Region: Arctic

Destinations: Svalbard

Ship: m/v Hondius

Overall, it had been a very attractive trip. Every effort was made to provide a memorable experience for the guests. The staff was very friendly and helpful. Most lectures were of good quality and general interest. Unfortunately, the dining facility resembled that of a cafeteria or canteen, often being extremely noisy making conversations very hard. Considering the consistently long lines at the beginning of breakfast and lunch, requesting to be ready for boarding of the zodiac identical with the official end of breakfast and lunch times doesn’t make sense and leads to the unpleasant feeling of being rushed. There is definitely room for greater flexibility. One needs to be aware that embarkation takes place via zodiacs. The ‘complimentary’ data volume of 100 MB and wine via wine card worth EUR 20 are kind of a joke. Even if it’s free of charge, charging EUR 4 for barely 0.1 deciliter of wine comes close to a rip-off. At times, the daily evening wrap-up meeting contained quite a bit of self-congratulation on what had been 'presented' that day, and kind of ‘selling’ the daily experiences as absolutely unique in an almost cheerleader-like fashion.

Oceanwide Expeditions

Comment from Oceanwide Expeditions

Thank you for your feedback. We're happy to hear you enjoyed your voyage overall. Some aspects you took issue with are regrettably beyond our control, such as the timing of embarkation via Zodiac, as this depends largely on the availability of piers in Longyearbyen. We often do not know if we will be at pier or anchor until 24 hours beforehand, when we are notified by the port.

As to feeling rushed, this surprises us. Our way of managing the daily programs is actually part of the reason people travel with us. Guests often take a seat and have a drink or starter while waiting for queues to subside, which usually takes 5-10 minutes after service opening. This program is displayed clearly around the ship and explained the day before activities, including expected Zodiac boarding times. This allows our guests to manage their time appropriately.

Our travel philosophy is maximum time off the ship. Onboard luxuries are a secondary concern. We think of ourselves as an expedition company, not a cruise operator. Perhaps this will help explain the other issues you had with your voyage. Our expedition team try to keep guests motivated by celebrating successful days in their re-cap. Most of our guests appreciate this, as it's understood that every wildlife sighting and moment of agreeable weather is a gift in the polar regions.

We hope this clarifies the difference between what you expected and what we offer. We are grateful for the feedback, whether positive or negative, as it helps refine our product.

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