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|NORTH EAST TRIP
EASTER 2005 (continued)
Text and all 2005 pictures © firstname.lastname@example.org except where stated
|Upstairs on Deck 6, aft is the Club Viking (once the Mermaid Bar) which is the main showbar. A bit more headroom would have made all the difference to this space and a desperate stab at some sort of tiered effect has been built in, but obviously you can only do so much when retrofitting this within an existing superstructure. Aft are the stage and dancefloor, with the bar forward offset to starboard. These are separated by the seating areas in circular rows looking onto the dancefloor which filled out as the evening went by, with an adequate although not brilliant band rattling out live music. The Club Viking has a linking staircase to the restaurant area down below, but this was kept permanently locked.
Moving forward, a small casino area is tucked in adjacent to yet another sea-going Tapas Bar. This is a dark space which didn't seem to attract passengers for tapas, but seemed fairly popular as another bar area. Forward and to port is what is described as Bistro Amanda, but with the servery locked and no sign of any food, it served during this trip at least as the closest thing on board to a quiet lounge and passengers could be found reading books and playing cards here.
On the uppermost passenger deck, Deck 7, forward are an extensive series of conference rooms which were all out of use apart from one which served as a creche/children's play area. The main forward stairwell by which this area is accessed features a three-deck high DFDS Cliff Holden mural dating from 1987.
That then is the JUPITER: being perfectly honest, she isn't particularly stylish internally, but was certainly comfortable and kept in fairly good order. Bits of rust here and there could be found on the outside decks, but nothing too severe.
|Top: One of the Jupiter's Singing Waitresses.|
|Above & below: The Club Viking showbar, astern on Deck 6.|
|Dinner for the first night was taken in the Stavangerfjord Smorgasbord: pre-booked, this had cost over £17 per person which, excluding drinks, was a bit steep but even then represented a saving on the on-board price. The food itself was of dubious quality. I've rapidly fallen out of love with the smorgasbord concept. In fact, I've personally yet to have a decent one on board any ferry. However hard the crew try, you are always faced with the fact that the food wasn't cooked specially for you and will have been sitting there for a period of time prior to your eating it. The JUPITER was no exception and the selection was somewhat limited to begin with. After just a couple of return trips to the counter, I was happy that we'd filled up at lunchtime on fish & chips as the JUPITER's food didn't turn out to be particularly appetising. In their defence, the ice cream was quite good.
Being one of the last to complete our meal, we witnessed the smorgasbord undergo transformation for its evening use. This was the night-time venue for the Singing Waitresses none of whom I recognised from having been serving during dinner, but who were kitted out in waitress uniforms. The JUPITER went down the cheap route of onboard entertainment: this is no COLOR FANTASY, but the three Singing Waitresses had no pretensions about being a big-budget affair and certainly went down well with the crowd, who were fairly packed in by the climax of their performance. It was quite hard to tell if they were miming or not as they danced around the room and if you thought you saw one of them with lips not quite moving in sync, the noise that was actually coming out could well have come from one of the others. Anyway, they blasted out a combination of English and Norwegian pop songs and kept everyone happy for over an hour with an exuberant performance which involved a whole series of on the spot costume changes and props. The sight of one of them with a bedsheet over her head whilst being chased by another with a hand-held hoover as they 'sang' the theme to Ghostbusters is a sight that will live long in the memory.
The following day, the Sunday, was a beautiful sunny one for the sail up the Norwegian coast. First port of call was Stavanger at 1430, followed (very briefly) at Haugesund at 1700 before a late arrival at Bergen at 2115. With perfect weather, passengers crammed the sunlit side of the outside decks, just enjoying being at sea. Inside, the Singing Waitresses made another appearance in the afternoon, this time in the Viking Club which earlier had hosted bingo and horse racing.
After a glorious day at sea, dinner was taken in Little Italy and there the food was found to be rather better than in the Smorgasbord the previous evening. Our meal began with a minor spat with our waitress who came over and asked us to lower the blinds as the setting sun was shining right into the eyes of the family at a table on the other side of the room. She went away and I began fiddling with the blind to lower it. I was still trying to get the broken thing down when she returned a couple of minutes later saying it really wasn't fair that we insisted on having the blind open and that we had to think of our fellow passengers as well as ourselves! Somewhat shocked at this public slanging (one wonders if she would have been more polite to other customers, rather than a pair of 20something lads?), but with the blind now finally drawn down, we began a perusal of the menu.
The Little Italy menu is a classic of its kind - that seemingly word-for-word Babelfish-style translation of the original language into another, retaining along the way some of the meaning but adding a great deal else with witty asides and confusion aplenty. On occasion things have clearly been too much for the translator and you find a 20-line long Norwegian explanation followed by just a single line to cover the equivalent in English eg. "Beef with salted pork and tagliatelle". Where the translation has been followed through however a myriad of bizarre delights are to be found:
"ENSALADA DE CLASSICO: Our hot blooded kitchen staff in charge of the cold dishes (in Norway these are called 'koldjomfruer', which means: cold virgins) ...have selected the biggest, juiciest and nicest tomatoes (don't ask me why), sliced them neatly and sprinkled lightly with olive oil..."
"GRILLET STEINBIT: The catfish 'Ase' (who comes from a real furnished home) is handled by Christer, "the chef", who fries it lightly. Linda puts it on a plate, together with a portion of vegetables. Doesn't this sound exciting? Do you think this would sell in Italy? NO WAY, but its fun. And I have to tell u... U are getting more... The shellfish sauce is included"
Sidestepping both of these curiosities, we ordered from our now seemingly more relaxed waitress. As we awaited the meal, I took a closer look at the foodstuffs glued to the inside of the deep window frame. Clearly the person assigned to procure these had simply gone to the local Newcastle Co-Op as there was to be found a fine selection of own-brand Co-Op goods ranging from pickled onions to dried pasta. Inevitably, the light fingered amongst the passengers had attempted to save on their next shopping bill and, although there were only a couple of evidently missing items, quite a large number had been opened. The box of Frosties next to my elbow had been unsealed, but not the packaging inside and I toyed with the idea of liberating the free Spongebob Squarepants 'bobbler' trapped inside his cornflake prison before coming to my senses. This would, of course, be pretty much the equivalent of a passenger stepping on board the AGIOS GEORGIOS and brazenly removing the original Franta Belsky mural panel depicting the fierce warlord Hengist! However bizarre it might seem, I'm sure the artist responsible for the Little Italy masterpiece must have had a deep meaning in mind and as such it would be little short of vandalism to corrupt or otherwise damage this fine work of modern art.
A pleasant dinner was thus had in these surroundings and, unlike the previous night, we both felt fairly satisfied with our lot. Still, things were by no means cheap, with the main course meat dishes coming in at over 120 NOK (more than £10 each). Our once-fierce waitress was gradually won over by our charm, although she did manage to forget to deliver the deserts until reminded, but kindly didn't charge for them due to this.
We arrived in Bergen bang on time at 21.15 local time on Easter Sunday night and, after disembarking, had a quick walk around the terminal, then headed for town. A couple of drinks were taken at a local bar, but by and large Bergen was fairly dead on this Sunday night and we headed home. Upon returning to our ship, we found that the JUPITER had moved around the terminal, leaving the car ferry ramp clear during her near day-long stay in Norway, and re-embarkation was through one of the lower-level doors on Deck 2.
|Below: Just forward of the showbar is the Tapas Bar in an area that was once the Tyne Pub.|
|Below: Bistro Amanda, adjacent and just forward of the Tapas Bar.|
|Below: Up in the conference area on Deck 7 (where the rooms are all named after famous old Bergen Line ships), the only room open was put to use as a children's play area.|
|Below: Passengers crowd into the Stavangerfjord Restaurant for the first night performance of The Singing Waitresses.|
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