The Sound of Silence; Cruising through the Fjords Past Country She Skied as a Child, Provided TV Vet Trude Mostue with a Chance to Relax and with More Stories to Tell English Friends Who Know Little More about Norway Than Its Hopeless Record in the Eurovision Song Contest
Byline: Trude Mostue
I have lived in England for almost 12 years, and I must confess that on and off I have been pining for the Norwegian fjords. I feel ashamed to admit to this, but although I was a born and bred in Norway, I have never done the coastal voyage.
Also, having lived in England for so long, I have noticed how little the average British person knows about Norway and I have become increasingly keen to prove that there is actually more to Norway than nil points in the Eurovision song contest, oil, fish and funny coloured jumpers.
Howard, my fiance, and I flew to Oslo and then on to Bergen - which was rainy and grey when we arrived, unfortunately very normal in this part of Norway. The ship was impressive, but also smaller than I expected - it has 85 staff members and can carry up to 1,000 passengers.
Although the Finnmarken is one of the new Millennium ships, this type of cruising is certainly not new in Norway. The Norwegians call the boat the Hurtigruten which means 'fast route' and it dates back more than 100 years. It used to be one of the main means of transport of goods, post and passengers along the coastline of Norway before flights and trains became available. Although the ship still functions as a transport vehicle for the locals, its main industry comes from tourists.
Travelling from Bergen in the south to Kirkenes in the North, the ship is sheltered by the many islands along the coastline which means that the sea is normally calm and settled.
On most of the decks the windows are panoramic so you can watch the scenery float past. We also discovered a gym, a beauty parlour and even found a jacuzzi on the top deck for those who fancy a dip while watching the mountains.
I was very surprised at the silence. No roaring engines could be heard anywhere which is amazing considering the size of the ship. We often woke to discover we had docked but hadn't heard anything at all.
The Finnmarken calls at a range of ports along the coast - and at many of them you can get off and have a look around.
We travelled through the Geiranger fjord - probably one of the most famous fjords in Norway. We spent much or our day reading books and watching the fjords and mountains go past. It's hard to explain, maybe this is because I grew up skiing in them from three years old, but I find mountains with snow capped tops and fjords the most beautiful sight in the world.
Most people spend time on board taking in the wonderful views and, thanks to the brilliant design of the ship, it doesn't really matter where you sit as they are all around.
There didn't seem to be a system for checking everyone was back on board before the ship departed again. …