Hurtigruten Norwegian Cruise – Southbound Journey:
|Day 8: Mehamn – Kjøllefjord - Honningsvåg - Havøysund - Hammerfest – Øksfjord – Skjervøy – Tromsø. A brief call is made in Havøysund before arriving in Hammerfest at 11.15 a.m. You are now in the northernmost town in the world – Hammerfest is the first town in Norway to get electric street lights! Whilst in Hammerfest you might want to see St Michael’s Church, which has a shining stained glass painting as an altar background and weather permitting, take a trip up Mount Salen for a spectacular view.The course continues south-westwards to the trading port of Øksfjord, near Øksfjordjokulen (Øksfjord Glacier), the only glacier in Norway, which ‘calves’ at the sea. The Sea of Lopphavet is crossed, to reach Skjervoy in the evening.At 11.45 p.m. the ship calls into Tromso, a proud Arctic City located on an island in the middle of Tromso Sundet (Tromso Sound) has influences dating from 1252, even though the wooden houses only emerged towards the end of the 19th century, when Trondheim and Bergen ceased their trade monopoly. The special atmosphere is worth staying awake for even if you just take a walk along the city streets, which are full of character.|
(B, L, D)
01:00 – 08:15 This morning the ship made stops at Mehamn, Kjøllefjord, Honningsvåg and Havøysund.02:30 – That much anticipated phone call arrives. The Northern Lights have been sighted.
09:00 – At breakfast we told Barbara about seeing the Northern Lights in the early morning. Although she wanted to see the Lights, it wouldn’t have been possible to get her out to the back of the ship in time.
10:45 – We sail past the island of Melkoya and catch views of parts of the Snøhvit project on the port side. This is the largest industrial project in Northern Norway and the first to export liquefied gas in Europe. This project has resulted in an economic boom in Hammerfest, our next port of call.
11:15 – We call into Hammerfest, the town with the polar bear as its mascot. Hammerfest is the northernmost town in Norway and it sits roughly at the same latitude as the northernmost parts of Siberia. From the ship, we can see the centre of town so it’s possible to take Barbara out.
Ten metres from the ship is the famous Polar Bear Society. Hammerfest has proud traditions of hunting and fishing in Arctic areas which you can learn about at the Polar Bear Society – if it’s open. You can become a member of this world famous Hammerfest club and receive a polar bear pin as proof that you have visited Hammerfest! The tourist information office is also located in The Polar Bear Society which is supposed to be open all year round. Unfortunately, the doors were pretty shut when we called by.
12:45 – We set sail from Hammerfest and by 13:45 we’ve reached the Strait of Sørøysundet. Sørøya is the largest island in Finnmark. Next we see Seiland, the second largest island in the county. Parts of Seiland are now a National Park.
15:00 – Our Tour Director Eskild gives a talk about Norwegian Christmas traditions. This man works really hard to keep passengers amused.
15:40 – We stop at Øksfjord for 5 minutes and soon after departure we’re in the open waters of Lopphavet.
17:00 – Over the next two hours, passengers are invited to come together to make Christmas decorations. Colour papers, stickers, glue, scissors, etc. are provided. The craft-making skills of this group of passengers surprise me and even the men are here doing their bit. Some of the decorations made are really professional looking. And while we’re making up the decorations there’s tea, coffee and traditional Christmas biscuits to keep the workers happy.19:20 – A quick stop is made at Skjervø.
23:45 – Our last stop for the day is at Tromso. For this 1hr 45 minutes stop you have the opportunity to visit one of Tromsø’s many pubs tonight. I don’t think there were any takers.