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Hurtigruten Cruise excursions alternatives, coast of Norway

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Sep 11th, 2014, 11:01 AM
  #1
plr
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Hurtigruten Cruise excursions alternatives, coast of Norway

I will be doing the 12-day classic round trip cruise next month, and find the listed excursions to be even more outrageously expensive than other cruise lines' excursions. Just can't afford it.

Can anyone give advice/experience about whether it is easy enough to quickly catch taxi or bus to the main attractions in those cities which allow 1-3 hours in port? (eg: Alesund, Trondheim, Bodo, Harstad, Tromso, Honningsvag, Hammerfest, Svolvaer).

Timeliness & cost are of course the greatest concerns. Also hard to tell whether most of the main excursions are in fact within walking distance of the ship, and this would be extremely helpful information.

Hope you all can help!
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Sep 11th, 2014, 11:56 AM
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I did the northbound trip in January and didn't do any ship's excursions since they were so costly. However, in every port, I and many other passengers got off the ship and walked into town to explore on our own. In all the ports, the ship docks close enough to the downtown area that you can easily walk to the town center. In the smaller ports (Bodo, Svolvaer, etc.) there were no taxis or buses at the port and I suspect it would take more time to call/wait for one then it's worth. Note that in Trondheim, the ship is about a 15 mins walk to the center/tourist area. In Tromso, you can get off the ship and walk to the bus stop and take a bus to the Artic Cathedral (I was advised that it's a long and cold walk across the bridge to the cathedral).

In Svolvaer, I loved the military museum and wish that I had more time there. Some folks went to the ice bar but both were within 10 mins walk from the pier.

In Honningsvag, I just walked all around the town and had a snack in the local tea shop. However, many folks did do the North Cape excursion and they felt it was worth the cost (although they were skeptical at first). Anyone who did the dog sledding excursions also felt they were worthwhile (I didn't do them because I was staying overnight at the Snow Hotel in Kirkenes and dog sledding, snow shoeing there.)

I enjoyed early morning walks around the decks, absorbing the scenery and ambling around all the ports. I felt I got an appropriate insight into the land, terrain, etc. - which in my eyes, was equal to (actually, I felt it was a hundred times better) the excursion experience. But then, I'm a person who hates being shuffled along on someone else's time schedule...
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Sep 11th, 2014, 12:17 PM
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The last trip we did we only did the Russian border trip, simply for something to do.
In most of the places it is easy to get into the town and explore for yourself. They have maps of most towns available onboard.
The boat stops within walking distance of all the towns, no need for taxis, which are ridiculously expensive, like everything in Norway. There is a bus offered in Bodø, but you can walk into town for free just as easily, and can leave again when you have had enough. Visit the cathedral in Bodø if it is open. There isn't much else to recommend the town imho.
I don't think North Cape is worth the expense. If they offer the trip to the fishing village on board the ship then that is worthwhile.
Generally there are a few more trips offered onboard, which you can book up to the evening before, so you can decide whether any appeals enough to pay for it.
Do buy the red mug onboard for tea and coffee, you will easily drink enough to make it worthwhile.
You can buy wine and beer by the glass in the restaurant, but you can also take booze on for consumption in your cabin. You can buy it in duty free at the airport on arrival.
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Sep 11th, 2014, 02:53 PM
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plr
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Thanks so much to vickiebypass and hetismij2 for your amazingly quick responses and detailed information! So very helpful! I was thinking I would spring for the Viking Feast excursion, but do the rest of all the great museums & such on my own if there is at least enough time to get to the places & not have to rush too much. From what you both say, it sounds like it is mostly do-able. VBP, I wonder what made the North Cape trip "worth it." Do you know? And in Trondheim, was there enough time to walk to the main sites, or would it be better to do bus or taxi to get into town? Would you recommend the dog sledding?

Hetismij2, I was glad to learn that maps are available on board. That will save me a lot of trouble with copying and printing ahead of time! I am interested in what makes the fishing village "worth it" on the Northcape trip.

Thanks again!
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Sep 11th, 2014, 03:48 PM
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We just walked in the towns , explored on our own. In Tromso took a bus to the Arctic Chapel and in Bodo to the WWII
Aviation museum .
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Sep 12th, 2014, 12:41 AM
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I have been to both the North Cape and the fishing village. The North Cape is expensive and once you have wandered around a bit there isn't a lot to do. At the fishing village, which is limited to a minibus number of people, you meet Heidi, the wife of a fisherman and she shows you around, you learn about life in the north, and enjoy a nice drink and cake. It was one of my favourite trips. I recommended it to others and they really enjoyed it too.

We walked into Trondheim and went up to the Dom and back on foot, but didn't go in to the dom, as I had been previously on a Hurtigruten excursion and DH wasn't fussed about going in.
In Tromsø we just strolled around the town, but you can get a bus to the Arctic cathedral if you prefer.
It is vital you know the departure time, which will be announced on arrival in port. They do not wait for you.
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Sep 12th, 2014, 12:47 AM
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I was in Alesund recently and you should have no trouble walking around this charming city. There are stunning views from a Aksia hill overlooking the town. I imagine you could walk up the 400 steps to the top, however there is one of those little touristy trains which will take you to the top. The train does a 1 hour circuit of the town. I may also have seen a hop on/hop off bus at the top of the hill. Either way the tourist office at Skaregata 1 should be able to help you. Have a wonderful trip.
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Sep 12th, 2014, 01:55 AM
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On the dog sledding - you may be too early for it. I did it twice in Kirkenes. Once was actually enough for me, but DH went the second time and wanted to do it.
The dog-sledding in Tromsø seemed better from what others told me.

The third time we did the Russian border trip, simply to get off the ship and not be stuck in Kirkenes for ages. It was OK, but nothing special tbh.

Alesund is very easy to navigate and wander around. The walking tour they organise from the ship obviously tells you more about the town, and includes the museum which is quite interesting.

If an organised tour is late back then the tour must get you onto the ship. Sometimes the ship will wait a while for a tour, otherwise you are taken to the next port. If you go off on your own they don't wait!
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Sep 12th, 2014, 12:36 PM
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plr: as others have said, the ship has maps for each port and sometimes brochures for local sites (if the local sites provide them!) In Trondheim, we had about 6 hours in port so I had enough time to walk into town, stroll around an area I was interested in but on the walk back I got paranoid about how much time it was taking and whether I'd miss the boat, so ended power walking and huffing & puffing. The walk to town is through a bland, commercial, multi-laned highway area, so if there's a taxi available when you get off the ship, I'd suggest taking it! I had spent 4 days in Trondheim before flying to Bergen to board the Hurtigruten, so had already seen lots of Trondheim. The center of town, with a nice pedestrian shopping area, the town square and the Nidaros Cathedral, is easy to walk around. I also enjoyed walking along the river with the old warehouses and the Baakelandet area across the river.

In Alesund, the ship usually offers a walking tour which you may want to sign up for. The Alesund walking tours are pretty standard and I took one from a Cunard ship and enjoyed it - it covered a fair amount of ground (not a lot of standing around and listening to the guide talk - they walk and talk, walk a lot and then talk) and they point out buildings or decorations that you probably wouldn't spot yourself.

In Bodo, I took the ship's bus into town and found a few streets of wooden houses that were newly built but in the old style.

For the North Cape excursion, the people who thought it was worthwhile liked the museum, but really liked walking around in the snow, taking photos, etc. It didn't sound like a big deal to me, but they couldn't stop talking about how glad they were that they spent the money, etc.

I would recommend dog sledding just because it's an adventure and where better to do it than Norway! It's an experience that you probably won't have again so I'd sign up for it. (I forget how much I paid at the Snow Hotel for dog sledding since I booked directly with them, but it was over $150.)

So, overall, my two cents is...do the majority of the ports on your own; do some advance research on the ports where you have 3 hour or more so that you can figure out how best to spend your time; sign up for dog sledding and the Alesund walking tour.
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Sep 12th, 2014, 06:42 PM
  #10
plr
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I love this forum! Thanks again to each of you for responding with so many helpful details! I agree that it is a little scary to go off on my own and risking not getting back to the ship on time, but I just can't imagine paying the prices asked for the really basic and straightforward "excursions" offered by the cruise line. And whoops--it had not occurred to me that it would be too early for the dog sledding. Thanks again.
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Sep 12th, 2014, 11:48 PM
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There will be others onboard doing their own thing in the towns. You may be able to join some of them occasionally. It is normally really friendly and relaxed onboard, so don't worry about it too much.
I went on my own the first time I went and whilst I booked a few excursions, simply because I was on my own, I quickly made friends with people onboard and went with them in a few places, or just wandered around on my own. I had a really cheap cabin and half board, so I had some money over for excursions.
I really enjoyed some of the trips, but some were not worth the money.
The Alesund walking tour is enjoyable and you learn a lot about the town.
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Sep 13th, 2014, 06:27 AM
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plr
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Several recommendations here to take the walking tour in Alesund, and I am curious about what is remarkable in the town to warrant a guided tour. When I explored for "attractions" in Alesund, I found nothing which stood out, really, except the view from above the town.
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Sep 13th, 2014, 07:43 AM
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The town burned down and was rebuilt with the aid of Kaiser Wilhelm II. It has many beautiful jugendstil buildings, and a long history. The museum is in the old chemist shop, which is pretty much intact as are the living quarters above. There is a film about the fire too.
My guide had a great sense of humour and real enthusiasm for her job. DH had a different guide when he did the tour, and he enjoyed it too. It isn't expensive as excursions go, and you do gain more from it than from just wandering around the town, though that is enjoyable too.
The walking tour doesn't go up to the view, though I think they offer another excursion which does.
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Sep 15th, 2014, 06:11 PM
  #14
plr
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hetismij2 and vickiebypass, Thanks again for your replies. Such a great help!
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Sep 15th, 2014, 11:16 PM
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Plr, you are most welcome. I hope you have a wonderful time.
Which ship are you on?
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Sep 16th, 2014, 02:54 PM
  #16
plr
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I'll be on the M/S Trollfjord. Just received by boarding packet today! That always gets me jazzed.
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Sep 17th, 2014, 04:30 PM
  #17
plr
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Hope some of you are still hanging around! Did I read somewhere that maps are available on the ship for each town having decent port-time? Are these maps free of charge, or should I try to find & copy maps online before I embark? (I'm still planning to do as many walking tours on my own as I can, and don't want to waste any time finding places. Yes I am aware that I can try to get to the tourist's centers in each place, but it would be so much of a time-saver to have the maps ahead of time.
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Sep 17th, 2014, 11:13 PM
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They are free, from the tour guides desk.
When you are onboard there will be an introductory talk, when you meet your tour guide and other officers. You will also be given a book with day to day descriptions of the route and what to look out for.
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Sep 18th, 2014, 08:18 AM
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In Alesund I liked the Sunmore museum. If I were to go back there, it would be the place I'd take a taxi to (it's just outside Alesund) Especially the boats, including the "Shetland Buses" that ferried Norwegian resistance to the Shetland Islands, I found interesting.

I did the southbound leg, and would have liked the viking feast, but otherwise didn't bother. I'm interested in crafts, like wood carving, and there were a few good places i sought out on my own.

Other than that, it's also nice to just be in a place and not do much. I remember spending the off boat time in Svolvaer in the local general/video/cafe/post office etc store, where everyone would congregate at night and just have a coffee there and a horrible hotdog. Great memory.
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Sep 18th, 2014, 04:34 PM
  #20
plr
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Thanks again for that information, hetismij2. Did you find the maps to be detailed enough?

Menachem, very interested to hear of your experiences. I would like to hear more about your explorations of crafts places!
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