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September 24, 2015

Small Ship Cruise Line Review: Poseidon Expeditions

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 eight feet of ice (2.5 meters).

Ship, Year Delivered & Passengers: SEA SPIRIT (built 1991, 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

Included features: All regular excursions, foul weather parkas and free loan of Wellington boots for Zodiac landings­.

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, 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. N.B. The map associated with this cruise does not coincide with some of the ports listed in the itinerary. A second 12-day cruise begins in early June at Leith and subsequently calls at Orkney Islands, Fair Isle (Shetland), Faroes, Jan Mayen Island, and disembarking in Longyearbyen, Spitzbergen.
  • 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). 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).

 

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.

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,  +203 369 0020

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

TWS

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Posted In:

Antarctica, Arctic, Arctic Canada, Cruise Regions, Expedition Ship & Line Reviews, Falkland Islands, Greenland, Iceland, North Pole, Northwest Passage, Oceangoing Ship & Line Reviews, Ship & Line reviews, South Georgia, Spitzbergen/Svalbard, Uncategorized


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