Akademik Sergey Vavilov, One Ocean Expeditions, Spitsbergen © 2013 . All rights reserved.

6 Aug ’13

The verdict after 9 days on board the Akademik Sergey Vavilov sailing with OneOcean Expeditions to 81 degrees north above Svalbard. It’s personal, be warned.

What we loved

Our white, Russian lady and the eighties look inside of the ship. We loved our wooden writing desk and the countless storage space inside the room. And what about that big window that could open to let the fresh, Arctic air come in. Bliss.
We love Svalbard, Spitsbergen, in winter and summer but we have told you that before, right?
We like the many activities, zodiac landings or rides, mostly two a day, to discover Svalbard.
The winter ice, where we spotted our first polar bear was astonishing.
We love our brand new Swarovski CL Pocket Binoculars for wildlife spotting. I sometimes went to bed with them.
We liked the bottle of Sriracha spicy sauce during every meal.
The musical intermezzos of Argentinean bartender Andy in the form of harmonica or guitarra.
The accent of our Norwegian guide Mette and the fact that she is stronger in many ways than most of the male expedition guys.
Expedition team member Ray who is an example of how the Polar virus keeps one young and restless.
My many Patagonia down feather or Primaloft jackets next to our Xtratuff boots from Alaska.
The excellent selection of affordable and good wines on board. Hemisferio Sauvignon Blanc from Chile? Yes, we like!
The amazing skies, crazy cloud formations and mega landscapes that we encountered during this voyage.
The vicious and territorial Arctic terns who fly 35.000 km from pole to pole.
We loved the crazy, sweet, interesting and very well-travelled people like J.J. who flew over the North Pole to see a solar eclipse and Dr. Katz who was our non-alcoholic drinking buddy.
We appreciated the Vavilov being such a quiet and smooth ship so we could hear the Arctic even more from our cabin.
We love polar bears.

What we loved less

We definitely felt that One Ocean is on a very tight budget, and is kind of cost saving. Good for profits but not always great for passengers.
Look at catering. Poor breakfast and below average food. Next time, chef, try herring or Arctic char instead of tilapa and overfished tuna. We are in the North, not cruising along the Mekong.
Not so fun is that some of the expedition team tried to make us believe we were on an icebreaker while the Vavilov is more of a shaker (pushing the ice) than a breaker.
The expedition team talks a lot about safety (we never had it during any other expedition cruise), while during one excursion two zodiacs broke down.
We would have loved to hear more interesting facts and stories about Svalbard, instead of the constant sales pitches about Antarctica.
We expected more flexibility during the trip. No breakfast for people on polar bear spotting around 7.30 pm in the morning? And a BBQ in rainy weather instead of postponing it a day to have glorious blue sky and sunny weather.
Of course there should be internet on board, free. This is the digital age, blog updates are great when sailing around the Arctic.
And fix the damn intercom on the ship. We like to hear when the wodka is cold and ready to be drunk.

Akademik Sergey Vavilov, One Ocean Expeditions, Spitsbergen

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