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Your Words - We tell it like it is! Holiday Reviews by previous Exodus travellers  

Here at Exodus we thrive on feedback from our customers. It's the only way we can ensure our trips continue to be the best they can be. So, for the real tales, twists and turns of the trip you're interested in, look no further than the reviews from our previous travellers.

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  • Reviewed June 2019
    Steve Taylor

    Brilliant from beginning to end.

    A cruise around the Svalbard Archipelago taking in fjords, glaciers, and stunning wildlife opportunities.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    A large group of walrus resting on a beach. Polar bears. Bird colonies. Reindeer. Scenery. Everything was inspirational.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Woody, who led the team of specialists on the ship was a bundle of energy. This takes nothing away from the specialist guides who were riendly, knowledgable, enthusiastic and always available to answer questions and support the customers. This was our first cruise mainly to see the wildlife and the whole experience exceeded our expectations, from the helpful Exodus support when booking the trip to leaving the boat everybody was first class. The weather was kind to us too. P. S. The domestic and restaurant staff deserve a mention for being professional and unobtrusive leading to a comfortable voyage.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Do not put it off if you are considering a polar trip.
  • Reviewed September 2018
    Judi Friend

    Trip of a lifetime

    This was an excellent trip in every way. The travel arrangements, staff and the ship’s crew were very skilled and ensured that we got the best out of our trip to Kong Oscar’s Fjord and Scoresby Sund. Northern lights, polar bears, birds, swimming, fine food, inspired catering. Just wonderful.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I went paddling in an inflatable canoe, among the ice floes. A brilliant opportunity.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    In a fun way, she lost no opportunity to ensure that we got an amazing holiday.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take every opportunity you can, and enjoy travelling with like-minded people. Be nice to polar bears!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Few holidays seem to make any allowances for deaf people such as me. It would have made a difference if the Panorama Lounge had had a loop system to help me to understand talks. Sadly, outside the UK, most folk don’t seem to have heard of such a thing. Text alternatives help, though, and on this particular trip, the staff did their utmost to ensure that I was included. I was impressed.
  • Reviewed July 2016
    Jackie Freshfield

    Spectacular Spitsbergen July 2016

    A very, very special trip that kept on delivering five-star sightings right to the very last moment.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Too many to choose from… the polar bear right under the bow? The Mexican stand off between two bears on ice right beside us? The bloodied bear feasting on seal surrounded by ivory gulls? Getting up close and personal with walrus around the zodiac? Three-day old Arctic fox cubs? Stunning light in the pack ice that turned our photographs into artwork? And I haven’t even mentioned the whales – bowhead, beluga, fin, minke and blue. Just incredible!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Paul Goldstein is all about delivery, and that’s why he has such repeat business – close encounters with wildlife are just addictive. Very sadly his wing-man on this trip, Mark Carwardine, was taken ill and had to fly home before the trip left Longyearben so the burden was all on Paul to deliver good cop AND bad cop tactics on the photography front, as well as liaise with the expedition staff to ensure that we maximized our opportunities to see the manifold delights of this incredible archipelago. He did a fantastic job. This was a photographic charter and Paul’s determination for us to fill our memory cards with nothing but the best wildlife viewings – taking into account the major melt this year that required us to go beyond 81 degrees north into the pack ice – paid off handsomely. Nate was a great Expedition Team leader, and kudos to the team members who worked tirelessly to bring us the best wildlife encounters. Particular mention to the Captain of the Vavilov, who seemed able to turn that wonderful ship on a 10p piece when required to manoeuvre closer to a feasting polar bear.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take the best camera and lens that you can afford, and don’t forget a wide-angle lens as the wildlife can be close and the scenery is stunning. Take a lap-top so you can back up and review your photos to release your memory cards – you’ll need all the space you can get, and delete as you go. I found handwarmers very useful to slip into my gloves before an excursion or if we had wildlife close to the ship and were outside for hours at a time. Inside the ship it can be very warm, so bring layers rather than heavy jumpers; and soft trainer style shoes for the ship is fine; it’s very casual on board so leave your finery at home. Don’t get stressed by the photography aspect and remember to just watch sometimes. The Arctic is a very special place, so if you are still hesitating, then do take the plunge (but not literally!); it’s not just the wildlife and scenery, the trip is also great fun and generally full of like-minded people who enjoy a drink and a laugh in the bar after a fabulous excursion.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    You might think that this is a once in a lifetime trip. It’s not. You’ll be hooked.
  • Reviewed July 2016
    Samantha Gargour

    Spitsbergen July 2016 with Paul Goldstein

    I've always judged an adventure by the moments that take my breath away and this Polar Expedition presented these in abundance. To be able to share wildlife moments of such rarity with passionate expert staff on board was a true privilege. It is impossible to explain these events as even the many photos will not do them justice. There is no fixed itinerary and any photographic opportunity is maximised by the 24hr daylight. 'Ships in harbour are safe but that's not what ships are built for' and that is certainly not what the Akademik Sergey Vavilov for. If you are looking for adventure, safety, silence and exceptional manoeuvring skills there cannot be a better ship. The captain and expedition leader were always mindful to position us in the best possible location for photographic opportunities, all the while being mindful and respectful of the wildlife environment. Magnificent glaciers, bowhead whales, polar bears, walrus, arctic foxes, reindeer, you name it, we had it. Travelling with like minded wildlife enthusiasts and photographers alike created new friendships and wonderful memories.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Inspirational is a good choice of adjective for this trip as a whole. Not a moment went by when I was not aware of the environment I was in. Every Polar Bear encounter superseded the next but a truly special experience was being woken at 6am to share our early hours with the majestic bowhead whales. The One Ocean crew were also each inspirational in their own right. It was a privilege to be led by them.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Paul is exceptional at what he does. As with all trips with him, he works tirelessly to deliver. Top wildlife encounters are few and far between but it seems that most of the ones I've had have been on his trips. You can see why he has so many repeat clients. His charismatic daily nautical views eloquently summarised our moment in time, which most of us could not put into words. He gave many presentations on photography for all levels and sessions in the bar to review our photos, all adding to the benefit of a photographic charter.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Life is short. If you can, do it. Expect to be woken at all hours, better yet, don't sleep! The trip notes are detailed and pretty much tell you all you need to know. Bring hand warmers for those long days scoping for bears (highly recommended). Layers are key and take Paul's advice on how balmy it is with a pinch of salt! Always pack extra in your rucksack for the zodiac trips, just in case. You never know when a 2 hour planned ride can become a 4 hour one. Most of all, put the camera down from time to time and take it all in.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Thank you to Exodus team for a well organised trip, Kim Christie who was very helpful with information pre-departure and Andrea who was on hand during the trip. Double check any items to take with them, as this can change year on year (i.e Binoculars & dry bags were provided for us in our cabins this year)
  • Reviewed July 2016
    Alison Telfer

    Spitsbergen Explorer - Polar Bears and More!

    A fantastic, amazing journey up to 81 degrees north (and a bit more!) with Exodus and Paul Goldstein and lots of new friends. The notes tell you what to expect (early morning calls, delayed meals, cold zodiac rides) and believe it for you get it all - and more. Polar bears so close they looked like they wanted to get on board the ship, walrus in the water so close you could almost touch them from the zodiac, Arctic Fox cubs playing in the sunshine, fabulous seas and skies, wonderful staff to help, inspire and support, excellent food (well done chefs!) and a fog bow! (I didn't know there was such a thing!). Reindeer with young in the tundra and - more polar bears. Blue whale, bowhead whale (so rare they were not even on the "tick off" list of sightings), minke whales and birds, birds, birds. Fabulous!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    My first polar bear on ice. Simply stunning.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Excellent. All the "blue shirts", led by Nate, were first class, experienced, confident, helpful and friendly. Could not have asked for more.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be prepared for anything, from flight delays with SAS to sudden changes in the weather. Take plenty of memory cards for your camera and a tripod for the deck as you watch the bears amble closer (don;t really need a monopod) and your sense of humour. Above all, remember it is an Adventure of a Lifetime!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Enjoy, don't get competitive about your photos and remember they are your memories, even if not competition standard they are yours.
  • Reviewed July 2016
    Meena Agrawal

    Journey to the North Pole

    Great trip! Our first sighting of a polar bear was amazing. Watching the icebreaker ship going through the dense pack ice was awesome. Standing and spending several hours on the North Pole was a wonderful experience made more special as we reached the North Pole on the day of the summer solstice. We stayed overnight at the Pole on the icebreaker and spent several hours the following day on the north pole. Once in a life time experience!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Approaching and standing on the North Pole was an amazing experience.!!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our Quark expedition leader was very good but all members of the expedition team were very good and worked extremely well as a team.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Read about the trip and tripnotes before you go . Having 24 hours of daylight can be difficult for some travellers though it didn't bother me at all. Some of the excursions eg zodiac cruises and helicopter flights (and optional hot air balloon flights at the Pole ) may be cancelled at short notice if the weather conditions and visibility are poor.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Enjoy the trip! It is expensive but it is a once in a life time trip!
  • Reviewed September 2015
    Andrew Fellows

    North West Passage

    Wonderful experience in a very different series of environments.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Zodiac cruising through brash ice and meeting a polar bear only 30 metres away.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Excellent - Solan Jensen is a great individual with a love of the polar regions.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Do not assume this trip is similar to either the Antarctic or Arctic cruises. It is very different in many ways.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    A great experience
  • Reviewed September 2014
    Judi Friend

    North West Passage

    I thought that this trip looked exciting. I realised before I went that there was a lot of ice at the earlier part of the route. This meant that our tour started from Resolute Bay rather than Cambridge Bay, which was initially disappointing, as I was interested in the Franklin expedition and would have liked to see where it had been. However, it did mean that we had more time in the Lancaster Strait area which is wonderful for wildlife. We saw about 20 polar bears, gyrfalcon, snowy owl, distant narwal and muskoxen and two breathtaking pods of Orcas (killer whales). We had an interesting talk by the CEO of the Victoria Strait Expedition, which was then taking place, and although we were told that no trace of Franklin's ships had been found, we later heard that one HAD been found.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    A large pod of orcas, some even swam under our ship.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    A knowledgeable laugh a minute!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take more memory cards and batteries than you think you'll need. The Arctic is BEAUTIFUL!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The staff were very knowledgeable, and did their utmost to give us a most memorable holiday. I'd just like to see a non-slip surface near the plunge pool.
  • Reviewed July 2014
    Paul Gofton

    Introduction to Spitsbergen

    Wow ! Awesome trip. Wildlife amazing and scenery stunning. Each day had numerous jaw dropping moments. Svalbard is unspoilt apart from a trip to the most northerly settlement we did not see any other people from joining to leaving the boat meaning the islands, birds and animals were all ours to enjoy.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Numerous, the ones I would mention though are seeing an Arctic fox take a egg from a gooses nest and the goose fighting back, tracking a pod of Walruses in our zodiacs only for one Walrus to rise out of the water within touching distance of the zodiac, an afternoon staring at the majestic scenery where the water was still and the mountains were reflected within - a photographers dream, crossing the 80 degree parallel and finally of course the "buttery" Polar Bear

    What did you think of your group leader?

    John was great, truly passionate about the Arctic and wanting to show and tell us all about it. He had some fantastic stories to tell about the explorers and settlers in Svalbard. He was also complimented by his staff of One Ocean cruises. He had put together knowledgeable people with a wide range of specialist subjects, geology, photography, nature and a policewoman who had served on Svalbard

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Go for it. I went with One Ocean expeditions who provide all your wet water gear for excursions including boots -you don't need hiking boots. However pack a warm coat as you will out on deck a lot of time looking at the birds, scenery and hunting for bears. I booked a triple room, only two people shared thankfully as three would have been tight - although you are only in there really to sleep and get ready for excursions.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Every trip will be different but give the wildlife a chance and it will greatly reward you.
  • Reviewed September 2013
    Anonymous .

    SPITSBERGEN EXPLORER

    An excellent trip. Well organised. Great ship, accommodation and food. Lots of wildlife to see (depending on the weather). Having also been to Antarctica it was difficult not to compare. Although harder to get to and more expensive, the south has it for me (if anyone can't decide which trip to do). Nevertheless - a great experience!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing your first polar bear is very exciting. We also saw unfortunately a dead polar bear which seemed to have dropped dead in its tracks (most likely from starvation according to our guides). Apparently it has not been good recently for ice and the bears are struggling to find food. We were told if things carry on as they are you will be able to kayak to the north pole in 40 years time!I had a great time on the ship meeting lots of interesting people from all corners of the globe. Everyone has a story to tell. 

    What did you think of your group leader?

    John Rodsted was our Group Leader. A 50+ Australian who had seen the world several times over and was an excellent communicator. He did his best with the captain of the ship to get us into all sorts of places to see whatever wildlife was available. You somehow felt safe with him around.In fact all of ther staff and guide were brilliant. All of them were high achievers and had some amazing stories to tell and presentations to give.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    If I was going again, I would probably go earlier in the season in the hope of encountering more sea ice hence more seals hence more polar bears on the ice. Also be aware that Longyearbyen is little more than a few houses, sheds and one small 'shopping' street. You can walk round it easily in half an hour, but it is quite quaint in it's own way. There are two museums however.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    If you are spending anytime in Norway other than on the ship, be prepared to spend money.  Everything is much more expensive than in the UK e.g. £30 for two small beers and a cheese sandwich! Everywhere takes credit cards though (even on the buses) so don't worry about not having cash.
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