Hurtigruten’s Trollfjord

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Although foreigners come to Bergen specifically to board a liner that will take them into new adventures, most will leave with a sense of not having had enough time to explore the city—a rare feeling even for the most seasoned traveler. One is sure to regret having spent so little time wandering through its narrow, cobblestoned alleys, colorful byways that beg to be explored.

And one shouldn’t leave without sampling the city’s food. Although restaurants abound here, none is as marvelous as the Enhjorningen (The Unicorn), housed in Wharf House Number One on the waterfront. There are records showing that a building has stood on the site since 1206. It was one of the first buildings to undergo a thorough remodeling after a 1702 fire nearly destroyed the old port.

It is one of the last Hanseatic structures in the city and, although unicorns have little to do with fish, Enhjorningen specializes in seafood.

And what a feast it is. The dishes are thoroughly Norwegian. There’s something called Stekte Torsketunger, a delicious dish of fried codfish tongues livened by a semi-sweet sauce that tingles the palate. The Hval carpaccio is smoked whale ham that defines exotic food. The Enhjorningen’s whale meat, by the way, is acquired exclusively from ethnic people fully licensed by the government to harvest the sea mammals.

unique cruising Trollfjord is one of Hurtigruten’s newest vessels. Built nine years ago, it feels as if it just left the shipyard. It’s about 300 ft. long, with 646 berths and 301 cabins staggered in eight decks. Absent are showgirls, games, Cirque de Soleil and other distractions dreamed up by cruise directors for the sole purpose of making passengers forget the monotonous dullness so prevalent to sea cruises.

Trollfjord is an efficiently run ship with ample windows in warm and airy panorama lounges that showcase the astounding, raw Norwegian scenery that will pass by. It has cafes, bars, laundry rooms, an exercise room, jacuzzi and a good dining room. In short, every amenity found in larger ships is contained within its decks.

In addition to being treated to one of the world’s most majestic settings, passengers have the opportunity to explore colorful cities and towns while the ship lies at dock.

With delivering cargo, mail and passengers daily, Hurtigruten’s ships call on places (some ports are home to only a few dozen people) most cruise liners would never dream of visiting.

While on board a Hurtigruten vessel one mustn’t lose sight that it is primarily a commercial, not a leisure line, connecting remote outposts. It has 11 vessels sailing up and down the Norwegian coast at any given time. They don’t hang around in port, limiting their stay for a few hours or less. This adds to the voyage’s allure.

When docked for hours, one would be remiss not to take at least a leisurely stroll along picturesque, snow-covered ports dotted along the coastline. Since Norway is warmed by the Gulf Stream, its ports never freeze, making it obvious why Vikings were fond of the place. But the cold wind often reaches deep into your bones.

One of the most exciting towns to explore is Trondheim, Norway’s ancient capital. Leif Erickson is believed to have undergone military training here. It prides itself in having been the recipient of the first North American export to Europe: a load of lumber that came from Newfoundland sometime around A.D. 1000.

Built around a massive, somber, Gothic cathedral, Trondheim is a compact jewel crisscrossed by a grid of streets laid out after a devastating 1681 inferno.

The town is a tribute to Norwegian planning and efficiency. It has a disproportionate number of excellent museums, cafes, restaurants and theaters. Bakklandet, home to artists, is an enthralling quarter of narrow streets and back alleys. Some Scandinavian passengers consider Trondheim the best stop along the route.

After having crossed the Arctic Circle, the ship docks in BodØ (it sounds eerily similar to “Buddha” in the whims of the Norwegian language), a rather drab commercial town on the edge of a fjord that at first may put off visitors by its dismal appearance. Those venturing into BodØ’s outskirts, however, will find a magnificent countryside full of old churches, birch forests standing leafless in the snow, winding rivers and Saltstraumen, perhaps Scandinavia’s most famous diving spot.