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kiwigirl

Just returned - Bergen - Kirkenes - Bergen

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@SarniaLo

 

I have just dusted off my long forgotten school French (my teacher would be so upset, I think I forgot more than I ever learned) and read through your Christmas 2010 HR cruise. Stunning. Simply stunning (coming from somebody who went through a week of winter stoms during her HR Christmas cruise, with gale force winds and the water splashing all up to the panorama lounge on deck 8).

 

 

Would we see NL in early October or is the best bet for that March? That is our quest and bucket list--to see NL.

 

If that is your quest and bucket list... a cruise, even a HR cruise, simply might not be your best option.

 

I agree with SarniaLo, on land you have more opportunities to move around. You might be better off taking a regular land vacation (Canada, Alaska, Iceland, Norway/Sweden/Finland), staying in the same spot for a week or two and either renting a car or taking excursions hunting the lights (with experienced guides who will know where there is the least light pollution and how to set your camera). Even combining a HR trip with a land tour might be a better option - you could take the northbound cruise and spend a few days in Kirkenes (then either fly back south or catch a different ship back to Bergen) or hop off in Tromsø, the Lofoten or Vesterålen on the way back south, as suggested. (HR offers "land adventures" you can add to your cruise, at least on the US website)

 

And even if you do that there is no guarantee. You might end up with a week of bad weather, winter storms, cloudy skies, rain, snow.

 

Early October will be nice, Norway in fall is lovely (if the weather cooperates). March will (most likely, unless winter comes as late as it did this year) mean early spring in the south and still winter and snow in the north. I took a train trip through Scandinavia in February/March a decade ago and Bergen was still cool late in February, norther Norway/Sweden was freezing (-14C/6F and three to four feet of snow in Boden, Sweden), Helsinki was bleak and Stockholm, which was my last stop, was definitely in the early stages of spring in late March (approx. 10C/50F). I love the light you have in Scandinavia in February / March. I did not see a single NL on that trip though. We saw one (!) on our HR cruise in December (it was green to the eye but lasted 15 minutes only). Iceland (Akureyri area) in the last week of August had amazing NL for a few nights in a row when we were there in 2014, greyish fog but across the whole sky and for hours, like dancing clouds. You just never know. You can have two weeks of bad weather or low solar activity or bad luck, being in the wrong place at the wrong time, you could run into bad weather and end up stuck in Harstad because all northern ports are closed due to storms. Or you have amazingly clear skies, high solar activities and five/six nights of lights.

 

No matter what, you will be stuck on the ship. No chance to stay longer in a place that is perfect for lights. No chance to move out of the city a bit to minimize light pollution (neither can you turn the ship lights off completely). No option to move from a to b where the weather might be nicer.

Edited by Wembley Fraggle

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Wow, such good information. You have given me lots to think about. I am so glad I found this thread. I will share this with my husband and be back if/when we have question.

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We just returned from our Norwegian Coastal cruise on the Trollfjord. We had great weather....only rain we had was the last 2 days of the cruise.

 

If anyone has any questions, I would be happy to try and answer them. We did excursions almost every day except 2 maybe.

We are looking into the Hurtigruten and are wondering whether to do the 12 day or the 7 day? Was the 12 days to long? Also how was the south bound part of the cruise.

Thanks

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The ports visited at night on the Northbound trip will be visited during the day on the southbound trip, so you will see different parts of the coast on both directions. You get then a rather complete view of the landscape of coastal Norway.

I think the Southbound trip has 2 of the most beautiful days of the whole journey, particularly the day between Harstad and Svolvaer, sailing through the Vesteraalen and Lofoten archipelago, and also the day after that, crossing the Arctic CIrcle and sailing along the Helgeland coast. It also has the less interesting day (again, for me), which is the last half-day before arriving in Bergen. What I do now often is exiting the ship in Trondheim on the Southbound journey. From Trondheim it is easy to go back to Oslo (by train or plane).

Whether you find it too long or not depends a lot on your particular likings. I have done this trip several times and never got bored, but I'm perfectly happy being on deck for hours watching the landscape go by (and I do landscape photography so that keeps me busy).

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This report and the questions and answers are so helpful, thank you! I have booked the Finnmarken Bergen-Kirkenes for early July 2018. I am trying to figure out about clothes, limiting myself to a rolling carry-on bag. This will be tbe first part of a 3 week trip, continuing to Finnish Lapland and then Helsinki and Copenhagen that I expect will be warmer. I know to prepare for rain, and I have trusty lightweight hiking shoes. So in August it was tank tops/t shirts even north of the Arctic Circle? Would a fleece suffice when windier on deck or for excursions? Thank you for your advice! I understand there are laundry machines on this ship. Any other packing tips for a solo traveler? Many thanks!

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We're thinking of doing this same cruise next March in hopes of seeing the Aurora. We'll pack for cold weather. How long were you in ports that had excursions? Did the ship do a lot short dockings to take on or let off cars and passengers?

 

Are you planning on the Trollfjord also?

 

We've started a Roll Call for the early March Trollfjord RT, the one with the "Astronomy" program.

 

This will be our first trip to Norway (my first to Scandinavia; DH has been to Stockholm and Oslo on business many years ago), and our first cruise with Hurtigruten.

 

It's "suddenly" half a year closer to sailing than when we made our reservations :)

 

GC

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We are looking into the Hurtigruten and are wondering whether to do the 12 day or the 7 day? Was the 12 days to long? Also how was the south bound part of the cruise.

Thanks

 

My apologies. For some reason I didn't get a notification that there was a post here.

 

It may be to late, but we really enjoyed the 12 day. It never felt like time was dragging. We had an excursion almost each day (I think we only skipped one or two days). I was surprised that I enjoyed just sitting in the lounge each day. I think one thing that made it enjoyable was that we had a room on Deck 6 with a window. If we were in the cabin, we were able to look out and if we saw something of interest, we were able to get outside quickly.

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Again, my apologies for the late response.

 

So I live in Southern California and have lived here all my life. I am definitely not a cold weather person. I tried to make sure that I did the layering thing. So glad I did. I found that the buses were very warm for me. I had to be able to get down to short sleeves (or tanks) while on the bus and have a light jacket or other long sleeve to throw on when we got off the bus.

 

I found the same to be true on the ship. I saw many people in long sleeve fleece or heavy jackets. I stayed with my short sleeves and a light sweater or jacket and would bring my windbreaker with me if I wanted to go outside. I do wish I had brought a better hat to wear outside. It definitely would get windy out there. We got extremely lucky and only had rain the last two days of the trip going back to Bergen.

 

There are washer/dryers on board. On Deck 4 behind the reception area. You need to get a token from reception. Different people had different situations. My husband got a couple of tokens on the first day (this included the detergent pod). When my MIL went to get hers, they wouldn't give them to her until she had her laundry ready to go. I believe there are 4 washer/dryer combos.

 

 

 

This report and the questions and answers are so helpful, thank you! I have booked the Finnmarken Bergen-Kirkenes for early July 2018. I am trying to figure out about clothes, limiting myself to a rolling carry-on bag. This will be tbe first part of a 3 week trip, continuing to Finnish Lapland and then Helsinki and Copenhagen that I expect will be warmer. I know to prepare for rain, and I have trusty lightweight hiking shoes. So in August it was tank tops/t shirts even north of the Arctic Circle? Would a fleece suffice when windier on deck or for excursions? Thank you for your advice! I understand there are laundry machines on this ship. Any other packing tips for a solo traveler? Many thanks!

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We just returned from our Norwegian Coastal cruise on the Trollfjord. We had great weather....only rain we had was the last 2 days of the cruise.

 

If anyone has any questions, I would be happy to try and answer them. We did excursions almost every day except 2 maybe.

 

Dear kiwigirl,

 

Thanks for offering to answer questions!

 

We are scheduled to arrive back in Bergen aboard the Trollfjord at 2:30 in the afternoon [of November 27th], and will be flying straight to Oslo. My question is: From your experience with debarkation and getting to wherever you were going, do you think I should try to book a flight around 5:30 or so? Is that a reasonable plan? We will have a car waiting for us to take us to the airport.

 

What think you?

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Dear kiwigirl,

 

Thanks for offering to answer questions!

 

We are scheduled to arrive back in Bergen aboard the Trollfjord at 2:30 in the afternoon [of November 27th], and will be flying straight to Oslo. My question is: From your experience with debarkation and getting to wherever you were going, do you think I should try to book a flight around 5:30 or so? Is that a reasonable plan? We will have a car waiting for us to take us to the airport.

 

What think you?

 

Not kiwigirl, but we returned from the Trollfjord RT a bit less than a month ago.

 

Which deck will you be on? They called by Deck to disembark.

We had a suite, on Deck 8, so we were among the first off, which was no surprise.

What *was* a surprise was that our bags were available to be picked up within a rather short period of time.

We went out and got a taxi, so that I could sit there (I have a bit of mobility difficulties), and we asked the driver to just move a little ways so he wasn't blocking other taxis, while DH went back in to get the larger bags. We had no idea how long that would be, and we were prepared for a, well, long wait (and possibly an expensive one).

 

The Trollfjord staff was very efficient with the process that last day. Impressive.

 

We had a WONDERFUL trip, and we are still reminisce frequently, including looking over our photos.

 

How often are the flights to Oslo?

We prefer to avoid fretting about timing, so we usually leave more, rather than less, time for connections/transportation, etc.

I don't know how busy the airport is late afternoon. We stayed over, and caught an unbearably early flight the next morning, and... it was almost empty then (no surprise).

 

(That first flight out of Bergen was the only way to get home that same day, and it was a very long travel day. "Next time", we'd chop up that much travel and stay at a hotel part way, rather than staying over in Bergen and trying to do all the travel in one day.)

 

GC

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GeezerCouple,

Grateful to you for jumping in - thanks! We, too, are on Deck 8, so glad to hear we may be among the first off - and with a car waiting, I'm thinking the 5:40 to Oslo is doable. If we miss it, there is another flight roughly an hour later. The arrival time in Oslo is moot since we'll be there for the better part of four days, and we have only to get from the airport to the center of the city. The train seems to be the 'smart' way of doing that, depending on where one's hotel is located. Anyway, thank you so much for your insights and information. Any tips on either/both Deck 8 - we're in 825 - and the ship itself would be much appreciated, though I have read all your terrific posts, so perhaps you've really said it all! Best regards.

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GeezerCouple,

Grateful to you for jumping in - thanks! We, too, are on Deck 8, so glad to hear we may be among the first off - and with a car waiting, I'm thinking the 5:40 to Oslo is doable. If we miss it, there is another flight roughly an hour later. The arrival time in Oslo is moot since we'll be there for the better part of four days, and we have only to get from the airport to the center of the city. The train seems to be the 'smart' way of doing that, depending on where one's hotel is located. Anyway, thank you so much for your insights and information. Any tips on either/both Deck 8 - we're in 825 - and the ship itself would be much appreciated, though I have read all your terrific posts, so perhaps you've really said it all! Best regards.

 

You will LOVE that suite!

We had the other aft suite on Deck 8, and that balcony was a pleasure in terms of being sheltered from the wind.

 

In fact, of the 3 nights when we saw Northern Lights (we had a lot of overcast sky, so we feel VERY fortunate for the Lights that we did see!), the first was just the faintest, mostly the "gray cloud-type" view. The second was better, but it was the third night that was by far the best!

And that night, the best view was aft and above, and instead of shivering on the top deck (as we did that first night - the cold and wind were BRUTAL), we were comfy on our balcony, shielded from the wind... We were SO fortunate for that one evening!

 

We had tried to convince ourselves that if we didn't see "the lights", we'd still have a great vacation, and that was certainly true. However, given that we chose that cruise/date because of the Astronomy Package and the "chances of clear skies and Lights", the truth is... we probably would have been disappointed, of course... But that is part of life, and we already had a plan B in place: watch for solar storms, and fly *fast* to Iceland.... As it turned out, there was an unusual solar storm that went straight towards the earth, for two nights. The first? Totally cloudy. The second night? CLEAR :)

 

We would LOVE to go back.

 

If you happen to be awake the very first morning approximately 6am (??), LOOK out that window!

We kept the drapes open all night, every night, so we could see the beautiful scenery (mountains and small town lights, but there was little moonlight by design, of course), and also see the scenery the moment we woke up. It's one solid wall of windows all across rear of the ship, across both bedroom and living room areas.

[For those traveling during the summer months, it probably wouldn't work to keep the drapes open all night, given the 24/7 light. During an Alaska cruise in May/June, we had to tape the drapes shut, even though we weren't nearly at the Arctic Circle. The nights were very short...]

 

Have a great trip.

We loved the ship, the crew, and just... everything.

We weren't sure just what to expect, but everything was just wonderful.

 

GC

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GeezerCouple,

Now I'm wishing it was November! (Patience, Peter, November will be here soon enough!). Thanks again.

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Am considering booking this trip in June 2019 and am just starting my research. One thing I read was that the whole boat except for one small area was "smoking". From the writeup, I couldn't tell if this was inside, outside, or both. What is the policy on Hurtigruten? This would definitely be a problem for my husband and I.

 

Also, do they allow you to bring your own alcohol on board to enjoy in your cabin (or inobtrusively elsewhere)? It sounds like drinks are very expensive. Even worse, I've read that the coffee is very bad and someone wished they had brought instant. Can you get hot water easily? We might want to bring our own Starbucks Via.

 

What do you think about the 12-day round trip, as opposed to doing the 7-day northern leg of the trip?

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Am considering booking this trip in June 2019 and am just starting my research. One thing I read was that the whole boat except for one small area was "smoking". From the writeup, I couldn't tell if this was inside, outside, or both. What is the policy on Hurtigruten? This would definitely be a problem for my husband and I.

 

Also, do they allow you to bring your own alcohol on board to enjoy in your cabin (or inobtrusively elsewhere)? It sounds like drinks are very expensive. Even worse, I've read that the coffee is very bad and someone wished they had brought instant. Can you get hot water easily? We might want to bring our own Starbucks Via.

 

What do you think about the 12-day round trip, as opposed to doing the 7-day northern leg of the trip?

 

Interesting question about smoking.

I have no idea what the policy is, but during our 12 day RT, I don't think we *ever* saw anyone smoking, anywhere. I didn't even think about it until reading your question.

 

And we would have needed to move away if we had encountered much smoke; we would have wanted to move away if we had encountered any!

 

Funny... it now sort of seems like suddenly, while there, "smoking" had vanished.

(If only....!)

 

We didn't want to get off after the full RT ;) but that's just us.

(This happens towards the end of *every* cruise.)

In our case, we took the longer RT because we wanted more time above the Arctic Circle, to give us more chances of seeing Northern Lights. And indeed, we saw them... but on the return trip only.

 

The port stops are different (night vs. day) for each direction, but at least in June, you'd have plenty of light anytime, if you were awake.

We loved it so much, we are considering doing it again, in the summer, to see it all in a different season.

(But we have a list of other "must do" trips to check off first, before repeats. Maybe. This trip was indeed memorable.)

 

GC

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We are scheduled to arrive back in Bergen aboard the Trollfjord at 2:30 in the afternoon [of November 27th], and will be flying straight to Oslo. My question is: From your experience with debarkation and getting to wherever you were going, do you think I should try to book a flight around 5:30 or so? Is that a reasonable plan? We will have a car waiting for us to take us to the airport.

 

That timing sounds very tight and allows for no delays. On the occasions we have flown out of Bergen the traffic to the airport has been quite heavy. You are also relying on arriving in Bergen on time and disembarking speedily and then getting through check-in and security without any queues.

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Smoking is forbidden inside the ship, but is possible outside. About everywhere outside, as far as I know, but I'm also very incommodated by cigarette smoke and I don't recall it has ever been an issue on any ship. The ships are vast enough to move away from someone smoking and it does seem that there are less and less people smoking.

 

In theory it is forbidden to bring alcohol on board, however if you have a bottle in your bag no one will take it away from you and indeed you can drink in your cabin (do not bring your own alcoholic drinks in public spaces). I've done that on several occasions and never had a problem.

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Am considering booking this trip in June 2019 and am just starting my research. One thing I read was that the whole boat except for one small area was "smoking". From the writeup, I couldn't tell if this was inside, outside, or both. What is the policy on Hurtigruten? This would definitely be a problem for my husband and I.

Absolutely no smoking inside. Only at open deck. On the sun deck there are also restrictions. A dedicated smoking area.

 

Also, do they allow you to bring your own alcohol on board to enjoy in your cabin (or inobtrusively elsewhere)? It sounds like drinks are very expensive.

No, you are not allowed to bring alcohol but as mentioned no one checking luggage.. However alcohol is not expensive only at the ship. In Norway alcohol is expensive and only sold in special store. Buy some tax free at the last airport before Norway.

 

Even worse, I've read that the coffee is very bad and someone wished they had brought instant. Can you get hot water easily? We might want to bring our own Starbucks Via.

In our cabin there was a kettle. I did not find the coffee that bad but not a problem bringing your own coffee.

 

What do you think about the 12-day round trip, as opposed to doing the 7-day northern leg of the trip?

Personally I do find a 12 day cruise too long. IMO too much of the same. Different ports north and south bound, however most stops are very short. I’ll recommend the 6 days from Bergen to Kirkenes and then combine it with additional days pre- or post cruise. Stay in Oslo few days and then take the train to Bergen with a possible stop over in the Flåm area. Also spending some days at Lofoten or in Kirkenes.

 

 

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That timing sounds very tight and allows for no delays. On the occasions we have flown out of Bergen the traffic to the airport has been quite heavy. You are also relying on arriving in Bergen on time and disembarking speedily and then getting through check-in and security without any queues.

 

Thanks for your response/advice. We bought Flex tickets, so we can change the flight -- which I may do even before we leave the U.S. There's a flight at 6:40, or thereabouts -- figure we could be at our hotel in Oslo by 9 or so.

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Interesting question about smoking.

I have no idea what the policy is, but during our 12 day RT, I don't think we *ever* saw anyone smoking, anywhere. I didn't even think about it until reading your question.

 

And we would have needed to move away if we had encountered much smoke; we would have wanted to move away if we had encountered any!

 

Funny... it now sort of seems like suddenly, while there, "smoking" had vanished.

(If only....!)

 

We didn't want to get off after the full RT ;) but that's just us.

(This happens towards the end of *every* cruise.)

In our case, we took the longer RT because we wanted more time above the Arctic Circle, to give us more chances of seeing Northern Lights. And indeed, we saw them... but on the return trip only.

 

The port stops are different (night vs. day) for each direction, but at least in June, you'd have plenty of light anytime, if you were awake.

We loved it so much, we are considering doing it again, in the summer, to see it all in a different season.

(But we have a list of other "must do" trips to check off first, before repeats. Maybe. This trip was indeed memorable.)

 

GC

Thanks so much! I feel much better now about the smoking situation. That would have been a deal killer for us.

 

We're looking forward to being that far north at midsummer. I did it once before, many years ago, on a Polish cruise ship on a booze cruise from Helsinki to St. Petersburg. The sun hadn't set yet at midnight -- magical!

 

My husband and I will be coming off a 2-week Viking river cruise from Budapest to Amsterdam (a repeat from 3 years ago) followed by a 1-week Viking ocean cruise from Amsterdam to Bergen. We love cruising, but another 12 days might be pushing the envelope! We might just opt for the North leg of the trip out of Bergen. Now when we come back to see the Northern Lights, I agree that 12 days would be required to make sure we see them! I've seen them once, faintly, from Lake Tahoe. At first I thought there was a forest fire because it was red! Then when I watched the red color subtly twisted and moved, and I knew what it was.

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Smoking is forbidden inside the ship, but is possible outside. About everywhere outside, as far as I know, but I'm also very incommodated by cigarette smoke and I don't recall it has ever been an issue on any ship. The ships are vast enough to move away from someone smoking and it does seem that there are less and less people smoking.

 

In theory it is forbidden to bring alcohol on board, however if you have a bottle in your bag no one will take it away from you and indeed you can drink in your cabin (do not bring your own alcoholic drinks in public spaces). I've done that on several occasions and never had a problem.

 

I have been known to bring "rum runners" onto other "forbidden alcohol" cruise ships... with great success until once I packed them next to a (unknown to me) forbidden extension cord that was picked up in x-ray. But we solved that one on the next shore excursion (Puerto Vallarta) when we bought 2 bottles of good tequila at the Good Sam's Club for a reasonable price. (They hadn't confiscated my margarita mix earlier.) My husband went through x-ray and alerted the crew that he had a bottle of tequila. They waved him over to the check-in table where he offered up one bottle and kept the other! Problem solved! We aren't really such big drinkers, but sometimes it's fun to be naughty and get away with something. :halo::halo::evilsmile::evilsmile:

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Absolutely no smoking inside. Only at open deck. On the sun deck there are also restrictions. A dedicated smoking area.

 

 

No, you are not allowed to bring alcohol but as mentioned no one checking luggage.. However alcohol is not expensive only at the ship. In Norway alcohol is expensive and only sold in special store. Buy some tax free at the last airport before Norway.

 

 

In our cabin there was a kettle. I did not find the coffee that bad but not a problem bringing your own coffee.

 

 

Personally I do find a 12 day cruise too long. IMO too much of the same. Different ports north and south bound, however most stops are very short. I’ll recommend the 6 days from Bergen to Kirkenes and then combine it with additional days pre- or post cruise. Stay in Oslo few days and then take the train to Bergen with a possible stop over in the Flåm area. Also spending some days at Lofoten or in Kirkenes.

 

 

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Great input! We'll have been cruising for 3 weeks before arriving at Bergen, so 12 days might be a bit excessive. We'll resupply with any alcohol we want to bring aboard on our Viking river cruise before we land in Amsterdam and transfer to our Viking ocean cruise which will get us into those expensive Nordic countries pretty quickly!

 

We'll be seeing Flam on our Viking cruise, but probably not enough time. Sigh. Will probably spend a few days in Bergen and a few in Kirkenes before flying home.

 

Thanks for the great advice! As Visa says, "Priceless!"

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We're looking forward to being that far north at midsummer. I did it once before, many years ago, on a Polish cruise ship on a booze cruise from Helsinki to St. Petersburg. The sun hadn't set yet at midnight -- magical!

 

Indeed magical.

hxy6c2DUqXY

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