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An Interview with the Kinfish Crew

Robin Dahlberg - Founder of Northern Expeditions


The R/V Kinfish, a 12-passenger expedition ship, has been chartered by NWS since 2018. Will fell in love with her as soon as he saw her, and our guests on expeditions since then, have raved about her and the crew.

We sat down with Robin Dahlberg, owner of the Kinfish, to chat all things expeditions in Svalbard.

You are the owner of RV Kinfish. How long have you owned her and what was it about her that made you think she was perfect for voyages in the Svalbard archipelago?

Kinfish was purchased in early 2018, but we started looking for the ideal ship long before that. There is lots to consider when looking for a ship in the expedition market, including technical standards, safety features, size, passenger comfort, environmental impact, operational effectiveness and more. Some features often compromise others so it’s a challenge to find the best balance, we do however believe that we found just that in Kinfish. She is extremely manoeuvrable so we can navigate and manoeuvre in challenging conditions with good safety margins. We inspected many vessels before choosing Kinfish, and we still believe our choice was right. Much can be said from the feeling you get when you step onboard. Kinfish is expedition in pure form with a genuine touch and comfy layout, exactly as we like it!

Robin Dahlberg

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What do you think sets RV Kinfish apart from other vessels operating in the archipelago?

Her layout and equipment allowing for outstanding flexibility and effective operations are key features for sure. However, your experience as a guest will be ruled much by the actions and service of the crew which is why we put so much emphasis on this area. We want to create a familiar and inclusive atmosphere onboard where we are all part of the adventure, and interaction between everyone onboard is a central part of the experience. We believe this is one of our strengths and is what makes a great experience even better.

Guests often comment that the Kinfish crew is a very organised and tight-knit team. What sort of qualities do you look for when selecting crew for the ship?

Crew recruitment is challenging, but also a very rewarding part of building our product. We rely on a professional staff who are good team players and like what they are doing. Obviously competence in their role is paramount, but the magic experience is founded in social skills and understanding of the experience as the product. We value applicants who like to give service, who enjoy the adventure and like sharing it with others.

Do you have a favourite location in Spitsbergen? And if yes, why?

That is a hard one. We find that a big charm with the area is it’s ever-changing characteristics through the season and therefore different sites have their ideal times for a visit. While one site is great for scenic views, another is special for its cultural heritage. If I had to choose one, Monacobreen in Liefdefjord is an incredible place, simply because it’s such a beautiful area.

What is your favourite local wildlife, and why?

There is no doubt that the Ursus Maritimus (Polar Bear) is a thrilling and spectacular animal to see, but have you ever seen an Arctic fox family play hide and seek? The energy and playfulness of a group of fox siblings can make your heart melt and the rarity of the experience puts it high on my list.

What is your favourite time in the Arctic season?

The midnight sun is an exciting experience, but the changes in colour and atmosphere that come with the sun's ups and downs can also be just spectacular. We favour the early and late seasons with the shifting light conditions that can take the scenic views to the next level of beauty.

What would you say is special/unique about a zodiac cruise?

Kinfish will offer you good low-level views for photography from her aft deck, but the closest to nature you will ever get is in a zodiac. Being right on top of the sea surface is a special feeling. When you turn the engine off and listen to the cracking of ice that echoes through the silence near a glacier front, that is magic that is hard to describe in words.

Guests love to come up to the ship’s bridge to spot wildlife from a vantage point. After all of your years up in Svalbard, are your eyes now tuned into spotting wildlife easily in the distance? Or like guests, do you often regularly claim there’s a bear in the distance which turns out to be a mound of snow?

Haha, well... We’d like to believe that experience raises the odds of spotting wildlife, but it should be acknowledged that we’ve had some spectacular spotters amongst our guests as well. The strength in spotting often lies in patience and perseverance and understanding the proportions and size of the wildlife in its surroundings. A good pair of binocular does, of course, help as well.

Where has the RV Kinfish been, and what has it been up to, since you were last in Svalbard?

We ended our Svalbard season mid October this year and stayed in Longyearbyen a couple of days awaiting a storm to pass before transiting down to Tromsø in mainland Norway, a crossing of the Barents Sea that takes around 3 days. We had a couple of weeks standby in Tromsø waiting for the Orca to arrive in the fjords, time well-invested in maintenance work before starting our Orca safari cruises with NWS in the beginning of November. The Orca safaris are something very special, a good highlight to end our operations for the year. As darkness took over by the end of the month, we headed south to our home port of Gothenburg in Sweden, where the ship arrived just a few days ago. Now we have a few months of work scheduled with a visit to the dockyard, all yearly inspections, and upgrades based on feedback from the season. Anyone who owns a ship will know that the work never stops and there are always improvements to be done. If you would like to keep up to date with what the Kinfish is up to, follow @rvkinfish on social media.

What emotions do you feel when you’re taking the RV Kinfish from Sweden to Longyearbyen at the start of a season?

Pure excitement! The weeks before departure for the season is often quite hectic. All lines onboard somewhat marks the end of preparations and the beginning of new adventures. It is just a great feeling!