Faroe Islands Bound: Smyril Lines ferry cruise

When I started planning my Iceland adventure many months ago, I knew that getting my motorcycle to Iceland would be a significant endeavor. Plus, to ship a bike for just two weeks to one island isn’t cost-effective. I wanted to see if I could ship the bike by plane or boat to Europe and have an opportunity to explore Europe as part of a summer 2016 adventure.

It didn’t take long to find an ideal solution for an Icelandic, North Atlantic and Scandinavian adventure. Smyril Lines, a Faroe Islands-based company offers weekly ships on the comfortable Norröna from western Iceland (Seydisfjordur) to Smyril Lines, a Faroe Islands-based company offers weekly ships on the comfortable Norröna from western Iceland (Seydisfjordur) to Denmark (Hirtshals) via the Faroe Islands.

The Smyrill Lines ship, the Norröna, is a modern cruise ferry built in Germany sailed its maiden voyage in 2003. The massive ship is 165 meters (541 feet) long and 30 meters (nearly 100 feet) wide. The first part of the voyage to the Faroe Islands takes just under a day, while the voyage from the Faroe Islands to Denmark takes about two days. The ship has 318 passenger cabins and accommodates about 1500 passengers and 118 crew members. The ship has ferry space for 800 cars and cruises at about 21 knots.

I had booked a modest inner cabin for John and I and so after the great last supper with the film crew, headed to Seydisfjordur the next morning. The hour-long ride winds its way through a mountain pass, meadows and spectacular alpine scenery. We were about the only ones winding through the landscapes as waterfalls tumbled roadside and rivers rushed by.

The road from Egilsstaðir to Seyðisfjörður in rugged eastern Iceland.

The road from Egilsstaðir to Seyðisfjörður in rugged eastern Iceland.

 

The view of Seyðisfjörður as we wind down our way to the lovely Icelandic city where Smyril Ferry brings and takes passengers, vehicles and cargo to and from Denmark and the Faroe Islands.

The view of Seyðisfjörður as we wind down our way to the lovely Icelandic city where Smyril Ferry brings and takes passengers, vehicles and cargo to and from Denmark and the Faroe Islands.

As we descended into the tiny port of Seydisfjordur we were greeted by a large gathering of motorcyclists outside a local café. WE learned that the ferry, scheduled to depart at 10:30am, would be late and depart sometime after 12 noon. Here we met Frank, an aussie in his mid-sixties who has been traveling round Europe for the past two years, on and off between return flights to Australia. Riding a similar bike as Johnny A, Frank called his R1150GS “the pig”. When I asked if he kept a blog or writing on his travels he flatly stated, “No, I don’t get involved in any of that rubbish.” Ok, Frank, tell me how you really feel. Yet he did say he shares a group email among friends. I’d call that a blog-like email journal. Nonetheless, over the next few days sailing on the Norröna, we found Frank to evolve from his crumudgeonly first impression to a man with lots of knowledge, who when pressed would share.

I found all the employees of Smyrill Lines to be friendly and helpful. In the office in Iceland I met Svein, one of management team responsible for seeing that the ship is unloaded and loaded promptly. With no accommodations booked for our two nights on the Faroe Islands, Svein got on the phone and called his wife who manages one of the local hotels near the harbor in Torshavn. She promised we’d have a room and he assured us that it would be easy to find in the tiny town.

My bike is marked, I'm going to Denmark on Smyril, but first a stop in the tiny but legendary Faroe Islands.

My bike is marked, I’m going to Denmark on Smyril Ferry, but first a stop in the tiny but legendary Faroe Islands.

Dozens of bikers patiently await the arrival of Nöronna to take them and their bikes to Europe. The cost of ferrying a bike to or from Iceland to Europe is reasonable and the only way to truly get a sense of Iceland—car or bike.

Dozens of bikers patiently await the arrival of Nöronna to take them and their bikes to Europe. The cost of ferrying a bike to or from Iceland to Europe is reasonable and the only way to truly get a sense of Iceland—car or bike.

 

My new Faroese friend, Svein who manages the loading and unloading of the Nörrona in Iceland and on the Faroe Islands.

My new Faroese friend, Svein who manages the loading and unloading of the Nörrona in Iceland and on the Faroe Islands.

Norröna I’ve never been on a cruise ship. I prefer to ride motorcycles or travel overland. Not that I’m against cruise ships, I just like to have space to move. Yet I was surprised out how much I enjoyed the short cruise to the Faroe Islands and Denmark on Smyrill Lines Norröna. The ship has three restaurants, including a steakhouse, diner and an incredibly impressive buffet. There’s also a duty free shop, two bars and general store. One of the bars is on the upper deck of the ship and just below there’s a deck fired with three hot tubs—or hot pots as they are known in Iceland and the Faroe Islands. What’s more, there is a small movie theater and game room for kids and a few one-armed bandits, slot machines, for those who wish to gamble a bit.

Doc is ready for the cruise to Faroe Islands and Denmark

Doc is ready for the cruise to Faroe Islands and Denmark

With my motorcycle safely tied down in the auto/cargo berth, I had to enjoy a hot pot while cruising the Arctic Ocean. The hot water took the chill out of the arctic air, though isn’t too hot, I would have preferred hotter water. Even so, after a nice toasty soak we enjoyed a couple cold beers, pint drafts from the “Gull” brewery. We later dined in the steakhouse and enjoyed a nice bottle of an Italian Super Tuscan wine before retiring to the bar where live music is played until well after midnight. The cruiseferry ship is very comfortable, the food tasty and with enough options to satisfy any taste and top that with good beer and wine, I would do it again. Keep in mind this is basically a three day cruise. And that’s probably enough for me—especially since the cruise is broken up with two days in the Faroe Islands. Not everyone opts to stay in the Faroe Islands, as the boat departs just a few hours after unloading, the Norröna heads to Denmark.

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While I didn’t get to try the buffet aboard Norröna, I did get to check out the room and the massive spread of fresh and cooked eats. Next time, I’m going to indulge in the buffet.

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Table service is available aboard Norröna in the steakhouse. I was impressed with its wine list.

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What else would you order from a steakhouse? I opted for the Wagyu ribeye and mushroom pepper sauce—other sauces are available. Tasty!

IMG_0570 Live music plays until past midnight in the bar. A happy hour is offered with discounted drinks.

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While there is an elevator that whisks passengers up and down the eight decks of the ship, it’s nice to get exercise wandering the ship and taking the grand staircases on the major three decks.

 

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Nothing like a toasty “hot pot” aboard the Norröna as we cruise the Arctic Ocean to the Faroe Islands and Denmark

I wanted to explore the little known Faroe Islands, so Johnny A and I disembarked the Norröna and spent the next two days trying to understand and discover the Faroe Islands.

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Disclosure: Smyril Lines did sponsor me for the passenger ticket and ferry transport for my motorcycle. All other expenses were my responsibility and this is a completely honest report of my experience with Smyrill Line’s and aboard the Norröna. 

 

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