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A Zodiac excursion in Tromsø

by Mike

18 July 2017 ÔÇó Today our little ship is in Tromsø. Toda's program: a scenic tour by Zodiac.

Grey weather in Tromsø? Doesn't matter. We have been so lucky the days before, especially in Honningsvåg. Because I have already been in Tromsø two years ago I decided to book the Zodiac excursion.

A new terminal under construction

After Lofoten and North Cape it feels like approaching the civilized world again. Tromsø is the biggest city in northern Norway, some 350km above the Arctic Circle. Big is relative. There are about 70,000 inhabitants.

What I like is the maritime flavour of the town, with ships on both sides of the main navigation channel. Tromsø is one of the important stops for Hurtigruten, the coastal express ships.

The shape of Tromsø's Arctic Cathedral refers to ice

Time to embark. Carl Ballantine, our guide, a scientist who lives in Tromsø, but is from Newcastle, greets us. First we need to 'jump' in huge floatation suits that seem to weigh 15kg. Not so easy for some of us, especially for those who have five layers of clothing. Better not to risk a cold.

Once installed, off we go. First thing to do? Taking a selfie.

Photo courtesy Carl Ballantine

The afternoon starts with a slow discovery tour of the heart of the city, with the marina, the cruise quay etc. It is nice to see our ship BERLIN from the water. It seems the people on board recognize us. Time to wave goodbye.

Our Zodiac driver stops at something which resembles huge domino blocks which are falling. Or is it books? Carl has the answer: "What you see is the Polaria museum. This very distinctive architecture represents ice floes that have been pressed up on land by the rough seas of the Arctic."

Polaria has an Arctic aquarium, knowledge-based exhibits, and a panoramic cinema, where you can watch the Ivo Caprino film "Svalbard - Arctic Wilderness"and the Ole C. Salomonsen production "Northern Lights in Arctic Norway".

Next to Polaria is the museum dedicated to the seal hunting vessel POLSTJERNA (The Polar Star). This ship was built in 1949 and is believed to be the best preserved vessel that has taken part in seal hunting. This monument is a tribute to the important tradition of Arctic hunting in the history of Tromsø.

On our way our skipper from the Friluftsenter rides the RIB boat on the waves left by a high-speed ferry. Fun!

Ry IslandThis floating cabana can be rented for a peaceful weekend on the waterOr you can rent this comfy floating chair, palmtree inclusive

The last part of the tour is a visit to the place where Tirpitz, the famous German battleship was sunk by RAF bombers. The complete history of the several attempts to sink her can be found here

After the war, the wreck has been scrapped, which means nothing can be seen. However, our guide Carl is an excellent storyteller. We listen to this amazing piece of WW2 history.

And now, back to the ship. At high-speed, of course.

It was here that Tirpitz sank

Mike is onboard classic cruise vessel BERLIN, chartered by Belgian cruise tour operator All-Ways. With some workshops he tries to inspire people to grab their cameras and smartphones, and learn them to achieve better results and come home with superb souvenir photos.