How to celebrate National Day

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costume.jpgSo, Nasjonaldagen, what’s that all about? A celebration of Norway’s National Day and also known as Constitution Day, it is held on May 17 each year to commemorate the country’s independence.
And the Norwegians make a big thing of it, taking a day off work, dressing in national costume, parading through the streets behind the local brass band, waving flags, shouting loud “hoorahs” at every opportunity, and tucking into substantial feasts.
On board Hurtigruten’s MV Midnatsol, the festivities began with a speech from Captain Kjell Jonassen before passengers walked in sedate procession around the upper deck behind banners which they had spent the previous few days preparing. There was no band on board the ship, but there was still marching music, provided by a member of crew with the Scandinavian equivalent of a ghetto blaster (below).
beatbox.jpgflags.jpgThe arrival of a Hurtigruten ship is a twice-daily event at the regular ports of call, some of which are tiny – the maritime equivalent of railway halts – and depend on the coastal express service for their livelihood. On Nasjonaldagen there was an extra-special welcome, with crowds assembling at quaysides and even recitations of patriotic poetry relayed over loudspeakers.
Best of all, as we reached Sortland, where the ship was stopping for an hour, we went ashore for a welcome speech from the local mayor and then marched through the streets ourselves, led by the band and cheered on by local residents whose children had all been treated to the biggest ice creams imaginable.
band.jpgsortland.jpgAs the picture below demonstrates, it was not all about celebration. In between the speeches and the parades there was work to be done, unloading a set of car tyres and a leather sofa – proof if it were needed of how important a lifeline the Hurtigruten ships are to these remote communities.
cargo.jpgBack on the ship there was time for lunch selected from a huge buffet of the freshest seafood – poached salmon, langoustines and some deliciously bright red shellfish I couldn’t identify went down well.
The next port of call was Stokmarknes, where another lively band welcomed passengers ashore as we walked a couple of hundred yards to the Hurtigruten Museum.
Then it was on to the Sea Eagle Safari, of which more later . . .

By | 2017-06-15T15:59:49+00:00 22 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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