small ship cruises arctic

Traveller Stories

Annie’s Journey

Annie joined Secret Atlas on an Expedition Micro Cruise to circumnavigate Svalbard. She took the time after the voyage to share her experience with us. 

svalbard expedition cruise

‘Hi, I’m Annie! I’m an interior designer from North Carolina, USA.’

I’ll be honest, I had never heard of Svalbard before planning this trip. I had no idea humans could travel so far north in the Arctic for touristic purposes. Setting out with an open mind, not knowing what to expect, I began the most epic trip of my life.

svalbard expedition cruise
svalbard cruise

Never considering myself the cruising type, it was my first experience vacationing on the water. I had no prior sailing experience, but the planners at Secret Atlas assured me that was no problem. After my experience, I can confidently say I would never take a large cruise ship to the Arctic. The intimacy and flexibility of a small ship allow those on board to fully experience the beauty of the Arctic up close.

For me, the personal aspect of this trip was the highlight. Choosing to travel solo, I came into the trip not knowing a soul! I found the crew, the expedition leaders, and the guests very friendly and inclusive. There was always a warm atmosphere on board. We all ate, socialised, hiked, and explored together as a team. The expedition leaders took really good care of me during the shore landings and helped build my confidence.

Day after day, the trip unveiled more new, exciting, and fun experiences. Thanks to the small ship size, our expedition vessel brought delivered us right up to glaciers. All in all, being so near the North Pole and its wonders was simply unforgettable.

The wildlife is spectacular. In one day, we saw 7 polar bears, countless walruses (which were fascinating), 100s of reindeer, and 1,000s of birds of many species, including rare ducks. I felt like I was a part of a Discovery Channel program. What you see and experience is beyond your wildest imagination.

The expedition leaders were constantly sharing their knowledge about the history, geography, and climate of Svalbard. For example, I had no idea Svalbard used to have a warm climate. And there is no landmass under the North Pole! We also learned a lot about today’s warming climate. Every day felt like Christmas day. It was so stimulating and educational.

Evenings spent in the passenger lounge were a highlight of our time onboard. We shared stories, took notes, scoured maps, and relived the day. The daily après-adventure comradery was incredible.

Our captain was very knowledgeable and adapted to the ever-changing conditions characteristic of the Arctic. We were allowed to visit the bridge and experience the navigation first hand. It was great fun, and it was yet another thing you would never get to do on a large vessel.

Our vessel, Togo, was fantastic. The crew took thorough safety measures, and we were fed really well. My cabin had a comfortable bed, a private toilet, sink and shower. It was cleaned and serviced daily, which I was an added perk.

svalbard expedition cruise
svalbard expedition cruises

It’s hard impossible to narrow down my favourite experience from the 10-day trip. The trip is a privilege. It’s a place only a few people on this earth have seen.  After Svalbard, I have no desire to go to another boring resort. If you are looking for a real adventure vacation, this is one to put on your bucket list. A trip of a lifetime for me! I feel honoured to have experienced Svalbard in such a unique way.

expedition cruise to svalbard

All the images on this page are supplied courtesy of Annie.

Join an Expedition Micro Cruise to Svalbard 

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