Bucket lists are all the rage at the moment. It seems we can’t read a newspaper or magazine without being told about the things we need to see and do before we, well, kick the bucket.

These lists usually feature such activities as bungee jumping, skydiving and rollercoaster riding, all of which are said to get the adrenaline-pumping.

Well, my adrenaline was pumping and my jaw was dropping during my visit to Norway where I visited the famous fjords, crossed the Arctic Circle and saw the magnificent Northern Lights – fulfilling three long-standing ambitions which I can now cross off my own bucket list.

And I did all of that while keeping both feet firmly planted on the ground.

Getting hitched to the young daughter of a Viking ruler was not on my list, so it was a surprise to be able to cross that off too. But more of that later.

I was a guest of Hurtigruten on their Autumn Gold cruise – a voyage designed to showcase the country’s outstanding autumnal colours, coastline and cuisine.

Our ship, the 822-capacity MS Trollfjord, set off on the near 3,000 mile return journey from Bergen to Kirkenes, high above the Arctic Circle near the Russian border, via the myriad of islands and fjords.

The following morning I opened the curtains of my homely cabin to discover why the fjords are so highly regarded – we were passing what seemed to be an endless scene of wild countryside, cascading waterfalls and idyllic villages overlooked by rugged mountains. It was true picture-book stuff.

During her 12-day voyage, the Trollfjord stops at various towns and cities where passengers can experience the many wonders of nature this country has to offer.

The Taste of Norway excursion took us to the peaceful villages Urke and Øye where, after a sightseeing tour, we sampled traditional Norwegian dishes at the historic and charming Hotel Union Øye.

Built in 1891, the hotel has played host to such notable guests as Kaiser Wilhelm, Karen Blixen, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Edvard Grieg and Henrik Ibsen, all of who came to this area of outstanding beauty to holiday. It’s easy to see why, every day feels like a relaxing Sunday.

Having enjoyed some time in the city of Ålesund and local seafood delicacies at dinner, we arrived on day two of our trip in Norway’s third largest city and former capital, Trondheim.

Our destination was the tiny island of Munkholmen where my tour group and I got into the spirit of the occasion by dressing in full monk’s robes prior to a guided tour.

As the name suggests, the island was a Benedictine monastery before it was later used as a fortress and prison.

There was more dressing up on my last full day in Norway which provided several magical moments.

I awoke for the first time in my life to daybreak above the Arctic Circle as the Trollfjord made her way to the city of Bodø.

This time, we had to wear full-body waterproofs before enjoying a thrilling high-speed RIB safari to Saltstraumen – the world’s most powerful tidal current.

Not only did our guide expertly point out all the wonderful geological features of the landscape but he also alerted us to an eagle flying above our heads which drew gasps from our group.

There were further gasps back on board the Trollfjord later that afternoon when, at the traditional Arctic Circle initiation ceremony, we had ice cold water tipped down our backs by the King of the Sea himself, Neptune, ably assisted by the ship’s captain. 

If all that wasn’t enough excitement for one day, later that evening the ship arrived in the tranquil Lofoten Islands where we made our way by coach to Lofotr Viking Museum for a traditional Viking feast.

A hearty serving of meat and potatoes (vegetarian option available) with a glass of mead was followed by traditional Norwegian song and dance led by a group of local actors. 

Alcohol isn’t cheap in Norway, so when the chieftain invited me to sample a bowl of beer on behalf of the assembled guests, I didn’t need a second invitation.

Clearly impressed by what he’d just witnessed, the chieftain hand-picked me as the perfect match for his 17-year-old daughter.

Perhaps it was the rather glum expression on her face, but something told me the lucky lady was less than thrilled with the arrangement.

In contrast, my face literally lit up at the last magical moment of our memorable trip. 

Back on board and with the sun long gone, the Trollfjord effortlessly made her way to the place from which she takes her name, the Trollfjord itself – a narrow gorge deep in the Lofoten Islands overlooked by steep-sided mountains and the scene of a famous fishing battle in 1890. 

I stood out on deck open-mouthed and watched the Northern Lights dance across the sky to create memories which will last a lifetime.

For the third time that day my fellow passengers gasped in awe at yet another amazing bucket list experience.


Norwegian fjords factfile

Hurtigruten has been carrying freight and passengers along the Norwegian coast since 1893.

The MS Trollfjord is part of Hurtigruten’s fleet of 11 vessels.
There is a variety of cabins ranging from standard inside and seaview cabins to superior cabins with an outside balcony.

As well as the Autumn Gold voyage, customers can choose from:

- Winter and the Northern Lights
- Springtime in Norway and the Arctic Awakening
- Summer and the Midnight Sun
- Passengers can choose from approximately 45 excursions during the whole trip, including:
  Riverboat to the Russian border
  Visit to Kirkenes snow hotel
  Husky sledge adventure
  Snowmobile trip in Lapland
  Birdwatching safari
  Whale watching

Hurtigruten offers a 7 day Classic Voyage North from Bergen up to Kirkenes from £943 per person (based on two sharing on full board basis) on selected dates in March 2014.

Return international flights and transfers start from an additional £510 per person.

For further information call Hurtigruten on 020 3582 6642 or visit www.hurtigruten.co.uk.