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About hejiranyc

  • Rank
    Cool Cruiser

About Me

  • Location
    New York, NY
  • Interests
    Travel, hiking, the arts
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
    Royal Clipper
  • Favorite Cruise Destination Or Port of Call

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  1. Don't misquote me. I didn't say that young and attractive people are the ONLY ones that can have a good time. I'm just saying that if you are neither of those things, your results may vary. I think going solo on a gay cruise is a recipe for bringing out the worst insecurities in all of us (which probably explains the prevalence of drugs on such outings). It takes a lot of confidence to put yourself out there like that, especially so if you are not considered physically attractive in the mainstream/conventional way. I personally was considering the RSVP Alaska cruise this year, but I decided that I'd rather be stress/neurosis-free. Unlike at a gay bar or club, you can't just simply decide you've had enough and walk off the ship!
  2. That sounds like a lovely itinerary! It's a shame that you aren't spending more time in Bergen; it is a very interesting city. Definitely check out the Bergen Castle and Rosenkrantz Tower. There is also a nearby military museum that is more interesting that it may sound. I've traveled around Lofoten in September and it does get very chilly. And there were almost always low-lying clouds with peeks of sun. Just the most stunning landscape I have ever seen. I did see the northern lights very, very faintly in Leknes one relatively clear night. I heard I missed out on a really dazzling show in Svolvaer another night. Anyway, regardless of whether you see NL, Lofoten will be awesome.
  3. Much of this is inaccurate. I went on this exact tour on the Nordstjernen in August 2018, so I can tell you exactly how this works. As a solo traveler, I was assigned an inside cabin on the "E" level, which is located at the lowest level of the ship. Noisy doesn't even begin to describe the cabins down at this level. Also, the interior cabins are the size of a small closet, which is literally the depth of a bunk bed and double the width of a bunk bed (a couple across from me said that one person had to step outside every time something needed to be retrieved from a suitcase). I had barely room for myself and my suitcase; I couldn't even begin to imagine how two people could split this cabin. Definitely not for anyone with claustrophobia or light sleepers. In addition to the constant drone of the engine, everything rattles and creaks. And although the bunks themselves were comfortable (that is, if you are not a taller/larger person), it just overall looked like a utility closet inside, complete with exposed pipes and really poor lighting. Very depressing. Regarding the plumbing situation, there is one private toilet room on that "E" level. One level above there are two small private shower rooms and a third "luxury" shower room with its own toilet and a nice porthole window to look out whilst showering. There are also separate mens/ladies rooms with 4 toilet stalls each on this level. The bathrooms are kept immaculately clean and you can even see a housekeeping log that indicates that the bathrooms are serviced hourly. I personally made sure I woke up no later than 7AM so that I could claim the luxury shower each morning. I never had to wait in line. Also, the trip comes with two nights of accommodation at the Radisson Blue or the Coalminers Cabins - they choose for you depending on the level of cabin you buy on the ship. I ended up at Coalminers Cabins, which is on the far, far side of town, which I actually enjoyed. There are trails to explore, and if you're really ambitious, you can hike all the way to the glacier (although that is probably not recommended due to the ever-present threat of polar bears). It's a 30-minute walk to the center of town, but you do get a more remote perspective out there. A small herd of Svalbard reindeer crossed my path as I was walking back one time. Anyway, the Coalminers Cabin also has shared bathrooms, but there are plenty of them, so there is no need to worry about waiting. But definitely bring your own shampoo and soap! On our trip, I believe we saw 13 polar bears, which I recall was a surprisingly large number for this particular tour, as polar bears are more likely to be seen in the northern/eastern parts of Svalbard. But they were all very distant sightings that, even with binoculars, barely registered as white blips on a green canvas. Still, it was cool to see mothers and cubs hanging around and doing their thing, and the cubs especially looked well-fed, which is a good thing. As my cruise was during the later part of August, I'm not sure what you can expect to find in September. I did see some birds, but most of them hard already migrated for the winter. There were a few seals and a few blue whales too. A handful of small icebergs here and there. I think we may have missed a landing or two due to conditions It was a fun trip overall and you do get the opportunity to get friendly with lots of people since there aren't many passengers on the ship. It was definitely a good experience overall, although I would spend a little more money to upgrade to an exterior cabin with its own bathroom (one less thing to stress about) and I'm sure the Radisson Blue is much more posh than Coalminers Cabins. One minor complaint I have is that there were no optional excursions to explore/hike deeper into the terrain. At each landing, everyone was kept on a very tight leash (presumably due to polar bears) and the hikes were very slow/unchallenging due to the physical limitations of most of the passengers. Anyway, definitely go on this trip, but keep your expectations in check.
  4. If you are young and attractive, you have a 0% chance of having a bad time. Just calling it like it is. I've witnessed all too often the older, "average" looking solo cruiser who spends the whole trip behind the pages of a book.
  5. I was also wondering the same thing... whether the lights are like the neon green color you see in photographs. I saw what I considered to be a spectacular display of lights in Kangerlussuaq, Greenland in early September, which appeared as an undulating, narrow, pale milky/opalescent green band that appeared directly overhead. I just couldn't breathe for a few minutes; the sheer scale of it- stretching from one side of the sky to the other - was incredibly awe-inspiring despite a nearly full moon. That being said, it wasn't fluorescent at all, even though it pulsed and waned in intensity throughout the display. The beauty of it was the fact that it was such a random occurrence. I was in my hotel room getting ready for bed and I just happened to peek out the window and noticed something a bit odd about the night sky. I quickly put on everything I packed and ran outside and stood in the freezing cold for an hour by myself just mesmerized - easily one of the most unforgettable sights of my life.
  6. They invoice amount is in the LOCAL currency of the site you are using, so, yes, the actual cost of the cruise will fluctuate until you pay the full amount. If you feel that there is the possibility of a global financial shock due to, let's say, a certain corrupt, shady president being indicted/impeached, then you should consider paying up sooner than later. Depending on your time horizon, I think it's more of a question of "when" and not "if."
  7. American here. I booked my expedition trip on the NO site because it was not offered on the US site (back before American traffic became automatically redirected to the US site). In a nutshell, so far so good. Keep in mind: -All communications, forms, itineraries and information documents are written in Norwegian. Using Google Chrome to translate to English is helpful for emails but not for PDF attachments. Fortunately, with a little searching around the Hurtigruten sites, you will find the equivalent PDF documents written in English. -10% payment upfront, followed by an email containing a link to a payment site to pay the balance. Unfortunately, the payment site was on the NO site, so I was unable to access it. After a single email exchange, I was sent a link to the U.S. pay site where I was able to make the payment. The USD is really, really strong at the moment, especially against the Scandinavian currencies. If you are going to book a Hurtigruten voyage now, and you haven't figured out a way to get to the NO site, I believe you can try the DK or SE sites. The pricing may not be as good as NO, but it will probably be better than the EUR or UK sites. But with great pricing comes great risk; the cancellation policies are generally more strict than the US. If all goes well on my Svalbard expedition next week, I may book an Antarctica expedition while I am in Norwegian territory.
  8. I was wondering if anyone was considering this cruise (open-sea.com) leaving from Barcelona. From what I can tell it's going to be a fully chartered gay cruise and this week they're offering a solo interior cabin for 999 euros, which is really, really tempting. I mean, really tempting. It checks off so many boxes for me - western Mediterranean itinerary, European clientele, Spain (never been there), etc. But the icing on the cake for me is the bizarre entertainment lineup, which appears to be a bit of a hot mess - a mix of washed up Euro one-hit wonders, Eurovision competition winners and RuPaul doing a DJ set in Ibiza. It all seems like cheap, trashy fun amidst a backdrop of gorgeous scenery... and I hear the Mediterranean islands aren't bad either ;p. But knowing me, it could either be a wondrous week of boozy fun... or a week hiding in my cabin with books. One or the other. Oh, and flights from NYC to BCN are really cheap at the moment! Any takers?
  9. Oh, I stand corrected - the new MM-HWGA movie was shot in Vis, Croatia; the original movie was shot in Greece. If this was an all-gay charter, it would be a no-brainer for me, especially since I would be traveling solo. But since this is not, I suspect that it will be almost 100% older couples (the main demographic with disposable income). There is nothing wrong with that at all; it is what it is. But for me as a single, middle-aged-but-not-old person, it can be potentially a very isolating experience, which is compounded by the fact that these ships do not have lots of ways to spend your days at sea. And honestly, who doesn't love a bit of gay drama at sea?!
  10. Thanks for putting this on my radar. It does look like a lovely itinerary, although I have to admit that Mykonos would have been a nice stop despite the fact that, yes, it is way, way touristic. I'm now going to have to give the Mamma Mia tour some serious thought. If the Star Flyer is anything like the Royal Clipper, it is going to be a wonderful experience. I did an all-gay trip to Croatia aboard the Royal Clipper a few years ago and it was unforgettable, especially when the ship was at full sail as it left the port. I'm not sure whether it would be similarly fun in "mixed company," but it is probably a forgone conclusion that anything billed "Mamma Mia" would have a large gay contingent, and if Star Clippers was smart, they would target the LGBT community aggressively. Speaking of Croatia, isn't that where both of the movies were mostly shot?
  11. I have been mulling over this trip. Solo. On the one hand, it sounds like potentially a lot of fun. When I think back on my past gay cruising experiences, I think about the cool people I've met. But I also think about the b****y cliques that form and those guys who are always so thirsty for attention and behaving all extra EXTRA. If I am lucky, I can see myself settling in with a cool group of fun, mature guys. If I am unlucky, I can see myself, iPad in hand, reading voraciously for seven days.
  12. No, that doesn't work. It might work from your location, but selecting NOK brings me back to the US site. If I ever decide to book Hurtigruten again (probably not), I had better do it while I am in Norway in a few months.
  13. I applied for compensation AFTER I returned home from my trip. I submitted my receipts (through email) as requested. But then I received an e-mail that I had to send the clothing items in too (to Norway)! Supposedly they donate it to charity. Whatever. Needless to say, I didn't get any compensation for clothing due to Norwegian's complete and utter incompetence.
  14. I am able to access all of the non-US Hurtigruten sites... with the glaring exception of NO. I am booked for the 6-day western Svalbard voyage which you will not see on the US site. And I don't believe that it is some kind of Norsk-only trip because it is offered on all of the other European country sites (so the tours will be given in English, German and Norwegian, as usual). And it's not like they are offering special country-specific airplane arrangements because all flights to Svalbard originate or connect through Norway. Also, I don't think local regulations are an excuse. They were certainly willing to take my registration for the cruise booked through the NO site a couple of months ago. In a nutshell, you are subject to the terms and conditions that you agree to at the time of booking (i.e., subject to Norwegian regulations), regardless of your country of origin. A few years ago I booked a flight to Copenhagen on Norwegian Airlines and my checked luggage never arrived (for an 11-day trip!). Needless to say, I spent a lot of money having to buy/wash clothes and toiletries. If this happened in the U.S., by federal regulation, airlines have minimum requirements for compensating passengers in the event of delayed/missing luggage, i.e., covering all reasonable, verifiable expenses. After almost two weeks of shopping daily for inexpensive T-shirts and washing my socks in the sink, I still ended up submitting receipts for over $250 to Norwegian. Under Norwegian law, claimants not only need to submit receipts. They also need to send the actual purchased clothing items too! To Norway! To add insult to injury, any compensation they provide is through wire transfer only, and they impose a $15 fee to do this. Needless to say, after two weeks of suffering and having to buy everything, an international telephone call and some tense emails, I netted $32 in compensation. Anyway... the moral to the story is that if you do business with Norwegian businesses, you are operating under their terms and conditions. Buyer beware!
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