North Cape and the Arctic Circle

Our ship reached its furthest north point, North Cape, Norway two days after Trondheim.  We crossed into the Arctic Circle the next morning and are now experiencing continual daylight.  The sun doesn’t set in this area of the world from May 12 until July 31.  I got up several times during the first night just to prove to myself that the sun was really still up.  The blackout curtains in our stateroom work really well, however, so it isn’t interfering with my sleep.

I didn’t think crossing the Arctic Circle was a big deal, but we got certificates signed by the Captain.  They are now tucked into our keepsake folder.  Our cruise director joked that we crossed over the red line of the Arctic Circle.  Didn’t we see it?  Experiencing daylight for three straight days is interesting.  But I will still be trying to get my seven hours of sleep a night.

We have several port stops inside the Arctic Circle.  The first was our stop in North Cape, Norway.  North Cape is the northernmost point in Europe.  It is also the northernmost point that is accessible by car.  We took a shuttle bus to North Cape but there were lots of people driving cars, RVs, and even riding bikes up to the North Cape.  The bicyclists were really impressive because there is still a lot of snow, the road is narrow, and the road is up!

We had a beautiful day at North Cape.  The weather is usually cold, cloudy, and often foggy.  Our day was 52 degrees with sun.  Perfect for enjoying the cape.  North Cape is really the only thing to see in this area of the world, so we were there with 1,000 other people from our cruise ship.  Everyone wants to take the same pictures, so it can be a little frustrating.  I usually just skip those typical pictures because I don’t want to stand in line to take pictures.

North Cape is a wild and beautiful place.  We docked at Honningsvåg, Norway, a town of only 2,500 people.  It is mostly a fishing village although it does a brisk tourist business as the only town close to North Cape.  It doesn’t take long to drive out of town.  And, once we did, we were in the midst of high tundra and hills covered with snow.  Ice and snow were still piled high on the many lakes that dot the area.  We passed a couple of small Sami settlements with their reindeer herds.  Otherwise, the area was empty of people – except for the tourists.

A troll in Honningsvåg

When we reached the North Cape Visitors Center there were plenty of tourists.  The Visitors Center is very large, especially considering how remote it is.  There are several restaurants and a large gift shop.  The theater for the movie easily seats 400 people.  We walked through a museum of sorts which told about some of the people who had visited the area.  There are monuments and statues scattered all over the grounds.

The most popular place to visit is the point of land.  There is a globe sculpture which is one of the places people were standing in line to get their picture taken.  Tom and I avoided the place where everyone was standing.  We were on a cape on a long cliff, and we figured the view was about the same away from the crowds.  Instead, we walked around the perimeter of North Cape and enjoyed the view from many different angles.

We had less than two hours at North Cape, but that was plenty of time to enjoy the view and explore the Visitors Center.  It was beautiful and desolate and remote – except, of course, for all the tourists.  When we got back to Honningsvåg, we walked all through town, which took about 20 minutes, out and back.  We checked out the souvenir shops and did a little window shopping.  Then back on the boat to enjoy another night of the midnight sun.

Tourists and tour buses at North Cape