Why I Decided to Cruise Norway's Coast With Hurtigruten

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The above photo was taken from a scenic view while in Kirkenes, Norway.

In February 2017 I decided to cruise Norway with Hurtigruten.  The ship I was on is named the Finnmarken.  This was a 12 day round trip cruise this started in Bergen and ended back in Bergen after making many stops as far north as Honningsvåg and Kirkenes which is not far from the Russian border.

The first thing I should tell you about going on a cruise with Hurtigruten is that their ships are working ships.  That is why they make so many stops.  It is also more of a ferry.  New passengers get on and off the ship in various locations quite frequently.  People in Norway use these ships to get from one area the country to another.

I have been on 12 cruises in the past five years.  I have cruised with Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise lines, and Holland America.  Cruising with Hurtigruten was such a different experience.  Many people go on cruises for the entertainment and to party.  I know because I have done so in the past ;)  There was no entertainment such as singers, bands, and speakers and t is also very expensive to party as one glass of wine is 14 USD. 

In spite at the lack of entertainment on the ship, this was definitely one of the most fun adventures I have ever been on.  One of the best things about this cruise was the scenery.  The ship is never far from the shore and it makes frequent stops.  I also got to see the Aurora Borealis also known as the Northern Lights because of the time of year I went. 

I have written three posts about this cruise.  Here they are:

Visiting the Famous Snowhotel in Kirkenes Norway

Visiting the Beautiful City of Trondheim, Norway and the Nidaros Cathedral

Visiting the Top of the World: Honningsvåg, Norway

I will be writing more in the coming weeks.

 

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Visiting the Top of the World: Honningsvåg, Norway

In January 2013 I visited the bottom of the world also known as Antarctica which I absolutely loved.  I desperately want to return now that I know how to use my camera better.  I came very close to booking a trip this year but decided to go to the top of the world instead.  Honningsvåg is the northernmost city in Norway and maybe the world but this is disputed by several places such as Barrow, Alaska.

Click here to see my posts about Antarctica.

I had always wanted to visit Norway and had been eyeing the Hurtigruten cruises that start in Bergen and travel all the way to the top of Norway and back to Bergen.  I feel like a made a great decision as I've never seen anywhere similar to the country of Norway - especially the northern section.   Once we got to the Arctic Circle I felt like I was in another world!

Norway-2083189I visited this area at the beginning of February.  They were only expecting about six hours of sunlight.  I noticed that everyone has their lights on and the middle of the day when our ship stopped.  I also began to wonder if many of the houses were painted bright colors because it is dark for so long during certain times of the year.  The moon was also visible all day which I thought was very picturesque.  These people don't see the sun for a whole month during the winter.
Norway-2083189I found myself wondering a lot what it was like to live in such a small town whose population was only a few thousand people.  Then I remembered that I am from a very small town in Vermont.  I doubt it's much different than the area I grew up in.
Norway-2083189Fishing is a big part of the economy.  Although it was very cold this time of year I did see people out on fishing boats.
Norway-2083189Like almost all of the towns our cruise ships docked in Honningsvåg was very beautiful.  You can see a tree farm growing on the mountainside.
Norway-2083189All around Honningsvåg the landscape becomes very rugged with craggy mountains like the one below
Norway-2083189Hurtigruten's Finnmarken is not only a cruise ship it is also a working ship.  It stops in this and many other towns to drop off and pick up supplies as well as passengers.
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Here are a couple more views of the town taken from the ship.  We were allowed to disembark but we didn't have a lot of time.  I did get off the ship but you will see below how long I stayed on shore:
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DSC02932-1It was very cold for this Floridian so I walked into town and started my way back almost immediately.  I like the photos I can get from the ship's deck and and in spite of my Vermont upbringing I am not used to temperatures hovering around 0°F.

DSC02932-1Here I am again looking like a Scandinavian snowman.  My winter coat is very warm but I am also wearing two heavy sweaters underneath it along with a scarf wrapped around my neck, a thick winter hat and some heavy duty winter gloves.  You will need these things if you visit Northern Norway in the winter.  I was much colder visiting this area then I was visiting Antarctica (you can only visit Antarctica when it is summer in the southern hemisphere).  I did, however, find the temperatures to be similar to that of when I visit Vermont in the winter.
DSC02932-1I didn't pack a tripod.  That was one of my biggest mistakes going on this trip.  One of the main things I wanted to see was the Northern lights also known as the Aurora Borealis .  We got to see them several nights in a row - we were very lucky and they lasted a long time while putting on quite a show.  These 10 second exposure photos were taken handheld so they are not the best. 
DSC02932-1Although I didn't come away from this trip with great photos of the Northern Lights, I got to see them with my heart and my mind.  Even if I had had a tripod the ship was moving and I'm not sure they would've turned out a whole lot better.  If you want to get some great shots of the Northern Lights I recommend being on the ground or on a ship which isn't moving when the wind is minimal. 

DSC02932-1Hurtigruten gave us this nice certificate showing that we head across the Arctic Circle.  I crossed so many items off of my bucket list on this trip.  I got to see the beautiful country of Norway, the Northern Lights, and crossed the Arctic Circle.
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 Are you interested in visiting Norway?  Would you consider going on a cruise with Hurtigruten?  Please let me know if you have any questions and I hope you all have a terrific week.  Thank you for visiting!

~Michelle

 

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Travel Notes & Beyond

Visiting the Beautiful City of Trondheim, Norway and the Nidaros Cathedral

 Nidaros Cathedral

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As I mentioned in my previous post I recently went on a twelve day cruise up and down the Norway coast with Hurtigruten.  On our second day we stopped in a beautiful city with a population of close to 190,000 people named Trondheim.  We only had four hours at the stop which was actually one of our longer times to go on shore.  We were allowed to leave the boat at 8:00 AM and had to return by noon.  As you can see it was still dark but I got some great photos of the sunrise.

 

 

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Visiting the Famous Snowhotel in Kirkenes Norway

Hello from Norway!  I think I'm somewhere near the city Trondheim which is also referred to as the Paris of Northern Europe.  I decided to take a 12 day cruise beginning and ending in Bergen Norway with Hurtigruten Cruise lines

One of the tours I decided to do was halfway through the cruise at one of our northern most stops in Kirkenes which is only a few miles from the Russian border.  Many people on my ship took a tour bus to see the Russian border.  There was only time to do one chore and I chose this one I'm so glad that I did and spite of being colder then I think I've ever been in my life.  I grew up in the state of Vermont but have lived in Florida for nearly a decade and it just isn't as easy to travel to cold-weather places. 

I took a lot of photos at the Snowhotel because it was so interesting and I haven't ever seen anything like it.  People pay as much as $600 and more of a night to stay there.  There is a bar and a restaurant.  There are also reindeer on the property and dog sledding is available. 

I have mixed feelings about dog sledding. This was my second such excursion. When I was in Alaska I wanted to try it and especially see if the dogs were treated well. You can read my account here:

Dog Sledding in June on the Mendenhall Glacier, Alaska

 

DSC03248-1_ppOne of the things I like most about going dog sledding is playing with the dogs.  They just love attention and are so well behaved! 
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A Charlie Brown Christmas at the Gaylord Palms ICE! Exhibit 2016

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It has become a tradition in my family to visit the Gaylord Palms in Orlando, Florida to see the ICE! Exhibit as well as the acrobat and light shows.  We love the festive atmosphere as well as the variety of restaurants available at this resort.  The 2016 exhibit is over but the atrium view rooms where you can see the shows start to book up several months in advance.  This year's theme was  "A Charlie Brown Christmas" and was one of my favorite so far and I wanted to share my photos.

 

 

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Wandering and Searching Yogi Offers a Few Balancing Tips

 

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 I hope you like the new name of my blog!  I didn't want to change my domain but thought the island girl part of my blog name needed to go.  I'm not saying I will never visit another island again, but the type of travel I will be doing is likely to change at least for a while.  You can read my previous post to see why I have become disillusioned with visiting tropical islands especially if the UV rays are very high which most are.  I live in Florida as it is so I get more than enough UV rays already! 

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