Need info fast re: port stays on Iceland/Norway trip
New to this website and forum, but I'm hoping I can get the information I need. I'm leaving on the Caribbean Princess in about 10 days on the Norway/Iceland cruise. I've found a local tour in Geiranger that does everything we want but there's a problem. The ship docks at noon and leaves at 6:00 PM. You must come in by tender. We have two choices on the tour; one goes out at 12:40 (and you're supposed to be on the bus by 12:30) and another that comes back at 4:55.
If anyone has been on this specific cruise, I would really appreciate if you could let me know if there's any realistic chance to get off the boat, in the tender, and into the town by 12:30 at the latest? I was told I could 'request' to be on the first tender, but there's no guarantee and even if we do, that might not be fast enough.
Or, when is the last tender back? (my experience is that it's usually 30 to 45 minutes before departure, but every ship is different). If we're standing on the dock,waiting for the tenders by 5:15 at the very latest, would that be safe planning? FYI, the excursions Princess is selling for that port are listed as returning at 5:15 and 5:30, but I'm still a little nervous cutting it so close since we're going on our own and not 'with' the ship.
Very unlikely you would be able to be on the dock by 12:30. Even if your lucky enough to get on the first tender a bit of rough seas, bad weather, an issue departing the last port late, etc. Arrival isn't guaranteed at 12 by any means.
As far as getting back on time is less of an issue but if you miss the ship they won't wait. If you do an excursion through the cruise line they will wait for. My suggestion is to call and let them know your departure time, they do this everyday, and can tell you if your ok. Some gaurantee return by a certain time to meet the ship. If you go minimum I'd let your tour operator know when the ship departs so they can make sure you get moving on time.
Thanks so much for responding, but it still didn't answer my question re: tenders. If you've been on THIS cruise, how late do the tenders go back to the ship at this port? In the normal course of events, would they still be running at 5, or 5:15, or even as late as 5:30?
Hi Ms.K, we too are going to be on this cruise, well if they can find us a stateroom, we are still showing blank
The ship is very likely to arrive in Geiranger before 12:00, but may not have it's tender service running for a while after that as they have to (a) get clearance to come ashore, (b) set up the dockside security systems, (c) clear priority passengers ashore first.
On top of that we have to send tours off in Hellesylt, which could be a lengthy affair depending on the number of tenders lowered, used, then recovered.
Given the time that any of these 'unknowns' could add to you getting ashore, I would personally be very hesitant to book the 12:30 tour.
As it is a short run from the quayside to the ship, the last tender tends to be only 15 minutes or so before departure, so the later option would sound "safer" to me.
Have you asked the operator of the likelihood of being able to book the later trip, then jump on the earlier one if you are ashore in time? They may be willing to do that.
One last thought, if you were to miss the ship, there is a bus from Geiranger to our next port of call, so you could try & play catchup. But beware, I have known of ships failing to dock in Alesund, so it could be a big risk.
Here's to finding some good weather,
Last Cruise: P&O Oriana October 2015
Next: Queen Victoria January 2016
Thanks so much for your reply. Your the first person who's suggested what my common sense told me; that tenders will very likely be going out at 5:00, or even 5:15. (especially since the two Princess sponsored exchursions don't come back until 5:15 and 5:30--there have to be tenders still running for those folks right?) I know when you book privately, there's always a gamble involved, but I guess I can only make the most logical decision, and then just hope for the best. This all started because we very much wanted to see the fjords BOTH in by boat AND from the top of Mt. Dalsnibba, and you can't do that with Princess since that's two separate tours which overlap--so you can only take one or the other. By booking with a local company, we were able to do both the RIB tour AND the bus ride up the mountain. (not to mention saving a lot of money) But the downside is this uncertainty about timing. Ironically, the bus is actually a quasi-public bus and thus far more likely to run on time and be back at 4:55 as advertised, as it has a strict schedule and is not obligated to worry about leaving folks behind. But there is still always that chance of something bad happening and disaster striking. (thanks for the tip about the bus to Allesund, though your comment about the ship simply 'skipping' a port does make me gulp)
Anyhow, hope your cabin situation gets straightened out, and maybe we'll meet on board. (I may be the one waving goodbye from the dock in Geiranger...)
Keep in mind, all tender ports that I've been to, they tell you to be back onboard an hour before sail away. Not sure I would run the risk of missing the tender/ship....Let us know what you do. Also for getting off the ship and getting to the excursion, all the passengers that are on ship excursions get the first tenders off the ship..
Thanks for the reply. After many phone calls to Princess (are there always 40 minutes hold times??!!), I finally got them to confirm that, barring extenuating circumstances, there will be tenders as late as 5:30 from Geiranger. (because there are 2 Princess excursions scheduled to come back then). Our trip is scheduled to end at 4:55, only steps away from where the tenders are. So after a lot of consideration, and e-mail conversations with the tour operator in Norway, we booked the trip. Interestly, the Mt. Dalsnibba part of the tour is on a quasi-public bus ('quasi' because they make the same two picture stops as the Princess tour), so they are required to stick to a strict schedule and far less likely to care (or wait) if someone is not ready to get on the bus and leave. I completely understand the 'better safe than sorry' school of thought, but booking this way not only saved us a great deal of money, but equally importantly, gave us the chance to take a RIB (boat) tour of the Fjord as well as drive up to Mt. Dalsnibba for the glorious views--something we could NOT do with the Princess excursions, as those two trips overlap. I doubt I'll ever be in Geiranger again, and I didn't want to miss the opportunity to do both, so we're taking the chance. If the ship announces on the morning we're in that port that the tenders will stop running earlier than normal, then we won't take the bus part. But I'm keeping my fingers crossed (and double-crossed) that all will go according to plan.
Great to hear that you've got things sorted out, did you go completely crazy listening to the 'on hold' music
I really think that the cruise lines have missed a trick in not using their own tenders to run trips up & down the Fjords, surely the boats can't be that dirty as to be an environmental issue.
It is great to see the Fjords from the deck, but must be awesome to view from that low down, looking up at the sheer walls of the Fjords.
Am trying to remember, but am fairly certain that it's Geiranger, where you want to be on the starboard side of the ship as you sail out, as they fire a small 'cannon' to salute you leaving, to which the ships will then reply with their horn/whistle. A very nice start to the sail back down the Fjord.
Fingers crossed for a change in the weather or we'll all be frozen but still wearing sunglassses ....
Alan & Katrina
Last Cruise: P&O Oriana October 2015
Next: Queen Victoria January 2016
Ah yes, the 'on-hold' music. Why can't someone link Pandora to phone systems, so you could plug in your password and at least listen to music you like. And then every once in a while, the music would stop, and I would get all excited thinking an actual person was coming on, but it would just be an announcement telling me I had to hold some more!!
I am very excited about the RIB tour part; it's a relatively small, very fast boat, so I can go home and tell people I did something more adventurous on my trip than getting off and on buses. (my usual practice...) And the perspective from 'inside' the fjord is probably amazing. Like you, I hope the weather holds, and the 'timing' gods are on my side, so that the day will all go according to plan.