Travel to Svalbard, focusing on Spitsbergen

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OAT is offering a new Arctic Expedition to Svalbard with most stops circumnavigating Spitsbergen. While this itinerary is new, I appreciate comments from anyone who has already visited the region. Because of enthusiastic, practical comments on this message board in 2008, I traveled to Antarctica which remains the best travel experience of my life. Could the Arctic's varied wildlife and amazing glaciers rival Antarctica? Specifically, would you recommend travel to Svalbard and 'untamed Norway'? Who did you travel with? What basic survival advice can you offer? Any and all perspectives are appreciated.

I traveled to that area a few back with Cheesemans Ecology Safaris and was very happy with trip. Saw lots of wildlife up close, polar bear, walrus, caribu, etc. Lots of ice. Not as much as Antarctica ( have made 4 trips there, again with Cheesemans ), but lots of sea ice whlile we were looking for polar bear. Highly recommend their trip. Their website is

We took the Land of the Ice Bears trip with National Geographic Explorer in 2017. It was spectacular. We too had already traveled to Antarctica. The shore landings included hikes as well as kayaking. We also had several zodiac excursions. The crew was so knowledgeable about the flora and fauna, geography, geology, marine biology, etc. We saw many polar bears as well as walrus, seals, artic fox, puffins, and other birds. The scenery is absolutely beautiful. After our trip we flew to the Lofoten Islands to spend a week visiting that area. We had previously been to Norway and visited the fjords so wanted to see more of the country. No matter who you decide to go with, just go! You will not regret it.

This tour was on the back of our minds. We had been considering the Quark tour, but when OAT came out with their trip, we jumped on it, as it was considerably less money than Quark, for the same thing. The OAT tour included Oslo, which was extra with Quark, and when we booked free air fare, which obviously would have been more with Quark. You're going by ship and making virtually the same landings, so the major difference is cost. We have found that OAT no longer gives us the value for the money spent, and have not booked an OAT trip for over two years, but this trip appears to be an exception. we had been to Churchill to see the bears, and although we'll likely see the bears on this trip, it will be nothing like Churchill.