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North Atlantic Cruise October 2014

We booked a trip by calling Smyril Line’s lovely travel agents, who helped us tailor our holiday precisely to our desires. Saturday October 11, 2014, became the starting point for a spur-of-the-moment trip to the Faroe Islands and Iceland with experiences and landscapes we had never even imagined.

North Atlantic Cruise October 2014
Written by
Dorte and Knud Alkærsig
Received
03/11/2014

 

Norröna left the port of Hirtshals in the afternoon. After locating our cabins we attended a welcome meeting for the Viking Cruise travellers in Saga Cafe, where we received information about the weather forecast and programme for the following days. Afterwards we went up on deck to photograph the ship, enjoy the fresh ocean breeze and soak up the sensation of being out on the open seas.

 

On the Sunday as we approached the Shetland Islands we once again headed out on deck. It was a really cool and beautiful experience to just stand there and take pictures of them. We then lounged in the deck chairs with the ocean view and Dorte had a chance to read a book, before we headed down to Saga Café to watch a film about the Faroes. A game of bingo was on offer afterwards, but it isn’t exactly our cup of tea, so we headed to the tax-free shop instead to do a bit of shopping for the trip.
 

We had our evening dinner at the Simmer Dim restaurant, where we ordered a delicious lobster tail soup and an excellent steak. After that we went to our room and watched the first episode of the new Danish TV series 1864.
 
On Monday we arrived in Tórshavn at 5 am. After breakfast we headed out in a very comfortable bus, which was going to take us into Tórshavn. Our guide met us on the bus, then took us for a walk in the old part of Tórshavn explaining the sights along the way. It was picturesque and interesting to see the old grass-thatched houses with stone foundations and beautiful woodwork, which was clearly characterised by good old solid craftsmanship. For Dorte it was fun to recognise some of the things she remembered from a holiday in the Faroes as a child, certain places she remembered very clearly. Knud found the grass-clad roofs charming and felt that many countries could learn from how the Faroese build houses and care for the environment.
 
We assembled again by the bus and drove up to a mountain lookout with an extraordinary view of Tórshavn. We then continued on to a place offering a view of a couple of the smaller Faroese islands Hestur and Koltur. Shortly after, we reached Kirkjubøur village where we made another stop. This allowed us to see the Magnus Cathedral, it is a ruin and only the outer walls are still standing, and visit St. Olaf’s Church, which is the oldest church still in use in the Faroes. After a short stroll we were offered pastries and hot drinks at Kirkjubøargarður estate farmhouse. The oldest section of the stave houses dates back to the 11th century, this is where the formal reception room called roykstovan in Faroese is located and it is now used both as a museum and a private home. In the village Knud managed to trace a particular house where someone he went to school with used to live. Back on Norröna a film on Iceland was shown and we were offered pastries and hot beverages. We spent the rest of the day relaxing.

 

We arrived in Seyðisfjörður on Tuesday at 10 am. Our guide in the bus was a young woman, who took us on a day trip in Iceland. It was a long day with many short nice stops. The first was at a mountain summit, but the visibility was poor, because it had started to snow. It was still quite a different experience, though, watching the snowfall, and it wasn’t that cold. It was also extraordinary to drive from green areas into snow-clad areas and the pictures we took turned out really well. We then headed on to lake Mývatn Nature Baths, where we bathed in the 40-degrees warm blue springs. It was an incredible experience. We were also served lunch here before we got back on the bus. Our next stop was near Skútustaðir by a place with lava formations and we walked down into a valley filled with these formations. There was a cave, which Knud explored, and we agreed that you could easily get lost here, if you strayed too far from the guide. The next stop was a road service area with a few nearby shops. Some of the others went to an Icelandic supermarket, while we visited a little yarn shop where they had beautiful knitted sweaters. Dorte has an aunt, who often visits Iceland and always brings back yarn for knitting, so it was interesting to see where the yarn came from.  

 

At the next stop called Námaskarð the smell of sulphur was very penetrating. The odour is generated by geothermal activities, boiling mud and hot vapour from the underground. The place was just mind-blowing, it is hard to believe that the ground can be that hot. On the way home, we made one last stop by a waterfall where we had a sandwich. We then headed back to the ship and the day was over.


On Wednesday morning we took a trip to lake Lögurinn with our guide. She told us the story about the sea monster that allegedly lives in the lake. After that, the Snæfellsstofa Visitors’ Centre at the entrance to Vatnajökull National Park was on the programme. It was very interesting and really made us want to come back and see the entire park. The air in the area was hazy and the guide explained that this was caused by volcanic ash from Bárðarbunga, which had been rumbling a little over the last weeks. The bus then drove down to Skriðuklaustur, which is a Cultural Centre dedicated to the famous Icelandic writer Gunnar Gunnarson. We were taken on a guided tour here and served a lunch buffet with Icelandic dishes, which were superb. As we continued our trip we saw two reindeer and it was a wonderful experience to photograph them in the wild. We stopped at the 128-metre-high Hengifoss waterfall, climbed as high as we could and walked all the way out to the cliff edge. The next village we visited was Egilsstaðir. The bus stopped for half an hour here and we had a bit of a look around the village. When we returned to Seyðisfjörður we walked down to the local shops where we discovered that life is not cheap in Iceland. At the evening buffet on board, Dorte tried mussels for the first time, but they weren’t precisely to her liking, the traditional Faroese dried fish, on the other hand, definitely was. After dinner we went up on deck to watch as we sailed out of Seyðisfjörður.

 

On Thursday we arrived in Tórshavn at 3 pm, but before arrival we watched a film about the Faroes. When got to Tórshavn we met our guide again. We drove through a tunnel on the way up the mountain and our first stop was at the 882-metre-high summit called Slættaratindur with its magnificent view. It is fascinating to observe the winding roads with their hairpin bends, but we had a good driver, so we were in safe hands in the mountains. We reached the village Gjógv, where there are only 27 inhabitants. We had afternoon tea at the Gjáargarður Guesthouse, followed by a stroll in the beautiful surroundings of Gjógv. We saw a gorge and took the steps right down to the water, which was clear and cold.

 

After that we drove to the island Eysturoy, where there are two stone sea stacks not far from the mountain known as the Hag and the Giant. Knud had brought binoculars, so he could take a closer look at them. The last stop was again above Tórshavn and darkness had fallen. We had a panoramic view over the city and it was curious to see the change, because the city looks completely different when you see it in the dark. When we got back to the ship, we went to the cinema and watched a new film from 2014 called Guardians of the Galaxy. It was fun to sit in cinema that moves and sways as you sail.  
 

On Friday we got up early to see the Shetland Isles on our way back. We sailed past them at 7:15 am and afterwards we headed down for breakfast. Later that day we took a dip in the ‘cannibal pots’ as Dorte called the ship’s hot tubs. Sitting there in the hot water with the cold breeze in our faces, we enjoyed the sunny sea view and watched the big oilrigs as we sailed them by. In the evening, there was a big Viking Buffet event with dishes based on recipes from the Viking era and it was really interesting to taste them. We were really full when we packed our bags, so we could be ready to disembark the next morning.

 

On the Saturday when we were back on land, we visited the North Sea Oceanarium, which is in Hirtshals, before driving home.
 

All in all, the trip was just amazing. The weather is always unpredictable at these destinations, but the weather gods were on our side the whole trip. The waves were between 0 and 2 metres high, but Knud would have liked to try rougher seas. The guides were great and knew what they were talking about. We were told many good stories about the towns we visited and legends from Iceland. We had so many wonderful experiences and they left us wanting more. The one-week cruise felt much too short and the next time around we would like to go on a more active holiday, for example with hikes. We think that it is incredibly wise how they in Iceland and the Faroes consider nature a part of life and how they aren’t afraid to mix cities and nature, whereas we in Denmark separate the urban and the natural environments.

 

Dorte and Knud Alkærsig from Nyborg in Fyn had been talking about traveling to Iceland for a long time. One day they, when they were looking for trips online, Smyril Line’s offers came up. The Viking Cruise combines the Faroes and Iceland in one trip and, seeing as she visited the Faroes as a liwe enjoyed the sunny sea view and watched the big oilrigs as we sailed them by. In the evening, there was a big Viking Buffet event with dishes based on recipes from the Viking era and it was really interesting to taste them. We were really full when we packed our bags, so we could be ready to disembark the next morning.

 

On the Saturday when we were back on land, we visited the North Sea Oceanarium, which is in Hirtshals, before driving home.
 

All in all, the trip was just amazing. The weather is always unpredictable at these destinations, but the weather gods were on our side the whole trip. The waves were between 0 and 2 metres high, but Knud would have liked to try rougher seas. The guides were great and knew what they were talking about. We were told many good stories about the towns we visited and legends from Iceland. We had so many wonderful experiences and they left us wanting more. The one-week cruise felt much too short and the next time around we would like to go on a more active holiday, for example with hikes. We think that it is incredibly wise how they in Iceland and the Faroes consider nature a part of life and how they aren’t afraid to mix cities and nature, whereas we in Denmark separate the urban and the natural environments.

 

Dorte and Knud Alkærsig from Nyborg in Fyn had been talking about traveling to Iceland for a long time. One day, when they were looking for trips online, Smyril Line’s offers came up. The Viking Cruise combines the Faroes and Iceland in one trip and, seeing as she visited the Faroes as a little girl 25 years ago, Dorte thought it could be fun to stop by the Faroes again on the trip to Iceland.  

 

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Smyril Line runs the only passenger ferry to Iceland and the Faroe Islands. M/S Norröna has weekly departures from Denmark.

 

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Arrival (local time)
Seyðisfjørð. 12. Dec 09:00
Departure (local time)
Seyðisfjørð. 13. Dec 20:00
Arrival (local time)
Tórshavn. 14. Dec 15:00

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