Wednesday, February 1, 2012


Howdy, Adventurers,
Shearwater Journeys, Inc. is proud to have booked three charter voyages on M/S Stockholm to SVALBARD'S HIGH ARCTIC:
8 - 18 JULY 2012 SOLD OUT
28 JUNE - 8 JULY 2013 SOLD OUT
In this post, I shall describe our vessel, crew and overall voyage plans. Please note that this is the same vessel that we'll be using for the SPRING SCOTLAND VOYAGE. I will be on board the Scotland voyage, but have not chartered the vessel solely for Shearwater Journeys, Inc.

I choose M/S Stockholm because I believe this is the vessel that can achieve the highest quality Arctic voyage at the best value. This is the only owner-operated expedition vessel that I know of anywhere in the world. What does that mean? It means that the Captain at the helm actually owns this vessel, and has for decades. As the owner, he is fully aware of the capabilities of his ship. It means that he will put her closer to the landing sites, thereby reducing our ship to shore time. This allows us more time on shore. Most Captains of expedition ships are hired for an entire season. Their job depends on not causing any problems or damage to the ship, and keeping passengers safe. Some Captains come on board a particular ship for the very first time. Naturally, they tend to be cautious, and sometimes, overly cautious. This can mean a long ride to shore by Zodiac, as the Captain anchors the ship far offshore. Not so with M/S Stockholm's Captain. Since it is his very own ship, he knows her more intimately than just about any Captain can know a ship. This is a real plus for the passengers on board.
Most of the smaller, 55 passenger ships built in Finland for the Russians have ceased operation. (I chartered such a ship in January 2010 for an epic voyage to Antarctica, South Georgia and The Falkland Islands). Most expedition ships now carry 100 or 100+ passengers. While skilled staff can juggle 100 passengers on landings in Antarctica, landings in the High Arctic are quite different. Because of the ever present possibility of an encounter on land with a polar bear, passengers must stay with the group leader who carries a rifle for this purpose, in case of a surprise attack. Therefore, passengers cannot wander off finding their own private spot for viewing and photographing wildlife. All passengers must stay with the leader at all times on shore. Imagine trying to see and photograph wildlife with 50 other folks (assuming that the group is split in to two)? This is not a high quality experience. It is an experience, but certainly not high quality. I speak from my own personal experience as staff on a voyage to Svalbard several years ago. With only 12 passengers on board, we will all be able to land in one Zodiac ride. There will be no waiting on deck while others land. We will be able to have quality encounters on shore, in an our small group of likeminded travelers. With such a small group of adventurers, we will have far more flexibility in executing our activities. Finally, I choose this ship because I have been told by trusted friends who have been on board, that the Captain endeavors to deliver the very best wildlife experiences for all on board and that staff stays out on deck looking for wildlife, even when it is not their job. In other words, they give it their "all."

M/S Stockholm was built in 1953 for the Swedish National Maritime Administration as a working vessel in the Baltic Sea. Thus, she was originally constructed for heavy ice conditions. In May 1999, she was completely refitted and refurbished for passenger travel in the Arctic. She is a marvelous piece of maritime history with beautiful brass details and pine decks. Despite her charming nostalgic appearance, M/S Stockholm is equipped with the latest navigation and safety devices. The ship's main observation deck is located on the upper deck and behind the bridge on the bridge deck. Close encounters with wildlife within safety restrictions, both on and off the ship, are above average when compared to other vessels. See below!
M/S Stockholm carries only 12 guests on any voyage. Small and agile, she is capable of navigating areas that larger ships simply cannot reach. In the lounge on the upper deck you can enjoy the surrounding landscapes. Here, staff present lectures about the areas where we travel. In the lounge, you will also find the bar and a small library.The restaurant on the main deck seats all passengers and expedition staff in one single seating. Past travelers have reported to me that the food was "excellent." The open bridge policy contributes to the relaxed atmosphere on board. On the bridge you can see the GPS-equipped computers side by side with the original shining brass compass. Dress attire throughout the voyage is casual.
All cabins have bunk beds, upper and lower berths. All cabins are outside and have portholes, hooks, heaters, wardrobes, European 2-prong electrical outlets, waste paper basket and mirror. All cabins are en suite. In the bathroom you will find a shower, mirror, towel hangers, hooks and shower curtain.
SAFETY: M/S Stockholm exceeds all SOLAS requirements (Safety Of Life At Sea) and is equipped with the latest communication and navigation devices. M/S Stockholm's total life boat and raft capacity is 50 passengers. These are equipped with drinking water, survival equipment and food rations. For emergency situations, Immersion Suits of the highest grade are stocked on board.
Country of registry: Sweden
Gross tonnage: 361
Official language: English/Swedish
Length: 40 meters
Width: 8.8 meters
Draft: 3.7 meters
Zodiacs: 2
Passenger capacity: 12
Crew capacity: 7
Speed: 10.4 knots
All landings and excursions are achieved by Zodiacs. The Zodiac is easily accessed by a short set of steps from the upper deck. A Zodiac takes you to shore, where you will step into the water— you'll need waterproof boots and outerwear, including pants for this. If you have traveled to Antarctica, you know the drill. Once on board the ship, Zodiac instructions will be given. During all Zodiac operations, you will wear a horseshoe type life jacket which has both manuel and automatic inflation.
Although I have not yet made a voyage on this ship, my research and encounters with those who have place it high above any other polar operation. As one trusted friend said to me, M/S Stockholm is the creme de la creme!" I believe it!
For more information, or to reserve your berths, please contact me: Debi Shearwater,; 831-637-8527. Images copyright, Vera Simonsson and JP Lahall.

Wishing you smooth sailing,
Debi Shearwater

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