A cruise to the North Cape

Lithograph (colour) showing Tromso

A few weeks ago, I touched upon the travels of Richard Fynderne Harpur Crewe (1880-1921), the only son of the last baronet at Calke Abbey. In this post, we’ll explore a cruise to the North Cape he appears to have taken in ca. 1913.Norway guide book 1913Although it is unsigned, like the Dutch phrase book, it seems very likely that this guide book was obtained by Richard Harpur Crewe. He was a prolific traveller and keen photographer – the dramatic landscapes of the Norwegian coast would have appealed to his sense of adventure. The occasional postcard tucked into a book, his collection of maps, and his diaries show someone enjoying sailing trips, cycling, and mountaineering expeditions.

Issued by the Royal Mail Steam Packet Company in a paper wrapper, the guide book is at once an advertisement for the cruise and a guide to the sights of the Norwegian coast. It provides technical information about the ship, the Arcadian (originally the SS Ortona, built in 1899 by the Pacific Steam Navigation Company, converted to a cruise ship in 1910 and commandeered by the British government in February 1915), with detailed plans of each deck. It also shows off some of the luxuries to be enjoyed by the well-paying passengers. The alphabetical guide to the sights helps to identify the places to be visited, and is here and there accompanied by either colour lithographs of watercolours (such as the one above of the harbour at Tromsø) or black and white photographs.

Bedroom on board of the R.M.S.P. Arcadian The photographs of the interior of the ship give us a fascinating insight into the nature of cruising in the early twentieth century. The beds look comfortable, and for those able to pay for it, there is a sense of luxury in the chintz curtains and wooden panelling.

Similarly, the dining experience was a rather civilised affair as well to judge from the promotional photograph…


The photographs of the landscape show off the fjords, and of course, the North Cape itself – rather disappointing compared to the majestic cliffs and mountains of Nærøyfjorden (part of the Sognefjord and since 2005 a UNESCO world heritage site). But apparently, the Cape was considered good for fishing!

The ascent of the Cape is made from a small inlet, Hornvik, whence a somewhat steep and rough path leads to the top of the cliff. Thence a level walk of twenty minutes leads to the view point and châlet. The “Arcadian” will remain at the North Cape for several hours, during which an excellent view of the midnight sun should be obtained. Excellent fishing may be had from the steamer.





B&W image of the Naeroyfjord, Norway



Nærøyfjorden. By Karamell, via Wikimedia Commons

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