The Might of the Sea

Viking Star proved herself today, in her first-ever battle with the North Atlantic. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

“Adventure is just bad planning”

The crimson hues of the rising sun peeked through the clouds ever so briefly this morning as Viking Cruises’ Viking Star approached the Faroe Islands and our second port of call, the capital known as Torshavn.
As quickly as it appeared, the light was snuffed out like a candle by the swirling clouds that appeared with deep hues of blue and grey on the horizon. A light, mist-like rain fell as we entered the harbour, greeted by a fireboat watercannon welcome in honour of Viking Star’s maiden call here this morning.

Calm before the storm: the sun rises over the North Sea as we approach the Faroe Islands. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Calm before the storm: the sun rises over the North Sea as we approach the Faroe Islands. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

As quickly as it appeared, this brief band of sunlight was snuffed out. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

As quickly as it appeared, this brief band of sunlight was snuffed out. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Torshavn – pronounced tor-shaun – was settled by Viking explorers in the 9th century, continuing the through-line of this particular cruise of calling on ports previously visited by these early explorers. Now under Danish rule, Torshavn has long been used as a sort of safe haven for early sailors and explorers. That it is overcast today should come as no surprise: Torshavn is one of the cloudiest places on earth, with an average of just 2.4 hours of sunlight per day.

Approaching the headlands of the Faroe Islands. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Approaching the headlands of the Faroe Islands. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

A local ferry approaches Torshavn...Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

A local ferry approaches Torshavn…Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

...as Viking Star follows close behind.

…as Viking Star follows close behind.

Interestingly, Torshavn was once a historic trading port with Bergen, Norway, which we sailed from on Monday evening. In 1271, a Royal Trade monopoly saw two ships sailing regularly between Bergen and Torshavn, their holds crammed with goods. Not only was this good for the local economy, but Torshavn – an otherwise remote, entirely cut-off community – received far more interaction with the outside world than other island communities of the time.
As we entered the harbour and approached the town, Viking Star slowed noticeably. We came to a stop just outside the breakwater and held our position for about a half hour.

A fireboat welcome heralds our arrival into Torshavn. But it was not to be. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

A fireboat welcome heralds our arrival into Torshavn. But it was not to be. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

The same ferry we'd seen on our way in, photographed exiting Torshavn at full speed just 30 minutes later. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

The same ferry we’d seen on our way in, photographed exiting Torshavn at full speed just 30 minutes later. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Viking Star stopped in the harbour for about 30 minutes, before worsening weather made it clear we'd have to return to the rugged North Atlantic. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Viking Star stopped in the harbour for about 30 minutes, before worsening weather made it clear we’d have to return to the rugged North Atlantic. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

While we did this, the winds picked up noticeably. The skies around us darkened, and the cloud ceiling lowered perceptibly, to the point where it didn’t seem unreasonable for Viking Star’s funnel to be partially obscured.
Finishing breakfast, I began to have doubts about our ability to call on Torshavn. It turns out I was right: at 9:00am, Captain Lokling came over the public address system to inform us that due to the deteriorating weather conditions, he had been forced to cancel our call on Torshavn. Viking Star’s engines rumbled to life, and her propellers bit into the water, propelling us away from the harbour at 16 knots.

With Torshavn out of reach, Viking Star set out into the North Atlantic in order to make our call on Reykjavik, Iceland. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

With Torshavn out of reach, Viking Star set out into the North Atlantic in order to make our call on Reykjavik, Iceland. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Captain Lokling also advised us that conditions would be deteriorating throughout the day, and it didn’t take long for us to see exactly what he meant. By 9:40 am, we were back in the North Sea, plowing through heavy swells and pitching up and down. Seas were expected to reach six metres by early afternoon, with the UK Meteorological office calling for winds approaching Gale Force 8. An entire line of storms now stands between us and Reykjavik, Iceland, where we are due to arrive ahead of schedule on Thursday night for an overnight stay.
What impressed me (even as we pitched dramatically up and down with the rising seas and deteriorating weather) was how well my fellow guests took this news. Everyone I spoke with or overheard expressed disappointment at missing Torshavn, but stressed that our Captain had made the right call. No ports are being substituted (there really are none that would be suitable), leaving us with two days at sea aboard Viking Star. And that’s just fine with me.
With a whole day aboard Viking Star, let’s take a look around this beautiful ship – in pictures:

My personal

My personal “happy place” aboard Viking Star: the two-story Explorer’s Lounge located on Decks 7 and 8. Deck 8, facing port, is shown here. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Beautiful vistas are offered from both Decks 7 and 8 in the forward-facing Explorer's Lounge. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Beautiful vistas are offered from both Decks 7 and 8 in the forward-facing Explorer’s Lounge. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

The Explorer's Lounge features plenty of books on polar exploration and explorers of all nationalities. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

The Explorer’s Lounge features plenty of books on polar exploration and explorers of all nationalities. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Viking Star's three-story atrium is the heart of the ship. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Viking Star’s three-story atrium is the heart of the ship. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

This attractive, tucked-away corridor is located at the top of Viking Star's atrium, and is accessible only from Deck 3. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

This attractive, tucked-away corridor is located at the top of Viking Star’s atrium, and is accessible only from Deck 3. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Attractive hand-washing stations outside the casual World Cafe buffet on Deck 7, aft. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Attractive hand-washing stations outside the casual World Cafe buffet on Deck 7, aft. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

The World Cafe, seen in the early morning hours of September 21, 2016. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

The World Cafe, seen in the early morning hours of September 21, 2016. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Mamsen's, on Deck 7 forward, serves up authentic (and delicious) Norwegian specialties culled from the Hagen family recipes. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Mamsen’s, on Deck 7 forward, serves up authentic (and delicious) Norwegian specialties culled from the Hagen family recipes. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Although it's not in use today, Viking</body></html>
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