Holidays to the Arctic, Travel Tips - Abbey Travel, Ireland

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Yes, I saw Polar Bears! Karen’s Great Arctic Adventure

Holidays to the ArcticWhile many people dream of sun, sand and sea when it comes to holidays, there are plenty of adventures to be had in colder climes. If you’re looking for something totally different, king among these adventures has to be an Arctic exploration. (And you don’t even have to be a fan of the animated movie Frozen).
While you won’t catch the penguins hanging out by the North Pole, you will see polar bears and other polar wildlife against the backdrop of extraordinary icebergs. It can be difficult to know what to expect from such a different holiday.  It might even be worth giving the beach a miss for a year to experience something so unique!
Abbey Travel’s Karen O’Neill journeyed to the Arctic recently with Exodus. Read on to find out how she got on.

Akademik Sergey VavilovHow did your journey begin?

I flew from Dublin to Oslo, Norway initially. We had an overnight stay at the airport and then flew from Oslo to Longyearbyen the next day. We had an hour or two to take in Longyearbyen town and then we headed towards the ship to make the 4pm boarding call. The ship was a Russian research vessel called Akademik Sergey Vavilov, and roughly 90 passengers and 44 crew members boarded with us.

What were your first impressions of the ship?

Vavilov-CabinIt’s definitely not what you imagine when you think of a cruise ship, but you settle in easily for the 12 nights. There are plenty of facilities on board – the dining room is big and seating is unreserved there so you can mix with the other passengers on the ship. There’s also a presentation room, a bar and lounge, a library, a small gym and a sauna. Like most ships, the cabins are compact, but the beds are comfortable and we really only used the rooms for sleeping. All the cabins are cleaned daily, and the linen was changed every 4 days.

What age group do you think the Arctic Adventure would suit most?

I would definitely recommend it to anyone, of any age group. It was one of the best experiences of my life and I felt so lucky to have been there. However, it was mostly people over 40 on the expedition with us. While an Arctic trip may seem expensive at first glance, there’s very little spending money required, since your meals are covered on board. 
SpitsbergenThe food was excellent so the only real expense was drinks in the bar. We had three meals a day with afternoon pastries every day. Tea, coffee and hot chocolate were available all through the day, as well so let’s just say you won’t go hungry!

What was the strangest thing about the experience?

The 24 hour daylight is probably the one thing that takes the most getting used to. It’s bright all day and all night. It’s like that all summer long! The other odd thing is that even though the sun shines all day, it never actually gets warm. It was -3/-4 degrees the whole time we were there, so you really have to wrap up warm with numerous layers. Definitely come prepared!

Arctic-WalrusWhat was the most memorable thing you saw on your trip? 

We were extremely lucky to see a blue whale on our travels. It’s the largest animal ever to have lived on earth so that was pretty stunning. We also saw polar bears, cubs, reindeer, walrus, birdlife, and arctic foxes. You won’t see most of these in the zoo so it really was a unique experience. 
The scenery was amazing too – you can obviously imagine there’s a lot of ice, but I don’t think you can be prepared for just how much. You also have no idea what an iceberg is really like until you see it for real. You just associate icebergs with the Titanic, but to see one first hand is totally incredible.

Planning the trip of a lifetime to the Arctic?

Here at Abbey Travel, we not only run the Arctic Quest from Greenland to Churchill, we also have a range of Polar Adventures. To find out which trip would suit you best, give us a call at Abbey Travel on 01 804 7188.
And don’t forget to Like Abbey Travel on Facebook, Twitter and stick us in your Google+ circles! 


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