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  • Hurtigruten Pole to Pole - Week seven

    From Halifax to Boston - History, Seafood and Nature Reserves - Canada, United States Week seven on our 13-week bucket list Pole to Pole cruise on the MS Roald Amundsen with Hurtigruten Expeditions, as we explore the East Coast jewels of Maine and arrive in Boston. Day 43 - Eastport, Maine, US As we crossed from Canada to the US this morning and were greeted with some tumultuous waters, the weather gods are on strike, a dramatic change from the day before. Eastport has the deepest port on the East Coast, and this region is notorious for its high tides and powerful currents. We don't let the weather get us down and are up bright and early to be cleared by US border control, who joined us on the ship this morning for a face-to-face and to stamp our entry. Early afternoon the weather was still challenging, blowing a gale with sideways rain; therefore, the expedition team cancelled the lobster boat trips, our fellow passengers would have sighed with relief, as the boats were not weather protected, and the waters were not inviting. We dressed for the wet weather; our Canada Goose jackets were ideal for protecting us from the wind and rain, and we set out on foot to explore. Fortunately, Eastport is only a little village with 1400 locals, so we swept up the Main Street, took in a few sites and were then drawn into Phoenix Fine Wines, a wine bar, not only by the name but the live Celtic band playing music invited us in. We are warmly welcomed by the energetic and friendly owner Laura and the Celtic trio; we are in the right place. We quickly settle in the cosy chairs near the band and floor-to-ceiling windows with a glass of red and enjoy the backdrop of the ever-changing tides of Passamaquoddy Bay; you can quickly while away in the afternoon. We also ordered the cheese platter; all food products sourced from local producers, including the cheese from the local goats, cows and sheep. They have a selection of wines by the bottle, glass and small bites. We love supporting local businesses and are also thrilled when they do too. Opened this July, the wine bar is like stepping back in time. The Irish folk music transports you back 100 years whilst relaxing in the beautiful wooded surroundings and antique furniture; think of an old mansion library, surrounded by books to peruse. The building was built in 1887 after the great fire of 1886 decimated downtown Eastport. The buildings were home to various businesses over the last century but were neglected in the 2lst Century and fell into disrepair. They have since been reborn as a brewery and wine bar for all to enjoy. Huge glass pane windows with an everlasting view across the waters, music, atmosphere, comfort and smiles from the lovely owner, accompanied by great food and wine all wrapped up in one. She has the formula just right. The locals were all very welcoming and loved to hear the story of our cruise and travels. We were grateful to have spent the afternoon in a beautiful wine bar to escape the rain and build memories of our visit to Eastport. We were joined by our ship friends Daniel and Sylvia, and then we bid our farewells and escaped back to the safety and warmth of our ship. Eastport would be a lovely little village to explore more when the weather is on our side. Day 44 - Bar Harbor, Maine, US Bar Harbor is a hidden jewel on the coast of Maine. Home to 5,500 and the gateway to Acadia National Park and is world-renowned for the famous Maine Lobster. A very picturesque town with a stunning coastline, it was well designed and perfectly laid out, a perfect village. The lifestyle was inviting and calming; spoilt with trendy eateries, art galleries, beautiful boutiques, and limitless accommodation options; all the inns were out of a picture book! Think stately and mansion homes. It was also refreshing to see a couple of gift/souvenir shops locally made; it's much nicer to support locals and see 'Made in Maine'' instead of 'Made in China'. The private homes were easily confused with the inns. The imposing stately homes all had beautiful lush green manicured lawns with expansive backyards to the crystal clear waters and could easily host a family of 20. We left no stone unturned as we lost ourselves in the pristine streets of the village. We would have also loved to take the Arcadia National Park (the most visited park in the US), which borders Bar Harbor, at every opportunity. Still, we opted to be independent travellers and enjoyed the peacefulness of the village. I am sure we missed out on some magnificent scenery and photo ops, but we have learnt as we travel, you can't see everything and have no regrets; maybe one day we will return, and a gift will still be waiting for us. The shore path was a stunning walk along the shoreline, taking in the private mansions and views; they called the museum of the streets. During low tide, you can walk across to Bar Island, although you need to be careful so as not to be left there for the night. The wave was still in when we arrived, but it was a fabulous photo opportunity. Take your time to explore the hidden streets and be surprised by the hidden dining scene off the beaten path, with more locals and fewer tourists. After we had uncovered most of the pristine streets of Bar Harbour, we settled in for the afternoon at a local pub, enjoying a cheeky cocktail and lunch! Fish n chips were delicious, and you can't visit the states and not try the Mac n cheese, which also received a big thumbs up! Our lovely waitress was full of positive energy and good honest service; she deserved her tip, not that she asked or expected one. We left for the ship with a bounce in our step, okay, there was more than one cocktail, and the barman was very generous with the measures. We opted to enjoy a lazy evening and skipped dinner after breakfast and lunch today. We do try to limit ourselves to just two meals a day. Day 45 - Rockland, Maine It has been a moody week of weather; we have glorious sunshine every second day and the perfect fall day, followed by the skies wanting to ensure we have had our morning shower. But as we say, we don't let the weather get us down or in our way; it is all about the journey we are on, and we are all waterproof. This morning we arrived in Rockland, a classic Maine coastal town with a population of 7,000. It is also one of the world's biggest shipping centres of lobster. Rockland, located right in the heart of the mid-coast area, is famous for its natural coastal beauty and magnificent rocky shoreline; also home to the Rockland Breakwater lighthouse, where you can take a walk out over the breakwater and visit. We were up at 7 am so we could make the first tender and enjoy a coffee (USD 18 for 2), and the few hours of the day before, the skies were going to pour down heavily; fortunately, it wasn't cold, about 16 degrees, it was just one of those grim and wet looking days. We enjoyed a few hour's walks about town before we admitted defeat and popped into a cafe for a coffee and a little treat. We noticed a dramatic change in architecture and the homes from beautiful Bar Harbour, only 100kms up the coast. Rockland centre was missing the richness of the character that other nearby towns were blessed with, or maybe we just took a right instead of a left. Before the storm, we were back to the ship of our dry and cosy surroundings. An afternoon of rest and then gifted with a magical sky before dinner. It felt like the sky was on fire on one side of the ship and a double iridescent rainbow on the other. It was a lovely gift from Mother Nature to let us know there was a reason for the wet and stormy day. This evening our plans were changed due to Hurricane Fiona heading our way. Fiona is following the same path in reverse. We just sailed from Greenland. Captain Terje is keeping us all safe and decided to skip Provincetown and have us arrive in Boston while the port was still open, a day early to be docked and wait for Fiona to pass. We are excited we get more time in Boston to explore! Day 46 - At Sea, Boston Pier, Massachusetts This morning we woke up to a very similar weather pattern; the sun was blessing us with its presence again. The morning was spent cruising to Boston; we enjoyed a coffee and shared travel stories with John. John and Sandy love travel, writing articles and sharing new bucket list trips and destinations with us. We followed with lunch and enjoyed being surrounded by the activity of Boston as we docked safely into the harbour; it seemed we were not the only ones; three other ships had sought shelter. Unfortunately, our ship didn't receive clearance due to our last-minute arrival, so we all remained on the boat for the evening, alongside the other ships docked. Fortunately, the sun was still shining, and we were able to soak up some rays and say our farewells to the fellow passengers who have been with us since Vancouver, and thank Laszlo, our Hotel Director, for all his efforts and making everyone feel so welcome. We will miss all the friendly faces and chats with everyone around the ship. We enjoyed a farewell dinner with our lovely friends from the UK, the polar molars, and our favourite travelling dentists. We followed this with a quick drink with our fellow pole-to-polers and enjoyed some tunes from the resident crew band. Day 47 - Boston, Massachusetts First time in Boston, we were up and hitting the pavement early; we only had until 4 pm, so we wanted to make the most of it. We walked the half hour from the pier into downtown; the weather was kind today, and she decided to break her pattern and keep the sun around. We had a list of shopping items, but after getting a coffee to go, and a new sim for internet, thank you, AT&T, they were incredible, we decided just to get lost in a new city. It was bustling with tourists, and being the weekend, the locals were out enjoying the first weekend of fall; it was buzzing. After a few hours of strolling, we decided to do what we do best and how we get a taste of our new destinations, a lazy lunch! Thanks to Mickey for his Boston tip, a friend from the US we met in Ohrid last year, we headed to Little Italy in the North End. We settled on a gorgeous little family-owned Italian restaurant, 'Nando'; the owners even played in the streets as they grew up and continued their family's legacy. Our lovely waitress, Ortensa, was from Durres in Albania, so we loved reminiscing about our trip from 2020; she was so excited to meet us, too, as few are familiar with her hometown; when she was 18, she won the green card lottery and has been in Boston for last few years. After the most delicious Italian, it was time to return to the ship; we made it back on time. Upon arriving back, it is just the 20 of the Pole to Pole passengers and the crew, so we feel like we have the ship to ourselves; it's pretty surreal. Sunset was upon us, so we enjoyed the sail away with Boston as a background and the pockets of scenery. Boston has a great vibe and friendly and genuine people. The expedition team scheduled a quick catch-up with the 20 of us to update us on the new hurricane scheduled for Tampa at the same time we hope to be in Miami, so the Captain is trying to cover as much ground in the next five days as possible. Hence, we arrive on time and safely before our next segment commences, and a new batch of passengers join us. An exhilarating end to the evening as we sailed through Cape Cod Canal in the dark of the night at about 10.30 pm. We were very fortunate to check the ship's location on the Marine Traffic app and raced up to Deck 11 - Forward to ensure we didn't miss out and capture some great videos. Felt like a river cruise for 20 mins, and it was thrilling to experience going under the low bridges and listening to all the locals fishing by the waterside in the middle of the night. Close your eyes 🥺👀😮‍💨 Cruising down a narrow river and just scraping through under the bridges. Our Captain, of course, knew we were going to make it all along! The first video goes under Bourne Bridge, and the second is Cape Cod Canal Railway Bridge. We realised after that the expedition team did update us all this afternoon; unfortunately, we were two minutes late and missed the first two slides; we must do a refresher on our German, and we would have caught this on the second session. Sailing through Cape Cod Canal was one of the highlights of the cruise to date. Day 48 - At Sea, North Atlantic Ocean It feels like we are on our very own super (super) yacht, with the 20 of us Pole to Polers scattered around the ship, sharing it with the wonderful Hurtigruten crew. We stumble across each other during meal times. This morning we enjoyed breakfast, we were up early, hoping we would catch a glimpse of New York, but we headed deeper into the ocean as we approached Long Island. We spent the morning catching up online; we had the Explorer Lounge to ourselves. It was incredibly peaceful, and, of course, feeling a little spoilt by all the space. After lunch, we caught a few rays; it's time to start working on our ghostly white legs as we transition from winter to summer as we continue south. The bridge was open this afternoon for a few hours; we wandered down to say hello, thank the team for keeping us safe, and enjoy the state-of-the-art equipment and views. We were also briefed on the upcoming few days and how we will approach and navigate the hurricane to remain safe and hopefully have no disruptions to our next embarkation day in Miami on Thursday. We also spotted a few of the new plaques presented to the Roald Amundsen for the maiden calls into some of our recent ports. It was also the ship's first visit to Halifax and Boston. The weather is the boss right now, the latest hurricane/tropical storm is forecast to meet us the same day in Miami at present, but as we creep closer, we will be near enough to work with it and hopefully have an open window once it has safely passed Miami. Judit, our lovely new Hotel Director, also offered to tour the ship's suites; it was nice to see how the other half live. The suites are very spacious and beautiful. We are thrilled with our cabin (Expedition suite - with balcony), especially being in midship on those rocky days, such as today being out deep in the North Atlantic. It was also great to come across a suite named in honour of Leopold McClintock, our dear friend Bill's cousin; we shared the good news with Bill. This evening we were all treated to a Filipino buffet in Lindstrom, it was great to experience new cuisine, and although we have visited the Philippines many times, we realised we had never really explored the food. We love how Hurtigruten's crew are all Filipino; not only do they all have exceptional customer service and are a delight to be around, but after committing so much of their time to work, everyone needs to connect outside of work. It provides a sense of home, and as a bonus, the chefs can cook up a storm of their local delights when they feel a little homesick. A special thank you to our dear Rosalie for spoiling us this evening at dinner, bringing us samples of the delicious food, so we could stay grounded (and we have no self-control, so we might have overindulged) as we were feeling a little fragile with the rocky movement of the ship. You are the best! Early to bed this evening as the ship was in a rock'n'roll mood, and we find we are best dealing with this horizontally in the heavenly beds in the suites. Day 49 - At Sea, North Atlantic Ocean As we continue making our way to Miami, we are making good time and should be there ahead of schedule to wait out 'Hurricane Ian' in the nearby waters, so we are prepared to dock on Thursday morning for the next embarkation day. We took advantage of another day at sea to catch up on work, prepare our week seven travel blog, and sample the delicious cookies the crew have as treats in the Explorer Lounge. We took the opportunity to spend more time with Judit to talk about sustainability, as this is core to Hurtigruten Expeditions values and they take sustainability seriously. Judit is our lovely new Hotel Director, don't worry Laszlo we still miss you! The MS Roald Amundsen (RA) is a cutting-edge ship design, with advanced battery technology; the world's first hybrid-powered expedition ship. Hurtigruten as a company holds a strong stance on heavy fuel oil and the war on plastics. Beach clean-ups and plant-based menus made from locally sourced ingredients are another two ways they give back to the areas we visit and to the planet as a whole. The world's first Hybrid Powered ship, what does that tangibly mean? Those who have cruised before know that each morning the cabins at the rear are covered in a fine (or heavy) layer of soot from the diesel engines, depending on the ship's age Not with Hurtigruten, as they run a Hybrid technology; emissions are cut by sailing with electrical propulsion. Innovative sustainable technology reduces the ship's fuel consumption and CO2 emissions by 20 per cent. We love there is no plastic bottles, all guests on an expedition cruise receive a complimentary high-quality reusable bottle for use at water refill stations around the ship. This simple act saves at least 1,000 plastic bottles a day. The portion sizes during meals are very important to Hurtigruten, as the right amount of food on passengers plates minimise wastage, there have been comments regarding the meals are often too small, but of course the team is very flexible for those who wish to fill their bellies more, you just need to ask. Better to serve less and waste less, than oversize and waste more. They are very serious about food management waste programs on all the ships, aiming to reduce food waste by at least 30%. Hurtigruten are committed to the UN's Sustainable Development Goals, these 17 goals are the blueprint to achieving a better and more sustainable future for all. They are also a guiding principle for B1G1 (the global giving movement) who we support through giving back to those that need a helping hand. We love that we have chosen a company that is also aligned with our business and personal values. It was great to learn more about the Hurtigruten's sustainability programs, how they source their food locally, and how the destinations they get their provisions from love working with the RA, the world's first hybrid-powered expedition ship. Not only does the company Hurtigruten, but its passengers also have the same mindset, so they can create valuable relationships with providers with the same values and continue to make the world a better place. During the evening we were back in Lindstrom for dinner; Cesar put on the pre-dinner solo entertainment. Dinner this evening was a buffet with prime rib beef, and vegetables; we were all excited about the baked potatoes, which were a treat. Dinner was followed by a beautiful skyline of sunset and clouds, and smooth seas were upon us this evening. We checked our new weather app (slightly becoming addicted to this app), for the weather forecast as we near Miami. Join us for 'week eight', where hopefully we have navigated safely away from Hurricane Fiona and Hurricane Ian to arrive in Miami and Belize safely for a new and exciting adventure towards the Panama Canal.

  • Phoenix Fine Wines - Eastport

    Phoenix Fine Wines - One visit We were drawn into Phoenix Fine Wines, a wine bar, not only by the name but the live Celtic trio band 'Joan, the bass player with Fiddlechick, Picky and Plucky' playing music invited us in. We are warmly welcomed by the energetic and friendly owner Laura and the Celtic trio; we are in the right place. We quickly settle in the cosy chairs near the band and floor-to-ceiling windows with a glass of red and enjoy the backdrop of the ever-changing tides of Passamaquoddy Bay; you can quickly while away in the afternoon. We also ordered the cheese platter; all food products sourced from local producers, including the cheese from the local goats, cows and sheep. They have a selection of wines by the bottle, glass and small bites. We love supporting local businesses and are also thrilled when they do too. Opened this July, the wine bar is like stepping back in time. The Irish folk music transports you back 100 years whilst relaxing in the beautiful wooded surroundings and antique furniture; think of an old mansion library, surrounded by books to peruse. The building was built in 1887 after the great fire of 1886 decimated downtown Eastport. The buildings were home to various businesses over the last century but were neglected in the 2lst Century and fell into disrepair. They have since been reborn as a brewery and wine bar for all to enjoy. Huge glass pane windows with an everlasting view across the waters, music, atmosphere, comfort and smiles from the lovely owner, accompanied by great food and wine all wrapped up in one. She has the formula just right. The locals were all very welcoming and loved to hear the story of our cruise and travels. We were grateful to have spent the afternoon in a beautiful wine bar to escape the rain and build memories of our visit to Eastport.

  • Hurtigruten Pole to Pole - Week six

    From Halifax to Boston - History, Seafood and Nature Reserves - Canada, United States Week six on our 13-week bucket list Pole to Pole cruise on the MS Roald Amundsen with Hurtigruten Expeditions. This week, a new cruise segment commences, and a changeover of passengers as we enter the Halifax to Boston leg. Day 36 - Sea Day, Labrador Sea Lazy day today at sea! Lovely, clean, and healthy steak and chicken lunch at Fredheim. The afternoon we spent blogging and launching week five of our adventures. In honour of Queen Elizabeth II, today's afternoon tea was scones, which was very thoughtful of the ship to provide a special moment to respect the Queen. A special mention out to two remarkable and hardworking cabin stewards, Sharon and Francis, whose smiles and banter continue to bring smiles to our faces while working tirelessly to ensure our suite is always immaculate. Day 37 - Red Bay, Newfoundland and Labrador Today we arrived back in Canada; this morning, we woke to a foggy and misty day as we crept closer to Red Bay late in the afternoon. The day was spent relaxing, having morning coffees and lunch, and enjoying the green landscapes as we approached our new destination. Wayne was a gem and cleaned our doors, and we had crystal clear views; hopefully, the sun kept on shining for a while now; we are heading South. We anchor side at 3.30 pm; the Canadian customs are back onboard to clear the ship; after two days in Greenland, everything was approved. At about 4.45 pm, we were on the tender boat across to Red Bay. Tender trips take about 5 minutes to cross the water to the piers. When the team have all their ducks lined up, it can be very efficient and have little waiting time. The sun was shining; it was a gorgeous day, about 14 degrees. We were all warmly greeted by the friendly locals as we walked off the boat; they were an absolute delight and were happy to see us all. We were given a little map with places of interest to visit and strolled around the beautiful petite village. It was quaint, with a warm community vibe. Very green, clean and well maintained, with lots of flora and a pocket of nature with stunning views. Red Bay is home to a few friendly Canadians, just shy of 200. Red Bay is a fishing village in Labrador, notable as one of the most precious underwater archaeological sites in the Americas. It was a central Basque whaling area between 1530 and the early 17th century. As we walked, we had many flies and insects join us, so to become prepared; our face masks were an advantage to avoid dining on these little creatures. We all had a few hours to enjoy the outside world and loved basking in the views, local village sites, museums and history. Back on the ship for the evening to make our way to Corner Brook for the morning. After catching up with fellow passengers, the boat tour as you come ashore with Whaler's Quest was a huge hit, be sure to look them up for an insightful cruise on the history of Red Bay, a taste of local beer and heating from the locals firsthand. Day 38 - Corner Brook, Newfoundland and Labrador We woke to beautiful rainbows across the skies; the ship was buzzing as we had a full day to spend in a city. It had been a while since we docked anywhere with a population of more than 5,000. So Corner Brook would be a perfect city to explore for the day, and after one month on a ship to stock up on those everyday items that were running low. Corner Brook is a city home to 30,000 and the fifth most significant settlement in the province. It is also the last destination for about 350 passengers who will depart in Halifax after 27 days on the ship, followed by a few of the hardworking crew that have been on the ship for six months now, so they are looking forward to a few months at home, and a well-deserved rest. Our goal today in Corner Brook was to get a haircut; after 38 days, we looked a little shabby and needed a tidy-up. As soon as we arrived in town, our first goal was achieved. We enjoyed the city by exploring and enjoying the local vibe and community. Being from tiny country towns of Moama and Elmore in Australia gave us similar vibes as growing up. The homes were all neatly maintained, with no fences between them, so it was a very neighbourly town. We also took advantage of having access to larger stores and stocked up on our day-to-day products, so we are now set for the next two months onboard. It was nice to sneak into a Chinese restaurant for lunch called Dragon Restaurant and to enjoy a different cuisine after over one month on the ship. The starters worried us, but they made up for it with the main; the beef and black bean was fresh, with very tender meat, and Wayne was in his element with fried rice. Corner Brook is next to Captain Cook's trail and other magnificent lookout spots and scenery. A hikers' delight and excursions were available to those who wanted to explore nature. Once back onboard the ship, we were treated to a local trio performance by The Sharecroppers; we enjoyed listening to their beautiful stories of life and the history of Newfoundland through songs. One of the songs they sang was about a "one room school'" this brought back memories of my primary school in Elmore had four classrooms, now has 26 enrolled students, and was established in 1875. Another song was a tribute to the Dr of the North who introduced hospitals to Newfoundland Fun facts: Doctor of the North 'Grenfell' answers the prayers of the people in the North. In 1892 the only way to access all the villages was by water, so a travelling hospital ship was born, and the Doctor of the North's healing hands could reach those that needed them most. Mummering or mumming is still a tradition in Newfoundland, where everyone dresses up in disguise to keep their neighbours guessing as they knock on doors at Christmas time. If the mummers are welcomed, they perform a dance, music, jokes, or recitations. The hosts must guess the mummers' identities before offering them food or drink. Day 39 - At Sea, North Atlantic Ocean Last day for our passengers, apart from 56 (36 of the 56 passengers are leaving in Boston, as there are only 20 pole-to-pole guests). It was a winding down day at sea; she was a bit edgy today as we ventured from the Gulf of St Lawrence into the Atlantic Ocean, but very enjoyable all the same; we do enjoy our sea days. Lots of farewells and chats with fellow guests who are leaving us; we always enjoy hearing everyone's stories and their future adventures. A special thank you to our fellow suite guests who could not finish their special anniversary cake; it was a very delicious surprise when we returned to our cabin for the evening! The Captain's farewell was this evening, and the video produced by the resident photographer Oscar was shared; it was great to reflect on the moments of the past 23 days. We sailed some waters at 5,500 nautical miles and covered many new destinations! Magical! Day 40 - Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada Early arrival in Halifax today was a new beginning for many excited new passengers embarking on a seven-day cruise. We were even up early enough to capture a pic of the sunrise! Super proud of us! We bid our farewells to our fellow passengers who had sailed the NW Passage with us over the past 23 days and our lovely crew, Belindah and Nenad; we will miss seeing them both around the ship but are excited they have a few months off. We were up bright and early to explore Halifax, a city of over 400,000, the capital of Nova Scotia. Our first impressions were full of excitement as we disembarked our home, the Roald Amundsen, for the day to become lost in a city; we always loved a vibrant city, and Halifax did not disappoint. It cuddles the coast and has a beautiful waterfront with a 3km boardwalk on the harbour esplanade, where you can stroll along and feel part of the city. Infectious young energy filtered through the city as you immersed yourself. It was well balanced, not too intense, but a steady flow of locals and tourists—a popular education hub for students with the number of universities in the city. Many city events were scattered around the city, keeping everyone busy and entertained for the weekend. We came across a Farmers Market, a local craft beer festival; they also have a maritime museum on the harbour front with a large Titanic exhibit. Sneaking in a few cocktails and some new cuisine, Spanish food today. We enjoyed watching the people go by while we soaked up the sunshine. Canada is still training hard for the gold medal in the most expensive country, at CAD 150 for a cheap and cheerful and a few cocktails, plus your 18% tip. We returned during the afternoon to the ship; it was buzzing with new energy; the new passengers had embarked and were familiarising themselves with their new home for the next seven days as we sailed to Boston. The demographic has changed; we see many more from the states, and the average age is under 60. We left at 6 pm and enjoyed our first sail away on the pool deck with the sun joining us as Halifax bid us farewell in the distance. We love the change of weather back around 20; after the past four weeks being in 1-5 degrees destinations, it feels like a new cruise! Day 41 - Sable Island, Nova Scotia, Canada Sable Island was always going to be an attempted landing; unfortunately, due to the large swells, it was unsafe to take the passengers across in the Zodiacs. The Captain decided to circumnavigate the Island, and everyone enjoyed the new view and beautiful island landscape; we were blessed to have the sunshine sail with us and binoculars to catch a glimpse of the horses and seals (apologies for the poor imaging, but the phone wasn't good enough to capture the moments). There is an unidentified object in the first pic below; could it be a fin or a buoy? Morning coffees on the balcony were a relaxing start to the day. Sable Island sits far out in the North Atlantic, a 42km isolated and decorated coastline of over 400,000 grey seals and 500 wild horses. Sand and grass were the landscape, with the Island surrounded by beautiful clean sandy beaches. It is a life undisturbed; it was fascinating and must be a researcher's heaven, understanding how the horses can survive on the Island for so many years without assistance and be self-sufficient and healthy. Horses were introduced in 1760, and surprisingly each horse has a name. Fun facts: Sable (French: "sand") Island is inhabited by only a few families and a few hundred wild ponies Since 1583 there have been over 350 recorded shipwrecks on Sable Island. Very little now remains of the ships that were wrecked on the Island: a shoe buckle, a few coins, ship name boards, timbers buried in the sand It's the ideal winter home for the world's biggest breeding colony of grey seals. In 1960, only 8,000 in the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence. Now, more than 400,000 seals come to Sable's beaches during the winter months to pup and breed. Captains welcome this evening where we met some new fellow passengers who we have been chatting with via Facebook, so it was nice to put a friendly face to the names. Thank you, Kim and Jill. Catching up with the lovely Laszlo this evening, we will miss our daily chats when he leaves us in Boston, but he also needs his family time and a well-deserved break from us all. Followed by dinner in Lindstrom and our first time sampling the vegetarian free-flow mince ravioli. It was so good Wayne had a second serving like he needs more food!! Day 42 - Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, Canada Today we arrived in 'Lunenburg', literally a postcard waterside fishing village. Lunenburg is a port town on the South Shore of Nova Scotia, Canada. It was founded in 1753 and was one of the first British attempts to settle Protestants in Nova Scotia. Home to just shy of 2400 people. Think Dawsons Creek for those in the era or Chesapeake Shores; this town is perfection. Everywhere you looked was a sensory delight. The homes are immaculate, the architecture is stunning, and the an instant feeling of calmness. You just wanted to settle on the balcony of one of the charming homes with a glass of red and enjoy the majestic views. The streets were sprinkled with beautiful stores that were all maintained and just gorgeous. It is indeed filled with a historic charm. We loved the vibrant colours of the stores, and the people were a ray of sunshine. It has a warm and buzzing community and is well visited by tourists. It is a coastal town nestled on sparkling blue waters, with sailboats floating just offshore. Lunenburg is also the proud home of the Bluenose, which was once the world's fastest racing schooner, built in 1921, undefeated for 17 years. A national icon, it also appears on the Canadian dime. We loved getting lost in this small town and felt at home as we took in the views, crystal-clear waters, and shoreside homes. This is the place you have been searching for your whole life and just want to settle and stay to enjoy. We only had a few hours to appreciate the beauty, but it is at the top of our list if we return to Nova Scotia and say hello to 'Jake', the magnificent Belgium horse, again. Fun facts: The most noticeable vernacular building element in Lunenburg is the "Lunenburg Bump", an enlarged dormer extended out over the eaves, either five-sided or rectangular. Most are situated in the centre of the front façade over the entrance, which may be in an attached storm porch. In 1995 UNESCO designated it a World Heritage Site. UNESCO considers the site the best example of a planned British colonial settlement in North America, as it retains its original layout and appearance of the 1800s, including local wooden vernacular architecture. UNESCO considers the town in need of protection because the future of its traditional economic underpinnings, the Atlantic fishery, is now very uncertain. 'Week seven' will be exploring the United States East Coast to the city of Boston.

  • Hurtigruten Pole to Pole - Week five

    The Northwest Passage - In the Wake of the Great Explorers - Alaska, Canada, Greenland Week five on our 13-week bucket list Pole to Pole cruise on the luxury hybrid expedition ship MS Roald Amundsen with Hurtigruten Expeditions. Day 29 - Beechey Island, Nunavut, Canada Today was magical! We had a nature landing on Beechey Island, an uninhabited island of Arctic wilderness. The weather was on our side, no polar bears were around, and the polar plunge was happening! We were so excited we were geared up first thing and on our Zodiacs as soon as our group was called. Beechey Island is best known for containing three graves of Franklin expedition members, which were first discovered in 1850. It was about 1 degree, so we were layered up to explore the island for one hour, got some steps up, took in the magnificent views and captured some lovely pics. We saw a geocache site with some time capsules, located just off a stone beach full of pebbles like polished gemstones and the most spectacular coastline views with sparkling turquoise waters. Next was the "Polar Plunge", where we had the opportunity to swim in the ocean! Wayne wasn't going to miss out; he was out of his layers in a heartbeat to have a refreshing (and cold) swim. He was fearless, with just a little swearing to get him through! Another item ticked off the bucket list. After lunch, the ship continued on its way until we arrived at a wildlife hotspot - where we saw our first belugas, hundreds of seals, and more birds and spotted about six polar bears! It was an incredible day of wildlife! The Captain stationed us in Radstock Bay on Devon Island for a few hours, a sensory overload. Pods of seals surrounded the ship; the beautiful white belugas were a constant shimmer against the coastline, followed by about six polar bears; one was swimming, hunting for food, and a mama bear was taking her little ones up the mountain. Fun fact: Polar bears must eat one seal every five days to remain healthy. It was a beautiful afternoon of wildlife moments; we were all in awe! We were blessed to enjoy ourselves from our balcony, and we're grateful for our binoculars, as the naked eye wasn't quite good enough, nor the camera (iPhone) to capture the pics. All passengers with a great lens on their cameras will have captured magical snaps this afternoon. Dinner in Aune this evening, as the roast lamb always gets us! It was another delicious meal with ever-attentive service from our King Richard and Armani. A special thank you to Nenad (our Serbian friend), who runs a very efficient and energetic team. We always feel very spoilt by the warm welcome from the entire team. As the evening progressed, we sailed past a couple of vivid blue icebergs, followed by another sunset and the surprise delivery of the Polar Plunge certificate. This week we have been spoilt with sunsets! Day 30 - Croker Bay & Dundas Harbour, Devon Island, Nunavut, Canada This morning the sun was beaming across the scattered sea ice as we opened our curtains; with a snow-covered island as a backdrop, we were sailing past Devon Island, which is 75% permanently covered in ice. We were attempting to land at Dundas Harbour, but the sea had other ideas, and the Captain continued to Croker Bay for a bonus glacier viewing as it was a pocket of calmness for the morning. This was our most northern point yet in the Arctic Circle. Morning coffee was on the balcony with the most mesmerising views of the glaciers as we navigated through the sea ice, a beautiful morning enjoying the best of nature. Soon was time for lunch; after a few hours of blogging and publishing our week four adventures. We landed a window table for our arrival into Dundas Harbour, an abandoned old settlement. You couldn't beat this morning, but the Captain topped it! He was busy navigating us through all the sea ice to find a cosy spot to park for the afternoon nature landings. The ship busily thrust all the sea ice from its path to clear our entry to the landing spot. It was thrilling to watch and be amidst all this ice and beautiful terrain. The Zodiacs were released, and the expedition crew were off to scout the island for polar bears; they arrived back with good news, and the excursions were approved! They saw a couple of bears on neighbouring islands but stationed a few crew on the watch-out points with their rifles should the need arise to scare them away. Our group was second last today, so we had a few hours to wait until we were called. Once geared up with quite a few layers, even though the sun was still sharing its warmth over the ship, it was still very fresh, about 1 degree and the wind was creeping in. Just as we were about to make our way to Deck 3 to embark on our nature landing, the sad news came over the PA that all future excursions were cancelled. The wind was getting more robust, and the boats struggled to pick up from the island due to the sea ice filling the landing spots. We were disappointed but understood safety comes first. Back to the room, we removed all our layers and compensated with a few mojitos before dinner and chatting with our new shipboard friends to hear stories of their landing and enjoy the beautiful views as we made our way to Baffin Bay. As we were heading to dinner, we were all advised, 'one hand for you, one hand for the ship' as the ocean was starting to show us who was boss and was around for the evening. We all got through the evening with a gentle sway and were rocked to sleep. Day 30 - At Sea, Eclipse Sound & Baffin Bay - In honour of our Queen This morning we woke, and the ship was very calm and steady, although upon opening the curtains, the sea was still having a bad day! The strong winds were still fighting with the sea, which we suspect might make our visit to Pond Inlet difficult today. We were right; we arrived at lunchtime, and unfortunately no anchor side and Zodiacs for a trip to explore. We quickly picked up a new ice pilot for our Greenland segment, returned our guest visitor Roger, a local from Nunavut and continued on our way. We navigated our way to Baffin Bay with misty views of surrounding mountain tops with a dusting of snow. Further along, we had sneak peeks of glaciers as we sailed out of the Northwest Passage for Greenland. During lunch, we all received an important announcement for our British passengers to confirm the sad news of the Queen's passing. This impacted all passengers of The Commonwealth and us personally being Australians. In honour of our Queen, we celebrated her life and thanked her for dedicating her life to us all over a glass of Bollinger (by royal appointment). She will be missed, and it was a monumental moment; we spent the afternoon and evening with fellow passengers reminiscing about The Queen and sharing our gratitude for her reign, one of the longest-running monarchs in history. It gave us all a way of measuring the passage of time. It was a defining moment. This evening was spent in Lindstrom with our incredible team to keep us smiling, and we had some fun moments taking candid pics before we retired for the evening. Day 32 - At Sea, Baffin Bay, Canada We are on our way to Greenland! Today was spent crossing Baffin Bay as we navigated our way to approach our new destination. The waters remained friendly all day; as we sailed, floating around us in the near distance were scattered icebergs for everyone's viewing pleasure. We enjoyed lunch with our new ship friends Robin and Lynn and loved listening to their life stories. The travelling Arctic Dentist and nurse. They grasped every opportunity as they became young adults, and the doors that opened for them have taken them to fascinating places. The conversation was inspiring; now they are visiting places they had once lived and visited over 30 years ago. The afternoon was spent recording a few video messages to our dear friends worldwide; we love checking in and sharing our experiences with everyone; the world is to be enjoyed by all. Dinner was another delicious affair, and we were yet again spoilt with a succulent piece of Beef tenderloin prepared expertly by the chef and served with lots of smiles and laughter from the great team in Aune. We lost another hour this evening, so an early night for our impending arrival in Greenland; we can't wait! Day 33 - Ilulissat, Greenland, Denmark Where do I start? Today most definitely is the highlight of the Northwest Passage segment (still seven days to go). Yes, we have seen the Aurora; yes, we have had to do a u-turn in the middle of the night due to our path being blocked by an enormous ice pack; yes, we have seen polar bears and snuck in a polar plunge, to name a few, but arriving into Greenland and being up close and personal with an ice fjord tops the charts. Mother Nature, you are the best gift of all. Let's first celebrate our 55th country, Greenland is a country island of the kingdom of Denmark, so Denmark is our 55th country. Ilulissat is the Kalaallisut word for "Icebergs". Ilulissat is home to almost as many sled dogs as people. A population of 4700 and is the third-largest city and most popular tourist destination in Greenland. Let's quickly summarise the day; as we cruise into Ilulissat, we are surrounded by enormous icebergs we have seen yet; we are welcomed by two massive whales breaching as we approach the shoreline, or better yet, the ice line. The village is wrapped in an ice fjord; we jump on the first tender boat to make our way to the fjord (a short 30-minute walk from town); we are treated to a dog sled practice as we walk through the fields where the dogs are homed. Thank you, Arctic Living Ilulissat, for this enlightening experience on sled dogs. We were fortunate to see the dog sled practice and the level of excitement with all the beautiful dogs. We love how you put the dogs first, your high level of nourishment and care, preserving the Greenlandic dog sled culture and the passion and love you both have for this tradition. We are then rendered speechless by the fjords as we reach the top of the hill. We hiked our way through the breathtaking and colourful natural flora to the actual fjord to experience for the first time this magical moment. It was very picturesque, and we took lots of pictures to capture this incredible landscape and moment. Ilulissat Ice Fjord is 6kms wide and 55kms long and is a UNESCO natural world heritage site. The fjord is a collection of icebergs that have calved from the Sermeq Kujalleq glacier one by one, the fastest and most active glacier in the world, with a speed of 40 metres per day. We followed this with a visit to the Icefjord Centre, which was incredible architecture, with minimal impact and nicely blended with its surroundings, using only steel and wood to construct over two years. It only opened 11 months ago. It was imposing and a great way to learn about the life stages of ice, from a drop of rain to snowflakes, calving, drifting and melting! A friendly chap who worked there joined us for coffee and shared his stories about Ilulissat and the dramatic change they are experiencing due to climate change; recently, the permafrost is reducing, and the houses are beginning to shift and become damaged, among the changes in the ice. How 30 years ago it was much closer to go and touch, now the drive has become much longer. In the Ilulissat Icefjord, global warming is evident. The Greenlanders are thankful for the growing interest in an issue they live with and adapt to constantly. The area is a site of extensive research undertaken for centuries and, as a result, is said to facilitate insight into climate change. We enjoyed listening to and hearing about the village and how tourism is doubling and becoming stronger each year from all parts of the globe; it was a beautiful, charming community with excellent infrastructure, nestled among a seascape of ice. We captured a fantastic video of the dog sled practice and wanted to share it with the owners. Fortunately, being a small community, the lady from the ice fjord centre shared with us her contact details, her name was Anso, and we later shared the video with her. They loved it, and Anso told us how much the dogs love the training; we could see how excited they were too! What an experience. We finished the day exploring the beautiful town, the bright coloured homes and scenic views. The ship was buzzing with joy this evening as the crew and passengers digested the sensory overload we were all grateful to experience, thanks to Hurtigruten. Fun fact: Greenland is 80% covered in ice, and It got its name from Erik The Red, an Icelandic murderer exiled to the island. He called it "Greenland" in hopes that the name would attract settlers. But according to scientists, Greenland was Let'sgreen more than 2.5 million years ago. Day 34 - Sisimiut, Greenland, Denmark The ship received a wake-up call from the waters of Baffin Bay this morning around 2.30 am'; it was time to show us who was boss again. The pre-evening announcement should have been 'one hand for your partner, and one for the bed!' We had a sneak peek, and the waves were showing off at about four meters. The ship is impressive in handling the wild sea; apart from a few bumps and creaks, she is very stable. A special thank you to our Captain Terje for keeping us safe and comfortable during these times, which have been few and far between. We lightly slept to the morning, and upon opening the blinds, you could easily mistake the whitecaps for sea ice; this continued until lunch. Our arrival in Sisimiut was delayed about one hour due to weather conditions, but as we neared our new destination, we were protected, and the sea had a breather and let us dock at the pier. Everyone was off exploring the lovely village in a heartbeat and standing on solid ground for a few hours to recalibrate the body. We opted for the walk-off self-guided tour and set out on foot to take in the colourful homes and beautiful nature views around town. Other excursions included hikes to a volcano and up the mountains or a panoramic bus tour. Sisimiut means "the residents at the foxholes". The second largest city in Greenland, and the largest Arctic city in North America with a population of 5600, is also the fastest growing city in Greenland. It has been inhabited for the last 4,500 years. The population of modern Greenlanders is a mix of the Inuit and Danish peoples, who first settled in the area in the 1720s. We first arrived at a lovely souvenir shop which was also home to a litter of puppies; they had them on display for us to all say hello and have a cuddle. The lovely shop owner's daughter was sharing the dog mama's story with us, and we couldn't wait to stop in on the way back to make a purchase and support this lovely family. The whole ship was just as excited to find a souvenir shop, too; she flourished with business all day long, which made us smile. We continued walking around until we stumbled on a brassiere restaurant that looked cosy; it was part of Hotel Sisimiut. We stopped for a coffee and snack; it was so lovely we stayed for a while and just enjoyed the magical views. Enjoyable chatting with the team from Thailand, bringing back our basic Thai phrases after living in Koh Samui three years ago. We must note both Greenland destinations; the coffee was impressive! It was time to head back to the ship, so I made a detour to uncover new sites, came across a beautiful lake in the heart of town, stopped back at the lovely Greenland Memories Souvenir Shop, and made a cuddly purchase for the cabin. We welcomed 'Sami the Seal' to our family whilst also supporting the children of Nepal in need with a portion of our purchase via Plan International. Sami is feeling at home already, and the crew are enjoying his company too. Golden hour was upon us, so we enjoyed taking some snaps of the bright and colourful homes on our way back, being cautious of the fast-paced traffic, not sure if they get extra points for tourists or were trialling to become a race car driver, so do keep this in mind. Fun fact: Why are Greenland homes bright and colourful? In the 18th century, Greenland received timber kits from Scandinavia to build wooden houses. Only five colours were available, and each one had a special meaning. Nowadays, many of the colours are decorative. Red: churches, schools, teachers' or ministers' houses, and trade Yellow: hospitals, doctors, and health care personnel Green: power works, auto mechanics, teleoperations Blue: fish factories Black: Police stations This evening was roast lamb and Pavlova, always delicious and early to bed before the moody sea was upon us again for the evening as we prepared for a sea day back towards Canada. Greenland, you were a treasure. Day 35 - At Sea, Labrador Sea, Greenland We woke to the morning update over the intercom at 9.15 am, welcoming the day. We were grateful to have slept through the night and felt refreshed, especially after hearing the waves averaged 5 metres throughout the night. The sea was much kinder this morning, and we expect the same for our arrival in Canada. Today's onboard activity was the bridge visit, which we are very excited about; as we have another two months on the ship, we thought we would give everyone extra space to enjoy as we will have another opportunity when it is quieter. Today was a distinct change in weather; the sun was shining, so we took advantage and enjoyed a glass of champagne in the sun on the pool deck, chatting and sharing laughter with our fellow Pole to Pole guests before dinner. Following dinner, tonight was a treat Filet Mignon and Lemon Tart; we attended the Polar Molars session hosted by Robin, our Arctic Dentist friend, to hear his stories about practising in the 80s in the Arctic. We finished week five with the most magical sunset to take us into week six. Join us next week as we make our way South to the East coast of Canada and the United States.

  • Icefjord Centre - Ilulissat

    Icefjord Centre - One visit Upon arriving in Ilulissat on the west coast of Greenland on our Pole to Pole cruise with Hurtigruten Expeditions to visit the magnificent Ilulissat Icefjord, we followed this with a visit to the Icefjord Centre. We were impressed with the incredible architecture, with minimal impact and nicely blended with its surroundings, using only steel and wood to construct over two years. The Icefjord Centre only opened 11 months ago. It was imposing and a great way to learn about the life stages of ice, from a drop of rain to snowflakes, calving, drifting and melting! A friendly chap who worked there joined us for coffee (the cafe onsite makes exceptional coffee) and shared his stories about Ilulissat and the dramatic change they are experiencing due to climate change; recently, the permafrost is reducing, and the houses are beginning to shift and become damaged, among the changes in the ice. How 30 years ago it was much closer to go and touch, now the drive has become much longer. In the Ilulissat Icefjord, global warming is evident. The Greenlanders are thankful for the growing interest in an issue they live with and adapt to constantly. The area is a site of extensive research undertaken for centuries and, as a result, is said to facilitate insight into climate change. We enjoyed listening to and hearing about the village and how tourism is doubling and becoming stronger each year from all parts of the globe; it was a beautiful, charming community with excellent infrastructure, nestled among a seascape of ice. There is a viewing platform on the roof of the structure, which provides a sensory overload of the Icefjord, be sure to visit if you are fortunate to find yourself in this magical part of the world.

  • Hurtigruten Pole to Pole - Week four

    The Northwest Passage - In the Wake of the Great Explorers - Alaska, Canada, Greenland Week four on our 13-week bucket list Pole to Pole cruise on the luxury hybrid expedition ship MS Roald Amundsen with Hurtigruten Expeditions. Day 22 - At Sea, Beaufort Sea, Canada Let's talk about the dining scene on the MS Roald Amundsen. You have three restaurants to choose from for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Soft drinks, beer, house wine (premium at an additional cost) and coffee/tea are included in your meals in each restaurant. Each restaurant is elegantly designed, with floor-to-ceiling windows for beautiful cruising viewing. Lindstrom Restaurant - Located on Deck 9 and available to suite guests for all three meals, open from 7-9 am 12-2 pm and 6-9 pm. The menu changes almost daily for lunch and dinner; some days, it remains the same, but no more than two days in a row. Think fine dining and very high quality of cuisine and service (which is outstanding in each restaurant). All non-suite guests can experience Lindstrom for dinner at an additional cost of €25 each. Aune Restaurant - Located on Deck 6 and available for all guests for three meals a day, the times are the same as Lindstrom. Breakfast and lunch are buffet style, and dinner is a la carte, except for maybe once per week, when they will have a buffet evening. We have dined in Aune a few times over the past few weeks and recommend the a la carte evenings. The daily menu for each restaurant is published each morning in the app, so you can easily decide which restaurant you wish to dine in during the evening. Fredheim Restaurant - Located on Deck 6 and available for all guests to dine in for three meals a day, and takeaway options are available. Dining hours are extended; you can dine from 12 pm - 9 pm. The menu stays the same with your classics, pasta of the day, hamburgers, hotdogs, fish, chicken, steak with vegetables, including a new weekly Mexican dish, and other dishes. Day 23 - Ulukhaktok, Northwest Territories, Canada Long gone are the early risers! We have been making up for years of lost sleep on this cruise and rising at least from 10 am each day. We make it for morning coffee and then straight to lunch! Just after lunch today, we arrived in a tiny community called Ulukhaktok in Northwest Territories of Canada. Home to a couple of hundred locals. Everyone was eager to get on our Zodiacs for the landing. Once onshore, we were greeted by the local indigenous to take us around their village. It was eye-opening to a different way of life. The homes were basic but were shelter. The locals were all dressed in coats enhanced with animal fur on the cuffs and neckline. There were approximately three grocery stores (surprising to see the volume of processed foods/sweets with very little fresh produce), where a couple of flights arrived weekly to stock up and another to deliver gas. Their primary means of transport was by foot or four-wheelers—primarily hunters and gatherers (berries), very little else to keep them busy. We were given four hours to explore, although, after 90 minutes, we were ready to get back to the ship. The village had the opportunity to put on their arts/craft market when we arrived, but they scheduled this for later in the afternoon, whereby most passengers were back on the ship! Missed opportunity to have the passengers ready to shop; 400 passengers can quickly help fund the community for the next few months; maybe the government subsidy is more than enough. Not much to see here and little from the team as to why we visited; it felt like the community existed purely because of subsidies as no one appeared to be very busy. You could question the carbon footprint, and it was disappointing to see the rubbish scattered around the village. Today marked the 106th anniversary of Roald Amundsen's expedition to the South Pole, the Norwegian explorer whom our ship is named after was the first human to reach the South Pole. As we sailed through the Amundsen Gulf, the ship celebrated with pre-dinner bubbles for us all. We then finished the evening with a rare and beautiful sunset. Day 24 - Sea Day, Amundsen Gulf, Nunavut, Canada Today was a chilled sea day; we love these days! A great excuse to truly relax. We received our certificates for crossing the arctic circle and kept busy blogging to record all our extraordinary adventures and memories. This evening we enjoyed a beautiful dinner at Lindstrom and celebrated life with a lovely bottle of bubbles, followed by yet another magical sunset. Day 25 - Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, Canada Last night we slept with the curtains open to bring our body clocks back to normal, and we were up at 7 am! It's been a few weeks since we had breakfast, so we took advantage of the early morning and popped up to Lindstrom; surprisingly, it is hectic in the mornings, and we even had to queue! After breakfast, we were ready to Zodiac across to our new destination for the day, Cambridge Bay, a small community village of approx 1400. It is also the home to The Canadian High Arctic Research Station (CHARS), a world-class research facility that enhances research and analysis of Canada's North. We wandered around the village and learnt about the short history, founded around 1940; we were even offered a sample of whale, a local delicacy, but we politely declined as we were uncomfortable with the offer. After two hours, we were back on the ship for lunch and a cheeky afternoon tea; for the first time in 25 days, we found the 'cake time'. Every day in the Explorer's Lounge on Deck 10 for one hour, you are offered a selection of freshly baked cakes; the sponge was divine; we must learn to stay away during 3 - 4 pm each day; otherwise, we will need a new wardrobe! The sun blessed us with its presence and warmth this afternoon as we sailed away from Cambridge Bay onwards to our next destination in Northern Canada. A pleasant surprise this evening! The sky was dancing in lights. We finally see our first Aurora with Hurtigruten Expeditions. Day 26 - Gjoa Haven, Nunavut, Canada Mother Nature has been the highlight of the week, with the spectacular Aurora show in the sky we experienced last night. This afternoon we arrived at Gjoa Haven at the heart of Northwest Passage, where Roald Amundsen noted it as 'the finest little harbour in the world! Gjoa Haven is where the polar explorer Roald Amundsen stayed for two winters during his famed quest through the Northwest Passage. Once his ship was free from the ice, he continued his pursuit in 1905, successfully crossing the Northwest Passage. Gjoa Haven is another small lonely village in the Arctic Circle, with a local Inuit community of 1400. The permanent community was founded in 1927 after a trading post was opened; in 1950, there were approx 110. The last three landings have been very underwhelming, and we wonder why they have been chosen; they don't seem to align with Hurtigruten's values of sustainability. We have been quite disappointed with the pollution level (especially in Gjoa Haven). There was not much to see; the people appeared to have very little pride in their land, each village needed supplies, and the pricing for this one was quite a shock! CAD 43 for a frozen dessert, $20 for a frozen pizza, and $18 for 1L of orange juice (not freshly squeezed). You would ask how the locals can afford these heavily processed foods with minimal employment opportunities or industries other than fishing or hunting. We chatted with a lady in the grocery store, and she agreed everything was expensive. We asked how they could afford them, and she confirmed you needed to work, and we suggested it would be much cheaper (and healthier) to make the pizza from scratch. Her response was this is much easier. We also took notice of the 'We are hiring' sign as we entered the store; this has been a regular occurrence in all villages. We are starting to question these small hamlets' carbon footprint and sustainability. We were blessed with a gorgeous day; the sun was shining, so we enjoyed the weather to get our steps up as we navigated around the rubbish, dead birds and fish as we strolled the coastline of the small village. After a few hours, we were back on the ship to enjoy another fabulous dinner and catch up with fellow passengers over drinks, hearing lots of stories. Day 27 - Sea Day, James Ross & Bellot Strait, Nunavut, Canada Today we woke up to views of sea ice as we were navigating our way to the Bellot Strait to embark on the Northwest Passage and Greenland. We had a sea day, and the fog was lifting for us to enjoy some new scenery, which was refreshing from the desolate and bare coastlines over the past few days. This morning, Captain Terje gave the ship an update on navigating us through the Northwest Passage. It was very insightful regarding the ice, weather, permits and approvals on making the trip. He is also very considerate of the waters, and we loved how this is very important to him. For example, he will anchor the boat further from the shore if he thinks the ship is causing disturbance to the sea floor due to the bow thrusters. He also loves that the ship has DP (Dynamic Positioning) as it is much more friendly to the sea and does not cause any damage to the sea as opposed to anchors, which are also much more stable. This evening during dinner, we entered the Bellot Strait, the northernmost point of the Americas and accessible only during Aug/September to sail as iced over during the other months. Bellot Strait is a passage in the Canadian Arctic and is very narrow. Captain Terje perfectly timed our sail through the stunning scenery through the golden hour for the evening. The strait is named for Frenchman Joseph Bellot, one of the many adventurers who set out in the 1850s to search for the doomed Northwest Passage mission of Sir John Franklin. The marine sediments of the canyon walls were very interesting, a mixture of three or four, I believe and constantly changing. We shared the sailing with another ship passing us by. The passage has complex currents; they were strong in the strait, and many large whirlpools surrounded us. As we exited Bellot Strait, we sailed past Fort Ross, an abandoned former trading post on Somerset Island. Founded in 1937, it was the last trading post established by the Hudson's Bay Company. This evening's sunset was magical; we have been blessed with clear skies and sunsets this week. Day 28 - Prince Leopold Island, Nunavut, Canada This morning we woke at about 10 am. I think we have changed our clocks about three times in the past ten days, so we lose an hour each time. As we skip breakfast, no big deal, and we just start the day with lunch and wine, no complaints! During lunch, we arrive at the spectacular Prince Leopold Island. We are all spellbound; it is beautiful! The island is one of the most important seabird colonies in the Canadian Arctic; therefore, seabird life was abundant. It is located in Lancaster Sound at Prince Regent Inlet and Barrow Strait. The natural landscape and cliffs of the island were over 1000m and had a natural sequence of limestone. Very excited today, as it was our first polar bear sighting; we saw four as we arrived at the island. Perfect lunch viewing whilst devouring another delicious lunch in Lindstrom of pulled lamb! Perfection! The bear sightings were announced over lunch, instantly all knives and forks were placed down, and everyone raced to the windows on the port side to catch a glimpse. Fortunately, we had a window table for front-row seats. Binoculars were a must and provided us with a clear image of the bears running along the beach, catching their fish or birds for lunch; we made sure the lovely Lindstrom team and fellow passengers shared our binoculars so no one missed out on this beautiful moment. We later learned from the expedition team that the island has been surveyed by Canada and has no oil prospects, which is positive news as this will protect the island's beauty. After lunch, we were all geared up for the 2 degrees and ready to head out on our Zodiac cruise. Unfortunately, the zodiacs and kayaking were cancelled due to passenger safety, as there were polar bears nearby. They can run up to 40kms per hour, and the waters were just a little rough; therefore, passenger safety comes first. Instead, we took advantage of the magnificent views and captured candid pics and moments. The ship sailed away later in the evening and into the night to continue our way to the next destination of Beechey Island, where we all prayed to the weather gods to be kind so we could enjoy a new landing for the morning. See you all next week. Week five is beginning to be full of wonderful surprises! We can't wait to share them.

  • Hurtigruten Pole to Pole - Week three

    The Northwest Passage - In the Wake of the Great Explorers - Alaska, Canada, Greenland Week three on our 13-week bucket list cruise to the North and South Poles on the luxury hybrid expedition ship Hurtigruten Expeditions - MS Roald Amundsen. This week our friends who have been with us from Vancouver disembarked in Nome, and 400 new faces joined us for the Northwest Passage expedition. Day 15 - Savoonga Island, Alaska Last night we time travelled, we crossed over the international date line at 2.30 am, for only a short while and then back to the present, all whilst we were sleeping. The first time we skipped the wine for lunch and decided to spend the day online as today was the last day before we embarked on the Northwest Passage leg of the cruise. Unfortunately, we skipped the excursion to Savoonga (35 miles from Russia). Still, after hearing all the stories over dinner about the warm welcome from the locals and the rich history of the community, we reminded ourselves we wouldn't be doing this again! The local economy consists mainly of subsistence hunting for walrus, seals, fish, and bowhead whales. The city calls itself the "Walrus Capital of the World". A dogsled mail service operated until 1963. During the evening, the Captain's farewell took place and Shaun, the Hurtigruten photographer, shared with us all the magical memories from the first leg of the cruise. Thank you, Shaun, for producing this extraordinary collection of moments. We enjoyed dinner in Lindstrom, and the talented team put on a little show for the departing guests. We said our goodbyes to all the wonderful new friends we made over the past few weeks, followed by drinks in the lounge. Day 16 - Nome, Alaska Today was a big changeover day, 340 passengers disembarked, and over 440 new passengers embarked for the Northwest Passage leg of the cruise. We had the whole day in Nome, Alaska's most famous gold rush town. This little town was put on the map in 1899 due to the discovery of gold, of which $2m was discovered in that first year. It was full of super friendly indigenous Alaskans, who would warmly greet and welcome you to Nome as you wandered around. Very authentic Alaskan architecture, some buildings over 100 years old. We had a little to-do list as this was one of our last ports before we crossed into the arctic circle and sailed for three weeks through the Northwest passage, so we busily ticked this off, apart from haircuts, so they will need to wait until Halifax. Including lunch and a Hawaiian pizza (Yes, apologies to all our Italian nearest and dearest). We were back onboard during the afternoon and jumped online to complete any urgent tasks before our connection was weak. It was a busy night on the ship as all the new passengers navigated how it operates, and the restaurants were buzzing! Day 17 - Sea day, Chukchi Sea, Alaska (Arctic Circle) Today at 4 pm, we crossed the Arctic Circle and were in for a surprise. As we travelled, we were all baptised with icy cold water by the Captain. In the Arctic Circle, they have a crossing ritual; fortunately, they skipped the Cod liver oil part of the ritual. Wayne, of course, volunteered for us to go first! It was cold! But we were quickly offered a shot to warm ourselves up; it was lots of fun, especially watching all the reactions. Fog obscured our views of the Diomede Islands islands today as we cruised past, but one thing we can't control is the weather, so it made for a relaxing day. This evening was a pre-dinner drink whilst attending the Captain's welcome and introduction; many of the crew also changed over in Nome, so we have many new faces onboard. All the new passengers have settled in, and the ship runs like a well-oiled machine. Day 18 & 19 - Sea days, Bering Strait & Beaufort Sea, Alaska Lazy days cruising, preparing for our re-entry into Canada, submitting forms and the like and receiving safety briefings on the Arctic and kayaking procedures. On day 18, for dinner, we opted for Bison for the first time, which was delicious. Milder than beef and very tender and tasty. The sun goes down around midnight here, so we enjoy very long days; fortunately, our suites have great block-out curtains, so you can easily sleep anytime, day or night. On Day 19 - During our afternoon nap, we woke up to a view of sailing through sea ice, the largest we have experienced in Alaska. It was mindblowing, and the colours were magical! This was followed by a special invitation with the officers for drinks with all transit guests, 56 of us; karaoke and dancing were the entertainment. Thirty-six passengers embarked in Vancouver for the Northwest Passage and will disembark in Boston. The remaining 20 will continue to Antarctica and disembark on 8th November. Dinner this evening was Roast lamb in Aune Restaurant; we opted for our favourite table and enjoyed the beautiful evening scenery of sea ice scattered all around us. At about 11 pm this evening, once we were tucked up in bed, we felt the ship come to a halt and stepped out onto the balcony. We were stopped due to ice blocking our path! We couldn't miss the opportunity of seeing all the ice, so we were up and out of bed to get to the Observation deck on Level 11 to check it out! The Captain completed a 360 of the ship whilst we were up there and rerouted us for a clearer path forward. Day 20 - Sea day, Beaufort Sea, Alaska Another day at sea, relaxing and dining! So, let's talk about ice. The distinction between 1st-year sea ice, 2nd-year, multiyear and old ice. First-year sea ice is ice that is thicker than young ice but has no more than one year of growth. In other words, ice grows in the fall and winter (after it has gone through the new ice – nilas – young ice stages and grows further) but does not survive the spring and summer months (it melts away). The thickness of this ice typically ranges from 0.3 m to 2 m; First-year ice may be further divided into thin (30 cm to 70 cm), medium (70 cm to 120 cm) and thick (>120 cm) Old sea ice is sea ice that has survived at least one melting season (i.e. one summer). For this reason, this ice is generally thicker than first-year sea ice. Old ice is commonly divided into two types: second-year ice, which has survived one melting season and multiyear ice, which has survived more than one. (In some sources, old ice is more than two years old.) Multiyear ice is much more common in the Arctic than in the Antarctic because sea ice in the south drifts into warmer waters where it melts. In the Arctic, much of the sea ice is landlocked. Day 21 - Herschel Island, Yukon, Canada This morning we crossed the US border to arrive in Canada; we anchored just off Herschel Island in the Yukon Territory. Canadian Customs arrived after lunch, and they needed to fly into the island via a 90-minute flight and be boated across to clear the ship and passengers for our landing. Once we were cleared, we had a quick safety briefing from the local park rangers, who warned us there was a grizzly on the beach last night (footprints below) but had since left the island, and we should all be safe. We all boated across in the Zodiacs and enjoyed the fresh air and a walk around the island after four days at sea. As we walked, we could follow the bear's footprints, which were also accompanied by red fox prints, for how long we don't know. Herschel Island is located in the Beaufort Sea, on the edge of the Ivvavik National Park. The rangers reside on the island for six months; a few huts and outside toilets were scattered around, powered by solar, with regular supplies flown in. For those of you who are history lovers, here is some light reading. There was a runway, which was how the customs officers arrived, we had a chat with the pilot, who told us the runway was only 250m in length, and we all enjoyed watching the plane take off. After about one hour, we were delivered back to the ship; it was great to explore the little island and capture some memorable moments.

  • Hurtigruten Pole to Pole - Week two

    Inside Passage, Bears and Aleutian Islands - Alaska Week two on our 13-week bucket list cruise to the North and South Poles on the luxury hybrid expedition ship Hurtigruten Expeditions - MS Roald Amundsen. Day Eight - Kukak Bay & Kinak Bay, Alaska We enjoyed our morning coffee on the balcony and spotted our first bear! I quickly pulled out the binoculars and confirmed it was not a rock but a bear playing on the water's edge. We had just anchored in Kukak Bay, Katmai National Park, so we quickly geared up for our Zodiac cruise, beginning to understand this layering concept. Our Zodiac Captain Freddy took us straight to the bears; there were now three bears snacking on salmon. After 20 minutes, we continued our Zodiac cruise. We spotted a few seals, otters, bald eagles and gigantic jellyfish, whilst soaking up the mesmerising scenery we were surrounded by. It was the most refreshing start to the day! We returned to the ship for lunch as we cruised to our afternoon destination, Kinak Bay. Today on the menu, we opted for Vegetarian Lasagne, and looking forward to this coming back! Mid-afternoon, we anchored in Kinak Bay, also in Katmai National Park. We layered up again for another Zodiac and thought we couldn't top this morning, but low and behold, more bears, and we were able to sneak up even closer! We even saw a Mama bear with her two cubs. What a day, our first bear sightings in the wild and we counted eight during the day. Grateful to have purchased our Canon Binoculars (Canon 12x36 IS III) with the stabilise feature to see these magnificent creatures up close. The ship pulled up anchors, and we were back cruising for a few hours; then, to our surprise, we were stationed for the evening in Geographic Harbor. This made for stunning views over dinner and a quiet evening. Day Nine - Geographic Harbor, Alaska Each day continues to surprise us! We didn't think it was possible to top yesterday's luck with all the bears. We had an early Zodiac cruise at 9 am this morning; the weather was forecast to be cold and wet, but the weather gods were on our side, and the sun was shining. First up was about eight bears by the river catching salmon and playing about! It was incredible! They are so graceful as they move their gigantic bodies! You could easily sit by and watch them in their natural habitat all day. We enjoyed the viewing for about half an hour and then continued to explore Geographic Harbor, which is so beautiful. The surroundings were gorgeous; this was the best yet! The ship was pulling up anchors today at noon, so we were back on board and enjoyed lunch with our fellow passengers and a rest for the afternoon. We were very impressed with the ship's values; our new friends Jonny and Ben educated us on some sustainability features over lunch. The ship continues to impress us. Tonight for dinner, we booked Restaurant Aune, another excellent restaurant with stunning views and food to match. The staff were full of conversation, and we loved getting to know more of the crew we will spend three months with on this epic journey from the North to the South Pole. This evening we were blessed with another magical sunset. Day Ten - Unga, Alaska Upon opening the curtains this morning, we were thrilled to see yet another magical backdrop. We had arrived at Unga this morning, a remote abandoned settlement also known as a ghost village, which has been reclaimed by nature and cows following the departure of its inhabitants. Unga was believed to be a population of 116, half natives and half Russian and the remaining family left in 1958. The cows were hiding from us, but there was plenty of proof they existed due to the number of cow pats. It was also a beautiful location for pictures. Thank you, Zoe, for capturing these special moments for us. We got to experience the eerie beauty of this village by being dropped off in the Zodiacs to explore for the morning. We walked among the abandoned wooden buildings that now stand only as monuments to the community that once called this place home, taking in the stunning coastline. After one hour, we were back in the Zodiacs for a quick look at Bird Rock, smothered with seagulls; fortunately, we got to see a seal sun-baking and then delivered back to ship for a slow lunch. In the late afternoon, we sailed away to continue cruising to enjoy the beauty of Alaska's Aleutian Islands. Pods of whales for pre-dinner entertainment tonight, the captain slowed and turned the ship for everyone to enjoy the show. We saw about 20 whales breaching for about half an hour. Another magical day, with more delicious dining at Lindstrom! Day 11 - Dutch Harbor, Alaska The Island of Unalaska is home to the International Port of Dutch Harbor - the number one commercial fishing port in the nation and the location where 'Deadliest Catch' is filmed. A population of approximately 4,200. Dutch Harbor is a harbour on Amaknak Island in Unalaska, Alaska. It was the location of the Battle of Dutch Harbor in June 1942 and was one of the few sites in the United States to be subjected to aerial bombardment by a foreign power during World War II. We were on the first shuttle out to explore the area. The first stop was downtown, although I am not sure the name is appropriate, as we came across a church, a few fisheries, and very little else. This town is definitely for the working families only, as there wasn't much to see or do, definitely lacked shine from our perspective. We strolled around, came across a large pod of sea otters off the pier, and a giant bald eagle landed in front of us and then jumped back on the bus for the hotel. Today was our online day, so we tucked ourselves in the corner of the cafe to get connected; no wifi in the hotel, but they did have a satellite option to purchase on the island, starting at USD 25 for 1GB, followed by USD 80 for 5GB; fortunately the speed was fast. After spending the afternoon online, we went back to the ship on foot, navigating through the port and shipping containers to get ready for dinner. Tonight was another incredible pre-dinner show of over 40 whales surrounding the ship; the captain stopped the ship for half hour for everyone to enjoy the whales and to make sure they had no distractions in their home whilst they were feeding and for them to continue their journey. Before dinner, the captain announced we were in for some rocky waters this evening, so be sure to take your motion sickness pills if required; we got through the evening unscathed and were rocked to sleep all night, but nothing too dramatic. Dinner views were also spectacular this evening; the lush green hills as we sailed by were impressive! Day 12 & 13 - Bering Sea, Alaska Due to the low weather pressure system, we had to bypass Chuginadak and had a sea day! The ship was rocking all day; we were in the Bering Sea. Our day was lunch in Lindstrom, followed by an afternoon nap. We then joined our new friends Jonny and Ben for dinner; it was a night full of stories, laughter and delicious food. This was followed by a very rough night! Fortunately, no motion sickness for us, just a restless sleep. Insiders tip, choose a midship cabin when the ocean is a little on edge. Day 13 was a scheduled sea day, and we woke to another wild ocean, so another quiet day, staying horizontal to avoid motion sickness. We know to avoid the bow during these times as it can be quite an adventure. We enjoyed lunch in Lindstrom, followed by a lovely afternoon of blue skies and the sun peeking through. We opted for Restaurant Aune for dinner as they had roast lamb, and we couldn't pass up one of our favourite meals. We had a beautiful evening dining slowly and were happy the ocean took a breather and turned on calmer seas from 8 pm, so we were guaranteed a lovely night's sleep. We finished the evening with a birthday video call to Mum and Dad (via Facebook messenger); it was great to catch up whilst we were in the middle of the Bering Sea via video to wish Dad a very happy birthday. The quality was much better than we expected. Day 14 - St. Matthew Island, Alaska This morning we were blessed with the most intense sunrise, and we didn't even need to wake up with the birds; it was 8 am! The ship anchored just off St Matthew Island in uncharted waters, accompanied by guidance from the local fishermen. An uninhabited and remote island in the Bering Sea. It is a completely deserted island, home to voles, birds, wild grasses and natural scenery. Excursions were all first up; we were in the second group, so at 9 am, we were on the island. Upon landing on the island, the expedition team were there to provide us instructions and to feel free to help them remove the trash; there was lots of debris washed up. We were all keen to help with this wonderful initiative, and as we explored, we all collected foreign items that do not belong in nature. The Hurtigruten team made sure the rubbish collected was brought back to the ship to be disposed of correctly when we arrived in Nome. Hurtigruten takes eco travel to the next level, always leaving a place better than they found it, a motto of Hurtigruten. They actively encourage guests to help collect washed-up waste to be recycled. As we sailed away, it was announced we had all collected over 1000 kilograms of trash to recycle. We enjoyed another lunch (yes, we are eating our way to Antarctica), soaked up the sun by the jacuzzis, and chatted with our fellow pole-to-pole friends. Our lovely friend Cath from France gifted us with this gorgeous piece of art as we were enjoying an afternoon wine of us both. We celebrated our new friend Ben's birthday and dinner in Fredheim restaurant; we enjoy visiting the different dining venues regularly. The sun has been shining all day, and the waters have been calm, so a perfect day!

  • Hurtigruten Pole to Pole - Week one

    Inside Passage, Bears and Aleutian Islands - Canada and Alaska. Our first week on our 13-week odyssey cruising to the North and South Poles on the hybrid expedition ship Hurtigruten - MS Roald Amundsen. The first segment is from Vancouver to Nome. Day Zero 'Embarkation Day' - Vancouver, Canada Embarkation day was a breeze, a quick Covid test and quickly into our suite after enjoying a glass of welcome champagne in the suite guest restaurant, Lindstrøm. This was the first time we had been in the same place for three months in two years. As you can imagine, we were very excited about entirely unpacking and setting our suite up for the next three months; it was our new home. After our safety drill, it was time to prepare for our first dinner in Lindstrøm. We spoiled ourselves with a special bottle of champagne to celebrate the beginning of three exciting months on the ship. The food was plated exquisitely and was delicious. We are very impressed with this ship, the dining and all the warm and friendly faces of the crew. Day One - Seymour Narrows, Canada Today was a sea day as we continued to cruise the Inside Passage towards Alaska. We enjoyed and explored the ship and just relaxed. The ocean was slightly rocky, so it was an experience by the pool. We also received our expedition jackets, boots, and a surprise welcome gift to attach to our expedition gear. We were invited to a meet and greet with the Captain and Officers of the ship, along with meeting the other 20 Pole-to-Pole passengers we will share this once-in-a-lifetime adventure with, surprised to meet two other fellow Aussies in the group. We also love we have a fellow Serbian Nenad travelling with us! We also have the ship to ourselves from Boston to Miami for five days and the crew, of course. The ship is only a few years old; we are incredibly impressed with the nordic design and decor, the crew are so warm and friendly, and the restaurants have been exceptional. We will be spoilt for breakfast, lunch and dinner over the next three months. Day Two - Misty Fjords, Alaska We woke up to the sun beaming through our suite; what a magical morning! After missing the first morning, we were excited to experience our first breakfast! Today we were cruising through Misty Fjords, and the landscapes were stunning all day! President Jimmy Carter proclaimed Misty Fjords as a National Monument in 1978. Misty Fjords National Monument's glacial valleys are 50 to 70 million years old. Wayne took advantage of the scenery and the sunshine and had a dip in the ship's pool; the weather was 24 degrees! The ship anchored for the afternoon, and we were to experience our first Zodiac boat cruise. They fit up to 8 passengers and indeed a great experience to explore our surroundings. The Zodiac captains also share the local knowledge and stories of the surroundings. The ship has about ten little boats staffed by the knowledgeable expedition crew for passengers to get up close and personal with nature and some hidden gems, including 'Gods pocket' only accessible by small boat! We were fortunate to touch a waterfall and cruise nearby a harbour seal. We loved it! We finished the day back in the Lindstrom Restaurant (one of three restaurants) for a scenic dinner by the window as we cruised out of Misty Fjords. Day Three - Wrangell, Alaska We woke up to find ourselves docked in Wrangell, a classic Alaskan town, home to 2000 people. We tendered across to explore by foot and enjoy a morning coffee and purchase a local SIM card. Wrangell has a charming and authentic vibe, everyone was full of smiles and waves, and all cars would stop to let you cross the road, no matter where you were! After lunch, we were on an excursion, back on a Zodiac with a local guide, this time with our boots as we had a landing included. We explored the nearby Deadman's Island and landed at Petroglyph Beach, where the low tide revealed 8,000-year-old rock carvings, finishing with a cruise through the local fishing port. I spotted an eagle's nest (which could easily fit four humans cross-legged playing cards), a bald eagle and a harbour seal; thanks to my wildlife spotting skills, I was the first to point them out—still searching for the bears and whales! Surprise, surprise, back to the ship for dinner and a magical sunset as we cruise to Sitka. Day Four - Sitka, Alaska It's not all exploring! Today we arrived in Sitka and were here only a few weeks again on our seven-day celebrity cruise, so we took advantage of the empty ship and spent a few hours online. It's also a great time to get to know the crew as they wander past. Back in our restaurant for lunch, the food continues to be on another level! The conversations are generally about travel and sharing tips with fellow passengers who have travelled extensively worldwide and have so much to share. We met a lovely lady who spent time in '76 travelling the west coast of Africa to n a truck, and then Iran and Afghanistan; the stories are thrilling! We receive a bag of laundry a day; today, it arrived all pressed and folded in a cute little box; and shirts neatly pressed. Very impressed! Over dinner, we experienced a slight swell, but it soon calmed down and went back to smooth sailing, nothing dramatic. We have been amazed by the ship and its stability so far. The evening finishes with another gorgeous dinner, and then we retire to our heavenly bed to turn in and be rocked to sleep. Day Five - Icy Bay, Alaska It was a very relaxed Saturday morning; coffee and lunch as we cruised through the ice fields. In the afternoon, we were back on a Zodiac tour after we anchored neatly in Icy Bay, surrounded by glaciers. One hour cruising on the Zodiacs through Icy Bay, weaving through the ice, was quite the experience of being so close to the big ice carves floating around us. The vivid blue colours and listening to the shards carving off from the nearby large glaciers and feeling the waves, as a result, was quite an experience. The fog was in and out, so we could catch glimpses of the glaciers and scenery we were engulfed in. We were fortunate to have many curious seals today; they were brave and would pop up very close to the boats. Wayne was excited to receive his very own piece of ice from the bay, which he couldn't wait to get back and add a chunk to his martini, back in the observation bar for sail away! Day Six - Seward, Alaska We love the early afternoon arrivals to our destinations, a very relaxed way to travel. Today, we tried out a new restaurant called Fredheim on the ship; it has a daily menu of your classics (chicken, salmon & steak), hamburgers, tacos and hotdogs. Equally impressed with the floor-to-ceiling windows for perfect views. The afternoon was for exploring as we were docked in Seward just after lunch. We decided to walk (in the rain) instead of taking the shuttle to the Alaska SeaLife Center, which was about 40 mins, so we could roam through the town on the way. A top-rated stop for campervans, as many were settled in the designated parks along the coast on the way. The SeaLife Center was quite remarkable; you could watch the sea lions, otters and seals; they had many fish species on display and jellyfish too, whilst learning some fun facts along the way. The rain had decided to give us a break, so we explored the nearby old city by the centre, which had an authentic Alaskan vibe, and stopped at an actual Alaskan bar for a drink and to watch the locals play pool. Back to the ship later in the afternoon for some blogging whilst we were in range before yet another dinner of fantastic food! Day Seven - Kodiak, Alaska Early arrival today, we were docked at 9 am and ready for our shuttle at 10 am for a self-guided hike around Fort Abercrombie State Historic Park. Thanks to a crew member, we now describe it as fifty shades of green! The pics will speak for themselves! The park was stunning, with lush green moss covering the trees whilst the mist settled around us! As it had been raining, everything was sparkling and green! We were impressed with the well-built and maintained walking tracks that took you lakeside and to the coastline for stunning views. After a few hours, we headed back to the centre of Kodiak to explore the little Alaskan town. There was not much to see, but we visited a lovely Orthodox Church and a local brewery. It was just after lunch, so we popped in for a cleansing cocktail. A Kodiak Mule was on tap (a local version of a Moscow mule, including a honey splash). We then strolled back to the ship for lunch and a rest! Cruises are the best for afternoon naps. Early dinner and a surprise glass of bubbly from our Serbian friend Nenad, followed by another delicious dinner, gorgeous views as we sailed away from Kodiak and (another) dessert!

  • Cruising from the North to South Poles

    Join us on a three-month epic Pole to Pole expedition with Hurtigruten of discovery as we cruise up to the North Pole and then down to the South Pole. Our basecamp at sea is the world's first hybrid expedition cruise ship, the comfortable and stylish MS Roald Amundsen, named after the first explorer to successfully reach the North and South poles. MS Roald Amundsen is the first of two hybrid ships in the fleet. Emissions are cut by sailing with electrical propulsion. Innovative sustainable technology reduces vessels' fuel consumption and CO2 emissions by 20 per cent. Scandinavian natural materials, such as granite, oak, birch and wool, create cosy and stylish cabins and public areas. While typical world cruises focus on a horizontal circumnavigation of the world, this expedition cruise will be unlike any other voyage, as we'll sail pole to pole. We begin our 93-day cruise in Vancouver, Canada, sailing north along the Alaskan coast and crossing the Arctic Circle as we make our way through the fabled Northwest Passage to Greenland and Baffin Island. We will then turn south along the eastern seaboard of the United States to the warm and colourful tropical islands of Central America before passing through the Panama Canal and reaching South America. Here we'll experience a mix of culture and nature, exploring ancient sites in Ecuador, Peru, and Chile before witnessing the ethereal splendour of the Chilean fjords and Patagonia and – finally – the pristine, otherworldly beauty of Antarctica.

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