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It looks like the Norrona is about to emerge from her most thorough refit since she was built in 2003, here is an article from the Shetland Times (she used to call in Lerwick of course) though I'm sure there will be more detail elsewhere too. https://www.shetlandtimes.co.uk/2021/02/11/smyril-flagship-gets-13-million-euros-refit-due-to-passengers-demands

From what I've seen her bow seems to have been modified somewhat, at least aesthetically, also there is now the striking new 'sky bar' area at the top; not sure whether I like that or not, no doubt it will be more enjoyable from the inside ;) 

Still a ship I very much want to try out as soon as I get the chance. 

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Yes it would, or better still, Newcastle...doesn't look very likely for the moment at least. I know she has been to North Shields in the past, bringing the Faroese over for Christmas shopping. 

The main obstacle for those of us in the UK of course is the need (and expense) of getting to/from Denmark. I've looked at various ways of doing it but all have their drawbacks, especially in terms of time and cost. I'm determined to do it though and have a specific Norrona 'fund' for the purpose ;) 

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51 minutes ago, Ryan_H said:

Yes it would, or better still, Newcastle...doesn't look very likely for the moment at least. I know she has been to North Shields in the past, bringing the Faroese over for Christmas shopping. 

The main obstacle for those of us in the UK of course is the need (and expense) of getting to/from Denmark. I've looked at various ways of doing it but all have their drawbacks, especially in terms of time and cost. I'm determined to do it though and have a specific Norrona 'fund' for the purpose ;) 

Could you not do a round trip? UK to Iceland by air then ferry to Denmark and a flight home? That would leave more in the Norona fund for other treats.

Ed

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CB, Norrona sails from the eastern coast of Iceland.

Most of the flights to Europe leave from Reykjavik on the west coast. 

So this would be mean a really long bus journey across Iceland or would involve an internal flight to meet up with Norrona. 

Edited by zuludelta
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5 minutes ago, Cabin-boy said:

Could you not do a round trip? UK to Iceland by air then ferry to Denmark and a flight home? That would leave more in the Norona fund for other treats.

Ed

Yes, have looked at that too, largely so that we could visit Reykjavik. Seydisfjordur is about as far from the capital as possible though, so the time spent in Iceland becomes a major part of the trip. So far I've not been able to decide between doing that or just taking the Viking Cruise, and spending a bit more on a nice cabin. 

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11 minutes ago, zuludelta said:

CB, Norrona sails from the eastern coast of Iceland.

Most of the flights to Europe leave from Reykjavik on the west coast. 

So this would be mean a really long bus journey across Iceland or would involve an internal flight to meet up with Norrona. 

Thanks. I didn't realise that was the case but it makes the trip even more worthwhile I guess. I'm sure you could rent a 4x4 on one side and drop it off on the other to have a bit of freedom to stop when you feel like it. 

Ed

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Last time I did it, I flew to Oslo and got the overnight Stena to Frederikshavn, then just over an hour to Hirtshals on the train, but Stena shut the service down last year - shame. DFDS did stick an extra stop at Frederikshavn on their Oslo/Copenhagen service, though, but I don't know the timings. Alternatively from Oslo you can get the train to Larvik (2 hours or so) then take the 3 hour Superspeed service to Hirtshals. Or if you fancy sampling one of the Fjordline Bergensfjord/Stavangerfjord near-twins you can get the train from Oslo to Porsgrunn and change there for a 45 minute bus service to Langesund for the daily Hirtshals ferry - these ferries too have been refitted in recent years to add extra cabins for the main Hirtshals/Bergen overnight route.

And then again, you could fly to Gothenburg then cross to Frederikshavn from there.  If you have time to spare in Frederikshavn, the little ferry to Laesoe island makes for a pleasant enough day trip. 

If you get stuck in Frederkishavn overnight, the waterfront Hotel Jutlandia is decent enough and has great balcony rooms overlooking the port (as does the main restaurant).  If you end up overnighting in Hirthsals, I've used the Hotel Skaga a couple of times.  Decent enough hotel, but it's in an industrial wasteland behind the port with nothing to do except the Aquarium over the road.  The lighthouse and German fortifications are miles away on the other side of town.

Hope these notes help.

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Looking at the map the dilemma on Iceland would be whether to drive clockwise or anti-clockwise around the island to get from one side to the other. I'd be worried about missing something spectacular on the other route. This is more complicated than I imagined. 

Ed

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Having said all that, my intended return to international travel is a booking with Hurtigruten on September 22nd from Dover to Norway, chosen specifically for the avoidance of the kind of convoluted travel arrangements we've just explored.  And this is another refit, their previous line ferry Trollfjord refitted for a new life as an expedition cruise ship and renamed Maud - all fallout from the transfer of one third of the coastal ferry services to Havila (and Covid cancellations probably spared them a whole world of pain because two of their four vessels still aren't ready).  So if any other readers are on the same Sep 22 departure, I'll stand a round in the bar on the first evening ! Sorry to drift off-topic

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16 minutes ago, Pegpilot said:

Having said all that, my intended return to international travel is a booking with Hurtigruten on September 22nd from Dover to Norway, chosen specifically for the avoidance of the kind of convoluted travel arrangements we've just explored.  And this is another refit, their previous line ferry Trollfjord refitted for a new life as an expedition cruise ship and renamed Maud - all fallout from the transfer of one third of the coastal ferry services to Havila (and Covid cancellations probably spared them a whole world of pain because two of their four vessels still aren't ready).  So if any other readers are on the same Sep 22 departure, I'll stand a round in the bar on the first evening ! Sorry to drift off-topic

I've looked at the Hurtigruten itineraries from Dover, they look great but I concluded they were a little out of my price range. Having said that, by the time I've done sampling the Norrona, they might actually work out better value.

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Can you fly from the UK to the Faroes? If so, perhaps there is no need to include Denmark, nice as it is. Fly to the Faroes, explore there for a few days ( https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=https://www.bbc.com/news/amp/world-europe-55195390&ved=2ahUKEwibve-48qDvAhULqxoKHVy6BQ4QFjAAegQIAhAC&usg=AOvVaw30Nwp6kjH7Qyq_lifjATa4&ampcf=1)  then sail to Iceland and drive around the entire perimeter for a week and then sail back to the Faroes and fly home.

Ed

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Yes, you can  fly to the Faroes with Atlantic Airways, but you normally need to go through Copenhagen - The Faroes are a former Danish territory and there are still strong links between the two.  Two or three flights a day before Covid, and hopefully after.  I think there was a twice-weekly direct flight from Edinburgh as well. Runway built by the RAF during our WW2 occupation of the islands !  We were able to book all the way through from Birmingham via Copenhagen with SAS

And I also believe you can fly across Iceland if you need to - the Smyril bus tours go straight past the domestic airport at Egilstadir, which is at the head of the pass above Seydisfjordur and maybe half an hour by road from the Smyril ferry terminal. Could save you a day or two, as when you hit the national ring road at Egilstadir you can turn either left or right and it's about 700 km to Reykjavik in either direction !

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I think it’s the distance from Reykjavik is just off putting for this service - as far as I have read there is no direct link from the port. One does wonder why don’t operate directly there as many cruise operators that do.

 Being dumped in the middle of nowhere 700km from the major city with poor indirect transport connections is not appealing. I imagine this is why there is no direct UK connection as there is no demand to visit a remote town in bleakest Iceland!

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Just checked to satisfy my curiosity and there are two flights a day from Egilstadir to Reykjavik. But it goes to Reykjavik's City airport, not the international Keflavik airport.

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It's deffo a two day drive once you've overnighted to Ijmuiden , you need a full day just to get as far as Flensburg and once you hit Denmark max speed is usually about 80km/h which is a lot less than the 200km/h you can easily do on the autobahn.... if there's no crashes and no roadworks. Back in 2018 I sat under a Bridge outside Bremen for nearly an hour, even got out for a walk. Plus you'll want to stop off and have a mooch.

There's also a very nice German stopover we've used when in the car heading to Denmark.

https://hollenstedterhof.de/en/hotel-hollenstedter-hof.html

You can fly easily enough to Billund in about 2 hours if you don't mind a knackered Ryanair (not me!) and there are loads of hire cars and buses at what is a surprisingly modern and busy airport... Lego factory and village on the other side of the runway. Trains are good but you'll probably have to change at Holstebro or Veijle depending on which way you head, the main E45 heads up the Kattegat side rather than North Sea taking in Aarhus & Alborg but doing that you'll miss out on the stunning North Sea coast and the excellent beaches not to mention the interesting Battle of Jutland memorials built into the sand dunes, that's just for starters.

You have to try french fries and deep fried hot dog slices with mayonnaise. Don't know what the proper name is but it's top swag and loads of the fast food places in Denmark serve it., When looking for food stay away from the touristy bits that's where he expense is and you probably won't find any supermarket or general store selling beer stronger than 2.5%. A bottle of wine is no more expensive than here in the U.K. If you visit the officially licenced shops run by the government but they will frown at you if you want to buy two or three bottles.

We looked at Norrona the other year but to do both islands justice in the motorhome the price was heading toward £3000.

 

 

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Family and friends in Shetland are extremely sceptical that she will ever make calls there again. Saw a photo of her passing yesterday, pitching quite a lot for the sea state, so I hope the mods have not caused stability issues.

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Definitely missing Harwich Esbjerg, jonno !  Would save a lot of driving.

As for taking a car on Smyril, I met some Iceland residents on the boat who had family in Germany.  They were moving a vehicle from Germany, where it lives for 6 months each year, back to Iceland for the summer. Apparently they save a fortune in Iceland vehicle tax by doing so, and quite a few people do it - the ferry cost is more than justified by the tax saving. Funny old world.

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I did the week long trip from Hirtshals and back 2 years ago. It was pretty straight forward to get there...ba flight to Billund from Heathrow. Picked up a car at the airport for 80£ for the week. It’s around 2 1/2 hr drive on dual carriage way. I left my car at a hotel at Hirtshals for the week. It was such an amazing trip.

we’ve booked to vist the Faroe Islands in June ( doubt it will happen). Flying Loganair from Sou to Edi and then Atlantic airways up. 
 

 

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Cue bouts of manic hysterical laughter on my part, Ed.  Driving through one the older inter-island tunnels (to Vidoy) there was one the most frightening experiences of my life.  They're gloomy and badly lit, single carriageway with priority in one direction. If you see oncoming headlights you have to dive in to the next passing point you reach, and hope that it's not already full. And the locals take no prisoners if they spot you dithering. And in the dark you have no real idea how close those oncoming headlights actually are.  And if you have a UK right hand drive vehicle (I had a LH drive hire car) then once you're in the passing point you can't actually see whether it's clear before pulling out again. Deeply scary.

But all those tunnels were built with Danish money, designed to keep the Faroese emotionally onside and attached to the old Empire.  Just imagine the cost compared with the scant economic benefit of connecting a mere 50,000 residents slightly more conveniently than a local ferry - no sensible business case whatsoever.

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3 hours ago, Le Quiberon said:

I think it’s the distance from Reykjavik is just off putting for this service - as far as I have read there is no direct link from the port. One does wonder why don’t operate directly there as many cruise operators that do.

 Being dumped in the middle of nowhere 700km from the major city with poor indirect transport connections is not appealing. I imagine this is why there is no direct UK connection as there is no demand to visit a remote town in bleakest Iceland!

I can't comment from experience because I've never been to Iceland, but from what I have read, Eastern Iceland Is every bit as worth visiting as Reykjavik. And the trip up the fjord to Seydisfjodur looks spectacular. 

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2 hours ago, Pegpilot said:

Definitely missing Harwich Esbjerg, jonno !  Would save a lot of driving.

I remember when you could sail from Newcastle to Esbjerg and the terminal on the Tyne was a dark blue corrugated shed. Yeah I miss the direct Scandi ships. I say get a Superfast on it, decent bit of freight and 800 beds. Just like Harwich, you'd fill it with motorhomes and campervans.

There used to be a member who was based in Denmark and was usually active on the DFDS thread giving us the news about port expansion at Esbjerg. 

1 hour ago, Pegpilot said:

no sensible business case whatsoever.

They'll probably be offered a sailing to Poole or Vigo then.🤣

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33 minutes ago, jonno said:

I remember when you could sail from Newcastle to Esbjerg and the terminal on the Tyne was a dark blue corrugated shed. Yeah I miss the direct Scandi ships. I say get a Superfast on it, decent bit of freight and 800 beds. Just like Harwich, you'd fill it with motorhomes and campervans.

There used to be a member who was based in Denmark and was usually active on the DFDS thread giving us the news about port expansion at Esbjerg. 

They'll probably be offered a sailing to Poole or Vigo then.🤣

Danish Ferry Person would have commented, but I think he got fed up of being ridiculed.

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4 hours ago, Pegpilot said:

Cue bouts of manic hysterical laughter on my part, Ed.  Driving through one the older inter-island tunnels (to Vidoy) there was one the most frightening experiences of my life.  They're gloomy and badly lit, single carriageway with priority in one direction. If you see oncoming headlights you have to dive in to the next passing point you reach, and hope that it's not already full. And the locals take no prisoners if they spot you dithering. And in the dark you have no real idea how close those oncoming headlights actually are.  And if you have a UK right hand drive vehicle (I had a LH drive hire car) then once you're in the passing point you can't actually see whether it's clear before pulling out again. Deeply scary.

But all those tunnels were built with Danish money, designed to keep the Faroese emotionally onside and attached to the old Empire.  Just imagine the cost compared with the scant economic benefit of connecting a mere 50,000 residents slightly more conveniently than a local ferry - no sensible business case whatsoever.

Holy moly...after watching this video, I see exactly what you mean.

And I'm sure this was probably one of the easier tunnels. The catchy music also probably makes this tunnel less frightening than it actually is...

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