A Night in the Kirkenes Snow Hotel – Part 1

As mentioned in my Norway kickoff post, our first real stop on this adventure was in Kirkenes for some dog sledding and a night at the Snowhotel. We’d gone back and forth on the latter part, as it’s not cheap to stay there, but in the end decided that it was a once in a lifetime that we just had to do while we were there. We couldn’t have been happier with that decision :).

After flying up to Kirkenes from Oslo, we grabbed a cab from the airport to the hotel at a cost of around 250NOK. On arrival to the Snowhotel, we checked in to the main building, dropped our luggage, and were given a quick tour of the place by one of the hostesses. She did a really solid job of explaining how everything was going to work, walked us over to the actual snow hotel building, pointed out the heated cabins for those who don’t want to sleep in an ice cave, gave us a quick tour of the main area where dinner would be served, and where the private lounge for snow hotel guests was. Some shots from the walk:

We were also told that we were the only ones staying in a family-sized room, and as a result we’d have our choice of rooms in that category, so we should check them all out and let them know which we wanted. After walking through each of the family rooms, Bayley easily made the call, we were staying in the Frozen-themed room, which you can take a 360-degree tour of!

The artists who carve these rooms do amazing work, even down to a thinner ceiling to allow natural light in, visible in the above photo.

With that out of the way, we had some time before our dog sledding excursion began, so we walked over to the Gabba Restaurant to grab a quick bite to eat, as we hadn’t had lunch yet. Just grabbing a snack, I had a reindeer sausage, Jen had a salmon sandwich, and Bayley had a piece of cake. Not exactly a full meal, but enough to tide us over for the dog sledding, and delicious to boot!

When it came time for the excursion, we stepped out of Gabba to find the group already assembling. The dogs are all onsite, so we basically were leaving on the sleds from just a few feet outside of the restaurant. The guides were busy getting the dogs all sorted out, so after putting on the insulated overalls and balaclavas they provide, we headed over and waited by our assigned sleds. Jen and Bayley were in the lead, with me in the second one. After getting everything sorted and meeting our guides, we were off, sort of. Jen and Bayley’s dogs weren’t too keen on working with each other, so we did have a couple of early stops shortly after leaving to get that sorted, but they got it taken care of pretty quick.

I have to say, this is one of the most fun things I’ve ever done, and gave us some amazing views of the snow-covered landscape. Just check out some of this video!

At one point, we had the option to drive the sled (as shown in one of the pics above), and I jumped at it. I actually got to drive for two stints, since I was the only passenger on mine, and had a blast the entire time. I even managed to keep the sled upright :). Shortly after I gave the controls back, however, that changed. Right before the half-way point, we hit a corner faster than expected and took a tumble. I wasn’t expecting the shift in the sled, so I totally forgot to lean against it, which I’m sure didn’t help. Falling out into a bunch of light and fluffy snow meant no injuries, but the dogs were still running, sled in tow. Fortunately, the driver of the sled ahead of us was able to stop our sled as it raced by.

That was about the point where we were stopping for a break anyway, so the guides locked down the sleds, handed out some yummy warm juice, and set up a fire for us to warm up next to for a bit. It also gave us a chance to give the dogs some love, which we were all to happy to do:

After the stop ended, we continued on through the snowy tundra through the back half of the course, with scenery just as beautiful as the first half. Upon our arrival back at the hotel, all of the dogs who were left behind welcomed us (or their fellow pups) back rather loudly, as well!

After arriving back, we returned our cold weather gear, and went to rest for a bit before our Snowhotel stay really began. The trip was a ton of fun, and we were all really glad we spent the money. I highly recommend trying this if you get the chance!

Next up, I cover our actual stay in the Snowhotel, complete with dinner, drinks at the Ice Bar, and sleeping on a large block of ice!

Oasis of the Seas: Day 7, Our Final Sea Day :(

Our final day at sea couldn’t have started off better. Once again, clear blue skies and beautiful water were all we could see. We’ve been pretty lucky with the weather all week, and this last day on board was no different.

The start of our final sea day. Once again, amazing weather… #royalcaribbean #Oasisoftheseas #cruise #travel #vacation

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Once again, looking to avoid buffet crowds and enjoy a more relaxed environment, we headed to Park Café for breakfast. This little spot really is nice, and while it doesn’t offer the selection the Windjammer does, it’s a fine substitute if you’re not looking for a buffet.

This final day at sea was fairly relaxed, with no shows on our agenda. After breakfast, we headed in for a round of trivia, followed by a towel folding demonstration. We enjoy these, but this one was pretty short. I think they quickly made two animals and ended it, lasting only about 5 minutes. Not sure what the rush was, and the guests around us seemed as perplexed about the rush as we were.

A bunny! #towelfolding101 #oasisoftheseas #royalcaribbean #travel #vacation #cruise

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Next up, we headed for the zipline. This is something we’d been meaning to do since day 1, but decided to wait to avoid the lines for signing waivers (since the electronic waiver system in the cabin wasn’t working). Note that to do the zipline, you at least have to have socks on. If you don’t have closed shoes (tennis shoes, basically), but have socks, they’ll loan you shoes, but if you show up without socks, you’re not getting on. We were all set, and after a short wait in line, took our turns flying across the boardwalk! While not quite as exciting as the zipline in Labadee (we should have done this one first J ), it was still a treat to see the boardwalk from directly above it.

Coming in hot! #Zipline #Oasisoftheseas #royalcaribbean #cruise #travel #vacation #boardwalk

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@bayleycron flying across the #boardwalk on the #zipline! #Oasisoftheseas #royalcaribbean #cruise #travel #vacation

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After a quick lunch in the MDR, we headed to the comedy club for Captain’s Corner, where guests could ask Captain Rob anything they wanted. It was a very entertaining hour, as he’s very well spoken and quite funny at times. I highly recommend attending this on any ship, especially this one.

Good crowd in here for #captainscorner! #oasisoftheseas #royalcaribbean #cruise #travel #vacation

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After the talk, we headed to the Schooner Bar for progressive trivia. We thought we were in a good position coming in to the 3rd and final round, and scored 19 out of 20 on this one, only to find out we’d actually tanked the first round and ended up not placing in the top 3. Oh well, we had fun regardless!

After trivia, Bayley changed into a bathing suit, and we headed up so she could try the FlowRider. It wasn’t all that busy mid-afternoon, and she got on after a short wait in line. She was glad she did it, but took a hard fall into the rear barrier, and didn’t want to give it another go due to the resulting headache. We also watched the FlowShow later in the afternoon, where the Flowrider staff shows off their skills. If you have the time, this is really fun to watch, just be sure that you stand a bit back if you don’t want to get wet!

@bayleycron getting some #flowrider instruction. #Royalcaribbean #oasisoftheseas #cruise #travel #vacation

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@bayleycron having fun on the #flowrider yesterday! #royalcaribbean #oasisoftheseas #vacation #cruise #travel

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At dinner, it was time to say good bye to our wait staff. I can’t say enough good things about Gerson and Rydon’s work this week with us at table 649. They were very friendly and attentive, and they’re definitely one of the best MDR teams we’ve had in a long time.

We didn’t really have a lot on tap in the evening, so after a quick picture with King Julien and a stroll around the ship, we headed to the Promenade for the DreamWorks “Move it, Move it” parade. Even getting there 15min prior, the best spot we could find was near the aft area of the promenade, which was a mistake. If you really want to attend this, stay forward of the Prmenade Café, or you’re not going to see much of what goes on, in part because of the smoke they pump in at the beginning. Puss n Boots comes down in the Rising Tide, but he’s at the forward section of it facing away from aft.

Almost time for the #DreamWorks #moveitmoveit parade! #Royalcaribbean #oasisoftheseas #cruise #travel #vacation

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I spent a little time after that walking around various areas of the ship, including a trip up to the Flowrider area to catch the sunset. Really, really amazing view from up there.

I love this view… I'll miss this view… #Royalcaribbean #oasisoftheseas #cruise #travel #vacation #sunset #Shotoniphone

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A little #sunset #flowrider action… #oasisoftheseas #royalcaribbean #cruise #travel #vacation

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The rest of the evening consisted of the TV and Movie trivia round, held in “On-Air”, which wasn’t even close to the size they needed due to the large crowd that showed up. It was fun, regardless, even though we got knocked out in round 1. After that, it was time to pack and put our suitcases out, sadly.

That pretty much covers our final day on the Oasis of the Seas. Over the next couple of days, I’ll get our thoughts on debark and overall impressions of this cruise up and published. Hope you’ve found all of this useful and entertaining, I know we enjoyed experiencing it!

Ahh, the #boardwalk at night. #royalcaribbean #oasisoftheseas #cruise #travel #vacation #Shotoniphone

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With #KingJulien from #Madagascar on the #boardwalk! #Royalcaribbean #oasisoftheseas #cruise #travel #vacation

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Plenty of chairs available around the #pool at night! #oasisoftheseas #royalcaribbean #cruise #travel #vacation #nochairhogs

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