The Viking Star


We have just been to Bergen in Norway for the first time. There are many links between the UK and Norway. For example, the sharply defined wooded landscape and deep fjords are similar to the Scottish highlands and many Scots (I am one) share common ancestry. The traditions and passions of the UK and Norway are often derived from the long sea coasts and journeys of far flung exploration. The Vikings settled – eventually- in England and again were the Normans (the North men) who invaded in 1066.

The trip to Bergen was to follow a Viking boat (ship). It was not, however, the longboat of 1,000 years ago but a magnificent, very comfortable new cruise ship. It is apparently a small one, although I am not sure what earlier Vikings would have thought of that description! It is a ship in which to sail to and explore different cities and cultures.  We and other guests joined Torstein and Karine Hagen in Bergen as they christened this ocean ship which augments their river cruises. The celebration was May 17th, Norway’s national day, and so Bergen was full of marching children and bands, colourful traditional dresses, warmth and fun. It is a charming working port with wooden slatted houses and cobbled streets.


Viking Cruises are firstly the sponsors of Downton Abbey in America. However, secondly, and more importantly, Karine and I are friends, writing children’s books together about our dogs (who actually are yellow Labradors as in Downton Abbey) whilst planning various tours to Highclere for her Viking Cruise guests. Our dogs, (Karine’s dog Finse, was born here at Highclere) are a joy: a reason for a walk, a great way to switch off and a calm focus in madly busy lives. Karine’s stories take Finse off on journeys round the world whilst mine bring her back home to tales of cream teas. Any proceeds go to an educational foundation.


Bergen is the Hagens’ home town and we were lucky to be amongst many of their friends bought together to celebrate their achievement.  The ship was christened by Bergen’s mayor, Trude Drevland, a wonderful woman and a whirlwind of energy and accomplishment, referred to as  Bergen’s Boris Johnson. After the music, Trude pressed the handle, the champagne bottle crashed against the side of the Viking Star and the firework show started. A world apart from Highclere but one which brings people to the Castle. It was an amazing evening.

Bergen Sail In 6


25 Responses to “The Viking Star”
  1. Paul Mc Taggart says:

    Wow I like the sound of Norway with all its lovely history it has some of which they brought over to us in England many yeas ago. I like the sound of Cruising around the deep fjords on a ship named Viking Star too, this is one country I would like to visit at some stage. I know I would like it as being from the Scottish highlands my self, as I’m part of the Ross Clan & you say Lady Carnarvon landscape and deep fjords are similar to the Scottish highlands that will do for me 🙂 I shall have to look into booking a trip on this great ship..

    Another fantastic blog as alway Lady Carnarvon

    Paul 🙂

    • Lady Carnarvon says:

      Thank you Paul – and re the earlier plane blog it seems we have found an eye witness accounts of at least one plane crash here in 1942 – I hope to write it all down before it gets lost….it was again a plane coming up Bombing Valley.

  2. Pat O'Dell says:

    Wally and I loved meeting you when we were at Highclere planning our event on August 15.
    Thank you for your help in the gift shop. It was such fun picking out gifts for our guests.
    Hope to see you on the 15th.
    Pat O’Dell

  3. Sue Roberts says:

    H! Would love to see your books offered online through your gift shop! So enjoy keeping up with Highclere via your blog…..

    • Lady Carnarvon says:

      You are quite right – I am not sure the Finse books are on line. We tie a ribbon around a little labrador toy puppy and the first book (Finse’s First Journey) and it goes rather well out of the shop..It is about the fun of reading

    • Jeffery Sewell says:

      Dear Lady Canarvon,
      Greetings from ‘down under’.

      The Finse series are indeed lovely books An online search found a link to the following videos of Finse that fellow “bloggers” might enjoy:

      Thank you again for another most interesting blog.
      The photos in your blogs are always interesting and certainly ‘catch the moment’. Do you have a professional photographer?

      I hear Bergen is beautiful and is a good access point to the famous Flam Railway. Have you ever travelled on it? If so, maybe you might devote a blog to it one day?

      Regards & best wishes,

    • Lady Carnarvon says:

      Most of the photos are from my iphone and are not good at all, the better ones are normally taken by my husband!!! I look back at my old family photos with my sisters’ or parents’ heads missing or blurred and feel I really carry on our family tradition. I tried to photograph the bluebell woods here at Highclere which were just amazing and not one was in focus.

  4. Melissa Mital says:

    They are starting a Viking Cruise on the Mississippi River. I am looking forward to seeing the boat(s) when they begin coming through our area. Of course the European cruises sound much more alluring, however, the Mississippi River in the Quad-cities region is gorgeous! A tremendous amount of our country’s history has taken place on and around the river and I am sure the same is true for Europe. It is good that these cruises are recognizing the beauty of our rivers.
    Glad to hear you are getting out and about. As always, thank you for sharing!

    • Lady Carnarvon says:

      It is a great idea to cruise the Mississippi. A lot of history and in many ways some European history was played out along the Mississippi too. I visited Jamestown and thought that river and part of the US would be so interesting to cruise as well.

  5. Janice Ashley says:

    The connection between some Scottish clans and the Norwegians is intriguing. When tracing my Scottish ancestry I also discovered a link with Norway – so far only a surname, Boe. Coincidentally I too am heading out to visit Bergen and see the fjords this summer. I do hope I enjoy my visit as much as you seem to have! Thank you for sharing this with us.

  6. richard, covington la says:

    We visited Highclere today and had a great time. Everything was great and the staff you have working there were very friendly and welcoming. They supplied much information and seemed to enjoy every second of it. We did see the Earl by the stables when the horses were brought out. Wish we could have meet and seen you. Really sorry that this will be last season Dowton Abbey.

  7. Natalie Graham says:

    I’ve heard cruising the fjords of Norway is quite fantastic. It’s on my bucket list! I love the photo of you out walking the town in your comfy tennis shoes – the best way to do the tourist thing! 🙂

    The picture of the dogs is adorable. Labs can be such goofballs! Is that other pup a Boykin Spaniel? Hard to tell as s/he is laying down, but the head and curly chocolate coat look like it.

    • Lady Carnarvon says:

      I have Labradors and working cocker spaniels. They are very grounding and have been gardening with me today. The spaniels are so optimistic, they never stop and are such kind cuddly dogs.

  8. Karin Cupper says:

    It is with much interest that my husband Ralph and I read your last blog about your first visit to Bergen, Norway. It was indeed interesting to hear about the connections High Clere has with the early Viking Cruises in America which were, I understand the first sponsors of the Downton Abbey Series.

    It was also good to hear of your experiences during the Norwegian 17th May National Day in Bergen. It is sometime since we have been in Bergen. We, as former English expatriates, live about six hours away from Bergen, which was formally the capital of Norway, in the picturesque little municipality of Nordfjordeid, which is known locally as Eid. Here my husband is Cantor, that is to say Organist and Director of the Music of the Local State Lutheran Church here in the municipality and has responsibility for an International Music Festival. We have had the pleasure through the years of hosting musicians from all over Europe as well as many English Cathedral Choirs which are quite popular in Norway.
    Nordfjordeid itself is quite well known as a centre for culture because we even have an Internationally renowned Opera Company based here called Opera Nordfjord.

    I, like you Lady Carnavon, write children’s books. I write in both English and Norwegian, and also receive much inspiration from our two dogs, Monty and Chelsy, who are intregal members of our own family. Do please Google me to find out more.

    I have also received, thanks to you Lady Carnavon, a considerable amount of inspiration from reading your own blogs and about reading about your activities and the activities of your own dogs on the High Clere Estate. Thank you for that. That is why I was so glad to hear that you personally enjoyed your time in Bergen on the 17th May. Yes, it is something special is it not to see the 17th may parade with the children in their National Costumes marching through the main streets, or as we call it – ‘barnetorget i hovedgatene’.
    This experience is even more dramatic in other parts of Norway such as where we live in Nordfjordeid, because each Norwegian Municipality has it’s own colours in their National Costumes which are extremely colourful.

    I must also add that Norwegians use their National Costumes also in the Church when there is a baptism, confirmation or on other civic days. However, one thing is common to the 17th May celebrations in all places, and that is the Marching Bands which keeps everything moving and impart life to the proceedings. Therefore, Lady Carnavon if you visit Norway again in the future, do please come to visit us to experience life on the west coast of Norway.

    To conclude, here is a clip from the 17th May Celebrations here in Nordfjordeid.
    Click on this link:

    With every good wish ,
    Karin Cupper

  9. Carol-Ann Rahl says:

    What a lovely trip. I’ve never been to Norway but I’ve put it on my list of places I’d like to visit. The ship looks wonderful. I’m so glad Viking Cruises sponsor Downton Abbey here in America. I’m always looking at their cruises and dreaming.
    My next trip will be next year and it will be to the Azores. Time for me to see where my grandparents and my Mom came from. It will be great to see the church where my grandparents were married and I believe their house is still standing too.
    I love the picture of the dogs. Labs are wonderful companions – great fun and the spaniel is adorable. I enjoy your blog very much and always look forward to your next posting.

  10. Carol Sawyer says:

    I’m anxious to research the itinerary for the new ship.
    A Viking River Cruise is on our bucket list!
    Thank you, Lady Carnarvon!

  11. Mary Beth says:

    Hi Lady Carnarvan

    It’s really nice to hear good things about Norway. My DNA revealed me to be half British Isles and half Scandinavian and I love anything to do with ships and the sea. I read many books on the subject. As it happens I work in a library and would like to have some of your books in our children’s section if they are available in the U.S.. Very nice photos, especially the one of you! Hope your time in Norway is wonderful!

    All the best
    Mary Beth

    • Lady Carnarvon says:

      Karine and I hope that we can have a set of travel books and a set around home life at Highclere.. My first contribution has our chef teaching the puppies to cook and the recipes are in the book . I would love them to be libraries/schools. When I next see Karine I can will have a better idea of timings

  12. Christine M. says:

    Dear Lady Carnarvon,

    it was so heartwarming to see you write such nice words of my homecountry and birthtown Bergen. You were lucky to be there on a very special day for the Norwegians, I think only few countries celebrate their national day with children’s parades instead of military parades. 😉

    To be honest, you even made me feel a little homesick, as I am living with my German husband and 2 kids near Hamburg/Germany. 😀 But even if we won’t visit Norway this year, we are very much looking forward to visiting our favourite holiday country, the UK. And we have already booked our visit to your lovely home in August. We can’t wait to explore the grounds and the castle!

    Thank your for the always interesting blogs!

    Yours sincerely,
    Christine M.

  13. Nan Harley says:

    Already have the “Homelands” cruise on the Viking Star scheduled for 2016! Viking’s sponsorship of Downton Abbey convinced me to try a river cruise. We’ve done two with various friends and we are hooked. Can’t wait to try the bigger ship. How wonderful that you have a personal tie with them as well. Cheers!

    • Lady Carnarvon says:

      It was incredibly comfortable, and we dined in a delicious Italian restaurant called Manfredo’s on the Viking Star. It is a family business and that is what we are…

  14. Chrissy says:

    You have the most beautiful head of hair!!! Thanks for sharing your amazing stories – I just love anything British, Scottish, Nordish – love it all!

  15. Karen Kroger says:

    Sounds wonderful, Lady Carnarvon!
    We are booked next June for the Into the Midnight Sun cruise! We disembark in London and we love to visit Highclere Castle. We have checked with Viking and while they do offer a London extension, they do not offer a visit to Highclere Castle, which is offered as and extension to Viking River Cruises. Is it possible to visit on our own? Will Highclere Castle be open to visitors early next summer?
    We are looking very forward to a wonderful trip & a visit to your beautiful home would be icing on the cake!
    Thanking you for a response.

  16. Peter Chamberlain says:

    “Bergen is the Hagens’ home town and we were lucky to be amongst many of their friends bought together to celebrate their achievement.”

    I think an “R” is missing and considering all of the unfavorable and in my opinion unwarranted attention Ms Drevland received a correction from “bought” to “brought” might serve.

  17. CynthiaC says:

    My husband and I have just returned from Viking cruise “Into the Midnight Sun” and during our extension stay in London, a visit to Highclere Castle.
    I am still on Cloud Nine. Every minute and site were wonderful. Thank you Hagen family and Lord&Lady Carnarvon for inspiring us all.

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