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I was to undertake the Jewels of the Artic cruise embarking Reykjavik (Keflavik Port) and disembarking Longyearbyen. The ship provided by Aurora Expeditions is Polar Pioneer and I am in a triple share (cabin 301) and had made acquaintance with my roomies on the bus to Keflavik. I had chosen this cruise for the small number of passengers (54) and the fact that the smallness of the ship allows it to enter fiords that the larger ships are unable to enter and at the time the price was right. The fact that you are off the ship in a zodiac twice a day when allowable dependant on the weather also appealed to me. Some times you just cruise the shoreline looking at the magnificent cliffs or amongst the glaciers. And other times you step ashore and dependant on your level of fitness you can go on a long walk a short walk or just wait near the zodiacs all under the watchful eye of an expedition leader. Keeping in mine that the terrain is very rocky and at times unstable with steep inclines will determine your decision .Expedition leaders talk about the artefacts found and history of the area. You always return to the ship for lunch speaking of which the meals are excellent breakfast help yourself but lunch and dinner are served. The menu along with times for meals is posted on the notice board the night before with the option to change to vegetarian if you so choose. If you do not want to hang on the bow deck you are always welcome to sit at the bridge and watch the Artic sail by and see if you can spot a polar bear or seal. And if you do it is a bonus but not guaranteed not on this cruise. The shared bathroom facilities worked well with my own experience of never having to wait The water was always hot (be careful as water very hot) A bar of soap (Dove soap)and pack of tissues is provided in your cabin and if you want ,clean towels every day (I had mine changed every other day).If you want a clean towel you just put your towel on the floor outside the cabin. There is a laundry service but I took my cloths line and found that cloths where dry the next morning if not later that same day. There is little by way of organised entertainment in fact none but on those days of just sailing (4 in total) there are lectures given by the expedition leaders. Some interesting some not so. Towards the end of the cruise there was movie night with documentaries being shown. There is bar and this is where most people hang out this is also where the laptops are for downloading your photos for share purposes and also for the best 6 for the photo book of the journey. The bar is also the place where at the end of everyday the expedition leader gives a recap of the days events and what is expected to happen tomorrow Boots for shore landings are provided at no extra charge Hint: Take lambs wool innersoles and toe warmers they both work a treat Because it is so cold camera battery life is shortened so again Hint: take hand warmers to keep battery warm as well as your hands or put battery and memory cards in your pocket body heat to keep warm Hint: take dry bag for camera when in zodiac can get wet or if small enough but inside life vest but attach to a langland around your neck zodiacs can get bumpy Wifi is available for a cost so come on people live without it for a few days. There is a doctor on board so if you have not brought your own medical kit take advantage if need be to use the services of the doctor who by the way doubles as an expedition leader If I have one complaint it would be kayaking .I am a novice - but have kayaked in Alaska (and I thought the extra cost a bit prohibitive) but I would have loved to have had a paddle in the Artic Sea but I was not in the league of the kayakers who would be taken out everyday by an expedition leader and be out for hours and unlike the zodiac users would be given baileys with their morning tea break. So I think consideration should be given to some people like myself As is done on these voyages if you are silly or stupid enough you are given the option of a polar plunge . I would recommend this cruise to anyone interested in wakening to snow covered mountains, a tiny village of coloured houses ,to mountains so high you cannot see the top ,to be surrounded by sheet ice yes this cruise is for you but if you want luxury cruising this is not for you. Remember that Polar Pioneer is an expedition ship and therefore no bells and whistles just the basics and you feel every wave Dependant on costing I would use Aurora Expeditions again but sometimes when you compare the cost of twin share with own bathroom and maybe 100 people the economics speaks for itself (and yes that can also come at a cost)

Polar Pioneer Jewels of the Artic

Polar Pioneer Cruise Review by Keentraveller1234

9 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: August 2016
  • Destination: Arctic
I was to undertake the Jewels of the Artic cruise embarking Reykjavik (Keflavik Port) and disembarking Longyearbyen. The ship provided by Aurora Expeditions is Polar Pioneer and I am in a triple share (cabin 301) and had made acquaintance with my roomies on the bus to Keflavik.

I had chosen this cruise for the small number of passengers (54) and the fact that the smallness of the ship allows it to enter fiords that the larger ships are unable to enter and at the time the price was right.

The fact that you are off the ship in a zodiac twice a day when allowable dependant on the weather also appealed to me. Some times you just cruise the shoreline looking at the magnificent cliffs or amongst the glaciers. And other times you step ashore and dependant on your level of fitness you can go on a long walk a short walk or just wait near the zodiacs all under the watchful eye of an expedition leader. Keeping in mine that the terrain is very rocky and at times unstable with steep inclines will determine your decision .Expedition leaders talk about the artefacts found and history of the area.

You always return to the ship for lunch speaking of which the meals are excellent breakfast help yourself but lunch and dinner are served. The menu along with times for meals is posted on the notice board the night before with the option to change to vegetarian if you so choose.

If you do not want to hang on the bow deck you are always welcome to sit at the bridge and watch the Artic sail by and see if you can spot a polar bear or seal. And if you do it is a bonus but not guaranteed not on this cruise.

The shared bathroom facilities worked well with my own experience of never having to wait The water was always hot (be careful as water very hot) A bar of soap (Dove soap)and pack of tissues is provided in your cabin and if you want ,clean towels every day (I had mine changed every other day).If you want a clean towel you just put your towel on the floor outside the cabin. There is a laundry service but I took my cloths line and found that cloths where dry the next morning if not later that same day.

There is little by way of organised entertainment in fact none but on those days of just sailing (4 in total) there are lectures given by the expedition leaders. Some interesting some not so.

Towards the end of the cruise there was movie night with documentaries being shown.

There is bar and this is where most people hang out this is also where the laptops are for downloading your photos for share purposes and also for the best 6 for the photo book of the journey.

The bar is also the place where at the end of everyday the expedition leader gives a recap of the days events and what is expected to happen tomorrow

Boots for shore landings are provided at no extra charge Hint: Take lambs wool innersoles and toe warmers they both work a treat

Because it is so cold camera battery life is shortened so again Hint: take hand warmers to keep battery warm as well as your hands or put battery and memory cards in your pocket body heat to keep warm Hint: take dry bag for camera when in zodiac can get wet or if small enough but inside life vest but attach to a langland around your neck zodiacs can get bumpy

Wifi is available for a cost so come on people live without it for a few days.

There is a doctor on board so if you have not brought your own medical kit take advantage if need be to use the services of the doctor who by the way doubles as an expedition leader

If I have one complaint it would be kayaking .I am a novice - but have kayaked in Alaska (and I thought the extra cost a bit prohibitive) but I would have loved to have had a paddle in the Artic Sea but I was not in the league of the kayakers who would be taken out everyday by an expedition leader and be out for hours and unlike the zodiac users would be given baileys with their morning tea break. So I think consideration should be given to some people like myself

As is done on these voyages if you are silly or stupid enough you are given the option of a polar plunge .

I would recommend this cruise to anyone interested in wakening to snow covered mountains, a tiny village of coloured houses ,to mountains so high you cannot see the top ,to be surrounded by sheet ice yes this cruise is for you but if you want luxury cruising this is not for you. Remember that Polar Pioneer is an expedition ship and therefore no bells and whistles just the basics and you feel every wave

Dependant on costing I would use Aurora Expeditions again but sometimes when you compare the cost of twin share with own bathroom and maybe 100 people the economics speaks for itself (and yes that can also come at a cost)
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Cabin Review

Cabin 301
All beds /bunks have own curtain and light so can be private and own time if need be. I found that when curtain closed it became a bit hot
Porthole cannot be opened but then you are on the bottom of the boat.
I would have liked to have had more hooks in the room as well as a shelf within each bunk to put your phone, a book just what ever on
Also the bottom bunk did not have a curtain at the foot of the bunk
Power point for charging only one in the cabin with 3 people and todays technology cameras ,phone one power point is not enough Hint: get yourself an adapter that has 4 point USB charging and plug in as well more compact than power board.
On the ceiling of cabin is the air if you want colder or hotter turn dial accordingly
Also being triple share this cabin only had room for suitcases for upper and lower bunk not third bed so I used the lounge Hint: Take soft sided bags as fit under bed easier
There are lots of cupboard spaces and draws under beds but be careful as draws are bottomless and things can also slip underneath never to be seen again
There is a sink in the cabin and the water is drinkable so brushing of teeth or just a freshen up is easy.
The bunk provided a good nights sleep but I am not a fan of the European way of bed cloths in the use of only a doona as I never felt as snug as a bug in a rug so to speak