12 independent reviews for Arctic sailing voyages, Spitsbergen

Reviews for Arctic sailing voyages, Spitsbergen

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review 30 Jun 2017

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

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

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

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

3. Did you feel that your vacation 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 vacation overall?

Outstanding!! Totally worthwhile, inspiring and invigorating!

review 22 Sep 2016

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

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 travelers booking this vacation?

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 vacation 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 vacation 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 vacation?

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 travelers booking this vacation?

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 vacation 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 vacation 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 vacation?

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

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

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 vacation 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 vacation 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 vacation?

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

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

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

3. Did you feel that your vacation 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 vacation 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 vacation?

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 travelers booking this vacation?

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 vacation 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 vacation 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 vacation?

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 travelers booking this vacation?

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 vacation 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 vacation 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 vacation?

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 travelers booking this vacation?

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 vacation 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 vacation 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.

review 31 Aug 2009

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

Finding a land without paths; experiencing the silence and utter beauty of Svalbard; seeing wildlife I had never dreamt of; meeting some very special people.

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

Read all the literature carefully it was comprehensive and covered practically everything one would wish to know. Do some long walks beforehand, especially uphill, if possible.

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

Yes, minimal environmental impact, hopefully. Impact on local people also probably minimal, except for expenditure in shops and bars in Longyearbyen.

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

Simply stunning. Quite the most inspiring vacation I have ever been on. I would recommend it to anyone.

review 8 Oct 2008

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

Making our way through pack ice on the northern side of Svalbard - will we make it???

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

Don't expect a close up of a polar bear, that would be very rare, they are usually spotted in the distance on a mountainside or beach. If you want a close up of them go to Churchill with the other tourists.

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

Absolutely.

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

10/10 for everything. Food, crew, guide, location, vessel, walks et al.

review 12 Oct 2008

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

I think that everyday on the Noorderlicht has been a memorable one! We saw such wonderful landscapes and animals. In particular I remember our 2 landings in the Recherchefjord. The night before it snowed and the scenery was just breathtaking. We walked for about 20 minutes to reach the glacier that was lying in front of us and behind some low hills we suddenly discovered a huge lagoon that was collecting some incredible pieces of ice from the glacier. And then our 4th (yes 4th) polar bear appeared. She lazily walked along the shore, looked at us and then elegantly went into the water to swim towards the glacier.

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

Be flexible and do not expect much of what written in the 'final itinerary' to happen. Decisions are made everyday depending on the weather.

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

Not really! Actually I was very surprised to find our that aluminium, paper and other recyclable materials were thrown in the rubbish together with all the other waste.. that really shocked me and I think it's not acceptable!

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

An experience to recommend and to re-experience.

Read the operator's response here:

Spitsbergen is a remote area but despite this, our operations in the high-arctic are pleased to go further in separating and recycling waste than many European countries where recycling facilities are more accessible. I can confirm that onboard the following waste is separated for recycling: paper, cardboard, glass, aluminium. Further to this, hazardous waste such as batteries are also separated from other waste. This waste and the above recyclable materials are transferred from Longyearbyen to the Norwegian mainland where they are processed. Please know that all of us are very passionate about the environment and will seek to go above and beyond our duty of care to keep our environmental impact to a minimum.

review 1 Aug 2007

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

Too many WOW! factors to mention - seeing a mother polar bear and her two cubs being pursued by a male and watching her outwit him by leaving the cubs on a snow patch, doubling back, retracing her steps to collect the cubs and then swimming near the boat with them. He tracked her every step but she did escape to safety! Seeing fin whales and, later on, a humpback whale (not often seen near Svalbard) who entertained us with about ten minutes of tail splashing! Totally unexpected. Watching guillemot chick launch themselves from the cliffs and gliding to the sea - and the gulls and foxes waiting for the unfortunate ones who don't make it. Seeing fresh bear tracks! The last night dinner and celebration - what a surprise.

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

Be prepared for long, action-packed days. Ensure your wellies are comfortable or bring walking boots to change into once you have left the Zodiac. Listen to your guide - he knows what he is talking about and is responsible for the safety of you and the rest of the group - don't wander off. Try to read a little about Spitsbergen/the Arctic before you go - there is far too much to learn in the two weeks on the ship and some books aren't in English! The Noorderlicht is like a hotel - don't take your own towels and be prepared to eat well!

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

Yes, tourism obviously brings money to these isolated places but in Barentsberg I thought we might be seen as 'rich westerners' as our clothes and cameras probably cost much more than they earn in two years. We met people at the Polish Research Centre and a researcher at Kinnvika and learnt much about their work as well as seeing how they lived. We noticed all the debris washed up on the beaches and, on one occasion, did a litter collection - getting at least 6 bags of rubbish, mainly fishing industry debris and plastics.

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

It far exceeded our expectations. All information provided re the vacation was clear and answers promptly given to any queries raised. There was something for everyone in this vacation. A mixed bunch of people who became friends by sharing our knowledge and experiences re sailing, photography, plants, birds, animals - we all learnt so much. Dan, our guide, knew the answers to all our questions (or had a book on him to refer to!), he gave us detailed insights to the history and geology of the area and lots more. The crew of the Noorderlicht were helpful, friendly and totally competent with regard to the sailing of the ship and dealing with us. Anna, the cook, was excellent! Being vegetarian, I was amazed at the variety of delicious meals she produced for me - just how did she do it? We wanted to bring her home with us. Fantastic! Brilliant!

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