Final preparations are now underway for our next amazing journey. In March, 2012, we put a deposit down through our new travel agent for the “bucket list” cruise that both of us have wanted to do for a long time. Entitled “Voyage to the Midnight Sun”, this 18-day cruise on Oceania Cruise Lines Nautica departs London on July 4 and ends in Copenhagen on July 22. In between those dates, we spend 10 days above the Arctic Circle, visit many scenic ports in Norway, see the mysterious (and relatively new) city of Murmansk, Russia, and get a chance to visit Longyearbyen, Spitsbergen and circumnavigate the islands of Svalbard, putting us within 700 miles of the North Pole (about 81 degrees north latitude). This is certainly not going to be a deck/pool cruise, but it will be spectacular! We will be bundled up on deck with binoculars in hand, on the lookout for Polar Bears, walruses, whales and other creatures.
The journey begins on June 30, when we fly from DEN to Keflavik (KEF), Iceland on Icelandair, which started non-stop service to Denver in 2012. Icelandair has a business class section known as Saga Class, and we got good introductory fares to allow us to be a little more comfortable on our trip. They fly 757s on routes like this, so there was no way we were going to sit in the economy cabin, as the typical 757 used domestically (like with United) is usually not very comfortable, unless you are up front.
We are stopping over for two days in Iceland, the island of fire and ice, picking up a rental car when we arrive and spending one night in the Icelandic capital city of Reykjavik, then touring the Golden Circle and Blue Lagoon before bunking down at an airport hotel on the second night. There will be much more about the Golden Circle later, along with pictures and stories about natural wonders on this popular tour route in western Iceland.
On July 3, we arise at the crack of dawn (which really doesn’t happen this time of year that far north) and fly to London, where we will spend one night before boarding the ship on July 4 at Tilbury Docks, located down the Thames from the city.
The cruise itinerary includes stops at these ports; all ports are in Norway, except for Murmansk. We also have seven days at sea, including scenic touring of Magdalene Fjord on Spitsbergen and spotting the Arctic ice pack on the north side of Svalbard:
- Geirangerfjord (Hellesylt/Geiranger)
- Honningsvaag (North Cape)
- Murmansk, Russia
Nautica is one of the three smaller “R” ships in the Oceania fleet, with passenger capacity of about 700 and crew of 400. Our first cruise on Oceania was on Regatta in 2010 (Caribbean Pearls), which is a sister ship to Nautica and we liked the ship very much. We really fell in love with the larger, newer Marina on the last two cruises on Oceania, however, so it will be interesting to see how we like the smaller ship again.
There is a fairly active Roll Call for this cruise on Cruise Critic and we have a couple of private tours with some other folks on the Roll Call reserved in some of the ports. Our Meet and Greet is planned for the evening of July 4 as we sail out. We also are doing two ship tours, and will do our own thing in several ports as well.
We disembark at Copenhagen on July 22 and will spend the night there before doing our flights through KEF (Keflavik, Iceland) back home.
The cameras are being prepped, the packing lists are in work, and we are eagerly awaiting the start of our Midnight Sun saga. Hopefully, our dear kitty cat Ruby will survive yet another big journey by her human Mom and Dad (she is almost 19 years old and needs extra attention).