Frequently Asked Questions – PolarQuest
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Frequently Asked Questions

BOOKING AND PAYMENT

How do I make a booking?

After we have confirmed availability with you, we will require our booking form to be completed and signed by the lead passenger and sent to PolarQuest with 25% of the expedition fare as a deposit payment. The balance of the expedition fare, depending on the destination, is due 60, 90 or 120 days prior to departure. Other rules may apply on trips arranged in collaboration with another tour operator, and will be announced when you make your reservation.

EXPEDITION CRUISING WITH SMALL SHIPS

Are all excursions and day trips included?

Yes, when you travel with PolarQuest all excursions and day trips are included.

Do all cabins have a window and en-suite bathroom?

All our ships in Svalbard have outside cabins with windows or portholes facing the sea and en-suite shower and toilet. On other destinations some vessels have shared facilities.

As a single traveller, can I share a cabin or must I book a single cabin?

Many of our clients are single travellers and we offer the possibility to book a shared cabin. These cabins are always divided into ladies’ cabins and gents’ cabins.  

Is my money secured?

According to Swedish law, PolarQuest places all revenue in a bond with the Legal, Financial and Administrative Services Agency until the completion of your expedition.

Do I need to be very fit to be able to join an expedition cruise? 

Participation on this expedition cruise requires you to be in generally good health. To enjoy the trip in full you should be able to walk without difficulty in varied terrain and be able to get in and out of a Zodiac. Some trips have several guides and the trip participants will then be divided into smaller groups ashore, sharing the same interests and physical ability. One group may choose a longer walk whereas others may take a shorter walk at a slower pace or stay on a beach or make a Zodiac cruise. Although we make sure to spend as much time ashore as possible, you are always welcome to stay on board if you prefer.

If you have had any major surgery in the past two years or have any medical conditions that are important for the physician on board to be aware of, we kindly ask you to contact PolarQuest prior to departure. We will then make sure the ship receives all adequate information. We also ask you to bring a written description of your medication with you on board.

If you occasionally are in need of assistance due to reduced hearing, reduced eyesight or poor mobility, please note that you must have someone travelling with you who is willing to assist you. Our guides must be available to all passengers on board and are unfortunately not able to provide special attention to travellers in need of extra assistance.

 

What does a typical day on an expedition cruise look like?

There are no typical days on our expedition cruises! However, one of the secrets behind a successful expedition cruise is the Zodiacs. With these safe and sturdy rubber boats we navigate among icebergs, cruise along glaciers and get ashore to get unique nature experiences. In between the landings we are treated to delicious meals, enjoy the views from the decks and listen to inspiring talks on the area’s flora, fauna and history. As an expedition member you are on standby at all times! Sometimes you are woken up in the early morning as we sail past wildlife or icebergs on a smooth sea – a sight not to be missed. Flexibility is the key to every successful expedition! Our exact route will also depend on weather conditions.

SVALBARD

What is the weather like in Svalbard?

Summer in the Arctic means many hours of light therapy. In Svalbard, the midnight sun shines from mid April until the end of August. Thanks to the Gulf Current, Svalbard has a mild climate compared to other areas on the same latitude. The mean temperature in Longyearbyen in May is -5º C, in June +2º C, in July +4ºC, in August +3 ºC and in September -1 ºC. In the eastern parts of the archipelago the temperatures are a few degrees below the mean temperature in Longyearbyen. Also, due to the wind chill factor, you may experience these temperatures as much lower. 

What do I wear on an expedition cruise to Svalbard?

When you book a trip with us, you will receive an equipment checklist with suggestions on what to bring on the expedition. You need to bring warm thermal underwear, warm middle layers, wind and waterproof jacket and trousers and a pair of solid rubber boots. Thick soles for the boots and warm socks are also needed, as well as a warm hat, scarf and windproof gloves. Since we are embarking on an expedition, the dress code on board is informal. We recommend that you bring comfortable, casual clothes that can be layered according to the temperature. We recommend wearing sturdy shoes with rubber or other non-slip soles when moving around both inside the ship and on deck.

When is the best time to go to Svalbard?

We explore Svalbard between May and September when the ice conditions make it possible to explore the archipelago with our small expedition vessels. Every year is different, and each month has its own charm with sightings of polar bears, Arctic foxes, seals, whales, reindeer and walruses throughout the season. Read a more detailed description of each month here.  

Will I see a polar bear in Svalbard?

Polar bears are wild animals and although frequent sightings occur throughout the season, we can never guarantee that you will see one or several polar bears or how close such an encounter will be. You can, however, be sure that our experienced guides will do everything they can to optimize your chances! 

What kind of insurance do I need in Svalbard?

It is essential that you have suitable and adequate travel insurance in force for the duration of your holiday. Please make sure this includes interruption insurance should you need to leave the expedition while it is in progress. It is also strongly advised that all travellers purchase trip cancellation insurance.

Is there cell phone coverage in Svalbard?

There will be no cell phone coverage during most of the expedition as we are exploring a true wilderness. In and around Longyearbyen there is some coverage. In an emergency, the ship can be contacted via a satellite telephone throughout the trip.

Will I be able to send e-mails?

There is no Internet access on board but on the Sea Endurance you can set up a temporary e-mail account to send/receive e-mails on board. Please note however that you cannot send or receive any attachments. You will receive contact and price information together with the final documents. 

Will I get seasick in Svalbard?

Although quite rare, certain days in Svalbard can be windy. We are never far out on the open sea where seasickness is more common. Our small vessels cruise along the coasts and will find a secluded bay if the wind is strong. Some passengers may experience seasickness and we do recommend you bring relevant medicine. The weather in Svalbard changes rapidly which means that a windy day is often followed by calm waters.

Is there a physician on board?

On board Sea Endurance there is a physician and a first aid station on board. The ship is always reachable by helicopter from Longyearbyen, where there is a small hospital. If you have any queries regarding your personal health, please contact PolarQuest prior to booking.

ANTARCTICA

How cold is it in Antarctica?

The climate in Antarctica is generally very cold, dry and windy. The further south you go, the colder it gets. However, on this trip you will never be in the interior of the Antarctic continent, which is renowned for its harsh climate. Our expeditions take place during the Antarctic summer and only in coastal areas, which means that the climate is much milder. The temperature is around 0°C, but is affected by snow, ice and the ocean's reflection and can sometimes be perceived as much colder. Rapidly changing weather with rain, snow and fog interspersed with the sun shining from a clear sky is not uncommon. The climate in the Falkland Islands and South Georgia is consistently cold but varies considerably. The summer is short and very intense with flowering lichens along the coasts. The temperature in the Falkland Islands is between +5°C to +10°C and in South Georgia around 0°C to +5°C.

What do I wear on an expedition cruise to Antarctica?

When you book a trip with us, you will receive an equipment checklist with suggestions on what to bring on the expedition. To participate in our expeditions you need to bring warm thermal underwear, warm middle layers, wind and waterproof jacket and trousers and a pair of solid rubber boots. Thick soles for the boots and warm socks are also needed, as well as a warm hat, scarf and windproof gloves. Since we are embarking on an expedition, the dress code on board is informal. We recommend that you bring comfortable, casual clothes that can be layered according to the temperature. We recommend wearing sturdy shoes with rubber or other non-slip soles when moving around both inside the ship and on deck.

What kind of insurance do I need in Antarctica?

It is essential that you have suitable and adequate travel insurance in force for the duration of your holiday. Please make sure this includes interruption insurance should you need to leave the expedition while it is in progress. It is also strongly advised that all travellers purchase trip cancellation insurance.

Is there cell phone coverage in Antarctica?

There will be no cell phone coverage during the expedition to Antarctica, the world’s remotest wilderness. 

Will I be able to send e-mails?

There is no Internet access on board but for a fee you can set up a temporary e-mail account to send/receive e-mails on board. Please note however that you cannot send or receive any attachments. 

Is it very windy out at sea?

It can be windy when we cross the open ocean. If you are suffering from seasickness you should consult your physician if medication is needed. In order to prevent seasickness, avoid alcohol, tobacco, dehydration and small spaces. Always make sure your stomach is not empty, some toast or some crackers might help. Many people feel better by watching the horizon or when lying down with their eyes closed. Seasick medication is available on board but it is important to remember that once you start to feel nauseous, it is too late to medicate.

Is there a physician on board? 

Yes, there will be an physician on board who is trained in emergency care. There will also be an infirmary on board with the necessary equipment and medicine.