It seemed like a mission impossible. Trollfjord is a passage so narrow you can’t even see it between the mountains that surround it until you’re right alongside it. How could our long, wide ship make the tight squeeze into the slender dead-end fjord– let alone make it out again?
I wasn’t the only one wondering as passengers of the Seabourn Sojourn gathered on the upper decks for an impromptu evening party to celebrate a perfect day of sailing well above the Arctic Circle. We’ve reached 71 degrees: the same latitude as frigid Banks Island in Canada and the North Slope of Alaska. But because this area is warmed by the Gulf Stream and there have been clear skies all day, this evening it felt warm and there wasn’t any wind chill. So passengers lined the rails on deck while Champagne and other libations poured freely, as they always do on Seabourn Cruise Line ships.
Nature was co-operating beautifully, with pristine clear skies and the seas were calm. That’s essential for threading the Trollfjord as any wind or rough seas could make it too tricky to make it into the 300-foot wide passage with its sheer rock walls that tower over our 11-deck ship.
Trollfjord gets its name from legends that isolated mountains and caves of northern Norway are the home of supernatural beings that played prominently in Norse mythology. While they tend to shy away from contact with humans, they can be dangerous if crossed, so the myths say. But they look vaguely human and their grotesque faces are cute in their way. They also live in close-knit families so Norwegians have a fondness for them, in stories and there are souvenir troll dolls available in almost any store. So we keep an eye out for any movement on shore as sheer cliffs suddenly loom around us.
It seems remarkable that we can almost reach out and touch the rock of these towering mountains on both sides of the ship. Fortunately, the walls run vertically a long way under the surface and the water is so deep there’s no worry about running aground. A more immediate concern is how are we going to get back out? As we reach the end of the fjord, there’s a dock that’s barely big enough for a row boat to dock. It doesn’t seem possible for us to turn around.
The wonders of modern shipbuilding and Seabourn Sojourn’s expert crew have it all in hand, though. They start up thrusters on the front and rear of the ship that let us make a leisurely 180-spin as the ship floats silently at the fjord’s end. We start heading back out and the deep blue water has a sheen that is almost like a rainbow in front of us. The golden light of the sun that’s still high in the sky at 7 p.m. reflects a spectrum of colors off the ripples of the surface. We’re transfixed by the scene few people will ever get a chance to see. On a night like this I envy the trolls who can call this home. We didn’t actually see any, but I can imagine they had their own party after we pulled out of the fjord and headed even further north to bask in the midnight sun.