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Homerody

Which ship for Norway coastal voyage

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31 minutes ago, Homerody said:

I agree that it is crazy to use historical data to predict the future - but it is a fun geeky exercise (in futility, perhaps).

 

It's actually not crazy at all. It makes perfect sense. Of course things can vary from year to year or month to month. Of course there will be years when October in Tromso is dryer than March (such as this past year). But we're dealing with probability, as you know, and on the average, mid-February and March are dryer than mid-September and October.

 

However, as SarniaLo points out, the statistics don't say that March is a lot better than October; to the contrary, according to WeatherSpark, October is better than March for cloud cover but by such a small percentage (3 or 4%) that there's hardly a difference.

 

You know what is odd? According to WeatherSpark, March in Tromso is significantly wetter than October in Tromso but October is Tromso is slightly less cloudy.

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Bella0714

 

more data =  informed choices = better decisions

 

until.... mother nature shows me who the real boss is!

 

But then I know I gave it my best shot.

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Planning is half the fun anyway, as long as you manage your expectations (which you seem to be doing just fine), and who knows, you can learn a couple of things in the process, so it's never wasted time! 😉

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37 minutes ago, SarniaLo said:

Planning is half the fun anyway, as long as you manage your expectations (which you seem to be doing just fine), and who knows, you can learn a couple of things in the process, so it's never wasted time! 😉

 

Planning is *lots* of the fun, for us, anyway!  And yes, there is so much to be learned that enhances the trip once it's underway, too.

 

As for our choice of March, and the recent comments above, one serious rationale was that we much preferred to see lots of snow.  (We went very early for our Alaska cruise, for the same reason.  Seeing the snowy mountains along the coast was beautiful; later in the summer, that becomes greenery, and that's not especially what we wanted to see.)

 

As for the "wet" vs. "clouds"...

We didn't so much care if it rained or snowed; we cared more if it was more likely to have less cloud cover.

Of course, no single trip reflects the "averages".  As I mentioned, we had non-stop clouds for much of the trip.  The snow squalls were fun.  The almost constant cloud cover, n(and especially at night) "not so much"...

But the skies cleared toward the end, and "we saw the lights".  (Not "magnificent", but we saw them, and that was what we wanted.)  We saw some lovely patterns, including what we call the "dancing curtains".  But only faint color.  DH saw almost no color at all, so some of that depends upon individual variability in eyesight/etc.

 

We obviously knew in advance that we might see nothing at all, lights-wise.  But we knew we'd still love the landscapes, and so much else about the trip, and that would have been quite true.

Surprisingly, "the Lights" were not the high spot.  The trip itself definitely was... it was special from start to finish.

 

We rarely return "disappointed" from trips, but that doesn't mean they are all equally special.  This one was among our favorites.

We can still picture in our minds the flickering lights of the little port towns as we approached (or departed) at night.  So peaceful and beautiful.

 

GC

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When discussing that same question ( March vs. October), March won because on the one hand we had already booked a cruise for October and secondly the statistics all showed good results regarding northern lights visibility. Did I mention that we "lucked out"?, meaning we didn't get a speck of the aurora borealis during our 12 days at sea, but the roughest weather imaginable? Fortunately our trusted ginger helped, we didn't get seasick and quite enjoyed ourselves. What we didn't realize even if we have been several times in Norway and on cruises to N. before was the fact that a) weather can be unpredictable and is changing in general in Norway due to climate change ( that's what a lot of Norwegians told us) and that b) there a a few stretches of open water, for example the "Folda" on the first morning out of Bergen, or the "Hustadvika" ( think of the Viking Sky...) as well as two or three others where the seas can be very rough. Then comes c) -statistics are not everything: We noticed that when reading reviews on a German forum of Hurtigruten enthusiasts: Quite often there we voyages just a few days before or after ours that were absolutely stunning in regard to weather, sun and northern lights, and the seas were mostly quiet, some had a few good days and others had nothing, but most loved the snowstorms and the cruise experience nevertheless and spent hours on the outside decks.

Still we won't give up - we are sure to go again, I think again in March of next year. Hurtigruten really gave us the "northern lights guarantee" - a 6-day cruise including half board - but I think we'll have the full tour again or alternatively spend a few days in Kirkenes first.

Unfortunately prices are as stunning as the scenery: having looked a prices I found Hurtigruten hiked them up again - our mini-suite is 40 % more expensive than it was this year.

One word about snow in March: we had a lot and on the rare minutes of sunshine it was absolutely breathtaking to watch the landscape glittering in the snow. But be aware that in Norway there might be heated pedestrian areas but quite a lot of roads and streets might be very icy, and you will need spikes.

The fall season esp. in the southern part of Norway is really beautiful. When you have crossed the polar circle I prefer the time of snow and the chance to walk in freshly fallen snow, meeting the huskies... It really is a difficult decision about the seasons.

Whatever you choose: have fun! And despite the words of warning: as I said : we are sure to go again.

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Homerody,

To start, everyone is so welcoming on this forum!

I discovered Hurtigruten when my husband decided our 30th anniversary will be spent in Norway; a very large country to explore with only two weeks of vacation time to utilize. Hurtigruten will allow us to see the entire coast. We also liked the idea of, for lack of a better term, a "non-cruise" experience.

So, this lead me to Cruise Critic (an old friend from previous cruises). I pored through the posts on this forum and reached out with basic questions along with reading the reviews. I also got my hands on the Norwegian Coastal Cruises Hurtigruten 2019/2020 brochure; packed with 91 pages of info including ship itineraries, ship layouts, maps and excursion details. 

Our trip has essentially been shaped by the experiences posted here. Below are some of the great suggestions I've used;

We only have two weeks and therefore are doing the Southbound in October 2020.  I've consulted the "moon phase" calendar and it will not be during a full moon; better for seeing the Northern Lights we hope.

We plan on spending a couple nights in Oslo and flying to Kirkenes prior to sailing. We've been giving recommendations on hotels, restaurants and sightseeing.

I have also received recommendations for excursions during our cruise based on what will be available; note that certain excursions are only available during various seasons and many on this forum have included stops that can be explored on your own.

Not on our radar but now included in our itinerary will be the train from Bergen (after a spending a couple days)  back to Oslo rounding out our two weeks.

Lastly, we are using a TA who we have worked with forever. As soon as the bookings came available, we knew the ship and cabin we wanted. We like having a TA back in the States, ready to help if needed, while we're abroad.

So, that's our journey to date; have a while prior to traveling but will enjoy the continuous posts!

 

 

 

 

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WOW!  WOW!  WOW!

 

A heartfelt thank you to each of you who posted in response to my inquiries and follow-up.

 

I really appreciate that you shared your views, experiences and  tips with me.

 

The posts have been extremely helpful as I move closer to picking a ship and date.

 

And I really must second "Travel2?" sentiments about this forum.  It is refreshing to find such knowledgeable and helpful people to e-converse with.  around her, newbies like me feel welcomed - thank you to each of you for that. 

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9 hours ago, Homerody said:

WOW!  WOW!  WOW!

 

A heartfelt thank you to each of you who posted in response to my inquiries and follow-up.

 

I really appreciate that you shared your views, experiences and  tips with me.

 

The posts have been extremely helpful as I move closer to picking a ship and date.

 

And I really must second "Travel2?" sentiments about this forum.  It is refreshing to find such knowledgeable and helpful people to e-converse with.  around her, newbies like me feel welcomed - thank you to each of you for that. 

You are very welcome! When we kind of stumbled into cruising a few years ago we didn't know anything and made a lot of mistakes. When we found out that - somewhat to our surprise - cruising was THE kind of holiday we loved, I discovered CruiseCritic and found a lot of answers and friendly people who helped. And now I'm happy to give something back.

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Hello all,

 

I'm back with another follow up question.

 

I am considering sailings on the MS Finnmarken or the Polarlys.  Most likely in the expedition suites/mini suites cabin category.  

 

Any comments/experiences /tips/advice you may has will be appreciated.

 

(Please let me know if it is better to spin off this question into a separate thread).

 

Thanks so much!

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I think it's still pretty much a follow-up to your original question.

I have no experience with suites/mini-suites, so cannot help you there, but I have sailed on both Finnmarken and Polarlys (before refurbishment). Both are really nice ships, so either one would work. I have a soft spot for Finnmarken, even though she is bigger, because I like the subdued Art Deco design, and particularly because she has this awesome open bow deck which is great for sightseeing and even better for Northern Light watching, if you are going in winter or fall.

I personaly do not like the new interior design of Polarlys (I find it really cold and borderline tacky in parts) but some people really like it so it's really down to preference (and I would not choose a ship based on design only, anyway). Polarlys has the standard layout of all the ships of this generation, with good inside and outside spaces, but the front deck is not accessible to passengers.

Hopefully someone will chime in with more on the cabins.

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1 hour ago, Homerody said:

Hello all,

 

I'm back with another follow up question.

 

I am considering sailings on the MS Finnmarken or the Polarlys.  Most likely in the expedition suites/mini suites cabin category.  

 

Any comments/experiences /tips/advice you may has will be appreciated.

 

(Please let me know if it is better to spin off this question into a separate thread).

 

Thanks so much!

 

Have you tried doing a "search" on this Hurtigruten thread for the name of each of those two ships?  That might get you to some descriptions of the ships, hopefully including some about the cabins/suites.

 

I also did a quick Google search for "Polarlys cabins" and got a few surprising results, but I did not follow them.

 

Good luck!

You'll probably have a *wonderful* time no matter which ship. Or cabin (from deck plans).

It's such a special/spectacular cruise :classic_smile:

 

GC

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SarniaLo,

 

That is exactly the type of description and feedback  that I was hoping for.

 

Very helpful. 

 

I really appreciate  your help.  

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2 hours ago, GeezerCouple said:

 

Have you tried doing a "search" on this Hurtigruten thread for the name of each of those two ships?  That might get you to some descriptions of the ships, hopefully including some about the cabins/suites.

 

 

GC,

 

I agree "search" and "google" are my friends.

 

I read each of the 61 ship reviews and 43 cabin reviews here on CC for the MS Finnmarken, and 48 Polarlys ship reviews (alas no cabin reviews on CC)  . 

 

But with all the helpful folks - including you - providing me with great tips and insight, I thought that this would be a good spot to ask and shake the CC knowledge tree once again.

 

And you are absolutely right - the trip will be perfect - regardless ship (and I dare say weather!)

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We really loved the Richard With and especially the new mini-suites - really spacious, newly built during the drydock operation and fitted out with huge windows. ( only those 8 towards the stern, for example 641 etc.). The 6 suites ones more to the stern don't have a balcony but huge alcoves to look out in comfort.

Nordlys will be renovated in a similar way in May 2019.

I also wish Hurtigruten to have more ships with balconies at reasonable prices. The two new expedition ships (Fridtjof Nansen and Roald Amundsen) will have that but won't sail - except two or three coastal cruises out of Hamburg, Germany - the Norwegian coastline.

Be aware that some of the suites will be on the promenade deck which I personally wouldn't like because on some days there will be huge crowds of people outside your windows and in the night there might be lights on the deck.

But I'm sure the other ships you mention will fit your needs as well. Again: good hunting!!

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grayjay,

 

Thanks for the excellent tip about promenade deck. And the specific cabin information.

 

I, previously,  looked at the cruises out of Hamburg - but decided a few days at sea getting to and from Hamburg would not suit me.  But it seems that Hurtigruten treats these sailings more like a "conventional" cruise.

 

 

 

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8 hours ago, Homerody said:

But it seems that Hurtigruten treats these sailings more like a "conventional" cruise.

Hurtigruten is changing from a definite Norwegian Coastal Voyage to a cruise company offering cruises / expedition trips.

For 125 years, Hurtigruten has operated 11 ships with daily departures from Bergen and Kirkenes in a fixed timetable of 11 days with almost 70 stops along Norway's west coast  North- and Soutbound - only those fixed daily departures from Bergen to Kirkenes are called the Coastal Voyage -  other activities are consider to be cruises / expedition trips.
From first of January 2021,  Hurtigruten cuts the number of ships sailing in regular scheduled services between Bergen and Kirkenes from 11 to 7 as Havila Kystruten takes over 4 of the voyages. This will hopefully lead to more competition !

At the same time, Hurtigruten will use the available vessels for cruises / expeditions trips along the Norwegian west coast with fewer and longer stops. And of course other destinations.

In addition,  Hurtigruten is building a series of new expedition vessels.

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Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, hallasm said:

Hurtigruten is changing from a definite Norwegian Coastal Voyage to a cruise company offering cruises / expedition trips.

For 125 years, Hurtigruten has operated 11 ships with daily departures from Bergen and Kirkenes in a fixed timetable of 11 days with almost 70 stops along Norway's west coast  North- and Soutbound - only those fixed daily departures from Bergen to Kirkenes are called the Coastal Voyage -  other activities are consider to be cruises / expedition trips.
From first of January 2021,  Hurtigruten cuts the number of ships sailing in regular scheduled services between Bergen and Kirkenes from 11 to 7 as Havila Kystruten takes over 4 of the voyages. This will hopefully lead to more competition !

At the same time, Hurtigruten will use the available vessels for cruises / expeditions trips along the Norwegian west coast with fewer and longer stops. And of course other destinations.

In addition,  Hurtigruten is building a series of new expedition vessels.

I agree that more competition on the Coastal Voyages by Havila Kystruten might be good for us customers. I have seen first pictures and ideas of the Havila Kystruten ships being built and they look very interesting to me - might be a different idea of building cabins better suited to passengers wanting a bit more space on the longer voyages.

Edited by grayjay
typo

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3 hours ago, grayjay said:

I have seen first pictures and ideas of the Havila Kystruten ships being built and they look very interesting to me 

You are right. Same size as MS Kong Harald - 178 cabins and 640 guests

Link to their web

B24C163D-CE65-4C17-AE32-C2A2332EB26F.jpeg

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I found the discussion about Havila Kystruten intriguing.  So much so that I visited the website.  Seems they have lots of work ahead of them (including staffing).

 

It'll be interesting to see what market forces will bear on the pricing of the coastal sailings.  Or maybe it will end up  being cartel pricing.  Who knows?

 

But options are good.

 

Will follow the company's plans and progress to see what happens and how their coastal plans develop.

 

 

b

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10 hours ago, hallasm said:

Hurtigruten is changing from a definite Norwegian Coastal Voyage to a cruise company offering cruises / expedition trips.

For 125 years, Hurtigruten has operated 11 ships with daily departures from Bergen and Kirkenes in a fixed timetable of 11 days with almost 70 stops along Norway's west coast  North- and Soutbound - only those fixed daily departures from Bergen to Kirkenes are called the Coastal Voyage -  other activities are consider to be cruises / expedition trips.
From first of January 2021,  Hurtigruten cuts the number of ships sailing in regular scheduled services between Bergen and Kirkenes from 11 to 7 as Havila Kystruten takes over 4 of the voyages. This will hopefully lead to more competition !

At the same time, Hurtigruten will use the available vessels for cruises / expeditions trips along the Norwegian west coast with fewer and longer stops. And of course other destinations.

In addition,  Hurtigruten is building a series of new expedition vessels.

 

I'd be reluctant to be among the first with the new cruise line.  But after that, who knows?

 

However, I'm much more interested in hearing that Hurtigruten will then offer different cruises along the Norwegian coast.  Fewer and longer stops sounds very nice indeed, although I'm *very* glad we did the "traditional" Coastal RT.  It was special to be going into some really small and isolated towns.  And at night, it was especially pretty to see the lights flickering ahead as we were arriving.


Earlier today, we were just looking at a bunch of vacation photos from two very special trips.  One was to Japan just 2 years ago, and the other was our Hurtigruten Coastal cruise last year.  Wonderful memories!

 

We are still trying to decide whether to do a trip to Antarctica or not...

 

GC

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I guess there could be 2 extremes on an inaugural cruise -

 

lots of growing pains

or

best staff, food etc to make a lasting and favorable impression on media and on board vip types

 

Maybe I'm thinking inaugural cruising is like a top tier airline inaugurating a flagship route.  In any event, I would try an inaugural cruise.

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Posted (edited)
On 4/23/2019 at 9:20 AM, SarniaLo said:

Unless I'm mistaken, the number of passengers indicated here include day-trippers. There are not that many berths in any of the ships.

With regards to the original question, I would indeed advise to look at floor plans and pictures (and reviews), because different people can have different preferences. For instance, Trollfjord and Midnatsol are my least favorite ships of the fleet (too large and too "bling" for me). Aslo, I don't enjoy much the new design of the 1990's ships, I find it cold and devoid of personality. But I know that people really enjoy it (and I totally respect that). My favorite is MS Lofoten, but I don't think the cabin size will suit the OP! 😉 

I think most of the ships have larger cabins, but you may have to go up in prices and get a suite. It depends also what you mean by "roomy" and if you plan to spend a lot of time in it (usually, people don't).

We sailed on the Lofoten in March, north and south bound, and just loved it.  But agree that 'roomy' would NOT be the way to describe it 🙂  Let's see if I can find the pic of our cabin.  But we loved it and will do the northbound next spring - in a somewhat bigger cabin! - as part of a multi-destination trip.  AFAIK because it's her final 'season' doing this it has to be booked through their London office.  Or at least that's what I had to do.

 

IMG_6668 - Edited.jpg

IMG_6639 - Edited.jpg

Edited by clo

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On 6/23/2019 at 1:46 AM, clo said:

We sailed on the Lofoten in March, north and south bound, and just loved it.

Thank you for the inspiration - planning for 3 nights from Svolvær to Kirkenes - June 2020.

We will fly into Leknes at Lofoten Islands, rent a car for few days before continuing our MS Lofoten voyage.

1EC780F5-1297-42FF-9816-659948349A34.jpeg

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On 4/23/2019 at 8:39 PM, GeezerCouple said:

 

Ah, very interesting question.  (A clever way to get important information!)

Also - don't hesitate to write to us at our regular e-address - see below in the signature section.  That might be easier for details, etc.

 

This is going to sound ridiculously petty and unimportant, and it is, but that's the level of any "dissatifaction"... the furnishings in the suite were pretty spartan.  Silly, right?  And NOT important.  The bed was very comfortable, and that's what was important, after all.

 

There was one evening of rather rough seas, but we actually enjoyed it, although we ended up rather quickly needing to *crawl* (we could NOT walk or stand up anymore) to bed and stay there for safety!  The Captain had announced there would be a few hours of rough seas.  We just hadn't experienced "rough seas" before, but - this will sound even more odd - we wanted to experience it.  We've never been seasick on any size ship/boat, but I was worried I'd get scared, and I didn't.  (Now - this was BEFORE the Viking Sky "experience" a few weeks ago, just a year after our cruise, in the same area, gulp, although that was totally different, obviously.)  But relatively "high" and forward or aft IS where the motion would be felt.  We just stayed in bed, fell asleep, and woke up to calm.

IF you do this in March (relevance is timing of light in the morning) and have an aft suite, *early* the FIRST morning was SPECTACULAR.  We always keep our curtains open (haven't been in midnight sun yet, but even in summer on an Alaska cruise, we did same).  So DH roused me with a "LOOK AT THAT!!!!!"  There was a steep side of a mountain (actually the hill of a fjord, not a real mountain), and it looked close enough to touch.  Because those fjords are so steep and deep - I'm assuming - the ships can get close to land if necessary.  It was breathtaking!

 

Okay, you've figured out we *really* liked that cruise.

 

We chose March after some research, in part because of the light and dark combo (the ports you stop at NB day are those you hit at night SB, so you can see a lot).  But also, March seemed to have the best chance of weather/less clouds.

 

HA!  We had the worst/dreariest weather for quite a few days.  Several snow squalls.  But the problem was... cloud cover at night.  So much for the Lights.... until about mid-way on the SB portion.  We lucked out.  There was an unexpected solar storm, and it headed our (Earth's) way for a couple of days, and... there were two clear nights.  SUCCESS.

 

Now, if you haven't already read about this:  What the eye tends to see is *NOT* the day-glo colors from photos.  Thank goodness we were prepared for that.

 

Okay... my enthusiasm is getting the better of me.

(We are also dealing with having just cancelled another cruise at the last minute, because very elderly MIL ended up in the ER with heart trouble, so re-living this cruise last year is a very welcome diversion!)

 

Do consider an Astronomy cruise.  Our lecturer was Dr. Mason, and he was the most enthusiastic lecturer we've ever met.  Fun.  He took lots of photos, and had flash drives available (modest price, although it seemed slightly odd not to include it with the package price, but no complaints) with photos from our cruise skies and some previous ones.  Nice.

 

We are also thinking about perhaps a Svalbard cruise with Hurtigruten.  Too many choices :classic_biggrin:

 

GC

Enjoying this discussion, thanks to all.  So sorry about your cancelled cruise.  I had to cancel my March trip due to severe back trouble and had to send DH anyway as we'd arranged a group trip for our church.   My mother has been gone ten years now but when she was with us, her nursing home actually told me not to tell her when we were traveling.   She would worry herself into illness.    I had other relatives and a faithful caretaker seeing her while I was gone.   That was helpful the last couple of years.   Enjoy your Hurtigruten trip!  We just booked our first so this discussion is very helpful.

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