Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Boat hire

There is a ferry that runs between Bergen and Mo (Modalen) in the summer but not while we are visiting.   I've send off two email messages to boat hire companies in Bergen to see how much it would cost to hire a boat for the return trip.

Monday, 28 November 2011

Hurtigruten booking

I've just booked the Hurtigruten round trip, or rather I've just requested our friendly travel agents book it.   I do wonder if the 'early booking offer' will turn out to be the best deal so have only booked an inside cabin to make sure we're on the ship.

With the whole holiday schedule to book,  it isn't wise to wait until next spring and find we can't get on the ship on the date we want.  There is some flexibility in the itinerary but there won't be when I book the hotels in the next few days.

Travel Insurance

It's the same every year.  The renewal letter arrives,  we telephone them back and answer all the questions.

Then the policy documents arrive and they are wrong-  exactly the same mistake as last year.

Bergen wins

I've thought through whether to disembark from the Hurtigruten in Trondheim or Bergen.   Bergen won!

It seems very sensible to leave the arctic clothing in Bergen and not carry unnecessary luggage on the trains, fast ferries and buses.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Trondheim or Bergen?

It's possible to disembark from the southbound Hurtigruten in Trondheim instead of continuing down to Bergen.

As the itinerary stands at the moment,  we're visiting Bergen 4 times because it is the common hub for the places we want to visit.

If we disembark in Trondheim,  it would allow us to take the sleeper train to Oslo and free another 2 days into our schedule for doing other exciting things.   Perhaps we could stop at Dombas?  or Lillehammer?

Will it add on a lot of extra cost?  or will it actually make a saving?

I had originally thought of leaving our 'arctic' clothing in Bergen rather than carry it on the Fjord and Southern trips.   Something else to consider.

So, more decisions to take... watch this space again.

Deposit paid

We paid the deposit on the return sailing from Norway on Thursday.   Now we're just waiting on the booking numbers from Cruise and Maritime via our travel agent.

If you've been watching the itinerary,  I managed to muddle up the years and so the days were all wrong.  Once I recognised this and made the corrections,   some of the travel arrangements changed from the weekend to a weekday and became possible.   In addition,  'missing days' reappeared and it looks like we'll also managed a sailing into Sognefjord.

This is something I could leave until we're actually in Bergen and see what the weather is like.   I'm hoping for a beautiful spring like the one we had in 2012 however,  if the weather is particularly damp,  there are lovely museums to visit in Bergen.

Easter now falls when the Hurtigruten ship is sailing in the far north so we'll not only enjoy the comfort of the ship,  there are no longer issues with travel arrangements at Easter.

Plans for our house-sitters are well underway, I'm told holidays are being requested!

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Bookings and insurance

The ship home is now fixed,  with just the deposit to pay tomorrow to confirm the booking.  The travel insurance is also paid.  This now means I can go ahead and organise the remaining itinerary.

I'll update the other pages tomorrow,  it's been quite a long day trying to sort all this out.

More tomorrow...

Monday, 21 November 2011

Itinerary changes

Plans are changing by the day.   Because of weekends and Easter timetables,  we cannot fit together certain parts of the journey.

Expected alterations:
Sailing on a different Hurtigruten ship at a different stage of the trip.
Changing the order of the southern & fjord journey.

Watch this space...

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Bookings (not today)

This morning I was going to visit the travel agent,  finalise more of the reservations for the trip and pay the deposits.   Unfortunately this isn't going to happen because I'm still waiting on the availability emails from the cruise/ferry companies.

... but it's not a great problem because we're far enough in advance that a few days isn't going to make much difference.

Friday, 18 November 2011

Orange aurora?

When we sailed the Norwegian coast on MS Nordlys in February 2008,  we were called up on deck to see the aurora. 

I couldn't see anything but found this picture when I downloaded the camera. Was it the lights? I thought they were always green but perhaps not?

or was it just wishful thinking?

Missing emails?

Waiting on 5 emails today that I need to progress with the planning.  2 emails from cruise companies and 3 from other people.
  • Did my emails to them go out?  well 2 definitely did because I've had interim responses.
  • Did they reply and the emails didn't arrive?  all too frequent at the moment
  • Have they not replied yet?  they may be busy
  • Are they not going to reply?
The internet is so good for finding information and contacting people but sometimes you're just left guessing.  I'll wait until Monday and then make a few phone calls if nothing has arrived.

Cabin choice

As I said before,  we're very happy with an inside cabin but which one?  There are various factors to take into account.

  • Do we want to be on a lower deck where there will be less movement if the weather is bad?
  • Do we want to be in a higher deck with easy access to the outer decks if (I mean when) the northern lights are seen?
  • I don't want to be near a lift or stairs,  either for passengers or crew.  Avoiding corridors where passengers will be returning to their cabin after a night in the bar also sounds like a good idea.
Decisions, decisions!

1893 Ambassadors

People who have sailed with Hurtigruten before are able to register for their 1893 ambassador programme that entitles them to various benefits and discounts.

My registration has just arrived so,  as soon as I'm able to make our 2012 booking,  I'll be doing so.   This is all getting very exciting,  so many things are falling into place today.

Karmøy Fiskerimuseum

I emailed Karmøy Fishery Museum to ask for their 2012 opening hours.

Unfortunately they don't open for the 2012 season until June.   However, they have very kindly said that they might be able to allow 'Himself' to look round and to contact them again nearer the time.

Waiting...

Just waiting, today, for word back from Cruise & Maritime about the availability on Marco Polo.

I've asked for an inside cabin because we really spend very little time in the cabin.    Even if the ship had balconies,  I don't think I'd book one because we like to spend time out on deck and be able to watch the scenery on all sides of the ship.   I have one favourite spot on deck too!

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Which ship?

It is difficult to choose which of the Hurtigruten ships to sail on.  Ultimately, I suppose, it will depend on the sailing date.

MS Finnmarken will have returned from Australia and resumed her place on the coastal route,  replacing Nordstjernen.
(photo from February 2008)

My alternatives are Polarlys, Nordnorge or Vesteralen.

Of course a major part of the trip will be onboard another of our favourites,  the classic cruise liner,  MS Marco Polo
(photo from summer 2010)

Planning

Planning a trip is half the fun,  particularly during winter when it gives something to look forward to.

I suppose we're fortunate in having several contacts within Norway who have local information on bus services and the best transit ports for ferries.

The second part of the journey is already booked;  sailing on the Marco Polo to view the Northern Lights over Arctic Norway visiting several ports along the way.   There is always a risk of missing ports while sailing the Norwegian coast during winter because of bad weather and winter will still be very evident.  Having said that,  it is well worth the risk because the scenery is beautiful and daylight has returned.

Planning the third and fifth parts of the trip is more difficult.   In which order to we visit the southern towns and the fjords?   I think it is all going to revolve around the fact that the third part will be over a weekend and some of the ferries and buses don't run.   I'd like to avoid backtracking as much as possible because it is such a waste of valuable time (and money).

The Caledonian Sleeper train between Fort William and London is part one and probably the last part that I'll book.   It only goes on sale 3 months in advance and I'll also want to watch for any proposed disruption because of track repairs.

Part 4 is the Hurtigruten coastal voyage.  Which ship?  exactly which dates?  Do we complete the voyage or do we hop off the ship at one or more ports (port-to-port).  I'm just waiting now on the replies to some questions.

Part 6 is getting home on Marco Polo and again,  I'm just waiting on the information to allow me to make the reservation.   None of the other parts can be booked and confirmed until we definitely know how to get home.

... but the sun is shining outside and I don't want to spend any more time indoors.   Planning can wait.  Where is the camera?

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Bonfire 2011

Strontian bonfire 2011 2/2
Managed to pop along to the bonfire and fireworks this year.

Great soup and scones too on the first real cold, dry night of winter.