The MV Vesterålen docked, one car was unloaded, we wheeled our bikes on and the ship sailed. Hurtigruten (“Express Route”) has been in business since 1893, originally founded to operate voyages on Norway’s western and northern coast between Bergen and Kirkenes. Hurtigruten ships sail almost the entire length of the country, completing the round-trip journey in 11 days, and call at each port north and southbound every day of the year. The majority of their business now comes from cruise passengers with optional excursions at certain ports, and the current generation of ships are well appointed to serve that market. At reception we paid for our passage to Tromsø and for breakfast buffet which is available from 07:00 to 10:00 and at 165 kr is good value for hungry cyclists.
We sat in the panorama lounge to watch the sun rise on a perfect blue sky day which would have been great for cycling. We were alone until a young couple came in at around six and an hour later we joined the early cruise passengers for breakfast in the dining room. We ate sufficient to last until evening since we were due to arrive at 14:30. We called in at Harstad where some of the cruise passengers went for a quick look round the town. The majority were elderly Germans with a few British, American and Australians.
Finnsnes was the other stop, from 11:15 ti 11:45, where eight foot passengers joined, ten left and some cargo was loaded and unloaded. We sailed under the bridge and on to Tromsø where we rode out of the centre to “Tromsø Bed and Books”, like an upmarket hostel with cooking and washing facilities included. We were the only occupants of the five bedroomed “Writer’s House”, no time for reading anything from the extensive bookshelves as we had to catch up with our washing. With our sheet sleeping bags, towels and dirty clothes in the machine, we walked into the city to shop for food. We didn’t like it as much as Bodø, there were a few traditional wooden buildings but ugly modern architecture dominated. Much building work was in progress which may improve the city when completed but for now it looked scruffy.