12 independent reviews for Arctic sailing voyages, Spitsbergen

Reviews for Arctic sailing voyages, Spitsbergen

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review 24 Sep 2019

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

On the first day out of Longyearbyen, we had to sail in quite unsettled and stormy conditions and this made for an interesting and entertaining start to the trip. We were very lucky with polar bear sightings and on one shore trip we were able to approach quite closely in the zodiacs to a bear onshore without risk to ourselves. The two glacier excursions by zodiac were amazing, especially the one on the last day, when we had perfect weather and the sea ice was just beginning to form. The beauty and tranquility of this setting will remain with me for a very long time. Finally, I mustn't forget to mention the crew and the guides: they were very able, friendly and professional and helped us to make the best of our holiday.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Be flexible. The weather will decide the itinerary; wherever you end up is likely to be wonderful so there's no need to feel tied to a particular plan. Be prepared for some discomfort and surprises, this is an adventure after all. Follow the advice in the Expedition Manual and if you're a photographer, bring a second camera as a backup if possible. It's good fun to help out with the simple sailing tasks on this beautiful vessel and it makes the experience of being on this trip so much more rewarding and enjoyable.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

I think that the fact that we were traveling on a smaller sailing vessel certainly helped to reduce the environmental impact when approach shore and entering more confined landing spots. The guides were were very aware of the damaging effects of discarded fishing nets and plastics on the beach; reindeer can become trapped in the nets and even drown in rising tides. We tried to take as much trash as we could back with us to Longyearbyen to be properly disposed off. I think this was a very positive attitude on the part of the crew and my fellow passengers.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Fantastic, certainly the trip of a lifetime. The beauty of Spitzbergen truly took my breath away at times. Great value trip and worth every penny. Possibly one of the best ways to visit the islands.

review 15 Sep 2018

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

From start to finish, this was well organised, professional, and flexed the wishes and abilities of the passengers with the weather and the available opportunities. Spitsbergen itself was without doubt the star, with spectacular scenery, rapidly changing lighting and fascinating history. The birdlife was sparse at the start of autumn as expected, but we saw polar bears, whales, arctic fox, reindeer and walrus.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

The boat is warm, comfortable, but not luxurious. You do not need to be fit, but you do need to be agile to clamber in and out of the Zodiacs and for some of the walks. Most landings are "wet" and you need well fitting waterproof boots both for the landings and the walking. Do not underestimate the variability of the weather. You need good quality breathable waterproofs, both for the rain and the wind. Take enough flash cards for your camera and more than 1 battery (and charging kit!)

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

We retrieved plastic from the environment at every opportunity, and respect for the environment was stressed and shown at all times. The wildlife was not disturbed and indeed, seemed as curious about us as we were of them

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Outstanding. The memories will stay for ever and many new friendships were made

review 9 Jul 2018

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

The whole experience was amazing being our first trip into the Arctic. The landscapes and wildlife were stunning. The experience of which made much more enjoyable and meaningful by the talks, explanations and guidance by the incredibly knowledgeable and enthusiastic expedition leaders. There were so many ‘highlights’ it would be difficult to single them out but for sure the experience of sitting quietly above the 14th of July glacier ‘listening’ to the total silence broken only by the grinding of the stones under the glacier. Also the whole experience of being at sea in Arctic in this classic ship, particularly under sail in ever changing weather conditions - sometimes glassy flat calm sometimes choppy Force 5 or 6, sometimes dark with low cloud other times bright blue skies and sunshine. We were totally captivated by the wildlife sightings, some at very close range (reindeer, walrus, seals) and some not so close but still amazing (arctic foxes, two sightings of Polar Bears, dolphins and Beluga whales). We saw so many different types of bird I couldn’t list them all but particularly in our memory are ptarmigan, puffins, eiders, guillemots, snow buntings, terns, kittiwakes and barnacle geese. The experience of life on board this classic ship really made the holiday for us - topping off the whole experience. A lovely ship and wonderful friendly crew. And great food!

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

To make the most of this trip you do need to be fit enough for two landings with hikes ashore most days. Although not particularly long, the hikes can involve rough terrain and or snow. Having said which, long versus easier options were offered most days. Wellington boots are needed for the landings from the Zodiacs and most people wore these for the hikes.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

The focus of the whole holiday was on wildlife and the Arctic environment with emphasis on conservation and climate. Activities ashore were pretty much zero impact involving wild-life hikes in small numbers and leaving nothing behind. Also collected plastic from the shore and took back on board for later disposal. At sea switched off the engine and went under sail whenever winds allowed.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Absolutely stunning - exceeded expectations.

review 6 Jun 2018

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

The twice daily trips out on the Zodiaks. We sawa something different every time, be it wildlife or landscape. It was very varied.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Not to worry about the hikes. You're split into 3 groups so you can find a pace that suits you.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Absolutely magical. The boat, crew, food, trips, fellow passengers, weather, everything was amazing.

review 30 Jun 2017

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

We had some amazing wildlife sightings! Polar bears and blue whales!

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Lined rubber boots, lots of memory cards for your camera and look forward to lots of cool walks.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

We collected a (sadly) large amount of garbage off the beaches when we came across it.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Outstanding!! Totally worthwhile, inspiring and invigorating!

review 22 Sep 2016

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

Seeing a group of about 20 walrus from only 20 metres or so, seeing their antics, and watching one of them make his way onto land to re-join the group

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Take plenty of warm clothing which I guess is only logical, warm gloves and headwear, and make sure you have enough space on your SD card or similar because if you are anything like me you will take a huge amount of photos

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

To a certain extent in as much as the group spent money in Longyearbyen, the Russian mining town, and Ny Alesund. The crew certainly reduced environmental impacts and supported conservation

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

It was brilliant, one of the best things I have done during my many years of overseas travel, and the weather was really kind to us

review 26 Jul 2016

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

We had so many memorable moments. A Blue Whale and her calf cut across our bow when we were sailing, it was so exciting. Hoisting the sails was an exciting moment and everyone was keen to join in. We saw three polar bears, loads of walruses, Minke Whales, a Fin Whale and several Arctic Foxes, one had even stolen a goose egg!

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Definitely need a snood to keep your face warm, but also bring shorts and tee shirt as it got very warm walking. Also something nice to wear for the Captain's dinner at the end of the trip. The meal was fantastic!

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Yes, we visited a couple of inhabited places, sailing also reduced environmental impact. We managed to get the sails hoisted three times on our trip. A real treat!!

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Far exceeded everything I was expecting. The whole trip was extraordinary. Thoroughly recommend it.

review 11 Jul 2016

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

Watching blue whales feeding while manning the helm of the yacht.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Take plenty of warm clothing, particularly gloves. Don't expect a profusion of wildlife in the Arctic in summer. Be prepared to hunt for encounters and often view animals from a distance.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Smaller scale voyages benefit local communities because people generally stay and shop locally before and after. One of our aims for this trip was to expose our children to the environmental challenges that the Arctic faces and we feel the voyage on the vessel achieved this aim superbly.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Fantastic voyage aboard a real yacht with a diverse group of like-minded people. The owners and their crew were attentive and interested, with a deep understanding and love for the environment.

review 14 Feb 2013

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

Definitely seeing the northern lights, but just the whole experience of travelling in a 100 year-old sailing vessel felt really authentic.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Don't look anywhere else, this is the best way to see the Arctic!

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Yes. Our guide kept bringing up issues around conservation and I think the awareness and perspective alone gained from those discussion will have a positive impact on the environment. I think people definitely went away more aware and inspired to make changes in their own lives.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Absolutely outstanding, a once in a lifetime experience that surpassed all my expectations.

review 21 Oct 2011

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

Watching a mother and cub polar bear for over an hour, watching a male bear stalking reindeer...seeing and hearing a splendid walrus waking up and bellowing atop a small berg echoing around a small remote glacial bay!! Rearing polar stories ashore, whilst keeping lookout for bears...not seeing another ship for four days, and then only one..

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Take lots of layers!! Anticipate some of the most stunning scenery to be found anywhere in the world!! Dont expect to buy much in Longyearbyen...

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Negligible impact on the environment. As long as eco-tourism persists then the likelihood of further pillaging the natural resources must be reduced...our efforts, must in some ways, support the research scientists based there, if only in the small monies we spent in Ny Alesund and longyearbyen...

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Truly spectacular, outstanding leader, ship and crew. Absolutely memorable.

review 30 Aug 2011

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

Watching a polar bear unsuccessfully hunting a seal, and then watching the seal taunt the polar bear by swimming and splashing behind it. Seeing blue whales was pretty amazing too.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Make sure you have excellent binoculars, a really powerful zoom on the camera, and are prepared to take literally thousands of photographs. Try to find wellies which you can wear comfortably for long walks.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Spitsbergen is a special case where the benefit to local people is probably not really relevant, the relevant issue being protection of the environment. But yes, it did provide trade for local businesses. It was reasonably low environmental impact (given that we were on a ship, with motors) and did a lot to raise the importance of conservation of a fragile environment with me and, as a consequence, with my friends and colleagues.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Absolutely superb. I can't speak highly enough of all the crew, and particular mention for Robin who is an inspirational and knowledgeable guide.

review 25 Sep 2011

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

Close up views of a polar bear, several curious walrus, a few beautiful flowering plants, rough seas, good company...

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Wellingtons essential as are good sturdy hiking boots. Enjoying the luxury of the excellent Spitsbergen Hotel was also a plus. Recommend visits to Art Gallery and Museum in Longyearbyen.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Yes we felt impact on environment was kept to a minimum.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Excellent especially the animal sightings and the wonderful light plus amazing sunsets. The "long" walk options were also very good, a welcome break from sitting on the ship.

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