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Posts posted by cymrucat23

  1. On 4/28/2024 at 5:50 PM, Leither said:

    We’ve done lots of independent trips - including those in Iceland above - and never had any problems.

    Hi again Leither , or anybody else that will have had experience of this- having now booked Dover to Iceland (a bit late booking this for July departure) A couple of the FOCL tours we would like are fully booked, so have now booked some independent tours! One is an 'anchor port' stop for Heimaey. I can't seem to find information on FOCL website - do you know the frequency of 'tenders' to the port when it's an anchor port? Is it just in the morning then pick up at the end of the day - or are tenders running throughout the day?  Thanks 🙂

  2. 17 hours ago, Leither said:

    We’ve done lots of independent trips - including those in Iceland above - and never had any problems.

    Have you ever had a missed port and claimed on insurance for the missed trip Leither? Genuinely interested as we claimed for our missed port which was fine, but of course as we had booked an excursion via FOCL it was automatically refunded by FOCL.  Thanks 🙂 

  3. 2 hours ago, LetsGetOrganised said:

    I was umming and ahhhing a lot as people around me kept saying we won’t enjoy it, we’re too young etc. But then I thought, a holiday is what you make of it, we’re going to have a wonderful time visiting places we want to see. We could afford the deposit and plenty of time to save for the balance 🙂

    What do you mean by 'too young'??  There was a pretty good mix on the Northern Lights March cruise we went on - Ok, predominantly mature people, but quite a lot of middle aged, some with a few children and a young couple on honeymoon (that's the few I actually interacted with). As you say, a holiday is what you make it!

    • Like 1
  4. Whilst we enjoyed thoroughly our Northern Lights cruise in March, I had a bit of a problem with the air con. We had an ocean view cabin, which was fine, but I found after a few days that my skin became extremely dry and my eyes became puffy toward the end of the cruise. Always turned down the temperature to quite cool when going to bed as I can't sleep in a hot stuffy room. Anybody else had this? I'm feeling I might have to shell out for a balcony if we go again 😞

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  5. On 4/14/2024 at 5:41 PM, Karen13 said:

    Any recommendations please? We normally do a mixture of both, but FOCL seem to be very cagey about advertising arrival and departures times at each port! We did a Norway cruise with them last year and I’m sure these times were published.

    Any suggestions on what is a ‘must see’? 

    Different cruise, but we went on the Northern Lights cruise in March, booked several trips through FOCL. As it turned out we could not dock in Bodo (sadly bad weather conditions) and as we had booked a tour to the Saltraumen maelstrom and sea eagles through FOCL we were immediately reimbursed. We also got insurance cover for missed ports so were compensated financially for this (though would still have far rather done the excursion).  With hindsight it's probably a bit risky booking independently (though it appears cheaper, which is very annoying). However, in Tromso, a couple we shared a dinner table with had booked Independently a cycling trip - this was successful for them.  FOCL never really seem to publish times in port (as you say a bit vague) and I would be nervous of booking something unless I was absolutely certain of the times.

    • Like 1
  6. On 4/21/2024 at 10:38 AM, LetsGetOrganised said:

    As the name suggests, I do like to be organised - but never this organised! It's the first time we've booked anything so far in advance but cruising the fjords is something I've always wanted to do. I'm now looking for all tips, hints and anything else you can throw my way. Sailing on Balmoral. Southampton > Stavanger > Olden > Haugesund > Lerwick > Southampton. We've cruised in the Caribbean with Disney and Carnival so have some experience but Fred Olson is new to us.


    Packing, excursions, food, drink - what is the number one tip you would give?

    Yes I keep looking at this and thinking is it too early to book! I really would like to go on this one but may hold out a bit longer (need to save a bit more) 

    • Like 1
  7. 2 hours ago, jeanlyon said:

    Never been to Norway and now booked on Aurora next March.  Will we need boots in late March?  I don't possess walking boots.

    Well I think it depends on what you plan to do. We went beginning of March (1st - 10th) and as we went to Narvik and Tromso and did the Arctic Train and dog sledding - then yes snow boots required. Other ports I managed OK with regular boots, didn't take my 'walking boots'. Even if you are not doing an activities, I would pack winter boots, there is still plenty of snow around even through April. Hope this helps.

    • Like 1
  8. 1 minute ago, Hadrianswall said:

    Thank you for those replies. My husband keeps saying they are 3pin from what. He remembers and I keep saying please check. We need so many chargers these days. Thanks again.


    No problem, enjoy you cruise. We bought an adaptor with 3 USB connectors incorporated into it - this was very useful 🙂 as you say, we need so many chargers nowadays!

  9. On 4/8/2024 at 1:04 PM, Hadrianswall said:

    I’ve been on the Balmoral a few years ago but I can’t remember if the sockets are three pin or two pin. And I know it sounds silly but I like a face flannel and can’t remember if they are included in the cabin or not.  Can anyone who’s been on the Balmoral recently tell me? Thanks

    The sockets are 2 pin and yes there are face flannels. We were on Balmoral 4 weeks ago  🙂

  10. We also stayed at Premier Inn by the dock a 3 weeks ago, we also booked parking at Premier Inn through parkingspace.co.uk which was good (and much, much cheaper than through FOCL). We did plan to go into Newcastle, but were quite tired by the time we got there (travelling from west Wales), so just had an early meal and retired to our room! 

  11. On 2/24/2024 at 3:23 PM, twotravellersLondon said:



    Even pre-pandemic Norway was virtually a cashless society and it's now even more so. 


    We were up there last year and visited Bergen, Ålesund, Tromsø, Honningsvåg, the North Cape and Alta... didn't use cash anywhere. People seem to prefer cards. All of the taxis take cards, museums are free or take cards and even in the churches... donations are welcomed by card. In some cases cash is simply declined... just like in many places in the UK... especially London.


    Evening  tourist markets... not that many will be open at this time of the year, take cards.


    In Tromsø bus tickets are available from the Tourist office.



    Walking in Tromso... you may need to take the shuttle up to the city centre nut from there there is a very attrative walk along the main street and down to the shore and harbour. there are really good views over to Tromsdalen Kirk (Nicknamed "the Arctic Cathedral") It you want to see the real cathedral it's in the center of town by the Ferry Quay.


    Waking in Honningsvåg just follow the coast line and the harbour... it's very atmospheric. There is a Christmas shop and a very bohemian cafe/bar to look out for.


    Walking in Bergen...


    We've been to Bergen lots of time over the years and have sometimes stayed there these are some suggestions within easy walking distance of the cruise terminal...


    From the main cruise terminal, it's just a couple of minutes’ walk to the fortress which is immediately outside. It was virtually destroyed when a German ship blew up in the harbour during the second world war but has been rebuilt. There's a park, military museum. banqueting hall and tower with good views.


    About 100 yards further on there's UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Bryggen... a series of Hanseatic heritage commercial buildings dating back a 1,000 years and lining up the eastern side of the Vågen harbour. It is a world class must-see site and has lots of museums, shops, restaurants and pubs. Be sure to penetrate the alleyways.


    About 100 yards further towards town and the end of the harbour there's a very classy McDonalds. Call to fame... Bill Clinton once sneaked in unannounced for a burger!


     From there turn left up Vetrlidsallmenningen and in less that 100 yards you'll find the Fløibanen... a cable car that takes tourists of a trip to the top of the mountain... sensational views... when it's clear.


     If you have the time, there are some interesting walks down the peninsula to the west of the harbour and some good views back to the Bryggen and there's the Akvariet i Bergen - Det Nasjonale Akvariet (Aquarium) at the end.


    Alternatively from either the Bryggen or the Fløibanentake take the Øvregatenl behind Bryggen and the Fortress to Mariakiken and then up the hill along Nye Sandviksveien... take the turning to the left down Skuteviksveien. This is a very pretty traditional street with some houses dating from the 1700s... the strange cobbles in the middle are to help horses in the snow... we've found them to be ideal for elderly tourists in the wet!


     At the end you'll come across the wharfs and refurbished warehouses around Skutevik. From one of the wharfs by the Seaman's mission... brilliant views towards your ship... and with luck... Eider Ducks on the water. (Hooded Crows are everywhere!)


    There's a sneaky way back to the ship via the beach and on a DIY board walk at the back of a shed or you might prefer the road... either way... it's only a few minutes.


    The sail away can be stunning in the right light and weather...  we try to be on deck.



    A few pics to whet the appetite...

























    Alta... If you can sleep out overnight,,, we're done it five time n different places... just amazing... especially when the lights come out.






    North Cape...














    And keep looking out... we saw the lights on six consecutive nights... mostly were most others were in bed!









    We hope that you have a really great time.




    Thank you so much, wonderful photos....really looking forward to it - not sure if we will have time to do much walking around Tromso, as we are booked for a a dog mushing experience! Do hope to do some walking around Alesund.....  🙂

    • Thanks 1
  12. On 2/24/2024 at 1:16 PM, tring said:


    We were there about eighteen months ago, a couple of ports that Fjord cruises visit and then Oslo on the way to the Baltic.  We always take at least a small amount of local currency, but we do not remember needing to use it as most payments were by card.  The exception was that we took a local bus to the folk museum in Oslo and had to find somewhere selling the tickets as they do not take cash or cards on the buses.  We find Trip advisor forums are usually the best place to get information on public transport.


    I suggest if you stick to tourist locations/outlets cards, you will be fine, but we will continue to take a small amount of local currency.  I doubt any local currency would be needed on excursions.


    Thank you - these were pretty much my thoughts 🙂

  13. On 10/17/2023 at 10:55 PM, Johnny Red Tip said:

    My wife and I went on the cruise to Iceland recently on the Balmoral. The cruise itself was good, and the ship was fine, however the ‘All Inclusive’ (sic) package was the worst we have ever experienced.

    It is the ONLY AI package we have experienced that doesn’t include:-

    ·        Wifi

    ·        Bottled water!

    ·        Cocktails (unless you happen to like the extremely weak cocktail of the day.)

    ·        Mocktails

    ·        Liquors (unless you like a cheap version of Baileys)

    ·        Bourbon

    ·        Irish whiskey

    ·        White Rum

    ·        Sherry

    ·        Port

    The beer component included 2 lagers, an amber ale and Newcastle Brown – but you had to pay extra if your preferred beer was bitter.

    The white wine selection was 1 SB and 2 types of chardonnay but no PG – which was available at an additional cost.

    By far the worse component though was the ‘selection’ of spirits. There was no selection, the package inclusions were all cheap ‘no brand’ spirits. (For instance, the Whisky was from China). Also, other cruise lines charge the difference between the package price of a drink and actual price when upgrading to more expensive drink choices, Fred Olsen charge 50% of the total price.

    There was also a drastic shortage of quiz games / parlour games. I am referring to ‘audience participation’ type games, not the shows. My wife and I are enthusiastic participants. Every cruise we have ever been on (over 25) includes at least 1 such game on every sea day – sometimes more frequently. The only such games on this cruise were 1 game of ‘Scattegories’ and 1 of ‘Majority Rules’, both of which were held at 23.30 hours when the vast majority of passengers had already retired. 

    Just out of interest - I don't drink alcohol, so this is not of interest to me other than the water. Is bottled water the only available water, or is there potable, non bottled water available - maybe I should bring my own bottles of water for our anticipated cruise in March!

    • Like 1
  14. 21 hours ago, tring said:


    You need to mention this on booking, it cannot be used retrospectively.  I forgot myself once and rang soon after, but too late to apply it.


    Bear it on mind for any future bookings though.



    Oh dear, yes just discovered this!  Thank you Tring, never mind....as you say, next time (I hope there will be one)!

    • Like 1
  15. 3 hours ago, twotravellersLondon said:



    We very much agree... it's best to double check insurance policies. We've never had any problems with ours but we buy what's best for us rather that what's the most economical on a comparison site... but we also tend to embrace destinations and what the surrounding area can offer with great gusto.


    It's likely that there'll be no problem for the great majority of people. Thousands of passengers on Fred Olsen go dog sleighing in the Arctic every season. There are many more on other lines including SAGA, P&O, Viking, Ambassador, Hurtigruten and Aida that do the same. So for these tens of thousands of people a year who simply ride on a dog sleigh... insurance isn't a problem. 


    On a cruise that we were on only two months ago (not with FOCLs) well over 500 people went dog sleighing at a site just outside Alta in Norway. They did a couple of km. We stayed overnight and did 10 km over the countryside and across a frozen river. The experience was electrifying! We have also dog sleighed at the same site twice in recent years while cruising with FOCLs. The longest dog-sleigh we've done has been 17k.


    Dog mushing (driving the dog team) is a very different situation usually because mushing requires a significant amount of training and skill in handling the dogs, giving commands in the language they were trained and in manhandling the sleigh. It's a serious winter sport and it's not something that's usually offered to cruise passengers.


    Nobody who hasn't been there, done it and embraced the experience can possibly appreciated the experience. It is totally immersive... the dogs are only feet away, passengers experience every nuance of the ground below, hold their breath while the dogs tackle small inclines, feel the brakes being applied by the musher when the dogs in their excitement just decide to "go for it."


    We've been lucy enough to come across Birds of Prey and Elk on the trails... it just adds to the excitement. We've had the chance to socialise with the dogs after the ride, warm up with a coffee around a crackling log fire in a Lavu tent.


    We travel for the experience, excitement and exhilaration of new experiences and new places... and the chance to indulge in things that we've so very much enjoyed in the past (every time is different). 

    Your experiences of dog sledding sounds absolutely wonderful! Just makes me even more keen to do it 🙂 - yes will double check on the insurance situation.  Thank you.

    • Like 1
  16. 29 minutes ago, twotravellersLondon said:


    The best place on your tip is, as you rightly suggest, is Tromso. Tours there are usually about 4 hours, cost between £100 and £160 pp for independents and can be easily found on most search engines. Trips arranged via the ship will tend to be much more expensive.


    We've been dog sleighing three times from a Fred Olsen ship but always further North in Alta.


    We did a 10k dog sleigh run just a couple of months ago but that was with a different cruise line. Tips are... wrap up really warm... it's cold on the sleigh and the windchill is significant... one or two pairs of warm socks, thermal gloves to wear below the mittens that should be provided and a really warm hat that won't blow off are really essential in addition to thermal underwear.




    You need to be canny about when "Fred" will arrive and leave to ensure that you can do the trip. You'll possibly need to book a transfer to the dog-sleighing site and you should check what will happen if you've booked a trip independently and "Fred" cancels the port, turns up late or decides to leave early.


    Also take care that the ship or any other ship in port hasn't block booked all of the available places on these trips and there's nothing left for independents.


    It's a great experience... well worth the effort and the cost in our view but, as you've correctly surmised, it needs research and an educated gamble on whether pr not it will be possible if "Fred" changes his itinerary due to any reason... including bad weather on the route North.


    And good luck with the Northern Lights... in March this year we saw the on five consecutive nights. Local people used to believe that they were the spirits of the departed....


    We saw, or at least imagined, everything from kittens staring down on us ..




    To open-mouthed Viking warriors in helmets...





    Best wishes for your trip.




    Thank you, wonderful photos....yes think I have plenty of time to plan...will be researching carefully and of course as you say, no amount of planning can allow for change of plans/route by Fred.  

  17. On 5/13/2023 at 1:42 PM, twotravellersLondon said:


    Which ports do you expect to visit?


    hi twotravellersLondon, just seen your message.

    Alesund, Torghatten, Seven Sister Mountain Range, Bodo, Narvik and Tromso. I am guessing that the likely ports for sledding will be Narvik or Tromso.


    Many thanks



  18. We are booked on the Northern Lights cruise March 2024, first ever cruise, and am keen to do a dog sledding trip - no idea yet what this is going to cost yet, but am a little apprehensive about trying to book it independently. Would really like to do it independently if possible....any advice?

  19. 6 hours ago, tring said:


    That cabin will have a nice big window and is fairly central so should be relatively stable in rough seas and you will not have engine noise there (the cabins low down and to the rear of the ship have a lot of engine noise), but maybe I would not have chosen a cabin next to an exit or under prom deck as you can sometimes get disturbance from those locations, despite it being quite a high grade cabin.  If booked, you may as well leave it for now as it could be fine and always a chance they may upgrade you, but do not let them upgrade you to the A grade cabins which are both at the very front of the ship (so will be very rocky in bad seas) and are over the theatre which can be noisy by day when they have rehearsals as well as during performances.  A rough guide for choosing cabins is often mentioned as cabins above, cabins below and cabins either side - though always a chance you could get a noisy neighbour so nothing foolproof and other cabins can be fine, even if in locations which some would not want to choose.  The important thing is to tell reception of you are getting noise, since they will move you if somewhere else is available.  


    Enjoy the cruise,






    Thank you again Barbara, yes already booked, spent a lot of time deciding on the cabin position and yes thought the mid position would be most stable and possibly fairly quiet. So as you say, will leave it as it is for now.....thank you for the advice on the A grade cabins 🙂  Only got just under a year to wait now!  


    Many thanks.



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