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glgolfer

Review of our Norwegian Coastal Voyages 17 Day Grand Norway Trip 17 May - 2 June,2005

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Kindlychap - agree with you completely. We just missed each other. Our flight left the states on the 17th to arrive in Oslo on the 18th of May, 2005. We were very disappointed to miss the festivities. We boarded the Midnatsol on the 20th.

The Norway trip and our trip to China have been the 2 best so far.

Even better than a B2B to Hawaii.

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I sailed on Saga Ruby (ergo the name) for 15 days in June out of Dover and went to Polar North, Svalbard, the town of Longyearbyen and Ny Alesund plus the Norwegian ports discussed herein. We were blocked by the iceshelf of the North Pole from going north around Svalbard to NordKapp so we took the long way round to our destination. I'm a huge fan of Svalbard. Unique, forbidding, wonderful.

 

I highly recommend to anyone the "Norway in a Nutshell" train and bus excursion out of Bergen. Two friends made me promise before I ever left the States to do that shore excursion and I'm glad they did. When we left on the "Nutshell" trip, it was overcast, cold and rainy in Bergen; if I hadn't promised my friends I would go, this Texan might have backed out.

 

But the further we drove, the better the weather and the views are spectacular. The railway trains in Voss and Flam are a hoot and tons of fun. The waterfalls are loverly. Where else can you see tall wooden ski jumps in backyard neighborhoods?

 

And throughout the cruise, every single Norwegian spoke excellent English. A most impressive educational system they have in that country.

 

You can find more of my comments about Norway, Svalbard and Saga Cruises under my user name in this "Other Cruises" section.

 

I saw the Midnatsol in Honnigsvar and it looked like a great ship. I hope more cruisers will consider this itinerary - it is a wonderful lifetime memory.

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Saga Ruby - the point about the Hurtigruten is that it isn't a cruise. Which is why if I was daft enough to start making direct comparisons with QE2 and Midnatsol I'd deserve a good slap. Neither is better - the Midnatsol would make a pretty poor transatlantic liner and the QE2 would be a hopeless car ferry.

 

Ultimately that is what Midnatsol is - it's a car ferry, cargo ship and people ferry. But the Hurtigruten people have realised that there are a lot of people who would welcome doing the itinerary but who might like a bit more luxury than the older ships. Hence Midnatsol has two large suites at the rear and a number of smaller suites. She has a lovely lounge above the bridge looking forward. You have some superb views from inside the ship - which you certainly don't get in the same way on QE2.

 

The real beauty of the Hurtigruten is coming into tiny ports, sometimes for only fifteen minutes, and observing the activity that revolves around a service that is a lifeline for these communities. It is a far more genuine experience than a cruise - any cruise - can ever be. Perhaps genuine is the wrong word - but what I am trying to convey is a sense of getting closer to the real Norway.

 

I've done both. I hugely enjoyed both. I'd love to do both again - indeed in June we are doing QE2 again, and going up to Svalbard in the same trip. Plans are afoot to join Polar Star for one of her Svalbard trips in 2007.

 

You're right about the wonderful English spoken by the Norwegians. Better than many British people, I'm sorry to say.....

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You said, "what I am trying to convey is a sense of getting closer to the real Norway." In Longyearbyen and Ny Alesund, while the wind is blowing horizontally at 20mph, stinging your face with snow and it is 5-8C in June, you will be closer to the real Norway. In Ny Alesund, you will be asked to stay only on the pathways and keep all areas clean as the research scientists don't have time to pick up our trash.

 

It's brilliant that you'll be stepping off the QEII to mingle with the natives.

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You said, "what I am trying to convey is a sense of getting closer to the real Norway." In Longyearbyen and Ny Alesund, while the wind is blowing horizontally at 20mph, stinging your face with snow and it is 5-8C in June, you will be closer to the real Norway. In Ny Alesund, you will be asked to stay only on the pathways and keep all areas clean as the research scientists don't have time to pick up our trash.

 

It's brilliant that you'll be stepping off the QEII to mingle with the natives.

 

I know full well that a Cunard trip in Longyearbyen isn't the "real Norway". It was the Midnatsol that I was referring to in that context. I imagine that Polar Star - which stops at more than the two places you mention - will be even more so.

 

My basic point here is that these ships (in my case Midnatsol and QE2) are completely different and offer completely different experiences.

 

I for one am glad to be able to do it both ways.

 

If you really want to see the disparity of luxury and poverty - try a Nile Cruise. As far as those "natives" are concerned every passenger on the trip has the wealth of Croesus.

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If you haven't read our review, we did the 17 day Grand Norway. NCV is a class operation and all the paper work we got from them was very clear. We took the trip entirely on our own and had absolutely no problems anytime during the trip.

Kindlychap is correct about the English spoken by most Norwegians.

It was interesting that the ship seemed to be more of a commuter ship southbound than northbound. There was one family that just staked out a corner of one of the observation lounges and spent one night there.

If at all possible, we plan on doing the same trip in a few years.

We would also like to do the Antarctic with them.

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thank you all for replies. glgolfer was most helpful - so many details. friends and i hope to do the rt to arctic circle next summer or 2010. good to know people who have done it.

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Be aware that MV Polar Star and the usual Hurtigruten vessels are very different- I suggest you make sure you are booking on the type of vessel you want.

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YES, do the research on each vessel as some are older and very small. The 3 newest ships in Norway are the MS Finnmarken, MS Trollfjord and the MS Misnatsol. Any one of those are acceptable for the trips through th fjords.

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