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19 Spitsbergen (Svalbard) to Arctic Cruise Reviews

Excellent ship with an expert Expedition Team. We cruised East and West Svalbard. With Zodiac landings or boat trips every day we experienced many fascinating places. Superb landscapes, mountains, glaciers, old hunting camps. Large numbers ... Read More
Excellent ship with an expert Expedition Team. We cruised East and West Svalbard. With Zodiac landings or boat trips every day we experienced many fascinating places. Superb landscapes, mountains, glaciers, old hunting camps. Large numbers of seabirds at some landings. Polar Bear, Arctic Fox, Reindeer, Walrus, Seals and a few whales. We were unable to reach the North Coast of Spitsbergen due to pack ice, but the Captain and Expedition Leader more than made up for this by exploring the Eastern side of Spitsbergen and the Fremannsundet passage between Barentsoys and Edgeoya. Here we watched a Polar Bear stalk then hunt Reindeer. An unforgettable experience. There were lectures given by the Expedition team members throughout the cruise. A geologist, marine biologist, arctic explorer were among the interesting lecturers presenting daily. Food on board Sea Spirit was excellent. The chef and his team provided an excellent range of foods and catered well for Chinese guests, Vegans & Vegetarians. Breakfast and lunch were buffet service and dinner waiter service. Additionally there was tea and coffee available anytime in one of the lounges. The cabin was kept exceptionally clean by excellent cabin staff. Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
We chose the cruise to the Arctic because the ship was supposed to be small. I made a mistake and thought it was 128 passengers. It was 128 cabins. In the arctic and antarctic only 100 passengers can be on shore at any time so ships should ... Read More
We chose the cruise to the Arctic because the ship was supposed to be small. I made a mistake and thought it was 128 passengers. It was 128 cabins. In the arctic and antarctic only 100 passengers can be on shore at any time so ships should be no more than 100 passengers to get the experience. All shore experiences except one were worthless wastes of time. More on that later. We called Ponant a week and a half before the trip began to get the flight itinerary because they neglected to send it to us in advance. They neglected to include the last page which had the flights from Paris to Spitsbergen. We discovered that the day before the flight and went nuts trying to find the flight because Ponant was closed as it was Saturday. We finally found the flight because there was only one flight from DeGaulle that day. The ship needed a refit. Paint was missing and it just was a bit worn out. The first day we had a safety briefing. They brought everyone into the theater and said if we had to abandon ship we would be told what to do. BAD The food was tasteless although it really looked nice on the plate. The service was not very good. Many of the wait staff were trained to not look at you so if you wanted something it did not happen for a while. We think they put sleepy dust in the food because there was virtually nothing to do on the ship except watch the scenery go by. After every meal we were so tired we went to our cabin and slept even after breakfast. The few other english speaking passengers agreed. There were 30 english speakers and 200 non english speakers. The crew spoke marginal Franglish and the Captain was not even good at Franglish. The few english speaking crew agreed. There we about four lectures two which were by english speakers. They were OK. The excursions off the ship were very short as there were so many passengers that we had to go in groups and there was not much to see. We expected animals and birds but there was not much of either. The piece de resistance was the film that they were peddling about the things we saw. What the crew did was send video crews on zodiacs when animals were sighted and they took videos up close to the animals to sell to the passengers as a memento of the trip. We did not get closer than a mile from the animals but the video showed them up close. A huge waste of a week. There are no guarantees of seeing animals in the arctic but to sell that video was a big huge fraud. We did see walrus but the crew kept us far away on the shore excursion. Nothing like going to the Antarctic. The cabin was OK. We have had much better elsewhere. After the second day we were so upset about the cruise that my wife went to the cruise director and was not given much satisfaction. We wanted to leave but that was not possible. Even the english speaking crew said she was a witch. Many of the excursions off the boat were to small towns with not much to see. Others were just a walk on the sea ice and champagne and then back on the ship. If you want to go on an expedition go on a small ship, one hundred passengers or less. We have been to the Antarctic on a 75 passenger ship and it was spectacular. Shore excursions were as long as we wanted to stay. We have been on other small ship expeditions in Chile and Galapagos and plan one in Western Australia. This ship was a bust and a waste of $20,000. You can be sure we will never travel with Ponant again. Be careful. They have a new icebreaker ship which is even more expensive but it has over 300 passengers. It will be a boat ride and nothing more. Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
Overview The arctic archipelago "Svalbard" has always fascinated us. For this reason we have booked the trip with Hurtigruten. The tour operator attaches great importance to sustainability and environmental protection. This is ... Read More
Overview The arctic archipelago "Svalbard" has always fascinated us. For this reason we have booked the trip with Hurtigruten. The tour operator attaches great importance to sustainability and environmental protection. This is also reflected a little in the price - an Arctic trip is not cheap. The landscapes (geology, glaciology) are very impressive. The fact that in this harsh climate some life develops during the short summer months is fascinating. Lush green meadows, barren moonscapes, beautiful waterfalls and of course lots of snow and ice - that is Svalbard/Spitsbergen. We can recommend this trip because it is very relaxing (no internet for 9 days), but especially because it offers a good mixture of activities, lectures and observing the landscapes and wildlife. Wildlife If you go to this cruise to see polar bears or other wildlife, you'll probably will be lucky... Hurtigruten attaches great importance to sustainability and does not want to disturb the delicate habitat of the animals. Accordingly, everything can only be observed from a very great distance. Of course there are some lucky exceptions, but we have only been able to observe polar bears from a distance of at least 750 meters, for example. Unfortunately, the advertising gives the wrong impression here. With the right equipment you can counteract this a little. Embarkation/Disembarkation The whole process was ok. What was a problem in our opinion the time of disembarkation. We've arrived short after 0.05 o clock. We've waited 1 hour 20 minute to get from board to take the flight at 3.25 o clock. it was very pain and stressful to travel at this late hour. I would have payed 500 euro more to have an afternoon or early evening flight instead of the whole travel thing in the middle of the night... :-( Ship MS Spitsbergen was in 2016 completely renewed. The Ship provides following rooms: Explorer Lounge with Bar, Reception and Bord Shop, Restaurant (2 sittings - 18.00/20.00), Fitness, Jacuzzi, Sauna and on the top floor a large terrace area to observe the beautiful landscapes and animal life. Cabin The cabin was for its size generous and had everything you would expect on a ship. Dining The dining on the MS Spitsbergen was excellent. The Swiss Chef with his crew cooked on a very high level. You wouldn't expect that on a ship. Entertainment and Activities The Expedition-Team organized on each day an interesting program. Nevertheless they could have done different programs for all the different ages. The passengers ages vary from 25 to 90. So not all program points fitted for the young and vice versa. Service The Philippines on board were excellent. They are very friendly and good hosts. The Norwegian crew (Captain and his crew) were very professional, but in comparison to the Philippines rather inaccessible. Ports and Shore excursion On this trip (Spitsbergen/Svalbard) was only Port (Ny Alesund) accessible. All other stations were shore excursion by tender-boat. Some places were not so special, but what do you expect, when you're in the arctic :-) Read Less
Sail Date July 2018
We've just spent 9 days on Hurtigrutens ms Spitsbergen on an expedition cruise circumnavigating Spitsbergen, Svalbard. Apart from the fact that expedition cruising is exciting, we were pleasantly surprised by the ship and its crew. ... Read More
We've just spent 9 days on Hurtigrutens ms Spitsbergen on an expedition cruise circumnavigating Spitsbergen, Svalbard. Apart from the fact that expedition cruising is exciting, we were pleasantly surprised by the ship and its crew. The arctic superior cabin 621 is light and big enough but lacks drawer space and has no couch nor desk. The window blind adequately blocked out the 24 hr summer daylight. The large bed has a soft matress and plenty cushions. Sleep was never a problem but that also might be caused by the long active days. The restaurant is buffet for breakfast and lunch, diner is somewhat depending on the expedition schedule, sometimes free seating buffet, sometimes first and second seating table service with a fixed 5 course meal. Being norwegian there is a lot of fish every day but no worries there is meat. Give dietary preferences the first diner and they will automaticaly adjust the 5 course meals! Snacks and coffee/thee in the bar from 15:00 to 17:00 hrs. There is no roomservice. The ships crew/lobby are very nice and polite. The expedition staff consist of about 8 persons, mixed nationality -danish, norwegian, english, french- and spoke good english/german. Lectures were simultaneously translated for the german group using remote radio and earpeaces although that sometimes malfunctioned. There is at least one landing per day, sometimes two. Due to weather and ice, one scheduled stop had to be changed to a zodiac ice cruise. That was also the only real bad weather day. The rest consisted of clear skies to cloudy days with no precipitation. Jackets are provided and are yours to keep. Boots provided as well for the duration and are very good but heavy. We had a wonderfull cruise . Note. There was one passenger in a wheelchair who was accomodated by private zodiac cruises in between landings! Very nice. Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
I have had the privilege of hosting four photographic expeditions as a guest on board the Stockholm and I have never had a bad experience. I have been on three similar vessels in the past and the Stockholm is by far my favorite. From the ... Read More
I have had the privilege of hosting four photographic expeditions as a guest on board the Stockholm and I have never had a bad experience. I have been on three similar vessels in the past and the Stockholm is by far my favorite. From the first minute you make contact with them to the moment you say goodbye, everything is professionally handled and I cannot think of a better way to experience the magic that is Svalbard. The Stockholm's ability to get into smaller fjords and closer to the action than the large cruise vessels is, on it's own, a good enough reason for me to keep on booking her again and again. Add to that incredible staff, super experienced captains an old-world charm that makes you feel like you are the first people to explore Spitsbergen. If you're looking for one of the very best ways to explore the Arctic the Stockholm really is the only way to go! Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
Finally, we had the courage to book the tour we always had dreamt about - to experience the Arctic landscape in Svalbard! After plenty of research we chose PolarQuest with their comfortable and renovated ship Sea Endurance. The opportunity ... Read More
Finally, we had the courage to book the tour we always had dreamt about - to experience the Arctic landscape in Svalbard! After plenty of research we chose PolarQuest with their comfortable and renovated ship Sea Endurance. The opportunity to make expeditions with Zodiacs and thereby come really close to the nature and wild animals was the decisive reason behind our choice. Our expectations were pretty high and we did not get dissapointed! The ship was great and the crew onboard provided a fantastic service. Everything, from cleaning and dining to attitude and safety was in a very high level. Everyday was a new adventure, often with two expiditions in Zodiacs. And the guiding was amazing! Each guide had an own story to tell and they were so generous with sharing knowledge and experiences. And - most important of all - they made us feel safe. The Arctic nature is tough and you don't want to fall into the ice cold water.... Most of us were excited about seeing polarbears, I was a bit scared. But that was before I met the crew that guided us. Then I felt 100 % safe :-) Everyone should do this trip at least once, and I really recommend PolarQuest and Sea Endurance! Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
This was a totally amazing experience. Sea Endurance is a comfortable ship taking 52 passengers and 22 staff plus 5 guides and a medical doctor. Both staff och guests came from many countries. The cabins are small but nice, the dining ... Read More
This was a totally amazing experience. Sea Endurance is a comfortable ship taking 52 passengers and 22 staff plus 5 guides and a medical doctor. Both staff och guests came from many countries. The cabins are small but nice, the dining room serves buffet breakfast and lunch and á la carte for dinner. Food was good and generous and the service friendly and outstanding. We spent the evenings in the panorama lounge admiring the beauty of the land scape. The sun never sets at this time of the year. The route was not set as it depends on the weather and ice situation. The expedition leader decided on a daily basis. We sailed the equivalence of 1820 kilometer in one week and covered all of the west coast, the northern part searching for the ice edge getting close to Vitöya before we met the ice. That is where the balloon expedition led by André ended their journey and lives. There was an announcement board where the program for next day was announced and the expedition leader woke us up every morning over the loudspeaker system with the latest information. We went on one or two zodiac cruises every day and we also went ashore for short walks and always with guides with armed weapons first and last. Security was very important. We came across walrus, polar bears, seals and thousand of birds. The highlight was the polar bear mother with 2 newborn kids that we watched for nearly 2 hours playing on the ice edge. The guides have deep knowledge of biology, arctics, nature, zoologi, birds, ecology and they held lectures in their fields. Elke, the expedition leader is an impressive leader and together with Hadleigh, Manda, Eirik and Zet they made sure that the trip became an unforgettable experience for all of us. For the really brave ones the trip ended with a polar plunge in the minus 2 degrees icy water:) Humble and in deep gratitude we all went home with new friends and a lot of memories. I give Polar Quest the highest ratings for the quality, the extremely knowledgable guides, the service on board, the documentation and communication beforehand. Go if you can...the beauty and scenery is unforgettable and you will learn a lot about the Arctic and the beauty of Mother Earth. Mariann Klint Sweden May 2018 Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
We choose SilverSea to experience a luxury expedition. The staff and the Arctic lived up to reputation but the ship was a huge disappointment. See our review of the cabin. The quality of food was excellent however to have hot dishes ... Read More
We choose SilverSea to experience a luxury expedition. The staff and the Arctic lived up to reputation but the ship was a huge disappointment. See our review of the cabin. The quality of food was excellent however to have hot dishes served luke warm from the buffet at breakfast and lunch was a complete turn off. By the end of the week I was reduced to eating from the pasta station as this was the only food hot. Dinner service was dependent on the side of the restaurant you were seated. Waiting over 30 minutes from the end of main course until dessert arrived is not acceptable. The next night the meal service took over 3 hours to be completed. The public rooms are tired with the door to the observation lounge half falling off and cracking window ledges in the theater. The smoking policy makes no sense. With the smoking room attached to the panorama lounge every time the door is opened the room fills with the smell of cigarettes. The staff serve the smokers and their uniforms absorb the smoke. That made afternoon tea and bar service totally out of bounds. Read Less
Sail Date July 2017
It was an Expedition cruise. The Expedition leader and his time had no idea about an expedition cruise. No decent lectures on Svalbard. Did not visit, Barensburg and Magdalenenfjord. When queried about the reason, the reply came ... Read More
It was an Expedition cruise. The Expedition leader and his time had no idea about an expedition cruise. No decent lectures on Svalbard. Did not visit, Barensburg and Magdalenenfjord. When queried about the reason, the reply came "I'm french and we do everything different from other people" One so called lecturer could barely speak english or German. When you want to learn something about the Arctic sail with Hurtigruten Fram. Expedition staff usually stay for about 1-2 months. Cabins and food are very good. If you look for comfort and reasonable food this is the ship for you. Seaspirit has a number 5 ice-rating. (the lowest) would never travel with them again. Cabins were very well appointed, very comfortable. Dining room staff were very good and fast. Ship was clean. Food was good also their selection of wine. Although we had a cabin with balcony we missed an observation deck. Read Less
Sail Date August 2016
Cruise: Svalbard to Eastern Greenland, West Greenland coast, Canadian Arctic, Northwest Passage (duration about 2 months), corner suite (most expensive cabin on Khleb). We had been on the Khleb before for 3 voyages: Northeast Passage, ... Read More
Cruise: Svalbard to Eastern Greenland, West Greenland coast, Canadian Arctic, Northwest Passage (duration about 2 months), corner suite (most expensive cabin on Khleb). We had been on the Khleb before for 3 voyages: Northeast Passage, Snowhill and Antarctic semi-cricumnavigation; first trip 2008. The icebreaker was said to have been refurbished in the meantime, however, all that FESCO did was paint the sinks blueish, put new carpets over the old ones, put new curtains in and a flat Samsung TV. The windows were as rusty as ever, difficult to open and close without leakages, the TV had HDMI and USB ports which were only accessible if you took the TV out of its hinges, and there was no DVD player as promised, it was installed later on. The heating knob was jammed, so the temp. was difficult to adjust. Service in the restaurant is done by Russian staff who don't understand anything but the 3 titles of the menu options, and they clear away your plates as soon as you've finished, even if you go for a soe cheese, the wine glass and knife has been taken off the table. The menus were repeated on the 3 legs as well as the lectures, the hikes of varying quality, some of the Quark guides were far too fast for the medium slow group. There was an ex-astronaut and about 10 youngster on one leg, so-called talented young people, they lacked manners and the ex-astronaut took himself rather important and got special treatment with us passengers paying for the free riders...Again, like someone else mentioned in his critique about being held up in Murmansk, we were held up in Providenya for 2 days without a plausible reason. All in all, I think that the ship is a heap of rust, not up to standards (and I don't mean Boreal), the Russians should be trained adequately, Quark should see to it that they don't just lease the icebreaker and that's it, but should ensure a far better quality, the myth of Khleb has certainly gone down the drain. Read Less
Sail Date August 2016
Chosen specifically for the opportunity of seeing polar bears which was successful many times over.The ship and crew together with the guides were all first class and all our needs were well taken care of especially the safety aspects ... Read More
Chosen specifically for the opportunity of seeing polar bears which was successful many times over.The ship and crew together with the guides were all first class and all our needs were well taken care of especially the safety aspects which couldn't be faulted.the pre-cruise arrangements were also very well arranged including transportation,hotel,staff to advise on the exact arrangements for boarding the ship etc.Each days activities were specified during the evening review which included the proposed sailing routes etc. which obviously were subject to sea/weather conditions.The conditions included the range of the ice shelf which at the time we went had receded quite a way which meant we travelled further north than the ship had ever been due to the skill of the captain and crew.In fact at one point we were less than 500 miles from the North Pole.Each guide was an aspect in their own subject and questions were answered in a very informative way.Would be happy to repeat this adventure. Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
Loved the ship & the cruise. We had previously done an Antarctic cruise on the same ship and the Arctic cruise held a few surprises for us. But it was all great. The land excursions in the Arctic are VERY short. Sometimes as short ... Read More
Loved the ship & the cruise. We had previously done an Antarctic cruise on the same ship and the Arctic cruise held a few surprises for us. But it was all great. The land excursions in the Arctic are VERY short. Sometimes as short as a few hundred meters. We quickly learned that the reason was the potential for a Polar Bear attack. If it is foggy, then the zodiacs will not land since the bear guards can not see far enough to verify there are no polar bears. If they see a polar bear, then the zodiacs will not land. Instead you get to cruise about in the zodiac watching the polar bear. Okay! As in the Antarctic, the passengers are split into 4 zodiac groups. The zodiacs can hold 2 groups at a time with rotating staggered boarding times. So some days you get to sleep in (and then be rushed to get to dinner). We were lucky enough to see multiple polar bears. 2 with fresh kills. Our first bear encounter occurred shortly after our group land excursion was complete (we were sipping champagne on the top deck and getting ready to think about ordering lunch when the bear was reported). The 2 groups onshore were quickly evacuated to the zodiacs and spent the last half of their time slot watching a polar bear walk along the shore. They were brought back to the boat and our group reboarded the zodiacs to spend over an hour following the bear down the coast. The zodiac expedition crew radioed back to the ship to tell them that we would be very late returning and to delay lunch. Awesome. But not common. We started up north in Longyearbyen and ended in Tromso. This meant we had a lot of lectures at the end of the trip (during at sea days) telling us what we had already seen. Maybe we should have started at the south? Our week started out with the first excursion delayed and almost cancelled due to weather. We had fog & horizontal sleet / rain. Not nice. We then lucked out for the rest of the week with lots of sunshine. We only had 1 day cancelled due to weather conditions. You should normally expect at least 2 to 3 days (or more) cancelled due to weather. The unexpected great weather also meant we could eat lunch on the deck 5 times (sunshine, champagne, blankets & winter coats!) and we also did the Hot Rocks dinner on the rear deck 2 of the 3 nights it was offered. This trip we were upstairs which is really midships (our friend was down below on 4 and much closer to the front). This cabin included a few extras like free laundry (which i used several times) free wifi (i think the whole boat had it?) and daily canapes service (which we consumed with a bottle of champagne). We had a balcony which was great for checking the weather of looking around, but it was too cold to actually sit out there very long. The cabin was standard silver sea. No issues. A little worn around the edges but perfectly fine for people that were wearing waterproof clothes and lots of underwear. We enjoyed this as much as our Antarctic trip. But you need to remember this is an expedition cruise. The weather is often bad to terrible. This will affect your trip. After the Polar Bears & Walrus the highlight was the birds on Bear Island. My hat still needs a little more cleaning. Read Less
Sail Date July 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 ... Read More
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. The ship operates an "open bridge" policy 24 hours a day so you can go and check out the view from there. One night the captain allowed the ship to meander along a wall of cliffs, covered in nesting sea birds. Quite a few of us piled into the bridge to watch this, and were rewarded with the sight of four arctic foxes patrolling the lower reaches of the cliffs, looking for fallen eggs and fledglings. I wish I had used the bridge more often during our time - the atmosphere was great ! Other public spaces were the library - almost fully glassed walls so the views were spectacular, the lounge (for presentations, socialising etc), the bistro (a more casual dining area with the same food as the main restaurant) and the main restaurant. The food was excellent, with plenty of healthy choices. Buffet style for breakfast and lunch (although you could order eggs any way for breakfast), and a la carte for dinner. Table sizes ranged from 4 to 8, and you could choose your own table at any meal. The bistro area had more two seater tables, which appealed to the more introverted. The buffet had two sides to it, so any queues moved very quickly. Alcohol was free on the first night and last night, due to the Captain's welcome cocktail evening and farewell cocktail evening. Otherwise, it was reasonably priced and certainly much cheaper than Norway ! Service was top notch, with all the waiters learning your name within 24 hours. There were a number of presentations on subjects ranging from sustainability, wildlife, photography etc. And there was a daily "recap" in the lounge each evening before dinner, where the day's highlights were presented, together with a selection of photographs and videos. We didn't attend all of these - just according to whim/mood. Passengers were mainly American, with a small handful of international folk (like us !). Demographic mainly older/retired. No tour groups either, which is great as some groups can cause a bit of havoc due to differing cultural values/practices. We were accompanied by half a dozen naturalists, some of whom were also expert photographers. They joined us at mealtimes and were a very diverse but engaging and friendly group of people. Laundry was very reasonably priced, and there was also a retractable washing line in the ensuite bathrooms so you could wash out smalls etc, if you wanted to. The trip officially starts in Oslo and the day before embarkation there were bus trips to a couple of sights in Oslo - we chose to avoid those, not being big fans of escorted bus tours. Similarly, after disembarkation we had a day to kill in Longyearbyen, the port on Spitsbergen, whilst waiting for our charter flight to arrive with the next batch of passengers. The entertainment was a bus tour around the local sights (which are limited !), and a buffet lunch in a hotel which seems to deal mainly with large tour groups - that was a bit of a rugby scrum and something I would normally avoid like the plague. This is a trip I would do again in a heart beat and I think we have now become converts to the cult of Lindblad/national Geographic ! Truly fabulous voyage. Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
Best cruise of my life! Forget the stiff cruises with dinner jackets - this is a true Exploration cruise. We went by Zodiacs to the Glaciers, hiking along some of the most beautiful and vulnerable destinations (dont worry there are ... Read More
Best cruise of my life! Forget the stiff cruises with dinner jackets - this is a true Exploration cruise. We went by Zodiacs to the Glaciers, hiking along some of the most beautiful and vulnerable destinations (dont worry there are different levels of hikes easy to advanced) and even some of us were bading in the Arctic (Hurtigruten staff kindly provided towels and warm drinks). Guides were fabulous and the ship is a true classic with cosy wooden interiors, space for 200 guests, makes it very intimate and friendly. In addition to enjoying the nature, I particularly liked visiting Barentsburg, a remote Russian mining town in the Arctic with continuous mining activities and Ny Alesund a small scientist community to get a better idea of how life is in the Arctic. It is not your typical cruise, but a true once in a lifetime experience being so close to nature. There is so much to see and experience outdoors and with the guides, spotting polar bears or whales. In short, is a truly unique experience! Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
This cruise was greatly anticipated after a fantastic experience on Silver Explorer in Antarctica. Started off badly with the hotel we stayed in as part of the package in Oslo. The Radisson Blu - what a dump. A tired and sad hotel in need ... Read More
This cruise was greatly anticipated after a fantastic experience on Silver Explorer in Antarctica. Started off badly with the hotel we stayed in as part of the package in Oslo. The Radisson Blu - what a dump. A tired and sad hotel in need of a lot of TLC. Poor room - too hot to sleep, terrible breakfast once you had fought your way through the swarms of people on coach tours. Poor service with baggage - not collected. Flight to Longyerbyan O K but had to sit apart from travelling companion. Embarkation OK. Not as slick as previous cruise. Found suite. Waited for baggage to arrive. Investigated suite. What ' no champagne' did have that waiting on previous cruise. No slippers - told run out. No passenger list. Had lunch then sailed away. The first few days in Svarlbard were O K but not really exciting. Zodiac landings where very few. Where we did land it was to see some old ruins. One place we were told not to walk off the path and not to touch anything. Some old huts with very new stainless steel flues! We're told the locals visit the place for picnics and overnight stays - so why were we cautioned about what we could do! Asked some questions about the place and was told by the Expedition Historian that there was nothing 'in the book about it'!, One place we visited to see Walruses we had to wait until evening to take a Zodiac Landing because another ship had got there first! We went to see another ruin! Did see some Polar Bears, and it came across that once we had had sightings of a bear then it was -'mission accomplished ' Missed out on the Bird cliffs and a Glacier Walk. Set off for 2 days at sea for Scoresby Sund. Did not get there. Captain decided there was too much ice so another day at sea to head for Iceland. Why could he not get the sh into the sound - if we had had Captain Adam we would have made it. Iceland - could not land at Grimsey. Siglufjord - lots of rain and herrings and a museum! Huskavik - bus trip- awful lunch at some outpost. This is supposed to be the Whale Watching capital so why did we not go out on aWhale Watchting tour. Akureyri - gardens in a town then left to wander around a fairly uninteresting town. Ground fjord- scheduled bus tour- not very inspiringly- poor lunch and around 85 per cent of passengers wanted to get back to ship early. By then almost everyone was well and truely fed up with bus trips. This was supposed to be an 'expedition cruise ' not a Saga cruise and when in port you pile into a bus for a moronic day out. The Expedition Team were not at all inspiring - just look at the blogs on Silverseas Website and compare them with those of the same cruise in 2014. If only we had had Peter Damisch and Micheala Mayer and captain Adam what a huge difference it would have been. All in all this cruise was a complete waste of time and an expensive mistake. Compared to the experience in Antactica this was so so very very poor. The ship in in need of a complete makeover. Lots of very worn upholstery in the public and private places. Paint peeling off ceilings in suites. Towels were old and worn. There were changes as to what you could eat in your suite if you did not want to dine in the restaurant.On previous cruises the same menu was available in your suite absinthe restaurant. Not now you can only choose from the menu used on the deck area. The wine was poor - Civan was great and had a superb personality and was able to persuade you that you could like the wine being served. Food was excellent thanks to Pia the head chef - if it was not for her the whole two weeks would have been a hundred per cent disaster. Staff on board were helpful and good fun. They worked hard and made a difference. This whole experience really does question my desire to take another Silverseas cruise. I bought an Expedition Cruise not a cruise with bus trips to some really uninspiring places. Why we could not have explored other parts of Greenland especially as this was a huge part of the cruise and a big incentive to take the cruise. Silverseas must have a credible fall back plan if plan A does to work out. Bus trips are a cop out and a very easy option. The tour operators in Iceland must have thought that all their Christmases had come at once . The tours were not arranged especially for us, they were bog standard bus tours operated every day in Iceland. The Expedition Team had a really easy time of it and even they were found to be dozing off in the buses. If Silverseas cannot make this a credible cruise then they should cut it out of their program Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
General Overall Impression: We were deeply disappointed in the expedition portion of the cruise. We missed 50% of the cruise due to excessive ice in Scoresbysund. Silversea’s answer was to do more in Iceland. We did not pay to ... Read More
General Overall Impression: We were deeply disappointed in the expedition portion of the cruise. We missed 50% of the cruise due to excessive ice in Scoresbysund. Silversea’s answer was to do more in Iceland. We did not pay to visit Iceland – we paid to visit Greenland. For some unknown reason they did go to the southern part of Greenland and made this second half and Iceland tour. I blame the Captain here since he controls where we go. There was no reason we could not have gone south and done other expedition areas. The choice of going to Iceland and doing normal ports Husavik, Akureryi and western Fjords was not expedition sailing but sightseeing. Pre-Cruise Hotel: Hotel was horrible the Radisson Blu Scandinavia. Internet did not work and construction noise throughout our three day stay. Breakfast was mediocre buffet. Some people paid nearly $300 per night, through Silversea, for the privilege of staying at this dive. Transfer to airport. Paid $99 pp for this transfer. No better than taking the Flybussen for $19. We had to drag the luggage around the airport to find the check-in. Silversea’s contracted agents were pretty useless. Flight to Longyearbyen was good - on time and transfer to ship was quick. Svalbard – 4 day cruise. Very interesting though many excursions required you to be in shape and physically fit. Some passenger requested some more less walking friendly tours (ie. Zodiac cruises) but these requests were ignored by the expedition leader. Ship Impression. Having been on the Silver Explorer 18 months ago we knew what to expect. The ship’s decor is VERY tired looking. Rooms are almost all same size (except for the small number of expedition and owner suites). Lounge is very small and fills up for high tea and drinks. Service was excellent. Only comment is that the butlers are glorified housekeepers. Our request for special gin (Henricks) was ignored. Food. Much improved over past expedition cruise. Did not have a bad meal. Previously the buffet lunch was the highlight meal. This cruise the dinner portion is where the chef shined. Chef Pia did a great job. Iceland – what a waste - we were not scheduled to do this we were to do Greenland. • First port Grimsey Island was cancelled due to high waves. • Second stop was a Siglufjord town – where the highlight was the Herring museum. Now come on this is an expedition cruise. Herring museum ..zzzzzz.. • Husavik the whaling capitol of the world. However no whaling but a bus tour to visit the falls and hot springs. Have done this twice before. • Akureyri. Botanical garden tour. ..zzzzzz.. • On the last tour Grundefjord – 75% of the people requested that we return to the ship early – it was so bad as was the guide. Disembarkation: Was quick and the hotel transfer was done effortlessly. Pluses – • Ships Staff – great service. Housekeeping and restaurant staff outstanding • Food – chef Pia did a great job. Never had a bad meal. Minuses- • Ship is tired looking. Needs an interior makeover. • TV never worked – there is no other entertainment. • Internet exceeding slow when working. Some of it is the location but rest is a bandwidth issue. • Wines - thought the red wines could have been of better quality. Mostly all blends (which I hate) • It was not an expedition cruise. I blame the Captain. Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
Aurora looked after us from start to finish booked everything the trip itself was far beyond our expectations the Russian crew went out of their way to make the trip great, the guides were outstanding , knowledgeable and friendly and had ... Read More
Aurora looked after us from start to finish booked everything the trip itself was far beyond our expectations the Russian crew went out of their way to make the trip great, the guides were outstanding , knowledgeable and friendly and had our safety in mind at all times with out being police like. We went with some reservations about the trip with things we had read on the internet but they were all far from the truth , the food was really good and lots of it which can be a bad thing. The bar was really well priced and worked on the honour system after hours. The ship was very clean and comfortable and being a small ship holding 50 passengers friendships were soon formed. The time spent ashore was brilliant being small group enabled us to do things big groups can't do and see. Could not recommend this organization enough; will defiantly travel with them again. A lot of the passengers had done several trips with them Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
My travel buddy and I flew to Spitsbergen from Oslo. Before our cruise we stayed overyight at the Radisson Blu Hotel. Nothing fancy, just a place to wait for the ship. The staff was helpful and friendly. I'll start with my only ... Read More
My travel buddy and I flew to Spitsbergen from Oslo. Before our cruise we stayed overyight at the Radisson Blu Hotel. Nothing fancy, just a place to wait for the ship. The staff was helpful and friendly. I'll start with my only real complaint about my Fram experience: the check in procedure. We all seemed to arrive by bus from our hotels at roughly the same time...then we proceeded to our assigned deck, where I stood in line for one hour to be checked in - really, to provide them with my credit card information. The check-in process needs to be streamlined and improved. Other than that, the crew, the ship, almost everything and everyone met or exceeded my expectations. If we didn't want to purchase a drink package we were able to have water with each meal, and the food was VERY good. Our cabin was small but acceptable for the week we were on board. One of our excursions - a hike - was really more of a forced march. The terrain was so rough I couldn't enjoy the scenery because of the necessity to look where every step was taking me. The pace was far too fast for the conditions. Before we began our cruise I hoped for just one decent polar bear sighting. Of course, with wildlife there are never any guarantees.From the ship we saw a total of seven polar bear! I was thrilled to come home with five VERY nice photos of them. We also spent an hour on land watching a large group of walrus. Gliding through the heavy ice was a thrilling experience. Because of ice conditions our route was changed and a couple of landings were not possible but we knew we were at the mercy of the weather and ice. In the end, because of the ice, we didn't just circle Spitsbergen - we went around Svalbard! Of course everyone should investigate any company and specific ship and itinerary before purchasing a cruise, but I will heartily recommend Hurtigruten and the Fram to experience Spitsbergen. Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
We went on a Silver Sea expedition cruise to Svalbard in July 2015. Our ship the Silver Explorer was a beautiful ship and our service by the crew was wonderful. The issue started when our mandatory charter flight to Longyearbyen was not ... Read More
We went on a Silver Sea expedition cruise to Svalbard in July 2015. Our ship the Silver Explorer was a beautiful ship and our service by the crew was wonderful. The issue started when our mandatory charter flight to Longyearbyen was not able to land because of fog. They flew us back to Oslo and put us up in the local airport hotel. I'm not upset as to the weather as I know that can happen at any time. I'm upset at how the company handled the situation. There was very little communication and when we did have meetings things were said like, " What do you want us to do, it is Sunday?" We were told to have lunch in town and save the receipts, so they can reimburse us. It was never mentioned again. When I went to reception on the ship, at the end of the cruise, and asked them what to do with the receipts, I was told they would make a copy of them but a decision hadn't been made as to what would be done with them. Two days later we finally were able to get on the ship. They said they wanted to give us the best cruise ever as we had missed 2 days. As I said the ship was great but the expeditions were terrible. According to the dictionary expedition means to explore, we did no exploring. When we did get off the ship, in the zodiacs, we were required to walk in a small tight group and look at poop or bones on the ground. If we walked 1/2 mile we would be lucky. One expedition was 45 minutes long to look at a walrus. I could have stayed longer and the last thing I wanted to do was walk and see poop down the beach. Another day on the zodiac was 1 1/2 hours long to sit at the bottom of a glacier and stare at it. Glaciers don't move much so there wasn't much to see. My husband and I have been on a Quark expedition to Antarctica and it was totally different. We walked around to see and explore the area and wildlife on the Antarctica cruise. This is a good cruise but it is not an expedition cruise at all. The expedition staff are all knowledgeable and nice, however their program is in need of some exploring to make it an expedition. As far as the actual ship it was wonderful for an expedition cruise. Our room was clean and very nice with 2 big windows. Dining was pleasant and the food was good. It was open sitting however one large group reserved all the window tables, across the back of the ship, on the first day, for the whole trip.( Doesn't seem real fair) As far as activities, there were some lectures and the zodiac cruises and that was it. Not a lot to do. Our TV didn't even work for the first half of the cruise. It was said by one passenger, "Maybe we were blessed to be shortened 2 days as I want off this ship." We will never sail with Silver Sea because of the way they handled the weather situation and they do not know how to do expeditions. Read Less
Sail Date July 2015

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