General

EBOLA: When traveled to or within countries assigned a CDC Level 3 Health Travel warning…

- Passengers who have traveled within 21 days prior to embarkation to, or within, countries assigned a CDC Level 3 Health Travel warning are to be denied boarding until further notice.

- Passengers who have had physical contact with, or helped care for, a person suspected of having Ebola or diagnosed as having Ebola within 21 days before embarkation are to be denied boarding until further notice.

Can I fly my UAV/quadcopter/drone during a trip with Oceanwide Expeditions?

Antarctica: Flying an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) or drone of any kind in the Antarctic requires a permit from a competent authority in your home country. Oceanwide Expedition do not have such a permit from the Dutch authorities. You will have to apply yourself to your competent national authority. Additionally, Oceanwide Expeditions is obligated to follow the guidelines set by IAATO the International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators (IAATO) which includes a series of technical and other requirements. Please refer to the IAATO UAV guidelines for more information. Permits and proof that these requirements are in place must be presented to Oceanwide Expeditions prior to your trip.

Arctic: The Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators (AECO) has decided not to allow passenger use of UAVs/quadcopters/drones on board member vessels. This includes all vessels operated by Oceanwide Expeditions.

Are the trips on the sailing vessels the same as the trips with a motor vessel?

​Our sailing-vessels are much smaller compared to our motor-vessels. The maximum number of passengers is 20 on s/v Noorderlicht and 33 on s/v Rembrandt van Rijn. The atmosphere on board is very intimate and there is more direct contact with the sailing crew. The number of guides on board of the sailing-vessels is also lower. On s/v Noorderlicht there is only one guide, on the Rembrandt van Rijn two. As a consequence groups of s/v Noorderlicht cannot split up on shore into smaller groups making the hikes maybe more demanding for less fit passengers. Besides the size of the sailing-vessels these ships are also less fast compared to the motor-vessels. The distances covered by the sailing-vessels are therefore less long. The sailing-vessels often make more frequent stops and have a less strict program, due to the nature of sailing.

What kind of terrain can I expect when snowshoeing?

There are virtually no hiking paths. Also almost everything will be covered by snow so we have to find our own route. Spitsbergen comprises a wide range of different landscapes; rugged, barren mountains and crevassed glaciers exist besides miles and miles of gentle tundra. As glaciers are normally crevassed and dangerous we will not venture out on any glaciers. Fairly easy excursions on snowshoes will be made to see wildlife like bird colonies. Besides gentle walks on the wide tundra we will try and climb some accessible mountain peaks to enjoy the fantastic views on the snow covered mountains and frozen fjords. These climbs demand some stamina but are often optional.

Are the snowshoes already on board?

​The snowshoes are supplied by Oceanwide Expeditions and already on board. There is 1 pair per passenger available.

What will the weather be like?

In the Polar areas the weather is always an unknown factor and is usually very changeable. Temperatures can be cold, though not perhaps as cold as you might expect. On calm sunny days it can feel quite warm. But wet, windy weather must also be expected.​

Will I experience sea sickness?

​Many people ask us if they will get sea-sick. This depends very much on the individual. Our experience is that a small percentage of people get sick on any trip and most of these people are fine after a day or so at sea. If you feel that you are particularly susceptible to sea-sickness then it is a good idea to talk to your local doctor. Bring enough motion sickness tablets, or plasters with you and be sure you have eaten enough and feel rested. Our ships physician will be there for emergencies and to treat sick passengers.

What is the age range aboard?

​Passengers on a typical voyage range from their 30s to their 80s - with a majority usually from 45 - 65 (a little bit younger on our sailing vessels). Our expeditions attract independent-minded travellers from around the world. They are characterised by a strong interest in exploring remote regions. The camaraderie and spirit that develops aboard is an important part of the expedition experience. Many departures have several nationalities on board.

Can I recharge my batteries and use electrical appliances on board?

​Yes, the power supply is 220 volts, 50 cycles. The wall plugs accommodate two thick round pins like those found in most European countries. You may need a transformer and international adapter for your particular equipment.

How do I prepare for my expedition trips?

Our voyages are “expedition” style cruise. Our emphasis is on wildlife encounters, personal contact with the environs, visiting sites of historical interest and to a lesser extent scientific stations. Our actual program will vary to take best advantage of local conditions, spontaneous opportunities and wildlife. Experience in Antarctic waters shows us that a flexible program is essential when it comes to dealing with the published itinerary as a guide to some of our best opportunities.

No two voyages are the same

There is always an element of the unexpected. When packing, don’t weigh yourself down with too many clothes or too much gear. Select informal, practical attire for your trip that can be worn in layers. Please ask for our Expedition Manual with detailed information on clothing lists, what to pack and what to expect on our voyages

Are there restrictions on what can be done while ashore?

Yes, an overriding concern is the protection of the wildlife, environment and cultures in any of the areas we visit. We will ad-dress conservation issues in the on board briefings and the expedition staff will assist you ashore. Most important rules are: Do not leave anything but footprints and do not take anything but memories

How much time do we spend ashore?

That is hard to say. It depends on the weather and constraints of time and distance. Depending on the voyage, you may spend several days aboard the ship, followed by a series of landings, each several hours long. On some voyages you land two or three times every day. During our time at the high latitudes, we will have almost continuous daylight, which means we may schedule excursions before breakfast, after dinner - or in the middle of the ‘night’. Often the light for photography is best at these times. We would like to show you as much as possible but leave it up to you to skip an excursion.

Does the crew speak English?

On our vessels we have an international crew. Ships language is English and on some departures bi-lingual. All staff (Guides/Lecturers, Purser, Chef, Expedition leaders) speak English, and most of the time other languages as well.

Do I have to be really ‘fit’ and in good health to join this expeditions?

You must be in good general health and you should be able to walk several hours per day. The expedition is ship-based and physically not very demanding. Although we spend as much time as possible ashore, you are welcome to remain aboard the ship if you like. To join most excursions, you must be able to get up and down the steep gangway from the ship to the water level to board the Zodiacs. Staff will assist you in and out of the boats. This will become progressively easier with practice. Ashore it can be slippery and rocky. You are travelling in remote areas without access to sophisticated medical facilities, so you must not join this expedition if you have a life-threatening condition, or need daily medical treatment.

Antarctica

EBOLA: When traveled to or within countries assigned a CDC Level 3 Health Travel warning…

- Passengers who have traveled within 21 days prior to embarkation to, or within, countries assigned a CDC Level 3 Health Travel warning are to be denied boarding until further notice.

- Passengers who have had physical contact with, or helped care for, a person suspected of having Ebola or diagnosed as having Ebola within 21 days before embarkation are to be denied boarding until further notice.

Can I fly my UAV/quadcopter/drone during a trip with Oceanwide Expeditions?

Antarctica: Flying an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) or drone of any kind in the Antarctic requires a permit from a competent authority in your home country. Oceanwide Expedition do not have such a permit from the Dutch authorities. You will have to apply yourself to your competent national authority. Additionally, Oceanwide Expeditions is obligated to follow the guidelines set by IAATO the International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators (IAATO) which includes a series of technical and other requirements. Please refer to the IAATO UAV guidelines for more information. Permits and proof that these requirements are in place must be presented to Oceanwide Expeditions prior to your trip.

Arctic: The Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators (AECO) has decided not to allow passenger use of UAVs/quadcopters/drones on board member vessels. This includes all vessels operated by Oceanwide Expeditions.

How to get to Antarctica

​The starting point of your voyage to Antarctica is Ushuaia, the southern most city in South America. We can assist you in planning your travel schedule to Buenos Aires and from there onward to Ushuaia. Most airlines fly from every big city in Europe and the US direct or with one stop over to Buenos Aires. From there direct flights fly within 5 to 6 hours to Ushuaia.

The Arctic

EBOLA: When traveled to or within countries assigned a CDC Level 3 Health Travel warning…

- Passengers who have traveled within 21 days prior to embarkation to, or within, countries assigned a CDC Level 3 Health Travel warning are to be denied boarding until further notice.

- Passengers who have had physical contact with, or helped care for, a person suspected of having Ebola or diagnosed as having Ebola within 21 days before embarkation are to be denied boarding until further notice.

Can I fly my UAV/quadcopter/drone during a trip with Oceanwide Expeditions?

Antarctica: Flying an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) or drone of any kind in the Antarctic requires a permit from a competent authority in your home country. Oceanwide Expedition do not have such a permit from the Dutch authorities. You will have to apply yourself to your competent national authority. Additionally, Oceanwide Expeditions is obligated to follow the guidelines set by IAATO the International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators (IAATO) which includes a series of technical and other requirements. Please refer to the IAATO UAV guidelines for more information. Permits and proof that these requirements are in place must be presented to Oceanwide Expeditions prior to your trip.

Arctic: The Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators (AECO) has decided not to allow passenger use of UAVs/quadcopters/drones on board member vessels. This includes all vessels operated by Oceanwide Expeditions.

How to get to The Arctic?

​Longyearbyen is the starting point for the voyages to the North and Around Spitsbergen. To get to Longyearbyen you will have to fly via Oslo and Tromso. We can assist you with booking seats on these flights. Keflavik (Iceland) is the starting point for the voyages to Greenland. Many big cities have direct flights to Keflavik.

Trekking

Are there any alternatives?

​Yes, if you like it softer, you can choose to book any Oceanwide voyage because daily hikes are part of the Oceanwide activity concept. Normally, you can choose between easy (beach exploring), moderate and more challenging outings.

Where will the trekking take place?

​Our vessel will ‘taxi’ the trekking party to their starting point (Bellsund) from where they trek fully self-organized, self-supported and self-guided via Barentszburg to Longyearbyen. The land operator (or individuals) will be responsible for their own expedition equipment and food for the trek.

Are there any specific requirements for the Trekking?

​Yes, for sure there are. Participating in a trekking program means that you have to carry your own rucksack (up to 80ltr for men, up to 65 ltr. for women) and be fit enough to endure long walks.

Can I book the trekking program with Oceanwide Expeditions?

​Oceanwide Expeditions will pass your booking request to the land operator in charge, and you can place your booking there. You are welcome to make your cabin reservation with Oceanwide Expeditions.

Sailing trips

Do I need special sailing gear for the sailing trips?

​You do not need specific sailing gear. Normal waterproof cold weather clothing will do, together with sturdy waterproof hiking boots or rubber boots.

Will I get seasick on the sailing trips?

​Many people ask us if they will get sea-sick. This depends very much on the individual. Not everybody is prone to sea-sickness, our experience is that only a small percentage of the passengers get sick on any trip and most of these people are fine after a day or so at sea. If you feel that you are particularly susceptible to sea-sickness then it is a good idea to talk to your local doctor. Bring enough motion sickness tablets, or plasters with you and be sure you have eaten enough and feel rested. Please note: on our sailing-vessels there is no doctor on board.

Are the trips on the sailing vessels the same as the trips with a motor vessel?

​Our sailing-vessels are much smaller compared to our motor-vessels. The maximum number of passengers is 20 on s/v Noorderlicht and 33 on s/v Rembrandt van Rijn. The atmosphere on board is very intimate and there is more direct contact with the sailing crew. The number of guides on board of the sailing-vessels is also lower. On s/v Noorderlicht there is only one guide, on the Rembrandt van Rijn two. As a consequence groups of s/v Noorderlicht cannot split up on shore into smaller groups making the hikes maybe more demanding for less fit passengers. Besides the size of the sailing-vessels these ships are also less fast compared to the motor-vessels. The distances covered by the sailing-vessels are therefore less long. The sailing-vessels often make more frequent stops and have a less strict program, due to the nature of sailing.

How often do we sail on the sailing trips?

​Sailing depends on the wind, the (ice-)conditions and also the itinerary. When these conditions are right our sailing-ships will normally attempt to sail. In case the wind is not favourable for the planned itinerary the ships engines will be used. On each voyage several times sailing will be attempted.

Bird watching

Are binoculars expensive and does Oceanwide Expeditions provide binoculars?

​Good binoculars are not cheap but will give more joy while looking at wildlife and can last a lifetime. At the lower end of the price range there are still reasonable binoculars for sale but try them out before you buy them. Normally we do not provide binoculars on board but on some of our departures it is possible to borrow a pair of binoculars from Swarovski Optik for the duration of the voyage.

Do I need binoculars while bird watching?

​Yes, binoculars are often needed to see birds in the wild. Although we often visit breeding colonies where you can approach bird from close-by some birds are not keen on visitors and we therefore have to stay away a certain distance in order not to disturb them. Local regulations sometimes prohibit visitors from getting close to bird-cliffs and other nesting sites. Observing birds in flight, such as Albatrosses in the Drake Passage on-route to Antarctica, is much better done with binoculars.

What is the best time of year for bird watching to see many birds?

​The bird species and the number of birds that you can expect on our voyages varies depending on the destination and the time of the year of the voyage. In general spring, summer and early autumn are good for bird watching. Later in autumn many birds migrate to warmer regions to winter and therefore less birds might be seen on these departures. In Greenland there is much hunting done by locals and therefore several areas in Greenland are unfortunately lacking large numbers of birds and other wildlife.

Emperor Penguins

Do I need special Antarctic clothing?

​As it can be quite cold in the Weddell Sea and Ross Sea, warm clothing is essential. Waterproof trousers and jacket against wind, rain and salt spray coming into the zodiac. Furthermore thermal underwear, fleece jackets, warm gloves and a warm hat. A down-jacket will make a stay on the ice near the penguin colony more comfortable. Rubber-boots for the landings are also needed but are provided on board.

How often do we fly in the helicopters?

​On every voyage we plan several occasions for passengers to make helicopter flights. How often this will be depends mainly on the weather conditions and will be decided upon during the voyage by the captain, expedition leader and helicopter pilots.

How close will we get to the Emperor’s?

​The plan is to see the Emperor Penguins from a short distance. Still we do respect the wildlife and do not want to disturb it. Therefore we follow the regulations of the IAATO, the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (http://iaato.org/home). These regulations are quite strict but in this way we are sure not to have a negative influence on the animals.

Do helicopters not disturb the wildlife?

​Helicopters could disturb wildlife but this is of course not what we want, and it is even prohibited to disturb any wildlife in Antarctica. We therefore stay away from any wildlife with our helicopters and land on the pack-ice, far enough away from animals to prevent any disturbance. A short walk from the helicopter landing site to the rookery therefore needs to be made.

As the Emperor Penguin lives so far south in Antarctica, do I need to book a very long and .....

​As the Emperor Penguin lives so far south in Antarctica, do I need to book a very long and expensive voyage in order to be able reach them?Our Ross Sea voyage is indeed a long and more expensive voyage. But we also offer short voyages to a more accessible Emperor Penguin colony in the Weddell Sea. Only a few years ago this Emperor Penguin colony was discovered just south of Snowhill Island. As the Weddell Sea is often clogged with heavy pack-ice we use our strongest ice-class vessel, the Ortelius to reach this colony. The ship is equipped with helicopters which is a great advantage and can support us in our goal to reach this Emperor Penguin colony.

Helicopter operation

Can I fly together with my travel partner?

​We do understand that some people prefer to fly together, but this is not always possible. We cannot have empty seats because of time restraints, and passenger weight is something we need to take into consideration as well. So when you will receive your group number this cannot be changed. Please listen carefully to announcements when your group is being called by the administrator.

Can I sit anywhere in the helicopter?

​Once you enter the helicopter, you will be appointed a seat by the helicopter crew.

Do I need special ear protection during a helicopter flight?

​All passengers will wear ear defender/ear protection, which will be provided by the helicopter operator.

Do I need to wear a life jacket with during the helicopter flight?

​Wear a life jacket at all times during flight over water. Note: An inflated life jacket may hinder escape from the helicopter. Life jackets should therefore be worn un-inflated and only be inflated once outside the helicopter. Clothing which inflates automatically or with built-in buoyancy should not be worn.

When the helicopters are stored, can we go in and see them?

​When the helicopters are not in use, the helicopters will be stored inside the shelter/hangar. Passengers are not allowed near this area and are not allowed to touch the helicopters while stored.

Hiking / Walking

How long are the walks?

As we are not allowed to eat nor leave any toilet waste behind on Antarctica (Antarctic Treaty/ IAATO regulations) our time on land is limited. We plan to go ashore immediately after breakfast or lunch and we will be back for the next meal. That means that there is only about 3 to 4 hours time for the hikes. When possible one longer walk of about 6 hours will be made at Deception Island.​

How difficult are the walks?

​In general the hikes are not too difficult for someone that has a vital state of health. You need to be able to do a 4 to 5 hour walk in fairly rugged terrain with some up and downhill walking. No other special skills are required. Please note that we are going into fairly unknown terrain. There can be rocks, snow, mud or a frozen hard surface to walk on. We sometimes can only tell more about the difficulties of the hike when we are there at the spot, just before the landing. The weather can also make a walk easy or difficult.

How fast do we walk?

Normally the walking speed is fairly slow. The lack of a footpath and lose rocks and snow demand a slow speed. Everyone wants to enjoy the views and take pictures so that makes the walking also fairly slow. There will be frequent stops.​

Do we walk as one big group or do we split up into smaller groups?

​Yes, normally we split up into 2 smaller groups. Then there will be an easy and a more difficult option. We carry three guides on board of the ship so every group will have at least one guide. The more difficult option normally takes 2 guides on the walk.

Is it possible to take food on the hikes?

​Eating snacks on shore is not allowed (Antarctic Treaty/ IAATO regulations) to prevent the spreading of diseases and seeds of alien plant species.

Are the hikes optional and can I stay behind onshore?

​Passengers can of course stay on board during a walk but they cannot stay behind on the beach. All the guides are needed for the hikes and passengers are according to the regulations not allowed to stay behind without being accompanied by a guide.

Is there a possibility to go to the toilet?

​No toilet visit possible on land (Antarctic Treaty/ IAATO regulations). If someone knows he/ she has a frequent need for a toilet then this person has to take a bottle (e.g. a Nalgene bottle with a wide opening, sold in outdoor shops or other field toilet options) with him/ her. Please note that Oceanwide Expeditions is not providing any field toilet. One of the important things is not to drink too much before the walk. Then during the walk only drink when feeling thirsty.

If one brings hiking boots, does one then have to carry the rubber boots in one’s pack?

​Normally rubber boots will stay on the landing/ pick-up beach together with the life-jackets. Sometimes they might be taken in the zodiac and delivered to the landing place. So the rubber boots do not have to be carried in the back-pack.

Photo Workshop

Will the photo workshop be instructed?

Yes, the workshop will be accompanied by the photo expert during sea days and activity ashore. Photo lectures will be offered on board.

What is the character of photo workshops?

​Basecamp Plancius voyages are free “dip in and try out” activity for everybody, group size up to 20 participants per photo guide and landing, workshop content not too specialized, target group “beginners to experts” who wish to receive daily photo coaching. Supplemented workshops with up to 14 participants aim at progressive workshops for experts , and those who want to become expert.

How big is the photo workshop group?

​Up to 20 participants per guide during Basecamp voyages with daily changing groups, and up to 14 participants per guide on supplemented voyages.

How much does the photo workshop option cost?

​Photo workshops are free of charge during “Basecamp Plancius” voyages. Some other voyages require a supplement for the workshop due to to exclusive group size. Please contact our reservation department.

Can everyone participate in the photo workshop?

​Yes, everyone can take part as long as you bring a camera. The workshops don´t require any previous knowledge and everyone is welcome to participate.

Will I have to bring my own camera?

​Yes, we advise you bring your own camera ( any brand, any model). During photo workshops instructed by Leica Akademie you may want to test Leica camera equipment free. This will be provided.

Ski Trekking Antarctica

Who are the ski trekking guides?

​Fully approved IFMGA (International Federation of Mountain Guides Association) mountain and ski guides are responsible for safety and will lead the group during this multiple day expedition.

How big is the ski trekking group?

​We are by regulation permitted to accept only 12 skiers guided by up to 3 mountain guides to make a group of maximum 15 people. The exclusive guide to client ratio is 1:4.

What are the requirements & conditions for ski trekking?

​Ski trekking involves elements of ski mountaineering, glacier travel and winter camping. In general participants must be physically conditioned and experienced in order to participate in this strenuous exercise in alpine environments facing sometimes extreme weather. In addition, ski trekkers must be familiar with skiing and crevasse rescue techniques which can be learned in Alpine Introductory Courses. The group will access sometimes difficult, glaciated, heavily crevassed and potentially hazardous alpine terrain. There is no real climbing on this trip, but the extreme weather conditions and very strong winds can make this crossing a very challenging undertaking. There is a possibility that due to stormy weather the expedition members must remain in tents for several days at a time. Individuals will pull their own sledge (approx. 30 - 35 kg

) with personal and shared equipment (food, stoves, fuel) in challenging mountainous terrain. The sledge can be carried as a backpack on stretches without snow.

Why is the ski trekking so costly?

​The Shackleton crossing is a special operation for a small team embedded in a larger picture. The preparation for the crossing involves many people in planning over a long period of time. Everything from permits to special food must be arranged perfectly to make your once in a lifetime crossing a successful experience.There are no shops in South Georgia to buy re-supplies.

Will participants use snowshoes or skis?

​The crossing is build on the idea to use skis for faster and more efficient movement on snow surfaces. The use of snowshoes will slow the speed of the group.

What equipment do I have to bring for the ski trekking?

​Bring your touring skis (Randonées or Telemark skis, skiing boots) and personal expedition clothing. Basic equipment is available on board (sledges, field camp and alpine mountaineering essentials). Ski trekkers only bring their own ski equipment and personal clothing.

Do I have to be an experienced mountaineer/ski trekker?

​No, we don’t expect you having climbed technical peaks. We do expect though that you bring solid skiing skills for some uphill and downhill skiing (no powder runs). The crossing is mostly along flat sections of the glaciers, however there are a few locations which require some good control over your skis. We like to learn about your ski touring background and that´s why we ask you to fill out a questionnaire before we book. The application process may include telephonic interviews.

Ski Mountaineering

Why do skiers need to pay a supplement?

​Skiing is a special operation for small groups escorted by additional leaders who join the expedition on top of the normal expedition guide contingent. Small ships only have a limited amount of berths.

Who are the ski mountaineering guides?

​Fully approved IFMGA (International Federation of Mountain Guides Association) mountain and ski guides are responsible for safety of the group.

What equipment do I have to bring for ski mountaineering?

​Bring your ski mountaineering skis (Randonées or Telemark skis), skiing boots and personal expedition clothing. Basic alpine mountaineering essentials needed for glacier travel is available on board (ropes and carabiners, harnesses, ice axes and crampons).

How big is the ski mountaineering group?

​Normally groups per guide range between 6 – 8 skiers per guide. On specific ski & sail voyages we allow skiers to book full ship´s capacity.

What are the requirements & conditions for Ski Mountaineering?

​Ski Mountaineering experience, good physical condition and health is essential and must be backed up by a health statement. Participants must be able to master techniques of alpine skiing in off piste terrain (ascent and descent). Ski mountaineering is a technical and more strenuous activity for experienced ski mountaineers who wish to climb higher peaks and viewpoints. Ski mountaineers climb and ski (if necessary in rope parties) in sometimes steep, deep snow-covered, glaciated and potentially dangerous alpine environment.

Can I pause for a day from ski mountaineering and what can I do?

​Sure, you can. On most ski mountaineering voyages we also offer snowshoeing as an easier alternative to skiing, which means you don’t become inactive if you wish to pause from skiing.

Do I have to be an experienced ski mountaineer?

​Yes, we expect that you bring solid skiing skills for uphill climbs and downhill skiing (off piste). We like to learn about your ski mountaineering background and that´s why we ask you to fill out a questionnaire before we book.

Field Camping

Any prior camping experience required?

​No, everybody can participate in this activity. There are no physical requirements except giving helping hands to field staff. Please note that we are not camping on a camping ground, we are in Antarctica! There can be rocks, snow, mud or a frozen hard surface. We expect from our campers to participate in erecting and preparing the camp site and also breaking camp next morning. All camping equipment, most particularly tent bases and mats, must be cleaned thoroughly after each use ashore. The weather can also make operation difficult.

What are the weather conditions while camping?

​Around the coasts of Antarctica, temperatures are generally close to freezing in the summer (December-February) months, or even slightly positive in the northern part of the Antarctic Peninsula. The temperatures in Antarctica vary between about -5 and 8 °C. Together with a strong wind these low temperatures feel like real sub-zero temperatures. This is caused by the wind-chill factor. Warm and efficient clothing (and a flexible attitude) are the best means to overcome these sometimes harsh circumstances.

Is there a possibility to go to the toilet at the camp site?

​Toilet visits should be avoided on land (Antarctic Treaty/ IAATO regulations). While campers should be encouraged to use toilet facilities onboard prior to leaving the ship, a portable toilet facility will be available ashore. All solid waste will be returned to the ship. Every camper should bring an individual “pee bottle” (ie Nalgene) in order to avoid the use of portable toilet.

Is it possible to take food while camping?

​Eating snacks on shore is not allowed (Antarctic Treaty/ IAATO regulations) to prevent the spreading of diseases and seeds of alien plant species.

On the camp night, how long do we stay ashore and where?

​We offer near shore camping on the continent and/or Islands (depending on itinerary, weather and site regulations). Groups will stay max 10 hours ashore.

How many Field Camps will be conducted?

​The expedition team will aim at as many field camp options as possible. One night will be guaranteed. Any extra nights in field camps are weather and site permitting and can only be offered at times the vessel stays overnight close to the shore. When vessel is being relocated to a new position overnight, of course, camping will then be no option for passengers. We are not allowed to take stoves, fuel or food ashore - with the exception of emergency rations and survival gear, drinking water and medical supplies. The group will be taken ashore after dinner, and return to the ship for breakfast. That means we only have the night hours ashore. Once the group has landed we search for the best camp ground without disturbing close by wildlife. All campers are equipped with a personal waterproof bag which contains a sleeping mattress, polar synthetic sleeping bag with inner liner and bivouac bag. If conditions allow, campers can sleep in the bivouac bag under the open sky. If the weather is more unpleasant, our back up tents will provide safe shelter. Tents will sleep 3 persons. While field parties are ashore, our staff will be in full radio contact with the ship, and sufficient staff will be ashore to supervise the campers. On departure: everything that is carried ashore must be returned to the ship. Field staff will ensure that campsites are left clean after each night’s camp.

Kayaking

Are there any extra kayak clothes on board?

​Besides a basic (thick neoprene) long-john wetsuit, neoprene kayak mittens, a kayak splash skirt and a life-jacket no other clothing items are on board and so they have to be taken with you. They will not be for sale in Ushuaia.

Where do I buy neoprene gloves and booties?

​These items are sold in diving shops, kayak shops and surfing shops. No specialized kayak gear is necessary though, surf gloves and booties will do.

Do I need special skills for the paddling?

​To take part in the kayak excursions, passengers are required to have a vital physical health and fitness and basic kayak experience. Basic skills should include normal handling of a kayak in moderate weather conditions. It is not necessary to be able to do kayak rolls, but you have to feel comfortable in a kayak. Kayak participants with a clear lack of these abilities can be disqualified for further kayaking on our kayak excursions because of safety reasons. If you have any questions about the required skills please contact our office.

How long are the kayak excursions?

​Kayak excursions normally lasts for three to four hours. We leave after breakfast or lunch and are back on board of the ship for the next meal. The kayak excursions run parallel to the normal expedition program.

How often do we go out kayaking?

​On every cruise with a kayak option we schedule a minimum of 4 kayak events. However, it must be said that the Polar Regions are unpredictable where it comes to the weather. This might lead to less or even no kayak excursions as kayaking can and will only take place in safe weather conditions.

Mountaineering

Do we walk as one group or do we split up into smaller groups during the mountaineering excursion?

​For the mountaineering we can accept 6 participants per rope party led by one mountain guide. We have two mountain guides onboard, thus there is a capacity for a maximum of 12 mountaineering guests per mountaineering outing. Participants who do not wish to reach the high peaks can join a walk near shore, or any other of the activities guided by our expert guides on board.

Do I need special skills for the snowshoe hikes and mountaineering?

​The snowshoe hiking demands no extra skills besides a normal, good state of health. You need to be able to do prolonged walks in fairly rugged terrain, with up and downhill walking. No other special skills are required. Still, when participants are not in good health and are not capable to do at least a 4 hour of walking they can be disqualified from the excursions because of safety reasons and the other participants’ satisfaction. If you have any questions about the required skills please contact our office.

Is there a possibility to go to the toilet during the mountaineering excursion?

​In Antarctica there are no toilet visits possible on land (Antarctic Treaty/ IAATO regulations). If someone knows he/ she has a frequent need for a toilet then this person has to take a bottle (e.g. a Nalgene bottle with a wide opening, sold in outdoor shops) with him/ her. One important tip is not to drink too much before the walk. Then during the walk only drink when feeling thirsty. For solid human waste we provide biodegradable poo bags, which have to be taken back to the ship for disposal.

Is it possible to take food during the mountaineering excursion?

​In Antarctica eating snacks on shore is not allowed (Antarctic Treaty/ IAATO regulations) to prevent the spreading of diseases and seeds of alien plant species. There is an exemption for mountaineers who venture further inland and spend more time ashore. Mountaineers are permitted to bring food without seeds, and drinks as well.

Are the hikes during the mountaineering activity optional? Can I stay behind onshore?

​Passengers can of course stay on board during a walk but they cannot stay behind on the beach. All the guides are needed for the hikes and passengers are according to the regulations not allowed to stay behind without being accompanied by a guide.

How fast do we walk during the mountaineering activity?

​Normally the walking speed is fairly slow. The lack of a footpath and lose rocks and snow demand a slow speed. Everyone wants to enjoy the views and take pictures so that makes the walking also fairly slow. There will be frequent stops.Do we walk as one big group or do we split up into smaller groups? For the mountaineering we can accept 6 participants per rope party led by one mountain guide. We have two mountain guides onboard, thus there is a capacity for a maximum of 12 mountaineering guests per mountaineering outing. Participants who do not wish to reach the high peaks can join a walk near shore, or any other of the activities guided by our expert guides on board.

How difficult are the climbs during mountaineering

Y​ou need to be fit and to be able to do the more difficult and demanding hikes. But there is always an option to join one of the less demanding hikes at a lower level. Our guides can advise you which hikes will suit you best. You need to be able to do prolonged walks in fairly rugged terrain with up and downhill walking. No other special skills are required. Please note that we are going into fairly unknown terrain. There can be rocks, snow, mud or a frozen hard surface to walk on. We sometimes can only tell more about the difficulties of the hike when we are there at that spot, just before the landing. The weather can also make a walk easy or difficult.

How long are the mountaineering excursions?

We aim for 3 to 4 hours morning and afternoon mountaineering excursions, occasionally and weather permitting up to 8 hours full day excursions. In Antarctica we are not allowed to eat nor leave any toilet waste behind (Antarctic Treaty/ IAATO regulations). Therefore our time on land in Antarctica is limited. We plan to go ashore immediately after breakfast or lunch and we will be back for the next meal. That means that there is only about 3 to 4 hours maximum for the hikes.

Polar Diving

How deep do we dive?

​The maximum depth we allow our divers to dive is 20 meter or 60 feet. Many of the dive sites have slopes or faces that go much deeper than the 20 meter/60 feet max limit for the divers. Divers must act responsibly and show self discipline.

What is the average visibility?

​A lot of pack ice often means clear visibility underneath and flat water. Little pack ice often means a lot of plankton bloom because there is more daylight and more swells. The ice and weather conditions are different every year, making it very unpredictable. Hence, it is quite difficult to gage visibility.

What about currents and drift dives?

​Currents are specifically mentioned as a possible problem at some of the sites. Currents however could be present anywhere at any time, we simply haven’t dived these sites often enough. We will always check out the current before we go diving. We will not do drift dives. Drifting pack ice is a real hazard. If it comes in while divers are underwater then it can be very hard to see people if they surface in the middle of it. Icebergs should be either hard aground or floating in water well clear of brash or pack ice.

Do I need a full face mask?

​This is up to the individual diver and based on if you are used to dive with a full mask or not. Many divers chose to dive without a full mask. Vaseline is a great help in protecting your face against the cold and freezing waters.

What type of gloves are best?

​You can use a minimum of 7mm wetsuit gloves. Otherwise we would recommend dry-suit gloves.

Why do I need two regulators?

​We dive with two separate outlets (DIN and Yoke connection), so in case of a free flow (freezing) of one of your regulators you have the second regulator as a back-up.

Can I have one regulator with DIN valves & the other with ISO?

​Yes, we have adapters on board which we can put in the valve to connect with an ISO regulator. The DIN connection will fit without the adapter.

Do I need to bring a waterproof bag to carry my smaller items?

​It is handy to bring a waterproof bag to use while you are preparing your dive equipment on deck. In the zodiac it is best not to bring too much except your necessary dive equipment.

What is the water temperature?

​Around freezing point, a little below.

Snowshoeing

What kind of terrain can I expect when snowshoeing?

There are virtually no hiking paths. Also almost everything will be covered by snow so we have to find our own route. Spitsbergen comprises a wide range of different landscapes; rugged, barren mountains and crevassed glaciers exist besides miles and miles of gentle tundra. As glaciers are normally crevassed and dangerous we will not venture out on any glaciers. Fairly easy excursions on snowshoes will be made to see wildlife like bird colonies. Besides gentle walks on the wide tundra we will try and climb some accessible mountain peaks to enjoy the fantastic views on the snow covered mountains and frozen fjords. These climbs demand some stamina but are often optional.

Are there options to do an easy or more difficult snowshoe hike?

​Yes, on walking days we normally offer three hiking options: easy (near shore), moderate (view point), more strenuous (higher peaks and longer walks). On the Noorderlicht there is no possibility to split up passengers in smaller groups as the ship carries only one guide. The maximum number of passengers on the Noorderlicht is small though, only 20. So there are no options for easy or difficult walks. Still we will try to provide walks for all (reasonably vital) passengers on board.

How long are the snowshoe hikes? How often do we go out?

​We offer snowhiking excursions every full day of the expedition. Often we go out for morning, afternoon and/or evening hikes of about 3 to 4 hours. We also plan to do a couple of dayhikes of about 6 hours (walking time). On these day hikes a pack lunch will be taken.

Do I need special skills for the snowshoe hikes?

​The snowshoe hiking demands no extra skills besides a normal, vital state of health. You need to be able to do a 6 hour walk in fairly rugged terrain, with some up and downhill walking. No other specials skills are required. Still, when participants are not vital and are not capable to do at least a 4 hour walk they can be disqualified for excursions because of safety reasons and the other participants satisfaction. If you have any questions about the required skills please contact our office.

Are the snowshoes already on board?

​The snowshoes are supplied by Oceanwide Expeditions and already on board. There is 1 pair per passenger available.

Where do we go with snowshoes on, on Spitsbergen?

​The sailing range of this expedition is limited to the north-west coast of the Spitsbergen archipelago. As we want to make several longer hikes we do not want to spend much time travelling around with the ship. We like to spend as much time ashore as possible. We can also expect pack-ice around this time of year and pack-ice can further limit our sailing range.

 

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