Julia’s Guest Story – Secret Atlas Review
We asked Julia, a native of Basel, Switzerland, health coach and nature enthusiast, to share some of her experiences and favourite highlights of her Expedition Micro Cruise to Svalbard.
“I wanted to see Svalbard specifically to experience a type of nature unknown to most and that I had yet to experience. We looked at several guide and expedition companies, but really wanted more flexibility, fewer people and in general a more intimate experience. Large cruise ships were simply too big and too much focus on bars and partying for our taste. We sought a more connected journey that brought us in close contact with truly wild and untouched nature. My husband deserves all the credit for the idea to travel to Svalbard!
Each day delivered unique memories, but certainly, the main highlights are seeing whales, polar bears, going through the ice flows and watching a glacier calve! We saw a massive chunk of ice fall from a glacier and it was very exciting. Beyond the sights, however, I’ll remember the moments of silence as well. It is impressive to not see anyone else, be fully disconnected and really soak in the beauty of your slowly changing surroundings. I think we only saw one other boat in the ten days. Our group was a very nice and cohesive set of folks from around the world and the food was really good. Our compliments to the chef, who did a great job. One more highlight was the polar plunge. Of course, it was cold and I jumped in and right back out.
We really enjoyed the daily programme and were able to see a lot of different things, it was quite varied. I really loved little details, like going onshore one night to make a fire on the beach, while still light of course, to sit with new friends and share stories. We also liked that we were able to collect some rubbish, giving you the feeling you can give back. We were able to split the group between easier and harder walks or sometimes divide between fitness levels for various activities.
We were lucky and saw polar bears, in fact, we saw everything we wanted to see. It was a wonderful trip and a once in a lifetime experience. I found time to do my drawing every day. There is time to do things on your own, chill out and read or be with others in the common areas.
The Captain and crew never took any risks, are very experienced and don’t compromise. They know very well what they are doing.
We were impressed with the M/V Togo and had a great cabin. I was surprised at how big the bathroom was, the bed was comfortable and we really loved the living room area. The room was cleaned daily, an unexpected bonus! We were also able to wander up to the bridge and chat with the Captain, another perk you can’t find on a larger vessel. More importantly, the ship is kept warm and heated. This smaller ship is more manoeuvrable but also felt entirely safe, even when going through the ice.
I would definitely recommend it and prefer to do something like this than a bigger ship. The luxury of being alone in nature and getting close to animals is worth a higher price tag for me. This trip is also great for slowing down and reconnecting with the wild. Smaller groups meant no waiting to go ashore. We anchored and the landing craft was ready to go. It is a much more adventurous feeling on a small ship and you are really immersed in nature.
The trip is perfect for people that work a lot, who suffer stress and live a busy lifestyle. It’s like going back in time to that slow feeling. If you are in danger of burnout it is a good idea to take a trip like this as you are so far away from your daily business. Being in the wilderness away from daily life is the perfect chance to reflect.”
All the images on this page are supplied courtesy of Julia