Around Spitsbergen Voyages
It was bloody fantastic!! The bears, the whales, the walruses, the birds, the crew, the guides, the fellow adventurers and the Arctic itself were in their element right through the voyage. Most importantly the chef, who laid a table every meal that defied resistance, did a right good job of getting me to add four kilos. The wine selection at the bar assisted in the process, but still!!
A trip to remember also for its faultless execution!!
Mykkatira Subaiah, Singapore
We had a really fantastic time and saw 22 polar bears!! One of the guides on the ship was also with us in the Antarctic, which was very nice for us. We can highly recommend the Antarctic Dream...a wonderful little ship and can go deep into the pack ice.
The captain and expedition crew were fantastic and if we were unable to land somewhere in the morning we went back to it in the afternoon.
Pippa & Spyros Zintilis, Kent
I recently returned from a sailing trip Around Spitsbergen and really did have the time of my life. I've lived and worked all around the world, working as a conservationist but nothing really prepared me for the Arctic - I was literally blown away by the sheer 'rawness' of the environment and the amazing wildlife opportunities. I saw seven polar bears eating a dead whale on the shore of a fjord; sailed by a gang of noisy and smelly young walruses lying on drift ice and came within 20ft of three mother beluga whales and their calves in the shallows. With Arctic foxes, skuas searing through the sky and huge whales rising from the water, this really was a trip like no-other I'd ever been on.
This was 10 days of pure wilderness with a surprising amount of snow and ice. Circumnavigation was not possible (as we had all suspected for an early voyage) but we did reach 80 degrees north. We saw 4 polar bears, Arctic fox, and a lot of very close up walrus. Also, the reindeer were still white with their winter coats. We found the team and crew to be perfect and we were impressed by the fact that Captain Oleg broke through so much ice. Now everything in the UK appears to be so tame!
We thank you again for your personal input to our holiday arrangements and your accuracy and attention to detail.
William Pearson & Valerie Bess
The Arctic has always been a dream of mine to visit, and finally it came true and I have been the lucky one to get there. It was jaw droppingly (if thats a word) stunning and that was just the Icebergs and Glaciers, to see Polar Bears, Walrus, Arctic Foxes & Whales was a bonus... a very accommodating boat, with a Panoramic Dining Room - who needs TV! The Staff brilliant and the guides truely exceptional. Thank you Aqua - Firma for such an amazing trip and especially Chloe.
My advice - take loads of memory cards and a good pair of binoculars, you will need them, and be prepared to leave a bit of your spirit behind.
When I got in touch with Aqua Firma with bizarre enquiries as to which trip would inspire me for two years without fail, they put me on a boat around Spitsbergen mid June. Just as the UK was having glorious sun and a veritable heatwave, I found myself packing thermals, wellies and waterproofs and travelling into a dream of ice, sea and walruses - the Kingdom of polar bears. I was not disappointed. Not only did I come away with a majestic sense of serenity from the wilderness of the north, unspoilt as yet by human hand, but also I actually learned a huge amount from the expertise of the guides on board the ship who cunningly drew me in to their passions for the wildlife.
The boat itself I felt was safe and kind of pretty in a boat sort of way, and they catered beautifully for me on a strict gluten free diet (- any coeliacs out there? Didn't get sick once.) At meal times you get a chance to talk and mingle with the other guests and there was a lot of laughter - at times my cheeks actually hurt.
I've come away with the two years of inspiration easily, but maybe more importantly a real love of the fragile landscape. Out of all the places I've ever visited, and I've seen beauty in many countries, this is the only place I actually want to go back to. This is the only place that has impacted on me, that what we do here, in this country, will affect what happens 80 - 90 degrees north...
Dawn Reader, Artist, London: www.dawnreader.com
I don't think we can thank you enough or put into words quite what a wonderful time we had. As we knew this was an experience not just a holiday! Everything about the whole trip was perfect. We met the most amazing people, from the staff to the passengers. I felt well any truly cared for and never once felt uncomfortable on the Zodiacs.
I think the main highlight day was actually my birthday! You couldn't have asked for more! We awoke to a beautiful day and after breakfast went ashore to see a haul out of walrus, which included some in the water. Then until dinner we were travelling through ice floes on the hunt for polar bears. Amazingly about 20 mins before dinner was served one was spotted on the horizon. Our expert and amazing captain, whose enthusiasm for the voyage and wildlife was second only to the rest of ours, managed to follow at a respectable pace and whether it was the same one or a second polar bear (there was some dispute) we were able to have one approach us. This bear approached so closely that it actually put its nose on the porthole of the kitchen and licked it!!!!!!! I didn't think it was going to get any better than that but then after a wonderful meal including a cake and a birthday card from my new friends for life, it was announced that we were to go out for a walk on the ice floe. The captain took a great picture of all of us in a group photo and then it was back to the vessel just in time to watch the fin whales as they passed!
I told you it was an amazing day.
Zena Chapman & Derek Wilson
Around Spitsbergen Voyages