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About Bella0714

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  1. Bella0714

    Tortola JVD Options

    It's a great beach for kids. I've never been there when the water hasn't been dead calm. White Bay is absolutely gorgeous. One of the most-beautiful beaches I've ever seen. By the way, for Painkillers, skip the Soggy Dollar and go next door to Gertrudes (great for lunch, too). She lets you pour your own rum into the Painkiller cup.
  2. Bella0714

    Hurtigruten and Norway in a Nutshell?

    Thanks, kaisatsu. I think we're leaning toward flying into Oslo and taking the train to Bergen and flying home from Bergen. For us, it's a matter of whether we'd rather spend a full day in Oslo or a full day in Bergen. The train ride does seem nice. We're planning on boarding Hurtigruten on Sept. 20, getting off in Svolvaer on the 29th and spending seven days in Lofoten/Senja. Do you, or anyone else, have an opinion about those dates for fall colors and Northern Lights possiblities?
  3. My wife and I are in the final stages of our plans to spend nine days on Hurtigruten this coming fall (late September for fall colors and a chance at Northern Lights; Bergen to Svolvaer via Kirkenes). We'll be coming from South Florida and can fly in and out of either Oslo or Bergen. Since Hurtigruten goes into the Hjørundfjord in the fall, is there any reason to do Norway in a Nutshell, or will NiN be more of the same? Should we just fly in and out of Bergen or, if we want to spend a day in Oslo, take the regular train to Bergen? I have read that the train from Oslo to Bergen is very scenic, but I'm also wondering if it pales in comparison to what we'll see on Hurtigruten. The trip will conclude with a week in Lofoten/Senja during the first week of October. Thanks!
  4. Bella0714

    Great Stirrup Cay

    I just did some reading on this. For those who care, it's not the Jones Act but the Passenger Vessel Services Act that applies here. So, the ship is allowed to leave and return to the same port without going to a foreign port. It can't leave one port and return to a different port without stopping at a foreign port. But a cruise that leaves Tampa, for example, and stops in Key West must also stop at a foreign port. I'm quoting: "Because the intent of the law was to prohibit foreign ships from transporting passengers directly from one U.S. port to another, round trip cruises that begin and end at the same port are not moving passengers between U.S. ports. The law does not apply if all the stops are at foreign ports. These same round trips may include another U.S. port provided they call at a foreign port (any non-U.S. port will do) during the cruise. This means cruises from Florida ports may stop at Key West if they return passengers to the same port they embarked at and stop in at least one foreign port (such as the Bahamas or Jamaica) during the cruise. The second exception to the law allows a ship to pick passengers up in one U.S. port, but drop them off in a different U.S. port, but only after visiting a distant foreign port, defined as being outside of North America, Central America, Bermuda and the West Indies, including the Bahamas, but excluding the former Netherlands Antilles islands of Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao (ABC Islands). That means that a Panama Canal cruise from Fort Lauderdale to Los Angeles must stop in a South American port -- often Cartagena, to avoid a violation. The requirement to include a distant port (beyond North America) is the reason that one-way Alaska cruises between Seattle and any Alaskan port are not legal for the foreign-flagged ships of the mainstream cruise lines. It is OK for those cruises to begin or end in a Canadian port because there is no restriction on transporting passengers between a foreign port and a U.S. port. "
  5. Bella0714

    Least Favorite Port

    Does this five-night cruise from Florida take the award for Worst Cruise Itinerary Ever? Day 1: Freeport Day 2: Key West Day 3: GSC Day 4: Nassau My wife and I are actually taking this cruise because the price was so right and there were no other options around the time we want to go, but we've been joking that we might not get off the ship.
  6. Bella0714

    Great Stirrup Cay

    That’s a great point. It’s why Alaska cruises from Seattle stop in Victoria.
  7. Bella0714

    Great Stirrup Cay

    I've never been to Coco Cay, but I've been to GSC and it's hardly worth planning a cruise around. They may call it a private island, but it isn't; the entire ship is on it. The beach pales by comparison to any beach I've been to in the Caribbean and Bahamas (other than the beaches on St. Kitts, which are not so nice).
  8. Bella0714

    Information about Hurtigruten Nordstjernen

    Thanks to all for your very helpful responses. I'm starting to have second thoughts about this. Maybe September isn't the best time for Svalbard. Also, hejiranyc's comment about seeing polar bears from so far away. We went to Alaska last summer and saw grizzlies from a distance in Denali. Then later in the trip, we spent three days seeing them very up-close at Katmai National Park, where bears go to feed on salmon every summer. Katmai pretty much ruined us for far-away bear sightings (although I know you don't want to get too close to a polar bar, and there are many other things to see on this expedition). We might just stick to our original plan of nine days on Hurtigruten and a week in Lofoten and the surrounding area.
  9. Bella0714

    Information about Hurtigruten Nordstjernen

    Thank you, hallasm. I have emailed Hurtigruten's UK office, and I will report back when I receive an answer. I am able to access Hurtigruten.no through a VPN. We're looking at the Sept. 5, 2019 sailing because the Thursday-Tuesday itinerary seems to be slightly better than the Monday-Saturday. FYI, we were originally planning to go to Norway in March with Northern Lights being the main objective. The plan was to travel Bergen to Svolvaer on Hurtigruten then spend 5-7 days in Lofoten before heading home. This would've given us 11-13 days above the Arctic Circle. But then I saw how inexpensive Svalbard can be on Hurtigruten, and since mid-Sept. is good for NL, we're now looking at the following: Sept. 5-11: Hurtigruten Svalbard. Fly to Bergen in the morning. Sept. 12-20: Hurtigruten Bergen to Svolvaer via Kirkenes Sept. 20-22: Lofoten then home. So fewer days above the Circle (as far as NL viewing is concerned because Svalbard is not good for NL in early September) but we get to see Svalbard and, maybe, polar bears. We'd be sacrificing snowy landscapes for autumn colors, we wouldn't get to see the ice hotel or go dog sledding, but we would have far less weather concerns (snowy roads, etc.) in Lofoten and might be able to see more of Lofoten in less time. I am a little concerned that September seems to be cloudier than March for NL but it seems to be just as good for NL activity since it's around the equinox. Sorry if I'm thinking out loud. The more I research, the more our plans change.
  10. I called Hurtigruten customer service in the U.S., but the person I spoke to didn't know much about the ship or the six-day Svalbard cruises because they don't market them from the U.S. I'm hoping somebody here can help. My wife and I are looking at one of the six-day trips (Svalbard Polar Bears and Arctic Adventure), but to keep costs down, we're looking at an inside cabin. None of the inside cabins have private bathrooms, so we're wondering: 1. How many bathrooms are on the ship and where they're located in relation to the cabins; and 2. How many showers are there and how are they laid out? Are they private or all in one large area? The deck plan doesn't make the answers to these questions obvious. 3. Any other comments about the ship? I've read that it can be very noisy on the bottom dock. One more question: Polar bears are a part of our reason for taking this cruise. I realize that seeing polar bears is a matter of luck, but is early September pushing our luck even further? The latest departure is Sept. 8.
  11. Bella0714

    Svolvaer or Stamsund for Lofoten in March?

    Yes, we'll be spending five, six or seven days in Lofoten. Overnight on the first night in Stamsund/Svolvaer, three nights in Reine/Hamnoy then two or three nights further north, possibly Ballstad/Leknes area. Basically, concentrate our time in Lofoten i the southern and middle areas.
  12. Bella0714

    Svolvaer or Stamsund for Lofoten in March?

    Thanks, hallasm. I'll do as you suggest. I've read over in the Tripadvisor Norway forum that March is one of the snowiest months in Lofoten and Northern Norway. If we do as you suggest and fly back to Oslo from Bodo, Hurtigruten wouldn't be a good way option as it arrives in Bodo at 2:30 a.m. Also, if we're going to do it this way, we'd have to sail in and out of Svolvaer as there's no Stamsung-Bodo ferry (unless the drop-off fee in Svolvaer isn't too high, which it might not be since they're so close; I'd have to check). My reason for choosing Stamsund over Svolvaer is its central location and the idea that the southernmost portion of Lofoten seems to be the most-scenic. That's really my main concern right now: Stamsund or Svolvaer for arrival in Lofoten.
  13. My wife and I, both with extensive winter driving experience in the Northeast U.S., are planning to visit the Lofoten Islands for 5-7 days in March 2020. Our plan is to take Hurtigruten from Bergen to Kirkenes, spend a night or two in Kirkenes, then take Hurtigruten to the Lofoten Islands. Our original plan was to get off at Svolvaer (arrival 6:30 pm), spend a night in Svolvaer, rent a car then head south, perhaps making two bases, first in Hamnoy/Reine and then in the Ballstad area, before heading back to Svolvaer to catch the Hurtigruten southbound again. But I've now read enough about driving in March, which is still the peak of winter, in Lofoten, to know that winter storms to know that weather might and probably will dictate our plans. My concern is that a bad winter storm could keep us from getting back to Svolvaer on that last day and also that the weather could, on some days, limit our driving or make it impossible altogether. So now I'm wondering about the wisdom of getting off the ship in Stamsund instead, thereby being more centrally located on the island. The ship arrives at 10 p.m., so we could stay overnight at a lodging near the dock (perhaps Live Lofoten) then pick up our rental the following day and do as we had planned from Svolvaer: Reine/Hamnoy for three days or so then Ballstad, thereby keeping us closer to Stamsund, where we'll get back on the ship to head southbound. Does this make sense? One concern I've read about is that Hurtigruten sometimes skips Stamsund in bad weather but rarely if ever skips Svolvaer. Is this a common occurence? I've already checked and it seems as if car rental in Stamsund/Leknes is not a problem. Thanks, Dave
  14. Thanks for posting the photos. I've been enjoying your blog. I hope you're having a wonderful trip.
  15. Bella0714

    Everything Hurtigruten - question answered!

    Mind if I ask a question about booking through Vantage? Why are their prices nearly three times higher than the Hurtigruten.no prices?