Arctic Adventure on the Radisson Seven Seas Navigator

Written by John & Kay Baldwin.

July 30 – August 10, 2005

The Baldwins (Kay and John) left Capital City Airport for New York City on July 27 and arrived at Laguardia Airport at 1:00 P.M. Stepping out into the 100 degree heat (an all time record for that day) we made for our air-conditioned Limo in all haste. It whisked us to the Algonquin Hotel (our NYC favorite) and we were soon in a lovely, newly remodeled room on the eighth floor. Lunch at the Flame Grill (also newly remodeled) next door; a nap back at the room and then cocktails in the lobby and dinner in the famous Round Table Room.

Friday the 28 th found us heading to JFK for our flight to Reykjavik, Iceland. We left about 9:00 P.M. and three hours later it began to get light so we knew we were back in the “land of the midnight sun.” The Radisson SAS Saga Hotel bus was waiting for us at the Iceland Airport and we got a guided tour of the countryside as we drove into Reykjavik including a glimpse of the steaming Blue Lagoon. The entire city uses geothermal heat – and it’s free! Our room was ready for us at the hotel thanks to Joy and the Classic Travel staff. Others had to wait until 2:00 P.M. Iceland time (which would be 10 A.M. EST).

Our room was very nice – Danish Modern – duh! After a rest we toured the area around the hotel including the Iceland National Museum. It’s a wonderful place with a beautiful presentation of the History of Iceland. In the evening the hotel got a bit crowded as another tour group had arrived, but we still had a nice dinner in the dining room. The breakfast buffet was also crowded, so we shared a large table with pleasant folks who were to become our shipmates.
They took us to the ship at 2:00 P.M. and as we were a bit early gave us a tour of Reykjavik including the house where President Reagan met Premier Gorbachov . Boarding was a simple process and we found our cabin with no trouble only it wasn’t a cabin it was a Suite! And what a beautiful “Suite” Joy had arranged for us. Perfectly located near the stairs to the main dining room as well as the various lounges and the casino. It had a large picture window; walk-in closet and a super separate bath and shower. We had breakfast there almost every morning. (In the “Suite” not the shower.) A bottle of Champagne from Classic Travel awaited us as well as one from the ship plus the two liters of complimentary spirits they provide. (Sure cuts down on the bar bill.)

Our first port of call was no port at all, but a cruise-by of the volcanic Island of Surtsey just south of Iceland . Here a rupture in the crust of the ocean floor is pushing up lava that breaks the surface as an island. Grotesquely beautiful. Then amid towering icebergs we headed west for Angmagssalik, a village on the west side of Greenland . Because of the long dark winters Greenlanders paint their houses with bright colors. Homes of yellow, orange, red and bright green dot the landscape around the harbor. An Inuit served as our guide as we toured the town and museum.

Our next stop was another non-stop. This time a truly spectacular cruise through Prins Christian Sound a passageway on the southern tip of Greenland that lets shipping avoid going all the way south to round Cape Farewell. With granite cliffs soaring to 6,000 feet, sometimes as narrow as 200 yards, filled with icebergs and bordered by the toes of the great Greenland Ice Cap it was a trip like we’d never seen before. To top it off the sun shown brightly for the entire six hour passage.

Our next port was Qaqortoq a trading center on the western side of the island. It boasts the only fountain in Greenland . Lastly for Greenland we stopped at near-by Narsarsuaq the junction for air traffic in and out of this southern section. The airfield was built in 1941 by the U.S. Army Air Corp as a stepping stone for aircraft on their way to Great Britain . Across the harbor is the small settlement of Qaqssiarsuk, the home of Eric the Red who established his farm there in 983 AD. Foundations remain of his house, longhouse and the first Christian Church to be built in North America . The tale goes that while Eric remained a pagan his wife Pjoohildur became a Christian and demanded he build her a church. He refused so she banned him from her bed until the church should be built. Seems the church was up by the week’s end.
We’d come back from these shore trips to our lovely accommodations on the ship. Lunch and dinner was offered in the dining room with option of going for the buffet lunch in Galileo’s or, as it got warmer, out on the pool deck. Entertainment I’m afraid to say was only so-so, but we did enjoy the piano playing of Frank Johnson in the Navigator Lounge. He knew all the oldies – and I mean tunes from the 30’s and 40’s.

The ship anchored out at L’anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland the landing place of Lief Erikson in 1000 AD and then continued on to Halifax , Boston and New York. Though Northwest had canceled the Detroit to Lansing leg of our homeward journey, they put us on an early flight out of Laguardia and we made it to Capital City two hours earlier than planned. And so did our luggage! What a wonderful trip!!!

P.S. Much to our surprise, after we were home, when we rented the DVD “After the Sunset” to find that much of the action had been filmed aboard the Seven Seas Navigator. It was fun to see Pierce Brosnan and Woody Harrelson dashing through those same passage- ways where we had been walking just a short time ago.

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