Introducing the M/V Kinfish

Kate Waite

07 Feb 2018

NWS Kate's experiences on board our latest ship charter

While there are a number of ships that carry tourists on expeditions to the Arctic, there are only a few small passenger ships able to access the most remote areas of this frozen wilderness. In 2018 there will be a new addition to this elite fleet of expedition ships plying the icy waters at the top of our planet: the M/V Kinfish.

When boarding a ship that can make an old seafarer’s eyes sparkle with excitement and voice crack slightly with pride, you know you are on a special vessel. “This ship can dance,” exclaimed her owner, a man in his seventies who has probably spent as many days at sea as he has on land. The Kinfish is certainly manoeuvrable, as evidenced when she deftly slipped her mooring and left the port of Bergen in Norway, taking myself and the other passengers on a voyage that allowed us to discover the true extent of the ship's capabilities.

Without a doubt, the Kinfish is one of the nicest-looking small ships I’ve ever come across. A vessel with history and character, she is utilised during the winter months on exciting research expeditions, such as uncovering the history of Norway by scouring the seabed in search of Viking remains.

Her ongoing winter work in the research sector offers several benefits to the passengers travelling with her for a summer expedition to the Arctic. Designed for rougher waters and tougher conditions than you will ever find around the Svalbard archipelago, she boasts a fantastic stabilisation system for comfortable cruising, superior to that normally found in vessels of this size. Thanks to the state-of-the-art navigational equipment used on the bridge, passengers are able to sit here in comfort and view three-dimensional scans of the seabed.

While the bridge was the perfect place to sit, chat and scan the horizon, I was keen to get outside and explore the Kinfish’s outdoor areas.

Climbing up to the top deck reveals a drone’s-eye view of the surrounding landscape. While drones themselves are banned in the Arctic, this viewing platform is the perfect spot for aerial-esque photography with far-reaching 360-degree views. While a few of the other small ships that ply Arctic waters have a crow’s nest, none offer passengers as much viewing space from on high as the Kinfish. In fact, no other small ship has as many varied and accessible viewing platforms as this one.
Keen photographers know it’s not just about getting high, however; it’s about getting low too, and this is another area in which the Kinfish offers plenty of versatility. Her open railings on the front deck allow you to lie flat and scan the horizon for wildlife, while her low position in the water means you can get your lens at eye level to a polar bear should one be sighted nearby on the shore. Although providing opportunities for photography and intimate encounters with wildlife, the Kinfish’s deck is also high enough to keep you a safe distance from inquisitive bears that may decide to approach when the ship is parked in fast ice.
I decided to test out shooting from the front deck, lying down while the engine was running idle, using my longest lens (a 100-400). Having done this on other ships I know that vibration can be an issue as it amplifies through your body, requiring a slightly higher shutter speed than you might normally select for the subject. The Kinfish however has very little vibration; in fact, from the front while the engine is running idle she is remarkably still and quiet. I took a couple of shots with the lowest shutter speed I’d normally use while holding the camera in my hand. The images were pin-sharp - the vibration of the ship had no negative impact on my photography at all!
Of course while the outside space of the ship is where your Arctic adventure will play out, the inside is equally important. Newly refurbished, the modern interior of the Kinfish is comfortable and welcoming. It has been beautifully refitted, complete with a number of areas for socialising with fellow passengers. A lot of love and care has gone into the design of her communal areas, from the hand-designed “rainbow” bar based on graphs created during the ship’s seabed-scanning research work to the collection of maps and artefacts dotted around the ship, all of which hold a story.
We sat down to enjoy good food and even better wine, served in the large dining area. We shared stories while gathered around the table, the space congenial for forging friendships. But it’s not just the communal areas where passenger comfort has been well thought out, as the six cabins are well designed with comfortable beds and crisp white linen.

Like the other small expedition vessels in our fleet, the Kinfish is equipped with an ice-strengthened hull and shallow draught to allow her to navigate into the furthest reaches of Svalbard, visiting the wildest of landing sites and areas seldom seen by human visitors. Her manoeuvrability will maximise the opportunities to explore and seek out wildlife, while her flexible and varied deck space provides the perfect stage for your Arctic adventure to play out on. To find out how you can join her on one of our expeditions to Svalbard in 2018, visit our Polar Bear Explorer page.


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