Jump to content


  • Posts

  • Joined

Posts posted by Hezu

  1. My personal experience on cruising around Svalbard is quite limited as I have only taken a short (three nights) cruise on Hurtigruten's MS Polarstjernen, which is a fairly small ship (especially as it is rather old and thus her cabins tend to be much smaller than on more modern ships) and I think that particular cruise was not even fully booked. Fewer passangers is obviously an advantage if the cruise includes landings on smaller boats as otherwise the process of getting people on the boats and back to the ship would take longer time and there might be crowding on the beach.

    And there are certainly smaller ships sailing around Svalbard, I believe the smallest ones are M/S Origo, M/S Malmö and M/S Freya. These sister ships take only something like 14 passangers and primarily they are used for photo expeditions around Svalbard. There are also other bit larger expedition ships, eg. MV Polar Pioneer, that has something like 25 cabins in total.

  2. 21 hours ago, kitkat343 said:

    The only issue with the 2 tram is seeing where you dock.  You'd need to get from the port to the tram.  We took a cab but there might be other alternatives depending on where you dock (we had a 3 year old in tow, so our ability to navigate was a bit limited but the public transportation system in the Baltics was excellent).

    The most commonly used cruise port in Helsinki is Hernesaari, which sadly is currently without any nearby tram or bus stops, closest one is something like kilometer away from the quays. And that is for tram line 6. Although if you want to ride around on tram 2, you could for example take tram number 6 to either Fredrikinkatu or Erottaja stops on Bulevardi, go to the stop on the other side of the street, hop on the next tram on line 3, which will eventually change into tram number 2 at Olympiaterminaali stop (and also the other way around for trams that are going to the opposite direction).

    But in general, the public transport in Helsinki should be able to get you on most locations around the city quite easily, for more details on routes, prices and possible announcements on interuptions, please check out HSL website. The route planner there can be useful tool if you want to know how to get from certain location to some destination. The route planner is also included in HSL mobile app. It is possible to purchase tickets with this app. And all HSL area tickets include unlimited changes between busses, trams, local trains and Suomenlinna ferry as long as the ticket is valid (for single tickets minimum of 80 minutes).

    • Like 2
  3. 1 hour ago, janetcbl said:

    Sorry to hear that the Market Square has changed to include more “touristy” items. That market was one of my favorite places, especially the cloudberry piles in the Fall. The Karelian pies were a favorite!….tried making them at home….dismal failure!

    I think there is (or at least in summer will be) vendors offering fruits, berries and vegetables. And I presume that at least some of the cafe tents would offer Karelian pasties (or "rice pasties" as the Traditional Speciality Guaranteed (TSG)  definition of Karelian pasty has quite strict regulations on how one should prepare these). But certainly significant portion of the offerings will be more geared towards tourists rather than locals doing their grocery shopping.

  4. 16 hours ago, pierces said:

    Another consideration is that your old card is, well, old. Memory cards have a finite life span. The component cells actually degrade after a number of write/read/erase cycles. In real life, the number of cycles is large, and it takes the average shooter a long time to exceed the limit. Even realizing that, my two is one and one is none philosophy leads me to buy new memory with a new camera. Since I tend to keep a camera for about 5 years, I never worry about the age of the memory or the number of read/writes. That has probably contributed to the fact that I have never had a card go south on me. I do carry the old memory in my bag, because you never know... 😉

    Also worth a note that the transfer speeds of memory cards have been increasing all the time and it is rarely a bad idea to have a faster card instead of slower one.

    • Like 3
  5. 7 hours ago, cmph said:

    What type of market is the open air market near the harbor? Is it a flea market with local goods? or a food market? or a combo? I tried to google that after reading your comment, but it looks like there are a lot of markets in Helsinki. We have plans to do the HOHO off already, and I think my 17yo would appreciate a shopping diversion from the rest of the things we plan to see. She would love to go to a good flea market!

    Traditionally the Market Square has been a food market and with sort of farmers' market type repertoire, but in recent times the focus has somewhat shifted towards more touristy offerings and these days many booths offer souveniers and prepared food and drinks to be consumed on the spot or as take away portions. Some sign of this process was news that on Easter Saturday the last fish monger on the market will cease trading there.

    If you want to see an open air flea market that you could find in Hietalahti market, but it will be open only on Saturdays and Sundays 10-15. There are also some other indoor flea markets or second hand stores around Helsinki that have longer opening hours.

    • Thanks 1
  6. 15 hours ago, kaisatsu said:

    Daylight in the fjord region varies from roughly 5:30-21:30 at either end of the season (mid-May and mid-August) to 3:30-22:30 in late June. So unless you have an abnormally early or late port call, it won't be a problem.

    I presume the quoted times are sunrise and sunset times. It is worth remembering that around dusk and dawn there will be twilight illuminating sky even if the sun is below the horizon.

    • Like 1
  7. On 3/9/2023 at 10:19 PM, hallasm said:

    Absolutely no chance for Northern Lights in Southern Norway and most cruises are during summer - northern lights only when it’s dark inside the Arctic Curcle.

    In summer you sure cannot see Northern Lights in Southern Norway (or elsewhere), but I wouldn't use such strong language that there is no chance to see them there, granted the sufficiently strong magnetic storms occur rarely and even then clouds may obstruct the view to the night sky. Just couple weeks ago the space weather had so strong magnetic storms that one could see Northern Lights even on the latitudes of The Netherlands. But certainly the best chances to see auroras are in latitudes above the Arctic Circle (and from (late) autumn to (early) spring).

    • Like 1
  8. 10 hours ago, fmrlkr said:

    I am looking for a good Puffin tour.  We will be in Iceland May 22, 23, 24 & 25.  Akureyri, Isafjordur and Reykjavik.  Any suggestions?

    I have no experience in any specific tours, but after little research I gather that your best chances are either from Ísafjörður (nearby Vigur island) or Reykjavík (Akurey and Lundey islands).

    Found a comprehensive blog post on puffins in Iceland that probably can give you further information.

    • Like 1
  9. 15 hours ago, kaisatsu said:
    • Olivia is an Oslo-native Italian restaurant that also has a location in Østbanehallen. 

    If the wish was no international chain restaurants, I think this could be thus disqualified since despite being originally Norwegian, thesedays the chain is international as there are restaurants at least also in Helsinki.

    • Like 1
  10. Where in Europe? What would you like to photograph?

    You are talking about a large continent and for some photo opportunities camera phones may prove to be somewhat limited. I can think about at least two use cases, where mobile phone cameras may be insufficient: when you want to take photos of far away subjects and dark locations (eg. interiors of old buildings). Of course, for these situations, you would need a telephoto lens and a fast aperture lens(es).


    • Like 1
  11. 23 hours ago, irvington said:

    This is good to know. Going with my sons this summer and one of them loves walking (as do I) but the other one will complain (and of course he's the thinnest and fittest of us all). We are comfortable using public transit and a friend who just went to Helsinki said it was very easy to use, so that's probably another option. She recommended the HSL app, I downloaded it, and it seems easy to use.

    One note regarding public transport in Helsinki: presuming the ship calls at Hernesaari, for time being there is no bus or tram traffic close to the cruise ship quays, the nearest tram stop is about kilometer away. But once you get there, for modest ticket prices you have access to the whole public transport network, that can transport you not only to the destination of the shuttle busses (somewhere near Market Square?), but pretty much anywhere in the Finnish capital region. Worth noting that even single tickets include unlimited number of changes between trams, busses, Suomenlinna ferry, metro and local trains within the validity time of the ticket. This varies on how large area is covered: the AB zone (whole central Helsinki and little more) ticket is valid for 80 minutes and ABC zone ticket for 90 minutes and ABCD zone (= whole region) ticket for 110 minutes. Although it might be useful to buy a 24h ticket instead of bunch of single tickets as AB zone 24h ticket costs 9 €, while single tickets for the same area are 3.10 €, so thus if you need 3+ tickets 24h ticket becomes cheaper option.

    • Thanks 1
  12. 20 hours ago, McGarrett5oh said:

    Since we have the car for 24 hours, we want to go out late at night to hopefully see the Northern Lights.  My question is if anyone knows where would be better destinations (away from the Reykjavik lights, but not too far) to get that complete darkness needed to see the Aurora Bourealis?

    It doesn't have to complete darkness to see auroras, although minimal light pollution makes it easier to see these. For example one reasonably popular place to see northern lights is around Garður lighthouse in NW tip of Reykjanes peninsula (north of Keflavik airport). Also apart from the city center of Reykjavík, I think Iceland might have fairly light amounts of light pollution.

    • Thanks 1
  13. 16 minutes ago, Yehootu said:

    For the experts, Decisions, Decisions. We've put deposits on both, as who knows what the situation with Russia will be in 2024. Since we're coming from Hawaii, we'd only do this once. The shorter cruise looks good, are we doing to much of the Fjords on the second? Mahalo for all advice!

    I think either itinerary would offer a lot to see in Northern Europe, so it is bit of toss whether you want to A) ports on North Sea coast and Shetland Islands or B) few more fjords on Norwegian coast and full tour around Baltic Sea. I wouldn't be too concerned that the situation with Russia would significally affect either cruise.

  14. 5 minutes ago, ontheweb said:

    In case there are more than one port, we will be sailing on NCL, so whatever port they use.


    DW said she googled it, and it was walking distance away, but that does not sound right to me.

    Blue Lagoon isn't even in the city of Reykjavík, so the distance would be quite challenging to walk. Skarfbakki harbour (where there is cruise terminal) to Blue Lagoon car park is 51 km and if Google Maps estimates correctly, would be 44 minute drive by car.


    It is possible your DW noticed Laugardalslaug pools, which are within the city and there you could indeed walk from the harbour.

  15. I have not been on either place, but quick look on a map reveals that Eidfjord is near the eastern end of the fjord system while Ulvik is more to the west, but it is at the end of a sidefjord, so the amount of fjord cruising should be quite comparable.

    If you are really interested in seeing Vøringfossen, I presume it would be quite possible to go there also from Ulvik, although the trip will obviously take little longer since you are starting from the other side of the fjord, but if Google Maps is anywhere accurate it would be about 50 km in distance and 48 minute drive from Ulvik to Vøringfossen (and obviosly the same back). Also closer to Ulvik, there would be another waterfalls, Espelandsfossen. I don't know if you could arrange transportation from Ulvik to either waterfalls from the tour operator you booked or if there is any other alternatives, but then you have to remember that both Eidfjord (population 544 in 2019) and Ulvik (pop. 1067) are small villages.

    • Thanks 1
  16. As the previous posters note that dog sledding is not a native Icelandic activity, I remembered that there is another animal related transportation method that is far more Icelandic: riding Icelandic horses. I think there is quite many places where you could try this activity, although I cannot name any specific ones right now and I feel bit lazy to do a web search that probably would yield several options.

  17. 3 hours ago, MissBreezy said:

    I'd also add to this, that even in September there will still be quite a bit of midnight sun left (it may not get dark enough at night for long enough to see them) I live in rural Northern Canada and our lighting conditions are very rarely right for aurora outside of the dead of winter, I maybe see them once a year 😬

    Perhaps calling it midnight sun is bit of overkill, but yes, in September days are still fairly long and nights fairly short, so for seeing dark sky you have to be up fairly late in the evening/night to even have any chance to see auroras. Although the sunlight hours do diminish as the month progress: in Reykjavík on September 1st sunrise is at 6:13 and sunset at  20:25, on September 30th sunrise is at 7:22 and sunset at 18:57. And these times are not the times when the darkness fades or falls in, that happens already sometime before sunrise and after the actual sunset time.

    • Thanks 1
  18. And worth remembering that there is never absolute guarantee for seeing auroras. First, there has to be suitable space weather, which may not occur every night on the latitudes where Reykjavík is located, although it is sufficiently north that the phenomenon is still reasonably common. And if there is suitable disturbances in the magnetosphere that would allow auroras to occur, to actually see these, you need clear skies and given that Icelandic weather can be quite variable, there is fair chance that there is cloud cover that makes it impossible to see northern lights.

    Also if you would like to do dog sledding on snow, I think September is too early for seeing snow, at least outside mountain tops and glaciers, but these are not locations where you do dog sledding.

    • Like 1
  19. 21 hours ago, grayjay said:

    Most questions have already been answered but I can offer some extra ideas:

    Havila offers several beverage packages, non-alcoholic and alcoholic, coffee package. If you're in a suite or order the Havila Gold package, some drinks are included. Coffee and tea is included of you do the round trips, as far as I know. Anything alcoholic is very expensive as in all of Norway - that goes for both Hurtigruten and Havila.

    Not all of Norway, there is one special exception: Svalbard. Given its special status goods sold there include no VAT and thus alcohol prices are significantly cheaper there than elsewhere in Norway. On the other hand, given the remoteness of this archipelago, most fresh food items do cost more in Svalbard as there is high transportation costs.

    And Hurtigruten does offer also cruises around Svalbard, but obviously these are more of the expedition variety than the classic coastal cruises.

  20. 21 hours ago, Gardyloo said:

    Please don't take this wrong - I've been a camera junkie for... let's just say a l-o-n-g time, but with a camera with a 50mp sensor and a 600mm (equivalent) lens, what do you plan to do with the images?  Make roadside billboards?

    As another owner of α1 (and α7R III and α7R IV), I admit that the 50 (or 42 or 60) mpix sensors might be a tad overkill in terms of resolution for what I actually need, but at least high megapixel sensors have the distinct advantage that you can happily make serious cropping and yet the final size still has plenty of resolution. And then it is worth noting that these new cameras do offer several other useful features that can be even more significant reasons to get the camera. For example in case of α1, I find the superior autofocus, backlit sensor that allows to use electronic shutter (and silent shooting) without any rolling shutter effects, no viewfinder backouts and high frame rate shooting far more significant reasons than the sensor resolution as the reasons why I want to use this camera.

    And despite that you can easily crop out details out of these high resolution images, I think there is still adventages in using longer focal lengths instead. Especially in the case that you want to print out a huge wall-sized poster.


    And regarding the original question: I think if I had been heading to Alaska (never been there so far), I think I might lean on taking Sony FE 5.6-6.3/200-600 G OSS rather than the shorter telephoto lenses, although my latest lens acquisition, Tamron 50-400 mm F/4.5-6.3 Di III VC VXD would be a serious contender since it has such useful focal length range in far more compact size compared to Sony 200-600G. In fact, who knows, perhaps I would bring both lenses along and then depending on day's programme choose which one to carry around.

  21. On 1/24/2023 at 4:03 AM, *Miss G* said:

    Without knowing your port of disembarkation it’s difficult to give a proper answer.  I can give you an example though.  We had an overnight in Trieste in October.  There was no face-to-face chat with officials (for us) but the ship had to be cleared by officials before we could disembark.  The next day we walked off the ship as normal and headed to the airport without ever going through immigration.  In other words, on an overnight, Customs & Immigration will be done on the day of arrival; not the day of departure.

    Worth a note that Trieste and whole Italy is part of Schengen area and within that area there is generally no border controls between countries, only on outer borders of the Schengen area, thus if your cruise itinerary had previous port also elsewhere in Schengen area (eg. Croatia or Greece) then it is normal that there is no border controls. Also since most Schengen area countries are also EU member states and EU countries form a customs union, the customs formalities when traveling between EU countries are quite relaxed. And of course there can be additional international agreements that make border formalities simple also in other cases.

  22. 12 hours ago, lucas34 said:

    Celebrity will use Hernesaari, its about 4 km from Kauppatori/Market Square. 

    If I'm not mistaken, the quays in Eteläsatama and Katajanokka will only host smaller cruise ships as the navigable route into those is too tight for bigger ships, the larger cruise ships will thus always use Hernesaari quays. Although the definition of small cruise ship is here not exactly super small as Eteläsatama and Katajanokka have a regular cruiseferry traffic with ships that are little over 200 m long. Of course, that is still signficantly less than the length of Celebrity Apex, which is 306 m long.

  • Create New...