Smurfies Search for the Northern Lights

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david63
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Smurfies Search for the Northern Lights

Post by david63 » 10 Mar 2019, 23:11

Preamble
This is one of our “bucket list” cruises – searching for the Northern Lights and also the first time that we have sailed on Aurora (just never been going where we wanted to go at a time that we wanted to go on a cruise!)

One of the “interesting” things about this cruise is the variety of clothing that we have to take – not just cruise clothing but cold weather clothing as there is a possibility that the temperatures could go below -20C, and this clothing takes up a lot of space. We have as many cases/bags for two weeks as we had last year for four weeks!

Sunday 10th March

Well the day did not start off too well with some sleet, preceded by heavy rain – the kind of weather that you want for driving down to the other end of the country. Fortunately by the time we were ready to set off the weather had cleared and there were glimmers of sun trying to break through.

OK then I spoke too soon. Just as I had loaded all of the baggage into the car we had a hailstorm – OK it only lasted a few minutes. As is our normal journey now we had booked into the Regency Park hotel at Thatcham which is about an hour’s drive from Southampton. The journey down was one of the better journeys that we have had – no hold ups and the weather was better that we could have expected for the time of year. (On a side note the 20 miles of roadworks in Cheshire is almost complete – the bad news is that they have moved south for the next three years!!!)

To be continued …
Last edited by david63 on 11 Mar 2019, 07:13, edited 1 time in total.

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Gill W
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Re: Smurfies Search for the Norther Lights

Post by Gill W » 10 Mar 2019, 23:24

I was on a similar cruise this time last year, but on Balmoral, although we did see Aurora in Alta.

We did see the lights on two nights from the ship.

I hope you are lucky enough to see them
Gill

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Lynda and David
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Re: Smurfies Search for the Norther Lights

Post by Lynda and David » 11 Mar 2019, 00:34

Hi David, We were on Aurora this time last year on a Northern Lights cruise, Aurora's our favourite ship.

We booked an excursion called something like 'Chasing the Northern Lights' and whilst the excursion was expensive, it was worth every penny. We spent 3 hours watching the lights in a field just outside Alta, they were amazing. Before we went out we were told that if we wanted to take photos of the lights our camera would have to be set to a certain speed and put on a tripod to make sure it was steady so we didn't bother but when we got back on the coach people had taken some fantastic pictures just on their mobiles.

We enjoyed this cruise so much that we are booked to go again next March on Aurora.

Have a great time.

Lynda

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Re: Smurfies Search for the Northern Lights

Post by david63 » 12 Mar 2019, 16:14

Monday 11th March

What a change in the weather when we woke this morning – the sun was streaming through the windows and whilst it was not hot it was certainly warmer than of late.

Anyway after a leisurely breakfast we packed up and meandered down to Southampton. For once the traffic was fairly light and there were no hold ups. One slight minor problem was that instead of using CPS for parking I was trying Parking4Cruises as they have had some good reviews. The slight problem is that they ask that you text them when you are about 30 minutes out of Southampton – easy to know with the sat nav but finding somewhere to stop isn’t! As we were departing from Mayflower Terminal we took our usual route of going via dock gate 20 which cuts out having to negotiate the centre of Southampton – the trouble was that nobody had told me that there were major road works in the area of gate 20 (although this did not create any problems). Once at the terminal is was a simple matter of driving round to the unloading area to deposit the baggage and then drive back to the short stay car park to deposit the car. I have to say that the process of leaving the car was highly efficient and far more thorough than CPS with every inch of the car inspected and photographed. The one minor downside was that it was further to walk to the terminal than it is with CPS and would not be pleasant if it was raining.

Check-in went smoothly – one small change is that they appear to have scrapped the Health Declaration forms (probably because they were a waste of time – I have often wondered how many were honest!) We were on board just after 12:00 and went straight to the “freebie” lunch (now being in the exalted realms of the Caribbean tier). Never having been on Aurora before the whole ship was a new experience and our first impression was positive. Cabins were ready shortly after 13:00 but we loitered for a while finishing our free wine (not the fizzy stuff that they think everyone likes). Our only disappointment with the cabin is that the balcony is very small and enclosed which for this cruise is not a problem but would be if going to warmer climes.

Another change is that there was no predefined time for the muster drill, just an announcement that it was taking place. Don’t know if this is a new policy, just something on this ship or one of the whims of the Captain – but it does prevent folk assembling at their muster station too early.

Much of the rest of the time was taken with unpacking and trying to find our way around the ship – it is a long time since I have had to resort to using a map to find my way around. We are on second sitting dinner and it was the usual first night chaos!

Tomorrow is our first sea day and first formal night.

To be continued …

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Manoverboard
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Re: Smurfies Search for the Northern Lights

Post by Manoverboard » 13 Mar 2019, 08:58

Hard to believe that a Smurf would need a map to find the way around diddy Aurora

:wave:

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Re: Smurfies Search for the Northern Lights

Post by david63 » 14 Mar 2019, 14:16

Tuesday 12th March – Sea day

The started off being grey and overcast with a strong wind and did not improve at all during the day.

We started off today by doing some exploring of the ship only to find that it is something of a “rabbit warren” with corridors suddenly stopping and having to go across to the other side of the deck, or stairs only going part way up/down. All of that having been said I can see why many people class Aurora as their favourite ship and to me is somewhat reminiscent of Oriana.

Guest speakers and talks were the main subject of the day with port talks (reasonably good despite the sales pitch), A talk by one of the photo team on how to take photos of the Northern Lights (something akin to a waste of time as it was so poor!) and a talk by Stuart St Paul who is an ex actor/stuntman/film director (interesting but disjointed).

Tonight was the first formal night and, on the whole, was well adhered to – although some of the women’s outfits were stretching the “formal” definition somewhat. It was good to see that the dress code was being enforced in the venues where it is required – it baffles me as to why some people have to ignore the notice at the door. Excellent gala meal tonight with Beef Wellington.

The entertainment tonight was Harmony 3, not a group I have seen on P&O before, but their music was not to our taste so we did no go.

Wednsday13th March – Haugesund


This port was not on the original itinerary – we were supposed to be going to Bergen, but we were not really bothered about the change as we will/should be going there next year.

The weather was quite surprising today as there was some sun in the skies, even though the temperature was not that high (4C) but was considered mild for the time of year. The local security officer on the gate was looking somewhat bemused with all the passengers disembarking wrapped up as if they were in the Arctic.

We had booked to go on trip to Skudeneshavn which is on the tip of Kamoy island (in fact almost everything around here is on an island. The town was, in its day, a prosperous fishing town and was quite pleasant with all of its white wooden houses. There was also a visit to a 19th century merchant house that had been occupied up until 1961 when the owner died and in 1974 was turned into a museum.

In the afternoon after returning to the ship it was warm enough to sit out on the very small balcony for an hour or so – this was most definitely unexpected.

The entertainment tonight was the Headliners Destination Dance which had been postponed from Monday due to illness. As we have seen this show several times we decided to give it a miss.

Another sea day tomorrow before hitting the “frozen wastes”!!!

To be continued …
Last edited by david63 on 16 Mar 2019, 14:18, edited 1 time in total.


cruisin_duo
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Re: Smurfies Search for the Northern Lights

Post by cruisin_duo » 14 Mar 2019, 14:56

Thank you for your reports. Enjoying reading about your cruise.

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Re: Smurfies Search for the Northern Lights

Post by david63 » 16 Mar 2019, 14:14

Thursday 14th March – Sea day

A fairly quiet day today although surprisingly the weather was far more pleasant than anticipated. We had a few laps of the “proper” Prom deck and even managed to sit on the balcony for a short while before being forced back inside by the cold!

Not sure if there is any significance about this but one thing that I have noticed is that the shop staff, apart from those in the jewellery/watch shop appear to be P&O staff as opposed to whoever runs the shops these days (I have forgotten the name of the company).

Tonight’s entertainment was Roy Locke who sounded as if he might be quite good – the problem was that 10 seconds into his act I realised that we had seen him before on some other ship and his act was just the same, and as bad. It was not helped by the “band” drowning him out most of the time – I don’t know why but P&O seem incapable of getting the sound balance right.

Friday 15th March – Narvik


Woke up this morning to find snow on them there hills – not really surprising as that was what we have come here for. Today was supposed to be one of the highlights of this cruise – husky sledging. The tour was not due to leave until 10:30 so we had plenty of time to get ready after breakfast and so turned on the TV to hear the news in New Zealand. Now as many of you know we have family in NZ and for a few seconds everything stopped until it was reported that the shooting was in Christchurch and there would be no reason for any of them to be there, and if they were then it would be highly unlikely that they would be in that part of the city.

So now it was time to get bungled up like Mr Blobby with umpteen layers on as the temperature was -1C and not forecast to get much warmer. This tour was one that we really wanted to do but by the time we got round to booking it it was fully booked and we were waitlisted but got our tickets on Monday night – so we were “happy bunnies”. The tour was to take us across the border into Sweden (apparently they cannot do husky sledging and snow mobiling in Narvik) where we would have between 1 and 1.5 hours sledging. Now for the bad news the tour comprised of about an hour’s drive to where the sledging was to take place, 20 minutes sledging, an hour of standing around waiting for the others on the tour to have their turn on the sledge and then an hour’s drive back to the ship. On top of that the only toilet facilities was the one small toilet on the coach. The tour was obviously well over booked as there were 40 on the tour and the sledges could only take 10 at a time – who was at fault is yet to be determined but I was not alone in lodging a complaint, just waiting for a response.

Having said that this was a brilliant experience (not sure why P&O consider it a “hazardous” experience!) and the huskies are just so placid but at the same time excited to be pulling the sledge – and when it comes to the puppies almost everyone wanted to take one home!

The entertainment tonight was Stephen Garcia a comedy magician – not our cup of tea. Unfortunately there was quite a lot of cloud tonight so there was no Norther Lights to be seen – certainly not from the ship – just hope the conditions improve for the day after tomorrow in Alta.

To be continued …


Whynd1
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Re: Smurfies Search for the Northern Lights

Post by Whynd1 » 17 Mar 2019, 17:20

That's not very good,only 20 mins of activity with the snowmobile.
Especially for the cost.

Is it cheaper to dock in Naarvik rather than Alta say. I am on a cruise in October 2020 which stops at Naarvik.
Hope you are enjoying the cruise.
Lindsey

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