Silver Explorer Arctic Adventure, Day 0: Oslo, Norway

Hallo, Oslo!

One Day In Oslo: a short stopover en-route to Tromso, Norway and the waiting Silver Explorer tomorrow. Shown here is Oslo's Royal Palace, at the foot of Karl Johans Gate. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
One Day In Oslo: a short stopover en-route to Tromso, Norway and the waiting Silver Explorer tomorrow. Shown here is Oslo’s Royal Palace, at the foot of Karl Johans Gate. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Aaron Saunders, Live Voyage Reports

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

There’s nothing like the realization that you’ve just paid $12.87 for a pint of beer to remind you that you’re in Norway. In fact, local legend has it that if you listen closely, you can hear the sound of a troll giggling madly as he makes off with every last bit of loose change you might have had before disappearing into a misty fjord never to be seen or heard from again.

Lufthansa flight 860 at the gate at Oslo-Gardermoen Airport this morning after her two-hour flight from Frankfurt. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
Lufthansa flight 860 at the gate at Oslo-Gardermoen Airport this morning after her two-hour flight from Frankfurt. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Despite the high costs, I’m enjoying my one-night pit-stop in the Norwegian capital city of Oslo. Yesterday, I flew from Canada via Frankfurt, arriving here just before noon aboard a Lufthansa Airbus A321. Tomorrow, I’ll head back to Oslo-Gardermoen Airport for another flight, this time on Scandinavian Airlines (SAS).

My real destination, as it turns out, is Tromso, Norway – and Silversea Expeditions’ adventurous and luxurious Silver Explorer.

Exploring Oslo, one of the most prominent landmarks you'll come to are the imposing towers of City Hall. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
Exploring Oslo, one of the most prominent landmarks you’ll come to are the imposing towers of City Hall. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Tomorrow, I’ll board this spectacular 132-guest ship for the first time in three years. Back in 2012, I sailed aboard Silver Explorer on a fascinating voyage from Portsmouth, England around the British Isles. It introduced me to the world of expedition cruising, and gave me some lifelong friends – not to mention a whole host of irreplaceable experiences that could never be planned on any itinerary, but which my life is fuller and more complete for having had.

That’s the beauty of the voyage we’re about to embark on: a 10-day journey from Tromoso to Longyearbyen, in arctic Svalbard.

Sage advice. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
Sage advice. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Part of Silversea’s full lineup of Arctic Expedition Cruises, this sailing might initially confuse those who are used to more structured and precise port-of-call-driven itineraries. After our initial day at sea, we’ll call on Bear Island – an uninhabited island and designated nature reserve literally located smack in the middle of nowhere.

Then, it’s a full week that can be described in a single sentence: cruising and exploring Arctic Svalbard.

Doing some window-shopping along Karl Johans Gate. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
Doing some window-shopping along Karl Johans Gate. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
Everyone else, apparently, had the same idea. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
Everyone else, apparently, had the same idea. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Itineraries like this are determined by the weather conditions, along with the wishes of the vessel’s Master and the onboard Expedition Team Leader. Because of this, no two voyages will be exactly alike. It’s great for guests, too – nothing heightens the sense of adventure like not having a rigidly structured itinerary that must be adhered to at all times. It also helps reign in guest expectations: with no idea what to expect, guests rarely leave disappointed.

This voyage is a huge deal for me. This past January, I had the opportunity to visit Antarctica, with its towering icebergs, lonely vistas, and playful penguins. It was a dream come true for me, and the absolute journey of a lifetime. Now, much like Norwegian polar explorer Roald Amundsen, I’m set to conquer the Arctic as well.

Surprise, surprise - I managed to find another cruise ship! My home for the next 10 days will be a touch more intimate. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
Surprise, surprise – I managed to find another cruise ship! My home for the next 10 days will be a touch more intimate. This is P&O’s Azura, in her new livery. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
Directions in the inner harbour of Oslo are printed on scaled-down shipping containers. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
Directions in the inner harbour of Oslo are printed on scaled-down shipping containers. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
Oslo harbour. The last time I saw this was in February 2013 - and it was completely iced over. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
Oslo harbour. The last time I saw this was in February 2013 – and it was completely iced over. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
With temperatures soaring into the 30's (Celsius)...Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
With temperatures soaring into the 30’s (Celsius)…Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
...even the statues need to cool off. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
…even the statues need to cool off. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

You’re going to hear a lot from me over the next 10 days about Amundsen and other Arctic explorers who helped open up areas that, just a few hundred years ago, were literally black blips on the map. A human dynamo of a man, Amundsen’s prodigious lust for adventure drove him to not only conquer Antarctica (take that, Robert Falcon Scott!), but to also claim victory in the Northwest Passage and the North Pole.

But like most runaway passions, Amundsen’s would consume him, too. He disappeared mysteriously in 1928, on a routine rescue mission over the Barents Sea.

Amundsen’s expedition ship Fram is on permanent display here in Oslo, but while we sadly didn’t have time to make it to the museum, we did get the chance to explore this great Norwegian city.

The Radisson Blu Scandinavia Oslo, seen from a distance. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
The Radisson Blu Scandinavia Oslo, seen from a distance. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Silversea utilises the Radisson Blu Scandinavia as their pre-and-post-cruise hotel in Oslo. Rather than transferring immediately to Tromso, guests use Oslo as an intermediary stopover – presumably due to the greater variety of flights and hotels found here.

It’s a great hotel, but you should know that guest rooms are currently under renovation. I lucked out: I got one of the newly-renovated rooms on the 10th floor. Your mileage may vary. The hotel is, however, pleasantly up-front with the construction work occurring on the floors above, all of which only lasts until 7:00 p.m. each day.

The reception lobby of the Radisson Blu Scandinavia is cool and inviting. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
The reception lobby of the Radisson Blu Scandinavia is cool and inviting. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

My room is perfect for a one-night stay, and would probably suffice for half-a-week or so if push came to shove. The air conditioning is on the soft side, even when cranked to the full position. I avoided turning my room into a broiler by keeping the blackout drapes shut during the heat of the afternoon. Believe it nor, Oslo nearly hit 30°C – or 86°F – today!

My 10th-floor room has recently been renovated, and is in fantastic shape. Too bad about the weak A/C, though. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
My 10th-floor room has recently been renovated, and is in fantastic shape. Too bad about the weak A/C, though. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
Bathrooms are very small, but functional. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
Bathrooms are very small, but functional. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
Can't find the complimentary soaps? They're there. Take a peek underneath the sink. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
Can’t find the complimentary soaps? They’re there. Take a peek underneath the sink. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

I also have to give bonus points to the Radisson for being literally the only hotel that has actually had pre-cruise transfer information available for me on arrival! Normally, I have to ask or inquire to a baffled and overworked check-in staff; not here.

By getting that package early on, I learned that I’ve got to be up, fed and ready to rock at 6:45 tomorrow morning. Given that, this seems like a logical spot to suspend tonight’s post…with the anticipation of more to come tomorrow from Tromso and onboard the magnificent Silver Explorer!

Strolling through the wooded Slottsparken, on the grounds of the Royal Palace. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
Strolling through the wooded Slottsparken, on the grounds of the Royal Palace. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Silver Explorer Arctic Adventure | Live Voyage Report

Day 1Arrival in Oslo
Day 2Embarking Silver Explorer in Tromsø
Day 3Bear Island
Day 4Burgerbukta, Svalbard
Day 5Magdalenafjorden
Day 6Adventures at the Polar Ice Cap
Day 7Torellneset and the Ice Blink
Day 8Hiking Fakesvagen
Day 9Polar Bear Hunting
Day 10The Abandoned Settlement of Ny London
Day 11Longyearbyen, Fog, and An Extension of Our Voyage
Day 12Longyearbyen! Embracing Delays
Voyage Recap

Like this article?

Share on facebook
Share on Facebook
Share on twitter
Share on Twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on Linkdin
Share on pinterest
Share on Pinterest

Our latest articles

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *