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Trains in Norway

We've had plans in place for over 6 months to board a Hurtigruten ship in Kirkenes for the voyage south to Bergen. We're more than a little concerned that the geologic turmoil in Iceland, if it results in a volcanic eruption, will have a major impact on our plans. We are booked on Iceland Air (stopping of course in Iceland) terminating in Stockholm. We were then flying to Kirkenes (see my other thread on the Sweden forum). In the event there is an eruption, my concern is that not only the Iceland Air flight will be cancelled or materially delayed, but also that the flight from Stockholm to Kirkenes could be cancelled as well.

I'm now trying to formulate a contingency plan to take a train as far north as they run in Norway so we can board the Hurtigruten ship as it heads south. How fair north (along the west coast) do trains run? We'd basically have to get from, perhaps, Cologne to Bodø or Tromsø (or where-ever we can reach via train). It would be a less-than-leisurely beginning to our visit, but might at least work.

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It looks like NSB trains may go to Trondheim, but no further north - See "Our Destinations" at the NSB Web site:

You might consider taking the train to Trondheim, then boarding a northbound Hurtigruten ship there and staying on board through the turn-around at Kirkenes southbound to Bergen. We just returned from Norway where we did the northbound cruise Bergen-Kirkenes, and it was wonderful! We met some people who were doing the round trip Bergen-Kirkenes-Bergen. I sorta' got used to having smoked trout from the breakfast buffet, but I digress...

Regarding getting train tickets, we were unable to book on the NSB site using our U.S. credit cards. Calling NSB's customer service center was no better - They still would not accept our credit cards. The problem was that their credit card processor (third party company PayEx) requires (so we learned) "3D Secure" feature on all credit cards used for NSB online or telephone transactions. This feature is apparently not available for any U.S. credit cards. However, we were successful booking through, which readily accepted our U.S. credit card.

One more thing - We obtained tickets from RailEurope for travel on the busy Oslo-Bergen regional line, then had to go back to RailEurope to book reserved seats (a second transaction). Apparently, NSB requires seat reservations for regional routes that are heavily booked. Being new to RailEurope, we missed this detail when we first booked the tickets - There may be a way to do both the tickets and the seat reservations all at once.

We did not try booking any NSB trains while in Norway - The credit card situation may be different there. But we knew we wanted to travel in high-season on a busy route, so were determined to book in advance. And indeed, the Oslo-Bergen train we were on in early August was busy. We were glad we had reserved seats and tickets.

-- Scott R.