Tromsø to Svolvaer

Day 8 - Tromsø to Harstad

The crossing on the Hurtigbåt (fast ferry) from Tromsø to Harstad takes three hours for a journey of approximately 150km.

The catamaran Kistefjell is seen before departure from Tromsø. One aspect of travel in Norway that surprised us was the lack of any undercover waiting areas at most railway stations and ferry terminals. Considering the weather to be found for much of the year this is surprising. Even at the smallest ferry terminals in Scotland there are shelters and if this terminal was somewhere like Oban there would be a large terminal building - all rather strange for such a prosperous country.

Inside the Hurtigbåt it is laid out in a similar way to an airliner with groups of 3 seats across the cabin. Access to the small open deck at the rear doesn't seem to be allowed.

Photography from the boat was restricted because the panoramic windows are covered with spray and salt but I took a few photos through the front windows. This is the bridge between Finnsnes on the mainland and the island of Senja seen on the  right.

Heading into Harstad which is on the island of Hinnøya and is one of the largest of the Norwegian islands

The harbour offices at Harstad.

View across to the mainland from Harstad.

Having checked into the Rica Hotel we had another meal in an Egon restaurant - this time salmon and cod. We were awake at midnight but, although the sky was clear the sun wasn't visible from our room.

Day 9 Harstad to Svolvaer

The approximate distance from Harstad to Svolvaer  is 180km.

We boarded Kong Harold about 8am. Fran spent most of day sitting inside as she was feeling rather ill because of a cold brought on, we think, by being continually in air condition vehicles or hotel rooms. Fortunately, the viewing lounge was very good so she had magnificent views from the warm. Outside  it was sunny again but quite chilly.

It was interesting to experience a larger vessel - there were better facilities but a less friendly atmosphere. 


The northbound and southbound Hurtigruten pass each other at Harstad. The northbound ship seen on the left is the Nordkapp (North Cape). Unfortunately the ship was too long for the quayside so it wasn't possible to get a photograph of it from the bow end.

Our ship was the Kong Harald (King Harald) which whilst it's much larger than the Lofoten isn't as lareg as some of the more modern ships. The day's schedule with calls at three ports on the way to Svolvaer is below


We pulled away from Harstad a few minutes late....

Accommodation especially in the observation lounges is more luxurious than on the Lofoten


The ship first heads north out of Harsatd towards the island of  Grytøya and then turns sharply...


.....north west along the passage between Hinnøya (the island the Harstad is on) and Grytøya.

The inter island ferry Lavstad was at the linkspan at Stornes as we sailed past.


These peaks on Grytøya rise to about 800m.


The ship now heads west towards the island of  Andøya and our first port of call, Risøyhamn.


On the approach to Risøyhamn the ships have to use the dredged channel of the Risøyrenna. This was dredged between 1911 and 1922 to allow a 5m deep and 50m wide channel for large ships. More recently the channel has been deepend further and is now nearly 5km long and 7 m deep. It is marked by two lines of navigation beacons.


The channel curves round and heads towards the Andøybrua and is one of a series of bridges built in the Vesterålen islands in the 1970s.


The ship is approaching Risøyhamn quayside and is back on schedule.

Typical cargo being loaded/ unloaded by forklift truck.


The bridge was built by the cantilever method and has an overall length of 750 m, a clearance  of 30 m and a main span of 110 m. The bridge has 21 spans.


The ship now heads south down the channel between  the western side of Hinnøya and Andøya.


A Bergen registered fishing boat sails past.


Over to the west an impressive chain of mountains on the island of Langøya. The low land in the foreground might appear to be a separate island but is linked to the far part of the island where the mountains are by two narrow land bridges.


The sortland Bridge (Sortlandsbrua) is a cantilever road bridge that crosses the Sortlandssundet strait between  Hinnøya island and the town of Sortland on Langøya island. This is road links to the E10 road from Sweden - we'd travelled along a section of this road near Narvik.


The bridge is 948 metres long, the main span is 150 metres  and the maximum clearance to the sea is 30 metres . The bridge has 21 spans. As we were sailing underneath two road coaches, carrying Hurtigruten passengers who had left the ship for a tour, stopped on the bridge directly above as the ship passed underneath. The coach drivers sounded their horns and the Kong Harald greeted them with several blasts on the siren. meanwhile a traffic jam was building up behind the coaches. Norwegian humour, or was this a planned event?


For reasons I haven't been able to work out we arrived at Sortland nearly half an hour late. Perhaps the staff new that the coach tour was delayed?


Here they all are ready to board at and we left more or less on time.

The most distinctive building in Sortland appeared to be this church which was built in 1902.


The Hapag Lloyd cruise ship Bremen passed us heading north as we left Sortland.


One of the delights of the Hurtigruten voyage is the sudden appearance of views that almost beckon you in - either deep fjords of the main channel or valleys leading to high isolated passes.


The next point of interest was the Hadselbrua bridge which links the island of Hinnøya  to Hadeseløya.


The bridge is 1,011 metres  long, has a main span of 150 metres and the maximum clearance to the sea is 30 metres.. The bridge has a total of 27 spans. It actually crosses another small island, Børøya, before ......

.......crossing  the Børøya bridge to reach Stokmarknes on Hadeseløya.


The Kong Harald is coming alongside at Stokmarknes, which  is the location of the headquarters of Hurtigruten and also has the company's museum together with one of the former ships the Finnmarken. 

Unloading a car from the Kong Harald's hold

Many of the passengers went ashore to visit the museum and preserved ship. We found it a rather sad experience as the interior of the Finnmarken has not been looked after very well. The ship was built in 1956 and taken out of service in 1993.


The voyage to Svolvaer continues by passing under the Hadselbrua before heading south east.

We'd seen this naval ship leave Sortland. It's the Norwegian Coastguard ship Senja (registration number W321)


Unbelievably this is the way we're going - straight towards those mountains! 


There's a narrow channel, the Raftsundet, which the ship will follow for the next hour or so.


In several places the ship passes very close to small islands, each with a small light on them.


On the left is the island of Hinnøya (the one with Harstad on if you've forgotten!) and on the right is Austvågøya. This is the island with Svolvaer near its southern end.


The Raftsundet narrows considerably and is crossed by Raftsundbrua.. The bridge is 711 metres long, the main span is 298 metres, and the maximum clearance to the sea is 45 metres. It was opened in 1998 and carries  the E10 road to the Lofoten islands (pronounced Lo - photen)


The view looking backwards from the ship (north).


Announcements had been made for passengers leaving the ship for an excursion to watch seabirds and the ship slowed down noticeably as it continued down the sound.


Eventually, a boat appeared and tied up alongside for passengers to transfer. Whilst this was going on a sea eagle appeared circling the boat. I didn't attempt to photograph it preferring just to watch.

The sea eagle has a distinctive yellow beak.


The next half hour is probably the most dramatic section of the entire Hurtigruten voyage. The ship makes a sharp turn to the right to enter the Trollfjord.


Waiting at the entrance to the fjord was another cruise ship the  Seabourn Legend which was obviously waiting to follow us later that afternoon.


The Trollfjord is an incredibly narrow fjord just over 2 km in length...


.... with almost sheer rock faces on either side. The ship's wake gives a good idea of how narrow it is. The Kong Harald is just over 19m wide....

.....and clearly clearances are very tight!

Map of the Trollfjord.


The excursion boat had obviously taken a more direct route than the ship.


The ship has to be turned in its own length using the bow and stern thrusters.


At the head of the fjord the mountains rise to over 900 metres. We saw a sea eagle soaring above the mountain to the right of the photo.


Time for a slightly "arty" photo as the ships heads out of the fjord.

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Back out of the fjord the ship now sails across much more open water as it heads south. Click on the photos for a larger image.


Another look backwards to the north with the island of Stormolla on the left


Looking over to the west the ship is passing the southern tip of Stormolla with Austvågøya (the main island of the northern Lofoten islands) beyond.


Dramatic lighting conditions look south.


As the ship begins to approach Svolvaer the entrance to the Sildpollsundet fjord is passed.


The ship was now turning to enter the harbour at Svolvaer, the "capital" of the Lofoten Islands.


A welcome to all sailors?


Arrival was nearly 25 minutes late. 

Alongside the breakwater were these racks used to dry cod - dried cod is a Lofoten speciality.


The passengers for the various excursions are hurriedly assembled on the quayside due to the late arrival. 

Checking in to Vestfjord Hotel in Svolvaer ( almost next to the Hurtigruten terminal) was a interesting experience as the computer system was down and the member of staff at the reception also had to deal with an awkward tour leader who wanted his party to eat at a particular time. This hotel was our most expensive and the most basic but was adequate and served a similar impressive breakfast as all the others we stayed in. 

In the evening we went to an Italian restaurant to eat - also a bit basic but as Fran was still feeling unwell she could only eat a small amount of salad. 


Just after nine o'clock the northbound Hurtigruten sails into Svolvaer. It's the current day Finnmarken and is in a lot better condition than the one at the museum in Stokmarknes!


Running rather late the Hurtigbåt catamaran Salten  from Bødo arrives at Svolvaer.

Once again although the sky was clear there was no way we would actually see the midnight sun at Svolvaer as the mountains to the west of the town prevent seeing the sun. There's one more chance to see the sun at midnight before we are south of the Arctic Circle. Will we see it tomorrow from the ship?

Click here to go the next page - On the Lofoten Islands