A trip on an expedition ship? The Ortelius isn't a luxury cruiser, but she's a comfortable vessel, our cabin (a superior twin) was excellent, with lovely touches like Mars Bars and wine in the fridge. Unlike some cruises, bottled water was provided with lunch and dinner. There's a reasonably priced wine list and Rolando mixes a good negroni (and other cocktails). Our friendly and efficient servers were Jay and Noelle who learned our names very quickly. And the food - a great variety, well cooked and much, much better than anticipated. And the wildlife? Minke and blue whales (the first within an hour of leaving Longyearbyen), walruses, harp and bearded seals, arctic foxes, Svalbard reindeer and polar bears. One bear came so close we thought he was trying to board the ship and share our dinner. The crew, officers and staff are all approachable and the "open bridge" policy means you get the chance of panoramic views of the ice - and the wildlife - ahead. The expedition team - led by Rinie - are excellent. As a birder, I was thrilled with close avian encounters with little auk, arctic tern, ivory and glaucous gulls, black and Brunnich's guillemots, and more An amazing trip!

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