Johan's second encounter with Svalbard
At the end of May, Johan Reuthammar and Camilla Norberg from the PolarQuest headquarters went on the expedition "Springtime in Svalbard" on board M/S Quest. They had a wonderful week with great weather, wonderful atmosphere on board and several exciting wildlife encounters. Every day they did peaceful zodiac cruises and fantastic hikes. Below you can read an interview that Camilla did with Johan about his experiences of Svalbard.
We have recently returned home from a wonderful expedition with nice weather and a lot of landnings. I know you've had a great week, but did this trip live up to your expectations?
It most definitely did! It has been a number of years since I last visited Svalbard and my expectations were high. My last trip was also on board M/S Quest, but in the month of July. I really liked to be back on M/S Quest and I also enjoyed going to Svalbard in May this time to be able to compare how nature changes at different times of the season.
What would you say is the biggest difference in traveling to Svalbard in May compared to July?
The bird life is of course different. We got to see a lot of different birds during our trip, like Brünnich's guillemot and Little auk, but later in the season you will encounter even more birds. However, the biggest difference, in my experience, was the landscape. In July you can do long hikes stepping over vegetation and flowers, while in May you often get a hike through deep snow. It is incredibly nice in the spring with the snow-capped mountains and the vast fjord ice. On our trip we were lucky enough to have great weather with sunshine, no wind and very calm sea. Despite the white landscape with deep and wet snow, we had the opportunity to make landings every day and do both shorter walks and longer hikes up the mountain. The hikes were definitely a highlight of our trip.
I know you really enjoyed the hikes, but is there any other event you remember in particular?
I rarely say no to a plunge in the sea, so I will have to say that "the polar plunge" was a really strong experience. We did this next to the pack ice at 80 degrees latitude, and the thermometer showed comfortable minus one degree. It was truly an adrenaline rush and an extraordinary event that I would recommend everyone to do, if you get the chance.
We were lucky and got to experience a rich wildlife during our trip. Is there any encounter that stands out to you?
We saw polar bears on two occasions during our trip and that is of course very cool, but this time I think that a walrus at Smeerenburg was my best encounter. The water was calm, the sun was shining, the walrus was resting on a rock and behind the walrus we got a glimpse of M/S Quest. It was a great photo opportunity!
We stayed on board M/S Quest and she was fully booked during our week. What was it like to share a cabin with someone you did not know from before? And how was it to spend so much time with 50 other travelers?
Since there is a lot going on on an expedition like this, you do not spend much time in your cabin. But you quickly get to know the person you share a cabin with, so it works great. Surprisingly fast all the faces on board become familiar, and since we do not have any assigned seats in the restaurant, I had the opportunity to dine with most of the travelers. I never experienced the ship as crowded, there are several places to hang out. In addition to the panoramic lounge, I like to be on the bridge, a great place to spend time, talk to the crew and search for wildlife.
Do you have any special recommendations for our PolarQuest travelers to bring with them in their bags?
Binoculars and knee-high boots! A pair of binoculars is a great thing to bring with you on zodiac cruises and also when you relax in the panoramic lounge or on the deck on board Quest. The experience is so much better when you are able see details on everything from glaciers and birds to walruses and polar bears.
Knee-high boots are also a must! In the spring, you often step in deep snow, but it is also a must for the rest of the season. Because during almost all landings you usually step into the sea to get to the shore from the zodiac.
Johan ReuthammarBusiness director firstname.lastname@example.org
Since 1999, we have taken travellers on once-in-a-lifetime trips to Svalbard. From May to September our three small expedition ships, carrying only 12 and 50 passengers, explore this magnificent Arctic archipelago. Unpredictability and flexibility are the main keywords when you travel with PolarQuest as the exact route depends on weather, ice conditions and wildlife encounters. Sometimes you might be woken up in the middle of the night if a polar bear has been spotted on the ice.