Voy­age of dis­cov­ery

FJORD FO­CUS: Af­ter years of in­sist­ing cruises wer­ent’t for peo­ple like him, finds his sea legs in Nor­way.

Yorkshire Post - YP Magazine - - Travel -

ON’T be­lieve ev­ery­thing you read in the news­pa­pers; old peo­ple cruise; old peo­ple and peo­ple in wheel­chairs and peo­ple with lots of money. It took me a long time, many years, to get over th­ese pre­con­cep­tions. Fi­nally, I stopped read­ing news­pa­pers, and my wife man­aged to drag my arm so far up my back that I had to agree to a hol­i­day –on a cruise ship.

By the time the bruis­ing to the shoul­der had sub­sided to just a con­stant ache, we were in Amsterdam, the port from where said cruise – to the Nor­we­gian fjords – would set sail. Hey ho, it’s a sailor’s life for me.

I don’t know what I had imag­ined, but within a few min­utes of em­bark­ing (see, al­ready a tech­ni­cal nau­ti­cal term) the scales had been re­moved from my eyes. Yes, there were quite a lot of el­derly peo­ple, quite a few in wheel­chairs and cer­tainly some peo­ple who looked to be cash­happy.

But they were just a small mi­nor­ity of the 2,000 or so pas­sen­gers pre­par­ing to spend a week of their lives in a float­ing five-star ho­tel head­ing for the Nor­we­gian fjords.

And the Celebrity Con­stel­la­tion is cer­tainly five-star – weigh­ing in at 91,000 tonnes and al­most 1,000ft in length, this is one big boat ded­i­cated to pro­vid­ing ev­ery­thing to make a trip to the land of the mid­night sun an ex­cep­tional and un­for­get­table ex­pe­ri­ence where there is one crew mem­ber for ev­ery two pas­sen­gers.

If you like, you can stay on­board the whole trip, just eat­ing your­self silly (the food is fan­tas­tic and avail­able when­ever you want it) ex­er­cis­ing your­self stupid in the gym (with views to die for) work­ing out more lit­er­ally in the li­brary, or tak­ing one of the many or­gan­ised (and po­ten­tially ex­pen­sive) trips start­ing at the bot­tom of the gang-plank. Of course, you could al­ways do your own thing and sim­ply step ashore to ex­plore.

Which we did on one oc­ca­sion. But more about that later.

But wher­ever you go, and what­ever you do, that gi­ant five-star ho­tel goes with you.

So, we’re off. From Amsterdam, out through gi­ant lock gates and into the North Sea. First stop, af­ter a full day at sea learn­ing the ropes and nav­i­gat­ing the numer­ous decks of the Con­stel­la­tion, is Sta­vanger, a pretty lit­tle town en­joy­ing glo­ri­ous sun­shine and a bit­ter wind. This is Nor­way; you can’t have ev­ery­thing.

Overnight, the boat slips silently and quickly into the Nor­way of the moun­tains, the fjords and the pic­ture post­card mem­o­ries – Olden, ba­si­cally a tiny spot on the map. But what a spot – the sun has de­cided to add heat to the equa­tion and this time it’s a day to wan­der in T-shirts and shorts, to stand, mes­merised, by the snow-painted peaks.

Olden is a tiny com­mu­nity tucked away at the head of a fjord – farms, a cou­ple of churches, a few shops and scenery guar­an­teed to keep a Canon or Nikon work­ing over­time.

We shunned the or­gan­ised tour and plumped to wan­der – walking through mead­ows of flow­ers , turn­ing cor­ners to stop, gob­s­macked, by views cre­ated by a greater be­ing than Pho­to­shop. If any­thing, Olden was THE me­mory of Nor­way.

Wher­ever you go and what­ever you do, that gi­ant five-star ho­tel goes with you.

And I, with red beard and Nordic features, felt quite at home. I quickly sub­merged the in­stinct to do a bit of pil­lag­ing.

Con­stel­la­tion sailed away again, this time to re­veal the wet, the very wet town of Molde. And this time we paid for a trip to see the sights, in­clud­ing Sec­ond World

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