3 independent reviews for Spitzbergen expedition cruise to the Arctic

Reviews for Spitzbergen expedition cruise to the Arctic

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review 28 Jun 2011

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

The amazing and unusual weather we had, the great amoung of wildlife, the quality of all those running the trip.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

This was a photographic polar bear exploration and so once we had left Longyearbyn we did not see any other human habitation. If a traveler expects to see the "sights" of Svalbard then a Spitsbergen Explorer trip would be more for them.

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

Yes. Benefit to the few inhabitants. Leaders were very careful to ensure we all minimized impacts on the environment.

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

Excellent

review 6 Jul 2010

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

Seeing polar bears and glaciers

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Bring warm clothes and binoculars !

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

No contact with local people, reduced impact on environment

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

Great time !

review 11 Jul 2010

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

We spent some days in Tromso and Longyearbyen before and after the photographic tour in Svalbard, having traveled independently. We hired a car in Longyearbyen enabling us to visit places outside the town without a firearm or a companion, and these were the high spots, photographing and filming reindeer, geese, ducks and tern close up. The tour was fine, but not as good as similar tours organised by the Frenchman, Christian Kempf, and there was far too much 'Hi-de-hi', Benny Hill-type presentation, and not enough for the serious observer of flora and fauna.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Go if you want to see bits and pieces, to enjoy good food, to chit-chat, but if you're serious and know something about the Arctic and it's animals, etc., this operator will tend to disappoint. If you want to learn about photography, this was a photographic 'special' that would not have helped that much, but if you like vacation snapshot competitions, then it could go down quite well, and you might just win a... (we never did find out what).

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

Not at all, really. The main benefit was to the operator, I suspect, and their approach always bore a hint of mercenary interest. There was certainly a feeling that profit meant that we, the passengers, should pay for everything that we could be persuaded was necessary, and that the 'cruise' was kept as economically short as possible, and the off-ship opportunities were kept within tight limits, but that 'happy' and 'positive', not to say 'over the top', daily reports and good, regular food would enable us to be satisfied that we had had 'the best vacation of a lifetime'. That maybe so for some, but the term 'expedition' had no place in the lexicography of the trip!

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

For us, rather limited, and we have experienced better (other than the food!) so the vacation would be good for gossiping over a pint (which we don't tend to do) but useless for any real contact with the arctic nature other than by chance (and that did happen on the last afternoon when a fox approached us on one of the two real walks that we had during the 11 days), and the 'experts' were more touristic than scientific. There was no team feeling, it was clearly 'them' and 'us', and we were the ignorant ones. We were also assumed to be incompetent in any subject for which the staff felt themselves 'competent'.

Read the operator's response here:

Hi Christopher, We have a team of people on board with a high Calibre of experience starting with Ian Stirling one of the most respected men in the world when it comes to Polar Bear research with 3 major books and 200 articles to his credit. Stirling was the first Canadian to be elected president of the Society for Marine Mammalogy. The expedition leader has over 100 Voyages to his credit and the ornithologist on board Tony Crocker is highly respected in his field. Our RT credentials are clear to all concerned. Wherever possible, we purchase produce that is harvested from sustainable sources, and all provisions – right down to our cleaning products – are chosen for their low environmental impact. We have recently completed a refurbishment programme on the ships to help minimise their environmental impact. Wherever we operate, we work hard to ensure our impact on the environment is minimised – training staff and business partners, maintaining the vehicle fleet, ‘leave no trace’ when camping and walking, keeping our distance from wildlife, and of course advice for everyone who travels with us. We’re also working to minimise greenhouse gas emissions and support a number of environmental conservation projects. Greenhouse gases emitted by transport and accommodation during all our trips in the Arctic and Antarctica are balanced and reinvested in projects that offer Gold Standard (or similar) Carbon Credits and are aimed at neutralising your contribution to greenhouse gases. It is impossible to make no impact at all when visiting a wilderness environment. In weighing the pros and cons, we occasionally decide it is better not to visit at place at all. Where we do visit, we follow strict environmental guidelines. We work with our clients to ensure we do everything we possibly can to ensure the sustainability of a wilderness travel experience for the future, and we always welcome feedback and suggestions.

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