Continuing our journey from the UK, we now head towards Norway and the midnight sun.
While there are a lot of days in port on this cruise, there are still quite a few sea days to balance it out. I love sea days. They give you much-needed time to relax, read a good book or indulge in the afternoon tea served daily in the beautiful Winter Garden. Or if you’d rather you can pop into one of the destination lectures on board, with subjects ranging from nature, to Norse history. For those more adventurous types, you must experience the ‘Blue Nose’ Ritual. This fun ceremony marks the moment you cross into the Arctic Circle. Prepare to jump into a Jacuzzi full of ice, be anointed on the nose by the captain with blue ice (or cream!), before throwing back a shot of traditional Scandinavian Aquavit. If you’re lucky you may even get to kiss a fish as well! It’s honestly a lot of fun and I definitely recommend taking part.
Arriving in Norway, our first stop was the Lofoten Islands. Within seconds of arriving, you can more than understand why it is known for its distinctive scenery. You’ll find picturesque mountains, open sea, sheltered bays and beautiful beaches all in one place. Yes, that’s right, beaches. In the Artic Circle. Despite its location, the area experiences high temperatures thanks to the Gulf Stream. And to top it off they are stunning – I was blown away by the natural beauty.
I could have easily stayed a lot longer in Lofoten to explore it more. The included tour was ideal to get a taste of the area. Firstly, we visited the most romantic beach in Norway and you can see why from the picture above. It was truly stunning. We then journeyed through this majestic countryside and visited a small fishing village. One thing I really like about the included tours with Viking is the sheer amount of information you learn on the way. The tour guides are really exceptional and you come away feeling really enriched.
Once you enter the Arctic Circle the first thing you will notice is the distinct lack of darkness. Here you finally are, at the home of the midnight sun. And it’s worth staying up, even if you’re not normally a night owl. Watching the surreal, yet spectacular moment when the sun literally skims the horizon before coming back up is pretty magical.
Honnisvag and North Cape
Heading further north, we then arrived at Honnnisvag, the northern most city in Norway. A short ride from here is North Cape. This is the most northerly tip of Europe where the only dry land between you and the North Pole is the Svalbard archipelago. It’s a truly breath-taking place.
On the trip to North Cape you get to see and learn about reindeer, and I mean a lot of reindeer. Then at North Cape you have as much time as you want to explore the area and visit the various monuments across the centre before heading back to the ship. This includes a Panoramafilm presenting the North Cape across its four seasons, a number of historical exhibitions, St. Johannes Chapel, the Cave of Light, gift and souvenir shop, the world’s northernmost post office, restaurants and cafes.
Our next port of call was Tromsø, the largest city in northern Norway. The city is full of interesting and curious architecture, from the Arctic Cathedral, to the more traditional pretty wooden buildings. I found it a very tactile city where I just wanted to reach out and touch everything! It is also a perfect place to experience nature and the wilderness. Viking offer’s a number of excursions from here but we could not miss out on the opportunity to visit a Husky centre. Travelling a short distance from the city, you’ll come to the family-run Tromsø Wilderness Centre. Here you will be greeted by many excited Alaskan dogs and pups wanting to take you on an adventure.
During the summer months you have the opportunity to meet the huskies and go trekking with them across picture-perfect glades and fields. Whether you are a dog-lover or not, this is an amazing excursion where guests take a modest hike with a husky of your choice. Halfway through you will have the opportunity to enjoy tea and cake with your new furry friends looking out over the City and bay that surrounds it. Along the way you will learn about this breed of husky and the Wilderness Centre. The fun does not stop there, if you are visiting in winter jump in a sleigh and go dog-sledding with teams of the pups through the snow.
No visit is complete without having a cheeky cuddle with a husky or two, and of course paying a visit to play with the many puppies at the centre. They are all so adorable; I wanted to take them all home with me!
Part 3 coming soon.