THE big growth area in travel over recent times has been in cruising the worlds seas and rivers.
Whether it’s an Atlantic Crossing or a river cruise on the Rhine, the ships are getting bigger, 6000 passengers and up is becoming common.
But the real adventure can still be had on some of the unique smaller boats around the world.
Bruce and Heather Lloyd of Bunbartha had such an experience recently when they visited Norway and cruised from Bergen to the Arctic Circle and North Cape.
They decided to use the Hurtiguten line, these are small ships that supply a ferry service along the Norwegian coast taking supplies to the small towns along the way.
They cater for about 500 passengers in good accommodation but also take cars and other items from town to town.
Bruce and Heather went in June, it was summer and at this time of the year, the sun shines 24 hours a day. But there was still plenty of snow on the ground as they made their way to the Arctic Circle.
Heather says you get used to the sun being out all day and night and it’s great for photography.
The fjords along the way are quite spectacular, from April to September you can sail into them, one such site was Geirangerfjord a UNESCO classified area.
In times past, these small ships were the only means of transport between the coastal towns, but Norway is rich in gas and oil and so highways have been built with a series of bridges and tunnels to reach along the shoreline.
But the ships of the Hurtiguten line still occupy the waters and give access to the many islands as well.
Many of Norway’s small towns were burnt to the ground by the Germans during the war and so look quite new following a massive rebuilding effort.
Bruce and Heather were taken in by some of the unique architecture especially at towns like Tromso, the Capital of Arctic Norway, with its modern shops and cafes, and the stunning stained glass of the Arctic Cathedral, while the Polar Museum and Polaria Centre explore Arctic life over the centuries.
Then come the vistas of North Cape and Kirkens, just a few kilometres from the Russian border and the Sami Laplander communities of Northern Finland.
Passing through the legendary Lofoten Islands the ship takes the intricate network of inlets and isles, this is one of the most beautiful stretches of the Norwegian coast.
Crossing the Arctic Circle you sail past the famed peaks of the Seven Sisters and enter the world of folklore and legends.
The trip took 12 days as they stopped off at 34 ports along the way out to the Arctic Circle and back to Bergen.
Bruce says he can highly recommend the experience, they also took the train between Bergen and Oslo over the top of Norway with its great scenery.
On reflection, they were in Oslo in the mall where a bomb had exploded only two weeks earlier during a terrible massacre.
But Heather says don’t let that put you off Norway is a great experience.
This is only a small part of their trip that took Bruce and Heather to many parts of Europe, but that’s another story.
They would like to thank Natasha Steed of Travelworld in Shepparton for putting their holiday together.
Until next time,