Archive for July 2013

Norway Cruise Planning!   2 comments

Okay, I know it’s been awhile since I talked about our upcoming cruise. The cruise I am referring to is our 12-day Norway, Iceland, and Faroe Islands cruise. We’ll be sailing out of Copenhagen on the Norwegian Star, and in addition to the above, we’ll also call on the Shetland Islands and have a stop in Sweden.

The first challenge with this cruise is none of these ports of call are cheap! I’ve read reports of $80 lunches (consisting of two sandwiches, a beer, and a Coke). In trying to book a private tour post-cruise in Copenhagen, we’ve encountered prices as high as 2,000 Euro (granted it was an eight hour tour, but still!!!). So looking to really experience these ports and keeping costs down has been interesting.

The second challenge is that I know nothing about these ports. When we went to the Mediterranean last year, when I looked at excursions for Rome, well, I already had an idea what was there. When I read that a tour went to the Coliseum, I knew what that was and thought “That sounds good!”. When picturing the Faroe Islands, I haven’t a clue (I’m picturing green and rugged terrain). When looking at the tours, reading “Visit Vagar” tells me nothing. More research must be done.

Now I’m not complaining, mind you! I love researching trips nearly as much as taking them. But having no ideas about the ports your visiting means a lot more time spent sorting things out (except for Iceland as we’ve been there before).

We have three stops in Norway; Bergen, Alesund, and Oslo. Of course I’ve heard of Oslo, but know nothing about it. The other two I never heard of until I booked this cruise. One thing we’ve discovered about ourselves is that we don’t want to do tours that are over four or five hours anymore (especially tours that involve hours in a bus). So that pretty much leaves us with “walk around tours” in each of these cities. Research told me that Bergen is very walkable and there is much to see close to the pier. With Alesund I was having a harder time with and I hadn’t even begun looking into Oslo yet. Then I stumbled on Hop On Hop Off Bus tours with City Sightseeing. They operate in each of these three cities! And by booking one tour first, I got a coupon code for 10% off my next purchase. Perfect! We booked the three tours for far less than one of the 7-hour tours offered by the cruise line.

Okay, you may be thinking that I’m sacrificing scenery. After all, people go to Norway to see the fjords and nature! Well our stops in the Shetland and Faroe Islands (and Iceland for that matter) will have plenty of nature, so I think we’re ending up with a well-balanced itinerary. And we will sail up the Oslo Fjord on our way to that city, which I’ve read is a spectacular sight.

We’re lucky to be traveling with friends that we’ve met cruising and they came up with the suggestion of renting a van in the Shetlands (they’re from Scotland and used to driving on the “correct” side of the road as they put it). So that is sorted for short $. (Or I should say short £.) 😉 We’ll join them for a whale watch in Iceland…we’re fully prepared to freeze on that one! But it will be nice to see Reykjavik from the water. Oh and I booked a private tour in the Faroe Islands to that will take us to that island, Vagar among other stops..so I guess I’ll figure out what that is, LOL. 🙂

Finally, we are looking at a ship tour for Sweden. Helsingborg doesn’t have a HOHO bus (darn!). One tour that looks really good is to take a ferry to Denmark and visit the castle that Shakespeare used in Hamlet. But should we really go all of this way to Sweden and not visit Sweden? I don’t think so. So we’re looking at a tour that will give us a nice mix of nature and towns and a drive along the coast.

Well that’s where the planning is at the moment. Still have much to sort out. Haven’t decided what we’re doing in Copenhagen before or after the cruise. Before is dependent on energy level after the overnight flight…after is dependent on us finding a reasonable tour. Otherwise we’ll be at the airport for four hours or so (not the worst fate).

Also have to figure out packing! This will definitely be a chilly (and wet I’m sure!) cruise. Gotta pack layers…and be glad we can do free laundry and don’t really have to bring 14 days worth of clothing!

I’ll report back in as things develop!

Book those hotels early!   Leave a comment

So it dawned on me today that the cruise to Alaska that we’ve booked is less than a year away. On impulse I pulled up the Marriott Seattle Waterfront. We stayed here on our last Alaskan cruise in 2009. It is pricey, but you can’t beat the location across the street from the cruise port. Literally across the street.

In 2009 the best rate I managed was $309 per night. 😦

Today I booked for $269, exact same week in 2014, and the rate included breakfast for two adults and two kids. My rate in 2009 did not include breakfast.

Can cancel for free up until 6:00 pm day of arrival. Sweet!

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