The ship’s facilities and level of comfort exceeded our expectations. Of course, July in Svalbard is 24-hour daylight which is fabulous for all-day wildlife spotting. However, there were concerns that this might make sleeping at “night” difficult! Not so. The cabins were comfortable and also well equipped with blackout blinds, which meant that sleeping was actually not a problem. Airline eye masks were not required!
All the food was really excellent and the kitchen/dining staff, who were mainly Scandinavian, were brilliant – young and fun but also professional and helpful. Alcohol was also plentiful. While we had brought our duty-free apéritifs with us, there was plenty of wine available to purchase, which we did!
Mealtimes were fun and a great time to discuss what we had experienced so far and what we hoped to see. "This morning, this afternoon, this evening…"
Day 1: We had barely settled into the ship and we were to have our first “outing”. We were off to see a family of Arctic foxes with recently born cubs, the existence and whereabouts of which the guides knew from the previous trip. "The zodiacs will be leaving in 30 minutes. Bring your binoculars and cameras… this will be a wet landing" (i.e. we were going to have to wade at least a few metres in the water to get to land).
Wellington boots were really a necessity but not everyone had brought them! One or two, I think, got wet feet… but one of the girls was light enough to be “helped”/carried to shore! As instructed, within 30 minutes everybody reported to the muster station with several more layers of clothing, plus coats, hats and lifejackets. Everybody was always on time. Within a few minutes, all zodiacs were deployed and we were off. Later that day, we got into the zodiacs again to land on a beach where we spent some time with a "haul-out" of walruses.