A Gateway for Tourism on the Lofoten Islands:
|Day 9: Tromsø – Finnsnes – Harstad – Risoyhamn – Sortland – Stokmarknes – Svolvær – Stamsund. Today traditional Norwegian “Julegrot” – Christmas porridge will be served and in the bar. Find the almond in the porridge and you win a prize! Together with fellow passengers and crew you will decorate the Christmas tree. A coffee and cake buffet will also be available at the bar.Arrive Harstad at 8.00 a.m. where you have the opportunity to participate in an optional excursion to Sortland, travelling by coach through breathtaking, varied scenery, and visiting the world’s most northerly medieval church.
The island groups of Lofoten and Vesteralen are believed by many to be the most beautiful scenery on the journey. Before you reach the islands, however, the captain will carefully manoeuvre the ship through the shallow waters of the Risoyrenna Channel, where sand banks are visible through the clear green water on both sides of the channel. The ship passes through the dramatic narrow Raftsundet strait before arriving at Svolvaer and Stamsund. In the evening, the ship will head east across Vestfjord towards Bodo.
01:30 – Our ship leaves Tromsø and makes a stop at Finnsnes at 04:15.08:00 – We call into Harstad for a 30 minutes stop. Harstad is a port on Hinnøya, Norway’s largest island. At 08:10 passengers who have signed up for the optional excursion to Sortland leave by coach. The excursion takes passengers to see the countryside and sights of Vestrålenand they join the ship again at Sortland.08:35 – Around this time we pass the medieval church of Trondenes which we can see on portside.
10:15 – The ship sails through the Risøyrenna Channel, a passage that’s just 7 metres deep. Wonder if any ship’s been stuck here?
10:40 – A twenty minute stop at Risøyhamn. Enough time to go onshore, step on snow and take a few snaps.
12:40 – We call into Sortland and those who went on the excursion at Harstad rejoin the ship as do many new passengers. The next part of the journey is really beautiful.
14:20 – We arrive at Stokmarknes where Hurtigruten has its museum which covers the history of Hurtigruten.
In the museum you’ll see models of the Hurtigruten fleet throughout time. The old MS Finnmarken (1956) is part of the museum. Of particular relevance to us is that the MS Finnmarken was decommissioned in 1993 when our ship the MS Richard With was put into service. There is a lot to see in the museum, but not enough time as our ship leaves Stokmarknes at 15:15.
16:00 – Around this time we sail through the 26 kilometre long strait of Raftsundet. According to Hurtigruten, this is the most beautiful part of the voyage.17:00 – It’s Christmas tree decoration time.
18:15 – We dock in Svolvær centre, the capital of the Lofoten Islands. The attractions in this town include the Magic Ice Gallery and the Lofoten War Museum. This is one of the prettiest places that we’ve visited so far as the whole town is evenly covered in white snow. For our hour here, we chose to explore the town rather than going indoors. This is one of my favourite towns for walking as the grounds are not slushy or icy and the powder soft snow makes it easy to walk without slipping.
21:00 – Showing of the movie “Dinner for One”.
21:05 – We call into Stamsund for a short stop and after this the ship crosses the open Vestfjord on our journey south towards Bodø.