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About kaisatsu

  • Rank
    Cool Cruiser

About Me

  • Location
    Oslo, Norway
  • Interests
    Travel, Literature, Food, Wine, Craft Beer
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
  • Favorite Cruise Destination Or Port of Call

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  1. 85F is pretty miserable in Oslo, because our infrastructure isn't built for it. Buildings are typically designed to maximize sunlight and preserve heat for the rest of the year. Very few places have air conditioning, and since the city doesn't usually have much wind, it can get uncomfortable very quickly. Even outdoor cafe and restaurant seating is typically limited to sunny areas, so there has been an unusual trend lately that people are flocking to anywhere that has shade! I generally prefer the low-to-mid 70s, but even I'm happy see the temperature dropping back down to the mid-60s this week!
  2. A friend here in Norway was making fun of me this past weekend, because I had a 200 NOK note in my wallet. "What is this strange and archaic piece of paper you are carrying?! What do you do with it?!" 😄 Cash was already uncommon in favor of bank cards and the local payment app on smartphones, but it's become virtually extinct at the moment due to the coronavirus. I'm curious how much things will revert back after the virus and how many places will continue to operate mostly as card-only or with app-based ordering & payment systems.
  3. Oslo actually has a few cruise piers, and assignments are usually only available at the start of the year. The primary cruise pier is still at Søndre Akershuskai, but recently several ships have also used Revierkaia, on the other side of the Akershus peninsula. The following information is based on the main Akershuskai pier: If you're buying an Oslo Pass, the simplest option is to catch the Bygdøy ferry, which departs from the small piers directly in front of the city hall. You can easily see the city hall from the port, and it's a 5-10 minute walk from the ship to the ferry pier. From Dronningen, the first of the two ferry stops, it's a 10-15 minute walk up the road to the Viking Ship Museum. If you're relying on public transit or want to minimize the walk, you can instead take the Bus #30 (direction Bygdøy) from Nationaltheatret. It's about 15 minutes' walk from the pier, past the city hall. The bus has a stop right outside the Viking Ship Museum (Vikingskipene). In either case, the best way to get from the Viking Ships to the Fram and Kon-Tiki museums (the two museums are directly across from one another) is to catch the Bus #30 (still direction Bygdøy) to the Bygdøynes stop, which is right outside. Returning to the ship, if you have an Oslo Pass or return ferry ticket, the Bygdøynes ferry stop is beside the Fram Museum and will take you directly back to the pier by city hall. Alternatively, you can take the Bus #30 back, but it operates as a loop service in that area of Bygdøy, so in order to catch it the other direction (towards Nydalen), you would either need to walk 10-15 minutes back to the Fredriksborg stop, or catch the bus two stops to Langvik and then walk the last 200 meters to Fredriksborg. In general, buses in Oslo are quite easy to navigate. Bus stops are typically clearly marked by a sign post (some stops have digital displays with arrival estimates), and they typically have a digital display inside with upcoming stop names and estimated travel time, so it's easy to know when to signal a stop. The Bus #30 typically runs every 10 minutes throughout the day.
  4. I was just listing my three top choices as an example. 🙂 And the Munch Museum isn't making it very high on my list at the moment, since most of the collection has been packed up for the move! I am, however, quite keen to visit the new museum when it opens this fall, and I'm even more excited for the new National Gallery!
  5. The price of the pass has gone up, but the price of the museum admissions has also gone up. The old advice still stands that it's generally worth it if you're going to visit at least three museums. However, it's easy enough to calculate if you have an idea what you'll be doing. For example, if you were planning to visit my three favorite museums at Bygdøy: 1-day Ruter transit pass: 111 NOK Folk Museum: 160 NOK Viking Ship Museum: 120 NOK Fram Museum: 120 NOK (Bonus - Bygdøy ferry back to Rådhusplass: 52 NOK) [if you're just relying on a Ruter pass, you can take the bus back to town] Total: 550 NOK (plus the ferry) OsloPass: 445 NOK If you're not planning to see a lot of museums, the OsloPass generally isn't worth it, and you'd be better off picking up a transit pass and paying any museum admissions as you go. If you like museums but you're not really sure which ones you'd be interested in, the pass does give you the additional value that you can pop into one for a short visit without feeling like you have to get your money's worth on the admission price. At the end of the day, there's no simple answer, since a lot of the value is a matter of personal preference.
  6. I know you've already made a decision, but for the record, I agree with those above if you're looking for a traditional Norwegian fjords cruise. Both Geiranger and Eidfjord are situated at the innermost reaches of western fjords, so you'll have plenty of scenic cruising during the sail-in and sail-out. As mentioned above, Bergen is a favorite highlight. And Ålesund gives you another taste of the small Norwegian coastal cities. The Norse Sagas itinerary is far less focused on fjord country. While Flåm gives you a taste of the iconic fjords, it's the only one of the ports that actually has a fjord focus. Sailing in and out of Oslo is pretty and enjoyable, but the Oslofjord is not actually a fjord (geologically speaking), and since it's much wider and surrounded by low hills, it's very different from the dramatic steep-walled fjords of the west coast. Stavanger is near the start of Lysefjord, but it requires a separate excursion to actually reach the iconic fjord scenery. Lastly, Kristiansand is surrounded by south coastal scenery with low rocky shorelines (pretty enough, but not particularly unique).
  7. Really?! I know several people who have booked flights home to the US via KEF, because it was one of the routes that's been flying consistently. That's going to be very bad news for a lot of Scandinavian expats!
  8. The Antarctic Circle is really only important to seasonal solar differences and travelers. As mentioned above, the geopolitical boundary of the Antarctic region is 60°S, well above the peninsula and the South Shetland Islands. There is also a biological delineation at the Antarctic Convergence, where you find a fairly sharp division between the colder water of the Antarctic, and the warmer sub-Antarctic ocean waters. You can see noticeable differences in the ecosystems on either side of this line. It varies in latitude but tends to follow fairly closely to the 60° limit on the Pacific side, but it stretches much farther north on the Atlantic side, encompassing South Georgia, Bouvet Island, etc. So even though you likely won’t cross the Antarctic Circle, you will typically cross first the biological boundary, and then the political line. My last trip was to the Ross Sea, so we spent nearly all of our time below the Antarctic Circle, and aside from being able to say I’ve done it, there was nothing terribly special about being south of the Circle (other than losing access to the satellite internet connection).
  9. I've cruised to Geiranger twice and never regretted not doing an overland tour from Hellesylt to Geiranger. In my opinion, the highlight of Geiranger is the Geirangerfjord, so I'd rather enjoy both the sail-in and sail-out, since the overland trips tend to visit other scenery in the area. I usually go hiking on my own in Geiranger, but there are several options for getting up into the hills for an overhead look at the fjord, which I highly recommend as the scenery looking down is significantly different from the perspective you have looking up from the ship. That said, this isn't really a Norwegian fjord cruise if that's what you're after. It's more of a hybrid between a fjord cruise and an Iceland cruise. The Norwegian ports are Stavanger, Ålesund, and Geiranger, and Geiranger is the only Norwegian fjord port on the itinerary. Ålesund is also a pretty coastal town, and Stavanger is a small coastal city, though you can take a small boat cruise from the city center to the nearby Lysefjord. With calls at both Seydisfjordur and Ísafjörður, you're actually seeing more Icelandic fjords (both the western and the northeastern incidentally) than Norwegian ones.
  10. Kristiansand and Oslo aren't really fjord ports, so they're a bit different from the rest of the ports in the itinerary. Kristiansand is more of a small coastal town, and Oslo is more like the other Baltic capitals than the fjord villages. Oslo does have a long fairly scenic sail-in and sail-out through the Oslofjord, but despite the name*, it's more of a coastal waterway with low hills on either side, rather than the dramatic steep scenery of the western fjords. Oslo does have its highlights, but like the Baltic ports, it's more about cultural city sightseeing than dramatic nature. Ships typically dock in the city center, and there are several popular sights, depending on interests. Among them are the Viking ship museum, housing the archaeological remains of the Viking burial ships, the open-air Norsk Folkemuseum with historic buildings from around the country, including an iconic wooden stave church, and Vigelands sculpture park with hundreds of works by Gustav Vigeland celebrating the human form through all walks of life. Several people also find the Fram Museum to be a pleasant surprise. It houses the Fram polar exploration ship built by Nansen and used by Amundsen on his expedition to the South Pole, and in addition to some interesting displays about polar exploration, the ship is open for visitors to explore. * Geologically, it's not actually a fjord as it was created through fault movement rather than glaciation.
  11. Also, while I’m still astonished Aurora didn’t cancel that sailing, I appreciate that they didn’t abandon everyone. I guess with cases on board, they didn’t have many (any?) ports open to them if they’d wanted to abandon the passengers, but after Oceanwide’s threats to send us to Santiago to fend for ourselves, I give Aurora some credit for handling the aftermath.
  12. Yes. As one of the last people on my ship to make it out of Montevideo, I’ve been trying to keep up to date on the people who were still there when I left. I’m happy that everyone from Ocean Atlantic finally made it out, and it’s good to know so many from the Greg Mortimer finally have an exit strategy, (including the friends of friends that I know of on board). I hope a solution can also be found for the other nationalities.
  13. That was the post I quoted. I thought when you said you “would not even think of going to Antarctica on the mv Ushuaia or any other vessel of her type” that you were implying you wouldn’t travel on any ice-strengthened ship (rather than an icebreaker). I misread your meaning.
  14. Actually, these days it does! You pass Danish border control even on internal Schengen flights! In my case, it was a concern because I had two separate flight tickets, so I was expecting to need to exit, collect luggage, and then check in again. Luckily the agents in Uruguay were able to check my bags all the way through, including my flight that was ticketed separately! So I just checked in on my phone and stayed in the airside part of the terminal. But I did pass through Danish border control, because there was nothing stopping me from walking out of the airport if I wanted.
  15. You do realize that none of the Antarctic expedition ships these days are icebreakers, right? None of the icebreakers have run tourist trips in the Antarctic for a few years.
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