Trip Reviews: North Spitsbergen Voyages

I cannot recommend Aqua Firma enough. Charlotte's knowledge and experience of the polar regions is second to none - She took the time to thoroughly explain all I needed to know in order to book my perfect Spitsbergen trip.  And, Ralph - When my independent flights were cancelled, Ralph stayed awake until the late hours of the night helping me rebook my trip and solve the problem. Note, this was an airline issue so the fact they took it upon themselves to help me so substationaly was not at all called for, but extremely valued. Aside from this, the trip was absolutely incredible - more than I could ever have asked for.  I'd previously visited the Antarctic through a different agent and the bar was already set high, but Aqua Firma were so fantastic that they are now my agent of choice. If you're still not convinced, give them a call - You'll soon be on your way to the polar regions! - Thanks so much team.

Kate Watson (New Zealand)

It was FANTASTIC! We couldn't fault it in any way! We've travelled far, wide and plenty but this trip was definitely something very special. The kayaking was up there with some of our favourite moments!

We saw pretty much what we'd hoped for - 7 Polar Bears including a cub, Walrus, Arctic Fox, all 4 species of Seal, Minke and Fin Whales, Reindeer, Ivory Gull and Brunnick's Guillemot (and lots of other bird species too).  The Little Auk Colony was a fantastic experience too.

Thank you for your assistance in getting us out there!

Fay Enright & Brian Gee, London

The trip as a whole was simply FANTASTIC!!!!  The vessel, accomodation onboard, food, expedition leader and all guides, activities, everything was simply PERFECT. We really enjoyed every moment of our trip, and I will recommend this unforgettable trip to friends for sure!!

Tiziana Accornero

We have had an amazing adventure. What an experience - it was awesome.  We all loved all of it, wildlife, zodiac rides, walks, lectures, food etc.......

The staff on the ship were fantastic and looked after us really well.  The expedition staff were brilliant, knowledgeable, personable and great with the youngsters.

It was so awesome to see polar bears in their natural environment

We were blown away by the zodiac ride amongst the icebergs and glacier at Albertinibukta.  We also saw a variety of seabirds, plus a colony of puffins, walrus both in the water and hauled out. An artic fox and two blue whales......... To see one was a real experience and when the shout came again " whale" we couldn't believe our luck.

The walks we did ashore were superb.  We encountered different scenery on each occasion but all was absolutely breath taking.

You really did feel like an adventurer.

We loved every minute of our trip and the memories will stay with us forever. Highlights if I had to pick one would be the seeing the bears on and sailing through the pack ice.

Thank you to all at Aqua Firma for arranging it all.

Sally Attree, Surrey

A special holiday with unforgettable moments.  It was great to be in the company of so many wildlife enthusiasts, professional and amateur.  We were well looked after, everything was well organised and staff were always on hand.  The seas were calm and the weather was remarkably benign with some really pleasant sunny days.  Highlights included the moment we broke into the pack ice and then later saw our first polar bear; our close encounter with walruses, spotting blue whales and admiring the iceberg sculptures.  Anyone with a lover of nature and wilderness should go.

David Rumsey, Kent

We saw 6 Polar Bears... one mother with cub which was so very exciting.  We also saw walruses, reindeer, arctic fox, seals and an array of birds.

I've just been looking at my photos from the trip and it is like looking at a different world, which is one of the abiding impressions I have from the trip.

The trip itself was a fantastic experience. The expedition staff were fabulous. They were knowledgeable and friendly. But for me, the main thing was that they were helpful, in fact I couldn't have done half of what I did do without their help getting up slopes to see (amongst other things) a long tailed skua or up onto a beach to have a close encounter with walrus. Giving the right help in the right way is an art which few master, but when they do it makes a world of difference to someone like me.

All staff were excellent at their jobs, the food was excellent and the service in general.

Thanks for all your help.

Sheila Dearns, Essex

The vessel was lovely and very comfortable, meanwhile the food was very plentiful and beautifully presented and the staff and Crew were all very professional.
Pauline & David Sayers, Sussex

It was probably the best trip I have ever done (the whale sharks - with Aqua-Firma in the Seychelles are up there too!). It wasn't just the most beautiful scenery, the total peace and quiet, the fantastic opportunity to see the wildlife up close and personal but also the human aspect of the trip; the wonderful staff on the ship that couldn't do enough for you, and especially the friends we have made (all 41 of the passengers and the crew) who made the trip so memorable. I haven't stopped smiling since I have been back. All I have to do is to drift back to the Arctic and all those wonderful memories!

Debbie Segal

One of the best trips I'd ever done to date was the Whale-shark experience with Aqua-Firma in the Seychelles...

So when I found out that Aqua-Firma explore the Polar Regions I knew that it would be well organised and an adventure but also that we and the wildlife would be well looked after. Now I am back from the Arctic I have to say that I'm running out of superlatives to describe the experience. My friends are already bored of me talking about "amazing this" and "incredible that." I need more words! It was wonderful to have the wildlife encounters that we did - a beachful of walrus and a completely non-camera shy ringed seal (seemingly after a modelling contract!) were highlights as well as the much hoped for glimpse of polar bears on the last day. Another memorable moment for me was when the ship broke through ice - a really unique and extremely exciting experience! But it is probably the stunningly beautiful scenery (often best at around midnight) that will stay imprinted in my mind the longest. The effect of the sun shining on the water and ice is incredible, and the sheer vastness of these scenes is awesome and very humbling. Our cameras have in no way captured the true beauty and calmness of this place. Along with all of this I have been privileged to meet a fabulous group of people, several of whom I can now count as friends. I haven't laughed as much and had such fun in a very long time. And again I have Charlotte to thank for creating and being part of all this. I can't think of much to improve the trip other than just a little more time in this amazing place with these lovely people! All that's left to do is start saving up for Antarctica!"

Tanya Page

Often after a holiday you miss the place you visited less and less as time passes, but funnily enough I am missing it more and more - that crystal water, blue ice, dramatic and desolate landscape had a really unworldly quality about it and I really hope that I will go back again someday. In the meantime I must strongly resist the temptation to take up diving ...  Instead; I will content myself for the time being by revisiting your fabulous photographs of what you saw below the surface!

Jonathan Sinclair

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?
Seeing polar bears and arctic foxes in the wild, also the beautiful Arctic glaciers.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?
Definitely a trip for people who are interested in nature and photography.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?
There were opportunities to learn about different conservation projects on board the ship.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?
We were very lucky with the weather and had lots of zodiac and shore trips which resulted in an excellent experience. Food on board ship was excellent.

Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?
5 *****

Christine Miles

Small Ship Voyages to Spitsbergen (Svalbard)

  • Polar Bear Cub - Michelle Pink
  • Brunnichs Guillemots in Spitsbergen
  • Seal in Spitsbergen - Mark Turner
  • Svalbard Reindeer - Jordi Plana
  • Red Phalarope in Spitsbergen - Ralph Pannell
  • Polar Bear on Pack Ice - Sara Jenner
  • Snow Bunting - Chris Dobbs
  • Svalbard Reindeer - Karen Czekalski
  • Spitsbergen in Summer - Karen Czekalski
  • Arctic Tern in Spitsbergen
  • Svalbard Reindeer - David Slater
  • Pack Ice in Spitsbergen - Arjen Drost
  • Arctic Fox in Spitsbergen
  • Iceberg in Spitsbergen
  • Little Auk in Spitsbergen
  • Walrus in Spitsbergen - Jordi Plana
  • Alkhornet, Spitsbergen - Jim & Sarah Kier
  • Spitsbergen, Land of the Pointed Mountains - Dennis Imfeld
  • Svalbard Reindeer at Alkhornet - Jen Squire
  • Glacier Calving - David Slater
  • Walrus in Spitsbergen - Jordi Plana
  • Zodiac Cruising in Spitsbergen - Sandra Petrowitz
  • Polar Bear Family in Spitsbergen
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