Thursday, February 9, 2012


Howdy, Adventurers,
Shearwater Journeys has chartered the M/S Stockholm for three exclusive voyages to Svalbard's West Spitsbergen Island
8 - 18 JULY 2012- SOLD OUT
28 JUNE - 8 JULY 2013- SOLD OUT
Spitsbergen is the Crown Jewel of the High Arctic, much as South Georgia is arguably the Crown Jewel of the Sub-Antarctic. While Polar Bears are our main focus, this splendid region has much more to offer — birds and mammals, including, seals, whales, walrus, beluga, reindeer and more. Why choose a small charter expedition?
Adventurers sign on to expedition voyages for a variety of different reasons. However, folks who sign on to charter voyages tend to be "like-minded' in that they are involved with a particular voyage for a stated purpose. Shearwater Journeys' voyages' primary goal is to show you as much wildlife as is possible, both in terms of quantity, quality and variety. On ships that have "open bookings" not everyone is necessarily of the same mind. An example of this would be a waking the guests on board up at 0400 hrs. because a pod of Killer Whales has been sighted, or 26 Antarctic Petrels have been observed, circling the ship, or three Emperor Penguins off the bow of the ship! Such events have occurred on voyages I've been part of. On "open" boats, i.e., tourist booked ships, no such announcement over the ship's public address system would be made! You would be "allowed to sleep" through these extremely exciting wildlife observations! On the Shearwater Journeys' voyage, all significant wildlife observations will be announced, no matter what time of day or night. Of course, we recognize that this is your holiday. So, it is your choice to get out on deck, or roll over in your bunk. Nevertheless, we will make you aware, gently, if it is an ungodly hour, of any substantial wildlife sightings. (Image, above, copyright, Adam Rheborg).
This charter is exclusively for twelve Shearwater Journeys' clients. Although you may see some companies offering voyages "limited to 20," what they really mean is "our group is limited to 20 of the 100 or 100+ passengers, in total on board." Shearwater Journeys' charter is LIMITED TO 12 GUESTS. PERIOD. There will be no other passengers on board. This small number of passengers becomes critical during Zodiac landings and when on shore. Twelve of us can fit in one Zodiac, landing everyone at the same time, thereby offering more time on shore. Once on shore, whether with a group of 12 or 100 (even if split into to two groups of 50 each), everyone MUST stay with the leader who carries a rifle in case of Polar Bear attack. The quality of a landing with a group of 50 verses a group of 12 is very significant. I know. As staff, I've landed on Svalbard with 50 people! It is a landing. It is the Arctic. But, it can be so much more. For photographers— well, you get the picture!
Where will we go, exactly? Our voyage will begin and end in Longyearbyen, making for convenient round trip flights from Oslo and avoiding the dreaded "open jaw" ticketing issues and expenses. You should plan to arrive at Longyearbyen at least one day, and possibly two days prior to the departure date of the voyage. With airline connections often in fluctuation, and worse, luggage sometimes going missing, you'll want to be sure that both you and your luggage arrive prior to the ship's departure! In addition, the town of Longyearbyen presents some interesting options for exploration. For those of you who are experienced expedition travelers, you know the drill— for those not— our ten days and nine nights on board our cozy ship will be dedicated to exploring the Svalbard Archipelago. Pack ice will largely dictate where we go, determining our exact itinerary day by day, or even hour by hour. You can be assured that our skilled and experienced Captain and Expedition Leader will not only have a Plan A, but also, Plan, B, C, D, or more, if needed. As we are a charter, the ship is at our disposal and we will have more flexibility than open booked vessels. Ideally, I would hope to circumnavigate Spitsbergen. Only about 25% of the voyages that advertise this actually accomplish it! However, Captain Per was the first ship to succeed in this mission in the 2011 season! Expedition travel demands that each participant has a flexible and adaptable attitude.
We shall head to the pristine pack ice in search of Polar Bears, hoping to encounter them swimming, on ice, hunting and inspecting our ship! In addition to searching for bears, we'll spend our days learning and discovering about other wildlife, as well as the flora, geology and history of Spitsbergen. We are very likely to have close up encounters with grazing reindeer, walruses hauled out, Arctic foxes, bearded and harp seals, and hopefully whales. Birdlife is abundant with throngs of wheeling seabirds, including millions of Little Auks (Dovekie), Red-throated Loons, Barnacle and Pink-footed Geese, Common and King Eiders, Long-tailed Ducks, Purple Sandpipers, Ivory and Glaucous Gulls, Black Guillemots, Snow Buntings and more. We shall have a remarkable amount of time available for wildlife viewing, exploring and photography in the 24 hours of daylight! (Image, above, copyright, Adam Rheborg).
I've already extolled the qualities and features of our little ship, M/V Stockholm in the previous post with images of the ship. Being an owner-operatored ship is of extreme value, as the Captain of any ship can "make or break" the voyage. Captain Per is one of, if not the best Captain in Svalbard, I've been told. (Image, above, copyright, Cherry Alexander).
RESERVATIONS: Book your cabin now! The first two voyages sold out in no time. Cabin rates range from $10,485 to 10,705 per person, depending on the size of the cabin. A deposit of $1000 per person is necessary at the time of booking to hold your berth. Rate includes: all accommodation on board the ship, beginning 4 p.m. 8 July through the night of 17 July; all meals while on board; all landing excursions by Zodiac throughout the voyage; services of the Expedition Leader and staff. Not included: flights from your home to Longyearbyen, hotel stays; transfers to/from airports; alcoholic/soft drink beverages (available on board, for a fee); customary crew gratuity; mandatory medical evacuation insurance; fuel surcharge, if any; items of a personal nature. Several of the above services will be offered for an additional fee, such as airport transfers. Details regarding recommended hotels, pre-booking for hotels at Longyearbyen, packing list, recommended reading list, etc. will be forthcoming.
OSLO BIRDING TOUR: A tour for birders and photographers will be offered in the Oslo area prior to the ship's voyage. Details regarding this tour will be forthcoming. The tour will be led by a knowledgable local birder. This tour is limited to six birders, only. (Image, below, copyright, Adam Rheborg).
It's a wild, pristine world awaiting us in Svalbard's High Arctic. Please contact Debi Shearwater at; 831.637.8527 as soon as possible to book your cabin. Please note, I'll be traveling from 20 April through 20 July, and can only be reached by email during that period. Watch this blog for reports!
Let me take you there— my way,
Debi Shearwater

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