I joined the cruise at Bergen on a particularly rainy day (apparently of which there are many in that area) as the ship made its way to Andalsnes and then on to Alta. Two really stormy nights at sea followed as we headed north with gale force winds and mountainous seas. After two nights without much sleep, I was looking bedraggled and exhausted (okay, slightly tired), but at least I was beginning to feel like one of the great adventurers. Albeit in a warm cabin on a comfy bed snuggled beneath a duvet with three meals a day and hot chocolate on tap. Okay, let's say my journey was just a tiny bit torrid.
While on board, I met a team of dolphin and whale watchers from the conservation group Orca. They were true heroes as they took dawn to dusk shifts through constant temperatures of at least minus10C, counting and identifying bird species and, of course, any dolphins or whales which came our way. The longest I managed on deck with them was about 15 minutes in an icy wind which threatened to peel flesh off the bones.
Once in Alta we met guide and sled dog musher Emma who, believe it or not, is from Hertfordshire. On our way to Parken Gard Husky, she informed us she was studying tourism in Norway and was in the process of moving to the district of Alta to live at the end of a long fjord where she can mush until the . . . err . . . cows come home.
The next hour or so was the most fun I've had since I was a kid. What more could anyone want than a sled pulled by excited and eager dogs across an unspoiled, snow covered wilderness with just the sound of the soft padding of dogs paws and the sled's runners crunching through the snow. It was then I realised why a girl from Hertfordshire was a dog musher in Norway.
As far as Northern Lights are concerned, the only photographs I got were on board the ship with more light pollution than Heathrow airport. My trip out to the wilderness and complete darkness for a photo-shoot was spoiled by a bank of cloud and I left the frozen lake with cold feet and an ice-covered camera tripod.
Now, like any true explorer, it means another expedition to the frozen north to try again. This time, though, it won't be by way of any comfy cabin aboard a luxury cruise ship. My trusty dogs will be waiting, provisions packed on my sled and ready for the off. That is, of course, once I've caught the SAS flight from Heathrow to Olso then on to Alta airport and by a heated car across to Longfjordbotn where I hope to begin a different type of Arctic adventure with Arne and Marianne of Parken Gard Husky.
For more about Saga cruises www.saga.co.uk