Journal of a July 2005 Cruise

Cruise 2005: Ireland, Greenland, Iceland and Norway
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This page last updated: 19th July 2015.
8: Akureyri

Akureyri At a couple of minutes after four in the morning we cross the Arctic Circle, but don't know it as we are fast asleep. When we do waken it is to watch as the ship sails down the 40 mile long Eyjafjöršur towards Iceland's second largest town Akureyri.

When we booked the cruise, Akureyri wasn't listed as a tender port and Christine was expecting to be able to set foot on Icelandic soil. However, it turns out that another cruise ship, the Sea Princess has snapped up the berth. They'd booked it two days before the Aurora applied we are told. The ship was also portside in Reykjavik and we'll meet it again in Stavanger! There is sufficient activity on board to occupy Christine while I'm ashore but it is nonetheless a disappointment that both Icelandic ports are tender, when at least one of them mightn't have been.

Those mobility-impaired passengers who can hobble with help and are equipped with light-weight folding chairs can get ashore though. I am in the tender when one gentleman, whom I suspect is recovering from a stroke, is being helped on by the crew. He is wobbling quite a bit and his speech is slurred. The woman sat opposite me says quite loudly, "I don't know why people like that bother coming on a cruise!". "Why on earth, shouldn't they?" I ask. "I wasn't talking to YOU!" she bellows. "If that's your attitude, I'm sitting elsewhere", says I, moving to the other end of the boat. As she gets off she looks at me scowling and mouths what I'm sure was an obscenity at me. Her husband, at least, seems embarrassed by her. We'd met the disabled gentleman in question and his wife previously over lunch or breakfast in the Medina. I see them again after we get ashore and tell them of the incident. The gentleman punches his fist in the air!

I walk first down to the post office, buy stamps and put the last batch of postcards in the mail. Stamps are available on board ship, but there seems to be a small premium over the exchange rate and I feel more confident about posting ashore.

The town is very clean and the streets spacious. I'm not up to climbing the 90 steps to the church, so make my way to the bus depot and the local Tourist Office. It seems there aren't any coaches to anywhere from where one can return in time to get back to the ship. Another couple are also making enquiries and we ask about the possibility of sharing a taxi somewhere. We are told that with two large cruise ships in town, the taxis are overstretched and there are none available. The taxi office is at the other end of town.

The other couple decide to visit the Botanical Gardens, while I make my back. I discover the taxi office. Several people are trying to organise a taxi. I decide to hang on and although I have to wait just over an hour, eventually I secure a place in a six-seater taxi. The driver doesn't say much but takes us the 30 miles to Gošafoss. The route crosses the head of the Eyjafjöršur below which is the small airport. It follows the eastern side with views back across to the town through farmland and then over the shoulder of a hill to another wide valley. The land is a mixture of greens and browns with pocks of snow in the hillsides.

We stop at Gošafoss for just fifteen minutes. The place is crowded with tour buses, many belonging to the two cruise ships, but others and lots of cars as well. Despite this, it is easy to thread one's way through the black laval soil and marvel at the sight of the waterfall. The story is told that Thorgeir Ljósvetningagodi was charged with deciding whether Iceland would remain heathen or adopt Christianity. To symbolise the change, he cast the relics of the pagan gods into the streaming thirty-foot dropping falls.

We have a very comfortable journey back. The other passengers pay their fare in dollars. I end up paying 1671 Icelandic kroner [about £15 — all the local money I have left] and five pounds sterling. This is very decent value. The lady in the taxi office gives me a free cup of coffee. I take this and go back to the town square, Rįšhśstorg where a trampoline has been erected for the enjoyment of local children. It is very warm and the tables outside the Café Amour are crowded. Next door is a lovely looking Art Deco style cinema.

Back on board, I do the little twenty question quiz before dinner. Afterwards I visit the theatre for a performance by a so-called comedian whose name I'd perhaps better not reveal. 95% of his act was ancient and I nearly fall asleep in the middle of it.

The ship is now on its way to Norway.

Photographs Journal page 9