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Planicus Antarctica Robert van Poppelen-Oceanwide

Articles About Oceanwide Expeditions

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Arctic Cruise. By William J. Mayes, Editor of Sea Lines, The Ocean Liner Society (UK). Oceanwide Expeditions, a company that ...
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Snapshot: Oceanwide Expeditions, based in the Netherlands, offers some of the most active and creative onshore adventures in the industry, almost exclusively in the Arctic and Antarctica regions. The ships are comfortable and efficient conveyances, not luxurious expedition cruise ships, with the exception of the brand-new HONDIUS to join the fleet in summer 2019. The focus is the destination, and this experienced firm provides a team of experts to see that you can get the most out of your expedition on foot, snowshoes, skis, and in kayaks and Zodiacs. The ships are considered basecamps.

Planicus Antarctica Robert van Poppelen-Oceanwide

Planicus in Antarctica.* Photo: Robert van Poppelen-Oceanwide Expeditions

Ship, Year Delivered & Passengers: The fleet includes four vessels, and they will be profiled separately, so look at the ship and the itineraries it undertakes.

A new ship, HONDIUS (178p) arrives in summer 2019. She will have a Polar Class 6 (1A-Super) certificate and offer accommodations from suites to triples and quads that may be booked as shares for those on a budget.

PLANICUS was built 1976 for Royal Dutch Navy, bought by Oceanwide and rebuilt in 2009. She operates in Antarctica and the Arctic — 116 passengers occupy 53 cabins and with shower and toilet. The largest are 10 twin superiors at 226 sq.ft., 2 twin deluxe at 161 sq. ft., 26 twins (all aforementioned with windows), 9 twins, 2 triples (1 upper berth), and 4 quads (2 upper) all with potholes. All cabins have a TV, while superior has a refrigerator, coffee and tea maker, and internet connections. The décor is attractive if plain.

Twin-bedded cabin, Planicus. * Photo: Oceanwide Expeditions

Twin-bedded cabin, Planicus. * Photo: Oceanwide Expeditions

The main lounge is forward with individual chairs and booth seating at tables, with good views and a bar, and the restaurant doubles as the lecture room. Food is referred to as hotel quality, so nothing fancy. The deck space is generous with ample room for all to see what’s around them.

Buffet dining on Planicus. * Photo: Heiner Kubny-Oceanwide Expeditions

Buffet dining on Planicus. * Photo: Heiner Kubny-Oceanwide Expeditions


ORTELIUS was built in 1989 in Poland for the Russian Academy of Sciences and has a 1A ice classification. She operates in the Arctic and Antarctica. The ship carries passengers in four-berth cabins with portholes, three-berth with portholes, two-berth with portholes, and twins with two windows, twin deluxe with three windows, and superior with a double bed and two or more windows. The last two categories add TV, coffee and tea maker, and refrigerator.

Ortelius in the Ross Sea, Antarctica. * Photo: Oceanwide Expeditions

Ortelius in the Ross Sea, Antarctica. * Photo: Oceanwide Expeditions

The restaurant operates with buffet service of hotel standard food. The lounge has a bar and there is a lecture room. Ample outdoor deck space is available for viewing.

Ortelius in pack ice. * Photo: Arjen Drost-Oceanwide Expeditions

Ortelius in pack ice. * Photo: Arjen Drost-Oceanwide Expeditions


REMBRANDT VAN RIJN was built early 20th century as a herring lugger, rebuilt in 1994 as a 3-masted Dutch schooner, and most recently updated in 2011 with modern interiors and navigation equipment. She operates with diesel engines and sails mainly in Greenland and also occasionally Iceland — 33 passengers occupy 1 triple cabin with porthole, 9 twins with porthole, and 6 twins without porthole. All have upper and lower berths and shower and toilet.

Rembrandt van Rijn. * Photo: Kees Beekman-Oceanwide Expeditions

Rembrandt van Rijn. * Photo: Kees Beekman-Oceanwide Expeditions

The restaurant has long tables and buffet dining, and doubles as the lecture room. A separate bar has stools and a lounge. On deck, there is ample open space.

Triple Cabin. *Photo: Monica Salmang-Oceanwide Expeditions

Triple Cabin. *Photo: Monica Salmang-Oceanwide Expeditions


NOORDERLICHT was built in 1910 in Germany as a 3-master schooner serving as a light vessel, hence the name, and 1991 she was rebuilt with two masts and her present configuration. The vessel operates in Spitsbergen and the Lofoten Islands — 20 passengers are accommodated in 10 cabins with upper and lower berths and wash basin, with 4 showers and 5 toilets nearby. Frosted ceiling glass brings in light from above.

Noorderlicht. * Photo: Remy Marion-Oceanwide Expeditions

Noorderlicht. * Photo: Remy Marion-Oceanwide Expeditions

The dining room with bench seating doubles as the lecture hall, and the lounge with banquette seating has a bar. The decks are wide open fore and aft.

Noorderlicht at mealtime. *Photo: Jan Belgers-Oceanwide Expeditions

Noorderlicht at mealtime. *Photo: Jan Belgers-Oceanwide Expeditions

Passenger Profile: Most passengers, regardless of age, are physically active, and some in top shape, and they hail from North America and Europe. The full span is 30-80 and most fall between 45-65.

Price: $$ – $$$  Expensive to Super Pricey

Included features: All excursions as listed in the individual itineraries. Shore adventures such as overnight camping in Antarctica are extra and can be booked in advance. Tipping guidelines are $8-10 per day.

Itineraries:

Approaching a polar bear. * Photo: Jan Belgers-Oceanwide Expeditions

Approaching a polar bear. * Photo: Jan Belgers-Oceanwide Expeditions

  • Arctic Region: 7 nights to North Spitsbergen for polar bears, and ringed and bearded seals; 7 nights South Spitsbergen for geology and landscapes; 9 nights for a Spitsbergen circumnavigation; 7 nights to West Greenland for whales and mountain skiing and snowshoeing; 7 nights to Disko Bay, Greenland for bowhead whales, icebergs and fjords. 7 nights for East Greenland for landscapes and Aurora Borealis; 7 nights in the Lofoten Islands (Norway) for Aurora Borealis, hiking, stone age petro glyphs, fishing villages, the narrow Trollfjord, and looking for whales, sea eagles. 7 nights in North Norway for whales and Aurora Borealis.
  • Antarctica, Falklands and South Georgia: Antarctic Peninsula 9 & 10 nights; Antarctica Peninsula & South Shetland Islands 9 nights; Falklands, South Georgia , South Sandwich Islands and Antarctic Peninsula 22 nights. Antarctica for icebergs, a varieties of seals, penguins, petrels, and terns; South Sandwich is seldom visited and for Chinstrap and Gentoo penguins; Falklands for Magellanic, Gentoo & Rockhopper penguins, albatross, and shags. South Georgia for Fur & Elephant Seals, King & Macaroni penguins, Wandering Albatross, former whaling station, and connections to explorer Ernest Shackelton, including his grave.
Adelie Penguins. * Photo: Jan Veen-Oceanwide Expeditions

Adelie Penguins. * Photo: Jan Veen-Oceanwide Expeditions

Why Go? The Arctic offers amazing landforms and geology, icebergs and glaciers, whales, polar bears and a wide variety of birds, isolated settlements, and especially in winter, the amazing Aurora Borealis. Antarctica is well known for its bird and animal life in the sea, on land and in the air, and evidence of early expedition trips, remote settlements, icebergs in many forms and array of colors, and some of the clearest air on the globe.

Aurora Borealis, Norway.* Photo Gaute Bruvik-Visit Norway

Aurora Borealis, Norway.* Photo Gaute Bruvik-Visit Norway

When to Go? Antarctica, the Falklands and South Georgia are northern winter destinations while the Arctic is just the reverse. However, some of the Lofoten Islands (Norway) expeditions take place in the late fall and late winter.

Activities & Entertainment: The focus is entirely on the destination so all activities are geared to going ashore, puttering around in Zodiacs and observing wildlife, unusual land forms and geology from the deck.

Hiking in the Arctic. * Photo: Leika Akademie-Siegfried Brueck.

Hiking in the Arctic. * Photo: Leika Akademie-Siegfried Brueck.

Special Notes: Oceanwide Expeditions has a superb website with lots of information, helpful details and excellent wildlife, excursion and ship accommodation photographs.

HONDIUS is under construction

HONDIUS (178 passengers) is currently under construction in Croatia and is expected to enter service in summer 2019. Her ice classification will be 1A-Super and she will be stabilized.

Along the Same Lines: Other expedition lines that focus on the destinations and not luxury living on board. The use of sailing vessels in the Arctic is a definitely unusual.

Contact: Oceanwide Expeditions, 15710 JFK Blvd, Suite 285, Houston, TX 77031;  oceanwide-expeditions.com, 800-453-7245

TWS

 

Sea Explorer. * Photo: Poseidon Expeditions

Sea Explorer. * Photo: Poseidon Expeditions

Snapshot: Poseidon Expeditions was founded in 1999 by Nikolay Saveliev as Poseidon Arctic Voyages. Registered in the UK, the company operated its first voyage in 2001 aboard the nuclear-powered icebreaker YAMAL.  Expedition voyages center on the Arctic Region, including multiple annual departures sailing directly to the North Pole, and to Antarctica, the Falklands and South Georgia. The firm currently charters two fine ships, the 114-passenger suite ship SEA SPIRIT, and 50 YEARS OF VICTORY, nuclear-powered and the world’s most powerful icebreaker, also with excellent accommodations for 128 passengers. The latter is a working ship at other times of the year, and she can break through ten feet of ice (3 meters). In the printed brochure, members of expedition teams are featured right up front with brief bios and their expertise.

Ship, Year Delivered & Passengers: SEA SPIRIT (built 1991 with recent major renovation, 114 passengers) and 50 YEARS OF VICTORY (b. 2007, 128 p).

Passenger Profile: Active people from Europe, Australia, the Far East and the US/Canada are aged 45 and up. English is the primary language onboard.

Passenger Decks: SEA SPIRIT: elevators operate between all 5 decks. 50 YEARS OF VICTORY: elevators link the four cabin and public room decks but not the bridge nor the pool and sauna located aft on the lowest of the six decks.

Price: $$ to $$$ Expensive to Super Pricey (North Pole expeditions)

Included features: One pre-voyage hotel night (most departures), all regular excursions*, foul weather parkas with destination patches, free loan of Wellington boots for Zodiac landings­, and digital voyage log. * Helicopter flights included for North Pole expeditions but not flights to Murmansk to join/leave ship.

Spitsbergen (Svalbard) - Curious polar bear comes up to the bow of the ship. * Photo: Ted Scull

Spitsbergen (Svalbard) – Curious polar bear comes up to the bow of the ship. * Photo: Ted Scull

Itineraries:

  • Arctic: SEA SPIRIT operates a program of 10-to 15-day expeditions in June and August/September that visit Iceland, including the Northern Lights, Jan Mayen and Spitsbergen (Svalbard); Spitsbergen and Franz Josef Land (Russia); Spitsbergen circumnavigations; Iceland and east Greenland. Most expeditions feature photography (free) and kayaking (a fee). En route north for the Arctic season, in May the ship will embark in Plymouth, South of England and visit sites in Ireland, Wales, and Scotland, ending at Leith, the port for Edinburgh. A second cruise begins in early June at Leith and subsequently calls Jan Mayen Island, and disembarking in Longyearbyen, Spitzbergen. After a series of Spitzbergen itineraries, the ship heads for Franz Josef Land. Expedition dates are available for the 2020 season.
  • North Pole: 50 YEARS OF VICTORY operates three 13-day expeditions in July and the beginning of August to the North Pole starting with a flight from Helsinki to Murmansk (Russia) then boarding the ship to sail 90 degrees north and onto the North Pole with a return via the uninhabited Franz Josef Land to look for polar bears and sea birds and stop at an abandoned meteorological station. All North Pole trips feature photography lessons and helicopter sightseeing (included), barbecue, and an optional polar plunge. N.B. A Russian visa is required for this expedition.
  • Antarctica: SEA SPIRIT spends a full season with departures from late October onto late February undertaking 11-day Antarctica Peninsula cruises and several 20- and 21- expeditions to the Antarctic Islands and Antarctic Peninsula, the Falklands, and South Georgia. One cruise crosses the Antarctic Circle to 66 degrees South, now that’s about as far south as it gets! All cruises begin at Ushuaia, Argentina, except the first and last of the season that use Puerto Madryn, Argentina. Some Antarctica trips feature photography lessons (free), kayaking amongst the ice (a fee), and how about overnight camping on the White Continent (a fee). Expedition dates are available for the 2020-2021 season

 

Sea Spirit in Antarctica.* Photo: Poseidon Expeditions

Sea Spirit in Antarctica.* Photo: Poseidon Expeditions

Why Go? Few expeditions go directly to 90 Degrees North, where you can stand at the North Pole and be photographed from the air. The other destinations such as Greenland and South Georgia are little visited, and often arriving by ship is the best or only way. Drop anchor and go ashore where roads and air access do not exist. If you want to feel that you are truly away from your normal routine, then one of the expedition-style voyages is for you.

When to Go? The itineraries operate seasonally according to the most advantageous times of the year, so generally the Arctic Region in the summer and Antarctica in the Southern Hemisphere’s summer.

Poseidon Expeditions

50 YEARS OF VICTORY. * Photo: Poseidon Expeditions

Cabins: SEA SPIRIT: All accommodations are designated as suites, all outside, and with dimensions 215, 250, 277, 353 and 437 sq. ft. The largest two categories have balconies. Twin beds convert to king-size. Amenities are TV/VCR, refrigerator, Internet Access. The headboards are partitioned mirrored glass panels. 50 YEARS OF VICTORY: Cabins are located amidships and forward, all outside and originally designed for officers and top staff who would spend months aboard breaking ice so there are desks and plenty of storage space. Windows open. The smallest are 151 sq. ft., while the rest range from 237-355 sq. ft. All have TV/DVD and only the smallest categories do not have a fridge.

Public Rooms: SEA SPIRIT: All public rooms are located aft while suites are amidships and forward. The Presentation Lounge is set up for lectures and video presentations, and above that, the Club Lounge is for socializing, with a bar and an adjacent library lounge with books on exploration and wildlife as well as for general reading. Outside deck space circles the ships so viewing locations span 360 degrees. 50 YEARS OF VICTORY: On one deck, the Victory Bar looks over the bow while, the library and lounge are just aft and the second lounge and bar are all the way aft and used for lectures and presentations. There is plenty of deck space for viewing. For both ships, the bridge, often open to passengers, is a spacious additional focus to learn about navigation and chat with the officers.

Dining: SEA SPIRIT: The main restaurant is on the lowest passenger deck and seats all at one sitting. The food is good, varied and as fresh as it can be when sailing in remote locations. In addition, an outdoor bistro serves lunch most days from a covered buffet section, and tables are arranged on the adjacent deck. 50 YEARS OF VICTORY: There is a single restaurant accommodating all passengers at one sitting. As the crew is both Russian and from other European countries, the meals will partially reflect these nationalities.

Taking sight on a polar bear. * Photo: Ted Scull

Taking sight on a polar bear. * Photo: Ted Scull

Activities & Entertainment: SEA SPIRIT: The principal emphasis are the outdoor activities relating to the destinations such as the Zodiac trips in search of wildlife and for going ashore to local communities, beauty spots and onto the ice with destinations such a penguin colonies, and even the North Pole! On board, the presentations and recaps tie in with what happens ashore. The ship is equipped with a gym and hot tub. During the evening hours, a pianist provides light entertainment. 50 YEARS OF VICTORY: Designed for long periods at sea, the ship is equipped with a massage room, gym, two saunas and heated outdoor saltwater pool, and not often found, a basketball and volleyball court. The ship carries a helicopter on an after deck.

Embarking into Zodiacs. * Photo: Poseidon Expeditions.

Embarking into Zodiacs. * Photo: Poseidon Expeditions.

Special Notes: Read carefully what the line suggests you bring and don’t burden yourself with too much unnecessary luggage. Excursions ashore in these remote parts as well as activities such as kayaking and helicopter sightseeing are subject to weather and wind conditions. SEA SPIRIT will be refitted, during a drydocking in spring 2019, with a more effective set of stabilizers to reduce rolling while underway, drifting and when anchored.

Along the Same Lines: Other high-end expedition lines.

Contact:

USA & CANADA – Poseidon Expeditions, 245 Waterman St., Suite 502, Providence, RI 02906;  Poseidonexpeditions.com, 347-801-2610.

UK – Poseidon Expeditions, 13 John Prince’s Street, London W1G 0JR  poseidonexpeditions.com,  +44 020 3369 0020.

Check the website for additional offices in Germany, Cyprus and China.

TWS

Silver Cloud pre conversion. * Photo: Silversea Cruises

Silver Cloud pre conversion. * Photo: Silversea Cruises

In August 2017, Silversea Cruises’ 296-passenger SILVER CLOUD will be refurbished and converted into an ice-class ship and then moved to Silversea Expeditions by year-end 2017 to offer a similar experience as her fleetmates, the all-suite SILVER EXPLORER, SILVER DISCOVERER, and SILVER GALAPAGOS. After the overhaul, the renamed SILVER CLOUD EXPEDITION will carry 260 passengers and sail in polar and non-polar regions; when sailing Arctic and Antarctic itineraries, the number of passengers booked on those cruises will be restricted to 200. SILVER CLOUD EXPEDITION will be the only luxury ice-class expedition ship with five dining options and it will have the highest space and highest staff-to-guest ratio (nearly one to one).