July 2024: Four Seasons on Two Cruises in One Month (Part One)

By Corey Sandler

I’m still unpacking bulging suitcases from a trip that began on a cool Spring morning in Boston, proceeded to a still-frosty and snowy Norway and Iceland, crossed the Atlantic to carefully navigate in and amongst icebergs in Greenland, arrived in Nova Scotia on an unseasonably sweltering hot day, and ended with a glorious sail-in on the Hudson River with a full moon over our shoulders and a red rising sun transecting New York’s East River ahead of us.

Icebergs? Tons of them.

We included winter coats and gloves for Svalbard, just short of 80 degrees North latitude, the last piece of occupied land before the geographic North Pole. We had hiking boots for Iceland, summer clothes and suntan lotion for Halifax and the Big Apple.

This itinerary has a lot of meaning to me because it retraces much of the history of the explorer Henry Hudson, who sailed from London and Amsterdam into the ice in search of a passage to Asia. Indeed, Hudson eventually ended up on the other side of the Atlantic in the great waterway that later would bear his name, New York’s Hudson River.

I spent three years of my life researching my book that retraced Hudson’s four known voyages.

Cleared for Takeoff

Unseasonable winds and threatening clouds caused our flight from Boston to Amsterdam and onward to Bergen to take an unusual pattern on takeoff. The jet headed east, away from the ocean before eventually finding a clearing that led to the Great Circle Route across the Atlantic.

The takeoff gave me an opportunity for a non-standard view of our home port of Boston.

Takeoff from Boston for our flight to Amsterdam ventured west over Cambridge. Logan Airport is near upper left with the heart of the city below and to the right. Photo by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

New Meets Old in Bergen

We’ve visited the ancient city of Bergen many, many times but were greeted this time by a Ferris wheel and carnival temporarily installed in front of the 500-year-old Bergenhus Fortress. Our ship, Viking Mars, lay just beyond at the cruise terminal.

The carnival in Bergen was wedged between the harbor and the historic district, an unusual sight. The logistics of bringing a traveling show to the cities and ports of Norway are very complex. Photo by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

Narvik: The Port at the End of the Iron Road

Heading north up the coast of Norway, our ship called at the port of Narvik, the site of the first significant battle of World War II after German invaders were temporarily pushed out by by British, Free French, Polish, Norwegian resistance, and other Allied fighters.

Narvik’s reason for being is the extraordinary railroad that crosses the border into Sweden to the massive iron ore mines at Kiruna. The Germans wanted the ore, and the railroad, to support its war aims; the Allies fought on land and at sea to deny access.

I took a ride on a passenger train from Narvik; just outside of town we passed along one of the remote fingers of the Ofotfjorden where several German vessels were trapped and sunk. Photo by Corey Sandler.
A summer cottage near the border with Sweden. Photo by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

Inside Passage

Viking Mars at the dock in Leknes in Norway’s Lofoten Islands. Photo by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.
Our base camp for a hike up and over a mountain ridge outside of Leknes. Photo by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

At Norway’s Top

Honningsvåg is the northernmost city in mainland Norway, our last call in Europe before heading further north to Svalbard. It has the feeling of one of the ends of the earth.

Just around the corner to the east is Kirkenes, which sits on the border with Russia. Relations with that country have gone from cool to cold in recent years, even more so as Norway’s other neighbors Finland and Sweden have joined NATO. At the time of our visit NATO was conducting winter exercises in the snow and ice of Norway’s north.

The harbor of Honningsvåg, crammed with fishing vessels our ship. Photo by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.
Somewhere between seasons along the hillside at the port of Honningsvåg. Photo by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.
As we prepared to set off for even further north, to the Svalbard archipelago, the fog rolled in. Photo by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

I’ll continue the story in next month’s blog post, right here on August 1.

All text and photos by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved. If you want to obtain a copy of one of my photographs for personal or commercial use, please contact me using the link on this page.

If you’d like to order a copy of my book, “Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession” you can obtain a Kindle or PDF version by clicking here: HENRY HUDSON DREAMS AND OBSESSION

Or if you would prefer to purchase a printed book in hardcover or paperback (personally autographed if you’d like) please send me an email for details. Click here to contact me.