Everything was as described but better, you cannot take in the stunning scenery or feelings of remoteness unless you are there. At times you felt like Scott of the Antarctic exploring untouched areas of the earth, yet at other times you can just enjoy the magical surroundings.
As a type of holiday personally I don’t think it can be bettered, you can only do something different. The hiking, sailing, wildlife and marine life were excellent although how some of the wildlife survives at all is puzzling. Polar Bears, Arctic Foxes, Reindeer, Beluga Whales, Walruses, Seals together with Birdlife were all there.
The description as an “Expedition Cruise” to me is correct, the boat was comfortable (but not commodious like a Cruise Ship) food was wholesome but not Michelin Starred standard, some of the hiking was reasonably arduous and at other times light. Guides were well educated and evening chats on what we had seen during the day were first class. We were looked after on the boat by all really well.
For anyone who wants to get a feel of what the Polar Arctic is about and how difficult life must have been there this is it.
In summary, brilliant.
(Hike & Sail Voyage)
The hike & sail trip in Svalbard was fantastic! We had a great time, everything was so beautiful with the snow, ice and sea. We saw most of the arctic animals except the polar bears. But this means we have to go back again and see if we can find them.
Emma Lundell & Paul Torstensson
(Hike & Sail Voyage)
I had a brilliant time on the Rembrandt. A beautiful ship, an amazing part of the world to see, great weather and a fantastic bunch of people to spend the week with. The crew and the guides were excellent, so everything was perfect all around. Thanks for your help with the prep in advance. You had provided all the right information of what to pack and how to get to the right places at the right time.
(Hike & Sail Voyage)
Quite frankly, the trip was perfect. Every single thing had been thought of and was catered for. The ship was beautiful and incredibly well-fitted out; the food was amazing, I had no idea we’d get such variety on an Arctic voyage (and they didn’t even make me eat fish!). Every single member of the crew was friendly and helpful; it was great to talk to the sailing crew about how the ship worked and to go up in the wheelhouse whenever we wanted.
In terms of the hiking this was so well planned. We were split into 3 groups (fast & long hikes, intermediate and an ‘enjoyous’ group which is my new favourite word) so everyone could go at a pace that suited them. The guides alternated so we got to talk to each of them and get to know their specialist subjects in a bit more depth. As I always went with the fast group we may have missed some of the wildlife that others saw but we did see foxes, ptarmigan, seals and lots of bird colonies. We didn’t see a polar bear but we saw very fresh tracks, which were HUGE so I was quite happy not seeing one after that! One morning we went to a walrus colony that was wonderful. Again, the guides split this really well and every 20 minutes or so a group went back, so no one was stuck out there longer than they wanted to be.
I loved the evening recaps of what we'd done and what we were going to do the next day, and also enjoyed the short talks about fauna or geology from the knowledgeable guides. And the weather was wonderful too – though I appreciate you didn’t really help with that ;) And obviously the other passengers also helped make it so special. This was the one area I was worried about as there’s nothing you can do about the people you’ll be stuck with, but everyone on the boat was like-minded in terms of why we were there so there was already a connection. I was very, very sad to leave the boat on Friday morning.
In fact, I’ve been so enthusiastic about it on my return to work a colleague has already looked up the dates for the same trip next year!
I’d definitely look out for trips offered through Aqua-Firma again as the quality of this one was impressive
I must tell you that Gordon and I did have a most amazing holiday in Spitsbergen on the Noorderlicht. The scenery and the boat were amazing enough and the wildlife we saw was a huge bonus.
We saw polar bears (a mum and cub), reindeer, seals and arctic foxes.
The crew and our guide were fantastic and did everything they could to make sure we had a memorable experience.
Thank you for patience and efficiency in helping us to enjoy this trip to the full.
BTW, we even got engaged while we were on the boat!
Joanne Chapman & Gordon Hayward, Whyteleafe