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Posts posted by Hezu

  1. On 11/10/2019 at 8:54 PM, CruiserBruce said:

    If it is "operated by Delta" you will be on a Delta plane. Codeshare is an agreement between airlines operating in an "alliance" or a group of allied airlines. So this is KLM selling seats on a Delta plane because they are in the same "alliance" of airlines.


    And the airlines making these codeshare agreements do not necessarily need to be in the same alliance, especially as there is still some airlines, which are not members of any of the airline alliances. Although certainly on the routes which are operated by multiple airlines, it is common to offer codeshare flights with the alliance partners rather than some airline from the other alliances.

  2. 4 minutes ago, hallasm said:

    Seasonal. August and September - might be available October In North Norway.

    - very tasty and aromatic berries - flavors of passion fruit, and apricot.

    And of course, the seasonality only applies to the fresh berries, preserved berries could be found also other times of the year.

  3. 28 minutes ago, Wayfairers said:

    Thanks for the information.  I like that there is nature on Vallisaari.   Read somewhere that there are designated walkways that you shouldn’t stray from due to mines.  We are used to that here in north Florida.  


    I’m thinking we will start with either Vallisaari or Suomenlinna, then to the other one and finish with Lonna (or skip if we run out of time).  I’m thinking we will grab a boat schedule with our ticket for the day and go from there.  


    Am I missing anything I should know?


    Although Lonna and Vallisaari have been used for production/maintenance/storage of naval armaments, there is no mines there, although in Vallisaari there is Kuolemaanlaakso ("Death Valley"), which might still have some remains from the exposives that reformed this area in a large explosion accident in July 9th 1937 that took 12 lives. But yes, you should stay on the marked paths as elsewhere there can be dangerous structures (derelict bunkers and such), steep cliffs and areas that may collapse. And also some places might be marked off limits to protect the nature (eg. an eagleowl family has been nesting in these islands, although in last couple years their nesting place has been somewhere around the Suomenlinna dockyard rather than more natural environment).

    I can suggest starting with Vallisaari since I believe that most departures (at least this time of the year, in peak summer the schedule might be slightly different) of these JT-line boats offering this island hopping from Kauppatori (Market Square) stop there before Suomenlinna. It would be also possible to travel to/from Vallisaari with a ship from Suomen Saaristokuljetus that has second stop in Isosaari, yet another island previously in military use. However, that larger island is further away from the coast (about 50 minute ride from Kauppatori), so it might be somewhat time consuming to go there and back.

  4. On 9/15/2019 at 2:35 AM, Wayfairers said:

    Anyone ever done a day hopping by ferry between the islands of Suomenlinna, Vallisaari and Lonna?  Looks like it could be an interesting day.


    I haven't been island hopping between these, but I am familiar with Vallisaari and Suomenlinna. And I know that Lonna is much smaller and unless you interested in its restaurant, sauna or cafe/bar I guess you can skip it.

    Vallisaari (and the interconnected neighbouring island Kuninkaansaari) has somewhat limited services (there is a restaurant and few cafes at/near the Torpedolahti harbour), but then there is plenty of interesting nature and some sights from its past as a military island.

    Suomenlinna then is the most developed of these three and the preserved fortifications, historical buildings, vintage dockyard, museums (including museum submarine Vesikko) and various other things will sure offer enough to see even for a slightly longer visit. And there are restaurants (including a brewery!) and cafes to offer nourishment if you need that. And do not forget that despite it is a sightseeing destination, it is still also a city district where some people live, so it is not perhaps the best idea to sneak into every backyard there.


  5. 9 hours ago, joejoe 59 said:

    What would this mean for overseas travellers do you think, don't want to be be refused payment for anything. 

    We only have one night pre cruise & one night post cruise so wasn't going to have local currency for Copenhagen, only use credit card. 

    Any advice greatly appreciated. 

    If I have understood the news articles about these changes correctly, for foreign cards it should be still possible to use these old-fashioned unsecure payment methods if these cards do not offer the alternative methods. Of course, it is still possible that there will be now some extra hassle with the payment terminals when encountering a foreign card, which does not behave the same way as the European cards.

    • Like 1
  6. I have done the Tórshavn-Seyðisfjörður leg on MS Norröna couple years ago. I think it was quite ok, although sure once on the open sea, the ship was rocking quite a lot, so not the most pleasant ride. North Atlantic that time of year (beginning of October) is not the calmest sea. And the initial part of the journey between the islands of Faroes offered very nice scenery, although I'm not sure if this was the usual route since that particular time there was an unusual incident: couple German guys had misunderstood the departure time from Tórshavn and thus had missed the ship, however they were transported first by road to a coastal village along the route and then got a boat ride to the ship.

    Entertainment on board is fairly sparse: there is a cinema and a musician performed in a bar in the evening. I think also one lounge (or such) did show some promotional Iceland films. Buffet and cafeteria type restauntants offer proper food. The shop is quite large. And there is a free gym with a sauna - the latter I tested and it was quite nice, although the facility seemed to close surprisingly early at 19:00.

    The cabin (this was a inner cabin with beds up to four persons, although this time the upper bunks weren't used) was fairly basic and compact, but did its job fine.


    Generally, I think this ship resembles a bit the cruise ferries on Baltic, although the entertainment options are more limited as there was no nightclubs and similar. On the other hand, I doubt many would like to dance aboard when it can be even hard to walk straight line on hallways.

    • Like 3
    • Thanks 2
  7. On 9/4/2019 at 8:14 PM, Redsky5292 said:

    Helsinki: This was one of my favorite ports, the city really reminded me of Boston.  We got off the ship and walked into town, it was about a 20-minute walk.  We headed to the Esplanade and walked over to Market Square.  It’s a combo Farmer’s Market/Food Stalls/Arts and Crafts fair.  I would wait to buy any sweaters until you get to Helsinki, we found the prices cheaper and it was the same goods that they were selling in Tallin.  We shopped, walked around and then headed back to the boat. 

    Interesting note on the prices, traditionally Estonia has had lower prices than Finland, although the gap has been closing and I guess it is indeed possible that certain products might be cheaper in Finland.

  8. See https://www.droneinfo.fi/en for information about flying drones in Finland, includes maps of no drone zones, for example in Helsinki there is one in Kruununhaka around the Senate and Market squares.


    Although the site does not yet mention this, next year the drone flying in Finland is supposed to become slightly more restricted and you would need to do an online test to get a licence to operate a drone.

  9. On 7/1/2019 at 6:05 AM, 10987654321blastoff said:

    I'm picturing two big telescopes gaffa taped together.

    How about Swarovski BTX? https://www.swarovskioptik.com/birding/atx-stx-btx-c210201

    Obviously you need to use the spotting scope on a sturdy tripod, so not the most mobile solution. And from the few times I have tested that BTX eyepiece I have found that it is not that comfortable to use. Also, spotting scopes in general are not very useful on a moving ship since there is always some distracting motion.

  10. 19 hours ago, lamb616 said:


    That is my plan as well.  Unfortunately, our ship leaves early that day (3:00 pm....not sure why??) but it says we dock at 7:00 am so hopefully we can get off the ship super early and have time to explore the Market Square area and still head to Suomelinna.

    The Market Square is open for business 6:30-19 on weekdays, 6:30-18 on Saturdays and 10-17 on summer Sundays. And Suomenlinna ferry timetable tells that there is 2-3 (weekdays) or 2-4 (weekends) ferries per hour during the time of your visit and the ride takes about 15 minutes one way, so you should have sufficient time to visit the fortress island. The early morning ferries are most likely less crowded, so perhaps it might be good idea to hop on the ferry about as soon as possible, that would also allow little more flexibility in determing how long you want to spend at Suomenlinna before heading back to the mainland.

  11. I think the main items to look at when comparing binocular specs are:

    1. Magnification and objective lens size

    -  these appear in the model descriptions as two numbers separated by "×", the first is the magnification and the second the objective (= the front) lens size in millimeters

    - the greater magnification allows you see details of distant objects more clearly (assuming the weather conditions do not blur the image), although that also means the field of view is narrower.

    - larger objective lens gathers more light and thus works better in low light and gives better colours and brighter image,

    but then there is the downside of the larger and heavier lens, namely...

    2. weight and size

    - smaller and lighter binoculars are obviously easier to carry and handle - or of course, in the latter department the smallest models may be slightly less comfortable ergonomics.


    Thus finding the suitable balance in these factors is the most important point when choosing. For most cases, I think something like 8×42 or 10×42 model might be the sweet spot or if you would prefer smaller binoculars then 8×32 still works fine. Of course, if it would be possible to test various models at some store (or perhaps at some sort of event for eg. birding) it is much easier to pick the most suitable model for your needs.

  12. 14 hours ago, Go2See said:

    I hope someone will have some info or thoughts on these questions:

    Are there extra costs for any of the excursions off the ships?  (Cruises, special landings)

    Beverage costs  Espresso, wine, mixed drinks?

    If you have been on Quark or G Adventures expeditions, do you think you get "as close" to the wildlife etc?


    My only experience on cruising in Svalbard is aboard Nordstjernen on a short three day cruise, but I am pretty sure things are mostly similar aboard the bigger Hurtigruten ships sailing in the region.

    First, there should be no obligatory extra cost on any landings, after all most places where the ships stop are in middle of wilderness. If the cruise stops at Barentsburg (the active Russian mining town) or Ny Ålesund (a former mining town that now functions as a research base), there will be opportunity to visit the local shop or bar, but of course you don't necessarily need to buy anything if you don't want to.

    I was content with the basic beverage offerings (water, tea (or coffee) and juices on breakfast), so I'm afraid I cannot quote any prices (and this was already couple years ago), but since in Svalbard there is no VAT, alcohol prices are cheaper than on the mainland Norway.

    I don't think any cruise with dozens of passangers will get you very close to Arctic wildlife. Some birds, especially fulmars following ships, may fly past near you, but generally most animal sightings will be from a safe distance. The dedicated photo expeditions may offer chances to get closer to the wildlife, but then we are talking about operating in a small group from a smaller ship.

  13. I am afraid, I have not used the public transportation in Kotka, but as far as I know the local bus routes are not very frequent (at the most frequent times of the day one hour interval between departures) and many of the routes might be more aimed at the needs of the local population. That fake train might be quite useful to move around the Kotkansaari island in case you want to avoid too much walking, although the distances there are fairly manageable - at least for an able-bodied person.

    Sadly, unlike Helsinki (and to slightly lesser degree the surrounding cities), in many places in Finland the public transportation is fairly limited, but then usually there wouldn't even be enough population that would need that transportation.

    I'm fairly certain there will be also some dedicated transportation for the cruise passangers from Mussalo to elsewhere in the city, at least to/from somewhere in Kotkansaari (=the city centre). Btw, I read that the other cruise ships than MSC Meraviglia which will stop at Kotka this year will be at Kantasatama harbour in the NE corner of Kotkansaari.

    • Like 1
  14. I have been in Kotka several times, albeit never on a cruise.


    In case you want to go to Helsinki, the travel time by road can be closer to 1,5 hours without any stops. And I would say the bus offered by the cruise company is probably the best bet in that case as I presume it avoids any extra stops unless the excursion includes a brief visit for example in Porvoo. There are also regular long-distance busses that run on Kotka<->Helsinki route, but I'm not sure how suitable these would be for a visitor arriving on a cruise (in case you are still interested in bus timetables and prices, see Matkahuolto for more information). Probably only a nod better than the train option since these do not require any changes apart from getting to/from the bus station and the busses might be slightly more comfortable than the local trains which run on the Kotka-Kouvola leg.


    Now, the second option is of course to stay in Kotka (or nearby regions in Southern Kymenlaakso) and perhaps that is not that bad option either in my opion. Sure, Kotka is far smaller than Helsinki, but Kotka is rather well-known for its parks and there is few other nice sights, the best known ones being Langinkoski Imperial Fishing Lodge, Maretarium aquarium and maritime museum Wellamo. Outside Kotka, at least the neighbouring city of Hamina might be worth a visit as the circular city plan in the old centre and the fortress are rather interesting.


    And after searching for information about MSC Meraviglia's visit to Kotka from the Internet, I learned that this ship will dock in Kotka at Mussalo, which is little further away from the city centre and primarily a cargo port. On the positive side, the date (June 25th 2019) will be one of the days of Kotkan Meripäivät (Kotka Sea Days) festival, so there should more events around the city than usual.

    • Like 2
  15. In Helsinki there is the following ways to purchase the public transport tickets:

    1. From bus drivers with cash payment and generally no bills larger than 20€ will be accepted (especially if you are buying just one single ticket) since otherwise the drivers would run out of change way too soon. This option also carries a small premium in the price. Note that tram drivers (or local train conductors) do no longer sell tickets.

    2. By using HSL mobile phone app. The payment will be charged from your credit card (or for Finnish phone subscriptions via phone bill) and obviously you need a working Internet access to be able to use the app.

    3. Advance tickets can be bought from various ticket machines, kiosks and other sales points. These accept credit cards, sometimes as the sole payment method. Sadly the map of sales points tells that for those who arrive on a cruise ship that docks at Hernesaari, there is no HSL ticket sales points in the vicinity.

    4. There is also a travel card, a smart card that can be topped up in money that can be used to buy single tickets or store 14+ day ticket periods, but this is mainly aimed for those who live in the capital region.

    • Like 1
  16. 6 hours ago, nattie said:

    Thank you Hezu for great info! If you bu any chance know, is water bus more frequent than ferry? From what I read on Suomenlinna website, water bus might be preferable for us on one of the ways (there or back).

    Nope, the water bus timetable seems to be less frequent than the HSL ferry. And since apparently most services do stop in couple other islands enroute, the travel time to Suomenlinna is slightly longer. On the other hand, I think of those stops, at least Vallisaari could be a worthy place to visit: it is the island next to Suomenlinna and has slightly more wild nature, although sure there is some signs of the military past too. Also since the water bus stops in different places in Suomenlinna than HSL ferry, that might be an advantage: for example you could get directly to Kuninkaanportti (King's Gate), which is quite far away from the main quay. The water bus is not part of the HSL fare system.

  17. As earlier replies have correctly answered it is pretty easy to get to Suomenlinna by ferry from Market Square and tour the sea fortress independently. Just be aware that the ferry frequency can be at times fairly low: the schedule for this summer has not yet been published, but if the schedule is anything like last year (and most likely it will be), the interval between ferry departures is 20-40 minutes on weekdays and 15-40 minute intervals on weekends depending on the time of the day, more frequent in busy daylight hours, less frequent in early morning and late evening. So, especially for return journey, you should plan in advance which ferry is the latest you can catch. Another tip: the Suomenlinna ferry is part of the Helsinki region public transport (HSL) and thus the same tickets are valid for this ferry as for busses, trams, metro and local trains, thus with a single ticket one could travel the whole route from the cruise port to Suomenlinna or vice versa as you can make unlimited number of changes within the ticket validity time (from April 27th onwards, that will be 80 minutes if I have understood correctly). Of course, the taxi option might still be easier and faster way to travel between the cruise port and Market Square. Likewise, the cruise companies may offer shuttle busses that provide transportation for this common route and the cost is probably somewhere between the taxi fare and HSL public transport ticket.

    And at Suomenlinna, at Jetty Barracks right next to the main quay where the ferry docks, there is a tourist information office, so if you need any help to plan where to go in the sea fortress, stop there and pick up a brochure etc. You can also find brochures available for download at the official website of Suomenlinna. Also worth a mention is that Suomenlinna also hosts homes for a significant number of people, so it is preferable to not snoop into every building or backyard.

  18. 24 minutes ago, cansas.piligrim said:

    Porvoo is also amazing - a small 19th century town, not too far from Helsinki.


    Actually Porvoo is even older city: it got the city rights already around 1380 and the church (or cathedral since 1723) was originally built in 15th century and the oldest houses still standing in the old town date from 18th century.

  19. 18 hours ago, ama said:

    We are arriving in Helsinki via the NCL Getaway this July and scheduled to dock at West Harbour (LCD) from 8 - 5. We are a family of 7. My mom has some mobility issues, she can’t stand or walk for extended periods of time, so I’m trying to figure out the best way to get into the city center area.


    The berth code is actually LHD...


    18 hours ago, ama said:

    We are most interested in visiting Market Square and Esplandi (food and shopping), and Senate Square/Helsinki Cathedral. If we have time, we may do the Rock Church.


    1. Last year, NCL offered a shuttle for $15 a person. It takes you to makasiiniterminaali. Is this very close to Senate Square/Market Square?


    Yes, Makasiiniterminaali is almost next to the Market Square and Esplanade starts from the Market Square, while Senate Square is one block away from the Market Square.


    18 hours ago, ama said:

    2. Are we better off taking 2 taxis into town

    and back? Are they readily available? Does anyone know the approximate cost?


    I guess also instead of two "normal" taxis, a taxi van with enough seats for whole group could work. There is a taxi stand in Hernesaarenranta and I would assume there probably is some taxis present whenever a cruise ship arrives to West Harbour, although I really don't have first hand experience. Also instead of picking a cab from the taxi rank, it is of course possible to reserve a ride in advance either by calling or using a smart phone app. I'm afraid I'm not familiar what sort of fare to expect, especially as taxi fares in Finland were deregulated last summer (this linked article lists also some links to various taxi companies operating in Helsinki).


    18 hours ago, ama said:

    3. Does anyone recommend HOHO bus? Did you pre-purchase tickets? Do they run continuously back and forth between the city center and West Harbour?


    Any help or insight would be greatly appreciated. 


    I believe HOHO busses are stopping there too and at least the regular Helsinki region public transportation bus route 14 has its terminus in Hernesaari, although that bus line does not go to Market or Senate Square, so one must switch to another bus or tram route to get there. See HSL route planner for more information about what sort of public transport options you can take to reach the places where you want to go.

  20. On 3/1/2019 at 6:25 AM, plettza said:

    Thanks for the advice. I am looking at the Sony RX. If I were to buy a 6x00, I doubt I'd buy many lenses for it. Maybe just a general, all round lens. 


    I like GPS as when I import into Lightroom, I get the map showing the location of my snaps.  

    Several recent Sony cameras allow linking the camera with a smartphone to provide GPS information for photos.

  21. I have been on a shorter (3 nights) Svalbard cruise on MS Nordstjernen few years ago in June. Indeed the ship has some old world charm, although that means that most of the cabins may seem to be tiny compared to the cabins on newer ships. But then at least in my opinion, you don't travel that part of world to spend too much time in the cabin, you will see more either on the outdoor decks or at least from a lounge windows since at least the lower deck cabins feature classic port hole windows with a metal shade to block the midnight sun. I'm afraid my recollection of the shower facilities is very vague, I think I eventually skipped showering as I didn't feel to be in great need of shower and the shower room was little far from my cabin. If I recall correctly, the engine noise didn't bother me.

  22. 7 hours ago, mskaufman said:

    These folks did not take cards.



    On the other hand, that picture looks to be from Helsinki rather than any of the countries mentioned in the original post. Finland seems to be a nod behind in turning into cashless society than its Scandinavian neighbours (and Denmark), although sure even here you can survive easily with only a small amount of cash and use cards for most transactions.


    And if you ask how I was able to identify that this is Helsinki (Market Square to be specific), it is the JT-Line gangway in the background as I believe that sightseeing/charter boat company does not operate elsewhere.

  23. If you are looking for non-stop flights from US to Nordic countries, KLM does not offer any, since they only fly between US and their hub in Amsterdam. However, if you still decide to pick KLM flights the change of planes in AMS should be fairly smooth experience as if and when all flights are on a single ticket, then you can check the luggage all the way to the final destination and you can do airside transfer within single terminal complex with just a simple passport check.

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