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minka34

Live from Star Into the Midnight Sun, June 30th -July 14th

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(Tromso) Side note: FYI I spoke too soon... no bathrooms available on the 2 hr Tromso included tour.

Our included tour in Tromso was a drive to an overlook and then a stop for a photo op outside the Arctic Cathedral. Since we saw the Cathedral from our balcony as we arrived in Tromso, we didn't need to get there, but it was pretty cool to see it up close. Very interesting architecture. We went back to the ship for lunch and then made up our own afternoon excursion.. super easy to do. We took the Viking provided shuttle to town. Walked a few blocks to the Polar Museum. It was an interesting place to explore (no pun intended). I had to work a bit at it - a lot of reading, and had to pick out the english captions, as all were in Norwegian, but some had English also. Where there was only Norwegian, I was able to use google translate on DH's phone to get the gist of the caption. The Fram story was most interesting to me. After the museum, we walked toward the Mack Brewery, family owned for many generations (Viking offered an excursion here). On the way, we stopped at an open market and bought fully lined full zip wool sweaters. They were $120 each, which seemed very reasonable from what we had seen elsewhere. I love mine! Despite being told by the Viking rep that we would not be able to tour the brewery (like the excursion), we decided to go anyway and maybe just get a beer in the pub. We walked up, and a tour was starting in 5 minutes! We got our tickets and went on the tour. It was actually one of the best brewery tours that I have been on (I have done a few, not a lot). First, a lot of great history included in a movie. The guide was good for the next live part, and the 2 beers we tasted were very good. We hustled back to the shuttle stop, worried that there might be a lot of folks waiting for the last shuttle, but only 4 of us rode back on it.

Fyi, the Mack brewery tours are M-F at 14:00 and 15:30 and Sat at 14:30. The tour is 1 hour and the price with 2 tastes is just over $22.00 (180Kr) each. You can buy tickets that incl more tastes. I dont know what the Viking excursion cost was, but probably more than $22. It was so easy to walk from the free shuttle, maybe 5 blocks. Of course we were blessed with a bright sunny dry walk so... that could be a factor if your weather forecast isn't as good. Tonight is the Midnight Sun official viewing party which starts at 11:30pm in the Explorer's Lounge. We have perfect viewing weather, and there is apparently a special drink that Viking is serving for the occasion. I hate to admit that staying up this late is killing me, and we also have an early port time in Honningsvad tomorrow... Thanks Cc friends for helping me stay up! (I can hear DH dozing on the couch, so I guess I'll have to be the one that gets us up there for the event.) Highlights tomorrow? If I am awake. :cool:

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Minka, how cold has it been? What kind of clothing have you been wearing on your excursions?

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The temps for us have been pretty warm, but I packed ready for wet and cool or cold. Layers are good. I have a small backpack so I bring a lightweight rain/windbreaker with a hood in case of cold wind at the viewpoints. I have been wearing long pants except at Geiranger where we hiked in the sun. I have zip off hiking pants so I can switch from pants to shorts if needed. I don't always wear them but DH wears a pair every day as the pockets hold a lot of things. On top he wears short sleeve t-shirt and brings a long sleeve flannel or fleece. I wear a short or long t and then layer with a light jacket or long T. Yesterday was the first "cold" day, but by afternoon, the Norwegians in town were laying out in the sun as we were buying wool sweaters. There was quite a difference from shade to sun. For the overlook, i had layered 2 long sleeve Ts, the one zipped up my neck, and i wore my lightweight gloves for the photo stop. DH wore short sleeve t with a fleece jacket. Have to be prepared for cold wind at the overlooks that are in the mountains. There is still some snow high up. Today in Honningsvad I'm going with the high neck zip T and a fleece jacket that has a hood. I will also have my gloves. It's bright and sunny again for us, but I am told that this is very rare. I had planned for a substantial hooded rain coat and several layers for today, but I am playing it by ear since we are living the charmed life with weather. Geez, long winded again. Sorry.:rolleyes:

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Note, we got pictures of the sun at midnight, and the comaraderie was fun, but you won't miss that much if you don't stay up for the "official viewing" IMHO.

 

There were several neat sounding Tromso excursions ... hoping others will post so I can also hear about them! Maybe the brewery tour had more to it than our DIY?

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Hint: if it is sunny, make your bottom layer short sleeve. It was 50ish (Fahrenheit) when we boarded the bus for Nordkapp. It's a 45 min ride, and the sun really heats the bus both ways. You need the warmth of long sleeves for the viewpoint (happy for my hood and gloves), so LAYERS is the word of the day. Ran into screen-gem and DW at the port. So fun to see the Cc folks around the ship and ports - seeing new friends all over the place!

Edited by minka34

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minka34, you are giving great information on your excursions, the weather, and layering. Thank you from one still waiting for my cruise at the end of the month.

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(Lofoton Islands) We had an overcast day, but I still wore a short sleeve t-shirt with my hooded fleece jacket and I was fine, taking off the jacket while on the bus. We went on the included tour again, and our first stop was a little fishing village area. I think that I will make it seem quite quaint with my selective photography. Our next stop was known be the most beautiful beach on the island. In sunny weather, that is likely true. It was a beautiful place, but made me wish that i had a camper so we could stay and hike the trails. We saw folks high up top of a peak and I'm sure that view from up there was amazing. The best parts for me were the needed WC (yay!), and the small herd of sheep grazing near the beach (cue the really adorable "baaaa"-s). One more beach stop, and the tour was complete. At this second beach there was a mama black sheep with 2 babies, one white and one black... I got a lot of photos of them. :rolleyes:

Our guide passed a bag of the traditional local snack, dried fish (basically, fish jerky). It was smelly, but tasted pretty good. You probably get used to the smell, and it's likely healthier than chips. Note: I was happy to have my gloves for the 2 beach stops.

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(Lofoton Islands) We had an overcast day, but I still wore a short sleeve t-shirt with my hooded fleece jacket and I was fine, taking off the jacket while on the bus. We went on the included tour again, and our first stop was a little fishing village area. I think that I will make it seem quite quaint with my selective photography. Our next stop was known be the most beautiful beach on the island. In sunny weather, that is likely true. It was a beautiful place, but made me wish that i had a camper so we could stay and hike the trails. We saw folks high up top of a peak and I'm sure that view from up there was amazing. The best parts for me were the needed WC (yay!), and the small herd of sheep grazing near the beach (cue the really adorable "baaaa"-s). One more beach stop, and the tour was complete. At this second beach there was a mama black sheep with 2 babies, one white and one black... I got a lot of photos of them. :rolleyes:

Our guide passed a bag of the traditional local snack, dried fish (basically, fish jerky). It was smelly, but tasted pretty good. You probably get used to the smell, and it's likely healthier than chips. Note: I was happy to have my gloves for the 2 beach stops.

Minka thank you so much for your very informative inputs. We just boarded the Sky today in London and greatly appreciate your inside tips. Have a great continuation of your trip !

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(Lofoton 2) We got off the tour bus and immediately onto the shuttle bus back to the city. There was a sign with a map, posted right at the bus stop, for a couple of short hikes from town. There was an information building just around the corner, on the main street so I got a paper copy of the map, some advice that we only really had time for the shorter hike, and of course, WC. The route took us from town on a gravel path up to a ski area and then up a steep dirt and rock trail to the top of a relatively small peak "Himmelsteinborga". Flora photo ops for me. Also, great views of the fiords and city, plus you could see our ship and a Crystal ship anchored in the harbor with mountains all around. Awesome. On the early trail while still in the outskirts of the city, DH was obsessed with the giant Norwegian dandelions! We had to have photos taken with them, of course. They were hip height on me. Yikes! Maybe the long daylight hours make them grow like crazy??? DH said to make sure none of the mutent fluff rode home on us (he slays dandelions in his spare time "for fun" at home ;p). The overall hike for us took under 1.5 hrs. Probably plan 2 for safe measure. Make sure you find out the time of the last shuttle - I only knew "all aboard" time, the last shuttle was apparently 30 min before that. It's only a 10 mim ride. Walkable, but we were cold and ready for a cushy seat! Back on board, I was so ready for a hot chocolate with peppermint schnapps in it, but alas, no peppermint schnapps on the Star. :(

I heard the the ship's hiking excursion was really good, but strenuous, especially for the first half hour... up, up, up! Maybe one of our Cc cruise mates will be able to review that, or other tours.

Cheers - we're off to our second visit to the Chef's Table, menu: La Route Des Indes. :D

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Following your posts with great interest. We were in Lofoten on an Azamara cruise and I described the area as having a "terrible beauty." Can't imagine living there. And I know what you mean about carefully edited pictures making that fishing village look quaint. ;)

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Tromso trip report.

Upon arrival in Tromsø, it was cool and cloudy, but it soon cleared up and was another gorgeous sunny day. I'm so glad we ordered Viking's optional Golden Sunshine package.

NB - we were docked at Quai 24, in the town of Breivika, a few miles north of Tromso proper. The Viking Sea was also in Tromso, and they were docked 'in town' at Quai 4. If you're on a future Midnight Sun sailing, you may be at one or the other locations. Check the Tromso port schedule to be sure you know where you'll be docked.

Viking provided shuttles to/from downtown, running every 20 minutes or so.

We started our day with the included 'Panoramic' tour at 915am. It was ho-hum. A drive to the countryside to a photo stop overlooking the ocean. A drive through downtown Tromso, then across to the Arctic Cathedral for another photo stop. Then back to town for another photo stop. Climbing on and off the bus is great for burning of all the calories we're consuming every day...

This weblink shows where the Panoramic tour took us:

https://trails.io/s/83ic8y/

We asked the guide if we could be dropped off downtown, instead of returning to the ship. After some discussion with the driver, they agreed to do so. About a dozen pax disembussed with us.

We walked along the water's edge past the Polar Museum, did a little shopping in the market square, admired the Viking Sea (docked right downtown).

Next on our plan was to visit the Science Museum/Planetarium to see the documentary movie about the Northern Lights. It's easy to get there, on city bus #20. Fare is NOK50 pp. There's a stop right across from the Radisson Blu hotel, then a 15 ride to the Museum. Bus stops right at the door.

The Northern Lights movie runs at 115pm in English, which was perfect for us. The next English showing is at 315. NOK90 pp.

While waiting for the movie to start, we ate our take-out lunch (muffins, cheese fruit from the World Cafe) in a sunny games room from which we could see the Viking Star.

We quite enjoyed the movie. I saw the northern lights (for real) decades ago.

The museum is up on a hill, above the Botanic Gardens. It's a pleasant walk through the Gardens back to the ship. Exit the Museum at the top floor (Level 4), walk to the street, then make a hairpin turn to the left. There's a narrow path that goes gently downhill, through a comprehensive Rock Garden. Geologists will love it.

Follow the path down the hill, and you'll come to the extensive Botanic Gardens. We wandered around for a half hour. There's a small café at the bottom of the Gardens, close to the highway.

The walk back to the ship (from the cafe) takes about 15 minutes. There's a pedestrian tunnel that goes under the highway to get to the port area.

Track from rock gardens to the ship at Quai 24:

https://trails.io/s/kxr9tq/

If you find yourself docked at Quai 24, it's a nice excursion to visit the Botanic Gardens, and even to walk up the path to the Science Museum. You can see the Museum from the ship. It's a tall grey building with an odd dome on the top -- looks a bit like a lighthouse. The dome is the planetarium.

 

Enjoy Tromsø!

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Is Viking providing maps to the towns at the service desk?

 

Thank you for the great info.

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Viking is providing maps, but they are pretty sparse. Some might say next to useless, but that might be a bit extreme.

 

The Tromsø map was particularly bad. The Star docked in Breivika, a few miles north of Tromsø. The location of the port was not indicated on the map, which did not extend out that far. Viking ran a shuttle back and forth into town, but the drop-off/pick-up location (across from the Radisson Blu hotel) was not shown on their map. Quite disappointing.

 

In some ports, we were able to obtain a local 'tourist' map once we got on shore.

 

We made good use of Google Maps on iPhone...

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Sea Day Random Thoughts...

Room service seems inconsistent. We ordered coffee for 2. First time they brought 2 pots (!), 1 large, 1 small - both sealed and hot (the large one would have been enough). Today, only one small pot, med warm and last cup, full of grounds. To clarify, we are not room service users typically, so maybe someone that has had room service meals could comment.

Movement. Over the first week (week gone by already?), I felt no movement of the ship. I would wake up and think "have we docked?" Last night we started out across the open sea to the Shetlands, and there was quite a bit of motion. This morning, either it is better, or I am used to it. Gently rolling along... we've been taking ginger capsules 3x a day just in case. No problems with motion sickness so far. We have had pretty calm seas, but it looks a little rough now and it's raining. Update, no rain now but more whites caps... still ok, however zumba was more of a challenge with the unpredictable floor.

Chef's Table. First night was lovely. I think that the nice weather overnight in Bergen kept it half empty. The ambiance was really enhanced by the quiet room and extremely attentive staff. I suggest a 6pm seating to get a window table, or the next row out. They are not positioned to squeeze as many in, like the area away from the windows. Last night, the room was packed, similar to The Restaurant, we were seated at a table between 2 couples and could talk like they were at our table. We liked talking to them, but it was a very different experience from our first visit. The server explained the meal to 2 tables at the same time. The rumble of the crowd and the proximity made it much less like fine dining and more like a cafe. Three times, dishes were dropped and broken within the first 20 minutes were were there. They were obviously too busy. Perhaps they should make less tables or a larger space with more staff? Warning! here is my soap box... Apple Tatin is BITTER, apparently by definition - the description sounds so good (like apple cinnamon pastry, yum). "Bitter" should be in the description. I decided after 2 bites that I would not eat any more of it. Everyone at our group of tables said it wasn't something that they liked (too bitter). My experience was somewhat ruined by the guilt foisted upon me by the server for not eating my dessert. Ok Debbie Downer, that's enough.

World Cafe. Viking does a great job with their buffet restaurant. We have had a little trouble finding a table for bfast some days, but most times, it's just a wonderful place to eat and watch the sea go by. The staff brings your drinks so no need to carry those around with you. Just great.

Infinity pool. DH said that he jumped into the infinity pool a couple days ago... I did not witness this. I still hope to experience it. However, from him, I now know why people tend to glom on to the glass edge (it's not really a pretty sight from outside the ship). It is very deep. Not standing depth; tread water or glom on to the glass edge are your choices!

The Restaurant. Really great. When you have to wait, they bring you wine but the wait has never been long. The food is good, and usually, we chat with the near table(s). Last night, it was crowded and unusually busy since they had lobster on the menu. We decided to share a table with two other couples ... out of our comfort zone, but met really great people! One couple was so like us, I couldn't believe it. A fun time for sure, and I hope to run into them again.

 

Note, talked to Cc friends at bfast today and also ran into a group (including Screen-gem and DW) later. Fun. I have yet to meet Elizabetho55, but still hope to. Starting to see other folks I've met at different events also. The smaller size of the Viking ship makes the ocean experience more personal for sure.

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Viking cabin trivia:

 

Cruise Critic members will no doubt be well equipped with smartphones, tablets, cameras, and various other gadgets needing to be charged daily. The DV cabins (and no doubt other categories) have two handy USB charger jacks on either side of the bed, integrated into the bedside table. One is marked "High Power". For those curious about such things, the high power jack can supply up to 2A of current, at the standard 5 volts. The other is good for 1A.

 

However, be advised that when your key card has been removed from the receptacle next to the door, both jacks supply No Power. When you remove your key card from the slot, power to the USB jacks is shut off after a few minutes, along with various lights in the cabin. For a few days now, we've wondered why iPads left charging during the day (when we were out and about) never seemed to get charged up fully.

 

Power to the 110 and 220 volt outlets next to the desk are not deactivated when the key card is absent.

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Hey there, Reading these informational posts is most appreciated. What time of day was the Bluenose ceremony? So glad for your beautiful weather. I hope it holds out until we said July 21.

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We have found in European hotels and on ships that have this keycard lights thingy that it isn't reading the keycard – any similar size piece of plastic will do the trick. We bring along one of those come-on 'credit cards' you get in the mail for this purpose.

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Hey there, Reading these informational posts is most appreciated. What time of day was the Bluenose ceremony?

 

The Bluenose ceremony is scheduled to happen around the time that the ship crosses the Arctic Circle. For the Molde to Tromsø leg of our itinerary, it was about 1pm. We're on the Bergen to London voyage. It might be different for those on London to Bergen.

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Pre-Lerwick quickie: keep your eyes open in the harbor, and your binoculars close; there are harbor seals!

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Viking cabin trivia:

 

Cruise Critic members will no doubt be well equipped with smartphones, tablets, cameras, and various other gadgets needing to be charged daily. The DV cabins (and no doubt other categories) have two handy USB charger jacks on either side of the bed, integrated into the bedside table. One is marked "High Power". For those curious about such things, the high power jack can supply up to 2A of current, at the standard 5 volts. The other is good for 1A.

 

However, be advised that when your key card has been removed from the receptacle next to the door, both jacks supply No Power. When you remove your key card from the slot, power to the USB jacks is shut off after a few minutes, along with various lights in the cabin. For a few days now, we've wondered why iPads left charging during the day (when we were out and about) never seemed to get charged up fully.

 

Power to the 110 and 220 volt outlets next to the desk are not deactivated when the key card is absent.

 

 

Hi,

Thank you for this info on the USB charging ports, very helpful.

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We were told by our tour guide, that at this time of year, a pod of Orcas might show up looking to feed on the seals. Keep your eyes open!

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