realm of the polar bear

Famous for its enormous icebergs, towering glaciers and shimmering summer light, Antarctica offers some of the planet's most awe inspiring landscapes. The North Atlantic and Arctic evoke images of sparse snow covered lands, but when summer comes it bursts with colour and life.

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realm of the polar bear

Postby collywobbles » Thu Nov 21, 2013 3:54 pm

hi all. :)

I am hoping to do this trip next year . I have been looking at various different airlines for flights to Longyearbyen. The flights are quiet limited in and out. My main question is for people who have done this trip. Many of the flights leave Longyearbyen at 4.45 am on the morning of the last day of expedition . I was just wondering if the boat is docked earlier or are passengers transferred off the boat at an earlier time . Maybe some one who has done this trip may be able to answer for me. Also a lot of the flights seem to come in at 23.40 pm the day before the tour starts . I take this to mean it will be necessary to book an extra day at starting hotel or another one. Any info regarding hotel would be good too .

Thanks again for any help ye might be able to give.

cheers :D
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Re: realm of the polar bear

Postby lesliew » Thu Nov 21, 2013 7:25 pm

I did this tour this past summer. I took the 4:45am flight out. Don't worry, there will be lots of people doing this and they will get you there on time. I think we had close to 60 people leaving on the 4:45am flight. The ship returns to the harbor at Longyearbyen the evening before (around dinnertime) and it will either dock, or anchor in the harbor and you will be taken to shore by zodiac. The nice thing is, with 24 hours of daylight, it will be nice and bright when you get off of the ship around 2:30am! Many people also flew into Longyearbyen the day before. I flew in on the 1:45pm flight the day before and stayed at the Radisson Blu Polar Hotel (which is the tour's starting hotel). It's a very nice hotel, and Longyearbyen is an interesting town to explore so I definitely recommend arriving a day early. There is a nice little museum (you can see it from the hotel) that tells the history of Svalbard, and you will also be right at the center of town where there are shops and a couple of restaurants. A friend I met on the tour stayed the night before at a hotel called Basecamp. She gave it very good reviews and really liked it. She said it was very unique (more rustic) and I think it may cost less than the Radisson.
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Re: realm of the polar bear

Postby collywobbles » Fri Nov 22, 2013 11:29 am

Hi lesliew :D

Thank you for the information. It is very helpful. and I have 90% made my mind up about getting the 4.45 am flight out. big help and yes I will check out the museum and the other hotel basecamp . many thanks :D
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Re: realm of the polar bear

Postby lesliew » Fri Nov 22, 2013 11:45 am

You're welcome. I'm happy to answer any questions - it was a fabulous trip and I'd go again in a heartbeat!
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Re: realm of the polar bear

Postby collywobbles » Sat Nov 23, 2013 2:15 pm

lesliew wrote:You're welcome. I'm happy to answer any questions - it was a fabulous trip and I'd go again in a heartbeat!


Hiya :D

Just a few questions for you. What month did you go on trip? It only goes 3 months in the year June July and August. I am hoping to go in August. the 11 day trip. Did you do the 8 day trip or 11 day trip? Was it very cold or artic cold :lol: ? Did you get some good photographs? And of course the 64 thousand dollar question did you get to see any polar bears? I may very well have more questions for you :) It has always been on my bucket list to do this trip :) oh almost forgot did you do the polar plunge and if so how was it brrrrrrrrrr :lol:

cheers , and thanks again. :D
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Re: realm of the polar bear

Postby lesliew » Sat Nov 23, 2013 6:53 pm

I did the 8 day trip in July...no particular reason, it just worked best with my schedule. The cold actually wasn't that bad. In the southern parts of Svalbard it was regularly around 40 degrees F (about 5 Celsius). When we were up at the northern edge near the pack ice, it was colder, around 35F (2 Celsius). I dressed in layers everyday because the weather can change so fast...sometimes we'd be hiking, and I'd get warm and take off my coat. When we were closer to the ice, I'd get really cold and have to go inside and get some hot chocolate to warm up, but it was never unbearable (no pun intended :) ). I got some excellent photos! We got really close to walruses, reindeer, and an arctic fox. The landscape is beautiful too. There is also a photographer-in-residence on board, and after the trip you will be able to download their pictures from your trip. And yes, we saw bears! We only saw one up close (a couple more were spotted with binoculars), but it was an amazing experience. We were able to follow it for 5 hours and watch him hunt seals on the ice (he never got one, so we didn't have to see a bloodbath...). I did the polar plunge too. It wasn't as bad as I expected (we ran into the water from shore, as opposed to just jumping off the boat). I was in the water less than a minute because I could immediately feel my feet start to burn and cramp, but as soon as I ran out I was fine and warmed up rather quickly. The whole trip was unbelievable, and even though I, like most people, was mainly excited about seeing polar bears, we saw and did such a variety of things; it greatly surpassed all of my expectations.
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Re: realm of the polar bear

Postby alexcowan » Sat Nov 23, 2013 11:38 pm

You've got some great info from other travellers there. Just to add my two cents on bears etc:

If you ever wonder what you'll see, you'll see Svalbard. Glib, but that's really it. You'll see wind, fog, landscapes, ice, lots of birds, probably Walrus and Polar bears and maybe Foxes. If you're lucky you'll see the famous mirages. You might even see whales (Humpback, Fin and maybe Blue).

But remember that with all of these trips you're not going to a resort. Everyone says they understand this, but few actually do when it comes to the crunch. If we haven't seen a bear up close they want to know WHY! Well, the answer of course is that we haven't had any bears close to the ship and that's why they haven't been close to a bear, but the idea that this is a wild place and not a zoo or the television is a very alien concept to almost all of us today. We can't take you to see Polar bears, we can only take you to Svalbard and you will see what is visible in Svalbard at that time. I don't think we've ever not seen a bear on a trip, but that doesn't mean everyone has been up close with one by any means! If you want to be sure you'll get close to a bear go to Churchill (in Manitoba) or a zoo. If you want to see a truly wild land and see the animals that exist within it then come to Svalbard. I would take the latter every time, but don't come expecting some spectacular circus experience because while that can happen, it only happens once every year or two. If spectacular bear photos are what you want then you're taking a risk -- you may come away with a great photo of a genuinely wild creature living as it always has, or you may come away with some cream-coloured smudges on your sensor! But if it's enough for you to know that you've watched these wild animals and been in their home and seen their ancient way of life, then you'll have a *great* trip and a very special experience.

It's a fabulous trip, so come with an open mind. We can show you Svalbard's glories, you just need to have your eyes open to them. I definitely recommend this trip. And do the longer one!
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Re: realm of the polar bear

Postby lesliew » Sun Nov 24, 2013 10:46 am

I agree with what alex said - this is the kind of trip you have to be willing to just "go with the flow" on. For example, on one day of our trip, we couldn't make a shore landing as scheduled, but the staff did what they could to make sure we still had a great day (we ended up making an alternate landing at a difference place). One day, we sailed further out into the open ocean to look for whales, but unfortunately the weather was not great (rain and fog, REALLY rough seas) and we never saw a whale. Disappointing, but that's the chance you take. I think the excitement of this kind of trip is not knowing if you'll see a certain thing....and then if you do see it, it's that much more rewarding. In my opinion, finding that one polar bear after 4 days of searching was so much more exciting than going to a place like Churchill where you're basically guaranteed to be up close (if I wanted that, I'd go to my local zoo - it's much cheaper :) ).
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Re: realm of the polar bear

Postby collywobbles » Sun Nov 24, 2013 3:34 pm

Hey guys :D

Thank you so much for all info provided. I'm almost sold on the 11 day trip . Just need to sort out a few bits. :lol: And yes I know the chances of seeing polar bears can be like a lottery but hey if I see some that's a bonus if not that's ok too. I know its not a resort type holiday but I don't do those holidays anyway :) I plan to visit with an open mind . hopefully get some decent photos and go with the flow :lol: . That's what adventure holidays are all about. I have been reading up about the trip and as I posted Its on my bucket list . Mind you I do feel the cold something awful . So I will need to stock up on layers and thermals :)


Thanks again guys.
Alex are you on the Artic trips all the time or do you get to go to the Antarctica as well? :D
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Re: realm of the polar bear

Postby alexcowan » Sun Nov 24, 2013 8:37 pm

I'm deep within the Erebus and Terror Gulf in the Weddell Sea right now, so I do indeed get down to Antarctica!
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Re: realm of the polar bear

Postby collywobbles » Mon Nov 25, 2013 1:06 pm

alexcowan wrote:I'm deep within the Erebus and Terror Gulf in the Weddell Sea right now, so I do indeed get down to Antarctica!



Nice one alex :D Must also put that trip on my list. :D
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Re: realm of the polar bear

Postby dmitri1999 » Sun Dec 01, 2013 4:52 pm

It is always a good idea to at least arrive earlier. I've been on way too many tours where people would be late and could not make it,due to flight cancellations and reschedules.
Extra day should you your insurance.
Same with flying a few hours after you arrive. I've been on a tour where due to the road conditions we arrived 6 hours later than expected and a few people missed their flight.

Not worth your nerves and hassle!
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