Steve Liu

United States Of America

Customer
Rating

7

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?”

Steve Liu's Trip Date:

14th Jun - 15th Jul 2019

Steve Liu's Ship:

Ocean Adventurer

Overall, how was your trip?

The Trip was great. We were lucky with the weather and the wildlife. We must have seen over twenty polar bears, include cubs. The highlight and magical moment had to be Mama and Baby bears swimming right up to the ship to say hello. The landscape was like a mini Antarctica - we did not see the large ice-floats as we did down in Antarctica but the glass smooth sea surface and the reflections of blue sky and milk white glaciers were very photogenic. It is not easy to comment on fellow passengers when there are over 10 nationalities on-board. The inherent different tongues and customs can dampen the moments.

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

Svalbard is amazing. The scenery was great, and the cute polar bear cubs just steal your heart.

Would you visit again?

Yes

How was the service that Swoop provided?

From the very beginning we were very lucky to have Loli as our Swoop contact. This is our second voyage handled by Loli. And I would not book another voyage without Loli making the plans and blesses the journey. She is that good. Loli worked many seasons as an expedition guide on various small cruise ships - not just a journey or two - and that has made a huge difference. The other unique attribute of Loli is that she somehow understands what I was looking for. Loli's attention to detail is outstanding; down to cabin recommendation. So Loli is definitely an A+. The rest of the Swoop staff and work process are good as well. Areas for improvement are listed below, •Are you pleased you booked with a polar specialist? YES. I recommend this for the first or second polar voyages. •How satisfied were you with the voyage that Swoop recommended? Did we help you choose the right ship and cabin? Very satisfied and that is because of outstanding recommendations from Loli. The choice of ship was spot on and the cabin recommendation is like Loli got into my brain - absolutely what I dreamed of. •How was Swoop's service prior to your voyage? Could we have done anything differently? The support from the Bristol office was very good. The individuals I worked with, especially Aimee were outstanding and helpful. There are two areas that I like Swoop to improve: (1) the website is not up-to-date with voyage offerings; it does not have the sailing schedules and rates. (2) do not change the name of the voyage used by the voyage operator. As an example, Quark might call it "Circumnavigating Svalbard" and Swoop might change it to "Svalbard Wildlife" Both titles are just examples. With the lack of details on Swoop's website, this name-change makes it even more difficult to cross-reference to look for the details.

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

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

7 out of 10

You chose a/an {area.title} voyage. How was that experience?

The whole journey was wonderful and highly recommend it. The scenery was spectacular and the wildlife (polar bears) was superb. The most unique part of the journey had to be the 24 hour of daylight. You have to experience it first hand before you can describe it. The other nice feature of Svalbard voyages is that you do not have long days at sea. You are right there from day 1 in terms of scenery and wildlife. This is very nice compared to other polar expeditions.

You chose a/an Svalbard Wildlife In-Depth experience. How was that experience?

Luck determines your trip experience: weather, sea-ice conditions and wildlife. We were very lucky and saw a lot of polar bears - some of it was luck, but a lot of that was the Expedition Team's knowledge and experience. So go with Quark and Woody's team. We met some other travelers at the airport on the way back and they saw only 4 bears in the distance !

How were your experiences on the guided excursions?

No penguin poop smell ... but constant polar bear watch. The polar bears were fast and the expedition guides all carry rifles just in case. Truthfully I can't see they shooting the beautiful polar bears even if they get too close. There were no large icebergs near where we were but a lot of floating sea-ice. I cannot say enough good things about the Expedition Staff. We had 19 expedition staff out of 109 guests, which was very very nice because they could launch the zodiacs quickly and setup landing perimeters right away (for polar bear safety watch). I highly recommend Woody's (David Wood) team; Annie Iglis and Alice Wang and Woody himself were excellent. It may be helpful to let Quark know as well - not just for individual recognition but emulate some of the styles and techniques.

​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 very highly recommend the Ocean Adventurer, and ask for Woody's (David Wood) expedition team - they were outstanding, individually and collectively. Annie Iglis (co-team leader) was also exceptional. Quark has expedition sailings down to a science and their attention to detail was obvious. I am most impressed with how efficient they were in loading and unloading the zodiacs. The "hotel" crew was great as well and the "tips included" policy is very nice.

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

I am very happy with all aspects of Swoop's help, support and involvement in this voyage. The Travel Planner system is a bit inconvenient. I would rather just receive an email message with all of the information in a PDF file or a ZIP file instead of getting an email and having to remember a password and signing in separately.

Do you have any tips or advice for other people planning a trip to the Arctic?

1. Ask for an Expedition Planner who had WORKED on an Expedition ship before. 2. Explain to the Expedition Planner the type of experience and ship you like and do NOT like. Small ship expedition is not for everyone. 3. Svalbard is not easy getting to. Ask you Expedition Planner to describe it. 4. If this is your first voyage to the Arctic, definitely use a specialist like Swoop. There are lots of details.

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