On Board the Coastal Express
It is past midnight in Tromsø when we board the Richard With. It’s day nine of an eleven day long cruise along the Norwegian coast. The modern seven-deck ship glides out to sea. The deck is almost full. Germans, Japanese, Americans, Australians and Norwegians chat eagerly to each other as they film and photograph. It’s sunrise and sunset all at the same time – your head wants to sleep but your heart doesn’t want to miss anything…
“We boarded the ship in Bergen just over a week ago and are now on our way south again after turning about in Kirkenes two days ago.” Beau Valley (56) from Massachusetts, USA, is spellbound and will not be going to bed tonight.”My wife and I are never going to forget this trip, it has been the greatest experience of our lives, yes, it is fantastic.
“What would you say has been the best part?” “I’ll never forget the Geiranger fjord, where the mountains dive into the sea from 1700 metres up. Nevertheless, it is the trip as a whole that makes an impression. We glide across the sea like kings while passing some of the world’s most magnificent scenery. At the same time, we can go ashore and learn more about this country. Museums, churches and fishing villages have all been on the programme. North Norwegian coastal heritage is an interesting experience.”
A couple of hours sleep later. There are fewer people on deck, but it’s still quite lively. Valley is still lying in his deckchair on the stern deck, enjoying taking it all in. It has just turned 4:45 am. “It doesn’t matter what time it is when there’s 24 hour daylight. We catch a bit of sleep when we feel like it,” says Gunther Möller (48) from Germany. He is visiting Norway with his wife, daughter and son-in-law for the second time in 4 years.
Midnight Sun and Local Culture
“Norway is our favourite destination at the moment. The scenery is just as breathtaking as the people are friendly and helpful. It was weird to be standing on the world’s most northerly mainland point and we are now looking forward to a fishing cabin holiday in Lofoten, with a whale safari and self-caught cod on the menu,” smiles Möller.
“And your best experience so far?” “That’s a difficult question. We’ve seen the Midnight Sun before, but it’s a great experience every time. We have experienced something new and exciting every day, especially when we’ve been ashore and experienced something of the local culture.”
Expectations mount as their approach to the Troll fjord is announced. A 2.5 kilometre long, 100 metre wide fjord is a peculiar experience in a large ship. It doesn’t matter that it’s raining either: the top deck has glass walls and we’re warm and dry in our deckchairs as the whole scene is served to us on a gold platter while we’re drinking our afternoon coffee. We sense something beautiful, something intoxicating, as if we are part of something much larger in this narrow fjord.
A cruise on the Coastal Express can safely be called the world’s most beautiful voyage.