An outstanding adventure with so many ups and downs and only made possible by the “can do” attitude of Paul Goldstein, the Polar Team at Exodus and the crew of the Polar Pioneer. This is what all holidays should be like! My daughter and I would happily do it all again in an instant.
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This expedition on Quark’s ship the Ultramarine was delayed from July 2020, and the original booking was for another ship, but then this new one was available, and has dedicated single cabins.
Because of the pandemic we had to take tests before flying to Oslo, and there another antigen test for Quark. All negative persons were allowed to board the charter flight up north, where we met our ship. Because of said pandemic the staff had their own bubble and would not mingle with the travellers,and inside masks were compulsory.So we met the staff only on the zodiac trips and when ashore.Meals were also a lonely affair, as distances were to be kept, buffets had personnel with masks and gloves put on your plate what you asked for and showed, all behind glass
So only the outside, zodiac cruises and walks ashore, were really free, the nature is beautiful, animals free too and showed up to pose for picture, including a group of 3 polar bears who had their meals already caught, and were close to shore. So all zodiacs passed in silence close to the shore, and made rounds number of times, to give us a long and great view of them.
We were the first trip where the ship could circumference Spitsbergen island, even though we had to break some ice and were in a long foggy day. but it all added to the special nature of that area.
Lectures given in the evenings by the staff had different topics, from the animals we saw to their personal adventures(close contacts with bears, kayak circumference trip of Spitsbergen,)And history of course.
Nigel Turner Three Arctic Islands (Southbound)
This was a marvellous trip and a great way of seeing two wonderful areas of the Arctic. In Spitsbergen we saw polar bears and arctic foxes and sailed through the ice to reach 80 degrees north. In Greenland we saw musk oxen and puffins and the most amazing icebergs. We also visited an Inuit community and had the occasional whale sighting.
The ship was great – the Ocean Adventurer. The cabin was comfortable and the food was really good. The operator was first class. We had a great tour leader and a full range of specialist guides, i.e. geologist, ornithologist, photographer, marine biologist etc. They were professional and great fun. the other guests were good company.
We had four days around Spitzbergen and four days around Greenland so we were able to get a sense of both rather than concentrating on just one. So polar bears AND icebergs!
You don’t actually get to see Iceland as part of the tour but you do disembark in Akureyri in north Iceland. We asked Exodus to change our flight back to the UK so we could arrange seven days there. We then drove from Akureyri to Keflavic along the Icelandic ring road seeing the major sights. The waterfalls are truly amazing. Greenland is actually icy and Iceland is green. So we had polar bears, icebergs and waterfalls in a three-week trip.
Note: to get to Spitzbergen you fly via Oslo. Exodus brought forward our flight and booked us into a hotel for two nights so we had a short city break as well. There are some great museums in Oslo (Munch, Viking Long Ship and the Fram Museum of Arctic Exploration) and this was a great start to our Arctic journey of a lifetime.
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