Leslie & Nancy Steenbeke (Grossman)

United States Of America



Customer Rating On return from their adventure we ask customers: “On a scale of 0-10, with 10 being the highest, how likely is it that you would recommend Swoop to a friend or colleague?”

Leslie & Nancy Steenbeke (Grossman)'s Trip Date:

25th Jun - 8th Jul 2018

Leslie & Nancy Steenbeke (Grossman)'s Ship:

Akademik Sergey Vavilov

Overall, how was your trip?

Kayaking in the thick brash ice by a big glacier on a beatutful, sunny day was a highlight....but then again, so was when the walrus popped its head up out of the water right in front of me when in the zodiac....and watching and filming the polar bear that swam around our ship - so close. The swimming polar bear was a surprise, as was all the reindeer we saw up close and the freedom we had kayaking. The wildlife was beautiful. We did see some foxes and a lot of birds. I did not see much of the puffins, but I was kayaking the one day we went to where they were and the weather was not very good (a bit rainy and windy - a lot of wave action). The landscapes were increadible - a lot like Antarctica, but a lot closer and cheaper to get to - and you get to do excursions right away and much better weather than Antarctica. There were many Australians on the trip and I found them delightful - down to earth, very-well traveled, friendly - so wonderful to talk to. The down side is that I felt we disturbed the polar bears more than I would have liked to have. We spent a day in one spot watching a mother with two cubs. She was by a hole, waiting for a seal. I can't help but think a large, smelly ship nearby would not improve her hunting success. It seems to me there should be a limit, say 2 or 3 hours, that you can stay and watch one polar bear - in order not to disturb them too much or interfere with hunting. Also, it was a lovely day and to spend one day on the ship with no excursions, watching once polar bear and cubs was a bit much for me.

In one sentence, what did you think of the Arctic? Did it live up to your expectations?

It was amazingly beautiful. And we loved the kayaking - very varied and fun. Yes!

Would you visit again?


How was the service that Swoop provided?

I was very satisfied with Swoop. I was a little confused up front with the relationship between swoop and one ocean, and so it would have been good to have been told that without asking. Then I would not have wondered about the initial e-mails from OneOcean. But other than that, it was great. People met us where they were supposed to and were on time. The ship was awesome and I loved our room (though it was hot at night, just as our Antarctic ship was, so we left the window open at night which means it was pretty light in the room). The voyage and excursions and hikes were great. I loved having options for a more vigorous hike and the kayaking was really good, though due to the high level of experience of the kayakers, several were frequently not staying with the group and that was a bit frustrating. I am not sure the kayak leaders ever spoke to them individually about it, as they continued to do that on nearly every excursion. Swoop was great with providing all sorts of information up front in a timely manner and the Vavelov was a really cool ship. Food was awesome (breads, desserts, salads ...ohh so good). Loved having buffet style so you could eat as much or little as you want and as soon or as late as you wanted.

How likely is it that you would recommend Swoop to a friend?

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

10 out of 10

How were your experiences on the guided excursions?

Guided excursions (kayak, zodiac, and hiking) were fabulous. All guides were amazing. My favorite was probably being in the kayak in brash ice and hearing and watching the glaciers calve. they were so active - I was very surprised. The zodiac operators couldn't have been better, pausing and positioning so people could view and take pictures of wildlife. Expedition staff was great, although I wish some were more knowledgeable about the area.

​How would you describe {vessel.title} if talking to somebody potentially interested in going to the Arctic, and what tips would you pass​ on?

I would not hesitate to travel on this ship again. It was a lot more comfortable than I had expected - all crew was helpful and pleasant. Our room was much larger than I expected. The food was fabulous - the bread was the best bread I have ever had. And the deserts were killer. I would recommend this ship and voyage to someone else and have no suggestions for the boat operator.

If Swoop arranged some of your travel before/after your voyage/group trip. How did we do?

I didn't use swoop for any before or after travel but next time I would as our flights were a little messed up and I think Swoop would have done a better job for us than the online website we used. I would say that your travel team was wonderful - very quick response to all emails we sent. Loli Figueroa was fabulous !!!!

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