Cruising where eagles dare

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IMG_9045a.jpgAfter the National Day celebrations on Hurtigruten’s Midnatsol last week came the real highlight of my two days aboard – the Sea Eagle Safari.
Wrapped up against a chill wind, our group boarded a smaller boat and, noticing a basket of bread and a box of fish I wondered for a moment whether I had not accidentally stumbled on a re-enactment of the Biblical feeding of the five thousand.
But of course the bread was to attract hundreds of gulls, who were confident enough to eat from the crew’s hands. They came in such multitudes that at times it was impossible to get a clear shot to photograph the surrounding snow-clad mountains.
Their presence also alerted the rarer sea eagles that the Norwegian equivalent of meals on wheels was on its way.
IMG_8770.jpgAfter a diversion into Trollfjord, where we watched Midnatsol entering the narrow passage and then turning round in the limited space available, we headed back into more open water where we did not have long to wait for the arrival of the first of the magnificent white-tailed sea eagles.
They are gradually being re-introduced into Scotland and Ireland, but they are rather more numerous here in northern Norway. Unmistakable in flight, with a wingspan of more than six feet, they are a stirring sight as they swooped over and around our boat before pouncing to pluck herring from the water in the grip of their powerful talons.
gull.jpgWe were treated to appearances from several pairs, and at one point a boisterous juvenile whose black beak had not yet turned the adult yellow colour. Some of them seemed to respond to whistles from a crew member whose duty was to spot them in the distance. Others had to chase off cheeky gulls who – not content with their bread – tried to hi-jack the fish.
It was a memorable three hours before we turned and headed towards the fishing port of Svolvaer to be reunited with Midnatsol.
I was exhausted – so many experiences had been crammed into one day that I would sleep soundly in my cabin that night.


The Sea Eagle Safari is one of 12 excursions offered during Hurtigruten’s southbound passage from Kirkenes to Bergen (there are a further 30 excursions listed for the northbound journey). Cost per head is £75, but next year’s schedule lists it at £81.

There are more pictures from the day in my Sea Eagles album on Flickr.

By | 2017-06-15T15:59:49+00:00 25 May 2012|Cruise destinations|0 Comments

About the Author:

John Honeywell is a travel writer specialising in cruise ships and cruise travel. Winner of CLIA UK's Contribution to Cruise award 2017.

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