Day 18 – Sunday 7/10 – Welcome to the Arctic!
At midnight the night before, we had been given the advice that there were in fact going to be passing over the Arctic Circle sometime in the morning, there was the option to place a bet of the exact time this would happen and if you won, you could receive a prize.
We awoke at 7:32am and found ourselves passing the Arctic Circle, our gorgeous MS Kong Harald blasting her horns as we did so. It was something really beautiful to be a part of. It is a lot to take in, being a girl from Australia crossing the arctic circle on a ship! Here are some pics of the incredible views we had as this occurred.
This invisible line is situated at 66 degrees 33 minutes north and marks the border to the Arctic Region. However, the exact position does change, as of today it is 66°33′47.4″ north of the equator. It is the most northerly of the five major circles of latitude. It marks the northernmost point where the noon sun is visible on the December solstice and the southernmost point where the centre of the midnight sun is visible on the June solstice. Sadly the Arctic Circle is drifting northwards at a speed of 15 metres per year.
After our beautiful crossing of the Arctic Circle we headed off to breakfast and then came back up onto the deck for Hurtigruten’s Arctic Circle Ceremony on deck, an Arctic Baptism if you will. This happened at 10am. We were taken through one of the most fun and well-thought-out activities ran by the Hurtigruten expedition crew. We were all taken out onto the deck and there was a presentation with our expedition crew leader (who was fantastic by the way) and her warm, yet fierce welcoming of Norde, who appeared on deck and looked suspiciously like our other expedition crew member? Though his feet looked like mine, so I am sure he was the real deal.
We had read about the Arctic Baptism and thought about the icy-cold water being slipped down the back of our jackets, but it really is not until you are on that deck, freezing your butts off that you realise exactly how cold the entire thing is going to be.
We weren’t there to muck around and there was no way we weren’t going to participate. We held back ten or so minutes to avoid the football scrum which any activity aboard the Hurtigruten managed to be before it was our turn. I am next to certain the Captain/Norde’s eyes lit up when they saw Grant and that ladle went to the bottom of that soup pot and was given the most impressive stir.
Sitting through it is fun, honestly, how many times does anyone pass through the Arctic Circle and have the opportunity to join in something so fun? If you weren’t awake before hand, you certainly were afterwards, I am pretty sure Grant and I were picking ice out of our clothes for the next hour or so! Thank you to the staff for the shot of cloudberry wine and of course the champagne, it certainly made it better!
Grant had way more poured down the back of his jacket and it was hilarious, we all knew who was behind the mask and I think they knew we were pretty good sports so it was actually pretty fun!
Our cold activities for the day were not over, we were excited to be docking in Bordø and to go on the Salstraumen rib boat adventure.
Salstraumen is a small strait with one of the strongest tidal currents in the world and is located in the municipality of Bodø in Norway. The Saltstraumen pushes up to 400,000,000 cubic metres of seawater through a 3-kilometre long and 150-metre wide strait every six hours and creates whirlpools. We had obviously booked this trip ahead of time and there is no way to tell where the tides will be at when you visit the area.Jules Verne wrote about Salstraumen in his novel 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and Edgar Allen Poe has also written about the whirlpools in A Descent into the Maelstrom and it was even described by Herman Melville’s character Captain Ahab in Moby Dick.
Our rib boat safari took around half an hour to get to the Saltstraumen, being in that gorgeous Norwegian water going past sea eagles and the landscape (and of course, rainbows which we hd become accustomed to in Norway!) was beautiful. Beautiful and freezing, as if Norway was not cold enough, throwing yourself on a boat moving at top-speed was amazing!
We also saw parts of the Caledonian Fold Belt which is one of the world’s oldest mountain ranges dating back more than 250 million years. As we made it back to the terminal it started to hail/snow? Which as direct hits to the face was both painful and hilarious. When we arrived back to the port, the Captain of the MS Kong Harald was making it quite clear that we had gone over in time, so it was a quick change and back onto the ship.
There was one couple who seemed quite annoyed that the mans pressed slacks (I am not making this up) were wet and wasn’t the outfit meant to be waterproof? The largest man I have ever seen, who was hanging the outfits up laughed the best and loudest laugh I had ever heard and said “No, not at all! Embrace your inner viking!”.
It was time to continue on up the coast, hands-down one of my favourite days on the ship.
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