Subject: Norweigan Coastal Steamer local passengers
Evelyn comments that there were lots of local passengers in the lounges. . .yes, it is important to realize that these ferries (similar to the Alaskan ferries, the Labrador ferries, and many others I am sure, are the busses of the coast and their primary function (at least until the Norwegian govenment threatened to withdraw subsidies and bigger tourist attracting ships were built) was to carry cargo (live chickens, dead fish, cars, machinery, etc.) and local passengers (including, when we were on, a prisoner being transferred to the nearest town with a jail!). All still have this function; tourists help pay the bills. Two of the older smaller ships still run this Norwegian coastal route; the other ten are the newer bigger ships built more recently. On the smaller ships, at all 34 stops, you can easily get off and walk around and chat with the people on the dock (if you are awake--some stops are in the middle of the night). Some stops are only about 10-15 minutes; others are much longer. Even if there weren't organized shore excursions for the tourist passengers, we got off at almost all daytime/evening stop and explored on our own---every passenger gets a book with descriptions of each stop, often meeting fascinating people (most Norwegians except the very elderly speak English). On the ship the LOFOTEN (which is still running this route now), there were only six U.S. round-trip passengers (since there were no big tour groups), which was great since we got to meet so many other people from all over the world. But, as Evelyn said, be prepared for a different kind of cruising....a kind that, to us, is the best. Cheers, Pat and Bill in Baltimore