White Star Service logo

Cunard Team

Queen Elizabeth’s Norwegian Fjords and North Cape Cruise

July 11, 2012


Posted in: Cunard Team, Entertainment, Queen Elizabeth

Queen Elizabeth’s Entertainment Team

22 June – 6 July

The first three days of our voyage were spent in the company of our sister ship Queen Victoria, as we travelled first to Stavanger, then Flaam together.

On the evening of 24 June we were treated to the kind of sunset you only get at sea, and it was a pleasure to share it as we sailed side-by-side.

Norway always provides some truly breathtaking scenery and the sailaway from Flaam is no exception.

At 5.40pm on 26 June we crossed the Arctic Circle, one of the five major circles of latitude that mark maps of the Earth. The position of the Arctic Circle is not fixed, but directly depends on the Earth’s tilt, and is currently drifting northwards at a speed of about 15m per year. The circle marks the southern extremity of the polar day, 24 hours of sunlight often referred to as “midnight sun”. On the night of the 26th midnight arrived in full daylight – and as we approached the Lofoten Islands on our starboard side rain falling over the mountains caused a rare sight – a midnight rainbow.


Our next port was Tromsø, the second largest city within the Arctic Circle (following Murmansk). Between September and April Tromsø is in the middle of the Aurora Borealis zone, its location and transport links make it one of the most popular places in the world to see the Northern Lights. With much to do in the city, including a visit to the only wooden, and northernmost, cathedral in Norway, an undoubted highlight for many was a trip to a husky centre on nearby Kvaløya (Whale Island) – all cuddly residents were carefully counted before guests returned to the ship with extra, adorable, stateroom companions.


On the morning of 29 June Commodore Christopher Rynd became ‘Expedition Leader’ as he took us to Magdalenfjord, an 8km long fjord between Reuschalvøya and Hoelhalvøya on the west coast of Spitsbergen. At 79.59 degrees north, an atmosphere of intrepid excitement ran through the open decks of the ship as the flag was raised on our forward mast in the early morning. The ship’s engines gently hummed as we edged towards the most spectacular area of the fjord, the Waggonwaybreen Glacier. Seen here in front of our bow, the glacier is just under a mile wide.

Dwarfed by one of the fjord’s mountains, one of our rescue craft was launched with a ship’s photographer on board – who captured the below image of the ship behind one of the large chunks of ice that were constantly separating from the glacier itself.

With a permanent population of approximately 30-35 persons, rising up to 120 in the summer months when more of the research stations are manned, a ship like Queen Elizabeth is difficult to miss. After taking in the breathtaking scenery the highest priority of the day was to send a postcard from the world’s northernmost post office. Ny Ålesund is an extremely important area of natural preservation, a pathway just over 1km long took visitors on a circuit of the 60 buildings in the populated area – with several methods of ensuring people stick to the path. Aside from warnings of local polar bears, the local nesting birds proved a more immediate threat. Arctic Terns nesting next to the pathway did not extend the warm greeting given by the rest of the settlement’s residents, and were quick to swoop down upon unsuspecting pedestrians who wandered a little too close.


Next stop was the port of Trondheim, offering a great deal to do ashore, one particular lure has been the tiny village of Hell, a 30 minute train journey away. The wooden building of Hell Station has been an essential holiday snap since the very first Cunard ships began Norwegian itineraries – the below picture may be familiar to those who have travelled on board Queen Mary 2, as it features on the heritage trail. Not much has changed externally with the latest Cunarder to visit, and the tickets still make excellent souvenirs.

A day in Olden is a chance to walk through beautiful Norwegian countryside or take a boat trip across picturesque lakes. Our good fortune with the weather continued and as the bright sunshine ensured no bad photographs could be taken, Queen Elizabeth posed wonderfully against the perfect backdrop.

Never slow to take advantage of good weather ashore, some chose to go for a bracing swim in ice cold clear waters.

While others took a spectacular helicopter trip – taking in stunning views of the fjords, surrounding mountains, and of course, Queen Elizabeth

After a final call to the bustling city of Bergen, it’s time to head home to Southampton to recharge cameras and reflect upon a once in a lifetime voyage of discovery.

  1. Judith says:

    Great blog and super pictures. We have put it on our list of trips to do.

  2. David A. Walker says:

    Peter, Peter, Peter,

    You seem to dave divorced yourself from these blatent advertising “How I spent my Summer holidays,” perhaps you are as bored with them as others!

    It seems your advertising arm has forgotten that Cunard is a company with a proud, illustrious and safe heritage. In this stressful period of the economy with dubious Cruise ship safety allegations they could capitalise on that aspect.


  3. Philomena Walbert says:

    I am a seasoned Cunarder who has yet to cruise into the Arctic Circle and I found this article to be informative via word and pictures. Nicely presented and it has accomplished its purpose – to encourage me to act sooner rather than later to purchase my passage.

  4. Jackie Baker says:

    The pictures are wonderful and bring back such great memories as we were on this fantastic cruise. Many thanks to all at Cunard for the perfect arrangements.

  5. Irene Stanbrough says:

    Our daughter is working on the Queen Victoria over the summer period in the childrens zone so it was lovely to see photos of her ship in such amazing location she promises us a photo show when she gets home from her vacation job in September but lovely to see in advance.

  6. Bill Bradbury says:

    Happy memories when we went QE2 2007 to Norway especially the scenery in Spitzbergan which was a beautiful sail in and out as a glorious day would turn into a storm so we could not stay. It was compensated by a sail by Bear Island a Godforsaken place if there ever was one but ideal for birdwatchers on that cruise.

    It looks like you had a similar weather pattern, for that year (2007) we also sailed in glorious sunshine every day whilst England was flooded out. The temp at Honingsvag, North Cape was over 80% and had been for a number of days. A picture of QE2 in the bay I took from the nearby hill in a clear blue sea and sky could have been in some tropical place. At Flamm what I thought was a gold roofed church alongside QE2 turned out to be a Brewery and pub, but at over £6/pint in 2007 I did not stay long–and people complain about the price of drinks on Cunard!! Great pictures.

  7. Beryl Moss says:

    I have found this blog very interesting as we will be cruising to the Fjords and the North Cape on Queen Victoria on 3 August. The photographs are fantastic and can’t wait to take some of my own. Hopefully we will also be lucky with the weather but if not the cruise wil be amazng. We did a short Fjords cruise on Queen Victoria’s maiden visit to that area and vowed then to return butgoing right up to the North Cape and now only a few weeks to wait.

  8. Ruth Haigh says:

    We were part of this amazing cruise/expedition and the photos do justice to a fantstic trip provided by the brilliant Cunard.

  9. Ruth Haigh says:

    We were part of this amazing cruise/expedition and the photos do justice to the fantastic experience provided by brillaint Cunard

  10. Regor Tellah says:

    I am always disturbed by the amount of diesel smoke these big ships pump into the pristine wilderness. In the still air of the fjords, it seems to hold there for a long time. I have noticed this in Alaska as well. Surely, there is something to be done to reduce or eliminate the pollution in these sensitive areas. Maybe run on batteries for a while; activate electrostatic precipitators; particle scrubbers? Something, … surely! Are any engineers out there?

  11. A great report and I did an almost identical voyage on Queen Victoria back in May/June and while we didn’t venture quite as far north as Spitsbergen unfortunately, the arctic blizzards at the North Cape made for interesting times! If you should get the chance then I can certainly recommend the long trek north, for you won’t be disappointed.

  12. Robert - Hunter Valley says:

    Note to Philomena.

    Have you sailed on the Royal Viking Sun, during its time with Cunard. Have you voyaged to Australia and its fine Capitol Cities. If on Q.V. in January in 2013, perhaps we could meet – your shout.

    Do you remember the Fairstar? When travelling on the Royal Viking Sun, we passed on its starboard side, when it was on its last voyage.

    Greetings from Australia.

  13. Robert - Hunter Valley says:


    Royal Viking Sun, passed on the starboard of Canberra, when Canberra was on its final voyage. -

  14. Pam Leith says:

    Thank you for a wonderful and exciting trip. It is something I will never forget. Commodore Christopher Rynd our ‘expedition leader’ made us all feel like we had ventured into unchartered waters. It was so spectacular at the Magdalenfjord.
    The Queen Elizabeth is a beautiful ship and all the Officers and Crew made us feel very special.
    Once again thank you for the wonderful trip.

  15. francis says:

    Was there on that cruise. Huskies were great. Shame the nightlife on board was a bit timid for us 30 year olds!

  16. Kenneth Eden says:

    Marvelous post and pictures – PLEASE PLEASE keep us up to date with the SHIPS, CRUISES and CREW and what makes us want to cruise Cunard, not the pasty posts of late that really are out of a basic maunal.

    We want the real deal, and this post is IT>

    Thanks for sharing……

  17. kathleen Woolford says:

    Beautiful pictures. Will never get to Norway, but am looking forward to seeing the Fjords in New Zealand on Queen Mary 2 March 2013.
    Cheers An Aussie lass

  18. Gerry says:

    One of my most breathtaking cruises I’ve ever did.
    Reaching absolutely northern most place for cruise-liners. North-Spitsbergen, 1000 miles from the North Pole.

  19. Linda McKay says:

    I was on this trip and it was the best ever the highlight was the Magdalena Fjord it was a beautiful place to see and I will never forget it. It was an excellent cruise thank you to Commodore Christopher Ried and all Staff. The Queen Elizaabeth is a great ship and I had no complaints at all, I can fully recommend this trip you will not be disapointed.

  20. Jim Coy says:

    This was a truly wonderful cruise and Spitzbergen the undoubted highlight even including being warned off by an Arctic Tern!!
    We have alredy booked next year’s North Cape cruise on Q E but not reaching Spitzbergen again unfortunately

  21. Anna Charrington says:

    The highlight was the extra visit to Magdalena Fjord it was a beautiful place to see and I will never forget it or this cruise. Thank you to Commodore Christopher Rynd and all Staff. The Queen Elizaabeth is a beautifully ship and I can fully recommend this trip you will not be disapointed (that’s if the big ships are allowed that far north again).

  22. Daniel Rönnqvist 12years sweden says:

    When Queen Elizabeth comes too Stockholm in Sweden on thursday I going too look at her. It is the first time I see a boat from Cunard in real. I saw at the television Queen Mary 2 and Queen Elizabeth in Hamburg. Thats was amazing with all the people and the boats. I have relatives in Hamburg so I am in Hamburg often but I have never see her.

  23. Margaret Lewis says:

    We were also on this wonderful cruise. Top marks to Cunard and Commodore Christopher Rynd (officially entitled Expedition Leader for the one day in Svalbard as he signed papers for the ship and its passengers to be there) for delivering such an amazing experience. The additional passage to Magdalena Fjord was a great extra on an already good itinerary. The glacial scenery along Svalbard was straight out of the textbooks. Enjoyed Ny Alesund and the experience of being somewhere remote and different. As it was announced that Cunard ships would not be there again because of an environmental ban on larger vessels we feel even more privileged to have done this cruise, particularly in such favourable conditions. Also enjoyed the fjord ports and the approaches to and from them.

  24. Jack & Ros Wilson says:

    We were also on this amazing voyage. It was a fantastic and unexpected treat to visit the Magdalenfjiord, and we much appreciated the welcome from the resident walruses! Thank you to Commodore Christopher Rynd for this magical experience, and to all the ship’s company for their wonderful service. This was our second voyage on Queen Elizabeth and she is a beautiful ship, a credit to the Cunard fleet.

  25. Bill Welland says:

    This was our eleventh Cunard cruise, but my wife and I consider this one our “trip of a lifetime” because it would surely be impossible to repeat the combination of calm sea and good weather (let’s forget the afternoon in Trondheim!) over such an extended period. The only disappointment was seeing 850 people arriving by tender in Ny Ålesund – it’s no surprise that the nesting birds were upset, particularly by those people who couldn’t absorb the instruction to stay on the paths. One visual highlight not covered in the blog was on the final evening of the voyage when, after passing the East Anglian wind-farms silhouetted against the reddening sky, we came across a thin layer of fog. It was not deep enough to reach the higher decks, so we were able to dine watching the sun setting over England while listening to blasts on our fog-horn!

  26. Tim Fellows says:

    This was a great trip and the photos and report reflect our experiences. It was a true privilege to visit Ny Alesund and I can understand if large ships don’t go there in future on environmental grounds.

    The weather on the days in Flaam and Olden was perfect and the cities of Bergen and Trondheim were well worth a visit.

  27. My wife and I were privileged to sail aboard ‘Queen Elizabeth’ on this Cruise of Discovery. It was intended primarily as a further return visit to Norway, probably our favourite foreign country, as a celebration of a special birthday, but it evolved into something far more than that. Our experiences north of the Arctic Circle are indelibly imprinted on our minds (and recorded photographically for posterity) and our early-morning passages up the fjords in perfect weather re-paid in spades the effort of rising before dawn from our splendidly comfortable Cunard bed!
    High-spots? Spitsbergen, Olden, Flaam, Trondheim and Summer Island, and Bergen. But there were immensely enjoyable events on a daily basis and Commodore Rynd and his ship’s company, our stateroom and restaurant staff, not to forget the people back at base, should be congratulated on creating a highlight for us.

Leave a Comment