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Arctic - Spitsbergen Adventure - 14th June 2009 - AWP924

Booked this trip a few weeks ago, only 11 months to go!

This will be my fourth trip with Exodus, but first photography-specific trip. I'm hoping to learn alot and keep warm!

I will be travelling on my own so fellow singles have no need to worry!

Anyone else booked this far ahead?



Nicola H M Handcock

Hi Phil

Yes, I've also booked this trip, along with a friend, Jane, and also can't wait to go!  I've been to several of Paul Goldstein's slide shows, which have really inspired me, and also enjoyed Joanna Lumley's programme last night when she travelled up through Norway to see the Northern Lights in Spitsbergen.  I'm not much of a photographer, and need to get myself a new camera in the near future so that I can practice before the trip - am undecided as to whether to get a digital SLR or a digital compact.  And so may books to read before we go!

See you in June!



I'm also a solo traveller heading on this one. Really excited, booked it in October so it's been a steady build up! On the home stretch now :-)


Hi All,

We have just booked this trip today and are really excited. Don't know how you could last out for 11 months!

I have only been on one Exodus trip so far and that was 'Land of the Tiger' to India last year. Really looking forward to this especially as I am into photography and have attended one of Paul Goldstein's photographic evenings. He was so enthusiastic that I'm sure that he will get us in position for some good shots.

Paul & Jo


Hi, I booked this trip last year as I wanted to book a berth in a triple cabin and it seemed a long way off then, especially as I was getting ready for a trip to Churchill and the Tundra Buggy Lodge, which turned out to be absolutely fantastic - right up on the top of my amazing experiences list along with the mountain gorillas in Rwanda! We saw lots of polar bears really close up.  This cruise will be a completely different experience and I am really looking forward to it now it is so much closer.  I haven't travelled with Exodus before (although I have previously been on an Antarctic cruise with Quark) but being a keen amateur (albeit not very knowledgable)  photographer and home video maker and having read lots of comments from previous participants on Paul Goldstein's trips I decided to try this one. It sounds as though it should be really good.



I have also booked this trip last year and are really very excited ! Do any off you have tips on which lens to take or to get.Not sure about shoes/muckboots.Also my first photography trip.Wel not long now.



I've just booked onto this trip as well - can't wait! This is my 6th Exodus trip, but also my first photography one. I'll be travelling by myself too, so looking forwards to meeting you all.

 Lens wise I'd suggest taking the best zoom you have for the wildlife, and a decent wideangle for the landscape.



Hi folks!

Gald to see so many people travelling on there own and looking forward to meeting you all. First trip to the Artic and I can't wait, although I am getting lots of strange looks for buying thermal gear in April.....yes, strange even for Scotland! Not much of a photographer but looking forward to learning. Counting down the weeks....only 8 weeks to go!


Hi folks!

Gald to see so many people travelling on there own and looking forward to meeting you all. First trip to the Artic and I can't wait, although I am getting lots of strange looks for buying thermal gear in April.....yes, strange even for Scotland! Not much of a photographer but looking forward to learning. Counting down the weeks....only 8 weeks to go!


I also agree with the lens advice.  I recently went to one of Paul Goldstein's arctic slideshows and picked up a few hints and tips too.  If you are using a digital camera you can never have too many memory cards.  Exposure can often be tricky and therefore it is best to shoot in RAW format so they can be 'adjusted' when you get back - the only problem is that these files are very large and eat up memory.  Also it is best to take a few filters - UV, Polariser and Neutral Density - most photographers will have these basic filters anyway.  Interesting comment about boots and thanks for the tip.  I couldn't decide whether to get a pair of walking boots or just rely on the wellies provided as I was unsure exactly how much walking we would be doing.  After I went to the slideshow I decided that I would need them.  Although you can never be certain how much walking you will be doing, wellies are difficult to walk in and it may be difficult to get to certain places in them.


Hi i'm not on june trip but i am looking forward to trip in july so reading your comments is getting me really excited. It'll be great to hear how you all get on. Any advice on photography would be great as im only a beginner. Also would love to hear from anyone joining the trip in july


Hi Graham

I was hoping to look at your photos, but couldn't find them.  I clicked on your photo, but then, once I appeared to be in your profile, every time I clicked on "Photos" it jumped into my photos (which don't exist!).  Has anyone else had this problem?  I've bought lots of thermal tops, but am unsure what I should be wearing on my legs - do thermals plus skiing trousers sound the thing?  Interested to see you live in New Malden - I shall look out for you in Waitrose!



Looking forward to meeting you all.  I am travelling on my own. My first exodus holiday.

I only booked a few weeks ago, and was so glad there was a place left as been waiting weeks for my boss to sign my holiday form.  So looking forward to going now.

I am not sure if my digital camera's will be enough, as I dont want to take my EOS camera as don't want to do film camera's ever again. So considering buying a new digital with lenses (as I already have lenses).  I must say a good tip to take a bean bag to steady your camera on when taking photos on moving ships etc.

I must say with all my holidays away, walking boots always come in handy and a good pair of GORTEX trainers with good grips come in so handy for all occasions.  And dont forget those hand warmers you can buy, they come in handy to shove down the camera bags to keep the battery warm as cold temperatures can deminish battery life etc.

I will post any more tips I think about later.  Looking forward to meeting you all.


Strange you couldn't see my photos that way. Try using this link instead

If you want to see the shots from my compact the they are on flickr. One day I'll finish processing all my raws and upload those too; now I have a new PC powerful enough I might get it done before I go and take loads more!

Don't let Paul hear you talk about adjusting photos when you get back ;-)

One piece of advice, though obvious, is know your camera. Re-read the manual before hand and know how all the functions are accessed. Then practice so you can change them without pulling the camera away from you face. The last thing you want to do is move your camera to arms length whilst you change the focus point etc, whilst there's a subject in front of you.

Legs? Well in Antarctica I wore thermals, track suit bottoms and salopettes, oh and of course then my waterproofs over the top of those. If you think that sounds a lot, I should point out I still ended up with a damp arse after one manic zodiac cruise in snow, sleat and rain ... Jacque, you have a lot to answer for!

@Nicky  I live at the Tesco end of town, so unlikely to see me in Waitrose!



Hi everyone. I'm another person travelling on her own so plesed to see there are a few of us out there. This will be my 4th Exodus Trip but my first cruise and the first trip outside Africa. I don't really know much about photography but am willing to learn. I am a bit worried that as I 'just' have a compact-ish digital with no amazing zoom I will be laughed at and not get great photos but the camera has served me well enough on 3 safari's and I cant aford this trip and a decent SLR camera much as I'd love to! I just hope the polar bears are ready for us and let themselves be seen. Look forward to meeting you all soon.


Hi Graham,

Of course when I said 'adjusting' photos I obviously just mean cropping ;-) 

I had the same problem getting to see your pictures but the new link works.  The picture of Paul was certainly worth the wait!


Only two weeks to go now!


Hello all

Looking forward to meeting you all in a week or so!  Can't believe the trip's nearly here - have been preparing for months!  This will be my first Exodus trip and I'll be travelling on my own so good to hear that I'll be joined by other fellow singles.  Was buying my last thermals last weekend which seems crazy in the hot weather we've just been having - can't believe we'll be freezing in a week or so!   Hoping to learn more about photography and have some amazing wildlife spotting experiences.

 See you all soon.


Well, there is now just a week to go and it is good to see there has been so much activity on this forum post.

I have just been shopping for thermal clothes. I got the top half sorted some weeks ago and can see myself re-using the extra fleeces etc. However, I have just got the bottom half, very expensive, and I don't know when I would re-use them.

I am alreadly starting to plan my packing, especially the camera gear as it is quite a mission: tripod, monopod, ball head, gimbal head, small lense, big lense, very big lense (4kg), batteries, chargers, portable hard-drive, laptop....

....And some clothes.


See you soon.


Hey All,

Can't believe it, only a few days left! Just attempted a "practise pack" to try and figure out what else I'm missing. Provided much entertainment for the people I live with as I wandered around the house fully decked out in my clothes! I'm using thermals and ski pants, and a ski type jacket with mid layers underneath, and a fleece or two!

Got a Nikon D40 a few months ago and I'm still not great with it. Only a few days left to work it all out.

I did remember at least to buy my sun cream!

I'm a solo traveller too, so looking forward to meeting people at one of the airports!



I'm doing exactly the same things as you Clare although have had my Sony Alpha200 for about a year now and still not great with it - don't think we're going to get away with using automatic mode on this holiday!  Am trying to learn all the controls before we go - digital photography is technical!  Have also done a 'practice - pack' but need to try the clothes on in different combinations to know what works best.  I've never been on a holiday with so much preparation before!

I'm flying from Heathrow on Sunday 14 June by the way 1.05pm flight to Oslo so looking forward to meeting any other Exodus travellers then.


We have been on several Exodus trips including the Antarctic on Akademik Ioffe the sister ship of Vavilov, so looking forward to this one next week. Have started assembling a pile of clothes on the bed - last time we basically took Lake district winter gear and that was  adequate. We also took our own wellies, but won't this time, the tip about something to identify your pair is a good one. Good to see everyone isn't a phoography whizzo - Colin is more of an enthusiast than me, I can point a camcorder! Incidentally the food on the Ioffe was superb so hoping there'll be no change there - getting on and off Zodiacs makes you hungry.

The food on the Vavilov was fantastic in Antarctica last year. I believe Woody will be the Expedition leader this season on the Vavilov. For those who don't know there hierarchy is the Russian Captain, The expedition leader (Woody) and then the tour leader, in your case Paul Goldstein, and for my trip Andrew Appleyard with Jonathan and Angie Scott as the special guests / photographers. I think that's what Andrew said to me last week!


It sounds obvious, but if you have a new camera, or are not sure of all the controls, then bring the manual with you. I can guarantee that even if you don't understand the manual, someone will! I have had my camera 4 years and know the "basics" inside-out but I am still going to bring my manual as I am sure Paul will ask me to do something that I won't know.

Clare, the Nikon D40 is a great camera. I have the D70, about 1/2 a step higher. The good thing about choosing Canon or Nikon, is that these are popular makes and someone else will have the same make. If you ask them nicely, you could borrow there lens!

Alison, I will have to check my flights, I thought my flight was 19:30 from Heathrow. Are you doing something different? I'd better double check.

Our flight was originally 19.30 but has changed to 13.05 - so best to check!


I had one set of flight times sent to me early on but a different set (1.05pm flight from Heathrow on 14 June) later so maybe check with Exodus if you don't have a letter with new times?


My final joining instructions still say 19:30 - maybe they've split the group?

Could be - I've known that happen before.

My flight was also changed to 1305 although all the paperwork upto the final joining instructions had a later departure time.

 Still got a few things to sort out (mostly spending money!) but I'm getting there.

I'll see some of you in Terminal 3 on Sunday, everyone else sometime after that!


Just called Exodus, there are 2 flights, so better call up and check.  Mine not chnaged, and that good news because I am having to get a connecting flight to heathrow.  So excited now, only a few days to go.  I a bit scared that I will not pack enough clothes needed, and I must try on all my layers to see if it all fits.  I also worried I only have basic digital camera's, so I hope everyone else will take some cool pohoto's and we can share them around. Don't worry all those people who think they have no skill in taking photo's, I'm sure our guide will give us excellent teaching sessions on photo taking, and the camera's will do their jobs well. Looking forward to meeting you all in a few days time.  Louise


I am a bit confused as to what currency to take. So I have got mainly US dollars and a few euro's.  I will use my credit card for the on board boat expenses.  What has everybody else decided to take??



I was planning on getting some dollars and kronar (but I havne't ordered it from the bank. Not too worried, will just get to an atm if I need some at the airport in Oslo!)

 I had to change my flight to Heathrow today 'cos I thought the flight was later. Only checked the times last night properly on the final joining instructions. Close call!!

I'm sure you'll be ok on clothes Clare if you've got plenty of layers. In the Antarctic on our first day the sun came out and we were all roasting! I found the main time I really felt the cold was sitting in the Zodiacs if we were zipping across the water and picked up wind chill. Hats, gloves and socks are really important for the extremities - aim to wear wellies a size bigger than your normal size and fill the gap with warm socks. We've got dollars, mainly for the tips, but it seems to be accepted currency almost everywhere. I can't see us needing to spend much anyway. See you all Sunday - or Monday depending on flights!

Loubee I am the same with just a compact digital camera. I am hoping the bears and other wildlife come close enough that I can take a few decent shots, other than that I will be relying on other people with great zooms :o)

I've a very few Kroner but was hoping to avoid spending them as everything works out rather expensive. I was going to get maybe a couple of hundred dollars in cash mostly for tips. Everything else can go on a credit card I hope.

Got my layers. I will defintely be warm. Whether I'll be able to move is another question!

Just 2 more days or work to get through.


Never thought to pack my camera manual. Good advice, thanks!

Just wondering, is everyone here bringing waterproof pants as well as yer ski (type) pants?? I wasn't planning on it, but if it's something I really need I guess I'll have to go track a pair down?! 


I've got some waterproof pants as well as ski pants - not sure how much they'll be needed.

Trying to work out what I've forgotten to get at the moment! Can't believe we go on Sunday.

Matt M

HiGlad to see so many people on this trip. I booked this last year so looking forward to the next 2 weeks now that it has finally arrived. This is my tenth/eleventh trip (i think) with Exodus so cant wait to get out there and experience what i have been watching on TV for so long.I like some have not got a digital SLR or mega lens just a decent Digital hybrid. I still have film SLR and nearly thought about taking it but remembered the reason why i moved to digital and the no cost of taking a ridiculous volume of photos and then not having to pay to have then developed. The camera will go to 35mm to 450mm which is better than my Film SLR and i nearly bought a Tele-converter this morning and great cost and decided enough was enough. You can only spend so much money on what is an already expensive trip and its the memories of what you see that will stay with you. Don’t get me wrong i like good pictures and have boxes of them but i want to experience the place not live it through a lens which I feel i could easily do with a trip like this. I know on past trips in Africa that taking hundreds of pictures doesn’t actually compliment the place as much as the memories that I have so its going to be a fine balance of just watching and not clicking all the time. A hard one that I will probably forget about I’m sure.  I did by some compact binoculars. Jessops have a great half price deal on at the moment. Other than that I’m all set, with a mixture of Snowboarding gear, fleece sallopets, Thermals and down jackets. Hopefully I have enough for different weather conditions and I should be okay. Look forward to seeing you in a couple of days.Cheers


Most of the time ski pants are good enough for the spray, but unless you have a spare pair you might be glad of waterproof trousers if it rains. Sometimes you're out in the Zodiacs twice a day and it's not great getting into wet gear. Nothing technical, just cagoule weight trousers are fine - get a big size though to go over your other trousers.

I would say always take water proof trousers, you certainly needed them in the south! Apart from the spray whilst on the zodiacs, it could rain, and well, I kind of got down and dirty laying on beaches, snow and penguin poo whilst taking photos down there. I'm sure there's enough bird poo in Svalbard too!


Hello Everybody

Wel my flight is @ 13.05 from heathrow terminal 3 ( 14 June ) -hope to see some off you there.Have packed in waterproof pants ect.-hopefully i have everything.Wel if some off you are still looking at this site before we fly...see you soon.And yes i do hope the animals play along for our shots.



Good luck packing everyone.  I am yet to do mine, that's tomorrow's job. Hope I don't forget anything.

Any one flying from Heathrow 19.30??? everyone seems to leave on the earlier flight.

See you all soon, very excited now.



Our final instructions say that our flight from Heathrow is Sunday at 19:30.  But after all this talk of flight changing I think I had better double-check.

By all means take a camera manual (I'm taking mine) but whatever you do don't let Paul see you reading it - he will flip!  My wife is getting worried about all this camera talk because she is not really into it, just wants to see the wildlife.  Hopefully there is someone else on the trip who feels the same so she won't get too bored.

Probably a good idea to have a practice pack but doing it once is bad enough.  Looking forward to seeing you all on Sunday/Monday.

 Paul and Jo


Thanks everyone! Bought waterproof pants yesterday. Think I finally have everything now. Get to spend today packing! Cant believe in only a few short hours (4.30am tonight) I'll be heading off to Dublin airport.

 Looking forward to seeing a few people around terminal 3 at 1pm tomorrow.

Happy packing!

I am now wondering if I have too many layers! My coat is huge (it has a fleece you can zip into it for extra warmth) and takes up half the bag and probabaly all of the weight allowance! Maybe I should just wear it but then I might faint of heat exhaustion long before getting to Heathrow...

My dilemma of the day is what to take for my feet? I know we get boots for all the Zodiac trips, but what is best to wear when you are just hanging around on the boat? Something with good grip I guess, but will trainers be warm enough?

Paul and Jo dont worry wildlife is number one priority for me. Any photos I can get on my digital compact are a bonus but as long as I see some polar bears I'll be happy.

I'll be starting at 6 am tomorrow. Hope the trains and coaches are behaving. Long old day but look forward to seeing some of you at Terminal 3.


Hi, I think it may be no harm to bring that jacket along with you? You don't want to end up some day sitting in the zodiac thinking "I should have brought it, im frozen!"

Could you pack the fleece part in your bag and carry the jacket itself around with you?

It's really cosy and warm on the boat, no need to wear all those layers, a thin fleece, light jumper or even a  warm shirt will suffice. Trainers are absolutely fine around the inside of the boat and even on deck . I'm going for the wildlife rather than the photography experience too, and I'm sure many are. I do find the camcorder great though for whale blows and sound of ice against the ship side! See you at T3 around midday tomorrow.

Val and Colin



Wel almost pack-to the girls do we pack a hairdryer or is it best to leave it?I am wearing my hiking boots and also taking jacket on me( not wearing it though).I can't remember the layout off terminal 3 , but will look to see if i see any off you.Did any off you pack a swimming costume ( in the trip notes it says there is a splash pool)?


It says in the paperwork from Quark that there are hair dryers in each cabin.  Not sure that a dip in the ice cold plunge pool is my cup of tea but I may take some swimming stuff just in case.


I just bought swimming stuff just in case! May not use it, but at least I'll have the option to.

Just realised how heavy my bag is, going to have to repack it to see if I can lose any weight!

There are hair driers in each cabin

As for swimming costume? Apart from the plunge pool, there is a suana on the Vav - girls time, boys time and mixed time. Sometimes a nice way to warm yourself back up.


I have packed swim costume, at least that is light, unlike my bag, I have to taken bits out, as bag was too heavy.  I have found it easier to roll big bulky items like ski pants and jackets and tie a bits of ribbon around to keep in place, this saves room in bag (but unfortunately, does not save weight).


Hope my last message made sense, I did not proof read it (was in a hurry typing).  I am still up packing, its 1.14am.  Just got to pack my hand luggage now, then off to bed.  8am start in the morning for the 19.30pm flight (I have a long way to get over to the UK).

 Looking forward to meeting you all very soon.


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