Spitzbergen, Polar Bear

Spitsbergen Photographic Special with Paul Goldstein

11 days
Polar Expeditions
Activity level:
Activity Rating - Moderate
Trip code: 
Way to Travel:
Guided Group
Max group size:

Exclusive photographic charter in the Svalbard Archipelago accompanied by Paul Goldstein 

It's been too long hasn't it? The lure of shimmering ice pans, bounteous bird cliffs, cobalt-blue glaciers and Polar bears hasn't gone away and has certainly lost none of its lustre. Spitsbergen has never been a destination you arrive in by accident yet it is not only on the same time as the UK but also only two short flights away. It has many photogenic attractions but on this special departure bears will be the most important ingredient.

Trawling along ice edges in a small and comfortable 1A superior hulled (the highest specification in Svalbard) 50 berth expedition ice ship is more than just exciting. Finding a bear perhaps 30 nautical miles from shore in his or her own icy backyard is pretty close to the polar nirvana. With precision optics trained to determine a Polar bear family rather than just an ivory blob of dirty snow, the anticipation is both palpable and potent. There will be no stringent itinerary in this land of 24 hour daylight and all hours will be employed to maximise time and photo opportunities, particularly when it comes to Ursus maritimus.

It is not just Polar bears (well it almost is), there are the huge bird cliffs of Alkefillet, Arctic foxes and the remarkable glacier complexes of July 14th and Monaco, the mesmerising ice cliffs and sculpted pans of sea ice. Access to this is by the ice vessel itself, Zodiacs and indeed on foot but mostly from the mothership - a ship that because of its small size is permitted to access everywhere in Spitsbergen.

This is Paul's 13th Spitsbergen charter and he is thrilled to be back on a small adventurous ship, perfect for these waters. He is with a team who are very familiar with this intoxicating land of ice and tundra and he is delighted to partner with Boris Wise again for their sixth photographic journey together.

If you fancy a polar adventure which will leave you gasping in wonder and photo moments unlike any other ... welcome on board the Polar Pioneer.

Paul Goldstein
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 a ship in the Polar regions. Having completed over twenty expeditions, his choice for our summer months is Spitsbergen. Paul has a ridiculous amount of energy and is, as the Sunday Times described him, ‘a preposterously vivacious guide of almost psychotic gusto’.

Boris Wise
Boris is a passionate naturalist, wilderness guide, and an accomplished photographer. He lived and worked as a Naturalist in Southeast Alaska for 10 years before he first set foot on an expedition cruise ship in 2010. The wildlife and landscapes of both remote and familiar regions inspire him to keep exploring. Boris has been leading expeditions through the Arctic including the Northwest Passage and Baffin Island in Canada, along the coasts of Greenland, Iceland, and the Svalbard Archipelago.  During the Austral summers, Boris leads trips to Antarctica, South Georgia, and the Falkland Islands. In between the Polar regions he has led expeditions that have explored the fjords and glaciers of Chile, in the water as much as on the water through Central America including Costa Rica, Panama, Columbia, Honduras, and Belize. 

Off the ship Boris and his wife Eva travel the world with binoculars and camera in tow. Boris has teamed with Paul Goldstein on six photographic cruises and both push each other very hard to ensure passengers maximise their time in the ice.

Boris Wise and Paul Goldstein

'The night we spent five hours sixty metres from a mother and her cubs remains my favourite wildlife memory ever, Paul. The popping of the crackling sea ice and the raucous bird calls as they vied with the bears for some of the seal kill, the incredible light and the fact knowing it was just us, well beyond midnight, miles from land. I will never forget it. Ever.'   Megan and Phil Everley, Oxford. 

'If I wanted a cut and dried cruise to the polar regions I would book elsewhere. I do not. I have 'completed' three' expeditions' with Paul and Exodus on special exclusive departures and having travelled to the regions with others there is no comparison. There are guides and then there is Paul. I do not know of anyone who works harder to deliver both results and frankly excitement. There are many things important when deciding on the poles: ship, size and the itinerary - or lack of one. My expeditions were always on hundred person ships and always maximised weather and daylight hours. I just cannot imagine doing it any other way.' C.K.   Berks. UK


  • 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 Boris Wise
  • Travel on the Polar Pioneer with a maximum group size of 53
  • Accompanied by a team of expedition staff

Key information

  • 10 nights on the ship
  • Expedition aboard the Polar Pioneer
  • Exodus Exclusive Photographic Charter with Paul Goldstein
  • A choice of cabin types with shared or en suite facilities
  • Countries visited: Spitsbergen, Arctic

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

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)
Call for general departures:
020 3885 9105
Call for private group trips:
020 3885 9103
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

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 expedition and participate in the obligatory lifeboat drill. Departure from Longyearbyen is normally around 6:00 p.m.

    Meals included: Dinner
  • Days 2-10

    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 travelling on the Polar Pioneer, you will not be 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 11

    Disembark and end in Longyearbyen

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

    Meals included: Breakfast
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Essential Info

Group Information

The Polar Pioneer takes a maximum of 53 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.


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.
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. There are, of course, no paths, so be prepared for slippery, rough terrain and sometimes snow.

Booking Conditions
Please note that the booking conditions for this trip differ from our standard conditions. As with all Polar holidays and voyages, the required deposit is 25% per person of your selected travel arrangements (minimum £1000 per person or equivalent) and the balance of the price of your travel arrangements must be paid at least 133 days before your departure date. The deposit is non-refundable, and at 133 days before departure date, our cancellation penalties are 100% of the holiday cost. Please note: on this departure, the only discount available is our loyalty discount, if applicable.

Polar pointers:

There is a vast range of different journeys to Spitsbergen, many on large ships with fixed itineraries that give little chance of polar grail, particularly if you are a photographer. Then there are the smaller vessels which offer a more intimate study of this faunal icy stronghold but all of them need their nautical details and facilities carefully examined before venturing to this northern archipelago, especially if your weapon of choice is a stills or video camera or indeed any form of precision optics. The size and capabilities of a ship are of vital importance and the Polar Pioneer ticks all the relevant boxes which others come up short on:
1. Hull - Grade 1A ice class, the toughest in Spitsbergen, critical to access pack ice and indeed pack ice housing Ursus maritimus.
2. Speed - quicker than almost any other vessel, again crucial to maximise the time up north.
3. Photographic qualified guides - these individuals think nothing of spending hours with polar bears or putting in some long hours in Zodiacs if it means a more potent sighting. They are sensitive to wildlife but also to the needs of photographers.
4. Vantage points - they are low on the bow and there are good positions all around the ship including excellent platforms on the stern for bird photography.
5. Size - 53 people is small and means Zodiacs can be launched quickly and effectively. And often, at all hours.
6. Bridge - large and open and excellent for spotting and scoping.
7. Itinerary – a regimented schedule does not work for this wildlife adventure - long hours in the ice and glaciers with bears, walrus and birds will be the flexible mating call.
8. Pedigree - Paul and Boris have years of it, having done countless expeditions here and they know exactly what is required to make a journey above the Arctic Circle really work.
9. The vessel - this is an expedition ship, something Exodus knows plenty about, photographers immediately like the adventurous authentic feel of it. This small but robust ship is ideal for an adventure in these waters.
10 Fun - it will be. Paul and Boris and the team know how important this is. Although a photographic expedition it is not just about photos and pixels it is about understanding this archipelago, respecting it, being sensitive to it and then really enjoying it and making the most of it. The two of them are accomplished raconteurs and look forward to entertaining everyone. They insist you might need some sleep before you embark!

Paul will be not only available for any questions on this departure but will also be providing a full photographic advance check list several months before departure.

Call for general departures:
020 3885 9105
Call for private group trips:
020 3885 9103
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.


Polar Pioneer

Polar Pioneer
Polar Pioneer

The Paul Goldstein Spitsbergen Photographic Charter voyage is offered on the Polar Pioneer which is a Polar Adventure Ship.  The Polar Pioneer has capacity for up to 53 passengers in a variety of cabin types, all with outside facing windows or portholes, and either shared or en suite facilities.  The ship features spacious outer decks – the lower deck for getting closer to wildlife on the ice and the upper deck for enjoying and photographing the 360° landscape – as well as a lounge/bar area for lectures and relaxing, an open bridge policy and a sauna for warming up after excursions!

Cabin types are as follows: 

  • Triple Cabin with shared facilities (2 cabins)
  • Twin Cabin with shared facilities (9 cabins) 
  • Twin Cabin with private bathroom (10 cabins) 
  • Single cabin with private bathroom (2 cabins)
  • Mini Suite (2 cabins) 
  • Captains Suite (1 cabin)

Polar Pioneer Deck Plan

Polar Adventure Ships:

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 and many hours on deck in areas that other ships only dream about accessing. Food and staff are both excellent and every guest will benefit from the technical advances of this superb fleet. Rest assured our Polar Adventure Ships enable any traveller to maximize their experience sensitively in the Poles.

Please note: the Polar Pioneer is undergoing refurbishment at the moment - the below photos are indicative of what it will look like when finished. More photos coming soon!

Polar Pioneer Cabin
Polar Pioneer Cabin
Polar Pioneer Lounge
Polar Pioneer Lounge
Call for general departures:
020 3885 9105
Call for private group trips:
020 3885 9103
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.


Contact a member of staff who has done this trip

Call for general departures:
020 3885 9105
Call for private group trips:
020 3885 9103
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Expert Blog Entries

Have you been on this adventure? Tell others what it’s like by writing a review.

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]

Polar Ships: For information regarding ship specifications, visit the Polar Fleet page.

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