Trip Reviews: A Wildlife & Marine Life North Spitsbergen Sailing Voyage

The whole experience was amazing, being our first trip into the Arctic. The landscapes and wildlife were stunning. The experience of which made much more enjoyable and meaningful by the talks, explanations and guidance by Charlotte and Jordi. They were both incredibly knowledgeable and enthusiastic.

There were so many 'highlights' it would be difficult to single them out but for sure the experience of sitting quietly above the 14th of July glacier with Charlotte and 'listening' to the total silence broken only by the grinding of the stones under the glacier. (and all sucking Fox's Glacier Mints!)

Also the whole experience of being at sea in the Arctic, particularly under sail in ever changing weather conditions - sometimes glassy flat calm sometimes choppy Force 5 or 6, sometimes dark with low cloud other times bright blue skies and sunshine.

We were totally captivated by the wildlife sightings, some at very close range (reindeer, walrus, seals) and some not so close but still amazing (arctic foxes, two sightings of Polar Bears, dolphins and Beluga whales). We saw so many different types of bird I couldn't list them all but particularly in our memory are ptarmigan, puffins, eiders, guillemots, snow buntings, terns, kittiwakes and barnacle geese.

The experience of life on board the sailing ship really made the holiday for us - topping off the whole experience. A lovely ship and wonderful friendly crew. And great food!

We also enjoyed that it was an active holiday - two landings with good walking most days.

We appreciated the talks and daily and pre-landing briefings and learnt a lot.

The pre-trip information provided and communication with Aqua-Firma was excellent and made for a totally stress free experience.

We are already looking at Greenland for next year - definitely with Aqua-Firma and definitely on the same boat.

Paul & Wendy Stubbs

Thanks for all your help in organising one of our best-ever holidays - it exceeded our high expectations! The scenery was amazing, the wildlife abundant and we enjoyed the company of our fellow passengers.

Thank you again for your help in making the various arrangements and answering our questions. We're almost certain to travel with Aqua-Firma again so our paths will probably cross.

Jenny & Tony Stanton

It's difficult to know where to begin.  Firstly, a massive thank you to Holly for making the original booking so smooth, the choice of flights and hotel and for putting up with my endless questions.

As for the trip itself - it's really tricky to put into words that does the whole thing justice but here goes.

To see this part of the planet and to share in the experience was an absolute privilege.  It was more than just a great holiday, it had something that is really indescribable.  

Of course, the scenery was breath-taking, the wildlife amazing and the Rembrandt fabulous but it was more than that.  Maureen and I are both extremely lucky to have been to most places in the World but there was something about this trip that was extra special.  I am not even sure what it was but if I had to put my finger on it, it was the knowledge that we were seeing the Earth stripped back to its core - no frills, no noise, no people, phones, internet or e mail.   

I won't even begin to say what we enjoyed the most because I don't think that's important.  It was the complete experience, a total package, that I have be honest has left us feeling a little flat since we got back to reality

Charlotte and Jordi were great guides and great fun.  The success of these trips is always helped by the people running them and the two of them were just amazing - both together and apart

We thank you from the bottom of our hearts for making this expedition so memorable and rest assured we are already planning our Antarctica trip

We really hope to see you on another trip soon

Perry and Maureen Kurash

We had a fabulous time. Thank you for all the arrangements which all went very smoothly. It was a unique experience. We loved the boss (Charlotte) and she looked after us very well. We enjoyed her company and her great expertise. I hope we will see you all sometime in Cornwall. We were fortunate with the wildlife watching although shame not to see a few birds like phalaropes, long tailed duck. The Rembrandt was great. All the staff were delightful and the food fantastic. We loved the combination of sailing and gentle hikes ashore.

Matthew & Christian Dryden

It has taken us almost two weeks to shake off the residual tiredness from our 92 day non-stop megatrip of which the Aqua Firma expedition was virtually the climax. We were absolutely thrilled with the Spitsbergen adventure, it was a fantastic trip which we're telling everyone about!

Experiencing a near encounter with a polar bear, getting up close and personal with walruses, Arctic foxes, beluga whales and a wealth of birdlife, hearing ice cracking in the glaciers were just some of the many highlights on the ten night/nine day Aqua-Firma North Spitsbergen Wildlife & Marine Life Sailing voyage in June 2018. There was also the stunning scenery, the natural beauty and the sense of true wilderness which we could enjoy at any hour of the day or night as it was 24 hour daylight.

We are keen environmentalists so we specifically chose to go with Aqua-Firma as they are environmentally responsible, using a sailing ship to explore the Arctic, are owned and run by scientists with a passion for wildlife and specialising in small, expedition style cruises. For this trip, we were on a beautifully refurbished tall ship. Being part of a small group of 34 passengers meant there was a close, family atmosphere, you got to know everyone and everyone got a chance to get up close to the wilderness and the wildlife. As 60 somethings we weren't sure if we'd find it difficult getting in and out of zodiacs and coping with the land-based expeditions but the boat crew were so professional and expert in helping us and then once on land the two scientifically qualified guides offered a choice of easy or hard excursions every day. Their knowledge and expertise meant all the outings were incredibly informative, backed up by detailed briefings and talks on board. Seeing the Arctic before it changes forever was on my bucket list and the expedition was one of the most memorable and life changing holidays I have ever had. Thanks so much Aqua-Firma and our guides Jordi and Charlotte. We are already planning our next trip with Aqua-Firma for 2019.

Andrew & Kerrie Waterworth

Outstanding!! Totally worthwhile, inspiring and invigorating!

We enjoyed a well-executed and organised trip, with awesome crew and guides who had the ability to improvise with such deep knowledge of the area. Amazing wildlife interactions including Polar bears and blue whales and a fantastic level of (optional) physical activity! Our top highlight was on 24th June: amazing weather and view of the 3 crowns, a close encounter with a fox family, 4 blue whales and watching a glacier calving. Holy cow - the best holiday I have ever been on!!

Sanders Family, Canada

My highlights were the king eiders, blue whales, walrus teens, watching the fox kits (cubs), polar bears, little auks, puffins, skua and guillemots and the ship, crew and of course Charlotte-did I mention (again) that I beat her at cards!

Eamon Sanders (11)

I enjoyed every aspect of the trip including wildlife, landscape and the phenomenon that is ICE (glaciers etc). Highlights were blue whales (unexpected), close encounters with polar bears and walrus in their natural setting and the opportunity to walk in wonderful places and cruise from place to place on a beautiful sailing ship. Compliments on a well run programme!

Noel Mulligan, Ireland

The trip exceeded all my expectations! It was all I imagined and much more… every day was different and special in its own way. A happy trip - staff, leaders and fellow travellers were friendly and positive. My highlights were sitting below the little auk colony and watching a polar bear scrambling on the cliffs looking for eggs.

Dr Bob Watson, UK

Without a doubt a fantastic experience! Stunning scenery, wonderful wildlife, great company and an excellent ship. My personal highlights were sitting in the midst of a little auk colony of half a million birds, watching a polar bear swim up to resting walrus and seeing a mother Arctic fox with her cubs.

Nigel Cotton, UK

  • Polar Bear with Walrus - Jordi Plana
  • Blue Whale in Spitsbergen - Charlotte Caffrey
  • Seal in Spitsbergen - Jordi Plana
  • Hiking in Spitsbergen - Jordi Plana
  • Puffin in Spitsbergen - Jordi Plana
  • Sailing Ship in Spitsbergen - Charlotte Caffrey
  • Walrus in Spitsbergen - Jordi Plana
  • Svlabard Reindeer - Jordi Plana
  • Arctic Fox Cub in Spitsbergen - Jordi Plana
  • Blue Whale in Spitsbergen - Jordi Plana
  • Arctic Fox Cub - Jordi Plana
  • Purple Saxifrage in Spitsbergen Tundra - Jordi Plana
  • Walrus in Spitsbergen - Jordi Plana
  • Minke Whale in Spitsbergen - Jordi Plana
  • Zodiac Landing in Spitsbergen - Jordi Plana
  • Little Auk in Spitsbergen - Jordi Plana
  • Walrus with Sailing Ship - Jordi Plana
  • King Eider Ducks - Jordi Plana
  • Calm Fjord in Spitsbergen - Jordi Plana
  • Brunnichs Guillemots Nesting on the Cliffs - Jordi Plana
  • Walrus in Spitsbergen - Jordi Plana
  • View from the bow in Spitsbergen - Jordi Plana
  • Svalbard Reindeer - Jordi Plana
  • Polar Bear - Jordi Plana
  • Blue Whale in Spitsbergen - Jordi Plana
  • Hiking in Spitsbergen - Jordi Plana
  • Crevasses in a Glacier, Spitsbergen - Jordi Plana
  • 32 Passenger Sailing Brigantine - Christine Nicol
  • Ringed Seal in Spitsbergen - Jordi Plana
  • Polar Plunge in Spitsbergen - Jordi Plana
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