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National Geographic Explorer Review

4.5 / 5.0
Editor Rating
46 reviews
6 Awards

Fabulous experience, amazing crew and staff

Review for National Geographic Explorer to the Arctic
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First Time Cruiser • Age 60s

Rating by category

Public Rooms

Additional details

Sail Date: Jun 2016

This was our first cruise and we were not interested in boarding a huge vessel with multiple restaurants, cinemas etc. We were interested in being able to disembark and actually experience the landscape rather than just see it. This ship takes a max of 148 passengers. We booked a category 5 cabin which had a verandah - we were lucky enough to stand there and photograph a polar bear walking along the near shoreline, as well as multiple opportunities for viewing the ice pack, glaciers, landscape etc.

We were able to disembark most days. This process went very smoothly as we were generally divided into three groups - "long walks", "medium walks" and "short walks". Each walk was described in terms of length, elevation, terrain etc so that you could make an informed choice. "Long walkers" disembarked first via small zodiacs (approx 8-10 people on each), and there was very little waiting required. Those on short walks would have had to wait the longest, but each group was called 15 minutes before disembarkation so you could use your time in other ways, rather than having to hang around the disembarkation room. There was also a couple of opportunities for zodiac excursions for those less inclined to walk or to see specific wildlife (for us that meant a "haul out" of walruses which were sleeping on a beach) or glacier walls. On several days, there were both morning and afternoon "expeditions" (walks, kayaking, zodiac excursions), all optional of course.

The ice conditions were such that we actually managed to circumnavigate Spitsbergen and visit some of the outlying islands in the archipelago. We were lucky enough to see 5 polar bears in relatively close proximity to the ship and a couple more at huge distance. Also saw seals, blue whales, narwhales, fin whales, walruses, arctic foxes and more birds than I can label. Although this was marketed as a "Land of the Ice bear" cruise, you are really in the lap of the gods when it comes to wildlife actually appearing. However, even if we had seen nothing but the marvellous birdlife, just the scenery and the sheer exhilaration of walking on one of the remotest spots on the planet would have been enough for me.

Cabin Review

Cabin Category 5

Double bed, small desk and chair, flat screen TV, small wardrobe and drawers, good sized ensuite bathroom with walk in shower and some shelves and drawers for toiletries. Sliding glass doors onto a verandah.

11 Helpful Votes

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