Arctic FAQs

Top questions

What ship travels to the Arctic?

Travel aboard the National Geographic Explorer which accommodates 148 guests in 81 outside cabins. The ship is a fully stabilized, ice-class vessel with an ice 1A rating on the hull, able to navigate polar environments in exceptional comfort.

When do you travel to the Arctic?

From May through August. We have different Arctic itineraries and departure dates vary.

What are the National Geographic Explorer’s amenities?

On board public areas
A choice of public areas is available for all guests. Some areas, such as the restaurant, are listed here but there is more information about meals in the dining section below. Public areas include the restaurant, bistro bar, chart room, global gallery, library, lounge, Internet café, mud room with lockers for expedition gear, fitness center, sauna, spa, and observation lounge. The bridge is also open to guests, giving you the opportunity to meet the captain and officers, and to learn about navigation.

Heating & air conditioning
The ship is fully climate controlled, either heated or air conditioned, depending on the outside temperature.

Windows
There are grand view windows in the dining room, fitness center, library, lounge, and observation lounge connecting you to the outdoors.

Library
National Geographic Explorer features an on-board library with an extensive selection of books pertaining to the region.

Photo kiosk
For those interested in downloading digital photos aboard ship, there is a digital photo kiosk in the Internet café, which will enable you to download your photos to various types of digital media.

Email/Internet access
Email and Internet access are available onboard. Your personal email and Internet may be accessed from your own device in your cabin or in one of many wifi areas aboard, or at the Internet kiosk onboard. Charges apply. Please note that when the vessel is operating at high latitudes, or in deep fjords, satellite email access may not be possible.

Laundry
Laundry and pressing services are available at an additional charge. There is no dry cleaning.

Telephone & fax
Satellite telephone calls and fax transmissions are available at an additional charge.

Elevator
The National Geographic Explorer is equipped with a wheelchair accessible elevator that operates on most decks. Not all areas of the ship are accessible by wheelchair.

Smoking
For the comfort of all our guests, smoking is permitted only in designated outdoor areas.

What are the cabin amenities?

Climate controls
Each cabin has its own thermostat, allowing you to control the temperature (heating or air conditioning) in your cabin.

Balconies
Certain cabin categories (Cat. 5, 6, 7) have exposed balconies with furniture and glass sliding doors. These balconies range in size from approximately 37 to 90 square feet. • Windows/portholes All cabins face outside with either windows or portholes. Cabins with balconies have sliding glass doors. Some portholes may be covered periodically during rough seas.

Shower amenities
We supply conditioning shampoo, body wash, and body lotion. If you choose to bring your own shampoo and/or conditioner, we recommend that you bring biodegradable products. In addition, Expedition Essential Kits are provided for each guest. Toiletries are also available for sale in the global gallery.

Hair dryers
Hair dryers are available in a drawstring bag in each bathroom.

Video programming
Each cabin is equipped with a 22” flat screen LCD for video programming (the size of the screen is 32” in the suites). Video programming includes movies, educational programming, and live feeds from the screens in the Lounge.

Electrical appliances
At the desk in each cabin there is an outlet for 110v and 220v (European). Additional outlets of both types are located in every cabin.

Valuables
The ship is not equipped with safety deposit boxes. Guests are asked to see the Purser if they have something that must be kept in the ship’s safe, although we recommend leaving valuables at home. All passports are kept throughout the duration of the voyage by the Purser.

What is the food like aboard National Geographic Explorer?

Meals are served in one open seating in the panoramic-windowed restaurant or in the more intimate bistro bar. In addition, on occasion light lunches are served out on the sun deck or in the observation lounge. Tables are always unassigned to encourage mingling and to ensure you dine with a variety of fellow guests, expedition team members, and special guest experts. Breakfast and lunch are buffet-style, with an array of healthy options from fruits, vegetables, freshly squeezed juices, homemade breads—choices range from simple to indulgent to satisfy any yearnings. Dinner is served with varied meat, fish, or vegetarian options at every meal. Our sustainable seafood program aims to serve locally caught or harvested fresh seafood. And our baker presents fresh breads and desserts daily to surprise and delight. If you have special dietary requirements, please let us know in advance and we will gladly accommodate you. Unfortunately, we cannot provide kosher meals but can provide vegan meals. Meal hours will be posted in your Daily Program.

Do I need to dress up for dinner?

Throughout your expedition, there is no need for formal clothing, unless you’re inspired to do so. The onboard atmosphere is casual and comfortable, and so is the dress code.

Are snacks available during the day and in between meals?

Coffee, tea, soft drinks, and hot chocolate are available throughout the day as are light snacks.

What can you tell me about the expedition staff on board?

One of the most important aspects of every Lindblad-National Geographic expedition is the expertise of our knowledgeable staff of naturalists, photography experts, biologists, oceanographers, historians, and other specialists who provide talks, guidance ashore, and daily camaraderie. These engaging people will greatly enhance your experience, sharing special insights into areas of the world they know intimately.

Will there be talks or presentations on board?

Your expedition team is key to your experience. They not only accompany all your explorations off the ship, they also give engaging talks and informal presentations on board. The state-of-the art lounge is equipped with facilities for films, slideshows, and presentations. Naturalists will share their knowledge and add insight to all you see and do. Our undersea specialist shoots undersea footage and then shows images on flat screens in the comfort of the ship’s lounge, giving you a rare view of the undersea world in the Arctic. Guest speakers will add depth, knowledge, and relevancy to your understanding of the region. Our National Geographic photographer shares their images and offers one-to-one critiques for those who are interested in participating.

What is Recap?

This is an expeditions tradition, as much a part of the expedition as riding in the Zodiacs. Recaps are generally held each evening in the Lounge prior to dinner and include informal presentations by the staff and a lively review of the day’s events involving both staff and guests. At the conclusion of Recap, your expedition leader will review the activity options for the next day.

Is English spoken on board?

Yes, everyone on our expedition team speaks English. Some are multi-lingual as well.

What is the role of the video chronicler?

A video chronicler accompanies every expedition. With cameras at-the-ready 24 hours a day and seven days a week, these talented professionals have just one goal: to capture the essence of your expedition for you. A Voyage DVD will be professionally edited and made available for purchase at the end of your expedition—proof of your intrepid spirit!

Is there a gym or fitness center on board?

Yes, National Geographic Explorer features a glass-enclosed fitness center with gym equipment, including treadmills, stationary bicycles, an elliptical cross-trainer, free weights, benches, and body bar. There is also an outdoor stretching area.

Is there a spa on board and what treatments are offered?

Exploring the world can be a powerful restorative tonic. To that end, we offer you options to tap into your own personal wellness goals and help you rejuvenate as best we can. The LEXspa, sauna, and fitness center are located on the wellness deck. A wellness specialist is available for wellness elements ranging from massages, facials, and body treatments to activities with more fitness in mind, such as aerobic hikes, morning stretching classes with poses inspired by yoga or Pilates, personalized guidance with the fitness equipment, and more. Our goal is not a one model fits all, but rather a multi-tiered approach to exploration and rejuvenation. There are two spa treatment rooms on the National Geographic Explorer where wellness treatments are offered.

Does the ship have a pool?

No, National Geographic Explorer does not have a pool.

Can I bring my children or grandchildren to the Arctic?

Children of any age are welcome on our Arctic expedition. We believe sharing an expedition with your kids or grandkids is a life-enhancing experience. Take $500 off the double occupancy rate for each person under 18.

What are the requirements of children under age 18 traveling with one parent/or legal guardian?

Minor consent form must be signed by the parents or parent not traveling with the child. It is also suggested that the legal guardian of the child sign and have notarized a letter of consent to travel with their knowledge.

Can my family and friends contact me in case of emergency at home?

Prior to your departure date, we will provide you with a list of port contacts and phone numbers, indicating how you can be reached in case of emergency. The ship is equipped with satellite communications for Internet access, telephone, and fax.

Will I be able to access the Internet while onboard?

Our ships are equipped with satellite communications for e-mail and Internet access, and telephone and fax, for which charges apply. E-mail access is available 24 hours a day through the purchase of pre-paid Internet access cards onboard, however, since it is satellite access and we explore remote locations, sometimes we are without a signal to connect. Once purchased, the Internet cards can be used to access the Internet on your personal device in your cabin using an Ethernet cable, or at select wireless access points onboard, or at the Internet kiosks. Internet cards are available in the following increments:
a. Internet Gold Card, 250 minutes, $100.00
b. Internet Silver Card, 100 minutes, $55.00
c. Internet White Card, 50 minutes, $22.50

Is there a doctor on board?

Yes, there is a doctor on board all National Geographic Explorer voyages; and his/her services are free of charge. The doctor is available at any time in case of emergency. Please inquire about the doctor for your individual expedition.

Do I need any vaccinations?

No, vaccinations are not required but you should always check with your doctor.

Is a medical form necessary?

Yes, it is mandatory that you and your doctor complete and return a required three-part General Medical Information Form prior to departure so that our ship’s physician is fully aware of your medical conditions (i.e. diabetes, pregnancy) and will be better able to care for you should an emergency arise.

Will I need Dramamine or seasickness patches?

While the National Geographic Explorer is fully stabilized, you may want to bring some preventative medication if you are susceptible to motion discomfort; please check with your personal physician for recommendations.

Do I need a valid passport?

Yes, if you are a U.S., Canadian OR Australian citizen, the only document you will need is a VALID passport.

Is a visa necessary?

No visa is necessary for U.S. Canadian or Australian citizens.

How will I pay for personal items on board?

The shipboard currency is in U.S. dollars (USD). In foreign ports, a small amount of local currency will be available for exchange aboard ship. All services and products purchased on board the ship may be paid for by cash, checks drawn against a U.S. bank, or credit card (American Express, VISA, MasterCard, and Discover Card. Please note that transactions posted against credit cards issued outside of the U.S. may be subject to foreign transaction fees.

What is the currency in Arctic Svalbard?

Local currency of Norway is Norwegian Kroner.

Are gratuities included?

All gratuities ashore are included in your expedition cost. Gratuities to crew aboard ship are at your own discretion.

What is the cost of the Voyage DVD created by the video chronicler?

Prices vary, depending on the length of your voyage.

How much cash per person should we bring?

That’s a personal choice. You will be able to use credit cards and personal checks aboard. Unfortunately, we are unable to cash personal checks or traveler’s checks for cash on board.

Will we see polar bears?

Although we cannot guarantee or predict the behavior of the natural world, we almost always spot polar bears in their natural habitat of Svalbard, Norway on our voyages: Land of the Ice Bears, and also on Norway’s Fjords & Arctic Svalbard. We also hope to see polar bears in the Canadian High Arctic on our voyages: Arctic Quest: Greenland and the Canadian High Arctic, and possibly on Fabled Lands of the North: Greenland, Baffin Island, Newfoundland and Labrador.

You often refer to the value of flexible schedules. What does this mean to me?

Often, the most memorable events are those that are unplanned. That’s why every Lindblad-National Geographic itinerary has flexibility built into the schedule. On some of our journeys, in fact, whole days are left open for exploring. So, if we happen to encounter a blue whale, for example, we’ll be afforded the luxury of taking the time to stop and watch rather than having to rush off somewhere else. To get a sense of what these adventurous, open-ended days are like, spend some time reading our Daily Expedition Reports. You can read the top ten or browse our archives, looking at the destination and time of year that most interests you.

What is the outside temperature?

The average air temperature in Arctic Svalbard is in the low 40s Fahrenheit and may be in the high 70s in Oslo.

Is the Arctic physically challenging?

This expedition can be physically demanding and you should be in general good health and able to walk short distances over uneven and rough terrain unassisted. Since you are traveling to a remote area without access to sophisticated medical facilities you must not join this expedition if you have a life-threatening condition.

Are there short and long hikes?

Yes, your expedition team always offers hikes of varied lengths for different fitness levels and interests. Our wellness specialist may lead a faster paced walk for those who want more of a workout. Naturalist-guided walking and hiking options will be offered regularly throughout your expedition, as conditions allow. Hikes and walks may be done over snow, ice, and rock, depending on the time of year. Distances will vary, and often involve an incline or irregular terrain. Shorter walks will always be offered.

Would hiking sticks be helpful or just get in the way? Are they even permitted?

Hiking sticks are permitted and may prove to be helpful. There are some provided onboard however, you are welcome bring along your own.

What activities can be done on one’s own while in the Arctic?

Given the nature of an expedition to the Arctic, you’ll have opportunities to take Zodiac excursions and hikes in the company of a naturalist. Weather and sea conditions permitting, you can take advantage of our fleet of kayaks to explore on your own. Solitary activities are more likely on our European itineraries than our polar expeditions. If you’re spending extra time in Norway before or after your expedition, we will be happy to assist you with suggestions about independent travel.

What is a wet landing?

When you board a Zodiac to make a landing, at times there is shallow water to walk through after you disembark the Zodiac and walk ashore.

Will there be kayaking opportunities?

Yes, it is likely. Sometimes weather conditions simply don’t allow for it, but generally we are able to go kayaking at least once each expedition. Our ship is equipped with an onboard fleet of 36 double kayaks—to give our guests the opportunity for personal, eye-level encounters with wildness.

When does the ship travel from location to location?

There is no set schedule on Ice Bears, as it is primarily dependent on wildlife viewing. Mostly we travel at night from location to location and sometimes during the day as well.

Can I visit the ship’s bridge?

Yes, guests are welcome to visit the bridge to meet our officers and captain, and to learn about navigation and the extensive equipment located on the bridge.

What is the difference between photo expeditions and other expeditions?

On a photo expedition, the itinerary, presentations and activities are designed specifically with photographers in mind. On other expeditions, photography is a significant component of the expedition, but not the primary component. National Geographic Explorer does not offer any photo expeditions but photography is a very significant component on board.

National Geographic Explorer has a National Geographic photographer and a Lindblad-National Geographic certified photo instructor aboard every voyage. After all, travel and photography go hand in hand. And, with the partnership between Lindblad Expeditions and National Geographic, it’s natural that photography has become a vital component of our expeditions. While all of our expeditions offer a full contingent of specialists to give you plenty of options and an in-depth experience—ornithologists, marine biologists, historians, oceanographers and other experts—our photo team is there to help you take the best travel photographs of your life whether you’re an interested beginner or seasoned pro.

The photo team can enhance everyone’s voyage with useful tips for improving your images, strategies for being in the right place at the right time, and assistance with using your camera to take the best possible photos.

What is included in my expedition cost?

Expedition costs are all-inclusive:

  • All ship and hotel accommodations
  • All meals aboard ship and most meals ashore except when an itinerary provides an “at your leisure” morning, afternoon, or evening. All non-alcoholic beverages aboard ship.
  • Tips, taxes, port charges, and service charges (gratuities to ship’s crew at your own discretion)
  • All shore excursions and sightseeing, entrance fees, special access permits.
  • Transfers to and from group flights
  • Use of kayaks and Zodiac excursions
  • Services of a ship’s physician
  • Services of our expedition team
  • International airfare is always shown as a separate cost since many of our travelers prefer to use frequent flyer miles.

There are never hidden charges, like port charges. Of course, you’ll want to check carefully the inclusions for the journey you’ve selected, but you can rest assured there will be nothing hidden. Activities and shore excursions are included in the cost of every Lindblad Expedition. We don’t want you to miss out on anything. Many cruise lines charge you extra, often hundreds of dollars, to see the sites that prompted you to book in the first place. With Lindblad, all activities and sightseeing are included-from guided hikes to kayaking. You’ll always have the freedom to pick and choose activities as your day unfolds: a long hike, a shorter walk, kayaking, a Zodiac excursion, or relaxing aboard ship. After all, these are not scheduled tours, these are expeditions. Everyone is different—every day is different.

Is there a time difference in the Arctic?

Yes, Svalbard is six hours ahead of the U.S. East Coast (EST). And 10 hours behind Sydney, Australia. This itinerary covers one time zone (Central European). If you prefer to use Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), Svalbard is UCT+1:00 hours during this expedition. For more information, see http://www.timeanddate.com/time/map/.

Are airport transfers included?

Yes, if they arrive and depart on the group flight.

Are there luggage restrictions on the charter flight?

One checked bag of not more than 50lbs per person and one carry-on which may not weigh more than 12lbs per person.

Can extra luggage be stored in Oslo?

Yes, if you are returning to Oslo, we will gladly arrange for your luggage to be safely stored while you further explore.

What kind of clothes do I need?

Our style is always informal. The relaxed atmosphere of every journey, a Lindblad-National Geographic expedition hallmark, is something our travelers tell us they particularly enjoy. There is never a need for fancy clothing, so our recommendations on your travel wardrobe are all about comfort, practicality, and the conditions in the region you’re exploring.

What footwear is a necessity in the Arctic?

One pair of fully waterproof knee-high rubber boots with sturdy, high-traction soles are essential. We stress the importance of boots that are completely waterproof so that your feet will not get wet when you step into shallow, icy water during wet Zodiac landings. Additionally, boots should have good traction because you are likely to encounter poor footing on ice and rough terrain. Comfort is important—if your boots are too heavy or bulky, your footing will be awkward during hikes. Also, good walking shoes such as sneakers are essential.

Is a parka provided?

No a parka is not provided.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *