Catching Up With LOFOTEN, Part Two

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After a storm-tossed start, Peter Knego’s southbound journey aboard Hurtigruten’s dowager LOFOTEN continues. Part Two features a look at the 1964-built liner as she plies some of Norway’s most scenic waters, making a series of stops in tiny coastal towns along the way.  A brief visit to the LOFOTEN’s former fleetmate, the preserved 1956-built Hurtigruten liner FINNMARKEN at Stokmarknes is also included.

Hurtigruten

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THE SANDS OF ALANG: A new DVD about shipbreaking in Alang, India

All photos by and copyright Peter Knego 2014.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

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MV LOFOTEN main staircase, facing up.

It was 3:00 AM when I finally arose from what was intended as a short afternoon nap.  As expected, all was perfectly quiet, so I took a long, invigorating shower, got dressed, donned the cameras and headed up to explore and document the LOFOTEN.

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MV LOFOTEN Panorama Lounge, facing port.

Counting the bridge wings (which are often open for guest access) and a sheltered terrace on Bridge Deck, the ship has six passenger levels. I began on the next highest level, Boat Deck, with the gorgeous Panorama Lounge, which, on the threshold of an early sunrise, was infused with violet light.

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MV LOFOTEN, Boat Deck vestibule, facing port/forward.

Directly aft of the Panorama Lounge, there is a vestibule at the top of the main stairwell that leads to two suites and officers’ accommodation. Outside, finite promenades continue aft under the lifeboats to a sheltered area that overlooks the stern.

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MV LOFOTEN Polar Bear Lounge, facing port/forward.

Aside from four staterooms on the starboard side, the next level, Saloon Deck, is entirely devoted to public rooms, beginning with the Polar Bear Lounge, where several deck passengers had camped out for the night.

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MV LOFOTEN Restaurant, facing forward.

Another vestibule follows, leading directly to the handsome Restaurant, which boasts lustrous paneling, a cambered ceiling, large picture windows and two original ceramic works of art.

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Scandinavian Modern.

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MV LOFOTEN Bar, facing port.

On the port side of Saloon Deck, aft of the Restaurant, there is a gallery-style a la carte Cafe leading to the former tourist class Bar that opens onto another vestibule and the fantail. Throughout the ship, warm wood paneling and elegant MidCentury Scandinavian touches flourish.

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MV LOFOTEN totally random carpet shot.

Promenade/Deck A features passenger accommodation, the Reception area and sheltered promenades. Deck B has crew and guest accommodation and Deck C has a limited selection of all-inside accommodation.  This is an abbreviated overview, so stay tuned for a full Decked! tour of LOFOTEN…

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Norwegian dawn.

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Time out on deck.

For the next several days, I would keep the cameras poised to capture the ship’s charming vintage features in a variety of weather and lighting conditions. Meanwhile, out on deck, as the sun began its unhurried ascent, I enjoyed the fresh, crisp air and the gentle hum of LOFOTEN’s diesels.

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MV LOFOTEN breakfast buffet.

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More brekkies.

Ironically, thanks to the timing of my unintentionally long slumber, I was the first at breakfast, which is offered buffet style between 7:00 and 10:00 AM. In addition to cereals, freshly baked breads, eggs, bacon and sausage, there is, of course, herring and gravlax as well as cold cuts, yogurts and various cheeses (including the Norwegian brown sort).

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Dining view.

It was so nice to savor the ever-changing view through LOFOTEN’s distinctive Scandinavian windows while enjoying my first meal of the day.

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MV FINNMARKEN (3) departing Harstad.

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Berth exchange at Harstad.

Our first port of call that morning was an abbreviated stop at Harstad, one of many charming villages encountered on the Hurtigruten express route. When we arrived, the northbound, 2002-built, 15,690 gt FINNMARKEN (3) was casting her lines and vacating the berth for us. The Hurtigruten fleet consists of eleven vessels, most built since the early 1990s, excepting the classic LOFOTEN and the 1983-built workhorse VESTERALEN.  LOFOTEN was a few minutes late, so there was no time to wander ashore before she transferred a small load of passengers and cargo and then proceeded immediately on her way.

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Southbound scenery aboard MV LOFOTEN.

By mid-morning, the decks began to fill with fellow guests, all out to enjoy the brisk, sunny clime and the spectacular scenery.

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MV LOFOTEN at Risoyhamn.

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Painterly puddle.

At the port of Risoyhamn, LOFOTEN arrived a tad early, giving us about thirty minutes to wander about. For me, each stop provided a new opportunity to take more photos of our beautiful ship.

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Slow bus across the bridge.

As we approached the bridge over Sortland, a tour bus with fellow guests on the half-day Vesteralen excursion was rendezvousing with us.  In time-honored tradition, it proceeded slowly across, providing its lucky passengers with an aerial photo-op of the incoming LOFOTEN.

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Torvtak of Sortland.

With its constant rainfall, the Norwegian coast is peppered with torvtaks or sod roofs, which provide natural insulation.

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MV FINNMARKEN (2) on the stocks in Stokmarknes.

For vintage ship lovers, a key highlight of a southbound voyage is the chance to see the preserved FINNMARKEN(2) of 1956, which has been hauled ashore at the port of Stokmarknes.  FINNMARKEN was the prototype for the LOFOTEN and several other classic engines-aft Hurtigruten ships of the 1950s and 1960s.  The challenge is squeezing a visit into just one hour, especially if attempting to fully document this little jewel of a liner, which is situated next to the Hurtigruten Museum.  Transiting passengers are granted free access via the museum, that even at a glance, is a most impressive place with its superb model collection and exhibits.

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Hurtigruten museum.

If I ever return on a Hurtigruten voyage, it would be ideal to disembark in Stokmarknes, stay over and explore both the FINNMARKEN and the museum in greater depth before continuing on another ship the following day.  As it was, I bee-lined it to the fourth floor where a gangway led to the FINNMARKEN’s sheltered promenade.

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MV FINNMARKEN Observation Lounge, facing starboard.

The FINNMARKEN’s layout is similar to that of the LOFOTEN but she only has one forward-facing lounge and her furnishings are a combination of vintage and modern.  Somehow, I managed to capture most of the ship’s upper decks (covered in tin roofing for protection in all weather conditions), from the wheelhouse down to the fo’c’sle and all the way aft to the fantail. Most of the public rooms and a wide assortment of staterooms were easily accessed.  A fully illustrated tour will be coming soon…

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MV FINNMARKEN starry snapshot.

I was pleasantly shocked to find an abundance of Old World elements like etched glass and detailed marquetry panels aboard the FINNMARKEN, even in her tourist class spaces.

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MV LOFOTEN bell.

While racing back, I spotted LOFOTEN’s original bell, prominently on display at the Hurtigruten Museum. The last passenger to return, I made it moments before the gangway was hoisted and she continued on her southbound journey.

End Of Catching Up WIth The LOFOTEN, Part Two.

Much More To Come…

Special thanks: Mindy Bianca, Anja Erdman, Elliot Gillies, Snorre A. Pedersen

Peter Knego

Peter Knego

Having documented over 400 passenger ships and taken more than 200 cruises, MaritimeMatters’ co-editor Peter Knego is a leading freelance cruise writer, a respected ocean liner historian and frequent maritime lecturer both on land and at sea.  With his work regularly featured in cruise industry trades and consumer publications.  Knego also runs the www.midshipcentury.com website which offers MidCentury cruise ship furniture, artwork and fittings rescued from the shipbreaking yards of Alang, India.  He has produced several videos on the subject, including his latest, The Sands Of Alang and the best-selling On The Road To Alang."
Peter Knego

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