“I’ve recently returned from an awe-inspiring trip up to the High Arctic, aboard the nimble yet comfortable M/S Expedition. The trip surpassed my expectations on so many levels – the wildlife, the route, the staff, crew and the ship; it was a fantastic experience from start to finish.
We were incredibly lucky on the wildlife front – so lucky in fact that our bear count reached double figures! We saw 10 bears, one of which was a very special encounter, with the bear practically walking right up to the bow of the ship and posing for photos! We were with the curious bear for around two hours, whilst he scanned and navigated his way across the pack ice and dipped in and out of the water.
We had many other special encounters – a Zodiac cruise amongst groups of swimming walruses, watching an Arctic fox hunt for kittiwakes, as well as 'waving' humpback whales, white-beaked dolphins, Arctic reindeer and many others.
What really added to the wildlife experience though, were the staff. There were experts on-board from every field including ornithology, zoology, geology, biology and photography and they were always on hand to answer questions and enhance the experience with their knowledge. Each day they would offer lectures on various subjects, which would help further explain the fascinating events/scenes and wildlife we were witnessing. I believe between them they had amassed a combined expedition experience of over 200 years!
One other added benefit was the “Photographer in Residence” – a professional photographer that was on-board to help us get the best out of our photos. She held a series of workshops, as well as one-to-one tuition and advice when we were in action, allowing us all to take some excellent photos to treasure and to show off to our friends and families!
And then there’s the ship. The M/S Expedition is perfect for expedition cruising, with its ice-hardened hull and bow thrusters to help it manoeuvre through pack ice and around the coastline with ease. It has a large fleet of Zodiacs which allowed us to get very close to the action, and of course providing the platform for the all-important shore landings.
On-board, the cabins are all en-suite, spacious and comfortable, and there is a generously sized ‘discovery lounge’ with large windows and views of the passing scenery, a dining room with excellent cuisine, and even a small pub! My favourite bit about the ship though is its open bridge policy – you can head up to the bridge and witness the Captain navigating his way through this unique environment first-hand.
To sum it up– it was the trip of a lifetime to one of the last true wildernesses on earth.“