Winter Tour to Norway 2 - Frequently Asked Questions
Norway is 6 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time in the United States. Like most European countries, Norway has daylight savings time which lasts from April to September. It moves its clocks ahead an hour in late spring and an hour back in the fall, corresponding roughly to daylight savings time in the United States, but the exact dates vary. When it's noon in Oslo, it's 6 a.m. in New York and 3 a.m. in San Francisco.
NEW YORK CITY
There are some beautiful things to bring back with you from Norway, so make sure that you have space left in your suitcase. You do not need formal clothing for this trip. Some people like to dress up if they are visiting high-end restaurants, but this is optional. Since we'll be walking quite a bit, you should bring with you your most comfortable walking shoes. Wintertime is quite cold in Norway, so you should bring warm winter clothing, including winter boots, winter jacket, scarf, hat and gloves. The weather in Norway can vary during the course of each voyage, or even during the day. To cater for these variations, we recommend a layered dress approach, so that you can easily adapt to changes in temperature, wind and precipitation conditions. You should bring along breathable rain and windproof clothing. A warm hat, gloves, scarf and thermal clothing can be useful, together with thermal underwear. Sturdy shoes are important for walking on uneven, icy terrain. A walking stick/trekking pole may also be useful. To make packing a bit easier we have made a short list, suitable for winter travel in Norway. This is in addition to the basics. If you forget something, don’t worry! There are shops in Norway, including on the ship which carry a range of high-quality knitwear, clothing, and gift items. Here are some essential items to bring along with you: Binoculars, Camera and memory card, Comfortable everyday shoes, Wool sweater or fleece, Sun protection, Sunglasses, Wind and waterproof jacket and trousers, Mid layer jacket, Woolen underwear, Winter boots with good grip, Spikes, Thick winter jacket, Warm hat and gloves, Woolen socks, Scarf, Woolen sweater or fleece, Thermal underwear
Visitors from the US, Canada and Australia need a valid passport to enter Norway, but visas are not required for less than 3 months. If you are a citizen of another E.U. country, you do not need a passport, only an identity card. Your passport must be valid for at least 3 months after the date you intend to leave Norway. Before traveling abroad it's a good idea to make two photocopies of your passport, your driver's license and your credit cards. Leave one copy at home with a trusted person and put another in your suitcase. Important: you must have medical insurance to travel in Norway. It is included in your standard trip insurance, but if you're not getting travel insurance for this trip, please make sure to bring a proof that you have medical insurance.
ARRIVAL AND DEPARTURE INFORMATION
This tour starts in Oslo (airport code OSL) and ends in Bergen (airport code BGO).
The tour starts at 6:00PM on Friday, March 22, 2024 in Oslo, and your flight should arrive no later than 3:00PM. You'll probably depart North America on Thursday, March 21, 2024. If you are prone to jet lag and travel fatigue, we recommend arriving a day early. We have arranged for individual airport transfers in accordance with your flight arrival time, and you will be met by a chauffeur on your arrival in Oslo.
This tour ends on Sunday, March 31, 2024 in Bergen and we will arrange for a private airport transfer in accordance with your departure time.
SINGLE SUPPLEMENT AND ROOMATES
To avoid paying the single supplement, we offer guaranteed roommate matching, and we will try to match you with a roommate of similar age. Otherwise, there are 7 single rooms available on this tour, but they tend to fill up early. Please keep in mind that all shared rooms are non-smoking.
THE TRAVEL GROUP
The Norway in Winter tour group is limited to the maximum of 16 women + the tour leader. The minimum group size is 6 women + the tour leader. In addition to the tour leader, the travelers will be assisted by professional local guides and bus drivers, as well as the Expedition Ship's crew and onboard Expedition team.
Norway does not pose any major health hazards. Norwegian medical facilities are among the best in the world. If a medical emergency arises, your hotel staff can usually put you in touch with a reliable doctor. Medical and hospital services aren’t free, so be sure that you have appropriate insurance coverage before you travel. Pack prescription medications in your carry-on luggage and carry them in their original containers, with pharmacy labels, otherwise they might not make it through airport security. Carry the generic name of prescription medicines, in case a local pharmacist is unfamiliar with the brand name. Since this tour takes place in winter, make sure to bring appropriate, warm clothing.
Tap water is generally safe to drink throughout Norway, but never drink from a mountain stream, fjord, or river, regardless of how clean it might appear. Tap water is universally drinkable in Norway, and tastes great, and there is no need to buy bottled water.
Bars, restaurants, cafes, gas stations, airports, rail stations, and all hotels have facilities, and public toilets can be found near many of the major sights. Usually they're designated as WC (water closet) or Toilette (pronounced twah-leh-tah). All toilets in Norway are Western style. Please keed in mind that some public toilets may require payment, so you should always have some coins in the local currency with you to pay for them.
Overall, the security risk to travelers in Norway is low. Violent crime is rare, but it can occur, especially in larger cities or high-risk areas such as train stations. Most incidents of street crime consist of theft of unattended items and pickpocketing. Pickpockets and purse-snatchers often work in pairs or groups, with one distracting the victim while another grabs valuables. Often they operate in or near major tourist attractions like in central Oslo, especially at restaurants, museums, bars, and on subway trains. Hotel breakfast rooms and lobbies attract professional, well-dressed thieves who blend in with guests and target purses and briefcases left unguarded by unsuspecting visitors and business travelers. Report the loss or theft abroad of your passport immediately to the local police and the nearest embassy or consulate.
Travel in Norway is as easy for women as it is for men. You may become the object of verbal admiration, but you’re probably physically safer there than you are at home. You should feel perfectly safe in Norway, but you may encounter a flirtatious man who wants to be "helpful" to foreign ladies. Though most of the time they mean well, use your best judgment when dealing with complete strangers. Of course, it always pays to play it safe and stick to populated streets after dark.
During the Norway in Winter tour, we will travel by bus, plane and ship. Since town and village centers are most accessible by foot, we expect to be walking quite a lot, although at a leisurely pace. To be able to fully enjoy the tour and participate in scheduled activities, you need to be able to walk, at a leisurely pace, up to 4 miles throughout the day, frequently on uneven, icy or snow covered surfaces and cobble stoned streets. Since this tour takes place in winter, there may be snow on the ground and/or slippery conditions. You should be able to stand unassisted for up to 30 minutes, you should be able to climb stairs, get in and out of vehicles without assistance and manage your own luggage without assistance. Overall, this trip is not strenuous, although it is filled with outdoor activities, most likely in cold weather.
Sharing the same latitude as Alaska, Greenland and Siberia, Norway has a pleasant climate compared to those places. Due to the Gulf Stream and warm air currents, Norway has a friendlier climate than the latitude would indicate, and the coldest areas in the winter are often inland or far to the north. In winter, much of Norway is covered in snow, though in the south and along the west coast snow is much rarer than in the mountains and Northern Norway. Similarly, temperatures may vary quite a lot, from well above freezing even in the dead of winter, to extremely cold. The average March temperature in Oslo is 34°F. The average March temperature in Kirkenes is 25°F. The average March temperature in Bergen is 38°F. Please keep in mind, that in winter Norwegians keep the indoor temperatures much warmer than Americans, so you may want to bring a couple of short sleeved shirts, as well.
CELL PHONES AND INTERNET
Norway's cities have Internet access available in internet cafes, hotel lobbies and in some public places. Cellular phone coverage is generally very good in Norwegian cities, although expect limited coverage in remote or mountainous areas. The Oslo, Kirkenes, and Bergen hotels where we’ll be staying have complimentary WiFi Internet available for their guests in public areas and in rooms. We have purchased WiFi for our group to use free of charge during the coastal voyage on the M/S Polarlys Expedition Ship.
Norway uses 220 volts, 30 to 50 cycles, AC, and standard Continental two-pin plugs. Transformers and adapters will be needed with Canadian and American equipment.
Norwegians are taught English since elementary school, so most people speak very good English. There are two official versions of Norwegian itself, one called Bokmail, spoken by about 85% of the population, the lesser known called Nynorsk. Nynorsk is identified as "new Norwegian," but it actually isn't. The language is a form of older dialects spoken in rural parts of the country. In the north, the Sami or Lapps have their own language, which is a distant cousin of Finnish.
The Norwegian currency is the krone (plural: kroner), written as NOK. American dollars are not accepted. It is easiest to obtain cash from local ATMs: PLUS, Cirrus, and other networks connecting automated teller machines (ATMs) operate throughout Norway. However credit cards, Visa, American Express, MasterCard and Diners Card are widely accepted.
Gratuities tips for restaurants, guides and drivers are included in the cost of your tour. It is customary to tip the chambermaid 10-20NOK per day, the bellhop 10-20NOK for carrying your bags to your room. When on your own, it is customary to add 10% to the restaurant bill. Toilet attendants expect 4NOK. At the conclusion of the tour, it is customary to offer your Tour Director a gratuity. We recommend $15 per person per day if you feel that her services enhanced your experience of visiting Norway.
Norway imposes a 19.4% value-added tax (VAT) on most goods and services, which is figured into your final price. If you buy goods in any store bearing the TAX-FREE sign, you're entitled to a cash refund of up to 18.5% on purchases costing over NOK315 ($63). Ask the shop assistant for a tax-free shopping check. You may not use the articles purchased before leaving Norway, and they must be taken out of the country within 3 months of purchase. Complete the information requested on the back of the check you're given at the store; at your point of departure, report to an area marked by the TAX-FREE sign, not at Customs. Your refund check will be exchanged there in kroner for the amount due you. Refunds are available at airports, ferry terminals, and train stations.
Here are some suggestions on what to bring back from Norway: lucky trolls, Vikings related gifts, pewter decorations, Christmas ornaments, Norwegian knifes, Norwegian sweaters and knitwear, chocolate and lakris, salmon and rakfisk, cod liver oil, brown cheese and cheese slicer.