Voyage of the Vikings - August/September 2009

MS Maasdam - Holland America Lines


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Rotterdam, The Netherlands

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

At Sea

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Dunmore East, Waterford, Ireland

Friday, August 14, 2009

Liverpool, England, Uk

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Greenock (glasgow), Scotland

Sunday, August 16, 2009

At Sea

Monday, August 17, 2009

Torshavn, Faroe Islands

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Djupivogur, Iceland

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Reykjavik, Iceland

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Reykjavik, Iceland

Friday, August 21, 2009

At Sea

Saturday, August 22, 2009

At Sea cruising Prins Christian Sund, Greenland

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Qaqortoq, Greenland

Monday, August 24, 2009

At Sea

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

St Anthony, Newfoundland

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

St.Johns, Newfoundland

Thursday, August 27, 2009


Friday, August 28, 2009

At Sea

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Boston, Massachusetts

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Portland, Maine

Monday, August 31, 2009

St.John, New Brunswick, Canada

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada

Thursday, September 3, 2009

At Sea

Friday, September 4, 2009

Bar Harbor, Maine

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Boston, Massachusetts

Rotterdam, The Netherlands

We flew into Amsterdam and had arranged for a taxi to take us to Rotterdam. The driver delivered us to our hotel, Hotel New York, which used to be the headquarters building of the Holland America Line. The hotel was neat, practical but not luxurious.  But it was about 100 meters from the cruise terminal!

Rotterdam and Erasmus Bridge from Ship


Dunmore East and Waterford Ireland

We anchored at Dunmore East, the port for Waterford. We took a shuttle bus into Waterford and walked around the city for a few hours. We toured Reginald's Tower which is believed to date back to Norse times. It is now a museum that houses many early Norse and Celtic artifacts. We actually found the village of Dunmore East to be a better place to wander around.

Dunmore East

Dunmore East

Dunmore East

Liverpool and Chester England

We arrived in Liverpool and since it is a big city, we decided to take the train to Chester, an ancient city stablished in Roman times. We caught the MerseyRail train at James Street Station to Chester. Chester has a complimentary shuttle bus that takes you to the city center. We went and it was a pretty and clean town. We took a bus tour of the sights and a short river cruise on the Lady Diana that sails up the River Dee which separates England from Wales. This town was a fortified settlement that the Romans used to subdue the Welsh.

Chester scenes

Along the River Dee

Site of the Old Norman Fortress on the River Dee

Greenock and Glasgow Scotland

We berthed in Greenock then took a ScotRail train to Glasgow Central Station. We walked over to Glasgow Green on the River Clyde to view the World Pipe andDrum Competition. Passing down Jamaica Street we saw many of Glasgow's low-life, nose studs, tattoos, and other unsightly things. Once we got down to Clyde Sreet along the river, normal people were seen. There were hundreds of bag-pipers participating, all garbed in their traditional plaid kilts, men and women alike! This is our second trip to Scotland and the folks here are as friendly and helpful as can be.

Marilyn and two Highlander friends

Tˇrshavn, Faroe Islands

We berthed at the cruise ship pier. The Faroes are comprised of 18 islands with a population of 49,000 people and 73,000 sheep.The hills are green but treeless. There are many small villages spread around the islands. There are some beef cattle raised to supply local hotels and restaurants. The people are all obviously Scandanavian and as a result there is no crime here! It is a very pretty place but very expensive. I had a local beer and it cost K50 (over $10).

The weather was fine, with party cloudy skies and a temperature around 55F. We had arranged to hire a taxi to take us to Kirkbejour, one of the original settlements in the Faroes. There is an old church there St. Olav's that was originally built in the 1100s as well as an uncompleted Magnus Cathedral that was started in the 1300s. The old church has been restored and is still in use today. The cathedral is in ruins. There is an old farmhouse that is 1000 years old in the village which has been restored to show what life was like in those days. The 17th generation of the original family still lives in the village. Most houses on the islands are built from driftwood that comes here from Canada and Russia. Our driver told us that the house washed up on shore and was built where it was found. Apparently when the Norse decided to leave Norway, they would bundle up the houses, mark the pieces for reassembly, and drop them into the sea. They would follow in ships and wherever the houses drifted into, they would reconstruct them and settle there.

After we returned to Tˇrshavn, the driver took us to the F÷roya Bjˇr store where I purchased a six-pack of the local brews. The driver was telling us about the tax situation there where the pay an income tax of 50% and a VAT of around 20%. He said that way everyone is equal. We commented that those who work harder should be able to keep more of their earnings than the lazy ones. When I tipped him, I reminded him to be sure to give the government their 70%. He said he'd keep it himself and would not tell them of his good fortune as long as we didn't.

The Faroes were originally settled by Norwegians. It is currently Danish but is a self-governing entity. The British occupied the islands in World War II as Denmark was occupied by the Germans and the Brits had to protect their lifeline to Iceland fish. The islands were bombed repeatedly by the Germans. Several Faroese ships were also bombed while transporting Iceland products to Britain.


Tˇrshavn Lighthouse at Skansin- Sod roofed buildings

Rural scene - Kirkbejour ancient farmhouse and Church of St. Olav, oldest Faroese church still in use

Cave just above the peak of this house - King Sverre I of Norway was born here. A servant girl of the king in Norway became pregnant and was exiled to Kirkbejour. She lived in this cave and gave birth to Sverre. He later formed an army and returned to Norway where he became king

Interior and exterior of Magnus Cathedral ruins

Interior of ancient farmhouse

Oyster-eater (Faroese national bird) - Sheep

Tˇrshavn beer store with six-pack - Tˇrshavn Cathedral


This is a small village on the central east coast of Iceland. It has around 1,000 inhabitants. The village has a few stores, a bank, a post office, and a few souvenir shops. The mainstay of the economy is fishing. Some cruise ships are calling here now due to its proximity to the glacial ice fields and a national park. We wandered around the town and finally settled down for a Swiss Mocca for Marilyn and a Viking beer for Phil (on a very cold day!)

Reykjavik Iceland

We arrived in Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland, at 1400. Iceland is totally volcanic in origin with massive lava fields throughout the island. There are several volcanos in the south central part of the island and eruptions occur every year or so. The center part is home to two major glaciers, one being the second largest in Europe and fourth largest in the world. Reykjavik is in the path of one of the tributaries of the Gulf Stream so the temperature is pretty mild for this latitude. Iceland has a population of around 300,000 with about half residing in the Reykjavik area. Iceland is roughly bisected by the Mid Atlantic Range, an undersea mountain range that transverses the earth from pole to pole. This is here the North American Plate meets the Eurasian Plate. The two plates are moving apart about 2 cm. per year.

Iceland is very geothermically active. It also has many lakes and rivers from the melting snows in the highlands. Iceland uses this natural energy to heat their homes and to generate electricity. Only 3% of their energy comes from petroleum. Too bad we couldn't use all the hot air that reeks from Washington - Obama, Emanuel, Pelosi, Reid, Frank, et al. - to generate something useful like electricity!

We had reserved the Golden Circle tour on the arrival night starting at 1900. This was ytje last day for the night tour this season as it was getting dark earlier now. On the way we passed the president's office. Our guide said he used to travel abroad to save the world but he now travels abroad to save his rear end (Iceland is going through the same economic mess we are now seeing  the USA while our president travels the world berating our country and the economy is tanking). 

We traveled by bus to the central part of South Iceland to visit the juncture of the North American Plate and the Eurasian Plate. One the way we saw a lot of Icelandic landscape, mostly grassy with small shrubs and mountains in the background. On the way we saw a herd of Icelandic horses (the guide said they are not called ponies!). No other horse breeds are permitted in Iceland to preserve the bloodline of these animals. Farming is an important economic engine in this part of Iceland and we saw many farms along the way. 

The tectronic rift is very obvious when you visit Ůingvellir National Park (pronounced Thingwellir). This locale is the site of the first parliament in Iceland called the Al■ing which first met in 930. Christianity was established as the state religion here in 1000. Most of the Icelandic important historic events occurred here. It is the world's best site to view the rift between two tectonic plates. The separation is very pronounced here as you can see from the landscape.

After visiting Ůingvellir, we headed to a very beautiful waterfall at Gullfoss. The falls are situated in the upper part of River Hvita. The water cascades down two steps, one 24 ft. high, and the other 48 ft., into the mile long canyon below. This canyon was created at the end of the Ice Age by catastrophic flood waves and is lengthened by 10 in. a year by the constant erosion.

On the way to the next stop we passed through a small town that had a sports college and a "perfect housewives school!" We were headed to Geysir and Strokkur, a hot springs and geyser area but it was getting quite dark by his time (local time was  2230)  so the photos are rather dark. There were numerous hot spring vents and one geyser that erupted every five minutes or so.

On the return, the guide saw weak Northern Lights so we pulled off the road to view them. He said it was quite unusual to see them this early in the year. These were green and danced in the skies as long bands. The band would fade then another would start at another point in the sky.

The next day we just wandered around Reykjavik. It is a very clean city but very expensive! The weather was quite cold and most folks were bundled up like winter.


Icelandic horses grazing

The tectonic rift at Ůingvellir


Countryside from Ůingvellir

The waterfall at Gullfoss


Hotspring area and geyser erupting at Geysir

H÷f­i House in Reykjavik where President Reagan and Chairman Gorbachev met in October 1986 laying the groundwork for ending the Cold War by Reagan's refusal to bend on SDI

Four hot water tanks that feed Reykjavik heating

Reykjavik street scene

Marilyn getting a hot waffle from the V÷ffenvaginn

Prins Christian Sund, Greenland

Today we transited through Prins Christian Sund at the southern tip of Greenland. It was quite a long passage lasting about 5 hours. We saw many fjords, mountains and glaciers and one small Inuit village, Anordliuitsoq. There was no plant life other than moss which is why I guess it is called Greenland. The weather was super, sunny, a little breezy and quite cold with temperatures in the high 30s to 40s.

Qaqortoq (Julianhňb), Greenland

We arrived early in the morning at this small village. It was known as Julianhňb in Danish before the towns were renamed with Greenlandic names. The town is located on the southwest coast of Greenland and is home to 3,500 of Greenland's 57,000 people. Most of the locals we saw were Inuit (aka Eskimos), the native people here. The town has brightly painted houses reminiscent of Norwegian towns. Greenland is semi-autonomous as part of Denmark.

Inuit locals

A Greenlandic Danish bakery

MS Maasdam at anchor

St. Anthony, Newfoundland, Canada

We anchored in the bay at St. Anthony, a small town on the northeastern coast of Newfoundland. The town was quite small and spread out so we elected to visit L'Anse aux Meadows on the very northeast tip of the island. This site is the location of the only proven Norse settlement in North America. The Greenlander's Sagas detail a visit by Leif Ericcson to Vinland, The geographic description led researchers to this location where in 1960 they uncovered the remains of a temporart Norse settlement probably used around 1000 AD for a period of around 18 months. It is believed it was a sort of "base camp" for explorations further south as a butternut was found there which does not grow north of New Brunswick. The settlement had 8 buildings including a kiln and forge to make iron from bog ore for making nails and other iron implements. They have uncovered a number of Norse artifacts from the site including many used nails that were removed from a ship that was being refurbished. The buildings were built of peat blocks with a sod roof over bark to deflect rainwater. Only mounds remain of the walls of these buildings. The Canadian government has built replicas of the buildings adjacent to the historical site. There is also a place nearby that is called Nordest which is a replica of a Viking port. They have reenactors dressed as old Norse demonstrating crafts and the life of the Norse settlers. There is also a full size replica of a Norse cargo ship.

Walkway down to historic site

House and workshop (left) and dwelling and ship repair and ion forgig (right)

Reproductions of Norse buildings


St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada

We tied up in St. John's. We were greeted by a local fiddler group of youngsters and some dogs from up ere, The city is the capital of Newdfoundland-Labrador province and its population is about 150,000 people. The most notable site here is Signal Hill at the north end of the harbor entrance. Marconi established the first transatlantic radio contact from here. Across from there is Cape Spear with a lighthouse and old fortifications of Fort Amherst. This is the most eastern point in North America. Other than that, there wasn't much to see in St. John's as it is just another city though the people there really welcomed the ship's arrival.

Signal Hill (left) - Cape Spear lighthouse (right)