What happens in Oslo, stays in Oslo …

DFDS Seaways: Copenhagen-Oslo
Part One: her side of the story

There are many reasons to take the ferry to Oslo (a day out in one of Europe’s most beautiful capital cities, two nights of passion in touch with the rhythmic movements of the sea, a buffet crawling with fresh seafood that will never run out, and a means of escape from the Danish tax authorities), but few are more enjoyable than getting on board the Rock Cruise, a (normally) Friday night concert at which the sea will sway you in one direction and the music will knock you right back in the other.

Now in its seventh year, the Rock Cruise season offers several concerts, from late spring to early autumn, two nights on board and seven hours to spend, however you wish, in Oslo. 

While the next one is sold out – Kim Larsen on Monday August 6; check internet forums for tickets (998kr) – the concert featuring lyrical rockers Ulige Numre on September 14 is not.

But of course, the rock cruise is only a small element of the trip, as I and fellow journalist Mike Hofman discovered when we made met up at the Copenhagen ferry terminal to get on board and watch up-and-coming band Reptile Youth. Let’s just say that we hadn’t bargained on what we encountered in the queue.

Because the eager, somewhat pushy, baby carriage-shoving crowd boarding the ferry weren’t what you’d call your typical head-banging, stage-diving, binge drinking audience. It left me with an ambivalent feeling. What is this precisely? I know rock enjoyed its hey day in the 1980s, but did it still attract the same crowd?

Most of the passengers seem to be either middle-aged or parents with toddlers and the occasional moody teenager. You have to look long to spot a person wearing less than four different colours, not to mention a pair of skinnies or Raybans. But it doesn’t discourage and we settle into the mission to find the missing link over a few deck-side drinks at one of the boat’s bars. The ferry hasn’t left the harbour yet, but nothing was going to dissuade us from our first port of call.

As the ferry leaves, the deck fills up as others come out to enjoy the sun and the view with a cold beer or a fruit cup. Rock or not, the mood is good. And when the sun goes down, the ferry is packed with places to pass the time – in case your cabin should trigger your inner claustrophobe – including lots of bars, restaurants, clubs, a tax-free shop, casino and a pool.

On our first night, we dine at the 7 Seas dinner buffet, which has more or less everything your stomach could desire. You eat as much as you can – who doesn’t at this kind of place – but there’s a time limit to your reservation so this is not the place to engage in long time-consuming conversations, or at least not if you want to have time for the dessert table.

The couple dining next to us –  who have been on the ferry more than 50 times and therefore know their way around – tell us that we can get ice cream (instead of, or in addition to, the grown ups’ cheese and fancy cakes) from the kids’ area. And it’s while we’re struggling with the soft ice cream machine that the missing link finally enters the room: the band Reptile Youth. Not that they notice, but it’s not the best of first impressions on the band we want to interview later.

They’re a Danish post-pop/punk band who were originally a duo called Reptile and Retard (before they had ever worked with an adult, presumably) consisting of singer Mads Damsgaard Kristiansen and bass player Esben Valløe. They unsurprisingly changed their name and added drummer Emil Vissing Christiensen and guitarist Mads Bergland.  They head for the buffet, while we finish our ice creams and get ready for the concert.

The Heaven 11 club is the venue and it isn’t big! Straightaway, the band creates a vibe to whisk you away on a journey within a cruise – so much so that you forget you’re on a boat, and that’s pretty extraordinary. 

The lead singer jumps around and climbs the handrails – more than enough bravado to rock this boat. Unfortunately though, the concert has to end, but the night has only begun and when the band manager asks: “Do you know Mads?”, the prompt and obvious response is “Yes!”, and we continue partying in the great company of the band. Adventures ensue and we partake in a few drinks, and even some games, and are treated to a spontaneous concert together with the house band in the Columbus Nightclub.

Fortunately for this reviewer, Mike got the short straw: the return journey. Let’s just say he’s a gentleman, in every possible way, and made his decision when he saw what state I was in on Saturday morning. Besides he’s younger than me and has the kind of stamina that few of us are still blessed with once we hit our mid-20s.

Cruises every day of the year; buy tickets from DFDS Seaways at 3342 3000 (offices open Mon-Fri 09:00-17:00), prices vary depending on cabin and dates; www.dfdsseaways.dk; next available Rock Cruise features Ulige Numre on Sep 14, 798kr pp

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