In this section I have included a series of galleries of photos taken during the course of Queen Victoria's "Geysers & Glaciers" cruise that sailed from Southampton on 22 June 2014. I have included, as far as possible, one gallery for each day of the cruise, including sea days.
To navigate this section you can either click on the place marker on the Google Map or on the textual link in the itinerary below the map - either of these options will take you to the appropriate gallery. For sea days, the place marker is in the approximate location of the ship's midday position . The links will be activated as each gallery is completed.
Note that there is no marker or link for the port call at Torshavn in the Faroe Islands as this port had to be missed due to adverse weather conditions.
After Olesund a relatively short overnight passage took us to the port of Ålesund in Møre og Romsdal county which is part of the historic district of Sunnmøre. Once again, the weather was beautiful with a full day of bright warm sunshine and more or less cloudless skies. More surprisingly, perhaps, ships were in rather short supply compared with Olesund. This was largely down to the fact that our arrival time was such that I missed most of the ships that may have been sighted on passage, assuming that there were any. One very welcome exception to that was the Pullmantur cruise ship, Empress, heading for Geiranger. Empress was the first sighting of the day but, surprisingly, she turned out to not be a new ship for me as I had previously seen her as Empress of the Seas in St Petersburg and Gdynia in 2008. So, in the end, the total number of ships for the day was seven of which six were new sightings. Other than Empress, the rest were mostly tugs and local ferries so, the “Ship of the Day” award definitely goes to Empress.
So, after two days at sea we came to the first port call at Olden in Norway. For me the day started early as I wanted to make the most of the trip up the Fjord. The route was long and the navigation looked, to a layman’s eyes, to be pretty complex with numerous twists and turns and side fjords and so on. From the time of sighting the first ship close to the seaward end of the fjord to sighting Azamara Journey on the berth at Olden the elapsed time was around four hours. The weather started a little grey with an occasional patch of drizzle but, as time wore on things cleared nicely and the rest of the day was spent in warm bright sunshine. The scenery along the way was extremely spectacular and, for once, I took more landscape photos than ship photos. But ships weren’t entirely absent – two coasters were making their way out to sea down the fjord and there were a couple of local ferries on offer too. On arrival at Olden I found a quite unexpected resident in the shape of Azamara Journey occupying the only berth – not a new sighting, but welcome nonetheless. It had been arranged in advance that, on Queen Victoria’s arrival, Azamara Journey would move off the berth and anchor while QV took over the berth to disembark those going ashore. This move presented me with the opportunity to get some useful shots of Journey with some great local scenery in the background. I arrived back from my pre-planned shore excursion to find that QV had moved off the berth again and was tendering passengers on board. Azamara Journey was still anchored and tendering herself. However she sailed shortly after I was back on board QV and I got a couple of shots of her departure. So the total score for the day came to five ships of which four were new sightings – not exactly a vintage port call, but there was quality there.
The second sea day of the cruise dawned with a clear sky and a moderate swell, and I was up bright and early in time to catch the first ship of the day which turned out to be the shuttle tanker, Sallie Knutsen, heading for the Aasgard FPSO to load crude. The remainder of the day was slow with long gaps of anything up to four hours between ships. But there was some variety in the types on offer and, of the seven ships sighted, six were new sightings. There were no highlights that particularly stand out in my mind but it was good to see Emswave putting in a pretty dramatic looking performance against a moderate head sea.
During the course of the first sea day of the cruise, we ran on a northeasterly heading through the North Sea from just beyond the Straits of Dover up to a point almost level with Mablethorpe in Lincolnshire. Just before 0800hrs, we stood in towards the coast close to Harwich and stopped to await the Harwich Lifeboat. When the lifeboat arrived a lady passenger with medical problems was transferred from QV and the lifeboat departed for Harwich. After that, we resumed our north easterly course and finished the day without any further diversions. The weather throughout the day was beautiful with light breezes, bright sun and a decent summer temperature. By the time bad light finally stopped play, I had amassed a total of 25 ships of which 23 were new sightings. The “ships” fell neatly into three groups, namely: heavy metal, mostly tankers with a couple of general cargo vessels; fishing boats, mostly French and Dutch; and offshore platforms of one sort or another. In addition I was extremely pleased to get a couple of shots of the Sunk Centre light vessel – the first of the type that I have seen actually at sea. I have broken with “cruise tradition” here and have not presented the images in strict chronological order. Instead I have grouped them roughly according to the categories mentioned above. The Google map, however, shows the “time line”.
As usual on sailing day, I was up at sparrow’s fart and down at the end of Town Quay to watch Queen Victoria arriving. She had been on a three night round-trip cruise from Soton taking in Zeebrugge and Cherbourg and, had I been observant enough when I first booked our cruise, I would have been on it too. But hey ho, in this life you can’t have everything so that’s a lesson learned and I will try to be more aware in future of the cruises before and after the one that I’m booking. Following on from the previous day, the weather was again absolutely faultless – a clear blue sky, pleasantly warm and not a breath of wind. I started off the day’s photography with a couple of the usual suspects and then, bang on cue, Queen Victoria appeared round the end of the QE II terminal, swung to port, and then backed up into the Ocean Dock. Once she was safely tucked away, I headed back to the Holiday Inn for breakfast. After that everything went pretty smoothly, the taxi turned up on time (unlike last year) and the boarding delay was minimal. Once on board unpacking was accomplished in record time and I was then free to put in some serious balcony time. The highlight of this particular period was seeing the restored yacht, Shemara, coming alongside. She began life as the personal yacht of Sir Bernard Docker the industrialist, and was built in 1938 by the local firm of Thornycroft. We sailed on time and I opted to have a cabin service dinner so that I could stay out on the balcony to catch the tankers at Fawley and the ships in the Solent anchorage. This proved quite fruitful and the final score for the day was a total of 41 ships of which 21 were new sightings.
Our 2014 cruise began in what is now the traditional fashion with us spending the pre-departure day in Soton. Having checked in to the Holiday Inn (no Boat Show hassle this year!) and ensure that She Who Must Be Obeyed was settle-in and happy, I headed for Town Quay for a short pre-cruise-cruise on the Hythe Ferry. The weather was excellent - bright, sunny, and warm – and I spent some time on Town Quay photographing everything that was in range and not too obstructed by dockside clutter. I was extremely pleased to note that, after at least seven years, the chain link fencing had been removed from the end of Town Quay and that the end of the pier is now fully accessible and protected with the standard guard rail that is used on the rest of the structure. Having exhausted the possibilities from this location I then boarded the Hythe Ferry for the short trip to Hythe Pier. While waiting for the return ferry I took a short walk into Hythe itself and then returned to catch the next ferry back to Soton. As usual car carriers and tugs were the main types on offer, but I was also very pleased to get my first shot of Shieldhall at sea. The star attraction of the day, in terms of new sightings, was undoubtedly the Celebrity cruise ship Celebrity Eclipse photographed on the berth at the City Terminal and later passing Town Quay as she sailed at the start of a Baltic Cruise. The score for the day was 12 new sightings from a total of 27 ships – a reasonably successful day.