Cruises through the Belomorsk Canal
This ship is the only one in the fleet of Russian hotelships, that is able to go through the Belomorsk-canal: M/V Princess Arabella"as it is the smallest ship of the russian fleet.
This ship was built in order to serve as a floating hospital in Amsterdam before it was sold to Russsa. This ship has extra-wide corridors, large bathrooms and even an elevator big enough for the rolling beds of a hospital. BUT unfortunately it has disadvantages as well: all decks were extra-low and I very often hit my head when entering the restaurant.What you can see in my main photo is an ordinary sight in Russian rivers: there is 1 landing-stage and that is shared by all ships that are docking there and you have to walk through other ships in order to get back to your own ship.
Only our ship "M/V Princess Arabella" did not fit to these ships, because it was much smaller and the decks were not in the same level, so it would be "smashed" between 2 of the larger ships. So our ship was forced to always go alongside the other ships and change its berth or position when-ever a new ship wanted to dock or left the ports.
Such cruises have to be booked from abroad, as the ships are chartered to travelagencies from all places of the world and you will hardly ever be able to book such a tour on a hotelship in a travelagency in Russia. My ship had only german-speaking passengers onboard, other ships are chartered only to englishspeaking.Related to:
- Historical Travel
When you are cruising to Longyearbyen
In Longyearbyen you will not find a port that is big enough for ordinary cruiseships to dock there, so they will use their tenders in order to get their passengers ashore.
Do NOT expect taxis in the port, when you arrive by cruise-ship.
You can only WALK to town instead - it will take about 20-30 minutes and you will pass by plenty of kids selling great souvenirs of Spitzbergen:
stone-plates with insects, shells and other prehistoric animals fossiled inside !
Be aware of the fact that the large trucks of the mining-companies, that will rush with high speed over the dusty roads will not really care a lot about pedestrians taking a walk from the port to Lonyearbyen !Related to:
flying over Alaska
In 1980 , when I came to Alaska with M/S Sagafjord, I once took a flight with a small airplane that flew us over the glaciers of Alaska.
We started in Juneau and the flight was about 45 minutes over some glaciers closeby. Flying over the glacier was great fun in this small aircraft, taking 3 passengers in addition to the pilot.
Everybody had a seat at one of the windows then and could take lots of photographs.
What a peacefull landscape there on the glacier, absolutely no human beeings or animals seen on the glaciers, when you fly over it.
It looks the same as thousands of years ago. - lets all hope it will stay like this another 1000 years...Related to:
- Adventure Travel
Snow Scooters & Quads for rent in Kirkenes
This might be another idea for your stay in Kirkenes, no matter if you come by Hurtingruten or not: You can rent a QUAD while staying in Kirkenes for a longer time, or while your ship is in port. There were several quads waiting for customers, so that would be another way to have a great time and explore the area around Kirkenes on your own.
In winter you can rent a snowscooter, but I was told that in recent years it is not always sure that you will actually have enough snow there in wintertime.
Renting such a trip through Hurtigruten is quite expensive, maybe you will get a better offer when you reserve it directely through the webpage below !Related to:
- Budget Travel
- Road Trip
private tours from Kirkenes
This does not apply to all ports of the Hurtigruten-ships, but for Kirkenes, where you will have about 4 hours to spend it might make sense for you: There are a lot of small tour-buses and taxis waiting for customers in the port of Kirkenes, every day when the Hurtigrutenship arrives. Most of them had been reserved, but some are also hoping to find some customers renting them for a private tour. On the total I think that is a good way to see Kirkenes and the surrounding area including a tour to the russian border, and when you are a larger group, why not save some money that way instead of booking the expensive tours offered by the ship and follow your own ideas of itinerary ?
Trafic-jams are almost totally unknown in this part of Norway, so you will certainly make it back to the ship just in time.
The name of the bus-company doing the tours
for Hurtigruten in Kirkenes is:
- Budget Travel
- Family Travel
Free transport of your car by Hurtigruten
This might be an interesting point for you, when planning to drive into Norway's Arctic, to the Northcape and/or Kirkenes: At certain dates Hurtigruten is taking your car free of charge from Kirkenes to Bergen, you simply have to book a cruise on that same ship. And the idea behind of this is certainly that they have a lot of loading-space on the way back, when they have unloaded all the transportation-goods in the different ports.
Unfortunately that does not work for larger motorhomes, because the cars are not allowed to be higher than 2,5 meters and not wider than 2,45 meters.
When you considder the costs for fuel and the boring roads and how many times you dont have to search for a hotel and restaurant, this might be a great way to explore Norway:
Driving all the way to Kirkenes in your own car and take the Hurtigruten back to Bergen.Related to:
- Budget Travel
- Road Trip
Driving in your car through Norway
I had the idea to drive all the way from Vienna to Nordkapp and even to Kirkenes in my motorhome in August 2009 but then I unfortunately had a problem with the engine in Trondheim, so I had to give these travel-plans up.
My conclusions after driving a motorhome ca. 6000km through Norway:
You need a lot of time and patience in order to really enjoy the norwegian landacape that way. The roads are quite narrow and not always in perfect condition, your average speed will be between 60 and 80km/h, petrol&Diesel are more expensive than in the rest of Europe, restaurants with a good service are quite pricey and they are hard to find and self-service restaurants will have mostly just sausages and french fries, that gets quite boring already after a few days.
You will find lots of parking-spaces along the way, many of them with grilling-facilities, free of charge, that was great, but "wild" overnight-camping at these place in your motorhome is mostly forbidden.
Then they have this stupid automatic toll-system for cars : your licenceplate will be scanned while passing by and as a tourist you have 3 possibilities to pay:
1)register online in an internetcafe with your creditcard and licenceplate-number
Thats a dangerous way in my opinion and lots of people keep saying: Never give your CC-details in an internetcafe ! - so I gave up this idea !
2)pay at some gas-station in the area, it will be Shell in the area around Oslo and BP maybe around Tronheim etc. , BUT when paying there YOU have to know the amount you owe them, then you pay in that money, thats all. So have your calculator handy and calculate each time that you pass one of the many toll-plazas, some with an amount of 20 NOK , some with 65 NOK etc.
3)an invoice will be sent to your homeadress and that might take between 2 weeks and 6 months and maybe they will send the invoice not at all, like in my case.
BUT of course you never know, maybe they send around an invoice for my use of toll-roads to a wrong adress and there might be high extra-fees for me some day. It leaves a very bad feeling for me, and that is why I call this system STUPID !
WHY cant you have a system of a prepaid sticker according to a tourist's drivingtime through Norway, afterall the amount I owe them is not much more than maybe 25 euros on the total.
June and July is a good time to drive through Norway !
August & September are too late for many museums
and its also getting dark quite early already !Related to:
- Road Trip
Onboard of M/S Sagafjord to Alaska
In 1978 I made 4 cruises to Alaska onboard of the cruiseship M/S Sagafjord of "den Norske Americalinje" / NAL. I was working as a diningroom-waiter but we also had some time to go ashore and explore Alaska and I had a really great time there !
As a passanger I think a cruise is the best way to explore Alaska: no packing of your luggage every day, you get onboard in a warm climate - like we did in San Francisco - and your accomodation cruises with you north. You will get perfect food onboard and a great service and can enjoy the landscape from deck or from the observation-lounge.Related to:
- Luxury Travel
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
Onboard of M/S Vistafjord to Spitzbergen
This is a picture of 1978: M/S Vistafjord cruising as far north as possible & Everybody was standing out on deck, watching the ship reaching the area of the Ice barrier - that is just about 800 nautical miles from the Northpole.
Cruise-ships are certainly a great way to explore the Arctic seas, as you will not have to pack and unpack every day and the very few hotels in the Arctic regions of Spitzbergen and Alaska are also rather expensive.Related to:
- Adventure Travel
M/S Nordstjernen - cruising from Longyearbyen
M/S Nordstjernen is a small coastal-ship offering cruises of 4 or 5 days, starting in Longyearbyen, the capital of Svalbard / Spitzbergen.
The greatest advantage against bigger cruiseships is the fact, that a ship of that size ( just 2500 GR-tons ) can easily go into small fjords and bays without danger, where larger ships like Vistafjord would have to stay outside...
M/S Nordstjernen has just 79 cabins and 164 berths and offers cruises in Svalbard between june and August only. It is one of the Hurtigruten-ships !Related to:
- Adventure Travel
- Whale Watching
From Tromso we took the bus south to Fauske via Narvik. Boy, what a beautiful landscape it was - I enjoyed every minute of this ride!
There is a seat guarantee, so you don't have to make reservations ahead of time! Just go there, take your seat, pay and enjoy!!!Related to:
- Road Trip
Train - overnight
Thanks to VT member knerten we found out about this fabulous offer: just 199 NOKs for a ticket one way from destination A to destination B. Just a little bit more expensive when you decide to take a sleeper....
So I booked in advanced - and boy, I got a wrong reservation, because I had not paid attention enough! Still, nsb was kind enough to reimburse me for the wrong tickets and give me another chance to book the correct ones!
It worked out just fine - the bus arrived in Fauske just in time and the conductor new we were coming and had our tickets with him! The only BUT was that the compartment was extremely small, so we had a hard time fitting the three of us in plus all of our luggage - but at the end it worked out fine and we went from Fauske to Trondheim for a real cheap fare!!! Loved it!!!Related to:
From Trondheim to Oslo we had a 199 NOK special fare ticket as well and that included a reservation. Well, unfortunately those seats were not nice - no window... so I stood up and looked for an empty seat with a nice view!
I did enjoy the train ride all that much, but the landscape and the weather just were not as nice as in the north, so it was only a so-so journey...
I guess it was not their fault, it was just a matter of circumstances!Related to:
tuktoyaktuk: northwest territories, around
If getting to Tuktoyaktuk is relatively easy, getting around isn't very much so. First of all, except for the village area, there's not many placews to go: you can choose between the arctic Ocean and the Mackenzie River Delta. So basically you're stuck there unless you have a boat. I was there for about a week and I used the Arctic Tour Company to get around - which is the only way to leave the village. They organised boat trips to nearby former settlements, deserted islands and whaling camps. If you decide to go you can contact the ATC at this address:
Roger & Winnie Gruben
Box 325 • Tuktoyaktuk, NT
CANADA • X0E 1C0
tuktoyaktuk: northwest territories, to
Flying Aklak Air is the only way to get from Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk, at least in summer. The flight, in a small plane (8-12 seats) lasts about 30-40 shacking minutes, and the scenery below, over the Mackenzie River Delta, is spectacular. In winter there's an ice-road over the MacKenzie river but, obviously there's no public transportation. The flight should be around 130 canadian dollars.
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