Gunilla about the first trip with M/S Stockholm
On Saturday 9th April, our 12-passenger ship, M/S Stockholm left Gothenburg and set course towards the Norwegian town of Bergen – our first expedition in two years! Joining this first journey were an enthusiastic crew, a group of amazing guests and two cheerful PolarQuest-guides, ready to once more head out on adventure. One of the guides was Gunilla Lindh, perhaps the most enthusiastic of the whole group on board! Here, Gunilla tells you more and shares some wonderful photos from the trip.
Gunilla started her guide career when her love for remote and pristine places of the polar regions became too strong - she wanted a lifelong passionate career as a polar guide. Gunilla has been working as a full time expedition guide since 2013 in the Arctic and Antarctic regions. In-between her expeditions she is nowdays based at the PolarQuest office, where she works with operations and expedition logistics.
How was the first day on board M/S Stockholm?
The first day on board was completely bursting with energy, anticipation and joy. After a more than two years long break, followed by intensive preparations the recent months, it was nothing but pure joy and happiness to finally be able to embark and go on an adventure again. The huge relief and enthusiasm to once again be able to work with what we love the most and together with our incredible colleagues, could not go unnoticed. Also the joy to finally spend long-awaited moments with our lovely guests on board. Guests who have been so loyal and patient throughout the pandemic and now very excited to finally go on an expedition again. Together, we all created an atmosphere on board of great anticipation and adventure.
What is the best thing with M/S Stockholm?
M/S Stockholm is a genuine and beautiful ship, and since being so small she can take us almost everywhere. But after all a ship is just a ship. It is the phenomenal crew on board that forms the heart of M/S Stockholm and makes me fall totally in love with her. On board, I never get the feeling that we are divided as guides, guests and crew. The atmosphere on board is incredible and you feel more like a group of friends and family. The charismatic Magnus Reteikes has now taken over as captain of M/S Stockholm and like her former captain, legendary Per Engwall, Magnus continues to sail M/S Stockholm with the same genuine expedition spirit. He has really succeeded in creating a homely atmosphere on board together with “the M/S Stockholm family”. A lovely atmosphere that makes us guides and guests want to return year after year.
What is your greatest memory from this first expedition?
The early mornings on the bridge, the moment before the rest of the world wakes up. The feeling of just being here and now, being one with nature. Sometimes the guests are also on the bridge for the same reason and it is fantastic just to be there together in silence and experience the strong and calm connection to the sea and nature around us. I can often feel that we as humans "chase after experiences" and sometimes we miss out on what can be the greatest experience of all, to just stop and enjoy. There was an obvious peacefulness throughout our entire trip. I clearly noted how our time spent on board was just as important as the excursions we did every day.
What is it like to combine guide life with working ashore at the PolarQuest office?
It is very fun and rewarding! For a long time I have been searching for a balance to be able to create a base at home, without in any way having to give up what I love the most, to guide on expeditions. Now I have finally found the perfect balance and can continue to work full seasons as a guide. To have the opportunity to work both at the PolarQuest office in Gothenburg and in the field gives a versatile understanding of how we all work together for a common goal. Extra fun is that in the office I get to work a lot with our expeditions in Greenland that will start in 2023. Greenland is a place where I used to live and guide for a long period and a place that is very close to my heart.
Which expedition are you guiding on next?
On Tuesday 26 April I will go to Tromsø in Northern Norway to start up the season for one of our other expedition ships, M/S Quest. I will be guiding on her first expedition from Lofoten to Svalbard via Bear Island and will then continue to guide on expeditions throughout the whole season in Svalbard. In September, I will go to Vancouver in Canada to guide on PolarQuest's trip through British Columbia.
What are you looking forward to the most in the season 2022?
I really look forward to all the wonderful encounters with people from all over the world. All guests, crew and of course all my old and new guide colleagues. Of course, I am extremely excited to see all the wild animals again, I feel so incredibly privileged to have the chance to experience so many fabulous animal encounters.
Gothenburg to Bergen with M/S Stockholm
Our expedition from Gothenburg to Bergen was very successful with happy smiles when everybody disembarked in Bergen. After M/S Stockholm left Gothenburg, she first set course to the island of Donsö in the Gothenburg archipelago to spend the first night. The next day, the journey continued up the west coast to Marstrand and to Mollösund. She then passed Norway's southern tip and continued to Farsund for a visit, before entering the deep Hardangerfjord. M/S Stockholm made a few more stops for example in Rosendal, Eidfjord and Kinsarvik before setting course to Bergen, her final destination on this expedition.
On Monday, April 19, new guests and guides boarded the ship and embarked on the next exciting expedition from Bergen to Svalbard via Bear Island.
Photos: Gunilla Lindh
Travelling through the stunning Norwegian coastal landscape on a small expedition cruise ship is simply hard to beat. Lofoten islands welcome with picturesque fishing villages, squeezed between soaring mountains and quiet fjords. In wintertime Tromsø offers magnificent sceneries over dramatic landscapes and great chances to spot both orcas and humpback whales. If we’re lucky we will also see the magical Northern Lights dancing in the sky. Join us on an unforgettable cruise!