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Posts posted by Hezu

  1. 1 hour ago, TLCOhio said:

    Appreciate these great comments and follow-ups by Hezu and Hallam about the Northern Lights.  When visiting in the summer, when it is light mostly 24/7, then it will not be dark enough to see the Northern Lights.  Right?


    Also, on a cruise ship, the schedules might have you in port only from 8 am to 6 pm, limiting your evening opportunities. 


    Yes, although the disturbances in the magnetosphere can occur year around, during the late spring and summer there is too much light during the nights to see Northern lights. However, in the southern hemisphere it would be possible to see aurora australis that time of the year as then there days are short and nights long, although there tends to be fewer locations in suitable latitudes to observe this phenomenon compared to suitable northern hemisphere locations for aurora borealis.

    Although I don't have any experience in winter cruising, the opportunities to see auroras while on land might be increased by the fact that winter days in the north are short, areas above arctic circle for a while there is polar night during which sun does not rise above the horizon at all and you get only short dusk/dawn period with some faint light in the horizon. Further north you go, the polar night lasts longer. Of course you could see auroras also when you're aboard a ship, although the ship lights may hinder this a bit and the idea of aurora photography aboard is pretty much doomed: you want to take long exposures on a tripod, but since while underway the ship always shakes a bit, your camera setup does not stay static sufficiently long. And I guess it is worth a note that naked eye may not see auroras as well as cameras taking those long exposures.

  2. 18 hours ago, hallasm said:

    Northern lights all year round - however only visible when sky is dark - best from September through March. Yes, Winter 2024/2025 will be a good time for Aurora Borealis.

    And even if the sky is dark, another requirement for seeing auroras is clear skies, if it is cloudy you can forget seeing any even if the space weather would otherwise predict wonderful colours in the night sky.

    • Thanks 1
  3. On 12/23/2022 at 2:13 PM, hallasm said:

    it is actually not that cold in Alta in March. The average temperature in Alta in March for a typical day ranges from a high of 35˚F (2˚C) to a low of 13°F (-10°C). 
    But looking for the northern lights is a stationary and prolonged stay under the open night sky.  On open ship decks it can also feel much colder due to wind.

    Best way to dress for the cold is dress in layers.

    Use many thin, warm layers rather than a few thick layers. It will insulate better and allow you to strip off layers if the temperature rise.
    Also remember to wear more than one layer on your legs. 

    Use water proof and insulated boots and wear  warm socks. Wool is best, alternatively good synthetic fleece socks. You can also layer socks.
    Personally, I don't like shoe grips.  In snow and ice, I use hiking boots with a good grip.

    Use a good quality coat, parka, or jacket. For the coat, the thicker the better,. Can either be synthetic jacket, a wool pea coat, or a down jacket. 

    A warm hat is a must as well as  comfortable, warm gloves or mittens. Fingers and hands are very vulnerable to the cold, so keep them covered.

    If necessary, use a scarf to cover the face.

    And water proof or at least water resistant outer layer could be useful addition in the case it rains (especially if the rain comes in wet form rather than as snow), although the rainy weather will also  mean that there is zero chance to view any aurora as the clouds will block the view. But assuming you are willing to do also other outdoor activities, keeping yourself dry will make the experience more enjoyable.

  4. On 12/12/2022 at 7:22 AM, cruisinqt said:

    Unfortunately I’m not looking for First or Business class seats. I’d love those seats but the price is just too high considering we are already paying for a 2 week cruise along with several days vacationing pre cruise in Barcelona. I think Premium Economy is more in line with our budget. The Finnair flight we are looking at has a 2-4-2 configuration for the Premium Economy seats we are thinking about. It’s aboard a 787 Dreamliner. I know some have a 3-3-3 or 3-4-3 configuration so I’m thinking maybe the 2-4-2 configuration may have a little more room. This is all new to me and I’m still learning so thanks for the info it really helps. I’m keeping notes on everything so I won’t have as many questions about future transatlantic flights. Now that we are retired we plan on traveling extensively. 

    Finnair does not operate 787s since its entire fleet is from Airbus (or there is also Embraers and ATR-72s with Finnair livery on shorthaul routes, although technically these are operated by NoRRA subsidiary), so either you are looking at a codeshare flight (presumably on either American Airways or British Airways) or you are looking at Finnair flight that in reality will be on A330 or A350.

  5. 11 hours ago, bermuda_fm said:

    I am stopping in Alesund June 24th can I do on my own?  Like to hike

    Those more familiar with Ålesund can chime in and provide better answers, but I believe you could fairly easily explore the area on your own. Although of course you may need to get some sort of transportation if you want to go on a hike further away from the town.

    Also worth a note that Norwegians celebrate Midsummer Day on June 24th, so that may have affect what services are available that day.

    • Thanks 2
  6. 12 hours ago, VMax1700 said:

    You will need to do a lot more planning than on a Caribbean cruise.  Passports for one, currencies for another (depends on countries visited).

    Although I would say that the currency is not that big issue: majority of European countries use euros these days and in most other countries you might survive without any cash, especially in Nordic countries you could pay pretty much anything with cards.

  7. Almost all intra-European flights are operated with equipment that offers just economy and business class - or actually, in most cases strictly speaking the whole plane is equipped with similar seats and part of the front of the plane is just designated as business class and assuming the usual 3+3 seating in narrow body airliner, the middle seats are blocked and only the window and aisle seats are occupied. Then of course, there are usually some difference in meal and drink service that differentiate economy and business class.

  8. The nearest airport is Rostock Laage Airport, but it does not really have any significant connections to any airline hubs or like (eg. for the current week there is just couple holiday flights to destinations in Canary Islands and Egypt).

    But as the previous posters answered, you could always take train(s) from elsewhere in Germany.

  9. On 11/12/2022 at 2:22 AM, losfp said:

    Hi all. We've done a few cruises before but we're complete newbies to Northern Europe cruises. Heck, we've never even been to Europe before, but we're going to fix that in Oct 2023 when we do Europe and RCI for the first time.


    We're looking for options for our 2027 20th anniversary trip. For our honeymoon we did Alaska, and returned there in 2017 for our 10th anniversary. We were going to go back again for 2027 but we're looking into alternatives, and Norway/Iceland came up.


    I've done a bit of reading (the pinned post about Norwegian Fjords has been a goldmine of info!!) and from what I can work out, the main lines do these rough types of cruises:


    - Norwegian fjords - mixture of deep fjords and coastal towns

    - North cape / midnight sun - these go further north

    - Iceland - visit a couple of Norway ports on the way up and maybe Scotland on the way down

    Note that if your plan is for October, then you won't encounter midnight sun as that phenomenon occurs only in summer (and late May). However, in October you might have a chance to see northern lights as there will be less daylight hours and dark nights. Also if I'm not mistaken, in October there are fewer cruise offerings in these parts of the world compared to the peak season in the summer.

  10. 6 hours ago, CaptJerry51 said:

    Thanks for posting this news.  I'm sure the decision came after numerous focus groups and hundreds of thousands of dollars of consultant fees.  Maybe fits into some grand long-range strategy.  I didn't think the name was broke.  So why fix it?

    I think this might be partially due to the fact that Olympus as a company hasn't ceased to exist, it continues to produce some other products than camera equipment.

    • Like 1
  11. Some years ago I took a short cruise around Svalbard on Hurtigruten's MS Nordstjernen. We did see a polar bear, several different whales, seals, few walruses, Svalbard reindeer and number of birds. Most of the wildlife was seen from some distance, but of course that might be a safer option, especially regarding the polar bears. On the landings we made, there was always few guides with rifles on watch to ensure that polar bears did't attack us. Our trip was in June, so I don't know if it would be vastly different in August - maybe then there would be even less snow and ice on some places and maybe the first migrating birds may have left Svalbard and already heading back to south. And of course, since we are talking about wildlife, there is never absolute guarantee that you will see all the animals you would like to see, although on certain places like some bird colonies should be quite reliable locations to see something.

    I think this sort of cruise offered quite good look on the Svalbard and its flora and fauna, although of course you might see even slightly more on a longer and more expensive photography oriented expedition cruise on even smaller vessel (being quite old, Nordstjernen isn't exactly a massive cruise ship either), but for price the offering was fairly good value.

  12. And remember that regardless which cruise you take, there can't be ever 100% guarantee that you will see auroras, even if there would be suitable space weather, you will need a clear dark skies to actually see anything. Also be prepared that this phenomenon might occur in middle of night rather than soon after sunset or right before sunrise (assuming you are not above the artic circle during the polar night).

  13. 9 hours ago, donaldsc said:

    As long as we are talking about unorthodox support methods - how about a chain pod. 

    I not sure that sort of solution works that well with binoculars and at least that does not offer one of the benefits of finnstick: making holding binoculars less strenuous as you can keep your hands down while holding the stick and not raise them to hold the binoculars.

  14. 2 hours ago, JAFM said:

    Once you get over 8x magnification, binoculars will show you just how shaky your hands are!  Years ago, when I started birding, I did some research on binoculars.  Lots of great pairs our there, including stunning clarity from manufacturers like Swarovski.  But our human inability to hold things steady over 8x means that unless you have a tripod/bipod/monopod, you won't be pleased, regardless of the lens quality (and who wants to carry extra stuff around). 


    There was only one solution:  Canon binoculars with image stabilization. 


    My pair is the Canon 12x36 IS III, made in Japan.  It's absolutely stunning what happens when one presses the stabilization button on top!  It's so good you can use it in a moving vehicle!  They are expensive (~$700) but they'll be the last pair you buy and will greatly increase the pleasure of using binoculars to pick out details.  I'll never go back to unstabilized binoculars, period.

    I have to mention that there is also another, cheaper approach to stabilize binoculars (and this could be even combined with those image stabilized binoculars!): a finnstick. It is basicly a short pole used to hold binoculars on the eye level. Originally these have been hand-made (often from wooden ice hockey sticks), but these days there is even few commercial models available (disclaimer: I'm talking from my Finnish perspective, situation might be slightly different elsewhere) and one approach is also tripod attachment for binoculars and a light monopod (generally in non-extended form). If my explanation is too vague, please do an image seach for "finnstick" and you'll find several pictures of the device, often in use.

    • Like 1
  15. 21 minutes ago, sofienummer said:

    I did visit Iceland once before and hoped to see the Northern Lights, but sadly I didn't (have to be honest and say that I fell asleep while staring at the sky 😅)

    Of course that is one more challenge in northern lights observations that these are only visible once it gets dark and majority of people probably want to spend their nights sleeping. I managed to see (and photograph) my so far best auroras this March. But this light show did not start until middle of night, somewhere around 1:20 am, but I happened to be awake that late although I was already ready to go to bed, but once I got the aurora alerts and verified that I can see these with a naked eye from my home window in Helsinki, I sure wasn't yet going to bed! Granted, I was then still too lazy to head outdoors to find a better viewpoint. And regarding the darkness requirement: few weeks later there was prediction that space weather could be promising for auroras even in southern Finland and decided to check it I could capture these from Suomenlinna, which is known decent spotting place since there is fewer light pollution compared to most of Helsinki. Unfortunately no luck that night, the geomagnetic disturbances took place already few hours before sunset and once it got dark there was some cloud cover too. At least I heard an eagle owl howling somewhere in the vicinity of Suomenlinna dockyard that evening.

    • Like 2
  16. 9 hours ago, sofienummer said:

    I'm going on a Norse Legends tour with HAL msRotterdam in 8 days!! 😄 

    We will be visiting: Eidfjord, Alesund, Geiranger and Bergen.

    It also says: scenic cruising Hardangerfjord and cruising Geirangerfjord. Since it's october and it's still dark before we arrive, I assume we can only see/experience scenic cruising once we leave a port of call? I'm in a starboard aft balcony; will I be able to see things well? 

    And is there any chance at seeing the Northern Lights from any of these destinations when it's dark?

    If you are lucky, there is a small chance to see northern lights, but since these locations are still in quite southern latitudes, suitably strong auroras occur only occasionally and the colours can be more faint than further north. And of course, there still the premise that you don't have too many clouds in the sky when the phenomenon occurs as clouds sure will cover even the brightest auroras.

    • Thanks 1
  17. 37 minutes ago, gnome12 said:

    Quite low. The sky will be too light. According to this site, between late September and late March it is dark enough for possible viewing.


    I would say non-existent given that the midnight sun phenomenon lasts pretty much whole July on those latitudes and dark clear skies is the first requirement for seeing auroras. I would say the first times, when you might see any northern lights is in latter half of August and even then the better observation points might be slightly more southern locations than Honningsvåg.

  18. Although you are already eyeing the cheaper alternatives, I have to mention that Sony RX10 IV has few tricks that makes it superior to the competing models and worth the premium. First, the phase detect autofocus is much faster and more reliable than the contrast detect systems used by the others. Also RX10 IV trumps in burst rates and you can shoot up to 24 frames/second. So if you want to capture action (eg. flying birds) RX10 IV might be still the best choice despite the high price.

    Also worth checking if there would be any cameras available on the second hand market, that could shave off some of the price.

    • Like 1
  19. On 8/25/2022 at 2:59 PM, hallasm said:

    No need for excursions - maybe a shuttle or public transpor.
    Helsinki is in an industrial area - shuttle for a fee to center - then walkable

    That industrial area feel only applies to Hernesaari, which is common docking site for cruise ships (especially the larger ones), but it is not the only location for cruise ships in Helsinki, some ships do use also Eteläsatama (South Harbour), especially Katajanokka side, which is much closer to the city centre, especially the older empire style parts around the Market Square and Senate Square. 

    Also worth a mention that the industrial feel of Hernesaari may some day disappear as there plans to renovate the area, build mainly residential building on the lots that were earlier occupied by cargo harbour related businesses. There has been also plans for a proper cruise terminal. Although these building projects probably won't get into full swing in the next few years as there has been some setbacks on city planning process for the area.

    • Thanks 1
  20. On 7/30/2022 at 11:01 PM, DragonOfTheSeas said:

    OK, the server seems to be working tonight so I will go back and post some pictures from the boat tour.  


    There were lots of other boats of all sizes in the harbor and the canals.  I thought they sometimes came pretty close to one another.  You had 2 cruise lines:  Viking and Mein Schiff. 




    Then you had all the ferries going back and forth all day. 

    I'm late in commenting, but I have to note that Viking Line ship in your picture might not be true cruise ship since it is one of these cruise ferries that shuttle between Finland and Sweden.

  21. On 8/14/2022 at 10:21 PM, wcook said:

    Chip and pin will be universally adapted in the US right about the time the rest of the world has abandoned it and gone fully contactless. 

    Actually going fully contactless may never happen, already now Finnish legislation (and that might be derived from EU regulations) allows contactless payment only up to 50 euros and then requires that occasionally you have to enter the pin code even if the purchase would fall into category that could be paid also via contactless method. These restictions are of course there to make it less easy for thieves to use stolen cards.

  22. 20 minutes ago, kaisatsu said:

    And if your venturing into questionable fish products, pick up a tin of «makrell i tomat»Makrell_i_tomat,_boks_2013.jpg

    It’s a love-it-or-hate-it kind of thing. It took me years to try it because it smells very fishy and looks disturbing (people affectionately nicknamed it “plane crash”) but I actually think it tastes pretty good.

    Since I don't eat fish, I won't comment the taste, but when questionable fish products are mentioned, one of the first things that pops into my mind is the Icelandic national dish Hákarl. And then another classic in that category is of course the Swedish delicacy of surströmming, although Sweden was not on original poster's itinerary, but I suppose it would be possible to hop on a train in Copenhagen and make a short visit to Southern Sweden (eg. Malmö).

    • Like 1
  23. On 8/10/2022 at 10:31 PM, em-sk said:

    I think the key difference between a network carrier and a LCC is the network.  


    The Legacy carriers have interline agreement with other airlines and are setup to do connections.  The LCC care islands on to themselves.  Many are just point to point and if they do support connections it is limited to their own flights.


    It is possible to buy a ticket that include a flight by Air Canada connecting in Heathrow with a BA where if something is delayed the airlines are responsible for rerouting.


    For LCC carries that is just not possible.  They just don't run the computer systems able to handle these types of connections and don't have the agreements in place to make them work.  That removes a lot of cost from their operation.   


    Being a LCC is not about being lower cost for the consumer, it is about reducing your operating cost to be bare minimum.

    Actually, some of the LCCs belong to airline groups that also include well-known legacy carriers, eg. IAG may be best known for BA and Iberia, but it also owns Vueling, KLM/AF has Transavia and Lufthansa Group includes Eurowings and Eurowings Discover. This means that on some routes there could be codeshares for these LCC flights and you could combine these with flights from the legacy carriers on single ticket. Of course, mainly these LCCs still offer point-to-point service (and often on routes that can be described as holiday oriented) and the on board experience makes some sacrifies to allow the lower prices.

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