Walrus haul-out, Svalbard | © Christine Davies

Svalbard: "The Perfect Holiday of a Lifetime"

Natural World Safaris

Christine Davies

14 Oct 2019

NWS client Christine travels to the Arctic on board the M/V Kinfish

We chose to stay for two nights in Longyearbyen prior to joining the M/V Kinfish, and that proved to be a great decision. It is a place like no other and the constant daylight was a remarkable experience. There is plenty to see and do in Longyearbyen along with some incredible restaurants, and the scenery is a great introduction to life in the Arctic.

The M/V Kinfish is a former research ship taking 12 passengers, which means that whilst you forego the luxury of a bigger cruise ship, the flexibility and size of the vessel mean that you really feel you are on an adventure with your fellow crew and passengers. The cabins are perfect, spotless and ideal for this type of holiday.

Living in close contact with 10 strangers, eating, hiking and relaxing together was not difficult, as everyone had a thirst for adventure, knowledge and a love of wildlife – and Svalbard did not disappoint.

The M/V Kinfish in Svalbard | © Christine Davies

Our expedition guides, Bob and Ben, were brilliant. They made sure that we were informed and excited every day! Polar bears are not the only things that make these trips thrilling. The diversity of the flora, fauna and geography of this region was something that surprised me every day.

Zodiacs took us out to get a closer look at the glaciers and the wild landscapes, which are home to myriad birdlife, plants and creatures such as reindeer, Arctic fox, seals and walrus. Every step of the way, Bob and Ben imparted their vast knowledge while we bombarded them with questions!

Iceberg, Svalbard | © Christine Davies

Each sighting, whether large or small, was included in our “debrief” over dinner. Our wonderful guides even gave us slideshow presentations on aspects of this unique part of the world.

We were treated to several fascinating polar bear sightings, which included a mother and cub on the sea ice guarding their kill, a swimming polar bear which eventually climbed ashore and strolled along the water’s edge purely for our benefit, and a solitary bear waiting above a hole in the ice for a seal unlucky enough to pop its head out.

This particular bear paced around, rolled over and posed for us, and after consultation with the whole crew and passengers, we stayed transfixed for nine hours just watching it whilst it observed us! The sun came out and we rested on deckchairs, binoculars in hand – the perfect way to spend a day!

NWS clients on the deck of the M/V Kinfish, Svalbard | © Christine Davies

We watched, in awe, as a huge walrus played around our two zodiacs, his curiosity matched only by his willingness to pose for close-up pictures. We then landed on a beach to observe his slightly less active relatives – a group of 20 walrus – who allowed us to watch them from a safe distance as they rolled around amongst themselves on the waterfront.

Walrus, Svalbard | © Christine Davies

It is hard to write a short article of what I perceive to be the perfect holiday of a lifetime, but this precious landscape and the abundance of life was something I feel privileged to have seen. A special mention must go to the ship’s Captain and First Officer, who navigated us delicately through the icebergs and spotted polar bears along the way, and to the wonderful chef who produced gourmet food three times a day – often long overdue after we had spent far too long watching nesting birds or Arctic fox cubs!

10 days without phone or internet was heaven – and all 12 passengers agreed on this point!

From the day we arrived on the ship, to our departure on day 10, the crew worked hard to make it an experience we would never forget.

Kate Waite, Svalbard

Your Next Steps

View our Svalbard safaris, or talk to one of our specialists for more details on travelling to Svalbard. Please note we recommend a budget of from £7,000 / $10,000 USD per person for our style of trip to this destination.

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