What an amazing trip. I didn't really know what to expect when I booked it, but it was the best decision I've ever made! Loved the expedition team, Spitzbergen, the Vavilov, I met some fantastic people on board. All in all, I wish I was still there!
- What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?
There were a few moments, but I one of them would be watching a mother polar bear and her cub from the bow of the ship. We watched them for hours, it was amazing.
Another moment was watching a big healthy male bear shake himself off after going for a little dip in the sea!
Or going on a zodiac landing very near a herd of walrus and watching two of them swim over to the zodiacs to have a look (very curious!)
And then there was the zodiac cruise through the ice field....
The landscape was stunning, especially when the sun was beaming down at 1am.
I could go on for hours....everything was perfect.
- What did you think of your group leader?
Love Woody, what a legend! He's so enthusiastic, and he's great to talk to about all things Polar. I miss his morning wake up calls!
The rest of the team were brilliant, they were so knowledgable, friendly, helpful. A good laugh too!
Kyle was great fun, and fantastic when you have camera questions. Ian Sterling is brilliant, his expertise in polar bears meant any pb question you had, he had an answer for. He has some great stories too! Annie is amazing, loved being in her Zodiac and having her as our guide on some of the landings.
All the team deserve a mention really, we were spoiled with them!
Paul Goldstein...interesting guy! Great fun and has the cheesiest jokes imaginable. Always looked forward to his nautical views, and his excessive use of alliteration. He gave some great photography tips as well, and was very approachable.
- Do you have any advice for potential travellers?
Bring the best pair of binoculars you can buy. Or the best zoom lens you can buy. We saw about 10 polar bears, but alot of them were in the distance. Same with the whales - I didn't actually see any, apart from their air spray!
Enjoy every second of it, spend every chance you have out on the bow or the decks soaking it all in. The scenery is breath taking.
Talk to the expedition team, they are a fountain of knowledge!
Layers for outside are the best, as well as thermals. Inside the ship is nice and warm.
- Is there anything else you would like to add?
Be prepared to be rolled off the ship at the end - there was a lot of food! Hats off to the chefs, it was tasty!
Some people seemed to think the Arctic was going to be like a zoo, and as a result they were a bit disappointed. Don't expect the wildlife to turn up right beside the ship at a time that suits you. It takes patience, luck, a lot of work and hours on the teams part (and also the passangers if they want to) to find a speck in the distance that may or may not be a polar bear, arctic fox, whale etc.
Some people seemed a bit put out by the fact that an itinerary wasn't stuck to. It's the Arctic! You can only go where the weather and ice lets you. The team know what they're doing, trust them!
I wish I was still there :-(