Towering mountain peaks, a massive glacier spilling down the valley in between, and then someone on the bridge hollers, “Animal on the fast ice!” We mobilize quick, lowering the zodiacs and zoom up to the ice edge for a closer look.
This is the magic of Svalbard.
In June 2018 we’ll be taking a group of 12 intrepid guests to journey around some of the most majestic islands of the Arctic, on the lookout for whales, polar bears, walruses, arctic foxes, and much more. Not to mention hiking across the tundra, taking in colossal glaciers crackling under the Springtime sun, and gazing up at jagged peaks that relatively few have laid eyes upon.
We’ve chosen June for this voyage as it’s still early in the season and with luck, the winter sea ice will still be far enough south to offer us opportunities for polar bear sightings. In Svalbard, Nature is Queen.
THE EXPEDITION SHIP
Guests will travel on board the newly refurbished ship, the Polarfront, an excellent polar vessel that offers big ship sophistication in a small ship package.
She offers large, tastefully appointed twin cabins (both lower berths), a common lounge and polar library.
an outdoor jacuzzi
a mudroom for your wet outer gear
a French chef
Not to mention, the bridge is always open.
Come and experience Svalbard in style, comfort, and class without taking away from the real expeditionary feel.
WHY WE LOVE THIS SHIP
Her spacious forward & rear decks low to the water – ideal for getting closer to wildlife on the ice –
and a bird’s nest in the front for getting those high up panorama shots if photography is your thing
A mudroom for your outdoor wet/muddy field clothes and boots so you leave them in a warm, protected space just off the main deck rather than bring it in to your clean suite
Extra electrical outlets in the suites and common areas for charging camera batteries and laptops
Her compact size means we can avoid the competing interest groups of the larger ships and just do
we really want to do!
DATES: June 19th – 29th, 2018
RATES: All rates are per passenger based on shared cabins. If you prefer a suite to yourself, the rate is 1.7x the cost quoted below.
Polarfront Suites: SOLD OUT!
Deluxe Suites: SOLD OUT!
Owner’s Prestige Suite: SOLD OUT!
* see explanation of suite differences in FAQ at the bottom of this page
PASSENGERS: Twelve (plus two expedition guides)
LANGUAGE: The official language of the tour will be English
Click below to access the Booking Form and Terms+Conditions for this voyage
June 19th – Embarkation day:
Board the Polarfront at 4pm from the dock in Longyearbyen and enjoy a welcome champagne with the captain.
June 20th through 29th – Expedition days:
While there is a carefully planned daily schedule based on distances between points of interest and the location of the ice in any given season, our timetable in Svalbard by nature must be flexible.
We usually begin by heading North towards the ice edge which is a great place to scout for polar bears, but that’s not the only goal. We’ll use our planned itinerary as a rough guide so that every day the conditions are maximized for the best wildlife watching opportunities, be they land or sea-based.
Every morning your Expedition Leader will work with the bridge officers to make decisions about the day, taking into account ice situation and the weather, looking at whether Plan A makes the most sense or if Plan B, C, or D will be better for us. If we come across something amazing, we would never just pull the plug because we have something else “scheduled” for the afternoon. While the captain has final say on all decisions made, we will always check in with the group and take into account your wishes.
WHAT TO EXPECT
Svalbard has a little bit of everything, including massive scenic fjords from which artfully sculpted glaciers emerge to meet the sea, up to the high snowcapped peaks, and all the way down to Arctic tundra covered in colourful vegetation such as mosses and lichens that the Svalbard reindeer love to feed on. It’s not uncommon to find seals or walruses resting on ice floes at the mouths of these fjords, and if we’re lucky, we’ll spot a whale or two as we sail up the west coast.
We’ll plan to stop in at the world’s northernmost civilian settlement, the research village of Ny Ålesund, which also boasts the world’s northernmost post office. At the height of the summer season there are about 120 inhabitants working amongst the 15 permanent research stations.
It’s from here that Amundsen and Nobile initiated their courageous attempts to reach the North Pole by airship, and there are a couple of monuments dedicated to their efforts that are worth visiting.
From there we’ll continue heading north, poking into other landing sites and fjords of interest, getting out into the two zodiacs to make landings where we’ll plan hikes to stretch our legs and optimize our chances for excellent photographic opportunities.
We’ll be constantly scouting for these great northern predators and if we find them, get as close as we can without disturbing them or putting passengers at any risk. Again, getting out into the inflatable zodiacs is an excellent way to safely observe the wildlife from proximity.
Weather and ice conditions permitting, we’ll sail into Hinlopen Strait and plan to visit Alkefjellet (‘Bird Mountain’), a series of otherworldly basalt cliffs stretching a number of kilometres in length and in some places, up to 100 meters high, (click on the underlined text to see an amazing video!) on which we’ll find thousands of nesting birds and the occasional Arctic fox hunting nearby.
Nordauslandet, Barentsøya, and Edgeøya are all locations that we may also explore, weather and ice permitting, and offer magnificent scenery with vast tundra which hold the prospect of continued incredible landscapes and wildlife sighting opportunities.
During the entire expedition we’ll be on the lookout for polar bears, which can be spotted on land just as often as on the sea ice. There are an estimated 3000-4000 animals in the region and the population is considered to be stable. This powerful animal is amazing to behold in the wild, with males weighing up to 700kg when they are at their healthiest.
June 29th – Disembarkation day:
Disembark in Longyearbyen around 8:00am
The Polarfront owners, captain and crew have over three decades of combined experience in Svalbard and are commited to delivering a best-in-class experience, keeping safety and environmental protection in mind.
This wonderful small ship is being purpose-retrofit for custom groups like wildlife enthusiasts and photographers, adding a number of features to modernize the ship for the digital age as well as ensuring she is the most comfortable small ship option in Svalbard with all lower berths and all en suite cabins.
Below you can view the deck plan, and further down some images of her beautiful interior and amenities.
**These plans are non-binding and small changes may occur to deck plan above or cabin layout below.
INCLUDED IN THE PRICE:
All nights onboard the Polarfront
All meals onboard the vessel (including non-alcoholic drinks as coffee, tea, water and breakfast juice)
Expedition leader + guide, as well as ship’s crew
Excursions with two Mark V Zodiac boats
NOT INCLUDED IN THE PRICE:
All flights to and from Svalbard (Longyearbyen)
Overnight accommodation before + after the expedition
Alcohol + souvenirs purchased onboard
Tips for the vessel’s crew members (not required but recommended)
Cancellation/trip interruption + medical evacuation insurance
YOUR EXPEDITION GUIDES
Polar Expedition Leader, Kayak Guide, Extreme Adventure Skiier
David is an accomplished professional guide and polar Expedition Leader from Sweden. He has spent the last six years splitting his time between the Arctic and Antarctic, working as a full time adventure guide and expedition leader. David has a wide range of experience from leading expeditions on different ships to dogsled driving and kayak guiding in the coldest regions of the world. He has led expeditions in Svalbard, Greenland, Scotland, Iceland, the Faroe Islands, South Georgia, the Falkland Islands and of course Antarctica.
In May 2016 David completed an unsupported crossing of Greenland’s inland ice following the footsteps of one of his heroes, Fridtjof Nansen. The 600 kilometer long journey across the ice totalled 27 days. Furthermore, he has spent several winters driving snowmobiles and guiding for Sweden’s IceHotel, often in temperatures dropping down to minus 50 degrees.
Beyond being a polar history enthusiast, David is educated in earth sciences and glaciology and as an accomplished lecturer, loves sharing his knowledge about the polar regions with everyone who travels with him.
Polar Expedition Guide
Born in California near Los Angeles, Beau moved to Canada when he was one year old. Growing up in the Northern Ontario wilderness, he learned at an early age to appreciate the great outdoors while learning wilderness skills such as camping, survival, navigation, & tracking.
After graduating college with a diploma in Sustainable Outdoor Recreation Management including studies in Biology, Wilderness Guiding, Wilderness Survival, Canoe Guiding, Small Engine Mechanics, Woodworking, Marketing, & Business Management, he headed west to British Columbia to work at ski resorts where he learned to drive just about every kind of vehicle including tracked snow-cats, while exploring the mountains by snowboarding, mountain biking, hiking, & heli-boarding.
After meeting his German wife in B.C., he moved back to Ontario working at another ski resort near the great lakes. In 2011 he crossed over to Germany permanently, trying his hand at making wine & building bikes while traveling the world with his wife, having been to nearly every continent with a special appreciation for the African savannah & Italian cuisine.
Happiest in a jeep out on safari or out on deck searching for polar bears, he now works on expedition ships in the Polar Regions as an expedition leader, assistant expedition leader, guide, lecturer, gun armorer, bear expert, photographer, camping leader, safety officer, zodiac & outboard engine mechanic, as well as assisting with helicopter operations. He currently resides in Dresden, Germany with his beautiful wife and new baby son.
BONUS GUIDE – PHOTOGRAPHY
Photography Guide + Ambassador for Fujifilm Nordic
Tommy Simonsen (47) hails from the heart of Northern Norway, the picturesque city of Harstad, and has been working with travel and documentary/landscape photography professionally since 1998, as well as portrait photography since 1992. An active outdoor person since childhood, he’s had cameras with him in the field since 1990. Tommy started his photography career working over ten years as a photographer for Northern Norway's largest publishing company, To-Foto, a job that gave him local knowledge of most of the exciting parts of the northern region, but also Greenland, Iceland and Antarctica. His pictures were used mainly in book productions: books on Lofoten, North Cape, The Norwegian Costal Liner and many more. In 1999 he was sent to a new location to take pictures for his first time, a mission that turned out to be a real turning point in his career: he fell totally in love! In love with the beautiful and dramatic scenery on the last outpost in the north, the archipelago of Svalbard at 78 degrees north.
This was the first of many journeys to Svalbard. Those first travels ended in a book and a booklet about this Arctic archipelago. In 2006 he took a year of leave from the publishing company to work as a dog handler and guide for Svalbard Villmarkssenter. There he worked in the field with more than 100 huskies, his camera with him at all times. That year affirmed clearly his love for this scenic landscape and people of the north.
Though Tommy went back to his old job in 2007, he continued to focus on Northern Norway, Antarctica, and Svalbard (of course). In 2008 he started a new job as photo teacher at Soltun Folkhighschool, a teaching a groundbreaking new course that he developed. Not an ordinary photo class, but a one-year photography course, which specialized in travel and expedition photography: Backpack Photo. As the only teacher in a class of no more than 11 students, he used northern Norway and Svalbard as their classroom with practical field courses from August to February. But that was just a starting point: each year a five-to-six week long exotic field expedition was planned that went deep into the culture of the country that was selected, with new locations added each year.
This has taken Tommy to Central America, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Patagonia, Antarctica, Kenya, Uganda, Laos, Vietnam, Madagascar, Indonesia and Singapore over the last seven years. All this experience has given him one of three places in the qualifying examination board for photography students in Troms county.
From summer of 2015 he has been working full time as a photographer at his business, Kvitebjørn Foto (White Bear Photography) guiding international workshops in Northern Norway and spending as much time as possible in Svalbard.
From 2016, Tommy has been an Official Ambassador for Fujifilm Nordic, testing their kit to the max in harsh conditions and doing lectures for Fujifilm.
WATCH THIS SHORT VIDEO ABOUT TOMMY IN SVALBARD BELOW
Passport – Your passport must be valid for at least six months from the date of travel and you are responsible for any visa required to enter Norway/the Schengen Zone. If you are unsure whether you need a visa to travel to Svalbard, please consult this list of countries.
Health requirements – you must be in reasonable health and have a reasonable level of mobility in order to join the expedition. The voyage is on board a ship and at times, the sea may be rough. This requires a degree of balance and agility so that you may safely move around the vessel. Also keep in mind that at times, we may offer a hike on land (which will always be optional).
Insurance Requirements – as the nature of our expedition involves visiting the remote wilderness, we require all passengers to take out appropriate trip interruption/cancellation and medical evacuation insurance. If you need assistance finding a travel insurance company, contact us using the contact form below and we can help.
What to bring – Based on our combined years of experience braving the wilds of Svalbard, we’ve created a handy PDF packing list that you can download here. Please note that rubber boots and waterproof pants + jacket are all required to participate in landings in Svalbard.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
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What is the difference between a Polarfront Suite, a Deluxe Suite, and the Owner's Prestige Suite?
The Polarfront Suites are already ample in size around18m² and are located near the front of the vessel.
The Deluxe Suites are about 20m², one forward, one mid-ship, and one aft.
The Owner’s Prestige Suite is 28m² and has a more spacious sitting area. It is located mid-ship.
All suites have lower berths (no bunk beds) and can be set up as either two single 80cm beds or one double 160cm bed, with the exception of Suite 1. Each suite also comes equipped with a hairdryer and towels.
Will we see polar bears?
We’ll also have someone on polar bear watch at all hours of the day from the bridge. In other words, we will do everything we can to find bears and go to get a closer look. The benefits of sailing on such a small ship are two-fold: 1) being small we can maneuver close to the animals without disturbing them – thus giving you the best opportunity to photograph them 2) the ship can change plans on a dime and head full speed towards something of interest.
What kind of footwear do I need?
For zodiac excursions and landings you are required to wear rubber boots. This is because all landings are “wet landings” meaning you will be stepping into freezing cold water and rubber boots are the only safe option to keep you dry. For hiking, you can bring a sturdy pair of hiking boots or shoes to change into from your rubber boots.
What type of electrical outlets are on board?
Do I need to bring cash with me?
There is also a small boutique where you can buy souvenirs. The boutique can only accept cash – USD, Euros, or GBP.
A final consideration is the non-mandatory tipping of the crew. If you feel you have received good service and wish to tip the crew at the end of the journey, bring some extra cash along.
What kind of communications are available on board the ship?
As with all small vessels, there is no internet available on board the ship. Above 70 degrees latitude there are no wifi networks at all, and while we will have cellular/3G connection in and near Longyearbyen due to the cell phone towers in the community, once we sail away from Isfjord there will be no connection available. Text-based emails can be sent via the bridge during their once-daily connection to pick up weather reports and phone calls can be made via Iridium satellite phone for a fee of 1 euro per minute.
An emergency phone number and email to contact the ship will be provided in the pre-departure materials for you to share with your loved ones back home.
TERMS + CONDITIONS and BOOKING FORM
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Terms and Conditions
GENERAL TERMS AND CONDITIONS
§ 1 Reservations and payment
1.1 Registration is completed and binding when Twin Tracks Expeditions AB has received a signed Booking Form, which includes acceptance of these General Terms and Conditions, and the deposit amount of 2,000 EUROS per person.
1.2 The remaining portion of the travel price shall be paid in two installments; 30% of the travel price shall be paid no later than six months prior to departure date and the remaining balance no later than three months prior to departure date. Any partial or full fare not received within the deadlines outlined in this paragraph may result in the booking being cancelled by Twin Tracks Expeditions AB, in which case all amounts paid shall be forfeited.
1.3 If booking is made later than three months before departure date, the full price shall be paid in connection with the booking.
1.4 Payments must be made in EUROS by bank transfer as per the instructions on the Booking Form. Paying in USD is also possible if requested at the time of placing the deposit.
§ 2 Travel details
2.1 Voyage description and itinerary for each voyage, as well as other details for the travel and information as regards health requirements, insurance requirements, visa and other immigration issues and other can be found on Twin Tracks Expeditions AB’s website www.twintracksexpeditions.com. All information on the website is part of the agreement between Twin Tracks Expeditions AB and the traveler.
2.2 The traveler is responsible for fulfilling all requirements, including having a valid passport and necessary visas and other documentation, and for being able to carry out the trip, as well as for all injuries that he/she may incur during the trip. The traveler is required to have insurance covering cancellation or trip interruption costs as well as medical evacuation costs.
2.3 Consumption of alcoholic beverages brought on board by the traveler is not allowed unless expressly agreed upon beforehand with Twin Tracks Expeditions AB.
2.4 It is not allowed to fly any UAV’s (unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones) on ships operated by members of AECO or IAATO. As regards other non-member ships, the flying of UAV’s may be permitted but requires approval beforehand from Twin Tracks Expeditions AB and shall under all circumstances be subject to local authorities’ restrictions and regulations.
2.5 Since the travel will take place out in the wilderness of nature, security is vital. The traveler is aware of and accepts that adhering to safety routines and obeying the guides’ instructions is of critical importance.
2.6 The travel is construed as a group travel, meaning that the price is based upon group participation. No refund will be made by Twin Tracks Expeditions AB in the event a traveler chooses not to participate in all parts of the program or if a traveler withdraws from the trip prematurely, irrespective of reason.
§ 3 Traveler’s cancellation
3.1 A traveler must notify Twin Tracks Expeditions AB in writing of any cancellation. In case cancellation is made more than six months prior to departure date, the traveler forfeits 200 EUROS, or 10% of the deposit amount. In case cancellation is made less than six months but more than three months prior to departure date, the traveler forfeits 2000 EUROS (the whole deposit amount). In case cancellation is made less than three months prior to departure date, the traveler is responsible to pay full price for the trip.
3.2 In order to minimize loss in the event of trip cancellation or interruption, each traveler is required to secure trip cancellation and interruption insurance as well as medical evacuation insurance for the period of travel in question.
§ 4 Twin Tracks Expeditions AB’s cancellation or alteration
4.1 The travels arranged by Twin Tracks Expeditions AB are carried out in remote parts of the world where weather and ice conditions are extreme and unpredictable, and where unforeseen events outside the control of Twin Tracks Expeditions AB may occur, requiring Twin Tracks Expeditions AB to quickly adapt to new circumstances. Twin Tracks Expeditions AB thus reserves the right to cancel, or, as the case may be, change the conditions for the travel or change the itinerary either before or during the trip. Twin Tracks Expeditions AB always strive for making the voyage as best as possible for the travelers and a decision to cancel an initial plan or change the travel conditions (travel dates, travel route, etc) will always be made in the interests of the travelers and with safety in mind.
4.2 If the minimum number of travellers as listed in the voyage description is not met, Twin Tracks Expeditions AB has the right to cancel the voyage. Such cancellation shall be notified to the travelers no later than 90 days prior to departure date. In case cancellation is made according to this paragraph, Twin Tracks Expeditions AB shall repay all payment made from travelers but shall have no further obligations in relation to the traveler.
4.3 If a voyage is cancelled or travel conditions changed significantly by Twin Tracks Expeditions AB before departure date, and this to the traveler’s disadvantage, the traveler may choose to withdraw from the travel agreement and Twin Tracks Expeditions AB will then refund all payments received from the traveler. The traveler shall within reasonable time after having being notified about cancelled or changed tour inform Twin Tracks Expeditions AB whether he/she wants to withdraw from the travel.
4.4 If after departure date an essential part of the services agreed upon are not provided by Twin Tracks Expeditions AB, and this means a worsening for the traveler, Twin Tracks Expeditions AB shall, if reasonable, offer a price reduction corresponding to the decrease of the value of the trip.
4.5 Twin Tracks Expeditions AB shall never be liable to pay any compensation (for airfares, visas, insurance or other) or damages because of a cancelled or changed travel if
(a) the cancellation or change of a travel is caused by the traveler;
(b) reason for the cancellation is that the minimum number of registered travelers as stated in the voyage description is not met, and the cancellation has been notified in writing to the traveler;
(c) the cancellation or change of the travel is due to a circumstance which was out of Twin Tracks Expeditions AB’s control and the occurrence of which Twin Tracks Expeditions AB was not able to foresee when entering into the agreement with the traveler, and the consequences of which were not possible to avoid or overcome; or
(d) the liability to pay damages can not be considered reasonable.
§ 5 Price changes
5.1 Twin Tracks Expeditions AB reserves the right to change the price for the trip due to fluctuations in currency or fuel costs or due to changes in taxes or fees which affect Twin Tracks Expeditions AB’s costs for the travel. A potential increase in price should not exceed more than 350 EUROS per passenger, and if implemented, must legally be communicated to the passengers no later than 20 days before the voyage departure.
§ 6 Complaints
6.1 If the traveler considers Twin Track Expeditions AB’s services to be deviating from what is agreed, the traveler must notify Twin Tracks Expeditions AB in writing thereof immediately after having noticed such deviation. If not notifying Twin Tracks Expeditions AB within this time, or notifying Twin Tracks Expeditions AB more than one month after finishing the trip, the traveler may not invoke any deviations from agreement in relation to Twin Tracks Expeditions AB.
§ 7 Applicable law
7.1 Swedish law shall govern the agreement between Twin Tracks Expeditions AB and the traveler.
These General Terms and Conditions are applicable to all bookings of travels from Twin Tracks Expeditions AB, Lövlundsvägen 49B, Furuvik, 814 91 Sweden, Org No. 559038-1553