Tag Archives: Norway

Stavanger, and a quality rain

3 Jul Tightly packed houses and overgrowth in Stavanger, Norway

Life aboard has become much more enjoyable, now that I stopped caring about how the managers perceive my work attitude. Admittedly, their interest in me has also dropped dramatically, once they realised that this was my final cruise. They rarely bother me with their flatulent demands anymore, and even the South-African nut-job Henry has lost interest in “helping me” to fit in with the job.

Thus, I am more relaxed than usual when we arrive in Stavanger this morning. Even though it is raining quite heavily I have set out to enjoy my stay in this picturesque Norwegian town. After all, this is the final port along my journey as a cruise photographer. I told our managers that I hope to return to ABC Cruises in the foreseeable future, but as usual I concealed the greater truth from them. I simply don’t want them to write me a bad report, because I want to maintain the option of returning as a cruise musician. However, I have no intention whatsoever to return to this laughably stupid work as cruise photographer. The discussions I had during these past few days have only added to my conviction.

Photo Gallery aboard the ABC RypMeOff

This is a nice enough place to work at, but after two months I am really sick of this sight.

For example, a few days ago our managers discovered the topic of Image Counts. Well, more likely the topic was pressed upon them by the fleet managers, but nevertheless it is now a subject of great dispute. Image counts are now officially a measure of success. The overall image count per passenger is rather poor in our team, compared to that of other ships in the fleet. One reason might be that nobody in this team gives a shit anymore. The company treats us so poorly that even the veteran shooters have stopped spending any real effort in attracting passengers once they reached two hundred photos, which is pretty much the minimum requested by the bosses.

This is just another kink in the penetrable armour of missing logic that surrounds ABC Cruises. Quantity over quality. I think Stavanger knows this already, and instead of greeting us with real quality weather, it gives us a quantity downpour. That is a bit disappointing, considering that even our passengers have barely twelve hours to inhale the beauty of our last Norwegian stop. But I guess Norwegian flowers need water, too, and so I endure the cold wetness of my socks without complaining.

Tightly packed houses and overgrowth in Stavanger, Norway

Tightly packed houses and overgrowth in Stavanger, Norway

Stavanger rewards me with some of the most beautiful parks and cemeteries in my memory. The lush green meadows are lined with rows of flowering shrubs and stout brown trees, which stands in stark contrast to the crowded rows of picketed houses. The inner city, in particular, shows little sign of greenery aside from the odd moss that infests the walls and cobblestone roads. The white houses stand back to back, with their front door on the sidewalk, and barely enough space between them to see the sky when you lean out the window. No wonder Norwegians are such a happy people – you can’t enjoy greenery without visiting the park. And because all the other townsfolk live with the same perilous lack of greenery in their non-existent back yard, people are bound to meet, socialise, and promise each other to not commit suicide over the extensive length of the dark winter. Since half the parks seem to be cemeteries this should also level people’s expectations towards death.

Anyway, even on a cold and rainy day Norway features plenty of fancy houses, cute ducks, and green lawns. If you don’t believe me: I got photographic evidence. Look at my photo album of Stavanger!

North Cape Photo Excursion

22 May North Cape near Honningsvag, Norway

I have been to the North Cape, and back. For free, because I work here. Like most of the previous stops along this journey as photographer for ABC Cruises the Nordkap excursion was an interesting experience, in more than one way.

The North Cape adventure itself is already a swirling enterprise. Whoever came up with the business plan for that tourist trap deserves a medal. The set up literally consists of a big building with three restaurants and an atrium, standing on an otherwise deserted cliff along the Northernmost coast of Norway. Outside of the building are a few concrete pillars and a globe monument. Apart from the rocky cliffs and the vast ocean beyond there is absolutely nothing to see there, and those few features are available to the same extent, and with better weather in any other town along Norway’s coast. And still, people pay actual money to hop on a bus, and spend ninety minutes at the North Cape, up to $100 each.

Globe Monument at the North Cape, Norway

The Globe Monument at the North Cape doesn’t look like much. Still it draws in thousands of tourists evey day.

Obviously, I was only allowed aboard the excursion so I could take photos of the unwilling passengers. The result was somewhat underwhelming, as I produced approximately five shots at the first stop, and forty at the second. And that is already counting the photos where people just looked vaguely in my direction.

The first stop was a Sami village, where about two hundred tourists were struggling to take a photo of a Sami aboriginal, and his valiant reindeer. Last night we had a preparation meeting in which our manager advised us in our approach on the Sami shooting. “On first stop, you will see this Babalu. [Babalu is his general term for any male humanoid.] You can take one hundred, two hundred pictures easy.” Instead of the targeted 100 photos I shot five, which really puts me behind on the numbers. We were given ten minutes total at that stop, and I was simply unable to organize the crowd in that time frame. Given the high expectations of our manager, and my complete inability to come anywhere near them, this first stop put me in a lot of distress.

More sparkling was the second stop, the actual North Cape, and associated Globe Monument. Again, every tourist wanted to have their picture taken at the globe, which is a great set-up for me as a photographer. However, nobody wanted to have their photo taken by me, which is rather problematic for the official ABC Photographer.

North Cape near Honningsvag, Norway

The North Cape offers a great view on ocean and rock, but there really isn’t much else, even in late May.

It is no secret that passengers who have been on more than ten cruises with this company are quite annoyed by the omnipresent photographers. Now it seems that they have found an unsubtle way to fight back, and annoy us in turn. They all gathered around that Globe Monument, smiling in three or four directions, handing their own portable cameras to other passengers, and asking them to shoot. In due time every one of those five hundred tourists that were milling around the monument got their picture taken, and very few of them smiled into my camera. Out of the forty-odd photos that I shot merely one quarter belongs to people that actually wanted to be shot by me. All the other pictures come from people who accidentally looked in my direction. I only shot those out of necessity – the lower my numbers are, the greater my trouble with our delusional manager will be.

At least part of this set-up is born from blatant hatred against the photographers. And who would blame them for it? Why would anyone pay $20 for a single photo, when the only exciting aspect of it is a three-meter tall steel globe? That question only loses in subtlety when you realize that the latest generation of smart phones has photo qualities that are barely distinguishable from our professional SLR efforts, at least not for the average tourists. And thus, our cruise passengers have made it a sport to either stand in our way, or at the very least show us how very superfluous and irrelevant our job has become.

It is rather fitting that the first excursion that I was allowed to join was one to the North Cape. I doubt that any other place along this cruise will be more of a tourist trap than the steel globe on frozen rock. I only had about ten minutes to myself on this trip, for the remaining time I was under constant stress to perform. In those ten minutes I still managed to exhaust all the photo opportunities on that barren rock, so there is no reason for me to return there. And my low performance might just convince our manager to never send me on any photo mission again.

Click here to infuse yourself with some photos of beautiful Honningsvag.