Spitzbergen, Polar Bear

Spitsbergen Explorer - Paul Goldstein & Mark Carwardine Photographic Charter

12 days
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Guided Group
Polar Holidays
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Exclusive photographic charter in the Svalbard Archipelago accompanied by Paul Goldstein and Mark Carwardine.

Spitsbergen has 24 hours of daylight which both Paul and Mark intend to maximise on this photographic charter. They will not follow a rigid itinerary but instead concentrate on Polar bears, walrus, vast bird colonies and glaciers. Exodus has done many of these special departures and they never short-change.

Paul Goldstein, Expedition Leader
Exodus guide and award-winning photographer Paul Goldstein has often said that he is happiest on the plains of the Masai Mara or the decks of The Vavilov. Having completed over twenty expeditions, his choice for our summer months is Spitsbergen, a programme he pioneered eight years ago. Exodus is now the market leader in small ship voyages there. Paul has a ridiculous amount of energy and is, as the Sunday Times described him, ‘a preposterously vivacious guide of almost psychotic gusto’.

Mark Carwardine, Special Guest
Mark Carwardine is a zoologist, an active and outspoken conservationist, an award-winning writer, a TV and radio presenter, a widely published wildlife photographer, a magazine columnist and a conservation consultant. He has written more than 50 books (including several bestsellers) and hundreds of newspaper and magazine articles, and has been writing a provocative monthly column in BBC Wildlife magazine since January 2004. Mark was Chairman of the Judging Panel of the prestigious Veolia Environment Wildlife Photographer of the Year Competition, jointly owned by BBC Wildlife magazine and the Natural History Museum, from 2005 until 2011. His own extensive collection of wildlife and conservation photographs, taken in more than 100 countries, is sold through this site and picture agencies around the world.

"Paul Goldstein is an extraordinary guide who made a superlative effort to ensure that our expedition to Svalbard was the best it could possibly be. I have the pictures to prove it." Peter Pickford, professional wildlife photographer and author

"It was a great trip and you and the team delivered 'gold' as always - I expect nothing less of course! Thank you for your passion, enthusiasm and sheer hard work to make it another memorable adventure." Diana Lester


  • Explore the remarkable Svalbard Archipelago in 24 hour daylight
  • Incredible wildlife viewing including seabirds, walrus, Arctic foxes and Polar bears
  • Exodus Exclusive Photographic Charter with Paul Goldstein
  • Accompanied by zoologist and award winning photographer Mark Carwardine.
  • Travel on the Akademik Sergey Vavilov with a maximum group size of 100
  • Accompanied by a team of around 63 expedition staff

Key information

  • 11 nights on the ship
  • Expedition aboard the Akademik Sergey Vavilov
  • Exodus Exclusive Photographic Charter with Paul Goldstein and Mark Carwardine
  • A choice of cabin types with shared or en suite facilities

What's included

  • All meals while on the ship
  • All accommodation
  • All transport and listed activities
  • Fantastic expedition staff and photographic tuition by Paul Goldstein and Mark Carwardine

What's not included

  • Travel insurance
  • Single accommodation (available on request)
  • Visas or vaccinations
  • Flights & Accommodation Package (please contact our Polar sales team for a quote)
Mountain landscape with Mt Fitz Roy in Patagonia, South America

Responsible Travel

At Exodus we believe in the power of Responsible Travel.

Every time we travel, we are part of a global movement that creates jobs, builds more sustainable societies, encourages cultural understanding and safeguards common natural and cultural heritage. To learn more about what Responsible Travel means to Exodus click here… 


  • Day 1

    Start Longyearbyen.

    The transfer to the ship takes place in the afternoon. Once on board there is a get together for introductions to the expedition team, to learn about the ship and its layout, talk about the itinerary for the next 12 days and participate in the obligatory lifeboat drill. Departure from Longyearbyen is normally around 6:00 p.m.

    Meals included: Dinner
  • Days 2-11

    Exploring Spitsbergen and the Svalbard Archipelago

    A photographic charter is unlike any other Spitsbergen expedition. It maximises every possible opportunity for photography and its agenda is very clear.

    This trip concentrates on Polar bears and will often spend many hours or days in the sea ice searching for them. Polar bears on ice are pretty close to the wildlife grail and it takes work to find them. However, with 24 hours of daylight, the opportunities are increased by the complete lack of a timetable. Walrus, Arctic foxes, bird colonies and ice are also high on the list, but Polar bears remain the principle quarry.

    With a superb team of experts on board and the finest polar vessel - the Akademik Sergey Vavilov - no-one has ever been short-changed. Expect to become a better photographer, expect some mind-blowing scenery and expect to be woken at all hours. You’ve been warned!

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 12

    Disembark and end in Longyearbyen

    We arrive back into Longyearbyen early this morning and on disembarking after breakfast you are either transferred to your hotel or the airport.

    Meals included: Breakfast

Essential Info

Group Information

The Akademik Sergey Vavilov takes a maximum of 100 passengers.



No visa required for British passport holders.



There are no specific health risks.

Eating and Drinking

All meals while on the ship are included.

Typical Meals

The ships galley offers good quality service and cuisine throughout, with excellent chefs preparing international menus including vegetarian dishes, accompanied by a wide variety of drinks from around the world on sale.

Breakfast: Buffet style – unlimited tea and coffee, a selection of fruit juices, hot options including bacon and eggs or omelettes, a selection of bread and toast and jam/honey/marmalade, fruit and cereal.

Lunch: Three course set meal or buffet, or the occasional BBQ.

Dinner: Three or four courses with a starter of soup and/or salad, a choice of mains with at least one vegetarian option and a dessert, with tea and coffee.


Spitsbergen has a short season from mid June to mid August; and there is 24 hour daylight in all three months. There may be more sea ice in the earlier months and some more flowers, but in reality with the capricious nature of the weather and wildlife there is not much to choose between them.


Is this trip for you?

Travelling Conditions
Our Polar charters are designed to be as flexible as possible, taking advantage of circumstances and events as they occur. The atmosphere on board is relaxed and friendly with expedition staff, including naturalists and Polar experts always on hand. The ship is kept warm, clean and comfortable with a wet/mud room in which to hang gear and store boots ready for the next excursion.
On the Zodiacs you are sitting still for most of the time with the potential for some sea spray and a cold headwind - if you are not dressed appropriately you will get cold. On the shore excursions, the majority of landings are 'wet' which means that the Zodiacs beach and you are helped to slide into the ankle deep shore break before walking up onto dry land (good wellington boots are issued to all passengers). There are, of course, no paths, so be prepared for slippery, rough terrain and sometimes snow.
The Vavilov is not a cruise ship and has none of the ethically questionable acoutrements that these gin palaces sport. It is the best in the business for quietly approaching Polar bears in ice: the main focus of this expedition. Fast, sleek and with a fascinating heritage, there is a reason Paul Goldstein has spent over a year of his life on this one vessel.
Exodus are market leaders in the UK in the poles, these very special charters are a big reason for this.


Akademik Sergey Vavilov

The Paul Goldstein & Mark Carwardine Spitsbergen Photographic Charter is offered on the Akademik Sergey Vavilov which is a Polar Adventure Ship. Full board accommodation on the ship, generally on a twin share basis in a variety of cabin types, all with shared or en suite facilities. Please visit the Polar Fleet page (www.exodus.co.uk/polar-holidays/polar-fleet) for Ship Information and Deck Plans.

Polar Adventure Ship:

These are small ice rated vessels well qualified for Polar waters. Intimate adventures are always more enjoyable with like-minded passengers and staff, so these voyages are for people who like flexible itineraries and plenty to keep them busy. Activities include frequent Zodiac excursions, trekking, kayaking and many hours on deck in areas that other ships only dream about accessing. Food and staff are superb and every guest benefits from the technical advances of this superb fleet.

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Dates & Prices

An overview of flight options

Exodus is committed to making joining our tours as easy as possible, wherever you live. We generally only block book seats from London, but this certainly does not mean that you need to fly from there. Depending on the route and airlines available, there will usually be various options available for those who want to fly from their local airport.

This page aims to provide a useful overview of the options available to our clients. However, the best flight arrangements should be tailored to your personal requirements, so please contact our Sales team for expert advice.


What kind of options do I have ?

1. We can book for you: Flights from anywhere in the world - not via London  

Depending on the route, this may be direct or via an overseas hub like Amsterdam, the Middle East or elsewhere. On short haul routes there may be direct flights with low cost airlines, charter flights or scheduled airlines. Exodus can book most, but not all, of these for you. The most appropriate airline may be different to that which we use for the group flight from London, but many people now travel on different airlines and meet up with their fellow passengers at the destination.

Pros Cons
  • May be the most direct route
  • Often the extra fare compared to the London flight is minimal.
  • As you will be in the hands a single airline for your entire journey, the airline will be responsible for your bags and your connections.
  • You may not be able to join the group transfers. However, we can usually arrange private transfers, or book your flights to try and coincide with the group transfers. See notes on transfer arrangements below.


2. We can book for you: Connecting flights from your local airport to London

Exodus can book connecting flights to London so you can join the group flight there. Connecting times will be followed according to airline advice, or as requested by clients. There are two types of fares we can use for this option: a 'through-fare' or a 'published fare'.
a) A 'through-fare' is where you will be in the main airline's care throughout. You change planes, but your bags are checked all the way through to your final destination. 

b) A 'published fare' ticket is completely seperate from your onward ticket from London. It is usually cheaper than a through-fare but will need to be paid for and issued as soon as it is booked. This can be a problem if your tour has not yet reached minimum numbers. On 'published fares' neither airline is aware that you have connecting flights, so Exodus is responsible for timing your connection, not the airlines involved. The tickets are also usually non changeable and non refundable.

Pros Cons
  • Depending on the fare type, Exodus or the airline is responsible for flight connections.
  • Through fare tickets can be expensive.
  • On a published fare, tickets must be issued immediately; tickets on published fares can be very difficult to change if onward flight times change; bags are not checked though to your final destination.
  • Published fares are non-refundable.


3. Booking some or all of the flights yourself

You can also book connecting air travel yourself, either to London, or all the way to the start point. There may be certain airlines or routes we don't have access to, so this is always an option. However, if you make your own travel arrangements you become liable for any delays, cancellations or missed connections, and Exodus is not required to offer refunds if you have trouble reaching the start of your trip.

Pros Cons
  • You might find cheaper fares, or routes not available to Exodus.
  • You are responsible for any delays or missed connections, and the cost of the tour is not protected should you miss your flight be cancelled.


 Notes on transfer arrangements

Sometimes it is possible to travel on a different airline to the group flight from London. Where this is the case, we need to think about ensuring you meet up with the group with minimum extra cost and hassle.

  • On certain trips, it is easy to arrive on a different flight and still meet the group at the hotel with time in hand. We can usually arrange private transfers (at extra cost) or offer advice on taking a taxi to the start hotel.
  • On other trips (especially in Europe), the transfer meets the group flight and then travels some distance to the first night's accommodation. Where this is the case, our Sales team will try to arrange flights that arrive before (and depart after) the group. However, we do have to make it clear in your final documentation that if your flights are delayed, the transfer cannot wait for you. While Exodus or our local operators will do what we can to help you reach the start point of the tour, any additional costs must be paid by the client. 


Next steps? 

Call our Sales team on: 0203 733 0698

Email your query: [email protected]

Call us on 0208 772 3936