In stark contrast, March took me back to the high seas and up into the freezing cold Arctic. A Fred. Olsen cruise sold specifically to witness the solar eclipse would be taking us (along with 200 guests) to the Faroe Islands and several Norwegian ports. I had cruised this area before but only in the summer, so I was a little bit excited about seeing a wintry Norway! I certainly wasn’t disappointed.
The spot that our Captain chose for us to view the solar eclipse was more than perfect. From the deck of our ship, in absolutely freezing-finger-dropping-off temperatures, we saw clearly every stage of the process from the first bites disappearing to 100% totality and the full corona. It was haunting and spectacular. The amazement that flowed through each and every passenger and crew member was palpable. It was amazing (even if it did take me seven hours to defrost!)
The itinerary took us right up into the Arctic Circle, to one of the northernmost points in the world. One place I’d never been to previously was Hammerfest, which was actually the original northernmost city, but has since been out-northed by Honninsvag and also an Alaskan town. I took the full day trip to Hammerfest, and on the journey, I was once again blown away by the sights that passed me by. I’ve always enjoyed the snow and of course we rarely see it these days in the UK, so this was a treat: pristine, white, real Arctic snow for miles and miles as far as the eye could see. I’m known to fall asleep on any form of transport, but I could not take my eyes off this magical winter scenery for the whole two-hour coach journey.
What a fantastic experience this was. I thought I’d ‘done’ cold cruising when I worked summer seasons in the Norwegian Fjords and the Baltics, but apparently not until this experience. Normally I get a little bit of colour on each trip, but I think I lost some on this one after being battered by the Arctic wind! And seeing ice and snow on cruise ship decks? Well, that was a first. A truly unforgettable experience in many ways and yet again I was so pleased to share it with another great crowd of interesting people.
After trips to Hong Kong and Vancouver, a marvellous Silversea cruise and a week in busy Naples, my 2015 journeys came to an end and I wondered what 2016 might have in store. Surely it couldn’t get much better than the last two years? How many more incredible places could the company send me to?
[to be continued…]
Check back next Friday for the next part of Gillian’s Diary Of A Tour Ambassador series
Hailing from sleepy Northumberland, Gillian Lowes realised her passion for travel at a young age and always dreamt of glamourous worldwide adventures. Having worked in a variety of travel roles over the years – including as a Front Office and Operations Manager aboard a cruise ship – Gill became an ROL Tour Ambassador back in 2013. At the last count, Gill has visited over 70 countries!