QE21984
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Disembarking QE2 on tour at Hellesylt in Geirangerfjord.
Itinerary Show General Map Show Map of Geirangerfjord Show Map of Sognefjord Show North Cape Map
= ports at anchor
Saturday
14th July
- Southampton transfer
to Cherbourg and embark QE2
Sunday-at sea
Monday-at sea
Tuesday-(am) Hammerfest
(pm) Skarsvåg
for the North Cape
Wednesday-Tromsø
Thursday-at sea
Friday-Ålesund
Saturday-Bergen
Sunday-Geirangerfjord
Monday-(am) Flåm
(pm) re-embark passengers at Vik
Tuesday-Stavanger
Wednesday-at sea
Thursday
26th July
-Southampton


Wanting to see the North Cape and the Land of The Midnight Sun, we initially booked the first week as far as Bergen, but were then offered the additional 5 nights back to Southampton at a price we couldn't refuse, so we took the whole round-trip. We were so glad we did because, as it turned out, the North Cape was shrouded in fog and it was the last 5 days that proved the most spectacular!

Saturday 14th - Monday 16th July
Embarkation & 2 Days at Sea
To add a touch of crisis to our embarkation day, there was a port strike in the UK and Cunard had to fly us all to Cherbourg, where QE2 had been obliged to dock. There were fireworks as we left Cherbourg at 10pm; it was then that we realised that 14th July was Bastille Day in France!

It was wonderful to be back on board and so much was familiar but unlike on our first trip 9 months earlier, there was no upgrade this time! Our small inside cabin no.4067 was Transatlantic Class, which meant that we were assigned to the much larger Tables of The World Restaurant, so called for its 5 areas, each with a different national theme; English, French, Spanish, Italian & Oriental.

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The restyled Tables of the World Restaurant; until 1977, it was
the Transatlantic-class "Britannia Restaurant" (seats approx 815)
Where's the tray? The Hideaway
side entrance & quiet lounge

Usually operating 2 sittings rather than just one in the First Class "Columbia", we were fortunate that on this cruise there was only one sitting throughout the ship. The menus were, as expected, similar to what we had experienced before, and although service wasn't quite as attentive as in the Columbia Restaurant, it was still quite good. Souvenir Menus: Typical Dinner Menu >> & Luncheon Menu >>

Across a grey and dismal North Sea, QE2 was cracking-along at 28-29 knots. We had Boat Drill that first morning and with so many other things to choose from in the daily programme, it was amazing how 2 days simply flew by.

The 2nd evening was the Captain's Cocktail Party for First Class (not us!), so Dinner was Formal for two nights running - and we still didn't have dinner-suits!
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Capt Robert Arnott

Show Picture Full Size The 3rd evening and it was our turn. Compulsory handshakes and photos but we felt a bit like "fish out of water" and left after a couple of drinks.

That evening we sat under the new Magrodome, listening to Beethoven. Having now crossed the Arctic Circle, it was still daylight when we turned in!
The new Magrodome Lido See more Photos of the ship's interior at the QE2 Ship Gallery >>

Show North Cape Map Tuesday 17th July
Hammerfest, Skarsvåg & The North Cape
At 8.00am and to a thunderous noise, QE2 dropped anchor off Hammerfest, which claims to be the northernmost city in the World, a claim disputed with the much smaller Honningsvag on North Cape Island.

Here we were introduced to the concept of "tendering" ie. using the ship's lifeboats to put passengers ashore in places where the ship cannot dock alongside.
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John above Hammerfest Church
QE2 at anchor in the bay
Hammerfest Church Ship's tender "Beta"
can carry 118 passengers

They were using the two new 45-foot, high-capacity tenders Alpha & Beta, added during last year's refit, and we were lucky enough to go ashore in one of them as our first experience of tendering.

Hammerfest suffered badly during the German Occupation in World War II and was later looted and burned to the ground when the Germans evacuated in the winter of 1944/45, events recorded with many photographs in the little museum next to the modern church. We found it quite moving.

Show Picture Full Size We only had a few hours in Hammerfest before raising the anchor and sailing again at 2.30pm for the North Cape.
As we left, we drew lots of attention, not least from the passengers of a rather drab-looking Russian cruise-ship Shota Rustaveli!
a view of the Russian cruise-ship Shota Rustaveli (1968 20,499grt) leaving Hammerfest.

QE2 then moved on up the coast through thick fog and drizzle, in an eery silence puctuated by deafening blasts from her fog-horn, followed by the even more eery echo a few moments later from the cliffs we could not see through the fog! I almost expected to see the bows of a German Battleship come looming out of the mist any moment!
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Skarsvåg
passengers abandon ship!
QE2 at anchor The North Cape
shrouded in mist!
The Midnight Sun!

Anchoring again at 6.30pm off the tiny fishing village of Skarsvåg, 1,127 miles from the North Pole, it was an early dinner on board before 1,400 passengers "abandoned-ship" and took the coaches up to the famous North Cape plateau, the most northerly point in Europe.

Show Picture Full Size The North Cape See Map 4 >>
The point named Nordkapp is a 1,000ft cliff where the views of the Midnight Sun are said to be spectacular. However, all we saw through the fog was the gift-shop and the great queue of passengers waiting to buy their "official" Certificate! It was cold, wet and miserable and we returned to the ship (and more queues!) but to a welcoming midnight buffet of hot-dogs and hamburgers on deck in broad daylight!
Our "official" Certificate of our visit to The North Cape!

The irony of the North Cape
As with so many places in the World with unique claims, the truth is that this is not the most northerly point in Europe at all. The nearby Point Knivskjellodden is nearly 1 mile further north but "North Cape" was named by a British explorer in 1553 and today, it still remains easier to pronounce! And this is where the cafe and gift-shop are!

Show Main Map Wednesday 18th July
Tromsø
It was already "next day" when we went to bed and it was difficult getting-up again! Fortunately, QE2 wasn't due to arrive until 10.30am and we dropped anchor ahead of the great bridge leading to the island containing the city of Tromsø.
(right) Mt Storsteinen, the Arctic Cathedral and Tromsø Bridge
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Opened in 1960, the Tromsø Bridge has a length of 3,399ft (1,056m) and a central span of 260ft (80m). Arriving from Hammerfest, QE2 approached from the north but when we departed later on, heading southwards, the clearance under the bridge of 125ft (38m) was not enough for QE2 to pass under, so QE2 once again used the north channel.

After an early lunch, our afternoon tour took us up Mount Storsteinen by cable-car for this view over the city, somewhat overcast but impressive nonetheless.

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The Island of Tromsoy from Storsteinen at 420m (1,378 ft). To the right are the Arctic Cathedral, Tromsø Bridge & QE2 at anchor.

Twinned with Grimsby(!), apart from the mountain view our tour was a bit uninspiring, however. We spent too long in a rather "lifeless" museum and the only other point of interest seemed to be the Arctic Cathedral built in 1965. By now John was developing a cold and when the guide pointed-out the old-people's home, he murmured, "they'll be pointing out the public lavatories next!"

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The Arctic Cathedral (1965) The Arctic Cathedral
From Mount Storsteinen
(John's photo)
Polar Bear
(stuffed!)
Arctic Fox
(also stuffed!)


It must be the lack of proper sunshine! Being so far north of the Arctic Circle, it's actually dark for 3 months of the year and a permanent twilight for 6 months; then from May to July, it's daylight all the time, though the sun is always still very low - if it's not obscured by cloud, of course, like today!

The German Battleship "Tirpitz"
One of Tromsø's claims to fame is that it was here that the German World War II Battleship "Tirpitz" (sister ship to the ill-fated "Bismark") was sunk by the RAF in November 1944 (killing 1,000 of the 1,700 crew on board). The anchorage was pointed out by our tour guide but there was nothing to see, of course! See Map >>

Thursday 19th July
A Day at Sea - "QE2's Space Odyssey Day"
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Steaming south in the drizzle, we crossed the Arctic Circle once again around mid-day, although we never noticed; we were in the cinema!

Today being called (rather confusingly) "QE2's Space Odyssey Day", we spent much of it watching "Star Wars", "The Empire Strikes Back" and "Return of the Jedi" in the comfort of QE2's large cinema, with rests inbetween for meals! Dave Prowse (the body, if not the voice of Darth Vader) was a guest on board and was giving talks, introducing the films and signing autographs!

We emerged from the cinema, somewhat bleary-eyed, in the early hours of Friday morning...

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Friday 20th July
Ålesund
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In a brief respite from the rain, we arrived at 1.00am to a romantic setting Sun and rising Moon together in the sky above the twinkling lights of the bay, as QE2 docked on the edge of town. We retired for a few hours sleep.

Unfortunately, it turned wet again after breakfast and remained that way all day. John's cold had settled-in and he was sneezing or falling asleep all the time! Nevertheless, our morning tour visited the Mount Aksla viewpoint above the town, Borgund Church (dating from 1300 but rebuilt in 1907 after a fire) and a rustic fishing village at the Sunnmøre Open-Air Museum.

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Borgund Church
Rebuilt 1907 after a fire
Sunnmøre Open-Air Museum Queen Elizabeth 2
From the Inner Harbour

We went out again after lunch in search of the Aquarium but didn't find it and John returned to the ship, much the worse for his heavy cold. I went back to the Mount Aksla viewpoint but the view was little better than when we were there in the morning. Sadly, it would be more than 30 years (2015) before I would come back here to better appreciate what Ålesund had to offer.

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Saturday 21st July
Bergen
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Norway's principal trading port owes its importance to the Hanseatic Merchants of the 13th-16th centuries and the buildings of the Bryggen (or "Old Wharf") survive to this day as shops, cafes and restaurants.
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Bergen, The Bryggen (John's photos)
Sail-training ship "Statsraad Lehmkuhl" alongside
Views of Old Bergen Fantoft Stave Church

Our tour took us outside the present town to Old Bergen and then on to Fantoft Stave Church. Dating from 1150, it was saved by moving it piece by piece to its present location in 1883.

Show Picture Full Size However, in 1992 it was totally destroyed by arson and a replica was constructed on the site in 1997.

The Floi Banen
In the afternoon, it was up Mount Floeyen on the "Floi Banen" (the funicular railway) for another great view from a height of 320m (1,050ft).
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It was here that things started to brighten-up and the best was yet to come....

Show Map of Geirangerfjord Sunday 22nd July
Geirangerfjord
Doubling-back up the coast, we entered the fjord near Ålesund in the night and by dawn, we were at Hellesylt and ready to be put ashore by local ferry for our full day tour.

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9.30am: having set all-day tour passengers ashore at Hellesylt, QE2 prepares to get under way for Geiranger

Until you have seen Norway for yourself, you have no idea of the scale of the landscape; even on a big ship like QE2, the fjords towered above us and we realised how small Man really is in the World!

Our first-ever All-day Tour (costing 24 including lunch!)
It was a good job we had an early breakfast that day because, on this trip we stopped for lunch at Lake Hornindal at 11am! But the weather was improving rapidly and the scenery was spectactular.

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Lake Hornindal Lake Strynsvatn
& the Jostedal Glacier
View from Videseter The Mountain Tunnels
& Lake Langvatn

From Lake Strynsvaten and views of the great Jostedal Glacier, we followed hairpin mountain bends to Videseter and more fantastic views. Then passing through 3 consecutive tunnels totalling nearly 7 miles long, we emerged beside Lake Langvatn to snow on the ground and icebergs in the lake!

The Ospeli (2,549m), Grasdal (3,720m) & Oppljos (4,537m) Tunnels were opened in October 1978 and while not the longest in Norway, their consecutive length amounts to 10,800m (6.72 miles). Cutting through the heart of the mountain, the air gets so cold that it can freeze, so the tunnels have automatic doors which are closed in winter, opening only to let vehicles through.

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Following a road built in 1889 with 11 rather scary hairpin bends, our coach drove up to Mt Dalsnibba (1,476m) but it was too cloudy to see anything, so we stopped at this viewpoint on the way down.

Here we were greeted by this amazing view of Geirangerfjord and QE2 laying at anchor.
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Show Menu Cover Full Size Show Menu Cover Full Size (far left) John & (left) Me; a compulsory photo-stop on our spectacular tour (with QE2 in the background)
Also at anchor was the Russian cruise-ship Aleksandr Pushkin (1965 20,502grt) in a more flattering livery than her sister, Shota Rustaveli >> we saw in Hammerfest. In 1993 Alexsandr Pushkin would be rebuilt to become Orient Lines' Marco Polo.

Show Picture Full Size Geiranger See a map of the tour again here >>
Returning to the ship at Geiranger, we had a nice view of the Aleksandr Pushkin before QE2 began raising the anchor. As we left, QE2 gave 3 blasts on her great whistle which seemed to echo forever from the cliffs around us!
Departing Geiranger at 6pm, we steamed back down the fjord toward the sea, passing the magnificent 820ft high Seven Sisters waterfall. (Photo right)
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To Starboard
The Seven Sisters Waterfall
The Suitor
Waterfall
To Port
The Suitor Waterfall

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Monday 23rd July
Flåm & Vik, Sognefjord
Show Map of Sognefjord
During the night QE2 sailed south & into Sognefjord. By breakfast, we had arrived off the tiny village of Flåm in glorious sunshine.
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From Flåm, we took an excursion on the Flåm Mountain Railway. One of the world's steepest railways, it climbs 2,900ft in just over 12 miles, passing ravines and cliffs, through hairpin bends and 20 tunnels. The train stops briefly at Kjosfossen, where passengers have the chance to get out and view the falls.
(left) Flåm Mountain Railway & (right) from the platform at Kjosfessen Falls
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Returning to the ship, QE2 left Flåm at 3pm and in glorious sunshine, the Magrodome roof was now open and the sun-bathers were out! We spent the afternoon cruising down Sognefjord towards Vik.

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Another passenger, Lloyd
pink deck-shoes indeed!
QE2 anchors at Flåm Cruising in Sognefjord

Overlooking the fjord at Vangsnes near Vik, in an area referred to as "The Viking Cemetery", is the 22.5m statue of Fridtjov The Fearless, donated by Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany. Better picture >>

Fridtjov The Fearless
The statue, by Max Unger, of this Saga king stands at the top of Ryggjahaugen in an area with two ancient burial mounds. The legend of Fridtjov The Fearless was popular reading in Europe at the time when Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany stayed here. Enjoying both his stay and the legend, Kaiser Wilhelm II had the statue set up in 1913. It is 12 metres high and is mounted on a 10.5 metre high base made up of a mound of stones, symbolising that Fridtjov is breaking out of the grave mound!

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Fridtjov Statue
Vangsnes, Nr Vik
Vik Ferry
Full-day Tour Passengers
return to QE2
Captain Arnott
On the Bridge
Sunset on Sognefjord

There was a strong head-wind off Vik, where we met the local ferry bringing full-day tour passengers back to the ship. See Map 3 here >> In a tricky manoevre, QE2 put about and the Captain then turned the ship through 360 degrees, while creating a lee for the ferry to come alongside.

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Tuesday 24th July
Stavanger
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Close to the ship, the colourful market fronts Skagenkein or the old harbour, where the houses of the Hanseatic merchants have been converted into shops, bars and restaurants.

On the other side of the harbour is the quaint old town of timber houses and cobbled streets, now a conservation area.

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Old Town & QE2
(John's photo)
Old Stavanger
Some houses are 300 yrs old
The Cathedral
(founded in 1125)
The Sea Cadets Band
In the Town Square

The morning coach tour revealed what little the town seemed to have to offer. After all the spectacular scenery, we were already becoming cruel tourists! In the afternoon, we strolled into town again and watched the band of the Norwegian Sea Cadets performing in the town square.

We stayed up until 11pm to watch our final sailing. As QE2 turned her massive 963ft length in the harbour, I was certain we were going to hit something!

Wednesday 25th July
A Day at Sea en-route to Southampton
On our last day, we did some duty-free shopping and John bought me a teddy-bear from the Harrods shop on board. I posed for a photo in the style of Sebastian Flyte from Television's "Brideshead Revisited"; a little OTT, perhaps, but these were heady days and we were flying high!
(right) On deck with my new teddy-bear, endeavouring to invoke the image of TV's "Brideshead Revisited"!
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We returned to Southampton early next morning; the port strike was over and so was our second cruise. What on earth were we going to do now?


See Detailed Mileage Log for this cruise >>

Cruise Mileage: 4,033 nautical miles
Total Mileage to date: 6,271 n miles

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