The Natural Choice
Think Norway and it’s hard not to conjure up images of breathtaking beauty, picturesque villages and narrow fjords of icy waters etching their way through imposing steep cliffs. It’s easy to see why this rugged land- and seascape have been the source of legends and myths for centuries. This is a country that cannot help but inspire and intrigue those looking for an adventure destination with a difference. Captain Fraser Gow took the 62.5-metre Amels 206 STARDUST and her crew up to the Norwegian fjords on her maiden voyage last summer and explains why he believes taking a superyacht to Norway might not be first choice for some, but should be.
Captain Fraser Gow STARDUST
“This wasn’t my first time in Norway. I had already cruised the Norwegian coastline extensively with the Amels 180 GENE MACHINE. On our way to Svalbard from Monaco, we cruised in and out of almost every single fjord, and had stopped over in briefly in Flåm. The whole area is very special”
Norway has long been a popular cruise destination with those looking to embrace the unspoilt beauty, scenic sights and infamous hospitality and cuisine. In fact Norway offers exceptional dining experiences and is home to some of the largest wine collections. Characteristics which would appeal to many a superyacht guest, albeit in a more private manner. And privacy is what STARDUST got.
“This time was particularly special as there were no cruise ships. It’s been a hard year for Norway and their economies. When we arrived in Flåm, we were the first yacht to visit in recent memory. We couldn’t have been looked after any better by the Harbour Master who went out of his way to make us feel at home. And that we did. We briefly became locals, and that included being regulars at the micro brewery”
When you are not admiring the stunning views and fortress style surroundings, Norway has plenty to offer the avid explorer or adrenalin seeker. From white water rafting to grueling cycle climbs, waterfalls to fly fishing and hiking to ziplining, Norway’s geography creates the perfect fusion of extreme sports with nature adventure.
“A large portion of our crew are keen cyclists and Norway has some of the best cycling we’ve done. When we were docked in Flåm, we took on a 2-hour climb from Flåm to Myrdal on gravel and road tracks. We must have passed 20 odd waterfalls flowing into the gorge on the way. At the top, you’re at 817m above sea level. There’s a famous railway that runs a similar route to the top, known as one of the most beautiful train journeys in the world, so you don’t have to miss out on the scenery if you’re not a keen hiker or cyclist. And for the real adrenalin seekers, there’s a zip line to come back down – which we chose of course! They literally scooped our bikes up together, tied them to this zip line and sent them on their way. After all that climbing we were down in just over 20 minutes.’’
With its stunning coastal waters, Norway’s marine life is also a thing of beauty but what you’ll see is highly dependent on the time of year. During the summer, dolphins and porpoises are in abundance but you need to go in November to catch a glimpse of the killer whales. That’s also when you’re most likely to witness the natural phenomenon of the Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights as they are also known.
“A lot of owners are looking for unique experiences and that’s what Norway delivers. Experience driven trips. People tend to think of it as a maiden voyage destination but I think that it has the real option of being a charter or Owner destination. It’s easy to fly into and the fjords are flat calm no matter what. There are only 2 real issues to consider. The first is committing to having your yacht in Northern Europe for the summer, or at least the end of, and the second is the weather. You're almost in the mountains so guests need to understand that there might be some rain. It’s not a Caribbean climate but it’s very rewarding in terms of nature and activities. That said, we did brave the water and all jump in – it took our breath away!”
It’s not all rocks and water. Colourful pretty towns such as Bergen bring a hint of cosmopolitan lifestyle to remote living but if it’s the stunning scenery you are after, heading into the veins of the fjords is your best bet. And taking a superyacht through the fjords can be quite literally breath-taking. There are a lot of narrow passages and tight gaps which will test the nerve and navigational skills of green and experienced Captains and crew alike. But the rewards are worth it.
“All the crew piled out in front of the Bridge when we first started seeing waterfalls. They were blown away. You have these massive fjords with mountains emerging out of the ocean. Even though I’d experienced it before you forget just how beautiful it is – a raw force of nature. And then you come across these giant lakes with waterfalls dropping into them and the fjords are so deep you can get really close. It’s very special.”
“For me, Norway has it all. It’s like New Zealand and Canada rolled into one. It’s nature and off-the-beaten track adventure at its best without having to head to extreme remote locations – which you still can do if you ahead further North again. It may not be your classic yachting destination but it’s one that worth every nautical mile.”
STARDUST returned to Vlissingen after her maiden voyage to Norway to sit out COVID restrictions. This Amels Limited Editions is now proving her worth as a world-cruising yacht, having swapped the cooler northern climate for the warmer waters of Thailand from where she will embark upon an adventurous itinerary including cruising the famed Similan Islands, Phang Nga Bay, locally around Phuket and Krabi. From there, the plan is to head to Australia, New Zealand, Japan, the West Coast of Canada, Costa Rica, and the Galapagos before returning to the Mediterranean.
STARDUST at a glance
· Amels 206 (62.5 metres / 206 ft) · Delivered 2020 · 1161 GT · 12 guests · 13 crew + Captain · Interior Design by Laura Sessa · Exterior Design by Tim Heywood · Naval Architecture by Damen Yachting