Tag Archives: Viking Cruises

13-14 MARCH 2019. BERGEN: THE HALL OF THE MOUNTAIN KING

By Corey Sandler

We have reached the conclusion of this cruise, with a beautiful sail-in to Norway’s second city, Bergen.

This is a place that gets a lot of rain. A lot. So much so that my large collection of photos from many visits we have made to Bergen contains very few flashes of blue sky. That ended today, a superlative day with hardly a cloud in the sky and cool weather for walking. And so we did.

Here is some of what we saw:

Viking Sky at the dock in Bergen.

Bergen’s historic Bryggen district, the former home of the Kontor or trading post of the Hanseatic League.

Snow on one of the seven hills that surround Bergen.

Bergen’s train station, which connects up into the mountains to Voss, above Flåm, and from there on to Oslo on the other side of the country on the Baltic Sea.

We wish guests leaving us here safe travels, and look forward to meeting new friends on our trip back north up the coast of Norway.

All photos by Corey Sandler, 2019. All rights reserved. All contents copyright Corey Sandler and Word Association; this website is not produced or endorsed by Viking Cruises. 

To send me an email or to inquire about copies of photos,  please,  click here: www.coreysandler.com/contact-me/

11 MARCH 2019. NARVIK, NORWAY: THE END OF THE IRON ROAD 

By Corey Sandler

We arrived early this morning under a stunning blue sky and crisp air at Narvik, one of the locations of the most significant naval battles of World War II.

The reason for the modern port, which was also the lure for the Germans and the Allies, is the railroad that arrives at sea level from the interior of Sweden. More than a dozen mile-long trains carrying iron ore arrive most days to be loaded onto waiting freighters here.

In the runup to World War II, Germany (and the United Kngdom) were each receiving huge quantities of iron ore from Sweden, which remained mostly neutral throughout the war.

Germany sent in a fleet to seize the port and secure the railroad in 1939, and then the British sent their navy to try and displace them. Thousands of sailors and infantry on both sides died, and Narvik was pounded for most of the war. It was also the site of a concentration camp run by the Germans, holding mostly Yugoslavian and Serbian prisoners, most of whom died in the horrific conditions.

I went with a group of guests to the Narvik Krigsmuseum (the Narvik War Museum) to see some of the artifacts of the war and some exhibitions of well-intentioned hopes for peace. Then we made a visit to a cold, silent cemetery holding some of the British, Canadian, French, Polish, German, and others who died here.

Later tonight we sail back out to sea to head to Bergen, the last port of call on this cruise.

A sea mine recovered from the harbor at Narvik.

A prototype of a one-man submarine/torpedo developed by the Germans for what amounts to suicide missions. The British had a similar device which they unsuccessfully deployed against the German battleship Tirpitz.

Inside the War Museum.

A cemetery of Allied and Axis and civilians in Narvik.

Viking Sky at the dock in Narvik.

Aboard ship, from the Explorer’s Lounge.

In a reflective mood, the snow-covered mountains mirrored aboard ship.

All photos by Corey Sandler, 2019. All rights reserved. All contents copyright Corey Sandler and Word Association; this website is not produced or endorsed by Viking Cruises. 

To send me an email or to inquire about copies of photos,  please,  click here: www.coreysandler.com/contact-me/

10 MARCH 2019. SAILING OUT OF ALTA 

By Corey Sandler

After our second day in Alta, we departed our northernmost port and headed through Altafjord to the open ocean. In the early evening we sailed nder the bridge and along the waterfront of Tromsø before turning south  to run down the coast to our ultimate destination of Bergen.

Norway…is always stunning. Like this:

All photos by Corey Sandler, 2019. All rights reserved. All contents copyright Corey Sandler and Word Association; this website is not produced or endorsed by Viking Cruises. 

YOU CAN ALSO VISIT MY MAIN WEBSITE, at  www.coreysandler.com
To send me an email or to inquire about copies of photos,  please,  click here: www.coreysandler.com/contact-me/

9 MARCH 2019. ALTA, NORWAY BY DAY 

By Corey Sandler

Overnjght we sailed around the corner and half a degree further north to Alta, at 69 degrees 97 minutes North.

It’s an isolated, cold place and the skies are gray this morning but we’re hoping for clearing and more shots of the Northern Lights near midnight.

All photos by Corey Sandler, 2019. All rights reserved. All contents copyright Corey Sandler and Word Association; this website is not produced or endorsed by Viking Cruises. 

YOU CAN ALSO VISIT MY MAIN WEBSITE, at  www.coreysandler.com
To send me an email or to inquire about copies of photos,  please,  click here: www.coreysandler.com/contact-me/

9-10 MARCH 2019. ALTA, NORWAY BY NIGHT: HERE BE DRAGONS

By Corey Sandler

After dark I went with a group of guests north and west from Alta to Langfjordbotn, a tiny community at the end of an arm of the Altafjord.

An historical note: it was here that the German battle cruiser Scharnhorst hid from about 1941 to 1943 before sallying out for the Battle of the North Cape where she was eventually sunk.

Closer to Alta, at Kafjord, was the penultimate hiding place of the battleship Tirpitz, which was Winston Churchill’s northern obsession. The Tirpitz was bombed and seriously damaged near Alta, but managed to escape to another hiding place near Tromsø where she was eventually sunk.

Alta was heavily clouded all day, but our drive to Langfjordbotn brought us to a mostly clear place and there we waited for the appearance of the Northern Lights. When they arrived, they were very different from what we had seen earlier in the cruise: here they shimmered and waved like a multicolored curtain.

If you have ever wondered why so many cultures of the far north (including China, Japan, Russia, and Scandinavia) include dragons, look at the fourth image in the following series.

Here are a few photos I took:

All photos by Corey Sandler, 2019. All rights reserved. All contents copyright Corey Sandler and Word Association; this website is not produced or endorsed by Viking Cruises. 

To send me an email or to inquire about copies of photos,  please,  click here: www.coreysandler.com/contact-me/

7-8 MARCH 2019. TROMSØ BY NIGHT: THE NORTHERN LIGHTS FOUND

By Corey Sandler

We are out of the winter’s Polar Night, two months of near-total darkness. The day stretches about ten hours and the city bustles while the sun is visible.

And then it quickly grows dark.

All across the city, from our ship and from hotels, come wide-eyed visitors bundled up in nearly every piece of clothing they brought with them. They are headed into the countryside to wait and watch for one of nature’s most astounding sights: the Aurora Borealis, the Northern Lights.

They begin as filmy greenish clouds and then grow denser and begin to dance. The human eye is particularly sensitive to green, and that is the tipoff to raise your camera skyward. And modern digital cameras take in all of that light and produce amazing images that will stay with us forever.

Here are some of the pictures I made during a six-hour trek with some professional aurora hunters:

Near midnight the aurora began dancing.

When you watch the aurora you understand how many human myths and beliefs were formed: dragons, specters, and pathways to the heavens.

All photos above by Corey Sandler, 2019. All rights reserved. All contents copyright Corey Sandler and Word Association; this website is not produced or endorsed by Viking Cruises. 

Photo of Corey Sandler by Polar Adventures, Tromsø, Norway 8 March 2019.

YOU CAN ALSO VISIT MY MAIN WEBSITE, at  www.coreysandler.com
To send me an email or to inquire about copies of photos, please,  click here: www.coreysandler.com/contact-me/

7 MARCH 2019. TROMSØ BY DAY

By Corey Sandler

March in Tromsø gives hope of the coming of spring and the possibility of summer here in the far north of Norway, well within the Arctic Circle.

I have been here several dozen times in summer when the sun never fully sets and the mountains are mostly green with a bit of white fringe on top. On this visit, we blew in with a snowstorm but by early morning it was a glorious day with blue skies and the whitest, cleanest snow imaginable.

Here is some of what we saw:

Clearing the aft deck of the ship and building a snowman, near the infinity pool which was unsurprisingly not in use.

Inside, looking out at breakfast.

The morning light in Tromsø.

Across the harbor to the mainland of Norway.

Viking Sky at the dock.

A statue of the great arctic explorer Roald Amundsen, who used this port for many of his expeditions, checks on shipping traffic.

All photos by Corey Sandler, 2019. All rights reserved. All contents copyright Corey Sandler and Word Association; this website is not produced or endorsed by Viking Cruises.

YOU CAN ALSO VISIT MY MAIN WEBSITE, at  www.coreysandler.com
To send me an email or to inquire about copies of photos, please click here: www.coreysandler.com/contact-me/

4 MARCH 2019. STAVANGER, NORWAY 

By Corey Sandler

Viking Sky at the dock in Stavanger

The Three Swords monument at the site of the Battle of Hafrsfjord in 872, a naval battle that led to the first unification of Norway.

All photos by Corey Sandler, 2019. All rights reserved. All contents copyright Corey Sandler and Word Association; this website is not produced or endorsed by Viking Cruises.

YOU CAN ALSO VISIT MY MAIN WEBSITE, at  www.coreysandler.com
To send me an email or to inquire about copies of photos, please click here: www.coreysandler.com/contact-me/

2 MARCH TO 14 MARCH 2019. VIKING SKY: IN SEARCH OF THE NORTHERN LIGHTS

By Corey Sandler

Welcome aboard. I am happy to share some of my photographs taken aboard Viking Sky on our journey from London’s cruise port at Tilbury to near the top of Norway in Search of the Northern Lights. 

Viking Sky in Bergen

The photos presented on the following blog entries are low-resolution and small size. Please contact me if you would like to obtain higher-resolution versions.

JANUARY 2018. VIKING SKY TO THE PANAMA CANAL AND THE CARIBBEAN

By Corey Sandler

Welcome aboard. I am happy to share some of my photographs taken aboard Viking Sky on our journey from Miami to the Panama Canal and back. 

Viking Sky at anchor off Key West, Florida

All photos by Corey Sandler, 2018. All rights reserved. All contents copyright Corey Sandler and Word Association; this website is not produced or endorsed by Viking Cruises.

MONDAY, JANUARY 8, 2018: Key West, Florida

A bird’s eye view of a Viking Sky tender
An ancient lock on a shipwrecker’s warehouse in Key West
Instituto San Carlos, the headquarters of the post-Independence, pre-Castro Cuban community in Key West
The files of the former Consulate of the Republic of Cuba in Key West

To send me an email,  click here: www.coreysandler.com/contact-me/

WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 10, 2018: Belize City, Belize

All photos by Corey Sandler, 2018. All rights reserved.

Altun Ha, first built about 900 B.C.E.
Altun Ha, near Belize City
The ruins of the ceremonial site were only rediscovered in the 1960s
Altun Ha near Belize City. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of cities and ceremonial sites of the Mayans and other ancient peoples in Central America and most are still covered by earth and hidden within forest. Archaeologists say they are probably safer that way, since there is not enough money to protect and preserve them all once they are uncovered.

THURSDAY, JANUARY 11, 2018: Carambola Gardens at Coxen Hole on Roatan Island, Honduras

All photos by Corey Sandler, 2018. All rights reserved.

Emerging from the shadows of the forest
A tiny hummingbird flits into view

To send me an email,  click here: www.coreysandler.com/contact-me/

SATURDAY, JANUARY 13, 2018: Along the Tortuguero near Puerto Limón, Costa Rica

All photos by Corey Sandler, 2018. All rights reserved.

A two-toed sloth, just hanging around
A common basilisk hidden in the green forest. The creature is better known as the Jesus Christ Lizard because of its ability to run across water when necessary
Shadows in the water
A blue heron observed us from the shore

All photos by Corey Sandler, 2018. All rights reserved. All contents copyright Corey Sandler and Word Association; this website is not produced or endorsed by Viking Cruises.

SUNDAY, JANUARY 15, 2018: Colón to Panama City on the Panama Canal Railway

We arrived early this morning at Colón, Panama on the Atlantic Ocean and spent the afternoon in Panama City on the Pacific. Although I have made the transit of the isthmus more times than I can remember, this was the first time I did so by rail.

The Panama Canal Railway was begun in 1850 and completed in 1855 as the first mass transit across the isthmus of Panama, replacing the very difficult trails through the jungle. And then the railway became an essential part of the construction of the Panama Canal itself, when work was begun first by the French in 1881 and then redone and completed by the Americans in 1914

The American effort required the rebuilding and relocating of some of the track because the American design was based on damming the Chagres River and creating a manmade lake as the means of transit between the seas. The track today includes some of its 1850 route and some of the 1914 relocated path which parallels the Panama  Canal.

Today the railway serves mostly as a “dry canal”, carrying freight from the Atlantic to the Pacific in containers mounted on flatbed train cars, but it also runs a few passenger trips for tourists each day.

A modern diesel-electric locomotive powers the Panama Canal Railway today on a 48-mile crossing from the Atlantic to the Pacific
Containers and flatbed railcars, part of the “dry canal”
The railway track parallels the canal, here crossing on a trestle over the Chagres River which is the source of the water for Gatun Lake and the engine for the operation of the locks
At Gamboa, near the midway point of the canal, stands “Titan”, one of the largest floating cranes in the world. It was built in Nazi Germany in 1941 to service U-boats in Kiel. After the war it was seized by the U.S. as war reparations and brought across the Atlantic and through the Panama Canal to Long Beach, California where it served for nearly 50 years at the shipyard there. (Its local nickname was “Herman the German.”) In 1996 it was moved once again, this time to Gamboa where it is used in the maintenance of the locks of the original canal
An old piece of railroad equipment on a siding near the train terminus at Balboa on the Pacific side
Modern Panama City as seen through a thicket of pleasure boats at the Pacific end of the canal

To send me an email,  click here: www.coreysandler.com/contact-me/

MONDAY, JANUARY 15, 2018: Partial Transit of the Panama Canal

We arrived early this morning at the Gatun Locks of the Panama Canal and then rose up three locks to Gatun Lake, which today was at its maximum level of 86.7 feet above sea level.

Once we reached the lake, we made a U-turn and then made our way back down to the Atlantic Ocean. In modern cruising language, this is known as a “partial transit”, which sounds like an oxymoron to me.

I have been through the Panama Canal more times than I can remember, and it is always a thrill. I spent the day up on the navigational bridge offering commentary about our partial transit. Call it an up and down excursion…

The view from the navigational bridge as Viking Sky climbed the stairs at Gatun
One of the electric locomotives, or “mules” of the Panama Canal. The mules (the name is derived from the original means of moving barges along the Erie Canal in upstate New York) do not pull the ship; instead their function is to keep a ship centered in the lock chamber
In the early morning, we passed below the nearly completed bridge at the Atlantic end of the canal

To send me an email,  click here: www.coreysandler.com/contact-me/

All photos by Corey Sandler, 2018. All rights reserved. All contents copyright Corey Sandler and Word Association; this website is not produced or endorsed by Viking Cruises.

TUESDAY, JANUARY 16, 2018: Cartagena, Colombia

Cartagena in Colombia is one of the best preserved old Spanish colonial cities in the new world.

We had a lovely day in Cartagena, although we were not alone: four cruise ships in port, thousands of tourists in the streets, and painful traffic jams.

The best time to visit: after hours, when the vendors and the selfie-sticks have gone home.

The old city of Cartagena
The dome of San Pedro Claver Church in Cartagena. Claver was known as the “slave of the slaves”, begging in the streets to help the poor Africans brought by the tens of thousands to Colombia
A golden display of indigenous art
A work by Colombian artist Fernando Botero, champion of a style known as “Boterismo.” He obviously thinks large.

SATURDAY, JANUARY 20, 2018: Nassau, Bahamas

So, we weren’t supposed to be here in Nassau, Bahamas this morning. But a combination of bad weather and other factors in the Western Caribbean caused us to cancel calls scheduled for Montego Bay, Jamaica and then George Town on Grand Cayman Island.

We sailed two days eastward along the south side of Cuba and then turned north toward Nassau for a final port of call.

Nassau is an interesting place, mostly because of its history as a British colony somewhat similar to Bermuda and the Turks and Caicos. It was a place of plantations (and therefore slaves), and its success drew in pirates and privateers and attacks by the Spanish who contested some of the same waters.

Today, the English are still here with a Royal Governor and the police force look more like British Bobbies than the ones in London. The Spanish and the pirates are gone, and in their place hordes of tourists. Many of them arrive by cruise ship at the huge port which can accommodate five and sometimes more large ships.

One of our favorite places to visit is Christ Church Cathedral, an Anglican/Episcopal church at the corner of King and George streets. The structure is handsome, with the current building dating from 1841 on a base that dates back to the mid-1600s.

But it is the collection of plaques and other remembrances that line the walls of the church that fascinate. Any one of them could generate a novel, or at least a lecture for me.

Small, medium, and large at the dock in Nassau. Viking Sky sits between the luxurious private yacht Turquoise and the huge and loud Disney Dream

A Viking long boat on the Viking Sky’s funnel catches the morning sun

Christ Church Cathedral in Nassau

A bit of old Nassau, hidden in plain sight

Echoes of Colonial Britain at the Governor General’s house on the hill

Safe travels to all.

To send me an email,  click here: www.coreysandler.com/contact-me/