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?”
What was your most memorable moment?
The Polar Bear sighting on the morning of the 4th day, and the zodiac cruise along Alkefjellet - a cliff face with hundreds of thousands of birds nesting on it - later that day.
Which of the following best describes your adventure?
On a scale of 0 to 10, how likely is it that you would recommend Swoop to a friend or colleague?
8 out of 10
On a scale of 0 to 10, how would you rate your trip: Kingdom of the Ice Bear?
9 out of 10
Were Swoop right to recommend Oceanwide?
Tell us about the wildlife
With the significant exception of the Polar Bears, I was very happy with the variety of wildlife we've encountered and with the photo opportunities. I very much enjoyed some close encounters with Walrus and with a Bearded Seal, as well as some of the birds we've seen. I also enjoyed seeing several Polar Bears and I do have some photos, but in some cases it was extremely difficult to even find the bears using a 500mm zoom lens - let alone take a good photo.
Tell us about Zodiac excursions
Zodiac excursions were, for me, an extremely important part of the overall expedition. I felt safe and very much enjoyed these expeditions! One are that could possibly be improved is the wait time when boarding the zodiacs. On a couple of occasions I waited for more than 30 minutes in full gear, which is not comfortable, and I noticed only one of two gangways was being used - probably because of staff being otherwise occupied. I'd recommend giving some thought to how these kind of long wait time may be prevented.
Tell us about the expedition team
I was impressed with the level of knowledge and experience of the expedition team, several of whom were active scientific researchers. My favourite lecture was about Glaciers, by Andreas Alexander, which provided some illuminating graphs and visuals about climate change that everyone should really be aware of.
Tell us about the MV Plancius
The Plancius offered an excellent base for this expedition. Not luxurious, but clean, capable and functional, providing great value for money compared with similar, more expensive expeditions. I enjoyed the vantage points of several of the decks for viewing and photography. Hotel staff were very friendly and highly professional, and the food was excellent.
Without taking away from the outstanding experience, I'd like to mention an item that really needs some further thought. Prior to disembarking at 9am, we were asked to leave our luggage in the corridor next to each cabin at 7am. The luggage was to await us at the entrance to the Longyearbyen airport terminal, but the luggage only arrived about 45 minutes after we did, preventing us from checking into our flights with the airport being busy to almost to a complete chaos and with us already having a tight time window before our scheduled flight. Our only saving grace was that the inbound flight was delayed as well. One member of our party was almost denied check in. This is unacceptable, and while I know it happened due to the large number of cruises that ended on the same day, that is something that can be planned for and is not an excuse. In addition, while we disembarked at 9am, we were expected to wait somewhere in Longyearbyen for a bus that would take us to the airport at 11:45am. We had all of our hand luggage with us, making it impractical to move around for that long. I think Oceanwide should consider arranging for a lounge area with light refreshments to host everyone for this period while waiting for the bus to the airport. Even if the refreshments needed to be paid for by us, having such an organized place to wait, with refreshments for sale and washrooms, would have improved things. Lastly, while Oceanwide arranged for two busses based on the one-hour difference in the departure time of the two main flights people were taking, they did not ensure that only those on the earlier flight take the first bus. This resulted in that bus being extremely crowded and the driver didn't even wait for the last two passengers from our group who were on the earlier flight. Those people had take a taxi.
Would you consider another trip to the Arctic with Swoop?