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2021 In Search of the Northern Lights

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2 hours ago, gretschwhtfalcon said:

I wouldn't even consider a B2B where you have to change rooms the 2nd week. I've always chosen my room on the cruise line's website (never did one with Viking) to make sure the room is available for both weeks, or else did it with an agent through a 'next cruise' booking during a cruise. 

 

I've done a B2B where we changed ships (in addition to three nights in a hotel pre-cruise), so moving from cabin to cabin on the same ship is no big deal. It just isn't a deal breaker.

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12 hours ago, Peregrina651 said:

 

I've done a B2B where we changed ships (in addition to three nights in a hotel pre-cruise), so moving from cabin to cabin on the same ship is no big deal. It just isn't a deal breaker.

We have also changed cabins a few times on B2B's and found it fairly painless. When ready to move, got lots of help from the Stewards.

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Continuing to drag this out...

As far as viewing the Northern Lights, it appears that some nights will be spent in port, while others are at sea. Do you see the lights in port as well as when at sea? I mean, can you if they occur and the weather is clear. I'll bet when under way, the wind makes standing outside pretty chilly, eh?

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20 minutes ago, What was that? said:

Continuing to drag this out...

As far as viewing the Northern Lights, it appears that some nights will be spent in port, while others are at sea. Do you see the lights in port as well as when at sea? I mean, can you if they occur and the weather is clear. I'll bet when under way, the wind makes standing outside pretty chilly, eh?

We had an excellent viewing one sea day around 21.00, many in the theatre missed it as no announcement was made, different nights on land some had good views others nothing.

 

As to chilly, remember no such thing as bad weather, just wrong clothes 

 

its a a matter of luck

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3 hours ago, What was that? said:

Continuing to drag this out...

As far as viewing the Northern Lights, it appears that some nights will be spent in port, while others are at sea. Do you see the lights in port as well as when at sea? I mean, can you if they occur and the weather is clear. I'll bet when under way, the wind makes standing outside pretty chilly, eh?

When in port it all depends on the ambient light.

 

When considering wind on the decks of a ship you have to also consider the ship's course & speed. When the wind is astern, at same velocity as ship's speed, you have no wind over the deck. However, with the ship doing 20 kts and wind ahead, it is both windy on deck & chilly.

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2 hours ago, Haworth said:

We had an excellent viewing one sea day around 21.00, many in the theatre missed it as no announcement was made, different nights on land some had good views others nothing.

 

As to chilly, remember no such thing as bad weather, just wrong clothes 

 

its a a matter of luck

Thanks, Haworth. And I'm going to save that quite about weather and clothes!

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6 minutes ago, Heidi13 said:

When in port it all depends on the ambient light.

 

When considering wind on the decks of a ship you have to also consider the ship's course & speed. When the wind is astern, at same velocity as ship's speed, you have no wind over the deck. However, with the ship doing 20 kts and wind ahead, it is both windy on deck & chilly.

Thanks, Heidi13. Hopefully the moon won't complicate things for us - we plan to go in early Feb 2021, with a new moon - "no moon" - in the middle of the cruise. And on deck 9 it looks like there is a glass screen that may provide some wind shelter - any opinion about that?

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4 hours ago, What was that? said:

Thanks, Heidi13. Hopefully the moon won't complicate things for us - we plan to go in early Feb 2021, with a new moon - "no moon" - in the middle of the cruise. And on deck 9 it looks like there is a glass screen that may provide some wind shelter - any opinion about that?

With a "New" moon the only ambient light would be from the light around the port. Never been in Norway, so hopefully all fairly small.

 

Still 6 months to our first Viking Cruise, so can't comment on the effectiveness of the wind break.

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We did the Northern Lights cruise Feb 6, 2019 (London to Bergen).  We had a very nice time but unfortunately didn't see any lights.  Highly recommend that you arrange a few private small group excursions to "chase" the lights.  We did the Viking excursions but due to a variety of reasons (too many people, not enough time), it didn't seem like the best approach for this type of activity.  You need to be flexible, find the right location, and be prepared to stay out late.  I think a small group would give you a better chance to see the lights.  

 

We didn't think the temperatures were crazy cold but came prepared with long underwear, snow pants, down parkas, boots, hats, and gloves.  We spent several late nights on deck and it was very windy. 

 

In Bergen (post cruise) we stayed at the Thon Hotel Orion.  We took the train from Bergen to Oslo and stayed a few nights at the Thon Hotel Opera.  Sign up for the (free) Thon loyalty program to save a few dollars on your stay.  Hope you have a great time!

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OK - this is my last question, "I promise."

We have agreed to do the 26 Jan-2 Feb Iberian Explorer back to back with the 2-14 Feb In Search of the Northern Lights cruise, and we have to decide between a Veranda (V2) stateroom and a Penthouse Junior Suite (PS1) stateroom. It would help to hear people's experiences in these stateroom categories on these cruises - especially the Northern Lights cruise. If you could mention the features that provided value and anything to do with the difference in location aboard the ship, that would help us.

Thanks in advance!

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54 minutes ago, What was that? said:

OK - this is my last question, "I promise."

We have agreed to do the 26 Jan-2 Feb Iberian Explorer back to back with the 2-14 Feb In Search of the Northern Lights cruise, and we have to decide between a Veranda (V2) stateroom and a Penthouse Junior Suite (PS1) stateroom. It would help to hear people's experiences in these stateroom categories on these cruises - especially the Northern Lights cruise. If you could mention the features that provided value and anything to do with the difference in location aboard the ship, that would help us.

Thanks in advance!

 

WOW, that is a big jump between categories. 

 

Here are the bennies of the PS cabins (copied straight off the website). The emboldened items are items that you won't get in in the V suite. Additional comments added in red.

 

Penthouse Junior Suite (PS)

  • Size including private veranda: 405 sq ft  V is  including private veranda: 270 sq ft
  • 11:00 AM embarkation  (and many times, even earlier than that)
  • 11:00 AM priority stateroom access  V is 3pm
  • Priority shore excursion reservations: 87 days prior to departure  V is 60 days
  • 3 guaranteed priority reservations at each alternative restaurant: 80 days prior to departure  V gets none.
  • Priority booking of spa treatments: 80 days prior to departure V gets none.
  • King-size Viking Explorer Bed with luxury linens & pillows
  • Free Wi-Fi (connection speed may vary)
  • Two 42" flat-screen, interactive LCD TVs with intuitive remote & complimentary Movies On Demand  Intuitive remote means that it has 6 buttons.
  • 110/220 volt outlets & USB ports
  • Mini-bar with alcoholic beverages, soft drinks, water & snacks (replenished once daily); security safe; hair dryer V no alcohol and pays for replenishment
  • Direct-dial satellite phone & cell service (this is fee for service for all cabins which is not clear in this description)
  • Large private bathroom with spacious glass-enclosed shower, double-sink vanity, heated bathroom floor & anti-fog mirror
  • Premium Freyja® toiletries; plush robes & slippers
  • Purified water refilled daily
  • Stateroom steward & twice-daily housekeeping
  • 24-hour room service
  • Spacious closet & drawers
  • Complimentary laundry, dry cleaning, pressing & shoe shine services
  • Welcome bottle of champagne
  • In-suite binoculars, coffee brewer & traditional Norwegian Marius-weave blanket V gets none of these amenities

We have only ever cruised in a DV cabin which is the same as a V size- and storage-wise. Since we are okay with the size of the cabin and, since once we are on board, the crew treats everyone the same,  the price difference between DV and PS is a significant jump for us, especially on longer cruises, and we would rather put the savings towards more frequent travel.  We have never been closed out a shore excursion that we wanted (but we aren't interested in the exotic ones that tend to have fewer places available) and once on board have not had difficulty getting dining reservations (especially for Chef's Table). In other words, if our choice was PS vs V, knowing what we know now, we would happily take the V cabin (but not a V guarantee because there are too many problematic cabins in the category; I want say over which V it will be).

 

V cabins are all on deck 3. The ones over the restaurant will be quieter than the ones forward, which tend to have noise issues with the Theatre and the disco (which can rock into the wee hours). You won't feel the motion quite as much as you will feel it on higher decks.

 

BTW, since you are doing a B2B, you will book all of your shorex and dining when booking opens for the first leg (you will be a week ahead of everyone else in your category on the second leg).

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3 hours ago, What was that? said:

OK - this is my last question, "I promise."

We have agreed to do the 26 Jan-2 Feb Iberian Explorer back to back with the 2-14 Feb In Search of the Northern Lights cruise, and we have to decide between a Veranda (V2) stateroom and a Penthouse Junior Suite (PS1) stateroom. It would help to hear people's experiences in these stateroom categories on these cruises - especially the Northern Lights cruise. If you could mention the features that provided value and anything to do with the difference in location aboard the ship, that would help us.

Thanks in advance!

 

Just wondering, why are these your only options?  A quick look at both of these 2021 cruises shows vacancies in many of the cabin categories.  We book DV cabins and are happy with them.

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Thanks Peregrina651. It always helps me to get another's perspective on things. When I view the cruise offerings and differences, it is thru the filter of my own preferences and what I take to be significant and important. Your perspective has helped me.

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2 minutes ago, Frenchberet said:

 

Just wondering, why are these your only options?  A quick look at both of these 2021 cruises shows vacancies in many of the cabin categories.  We book DV cabins and are happy with them. 

Good point Frenchberet. I chose those - and omitted others - based on trying to see what the cost range would be, and some other more subjective factors. Your endorsement of the DV helps me expand my horizon and we will continue to review our options.

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Thanks to all. So, just to wrap up, we booked the two cruises back to back, and Viking combined them into a single itinerary in a process referred to as a "butterfly" - which our CC had not heard before. This gives us the benefit of paying only a single deposit for the whole butterfly'ed cruise rather than one for each cruise. Of course, with the current Explorer Sale, we would only have paid half of the usual $1,000 deposit for each, but it is something (but it is not a real saving that falls to the bottom line).

Based on recent responses and my DW's assertion that the smallest cabin would be "fine" for the 19 days (and over my misgivings), we booked a DV1 stateroom - same for both cruises, a key factor. This is on deck 8 - and we are mindful of the admonitions that on the lower decks the ship motion is less apparent, but both of us are comfortable on shipboard and not affected by the rocking and rolling.

It will be a very interesting cruise, starting off in Barcelona on the Mediterranean, and sailing thru the Strait of Gibraltar, then crossing the Arctic Circle a week later!

I will still reserve the option of changing stateroom category if I can't shake my misgivings, though.

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Posted (edited)
10 minutes ago, What was that? said:

It will be a very interesting cruise, starting off in Barcelona on the Mediterranean, and sailing thru the Strait of Gibraltar, then crossing the Arctic Circle a week later! 

 

Congrats!

 

Packing will be fun! Even at that time of year, Barcelona can reach the 60s by mid-day, a bit warmer as you head south to the Straits and then for Norway, you are going to want gear for super cold weather (otherwise standing outside for any length of time waiting and watching for the lights will be difficult).

Edited by Peregrina651

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Peregrina651: "difficult" is one way of putting it, I suppose...  😉

That made me think that I might look into bringing a small wireless surveillance camera that we can view from inside our stateroom, to increase our ability to detect and enjoy the lights. In fact, I already have one that might work! It is a Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS35 with Wi-Fi built in. I can view and control it from my iPhone - I might have to borrow an iPad for the cruise. I wonder if Command Hooks are strong enough to hold my camera when the temperature drops...

But your point is well taken: prepare for really cold weather. We will.

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10 minutes ago, What was that? said:

Peregrina651: "difficult" is one way of putting it, I suppose...  😉

That made me think that I might look into bringing a small wireless surveillance camera that we can view from inside our stateroom, to increase our ability to detect and enjoy the lights. In fact, I already have one that might work! It is a Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS35 with Wi-Fi built in. I can view and control it from my iPhone - I might have to borrow an iPad for the cruise. I wonder if Command Hooks are strong enough to hold my camera when the temperature drops...

But your point is well taken: prepare for really cold weather. We will.

 

Love my Lumix ZS!! But I'm not sure that it will like being out in the cold for any length of time. Then condensation becomes an issue when you bring it into the warmer air. If you are going to experiment with this, at least bring a second camera (and the ZS is small enough to bring two --and you are due for an upgrade -- https://cameradecision.com/compare/Panasonic-Lumix-DMC-ZS70-vs-Panasonic-Lumix-DC-ZS80)

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Well, you are probably right - if I was using it for photography - but just to use it as a surveillance camera for a few hours at a time (or overnight), it will probably fill the bill. Besides, it's paid for. I received it as a warranty "repair/replacement" for a $100 Lumix I had bought that had Wi-Fi but had gone bad. I didn't even check to see the comparative value of the replacement unit. I'll tinker with it in the interim and see how well it does the job.

I plan to use my iPhone to photograph the lights, using an app that optimizes operation for that function. I have read of a few, and I have plenty of time! Also, I may look into a stabilization mount for the iPhone to help image quality.

I better get busy! 582 day until departure should give me time.

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Posted (edited)

WWT.....Prior to going on the trip, I never would have believed it if someone had showed me photos of the lights that they got with just their iPhone, but when it became apparent that my point-and-shoot Canon did not allow for all the aperture / shutter settings suggested for NL photography, I looked into some of the (cheap) apps and bought one while onboard. For only having spent $1.99, I got fairly decent pictures - certainly not what one could get with the 'right' equipment and tripod, etc. but I was pleased. I would definitely suggest getting a mount / tripod to stabilize the iPhone because what happens is that when you press the shutter release, you see a message that says "hold camera steady". Then, about 5 seconds later, it takes the picture. I'm not really 'into' photography and so much of this stuff they talked about during the cruise (they give you plenty of info on the suggested camera settings plus the onboard lecturers go over it as well) is unfamiliar to me. The app I used is "Northern Lights Photo Taker" - worked great. Also I highly suggest another app - "My Aurora Forecast" - which is fantastic for getting the KP values and seeing exactly where the lights are taking place in real time. I highly suggest getting both of these before you go.  I'm sure they'll mention the Aurora app on the cruise, but might as well get it ahead of time. With any luck maybe Michael DiSpezio will be on board as the science lecturer - fantastic guy, extremely knowledgeable, and puts on great programs. He's really big on downloading the free "Celestron Sky Portal" app....I did, and really like it. That app is amazing for viewing the night sky and researching lots of different celestial objects. There is so much stuff in there - quite interesting. 

 

Here are two pics I got right from the ship on the evening before we arrived in Narvik - and this was just with holding the phone as steady as I could by leaning it against a railing or whatever was handy. If you want to delve into expensive cameras, bodies, and lenses, that's fine. I'm just not into it, so will be content with what I got. I know some people with good cameras were disappointed with their results. I had high hopes for my Sony video cam but that did nothing with the NL. What's nice is that the crew is on a 24-hour watch, and so they will put an announcement on your room tv during the late evening / early morning hours BUT, of course, you have to have your tv on. I found that, unfortunately, doing so casts a bit more light into the room than I cared for, and so dug out extra sheets, etc. from the closet, covered the tv, and turned the sound partway up. This sighting en route to Narvik occurred during dinner time - so they made the announcement and then it seemed sort of funny to see people get up mid-meal or dessert and leave to get out on deck!  Same sort of thing happened when we were in Antarctica during lunch - the onboard park ranger came in to the dining room all excited talking about some big albatross that was visible from the stern. Such a cool contrast to a Caribbean cruise where nothing of the sort ever happens. These types of trips have much more of an expeditionary feel to them. Wishing you the BEST of LUCK with seeing the lights!!!  

 

Also....passing along advice that we got here on CC...take along magnetic hooks and clips to hang up extra outer wear on the wall rather than filling up your room closet. We would have never thought of this, but they worked great. Also used them to hang up our excursion schedule, etc. near the desk for easy access. 

 

As to the room decision - we had a DV2 and found it really had ample room in the closet, BUT, it's a bit weak on drawer storage space. If I could do it again, think I'd consider going with the next category up - whatever that is..can't quite recall at the moment. What worked well is that there is 18" of clearance under the bed, and so a larger suitcase (we had our biggest one) fit under with no problem. Otherwise, as I said, the room is just not that big to wind up having a huge suitcase parked along the wall somewhere. You can also have them remove the coffee maker so as to add another smaller storage area (in the DV2 room). 

 

IMG_2572.thumb.jpeg.6a086299830cb4b150f0db6d4d25bbde.jpeg

 

IMG_2573.thumb.jpeg.7647d2a6c0e37f4f320b063cf5b55a34.jpeg

 

Edited by gretschwhtfalcon

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1 hour ago, gretschwhtfalcon said:

As to the room decision - we had a DV2 and found it really had ample room in the closet, BUT, it's a bit weak on drawer storage space. If I could do it again, think I'd consider going with the next category up - whatever that is..can't quite recall at the moment.

 

Might not be an issue on Venus. Unlike Sky, subsequent builds have put extra drawers in the DV closets. So, half of the closet is for hanging full length items and has a shelf above the hanging while the other half has 3 or 4 drawers with a half-length hanging bar (where tall people can hang shirts and jackets).

 

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9 hours ago, Heidi13 said:

Great photos, thanks for sharing.

Thanks...like I said...I was very pleased that I was able to get pictures with just the iPhone...would not have expected that going into the trip. 

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Posted (edited)
9 hours ago, Peregrina651 said:

 

Might not be an issue on Venus. Unlike Sky, subsequent builds have put extra drawers in the DV closets. So, half of the closet is for hanging full length items and has a shelf above the hanging while the other half has 3 or 4 drawers with a half-length hanging bar (where tall people can hang shirts and jackets).

 

LOL..good point. Reason I laugh is that I went around with this 'drawers in the closet or not' issue with one of the Viking agents before the trip. She had said the Sky had them, others here (including you I believe) suspected otherwise....

Edited by gretschwhtfalcon

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On 6/12/2019 at 4:42 AM, Haworth said:

Show off, just because you got helicopter trip, we however enjoyed the sail into Molde!

 

I agree it is a great trip, especially if you get excellent sightings of the lights

 

Take care of yourself and catch up in 2021

DSCF3121.JPG

Haworth, I agree it is a very nice trip when you see the northern lights.  Here are two of my pictures.  Unfortunate that it ended the way it did, but it still was a very enjoyable trip....well maybe not the helicopter ride!    Johneb2

northern lights 2.jpg

northern lights 1.jpg

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