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philbob84
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Thank you everyone for the great info. Few questions for our Feb Northbound:
  1. What did folks do for trip insurance? First time cruiser so this is all new. 
  2. What were your top 2 excursions? Did snowmobiles and dogsleds offer better chances of seeing Northern Lights? 
  3. Does port side have a nice view of each town that you sail into? 
  4. We are flying in from California-- not easy to get to/from Bergen and Kirkenes! Arriving 1 day early into Bergen, and thinking of staying 2 extra nights in Kirkenes in case the Northern Lights viewing doesn't go as planned. Any flight and pre/post tips welcome! 
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Hi @Nlights2025,

 

We took the Havila  roundtrip in early spring of 2023.  So random thoughts and musings on your questions:

 

1.  We had trip insurance for the trip.  At the risk of repeating something you already know,   trip insurance options are best when purchased within 14 days (generally) of first trip deposit.  There are a couple companies that offer policies with purchase deadlines after that.  There are intricacies with this stuf, pre existing condition coverage among other things.  Some rely on coverage provided by premium credit cards.  In any event, I think it is prudent to insure travel.

 

2.  Experience Lofoton - more of a life/culture trip, not adventure like dog sledding.  We had an excellent guide that made the region come alive with their insightful commentary and details.

 

As for northern lights -  seeing the northern lights while dog sledding would be a magical experience, I think February would provide good opportunites to see the light for a good portion of the trip - from the ship.  We saw the lights twice north of Tromso.  

 

3.  We had a port cabin.  Honestly, even on cooler days we bundled up and were deck-side to watch and photograph port approach and departure.  I do not specifically recall any advantage to port side cabin for sight seeing.  Traveling north, I would suspect you probably catch some sunsets from your  port side cabin, though. (If that is a "thing" in February for most Northern Norway.  😀)

 

4. You are right - limited options from US to Bergen.  We flew into Oslo for a few days then took train to Bergen.  In Bergen, we enjoyed walking around the area of old Bryggen. A visit to Mount Floyen (funicular is availble.  not sure about Feb - but a hike could be an option?). Bregenhus fortress, shopping and a Norwegian sausage at Trekroneren.

 

Have a great trip! 

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9 hours ago, Homerody said:

  Experience Lofoton - more of a life/culture trip, not adventure like dog sledding.  We had an excellent guide that made the region come alive with their insightful commentary and details

 

Great info!  Can you expand a bit on your Lofoton experience?  Did you take a ship's excursion or go out on your own?  If on your own, can you share the name of the company and the guide you mentioned?  I was on Hurtigruten in 2005 and thought Lofoton area was the most intriguing part of that excellent trip.  I can't wait to see it again in June 2024!  I couldn't make it work in my schedule to do a few days detour there unfortunately so will see it from Castor.

 

Thank you,

~Nancy

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1.  I bought my insurance through Generali.  Fortunately never needed to use it.

 

2.  North Cape and dog sledding in Tromsø were our favorite excursions.  We’d take a pass on the visit to Saltstraumen and the bus tour around Hammerfest.  We missed the Atlantic Road excursion which others enjoyed.

 

3.  We went in January and saw the northern lights several times though it was quite cloudy most of the time.

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11 hours ago, oakridger said:

 

Great info!  Can you expand a bit on your Lofoton experience?  Did you take a ship's excursion or go out on your own?  If on your own, can you share the name of the company and the guide you mentioned?  I was on Hurtigruten in 2005 and thought Lofoton area was the most intriguing part of that excellent trip.  I can't wait to see it again in June 2024!  I couldn't make it work in my schedule to do a few days detour there unfortunately so will see it from Castor.

 

Thank you,

~Nancy

We did the Lofoten Havila excursion.  For our trip, I briefly researched independent shore excursions - but gave up due to 1) limited availabilty of alternatives at the time, 2) little cost advantage. 

 

On the tour (Havila separated passengers based on language preference) we had about 20 people -Europeans that spoke Engllsh - except for us 2 Septics.  So the bus was not crowded,  The group was inqusitive (in a good way) and naturally curious with lots of good questions and discussions with the super informative tour guide.  We had the opportunity to visit a gallery and a chat with the fols there and then a walking tour where we saw and learned about cod drying racks and importance of fishing in the area.

 

Also, I liked the fact that the tour had some free time for us to walk around.  The tour was later in the day, so we saw great dusk scenery.  Always a bonus.

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10 hours ago, UDChE89 said:

1.  I bought my insurance through Generali.  Fortunately never needed to use it.

 

2.  North Cape and dog sledding in Tromsø were our favorite excursions.  We’d take a pass on the visit to Saltstraumen and the bus tour around Hammerfest.  We missed the Atlantic Road excursion which others enjoyed.

 

3.  We went in January and saw the northern lights several times though it was quite cloudy most of the time.

Would agree on North Cape.  When we visited it vas very wet and extremely windy.  But it was fun to see the "northern most" (don't believe everything I write) point of Europe. And then head to the comfort of the building for the exhibits and a hot coffee and cafe snack.

 

Saltstaumen illicits a loved it or hated it response.  We thought it was good.  Would I recommend it to every one?  No.  But I have an interest in natural phenomena - so it was relevent for me. But is water eddys are not your thing, that I'd recommend skipping.

 

For cities - such as Trondheim and Alesund a self guided tour (with pre-prepared maps and research) fit the bill for us. 

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  • 4 weeks later...

First time to Norway and first time on a cruise. We are doing a roundtrip Havila cruise from Bergen in mid May 2024. I’m struggling with what to pack.  I understand the layering concept but how warm do I really need. Ie a parka? I realize this is a well discussed topic but I can’t find much on the Havila string and the excursions and nights on board on deck aren’t really discussed much as far as clothing. Thanks in advance. 

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On 12/29/2023 at 5:44 AM, doingourthing said:

First time to Norway and first time on a cruise. We are doing a roundtrip Havila cruise from Bergen in mid May 2024. I’m struggling with what to pack.  I understand the layering concept but how warm do I really need. Ie a parka? I realize this is a well discussed topic but I can’t find much on the Havila string and the excursions and nights on board on deck aren’t really discussed much as far as clothing. Thanks in advance. 

I see you are from New Hampshire.  So I'll assume (will all the associated risks) that you are well acclimated to the New England cold and winters. So we have a common basis for comparison. 

 

For our trip (which was in March/April) we had medium weight jackets (not heavy winter parkas) and light wind/water proof summer jackets.  We used both.  Hats and gloves came in handy too.  But we were there at a slightly different time, and we did spend a lot of time on deck in all types of weather (we even had a bit of light snow one day.  and  enjoyed the sun and 50ies (F) temps on deck chairs on another day. and we "braved" windy upper 20ies (F) to catch the northern lights from deck.) On shore - the worst weather day was in the North Cape where we had temps in the 40ies with a very strong winds (30mph +) and periods of wind swept rain.

 

I think the key is to have water proof shoes, and wind and water proof outer gear along with layers and mutiple weight sweaters/sweatshirts that can be used with whatever outer layer is needed.

 

YMMV.  But hopefully my long winded post gives you a starting point.

 

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May is difficult in regard to weather in Norway - it can still snow, others days might be quite warmish but mostly it is still cool and you will need a rainproof and warm parka besides a lighter jacket. a scarf and hat might become handy , too, especially when on deck outside. Deck 9 on Havila ships is great to walk around, but it can be very windy. On deck 6, you'll find a lot of comfortable seating inside with great views through the large windows. It's near to the café with coffees, teas and delicious goodies - included in your fare if you booked a roundtrip.

Enjoy your time!

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Thanks!  I was thinking I may need to bring two jackets.  I was trying to avoid that but after seeing both of your responses I think I will need both the parka and a lighter jacket.  Between being too cold and overheating it's a challenge to pack light.  

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  • 4 months later...

Hi everyone,

We have booked the round trip on Havilla Pollux a year ahead - departing Bergen on 30th April 2025.

We have splashed out (wedding anniversary) and booked a Junior Suite which comes with the Gold package.  I understand that the Gold package is being / has recently been changed and we would be interested if any recent travellers can tell us what's included.

Thanks

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1 hour ago, Brissle said:

Hi everyone,

We have booked the round trip on Havilla Pollux a year ahead - departing Bergen on 30th April 2025.

We have splashed out (wedding anniversary) and booked a Junior Suite which comes with the Gold package.  I understand that the Gold package is being / has recently been changed and we would be interested if any recent travellers can tell us what's included.

Thanks

Hi- we just arrived home after our BKB trip with Havila. We upgraded on board to a junior suite. Breakfast and lunch in the Hildring was included. Nothing else was included except of course the benefits of a larger room and deck. Maybe booking on board is different than when booked on line or before the trip. I can’t answer that. The trip was amazing. 

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6 hours ago, Brissle said:

Hi everyone,

We have booked the round trip on Havilla Pollux a year ahead - departing Bergen on 30th April 2025.

We have splashed out (wedding anniversary) and booked a Junior Suite which comes with the Gold package.  I understand that the Gold package is being / has recently been changed and we would be interested if any recent travellers can tell us what's included.

Thanks

Unfortunately it depends on the exact date ( think it was March 31st at the latest) when you booked which benefits you'll have. Most of the goodies like the gold package benefits which for example included special orders, for example eggs Benedict for breakfast or special dishes for lunch and dinner, a drinks package (non-alcoholic) etc.don't exist any more. The only extra you'll have in a suite is the extra space ( but which is really great, including the huge windows and the balcony) and breakfast and lunch in the quieter atmosphere of the Hildring restaurant - there for example you'll also have freshly squeezed orange juice for breakfast , for example, which you must pay for in the regular restaurant.

As we have booked our suite for a winter journey before that date we'll get a few extras, like that small non-alcoholic drink package with thirty units, 2 dinners in Hildring restaurant for free and a small-sized onboard credit you can use for drinks or other extras, for example. If you book a suite like @doingourthing did, either on board or at home, I think the benefits are a smallish welcome package including some prosecco , breakfast and dinner in Hildring restaurant which really is nice and quiet and that's about it. The personal welcome letter you'll also find in your cabin I can personnally do well without....

We're not really happy on the new scheme but that's the way the cookie crumbles... One thing which is nice, though is the fact that most things on the menu at Havly café are still included in the fare, for example the heavenly soups or sandwiches or burgers which are a good alternative for having lunch.

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Thanks grayjay, we'll have to keep our fingers crossed.

We did book before March 31st, so may be lucky.

I'll check again closer to the time.

The trip sounds amazing and we are so glad we booked.

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that's great, @Brissle. Then you should get all the extra goodies I wrote about. On request Havila will specify the differences in the suite amenities for bookings now and before the change. They'll send you an e-mail on request.

The two special dinners in Hildring restaurant are really nice as well as having the package for non-alcoholic drinks - we loved the Blueberry juice, for example which is expensive - I think 96 NOK.As we rarely drink alcoholic drinks anyway we loved having that package.

What I'll miss is the cider and snacks you were able to get for free in the afternoon as well as some of the special dishes of the Gold card.These goodies are definitely gone.

I also made a small mistake in my previous post - your booking of a suite comes with access to breakfast as well as LUNCH in Hildring restaurant if you wish to do so instead of the bigger Havrand restaurant.And there's these two extra specialty dinners you'll be able to book for free.

And : what I good idea to go on a coastal voyage for a wedding anniversary! If you can stay for a few days after the voyage you might even catch the festivities on May 17th, Norway's national holiday - fantastic!

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  • 4 weeks later...
On 9/27/2023 at 1:53 AM, Flyinby said:

That's too bad about the Russian border tour, I don't think the descriptions (at least when we booked it), do it justice.  We probably only had about a dozen, maybe 20 when we went.  Our guide was Ernst Sneve, who lived there in the war years, and had some childhood experience in the underground caves where the citizens hid, so he had some very interesting stories up to the current day.  We toured the caves, then had a very nice and scenic bus ride through the countryside, through towns, past lakes, etc. on the way to the border...very scenic in winter.  At the border, there's a small shop that sells his book, some souvenirs etc., and being at the border in the current situation was a bit eerie, but not bad, and I was glad we chose that tour.

 

Some friends of ours did the Saltstraumen tour on the southbound leg, and they agreed with what you say, nothing great.  I suppose if you hit it at just the right time and tides it would be exciting to see, but other times it's not all that great, apparently.

Just curious about the Saltsraumen tour -- there are 2 listed on our itinerary, the RIB Safari, where you boat out to see the eagles and the other is a bus tour to Saltsraumen. Which are you referring to as 'not great'? Thanks 🙂

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On 6/27/2024 at 9:19 AM, pastagirl66 said:

Just curious about the Saltsraumen tour -- there are 2 listed on our itinerary, the RIB Safari, where you boat out to see the eagles and the other is a bus tour to Saltsraumen. Which are you referring to as 'not great'? Thanks 🙂

The only one offered when we went was a bus tour with dinner (however we didn't go, it was a couple of friends who took that tour and reported it as nothing great, though they didn't say it was awful or any such thing.

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two questions, please.

We ghave booked the Junior Suite for a round trip.  The Havilla description says that there is a fridge in our cabin - how big is that?  Will it take a bottle of wine if we buy one when we go ashore?

Second:  It says there's a gym on board - what equipment does it have?

Thanks

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The fridge is fairly small, but a bottle of wine will fit in. More, if you take out the cans and other bottles it is originally filled with and which you must pay for anyway.

The gym is fantastic, truly modern,  one can work-out quite well. During our journey it was not used much, though, most people preferred to be outside even if it was wintertime.

 

Have a great journey! You'll love the junior suite, and breakfast and lunch in smaller Hildring restaurant is a bonus.

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We travel quite a lot since we retired, so have annual travel insurance.  It gives peace of mind, especially for medical costs in the event of illness, injury or emergency.

We also like to have our baggage covered plus compensation if there are flight delays.

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On 7/1/2024 at 9:01 AM, Huggibear2 said:

We leave Thursday for the Kirkenes to Bergen trip! We have never been on such a small boat. Question: they say you must have trip insurance. Is that true? Any other tips?

Who is "they"?  I never heard of such a thing.  Whether to insure or not is your choice.  Whether it's a good idea depends on your financial situation, your health and age, and the likelihood of something coming up that causes you to cancel beyond refund times.

 

We did the round trip in 2023 and will be going again in February 2025...never had insurance other than our existing medical, and was never asked or inquired about.

 

Perhaps you misunderstood...maybe whoever told you that meant that if you want trip insurance you have to buy it independently.

 

Have fun on your trip, it's a great voyage!

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