so it's not a particularly inspiring visit.

 

07:48: a quick visit to the front of the ship shows that we are heading towards the mainland and the Bøkfjord which leads inland towards Kirkenes.

Breakfast calls and it's not until after 09:00 that I'm back on deck looking back down the fjord towards the sea.

Kirkenes is in view..

...and there are several ships and trawlers in port.

One of the coastguard ships that are a familiar sight along Norway's coast.

When we visited Kirkenes in December 2015 we took a wrong turn and didn't manage to reach the town centre. This time we were more prepared  and took the correct turn up the hill ...

...on the way passing the memorial to the Soviet soldietrs killed during 1944.

There was also the sombre Andersgrotta air raid shelter built by the Germans in 1941 but used by the residents of the town during the numerous air raids on Kirkenes in WW2.

Kirkenes church...

....and the nearby distance arrows. No London again! It's actually about 2580 km.

Some of the street signs were in Russian as well as Norwegian.

Kirkenes main shopping street - hardly a bustling place even mid morning.

The last time we saw this view looking up the fjord towards the Russian border the water was frozen.

The 'Nordlys' ready to take us south again