After three days aboard Hurtigruten’s MS Trollfjord, enroute from cosmopolitan Bergen to the Arctic town of Kirkenes in Norway, I am feeling markedly mellow — and it has nothing to do with the seasick meds I’ve popped during a few windblown stretches.
The Trollfjord, built in 2002, is among the newest ships in Hurigruten’s fleet. Typically Scandinavian, Trollfjord is contemporary in décor. And the fact that the ship sails Norway’s coastal route–up and down the fjord-protected coastline–means it’s mostly smooth sailing all along the way.
The Trollfjord’s winter-inspired décor theme is all blonde woods with subtle blue and green acccents, complimented by Norwegian artwork. I was particularly intrigued by the mural-style pieces of Norwegian artist Kaare Espolin Johnson, who uses a scraper-board technique to illustrate 20th century scenes of the harsh life along the Norwegian coastline. The overall look onboard is subtle and calming, as are the subdued grays and whites of the polar-scapes passing outside.
But where my own personal mellowness really comes from, I’ve decided, is the lack of enforced fun on board. For some cruisers, the fact that the Trollfjord has no casino, waterslide or ice-skating rink could be seen as a negative. But I’m appreciating the fact that nobody’s trying to drag me into a congo line or sign me up for a talent show though I will confess that I participated, willingly, in the polar baptism outdoors on deck 9. That ritual occurred when we crossed the Arctic Circle –wherein a ladle of ice cubes and cold water was poured directly down my back, under my sweater, to welcome me to the climes (followed by a restoring shot of cloudberry schnapps). And there are other diversions, mostly of the enlightening variety, such as lectures on Aurora Borealis and the Sami natives, and spotting other-than-light-oriented denizens of nature, like giant king crabs that span up to two meters.
When we come into port, I will be rested and ready to debark and explore towns like Trondheim, a vibrant university town, and Alesund, known for the art nouveau architecture that revitalized the city after the great fire of 1904 razed nearly all of the city center.
Stay tuned as our hunt for the northern lights — and the unique opportunity to experience Norway in winter — continues.
By Terry Ward