As the comments of this community show, there is so much more to a hotel than a bed, and this review hopefully highlights the point.
The venue was up inside Arctic Circle, the bed itself is in a relatively small cabin onboard a working ship. Life on board is not glitzy or glamorous, think large ferry boat rather than extravagant cruise, but it’s what you will experience on the journey that counts.
During a tremendous snow storm and wrapped up in more woolly jumpers than ever before, we joined MS Trollfjord in Tromso (the capital of Arctic Norway), just in time for her 18.30 northward sailing.
As a bit of background, similar mail ships have been traversing this seaway for years, delivering food, supplies and of course mail, to the remoter coastal outreaches of Northern Norway. Hurtigruten (the shipping line) has maximised this essential service and now offers passengers a unique insight into a completely different lifestyle and climate.
Our ultimate objective was to view the ever-so elusive Northern Lights, but as the weather had other ideas, we spent the first night snug and warm in the bar. Sadly, the next day wasn’t much better, but the jaw-dropping mountainous landscapes passing the huge windows more than made up for the permanent snow blizzards.
Our arrival in Kirkeness, the most northerly point in Europe (just miles from the Russian border) was greeted with cloudless blue skies and watery sunshine. We ventured further north and visited the real natives of this wilderness, the reindeer! Having never actually touched one, I was surprised at how soft and fluffy their coats are; no wonder Santa loves them so much.
After departing Kirkeness, still under cloudless skies we headed southward, where we were able to see a lot of the villages that we had passed going north, but the dark and/or the snowy weather had rendered them invisible. The white snow, the high craggy mountains, the blues (both sea & sky) made for a very memorable and romantic sunset.
That same night and not really believing our luck, we were fortunate enough to view the Northern Lights. Again wrapped up in more wool than the average sheep, we braved the sub-zero temperatures (-17’) and ventured up on deck into an almost pitch-black night (when the aurora is imminent the ship turns off its deck lights).
Craning our necks at what initially appeared to be nothing more than an orangey cloud, strange green shadows slowly danced into view, within about 20 minutes the entire space taken up by the cloud was now made up of a continuous green/black gossamer-like threads, which moved playfully over our heads.
I can’t really describe the phenomena, which was simultaneously eerie, emotional and greatly inspiring, but it kind of changes your perceptions forever; it’s little wonder our ancestors thought that the lights represented the souls of the dead – but not in a macabre way.
Other than some of the most spectacular scenery ever seen and the magnificence of the aurora borealis, what hits you the most about North Norway is its incredibly friendly people, nothing was too much trouble and everyone always had a spare smile, which to be honest, was wonderful given the climate, the limited appearance of the sun and the huge amount of snow.
What did you think of this review?