Our online guru Eli Orzessek shares some cool tips on travelling to Norway. Plus we have reader feedback on gaining electronic travel visas for India.
My husband and I are retirement age and love travelling to less "ordinary" destinations. In January 2017 we are heading to Norway for a Hurtigruten cruise up the coast from Bergen to Kirkenes, so we will be travelling north in the middle of winter. We have experienced winter in London, but nothing this cold. We don't know anyone who has been on these trips, and photos I have seen online seem to be all taken in summer.
What sort of thing might we experience on the ship and in the various stopovers given the weather conditions? Do you know if the various excursions are value for money?
- Lucy Roach
This sounds like it will be an incredible cruise and I'm sure that doing it in winter will bring some rewarding experiences that you might not get in the summer — but you're right, it will definitely be very cold.
Travel Editor Winston Aldworth has some experience of Norway.
"I visited on a Christmas-time ski trip a decade ago. Bizarrely, there was very little snow. Still, it was very cold. Be ready for your petty cash to take a kicking, Norway is a wildly expensive place.
"But any chance to see the Northern Lights should be embraced — whatever the cost."
I also contacted Hurtigruten for a bit more information about what to expect and a nice guy called Oystein Knoph came through with some great tips.
"Winter offers some truly unique active experiences and Hurtigruten has been in the polar adventure travel winter game since 1893. We're getting really good at it.
"And Norwegians are getting quite used to the cold season. It really doesn't change very much — it only gets colder and darker [north of the polar circle there would be polar night]. We just put on more clothes and practise our snow-shovel skills. So with regard to what they could expect in port, just about the same as in the warmer seasons. We're open!
"To me, it is all about the lights. Even though there in some areas is no direct sun: The show that the moon, the stars and the snow combined puts on is magical."
One excursion he particularly recommends is the snowmobile trip in Lapland, where you can see the famous Northern Lights. He also suggests you dress in layers and make sure some layers are wool — "think polar explorer".
As I'd hoped, I got many emails from readers about the process of getting an eTV for India. Here is a selection of the feedback:
"New Zealand is one of the few privileged countries where a visa prior to arrival is not required; New Zealanders can get a visa on arrival," writes Jeff Lynex.
"It is my understanding that this status is due to the days when Sir Edmund Hillary was High Commissioner to India. It puts New Zealanders at a far greater advantage over Australian, American and British passport holders who need to have a visa prior to arrival.
"We entered through New Delhi mid-afternoon on a weekday. We were required to have a couple of passport photographs and there was a fee involved although not anything like the $150 quoted. Processing took no more than 10 minutes after waiting about 5 minutes, but I understand that it can take a little longer at busy times."
Ketan Sawant emailed to say the only site to apply for the visa is https://indianvisaonline.gov.in/visa/tvoa.html.
"This is the only valid link, all other links are fake and are just ways and means of getting people to waste their money.
"Remember an e-visa will allow you to stay in India only for a maximum of 30 days and you cannot extend that visa.
"If you want a longer-duration visa, then you apply for a standard visa with the Indian high commission in Wellington."