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Everything posted by Flyinby

  1. Have a look at the cabins...see if size, layout, window/balcony/etc. suits you. YouTube also will usually have some sort of cabin tour, though keep in mind that if they are old videos, it may have been pre-refurbishment. As Hallasm said, the Havila ships are all new, the Hurtigruten ships are older...in fact, my in-laws took one of the current coastal route vessels, the Nordkapp, in 2003. Here's a link to a walkthrough of the Havila Capella I don't have a similar link to the Nordkapp or other ship Hurtigruten uses for the coastal route, but perhaps again, a YouTube search might produce some. If you like a balcony or larger window, the Havila ships may be more to your liking, as they have more cabins with them. If your departure date is critical, check to see what dates are available. Since they share the coastal route on different days, that alone may determine your choice. I can't fairly compare the two, since I haven't done the route on Hurtigruten; I did the full round trip on the Havila Capella in February 2023, and we're going back on Havila in February 2025. The experience, ship, crew, and voyage were absolutely great, so I had no reason to switch. Good luck, whichever you choose...the coastal route is absolutely amazing and interesting!
  2. We did 3 of your 4 excursions in February 2023...in Tromso we did the dogsled ride instead of the gondola. I wouldn't have cancelled any of them due to weather. The Geirangerfjord trip is on a ferryboat that's warm inside, and protected from rain, with plenty of seating, guided by some knowledgeable park rangers. It can be cold and exposed on the top deck but I spent a lot of time up there enjoying the great views. Great tour, I wouldn't miss it. North Cape...I wouldn't want to miss regardless of weather. The ride is on a comfortable bus through scenic and interesting territory, and at the cape the center is warm and comfortable, with food, drinks, souvenirs, and a short walk out to the cape itself. Easy to walk back if you get cold or the rain or snow starts. The Russian border was also one I wouldn't miss. It's a comfortable bus ride to the caves where you enter and residents hid during the war, and ours was guided by Ernst Sneve, who experienced it as a child. Then a ride through scenic country to the border, and a brief stop at a small shop right there at the border, and a return to the ship. I can't imagine the Tromso gondola being that much of a problem if weather isn't good. I tend to like to book in advance, and when we went in February some were full, some had space available, and at least one was cancelled due to not enough bookings. So that's another risk of waiting until the last minute...the tours are run by third parties and if there aren't enough bookings, they may cancel. If the weather is REALLY Miserable, they may get cancelled anyway, but Norwegians mostly just flow with the weather. I noticed when we walked around Oslo that when the icy winds, rain, snow, or whatever come up they don't miss a step. Also, be aware that the coastal journey is near the gulf stream, so even in February, temps ranged from -10 to +10C, with the -10 only once that I remember. Perhaps in April you'll get more rain than snow, but I don't think on the excursions you'll be exposed to it for long enough to ruin it. We have T-Mobile, and had no problems with cell or data...maps were always working, and I know voice worked in Oslo and Bergen, but didn't really have any use for it when were were at sea.
  3. Thanks Nancy, no doubt you're getting pretty excited by now. Not only the midnight sun, but Norway should be really nice that time of year. Up by the North Cape or Kirkenes, or I imagine anywhere in the Arctic circle the midnight sun should be amazing. I'll watch for the pictures...we already have intentions to return there in late spring or early summer for the midnight sun and Norway at its spring best, but no definite time yet. You'll have a great time. Norway's an amazing place, the people are great, the coast route is beautiful and Havila's ships and crew are so nice that it's hard to imagine anything but a great time. Even in February, getting off at the end of the voyage, I'd have gladly hopped back on for another round trip.
  4. ABM Parking Services 80 Francisco Street, San Francisco, CA 94133 Office: (415) 398-4162 | Cell: (415) 417-9412 Call them ahead of time and tell them you're cruising out on Princess and give them the info. You can prepay and print out your authorization, which will save you a lot over the price if you just drive in. An easy walk to the pier, especially if you drop off your luggage with passenger at the pier, then park and walk the short distance back.
  5. We booked 2 nights in Oslo, but really only had one full day (midday arrival and the train to Bergen departs early, about 8:20). I wished we'd had at least another day there. If you stay in the central area, there's plenty to fill up a couple of full days at least. We did book a 2-hour bus/walking tour in advance, and it was well worth it since it took us to areas we'd have a hard time getting to on our own with limited time. So you might want to consider more than two nights unless you really don't see much in Oslo that interests you. We're going back Next February and I'm booking 3 nights to make up for the places we didn't have time for. Art galleries, museums, the opera house, library, besides life and the general aura around central Oslo make it really worthwhile if those things are interesting to you. There's a porter service (porterservice.no) that will take your bag(s) from Oslo to Bergen (or back) for a reasonable fee, in case you don't want to deal with your larger luggage for the train or ferry. Excellent service, they were reliable and reasonable. The train ride is exceptional... you can get your tickets in advance at vy.no if you know your dates and times. We did the Oslo-Myrdal-Flam-Myrdal-Bergen route on the train with a night in Flam, rather than the legit "nutshell" tour; it was mid-winter and Flam was pretty quiet. Very much worthwhile visiting but one night was adequate. We also booked 2 prior nights in Bergen (in Bryggen) and it was a bit better timewise, as the Havila ship doesn't board until late afternoon, so we basically had 2 full days in Bergen. Again, the central area is best, and there are some 1-2 hour guided walking tours that are really worthwhile and not expensive. You learn your way around, and some interesting history etc. There's a funicular railway from the central area, and it's very interesting to walk around on your own and enjoy. More days would have been OK, but having nearly 2 full days made it not seem so short as Oslo, with its early train departure. You might be able to see some fall color in the fjords...I asked the ranger in geirangerfjord about when that would be, but he wasn't very specific...I suppose it varies like everywhere, but he did suggest maybe October. Have fun on your trip! I did have some pics from our Feb. 2023 trip at https://pbase.com/roberthouse/norway23, if you want an idea of the scenery you're in for.
  6. I've had the same experience, either side was used for docking. With my first Havila trip, I contacted them before booking to see if there was a specific side they docked on, and it is the port side. The cargo door is aft on the port side, the passenger gangway is midship on the port side, and I don't think there are either on the starboard side so there may not be much choice. I was glad I checked, as I really enjoyed seeing the port activity, passengers boarding, etc., very different than normal cruise ships.
  7. Laundry is free, even the soap is automatically dispensed. There were no gratuities charged, which I assume hasn't changed since last February. There was a crew appreciation donation box in a corner, but I don't believe it was ever even mentioned, so strictly voluntary (if you notice the box there at all). There were no surprise or added-on expenses in our case, so if you stick with what's offered for meals and don't use the cafe, you should avoid that if so inclined. Water, coffee, and tea comes with meals and also juices or milk with breakfast. With an inside cabin, be sure to turn on your cabin announcements if you're interested in northern lights. The crew is very good at announcing them any time they're sighted, but you can miss it or sleep through it without the announcements if in your cabin. A good phone app for northern lights can help too, since you can get advance info as to the likelihood of lights and the cloud cover situation.
  8. The perks include the Havila Gold package, which covers drinks and food from the Cafe, along with two nights' dining at the Hildring (very nice) and breakfast at the Hildring, also very nice. You can order additional entrees/desserts from the main dining room without extra charges. I'm not sure of the limits on drinks since I don't drink alcohol, but it was nice just being able to order what you want...food, drinks, sparkling waters etc., coffees... without having to deal with extra costs. You get a bottle of champagne and flowers also. Room service if you're so inclined, and a minibar with an assortment. The extra space is nice, a somewhat separate room to get up early or stay up late if one likes, without disturbing the other. I think it would be a great 60th anniversary trip. We enjoyed our trip (February 2023) so much I've booked another next February, in fact the same Junior Suite. If you like the idea of seeing the port activity on the short stops, book the port side cabins, if you want it a little quieter, maybe less chance of glaring port lights late at night, the right side might be a bit quieter. I loved watching the port activity, and the balcony got a lot of use even in February.
  9. A lot of this could have been avoided if your schedule hadn't been so tight...all sorts of things can go wrong if you schedule flights so tight that any problem becomes a major issue. First thing I'd have done is call the airline and see if they could change the flight. If so, problem solved. I don't see anything wrong with them using a travel agent to book, what does it matter? Did Havila book and arrange your flights, or did you? If you booked air travel through Havila, they should have taken care of any issues, but if you booked yourself, you chose your options. If i book a hotel at the cheapest rate and a flight is cancelled and rebooked the next morning, the airline isn't going to pay me for the room I couldn't use because I chose that non-refundable price. Mechanical issues, unless from lack of maintenance, as well as weather, are inevitable. If you've ever had airline flights cancelled or delayed, you probably know they'll help you out somewhat...try to rebook, maybe put you up in a hotel of their choosing...but they're not going to pay for the cruise you missed because you were supposed to fly in the morning it began, or your special demands to be made "whole". Likewise, if any travel company wants to stay in business, they have to keep things reasonable and not just start handing out money to whoever asks for whatever they think they are owed. We don't know "both sides of the story" here, and maybe they do owe you and didn't handle it well, but from the description, it could be you're expecting more than is reasonable. Travel insurance might be a good option in your case; they too will only reimburse you within reason and the limitations they specify. Or use a travel agent, and contact them if anything goes wrong. Or, use a cruise line that offers to book your flights for you, then let them handle it if such issues come up.
  10. I guess it depends on your view of the purpose of "packages". We've always bought a couple of the coffee cards/packages, and they were a good deal for the consumer if you used them...free brewed coffee, and 15 specialty coffees for around $35-40. That was a good deal for us, and I assume OK for Princess since they're the ones who set the price. Maybe it wasn't a good-enough deal for Princess, since they've discontinued those. Then there are the 12-packs of bottled water for $7. Much better than having to track down water or get glared at if you fill your water bottle. That's a benefit to the purchaser, and probably OK for Princess since bottled water is so cheap. Plus, (opinion) encouraging people to drink water is healthy and beneficial to them, maybe not so much for alcohol or soda. Hopefully they won't discontinue that like they did the coffee. But let's say they figure their drinks are worth, say, $12 on average, since that's about what they charge. Those who claim to hardly drink generally say they have maybe 2-3 a day, so if Princess subtracts what those 3 per day are worth (after all, it's what they charge), and they take off the $36 per day, it then becomes $24 per day for gratuities and wi-fi. They can keep the fitness classes and other stuff, and just offer the alcohol-free plus for a good deal for the purchaser, and should be a good deal for Princess. Unless of course their drinks aren't worth what they charge... Of course if you manage to consume the full 15 per day with plus, That (at $12) would be $180, so they're actually losing $120 a day on those folks, plus the grats and wifi, so that alcohol-free package at $24 would be a bargain for Princess. But back to the original subject, a package should be a benefit to the purchaser, and they should not have to drink a lot to benefit from it...why not some other options for the rest of us?
  11. I agree with the last couple of messages...You really don't need to be "allegiant" to any cruise line. Most have their strong and weak points and offer different experiences. While it's nice getting elevated to some "special" ranking by being faithful, that's really just a sales incentive to benefit them. And you can tell by reading these forums that it works. Besides the different cruise lines that offer similar journeys, there are river cruises, ferries, land tours on buses, trains, mixed, and they all offer things that others don't. When I see folks that know all the ships on one cruise line, know the captains and crews by first-name, know the ship classes and dining room details for all of them and what port they're currently in (OK, some exaggeration...8^), and their posts consist mostly of acronyms, I wonder if they just really love that cruise line or if they got caught in a rut. Which is OK if they're happy with it, but not for me. There are lots of great experiences out there, on ships and by other means, and finding something new is exciting.
  12. I think you should give it some time rather than canceling your other cruise. Sounds like you're (understandably) a bit sensitive to things that normally people would just shrug off. I read your post several times, and it really sounds like such a minor incident that it's not worth getting bothered over. The rep certainly had a right to ask the reason for canceling if that's their normal procedure, and though she may not have reacted in the way you expected, demanding a supervisor sounds a little extreme, considering how customer service in general is these days. But sure, try some other cruise lines or travel options...you may enjoy it, and besides there's no reason you have to remain "faithful" to one. There are so many cruise and other travel options, try some others, but keep your booked Princess cruise unless you have decided you don't want to do it for other reasons, besides a customer service agent that wasn't up to standard. Don't waste your time, enjoy yourself!
  13. Click to see the breakdown of costs...even when 3-4 are free, there are taxes and port fees.
  14. That's too bad about the Russian border tour, I don't think the descriptions (at least when we booked it), do it justice. We probably only had about a dozen, maybe 20 when we went. Our guide was Ernst Sneve, who lived there in the war years, and had some childhood experience in the underground caves where the citizens hid, so he had some very interesting stories up to the current day. We toured the caves, then had a very nice and scenic bus ride through the countryside, through towns, past lakes, etc. on the way to the border...very scenic in winter. At the border, there's a small shop that sells his book, some souvenirs etc., and being at the border in the current situation was a bit eerie, but not bad, and I was glad we chose that tour. Some friends of ours did the Saltstraumen tour on the southbound leg, and they agreed with what you say, nothing great. I suppose if you hit it at just the right time and tides it would be exciting to see, but other times it's not all that great, apparently.
  15. There are most always some glitches with new ships, good to hear things are going OK. That's great about northern lights already! I'm still deciding on the winter trip, been on the verge of booking it a few times. We have a Costa Rica trip in December, and a Zurich to Paris river trip in April-May, so would have to squeeze it in early February (I like having time to 'normalize' between trips). Most likely will book it soon, using the 'flex' so it can be changed if necessary, but I don't expect I would change it. I must really like Norway...I also want to do a 'midnight sun' version, but probably not a single round trip...maybe halfway, stop for a few nights up in the arctic circle, then return, possibly part way by train. Will wait to hear your upcoming trip report, since there's no way to fit that one in until at least 2025.
  16. We did seven excursions, Geirangerfjord (only in winter), Tromso dog sled, North Cape from Honnigsvag, Russian border in Kirkenes, taste of Vesteralen, plus the bus/city tours in Trondheim and Hammerfest. We enjoyed all the tours...city tours we could have optionally walked but in winter and being unfamiliar with things the tours were a nice familiarization, and took you to places too far to walk. We got out at some of the other stops and walked around, best if they're a couple of hours or near that, but some went out on shorter ones. The daily talks in the evening help a lot in finding out what's feasible during the shorter stops. The ship (at least on our trip) was generally pretty quiet but not like "library quiet", just relaxing and peaceful...no noisy groups like you see on some cruise ships. Being winter and dark at 5:30 or thereabouts, we didn't spend a lot of late nights upstairs in the panoramic lounge except when going in to warm up during northern lights, but even then it was just pleasantly friendly chat, not rowdy or crowded. Of course, as Oakridger said, during midnight sun times, one would most likely want to be up and about, and the lounge would be great for that.
  17. I couldn't find this posted here, but was curious about whether the Polaris and Pollux had started their routes, along with Havila's other two ships that have been doing the route for some time. According to marinevesseltraffic.com, the Polaris has left Kirkenes and the Pollux has left Finnsnes on the way to Bergen. So it looks like all four of Havila's ships are now "online" and working ships! After all the obstacles, this is great news. I didn't see anything about it on Havila's site, other than them being listed on their routes for booking, so I suppose they could just be training, but they were both supposed to start operating in mid-late August, so I'm guessing they did. Now I have to decide which one to take for our next coastal voyage...the familiar Capella and its crew, or one of the newer ones...
  18. We'd pick up a few things now and then when getting off at stops, and it apparently was fine since we carried it on openly. Not alcohol though, and no bags full of groceries, just something we saw we may want to try, or something they didn't have on the ship, just minor stuff. I don't think I'd try bringing on bags full of groceries or anything like that, seems sort of insulting unless you have a special diet that they can't provide. While it technically is a "ferry", for those doing the north or south or round voyages it's not like any ferry I've seen. They've done a good job of combining a basic ferry service with a very comfortable and enjoyable voyage ship. A bit like a "cruise", but on a smaller vessel without all the fluff and activities, no casino, no bingo, art shows, cooking demos, etc. They do have a few things, such as you can get ice water dumped on you when you cross into the arctic circle, but that's just now and then, for those interested.
  19. On our trip, the Havly Cafe was not free except for those with Havila Gold packages. It may just be a temporary promotional feature that it's free for all with the round voyage, but I don't know for sure. We did have the gold package since it came with the Jr. Suite, and it was really nice having the option of eating at the café whenever you felt like it. The food was very good, and there was enough variety, along with the regular items and snacks, that we never tired of it. If nothing has changed, eating in the main dining room, you can (I heard) just ask for something from the Havly instead. I always found something on the menu, so never verified that. We also got a couple of free dinners at the Havrand, and one was some sort of special night, where there's no menu (for choosing), they just brought you 7 different items (one at a time), and explained thoroughly what they were. Just small servings of each, but I was surprised at how good they all were. I'm not an adventurous eater (when in doubt, head for the burger and fries 8^), but all were good and I ate and enjoyed things I'd never have even tried normally. Even better, we got a northern lights alert in the middle, and as we left they assured us that we'd be able to continue on when we got back (which we did). The staff there was great.
  20. They do offer 3 options, at least on the US website, and it sounds like they're refundable up to a point, except for the cheapest (saver) one. Definitely good to read all the conditions BEFORE booking though, so you make the right decision. I booked over a year in advance, and chose the super flex for peace of mind, and given the world situation at the time, knew the most I could lose would be the 20%. Having recently had to pay in full for a Viking Christmas on the Rhine tour in December 2024, (over a year ahead of time!) Havila's system seems pretty nice. I didn't get the bill for our 2023 Mid-February Havila voyage until January 2023.
  21. The website doesn't list all the cabins, you do have to call or email (calling is quicker, keep the time difference in mind). When I booked they listed one cabin on each side, and they offered to switch it, but I decided I wanted that one anyway. Port or starboard is up to you, they dock on the port side.
  22. We booked the Italian restaurant (Sabatini's or whatever) last December for 13, and they charged each person individually. Don't know if it's different if you book it before the cruise (we booked it during the cruise), but they didn't ask, it just showed up on everyone's account. So it IS possible, I just don't know how you'd confirm it when you book.
  23. The website is fine for booking, the only thing, as mentioned by Oakridger, is if you need to contact them about a preferred cabin, you have to call them in Norway (9 hours later than our west-coast USA time). Midnight or early in the morning works. We went in February this year, had a great time and am planning a repeat. We had a junior suite, and the perks were nice, but it does cost more. The balcony was nice, even in winter, and I chose port side because I wanted to watch the docking etc. There are also balcony cabins and non-balcony, and all seemed pretty nice and not cramped. There are a couple of panorama cabins in front of deck 7, with forward view but no balcony or side view. Especially when the ship is in the open ocean, it can get pretty bumpy. We were fortunate and most of the rough seas came at night, but they really weren't bad, and it was generally smooth and calm. We did hear stories of some pretty heavy seas, so a midship cabin may be a little better, but we were fine up forward. The scenery is unequalled, absolutely amazing, the excursions were all good to great, the staff was great, food was excellent but different than cruise ships with buffets and a lot of waste. The lounge at top is really nice for relaxing and enjoying the views along the way.
  24. We've had 14 in a suite a couple of times, for a meetup, not a meal, and it was fine. These are different suites, but if we don't cause the ship to list to one side, we should be OK. Regardless, the chance of getting all 19 there for lunch or breakfast would be pretty remote, nothing to worry about. Anyway, I don't want to highjack the original topic, just meant to comment on the room service post.
  25. Yeah, that was meant mostly in jest, hence the smiley. It would be pretty hard to explain how we used all those clothes... But I really haven't used the free laundry service offered on our other (non-Princess) trips a lot...maybe once on a 10-15-day, at most 2 times for my wife. So Princess is getting a pretty good deal since we won't be using a lot of the "exclusive" suite benefits.
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