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About kaisatsu

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    Cool Cruiser

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    Oslo, Norway
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    Travel, Literature, Food, Wine, Craft Beer
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  1. Any time has pros and cons. In late August, you’re looking at cooler statistical average temperatures and much smaller crowds. Some of the tourism operators end their season in mid-August, so if there’s an activity you’re particular keen on, you should check their opening dates.
  2. Every expedition cruise is a balance of shore time, zodiac cruising, and lectures. It would help if you could be more specific about how you'd like to see those divided. Since you were emphatic about only wanted firsthand experience, I can't offer much advice as I've only traveled with a few companies (and my next trip doesn't depart until next week). GAdventures has an open bridge policy, and the MS Expedition is "comfortable," but she's a far cry from a "typical cruise." Sailing with Hurtigruten on the Fram felt a bit more like a typical cruise with her big panoramic lounge, elevators, and assigned tables at two dinner seatings. She does not have an open bridge policy, and zodiac cruising is mostly limited to a paid add-on allocated onboard according to availability.
  3. I haven't done a drive-by, but I don't think I would. The scenery is indeed amazing, but the wildlife is also amazing. Antarctica has no land predators, so (within reasonable conservation limits) you can get quite close to the animals. Watching the antics in a penguin colony is unforgettable, and the amount of drama those little birds create among the breeding pairs can entertain me for hours. I would, however, do a drive-by for health and mobility concerns. Expedition ships are indeed designed for expeditions, and while some of them can be almost as lavish as small cruise ships, they are first and foremost expedition ships. Given their smaller sizes, they tend to be rockier in rough seas, and landings will always require a bit of mobility. It is important to recognize your own limitations for the health and safety of both yourself and the other passengers aboard. Some of the ships bridge the gap slightly, and I've found that the polarcirkel landing boats used by Hurtigruten's Fram are much easier on landings than traditional zodiacs. However, they still come with the caveat that you need to get down the steps to the landing platform. Beyond that, the primary limitations of an expedition cruise the cost and the amenities. As mentioned, there are some very nicely appointed expedition ships, and there's a growing number of all-suite luxury vessels among the new builds. That said, these ships will still have far fewer amenities than a massive cruise ship. In all cases, you will need to be able to entertain yourself during sea days and downtime as there are always significant periods of downtime between landings, lectures, and other organized activities. Most of the companies have brought in logistics experts, and the quality of food has gone up tremendously compared to ten years ago, but while the food on most ships is reasonably good now, you can't expect the same level of choice and quality as on a massive ship with an enormous galley and hundreds of chefs. Honestly, the only people I've ever heard complain about an expedition cruise to Antarctica were people who were expecting a higher standard of ship than they were traveling on. So I think it's worth being aware of your own expectations and booking a trip that meets your minimum comfort level. For me, I can travel on even the most basic ships, as I just need a bed and preferably an en-suite bathroom. Others need a higher standard (and sometimes much higher) to be comfortable, and while there are much nicer ships than the ones I've been on, it's important to understand what to expect. Bigger ships tend to have more amenities, and many of the new builds are targeting the ~200 passenger range, but this comes at the expense of time ashore. Plenty of people are happy to split their time between the landing site and relaxing on the ship admiring the scenery. Others prefer to be ashore as much as possible, watching the wildlife, exploring the landing site, or just soaking up the atmosphere. Again, personal preference. I'd say that if you're the type of traveler who likes to be on the go from morning to evening, a ~100 passenger ship might be the better choice. As for cost, this one is tightly correlated to the above. Nicer ships cost more. Smaller ships tend to cost more. When cost is a significant concern, it can be mitigated slightly by traveling early or late in the season (there are pros and cons to each part of the season) or by booking as soon as new sailings are announced or last-minute to fill available space.
  4. Unfortunately, Filipstad really doesn't have many options. It's a 20 minute walk back to the city hall and Bygdøy ferry pier. You could also walk 7-8 minutes up to the Hjortnes stop along the E18, and catch the bus #81 back to Nationaltheatret, where you can connect to the bus #30 to Bygdøy. You could then take the ferry back to the central pier if you wanted to explore more in the city center.
  5. You might consider the Folk Museum, which is next door to the Viking Ship Museum. It’s an open-air museum with historic buildings relocated from all over the country, including an iconic wooden stave church. Oslo is pretty understated when it comes to old buildings and cathedrals. Neither the palace nor the Oslo cathedral are particularly impressive (appropriate given the humble roles both royalty and religion play in local society). However, both (along with the National Theater, parliament, and Oslo University) are on the central pedestrianized shopping street Karl Johans gate, which can make for a pleasant stroll. For modern architecture, it’s worth a visit to the famed opera house, where you can walk right up onto the roof for views of the harbor and the other surrounding modern architecture, including the Barcode, the new Munch museum, and the upcoming central library. Great local food comes in surprising varieties. Take-away sushi is an affordable local staple (hooray Norwegian salmon). Of course there are lots of options for New Nordic (I like Sentralen for their innovative small dishes based on traditional Norwegian ingredients). Classic Norwegian dishes are more often eaten at home, given the high costs of dining out, but you can find decent examples at Lorry on the north edge of the palace park, or more fish-oriented options at Rorbua in the renovated Aker Brygge waterfront.
  6. What do you consider to be "all main attractions"? I would say that it's impossible to see all the main attractions in a single port day, so you will have to choose a subset of what you most want to see. (Also, if you are visiting this summer, it will probably not be possible to see The Scream, since the National Gallery is closed until 2021 and the copy at the Munch Museum is likely to be in preservation until it's moved to their new building.) Logistically, it's fairly simple to get anywhere. In some cases (i.e. the Holmenkollen ski jump) it can be time-consuming, but it's rarely difficult. Nearly anyone between the ages of 15 and 75 is likely to speak English fluently. Nearly all public transit has digital displays showing the name of the next stop. Specific advice for how to get around depends on what you want to see, in order to provide the best recommendations for how to travel between them. If you're just looking to visit the Viking Ships, you can either catch the aforementioned Bygdøy ferry from the Rådhusbrygge pier in front of the city hall. The ferry is included in the Oslo Pass but is no longer part of the regular transit network (so a Ruter transit day pass does not cover it). The first of the two ferry stops (Dronningen) is a 10-minute walk from the museum. Alternatively, using an Oslo Pass or Ruter ticket (which can be purchased from ticket machines or convenience stores) you can take the bus #30 from Nationaltheatret, which is about 15 minutes' walk from the primary cruise pier. FYI - If you're visiting in 2020, you can find your ship's current pier assignment on the list linked here: https://www.oslohavn.no/no/cruiseliste/ If you're visiting Vigelands Park before the Viking Ship Museum, you can take the bus #20 towards Skøyen from the park entrance to Olav Kyrres plass and then switch to the bus #30 towards Bygdøy.
  7. PS - You can find a link to the PDF document on the Oslo port website: https://www.oslohavn.no/no/cruiseliste/ (as pier assignments have been known to change in the past)
  8. VIP is the Vippetangen pier, which is similar to the primary Søndre Akerskuskai pier, but farther out along the peninsula. In your map, I'd expect to dock alongside the point marked Oslo Havn or where the tiny ship is in the satellite photo. The point marked on your map is Vippa, a food truck court built in a former shipping warehouse. (The ferry routes departing from that point have actually been relocated to Rådhusbrygge, and the former ferry queuing area is now outside seating for the food hall.)
  9. While it's true that the interior does not see much precipitation, the peninsula receives a fair amount: Annual Precipitation (mm) I've had a few substantial snowfalls on my trips, and once I managed to make a small snowman before the crew got out to clear the deck. (They actually took care to clear around Mr.Snowman, so he got to spend the day with us!)
  10. Oceania has a 12-night Norwegian coastal cruise on the Marina that departs from Oslo (ending in Southampton) on 25 June 2021. It calls at: Skagen (Denmark), Stavanger, Flåm, Hellesylt/Geiranger, Kristiansund, Bodø, Trondheim, Ålesund, Bergen, and Haugesund.
  11. There are several hikes you can do easily from the port. The hiking map is available from http://www.geirangerfjord.no/upload/pdf/turkart.pdf and printed copies are available from the tourist info. The main trailhead is along the main road just past the Hotel Union (use the path up to the churchyard to skip the switchbacks in the road). This is the beginning of the trail up to the Vesterås Gård farm (route A on the map). It's a 2km steady uphill climb, but it's a straightforward and usually well-maintained trail. Vesterås Gård has some nice views of the surrounding valley and hills, and from there you can choose between a few other trail routes. The simplest is a short walk along the farm road (route B) to the Vesteråsfjellet overlook with a nice fjord view. Turning uphill from the road is the trail (route C) to the Løsta fjord viewpoint. This trail is a bit more challenging as it's another uphill climb on a less-used trail. I've only done it once, in early June, and there were a few muddy patches to avoid. While I personally like to enjoy the fjord scenery in Geiranger, if you're inclined to do something different, you can leave from the other end of Vesterås Gård and hike (route D) up to the Storseterfossen waterfall. While it doesn't afford much of a fjord view, this hike has does have some nice views of the mountains and the upper valleys, and it's popular since you can walk behind the waterfall.
  12. Looks like you will be docking at the Akershuskai cruise terminal, so the above information should all be valid.
  13. A preliminary cruise list for 2020 is available, and the Nieuw Statendam is scheduled to dock at the main cruise terminal at Søndre Akershuskai on 8 May and 2 June, and at Revierkaia, across from the opera house, on 3 & 28 July and 25 August.
  14. Have you already booked the rail ticket? If so, it would only make sense to check on Vy if your current ticket is fully refundable. Also worth noting that the cycle tickets on Vy are far more limited than passenger tickets, so if you're renting in Flåm, it's a good idea to get the rail ticket as soon as it goes on sale. Especially if you'd be visiting on a weekend or at the end of July or in August, when the full Rallarvegen is open. At those times, it's very common for people to bring their own cycles from Oslo/Bergen to Haugestol or Finse, ride the full route, and then take the train back from Flåm the following morning.
  15. Define “way too cold” 😉 In Oslo, the average temperature for the last week of April over the last five years has been 6°C, 4°C, 4°C, 8°C, and 16°C. Last year was definitely an outlier, but this winter has been among the warmest on record, so maybe it’s the new normal?
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