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Nordic Paradise: Volume VII

EXPEDITION DAY

Image: Beautiful scenes on Rodøya, Norway, 2022.


Expedition days were always dynamic and full of suspense. The Expedition Team would gear up in waterproof salopettes, warm clothing and life jackets, prepared for whatever the weather. We’d hop on board the zodiacs, ready to explore an uninhabited area of land close by with unsuspecting guests in tow, dressed like red penguins in their Hurtigruten raincoats.


RODØYA


Our first expedition day was to Rodøya, and it did not disappoint! It was a sunny, glistening paradise, covered in fresh snow. We had a range of activities running on Rodøya, including hikes for guests designated as Puffins and Eagles, kayaking and paddle boarding for Orcas and Humpback whales, and roaming of the island for Foxes. I joined the Puffin group on their hike around the island, along with Espen, who was taking photos and drone footage of the beautiful area, and Torstein and Cristian, who were making pathways in the deep snow for everyone to follow. Some parts were icy and tricky underfoot, so it was good that we were all decked out in our spikes and walking poles. Along the hiking route, I pointed out several white-tailed sea eagles that were circling intently above us, and fresh tracks of mountain hares in the untouched snow. There were no cetaceans to see unfortunately, but lots of fish farms located near the coast of Rodøya, so I always had hope one or two might make an appearance.


Image: Hopped on the zodiac to Rodøya, Norway, 2022.


Image: Me zooming over to our landing site on Rodøya, Norway, 2022.


Once we got back to the landing beach, it was time for some Dora action. Vivi and I showed some passengers what was lurking beneath the waves near the beach and explained to them how citizen science works. It was really heart-warming to see guests engage with these projects and want to learn more about how we can help the environment. Whilst a group of us were using the underwater drone, several brave guests and team members decided to partake in the polar plunge. This essentially consisted of people running into the freezing Arctic waters and quite literally plunging themselves underwater. I half fancied a go myself but I chickened out in the end, everyone who knows me knows I hate the cold!


Image: Dream Team! Expedition team photo on Rodøya, Norway, 2022.


Image: Fiery sunset as we sailed towards Kristiansund, Norway, 2022.


Our busy first expedition day concluded with a beautiful sunset and a pretty calm sea. What a fantastic experience! I was very much looking forward to the following expedition days in the weeks to come!



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RENGA

Images: Turquoise waters near our landing point on Renga, Norway, 2022.


Our next expedition day the following voyage was to Renga, a decidedly less-snowy location, sheltered from the wind. It was more of a pebble than a sand beach and kelp blanketed the shoreline, making for a soft landing for the zodiacs. The same principle for expedition day stood as before; we had some animal groups like the Puffins and Eagles heading up the rocky terrain for some challenging hikes, while we also had Dora out again and a spontaneous beach clean, because unfortunately we found that Renga was covered in litter! Some incredibly eager passengers helped us in our feat to clean the beach and we collected over 78.5kg in just over 3 hours! It was largely covered in plastic debris, comprising mostly of abandoned or ghost fishing gear and plastic food waste. After scouring the beach and picking up all the litter I could find, my attention was thus drawn to a thick piece of fishing rope that was embedded and frozen into the ground. A couple of passengers and I tried in vain to remove the rope from the ground, but I did not want to give up. I was now fixated on this piece of rope, and I would not leave until I’d managed to remove it. I acquired the shovel from one of the safety rucksacks and began to dig around said rope. It was a tough job I had to admit, as the rope was really frozen into the ground. I got on my hands and knees and started hacking away at the frozen soil, making slow progress. Even some of the passengers thought I wouldn’t be able to free the stubborn piece of rope, but I was

D E T E R M I N E D. It took me at least 45 minutes to dig out, but with the help of Ted and Marcus, we finally managed to pull it out. I was extremely happy with myself! After that, we said a fond farewell to Renga, hopped back into the zodiacs, and zoomed to the tender pit on MS Maud, leaving Renga much cleaner than we found it. What a success!


Image: Me proudly displaying the massive fishing rope I dug out of the frozen soil, featuring muddy knees. Renga, Norway, 2022.


Images: Litter picked up during our beach clean on Renga. Most of it was large ropes and lost/abandoned fishing gear! Renga, Norway, 2022.


After we'd tidied up all of our equipment and sent the paddle boards and kayaks back to the ship, Vivi, Ted and I perched on some rocks and enjoyed a hot toddy whilst we waited for the final zodiac to pick us up. Renga had been a huge hit with the guests and was definitely on the list for future landings!


Image: Vivi, Ted and myself enjoying a warm toddy after a busy morning on Renga, Norway, 2022.



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TJONGSFJORDEN


Tjongsfjorden was my final expedition day, and boy was it a cold one (in more ways than one!). The Expedition Team and I were up and ready down at the tender pit for 7:30am CET, geared up in our waterproofs and warm layers, ready for the day’s events. We were shipped out on the zodiacs to Tjongsfjorden group by group, with the paddle boards and kayaks in tow as usual. My duty for the morning was to chaperone a short, tricky hike up to the top of the one of the viewpoints, where it was icy and fairly steep. During our morning, we had a random hailstorm, icy cold rain showers and a brisk wind that really chilled you to the bone. I was standing guard next to a small slope to help guests keep their footing and I mainly did a lot of penguin dancing to keep warm. As it was my last expedition day, I’d decided to put my swimsuit on underneath my layers, just on the off chance I were to actually go through with the polar plunge this time. I’d contemplated it each time during expedition day, and each time I’d talked myself out of it… It looked pretty cold. I really was in two minds about it but I finally decided that if I didn’t at least attempt the polar plunge while I was in northern Norway, I’d really regret it. So, I stripped down to my swimsuit and shorts, already slightly regretting my decision, and started to shuffle towards the water… but how did my polar plunge go I hear you ask? Well, for an ex-ballerina, it was not so graceful. I hadn’t been in the water 5 minutes before I slipped on a rock and tumbled to the ground. I guess that was one way to plunge! After my brief encounter with the cold Arctic water, I decided it was time to promptly get dressed and hop back into the zodiac. My polar plunge attempt was not the greatest, I’ll admit, but it had to be done – an Arctic rite of passage so to speak! Maybe I'll attempt one further south later on in the year... (if you know, you know).



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NORDFJORD

Image: The setting sun glistening off the mountains within Nordfjord, northern Norway, 2022.


After the buzz and thrill of expedition day, guests were treated to a relaxing afternoon sailing into Nordfjord. Nordfjord is the northernmost region in Vestland County, and the fjord itself stretches 106km inland from the Stadhavet sea to Stryn. Nordfjord is a simply breath-taking fjord which is home to the Svartisen Glacier. Each time we sailed to the foot of the fjord and back, guests and Expedition Team members would cover the helipad on Maud, armed with binoculars and cameras, hoping to capture its sheer beauty. No camera could ever really do Nordfjord justice though.


Occasionally we’d spot harbour seals, white-tailed sea eagles and the odd camouflaged moose during our scenic sailings into Nordfjord. Once, due to the extreme changing weather in northern Norway, we actually broke layers of ice as we sailed into the fjord. The cracking and creasing ice echoed throughout and rippled behind the boat, leaving a trail of beautiful destruction in its wake.

Image: Thin ice covering the fjord, Norway, 2022.


Image: Svartisen Glacier in Nordfjord, Norway, 2022.


Located in Nordland county, northern Norway, the Svartisen Glacier is Norway’s second largest glacier after the Jostedal Glacier, and reaches approximately 370 square kilometres. It forms part of the Saltfjellet-Svartisen National Park, located in the Saltfjell mountains. Svartisen consists of two glaciers that are separated only by Vesterdalen valley, which stretches approximately 1km.


Image: Stunning scenery within Nordfjord, northern Norway, 2022.


All in all, expedition days were always fun, full of suspense and brought about the unexpected. Sometimes they never really ran to plan, but that was part of the experience. They challenged us and brought us out of our comfort zones. Sailing into Nordfjord after expedition day was always a real treat. The surrounding scenery was absolutely breath-taking and by far one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been to.


See you soon for my next instalment, where I summarise my antics in Kristiansund and Bergen!
















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