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mcpepe

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About mcpepe

  • Rank
    Cool Cruiser

About Me

  • Location
    Marlton, NJ
  • Interests
    Travel, wine, food
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
    Sea Dream Yacht Club, Hurtigruten
  • Favorite Cruise Destination Or Port of Call
    Norway, Antarctica, BVI

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196 profile views
  1. mcpepe

    Midnatsol Antarctica cruise Feb 26, 2019

    You're going to have a fantastic time! And the crew is fantastic. I just sailed to Antarctica on Midnatsol in November and loved every second. Any questions I'd be happy to help!! I did write up a trip report somewhere here. And yes most of my photos though are on Facebook's Hurtigruten Insiders page.
  2. mcpepe

    Everything Hurtigruten - question answered!

    Sallyandtex, I did the RT, but getting off at Trondheim, one stop before Bergen. I didn't feel I was getting the same thing at all. And there were different excursions only offering going North vs South and vice versa. I would highly recommend doing the RT. I did stay in Bergen one night before my trip, and in Trondheim 2 nights after. Then I flew to Oslo instead of taking the train b/c of time constraints. In Oslo I loved the Fram museum, which I enjoyed SO much after learning so much about the Norwegian explorers through lectures I attended on Nordnorge. I also enjoyed the Viking museum as well.
  3. mcpepe

    Everything Hurtigruten - question answered!

    I did the Bergen - Kirkenes - Trondheim voyage in late Sept 2016. Northbound we sailed in late at night. It was clear with tons of stars and we saw Aurora earlier in the evening. The ship flashed big spotlights onto the walls. It was a pretty magical evening to be honest. Southbound, we sailed in during the day. I'd highly recommend the Sea Eagle safari since we sailed into the Trollfjord on the smaller boat! And then we watched our ship, Nordnorge sail in and passed each other. Was pretty special.
  4. mcpepe

    Everything Hurtigruten - question answered!

    Hi Sally, I sailed end of Sept 2016. Saw Northern Lights 5 nights. Plenty of daylight. We had very nice fall weather end of September. A little bit of rain in Hammerfest. I only needed my warmest jacket for Nordkapp b/c of the wind. Not worth a balcony and I dont' think most ships have them. I was up on deck most of the time to watch the scenery and yes you have to be dressed very warmly to do so. I sailed Nordnorge and found her very comfortable! I also sailed Midnatsol to Antartica and she was quite comfortable as well. I use a VPN and booked my most recent voyage on the Norwegian site. Much cheaper than the US site for me and for this voyage they asked for only a 10% downpayment vs 20% as usual. Google automatically translates all foreign pages for me; might be an extension in my browser? I didn't add any excursion since I do not want to pay so far ahead something I know I can book onboard. I also had to email after I booked to add my repeat guest number to get my discount. This was easily accomplished.
  5. mcpepe

    Cuba

    HI Tim! :D I do love having Tomasz make the pierogie. Miss you guys! <3 Mom and I are doing the crossing again this year in April. Enjoy Cuba! Maria :)
  6. Hi Gang! It's been a few months and alot of travels since I disembarked Midnatsol on my EPIC voyage to Antarctica. I've started this review so many times but it's just kinda overwhelming. In a nutshell, this was the MOST AMAZING voyage/vacation I've ever taken. I absolutely fell in love with the wild beauty that is Antarctica. And Midnatsol is a such a beautiful ship to undertake this epic voyage. About me: 55 years old at time of sailing, traveling solo as I often do. I've been on many traditional cruises. They were all listed in my signature until we had to shorten them all. But I also sailed Hurtigruten's Nordnorge in late September 2016 and there is a very long trip report I posted here about that wonderful voyage as well. I opted to not have Hurtigruten arrange my RT flight to Ushuaia. I was arriving to Ushuaia a day ahead and was staying an extra week afterward. I like controlling my own air. Ushuia was fantastic by the way! It deserves more of your time that just a half day here and there. I'd go back in a second, having done so many cool things: hiking, horseback riding, 4x4 adventures, Beagle Channel cruise, etc... I was lucky to find a solo traveler offer in late June of 2018. I had already blocked off time at work for an Antartica vacation and was in fact booked on another line who places you with a roommate to avoid a supplement. But I REALLY wanted to do Hurtigruten! I was very lucky that the other company simply puts your deposit into perpetual account to be used on another trip. So I wasn't really out any money. In fact I already booked and took a trip with that company. Midnatsol's November 7 departure fit in perfectly within my time off. I had not booked my BA to USH flights yet so I only had to rearrange one flight which I had booked on points for a fee of $75. So this was meant to be for sure!! The Ship I booked my first ever inside cabin. And you know what? It didn't matter one bit. I didn't miss a window or a balcony whatsoever. I did learn a couple days in to turn on the TV to the bow camera to get a sense of time of day. But even then I rarely had it on. My inside cabin was on Deck 4, close to reception and midship. Low and center is best for feeling less motion. I never understood why the higher up you pay more and most suites are at the front and back of the ship where you feel ALOT of movement!!! I love the fact that the floors of the bathrooms are heated. You flip a switch and it not only warms the floor but the bathroom too. I used that often to dry things as well! :D The ship itself is beautiful. My only complaint about the ship is the level of HEAT!!! It was so warm in many common areas I was wearing tshirts. Sometimes I'd actually go outside to cool off. In my cabin I had the heat turned down as low as it can go. And yes it's very casual as was Nordnorge on my coastal Norway cruise. I wore my same clothes day/afternoon/evening...hiking pants and boots, tshirt. And everyone else pretty much did too. Some folks packed some nicer things. But I really wasn't paying attention. My favorite spot to hang out was outside on the back of Deck 6. There is a little wooden bench built into the area and I frequently sat there with wool blankets reading or sometimes even napping! It was a cozy spot for sure. There are plenty of nooks for quiet reading. The ship never felt crowded except occasionally in the dining room at lunch when you were on a schedule and had to eat quickly before your landing or cruising time. Dining Room The food is excellent! Most meals were open seating buffet in Antartica due to the landing and cruising schedules. In fact ALL breakfasts and lunches were buffet. With dinner we had assigned tables and 2 seatings. But these were only utitized I think 3 nights whereas the remaining nights were openseating buffets. Where we had the assigned seating/table I was in the late seating, 8pm. I loved the 2 ladies from Australia I sat with. The menus were very good with good options and I loved all the food from the fixed dining. The buffets were all amazing!! There were so many choices that you often didn't realize what was there. Oftentimes I'd see something on someone's plate and ask, "Oh where is THAT?!" LOL And same would happen to me, someone asking where I got an item on my plate. There is such a variety of food, from Norwegian specialties to various ethnic foods. I always looked forward to the soup offered. There was always lots of veggies and salads. A vegetarian would eat quite well if they aren't picky about what veggies they want to eat! LOL My favorite item I discovered was cured halibut. Made like Gravlax is made with salmon and dill, but using Halibut, I ate this each morning with breakfast! And be sure to look for my favorite cloudberry jam in the section where there are say 6 or so jams. The breads are all fresh and delicious. I also enjoyed the assortment of cheeses they had. The Expedition Staff, Officers and Crew For me the people really make the experience what it is. I've always had a soft spot in my heart for the crew who work tirelessly away from home for months at a time. The crew were predominantly Filipino and I adored all of them!!! They work so hard and I sincerely appreciate it. The service was always very good. Every now and then something might take a bit if asked for but it wasn't a big deal. The Captain and all the Officers were visible and approachable. I really enjoyed that you could ask any question when you saw them. The Expedition Team. My favorite people on the planet! On my Norwegian coastal cruise there were only 4 and they really made my trip. For Antarctica we had no less than 21 members!!! Each was AWESOME! From two ornithologists to two professional photographers to biologists and lecturers who specialised in so many areas! They truly are amazing! I attended as many lectures as I could on various topics. All were so interesting. I loved learning about Antarctica, penguins, whales, the famous Antarctic explorers, the indigenous people of Tierra del Fuego. Bird watching every day at the back of the ship with the two ornithologists was amazing. And the ship's photographers were so kind. I ended up getting a master class one on one with a world reknowned photographer! Amazing! The expedition team also are the ones coordinating all the landings. This is hard, physical work. I don't know how they did it day after day. Crossing the Drake Passage wasn't that bad...for me. I say *for me* only because I never get seasick. Others got sick. On the return only one night did I really feel movement and that's when everything went flying off my desk and table onto the floor and couch, including my camera! Luckily my camera hit the couch but not before hitting a surface which cracked the screen. So my camera works well, but I have a cracked screen like so many cell phones have. And finally, ANTARCTICA!!!!!! This place just blew me away! Hands down the most fantastic place I've been. Everything is just bigger. Seeing my first huge iceberg I was literally jumping up and down screaming! LOL I video'd it and my gf does a good parody imitation of me. :D So many times I was in tears of overwhelming awe. I just couldn't believe I was so lucky to be in this beautiful place. And the PENGUINS!!! My God the penguins are everywhere! We were lucky we hit a landing each day we were supposed to and cruised each time we were supposed to. We had great weather with sun and an occasional snowstorm but it's Antarctica!! The landings and polar circle boat cruising are all included in your fare. Once on land, it's very physical work. Poles are there and we all used them. Walking in snow is tricky and sometimes all of a sudden it's deep and you're in up to your knee! I felt bad because in some spots a few folks just couldn't walk because they had mobility issues only in the deep snow. There was also the fact that on each landing, there was an uphill 'climb.' On some landings there was relatively flat areas to walk but the climbs were....a climb. And the packed down snow and steps carved into it by the team got slick. It was challenging coming down from the top of the hills. But nevertheless I did it all, climbed every 'mountain.' The whales were amazing! There were several times we'd see several and one evening several KINDS all together. I'd never heard the deep gutteral whale voices but they were magnificent and made you feel very small. We were all in AWE of the wildlife we saw. I also took part in every optional activity. I snowshoed, which is quite challenging if you're not used to doing it! LOL But great fun as well. I also kayaked. I was looking forward to this from the time I thought of Antarctica. I took kayak lessons last summer and did kayak tours, in preparation of kayaking in Antarctica. I wanted to know what I was doing. And when I finally sat in the kayak in Antarctica I burst into tears. I was so emotional, wanting this for so long and here I was doing it! And it was amazing! I also won the lottery and got to camp in a tent overnight on the continent!!!!!!! This was the most EPIC adventure!!! I can't begin to describe how serene it was as we all put up our tents and then just wandered on this tiny little islet. The light, the silence, the beauty.....all incredible! To paraphrase a fellow camper, "I may not have gotten the best night's sleep but I don't think I'll ever find a better campsite." On Deception Island I did the polar plunge too!!! Yup, I had my bathing suit on under my clothes and was given a towel. I handed my camera off to a fellow guest and walked calmly into the water, ducked down up to my chin, and walked calmly out. :D My fellow guest who had my camera was an angel and helped me get out of my wet suit and back into my clothes! It was a great experience doing a polar plunge and I'd do it again in a second! We did landings at Half Moon Island, Whalers Bay at Deception Island, Orne Harbor, Cuverville Island, Base Brown, Damoy Point/Dorian Bay. They were all varied, amazing and we saw LOTS of penguins. It was all so incredible. In closing this voyage was certainly a trip of a lifetime and I am so happy and grateful I go to experience it. Most of my fellow travelers felt the same way and we'd often be next to each other getting emotional about what we were experiencing. Any questions, I'd be so happy to help! Maria
  7. Things break, they fix them. No different than my car. Mom and I will be there. :)
  8. Mom and I are staying at the Hyatt House for our overnight in San Juan.
  9. Mom and I had so much fun on our transatlantic this past April that we just booked it for next April! :D I'm looking forward to stopping in Jost Van Dyke before we cross over. I hope they do the barbecue there. One of my favorite things! :hearteyes: Look forward to seeing many of the regulars who we made friends with this past voyage. It's like getting the band back together. I already have folks demanding to be on my trivia team! LOL :') Anyone else joining?? Maria and Lorraine
  10. mcpepe

    Midnatsol Nov 7, 2018 roll call!

    Thank you Hallasm, I sailed the MS Nordnorge almost 2 years ago. (in my signature <g>) Wrote up a nice review here. Best vacation ever. :hearteyes: I have been following the Fram and Midnatsol on FB for the last 2 years as well and am well acquainted with what to expect for my Antarctica voyage. I'm quite excited. I was just wondering if any other CC members were coming along on the voyage. :D
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