It really is not hard to write a positive review about such a well run operation in what has to be one of the most stunning parts of the world, observing the abundant wildlife that calls this remote area home. The expedition team and the ship's captain and officers spent countless hours making sure that this voyage lived up to its title. As a result, we enjoyed numerous memorable sightings of polar bears, walrus haul outs, whales around the ship, arctic foxes, reindeer, seals and, of course, many species of birds. The onboard lectures from experts in their various fields were most informative and the zodiac shore excursions most enjoyable. Finally, one has to mention the jaw dropping scenery of the Svalbard Archipelago. High peaked mountains with glaciers reaching to the sea in every direction, huge bird cliffs reaching for the sky and sea ice from horizon to horizon. All very aptly summed up as "Magnificence at its Utmost Best". Thank you to all involved. The memories will last a lifetime! Frank Broadbent and Carol Dockley - Ohakune, New Zealand.
This was our second trip on the Plancius and we would go anywhere with them. Great ship, great crew, great trip. Eight polar bears with five on the one sighting was amazing but the highlight of the trip was the encounter with Mrs Bear who hung around the ship for at least an hour. Had the gang plank been down she would have just come on board.
Our group spent seven days around the Arctic Circle and the crew and were extremely helpful. The captain guided the ship so close to the polar bears when we were extremely lucky to see five bears in one place in one day, so close we could almost touch them. Off ship excursions were thoroughly professional in every respect and we were so impressed with the different experts that spoke every day of the flora and fauna in the area. A trip that will always be a talking point for many years to come. Thank you team.
This journey was really save and very well organized. I already booked my next trip to antarctic out of this experience! Nature and animals really respected. Atmosphere on board very good (feeling free on one side, good communication and kind exchange on the other side). Ship and cabin very clean (I'm German), the team very kind and ambitious without coming too near, knowing our names, glutenfree food was never a problem. Enough shoes available, even for later changes and very small lady feet. Some of us: cold feet while standing and watching animals on land. We saw 8 polar bears, 5 male at one place, some had just fed a seal (there we spent 3 hours watching and having time for photos, the ship turned the position to the best light for this). Walrusses we saw in the water and on land, both relativly near, whales very nearby the ship and on zodiak as well. we climbed a little bit and saw many reindeers there, two of them fighting a litte bit, many birds along our ship, the glacier in the best light, wonderful colours from the light of sunest, cristals of ice on the whole ship during our amazing packeis trip to a very north position. weather was very good, very good and far view.
This trip was the best wildlife trip ever! We saw many polar bears, at one time 5 at once!!! But we saw also walruses, bearded seals, fin whales, Svalbard reindeer and polar foxes. And of course tons of birds . The weather was perfect too, not much wind for calm sailings and nice sunny days.... The ship was perfect for a a trip like this, the crew outstanding!!!! Everybody on board from the waitress to the captain were so friendly, the expedition crew around Rinnie awesome!!! I can highly recommend this trip to everybody who wants to see polar bears in wild nature!
This is part of the thank you letter all passengers wrote to the crew of the RVR-23 after a wonderful trip to Thule: This trip ticked all of the boxes: birds and nature, once in a lifetime, special interest/explorer/historical, action and adventure. All of our desires were fulfilled! The crew did their jobs with passion and enthusiasm and their knowledge and skills instilled us with a sense of safety and security. The food and drinks on this trip were a delicious adventure for all of us, and the coffe machine was a huge plus! The landings were geared to everyone's tastes and preferences. The landings and zodiakrides were tremendous highlights of our trip. No one was ever bored and because we had choises we never felt limited in our adventures. Jordi and Gerard, our super hero guides, brought different strengths and experiences to our journey, they complimented each other beautifully. Their lectures were very informative and intellectually stimulating. We shall carry this journey and all of the wonderful experiences in our hearts forever!
We had a great trip with an excellent guide & crew. We found all of the species on my list, though the Blue Whale was a long way off. The Nooderlicht was good fun, the photos of it in drift ice and the mid-night sun are stunners. The fauna & flora were all varied & diverse, I did not expect to see such a range of flora on the tundra. My highlights were, Ice Bear & cubs, Walrus, Arctic Fox, Cetacean's, Bonxie flying in formation, the diversity of the birds, flora, glacier's, drift ice, stunning geology, & good food. We completed a lot of walks & a few hill climbs. I will be back.
In our childhood when my sister and I were living in Africa near the equator we were often dreaming of visiting, talking about and making drawings of Spitsbergen. Our father then made us a promise to bring us once he was retired. He kept the promis! Not knowing what to expect, we only had our 40 years old childhood-dreams, it was above all expectations. This Oceanwide trip affected me [and my father and my sister] with the Arctic-virus. I really fell in love with Spitsbergen, the Ortelius, the lovely energising crew, the rides in the Zodiacs, the playing Polar bears, the curious walrusses, the many birds, the pack-ice, the reindeers, all the different colours...overwhelming. After 3 days, still dizzy by land-sickness, I feel 'home-sick' and I will come back one day bringing my son. The whole experience was a poem!
Our trip to Greenland was a disaster. Not one day of the itinerary was achieved and definitely no Bowheads or large icebergs where seen. We were rerouted to Sisimiut with no warning to meet up with the boat that had failed to make it to Aasiaat, our planned destination. We understand that once on the planned trip nothing is guaranteed, but we didn’t even make it to the start point. We therefore spent a week on board a boat that travelled no more than a few miles around various local fiords to spot Canada geese and Mallard ducks! We did see a few distant Humpbacks and a sole Minke whale, but nothing that we were expecting. Most of our fellow guests were seasoned travellers and in a number of cases, like ourselves, to the polar regions. The majority were desperately upset to have wasted their money on a totally different trip than promised in a location miles away from where we wanted to be. Our main issue is that Oceanwide must have known about the ice situation at least a week before and made no attempt to inform us. An alternative plan should have been devised. The service and reaction of the crew didn't in anyway compensate for the disappointment of the trip!
I had waited a lifetime to do this trip. I hoped it would live up to my expectations. Well, it was so far above and beyond anything I had hoped for, two years later, I am still under its influence. Most likely will be for the rest of my life. I need to return! My main reason for going was to see blue ice. Anyone who thinks ice is white needs to see it for themselves. The blue is so intense, at times, it hurts the eyes. I needed to walk where the explorers from the heroic age had walked; needed to step inside their huts and 'feel' them. I pushed way past my comfort zone frequently, but always in safety. Oceanwide are good like that. They choose expert guides who take the time to get to know each expeditioner, and instinctively know how far they can push each one to get the most out of the experience. I fell in love with Ortelius. Is it possible to love a boat? The gentle thrum of her engines became like a heartbeat. Being a writer, this adventure was always going to end up in a book. "Why Antarctica? a Ross Sea odyssey" Full of photos and video clips, is now available on: iBooks | Kindle