Svalbard: A Polar Bear Quest
Before You Go
For most activities, a relatively moderate level of exertion is required. You will need to climb into and out of Zodiacs for excursions ashore and walk one to three miles over sometimes rough terrain such as uneven, rocky beaches and occasional snow. We have designed shore excursions to accommodate both those who would like moderate strolls and those who prefer more active hikes. In July, temperatures will range from the low 50sº to mid-60sºF, cooling slightly as you travel north. Flexibility is a must, as itineraries are subject to change, and landings may be tidal or weather dependent. Knee-high, waterproof boots with good tread are essential.
Please pay close attention to the following sections: Passport and Visa Requirements, Health Information, and Baggage Allowance.
For most activities, a relatively moderate level of exertion is required. You will need to climb, unaided, in and out of Zodiacs for excursions ashore. Many of the landings will be “wet” and require that you wear waterproof, knee-high boots. Ashore, you must be able to walk moderate distances, unaided, over occasionally rough and often slippery terrain. Shore excursions have been designed to accommodate guests who enjoy gentle strolls and those who prefer more active hikes.
Should you have any physical limitations, please notify your Expedition Advisor in advance of your departure.
Arrivals & Departures
Departure / Airport Check-In Procedures
Please arrive at the airport for your international flight at least three hours prior to departure and have access to your passport and airline E-ticket confirmation. Do not pack your passport or other travel documents in your checked luggage. Be certain the check-in agent properly tags your bags through to the final destination allowed, and that you have all baggage and E-ticket receipts.
Please contact Zegrahm at 1.800.628.8747 or 206.285.4000 should you encounter significant delays or problems en route. Proceed to your airline’s ticket counter or flight gate for immediate assistance. Advise Zegrahm of all changes to your arrival at your destination city so that we may inform our expedition staff.
Arrival / Departure Transfers
Transfers and assistance between airports and group hotels are arranged for participants arriving and departing on group dates only. If you are arriving prior to the group day and Zegrahm Expeditions has booked additional night(s) at our group hotel, an airport transfer will be provided.
If you are handling your own travel arrangements, please forward a copy of your itinerary to Zegrahm Expeditions, as well as contact information where you can be reached prior to and after the program.
Due to baggage restrictions on internal group flights, passengers are limited to one checked bag at 50 pounds (23 kilograms) total per person. Carry-on luggage is limited to 15 pounds (6.8 kilograms) per person, plus one small personal item. If necessary, extra weight can be purchased at the ticket counter.
Airline baggage limitations vary by airline. If you have purchased your tickets from Zegrahm Expeditions, please contact our Air Department for the specific allowances and limitations for your flights. If you have booked your own arrangements, you will need to visit the airline website or contact the airline directly.
PLEASE NOTE: Most airlines strictly enforce their baggage regulations. Excess baggage charges, which can be substantial, are the personal responsibility of each participant.
We recommend the use of soft-sided luggage, as it is easier to store. Your carry-on bag should include anything you may need in transit. We recommend that you carry with you essential toiletries, prescription medications, and a change of clothing appropriate for the initial activities of our itinerary so that you will be more comfortable in the unlikely event your baggage is delayed in transit or is slow to be delivered to your room upon arrival.
In July, temperatures in mainland Norway will range from the 50s(°F) to the 70s(°F). In Spitsbergen, temperatures will be significantly colder with highs in the 40s.
The following are average high/low temperatures in July for selected locations on our itinerary:
|Longyearbyen, Svalbard Archipelago||46ºF||40ºF|
The U.S. dollar is the standard currency on board the Ocean Adventurer. At the end of your voyage, you may settle your onboard account with your Visa or MasterCard credit card. The Ocean Adventurer will charge your credit card in U.S. dollars and your bank will convert the charge to the currency it honors.
In the Svalbard Archipelago and in mainland Norway, the appropriate currency is the Norwegian Krone.
As of February 2018, the exchange rate is as follows:
|$1 US dollar (USD)||7.84 Norwegian krone (NOK)|
ATMs are a good option for obtaining local currency if you have a Visa or MasterCard debit or credit card, although access to ATMs will be limited in the more remote areas we visit. Please have some cash available as back-up. Also, ensure you have a four-digit PIN (Personal Identification Number) for your debit or credit card if you wish to obtain currency at ATMs. Please note that some vendors require your credit card PIN number in lieu of a signature.
You will receive your pre-departure documents via email—attached will be a complete packing list, reading list, and gift certificates—approximately five months prior to departure. Final documents—including a final itinerary, contact list, and staff biographies—will be emailed approximately one month prior to your departure.
Both the electrical current in Norway and on board the Ocean Adventurer runs at 220 volts with round 2-pin European outlets. If you are bringing standard, North American appliances, please bring a converter and an adapter.
Flights are not included in the cost of expeditions; however, Zegrahm Expeditions has a fully-staffed air department that can assist you with flight arrangements.
You will need to purchase airfare from your home city/Oslo/Longyearbyen and Longyearbyen/Oslo/home city. For more detailed information, please contact our in-house Air Department for fare quotes, reservations, or other air-related questions.
At this time, no inoculations or prophylaxes are required in conjunction with this expedition. Be sure to bring a sufficient amount of your personal medications, as pharmacies are not found in the remote areas of this expedition.
Insect bites can be a problem, and we urge you to bring an adequate supply of both insect bite relief products and insect repellent.
In case of serious injury or illness while traveling, it is important to understand that satisfactory medical facilities may not exist nearby. Should you require emergency medical care, it may be necessary to depart the country by international medical evacuation services. The cost of your expedition includes $100,000 in emergency evacuation and $25,000 in medical expense. Details of this policy are available online at www.travelguard.com/zegrahm.
The information herein is a guideline and is subject to change without notice. Contact your physician or local health center for current and other information concerning health precautions, immunizations, and prescriptions based on your physical condition and medical history.
Internet & Phone
The Ocean Adventurer has computers with Internet access as well as Wi-Fi in the main lounge. Vouchers to access the Wi-Fi can be purchased at reception. Please note that Internet connections aboard the ship are low-bandwidth and intermittent at best.
Your final documentation will include contact information for the ship and group hotels, including phone numbers and email addresses.
Following are local times that apply to this expedition when it is 7:00 a.m. on the North American west coast:
|7:00 a.m.||Seattle, WA (PDT)|
|10:00 a.m.||New York, NY (EDT)|
|4:00 p.m.||Norway & Svalbard (CEST)|
Should you have any dietary needs, please let us know on the Personal Information Form, and we will do our best to prepare for them. Unfortunately, kosher meals cannot be accommodated.
It is essential to maximize the versatility of your travel wardrobe by packing clothing that can be layered. Wash-and-wear, lightweight, natural fabrics are recommended. As you pack, consider your own internal thermostat and personal tastes and adjust accordingly.
Laundry service is available and by using it you can limit yourself to just four or five outfits and not be inconvenienced by an overabundance of clothing.
Clothing on Board
The ship is air-conditioned and heated throughout, with individual controls in each cabin. Comfortable and casual clothing, in the expedition spirit, is recommended.
Typically, there are two occasions on board when you may wish to wear slightly more formal attire: the captain’s welcome aboard and farewell cocktail parties followed by dinner. On these two occasions, women may choose to wear a dress or other appropriate attire, and men may choose to dress business casual. The degree of dress is in accordance with one’s personal preference.
The weather will be cold, but not freezing; layering will be essential. Shore excursions will involve a fair amount of walking and hiking over uneven trails. Sturdy walking shoes with thick, non-skid soles or light hiking boots are recommended for walking on the often-rough terrain. If you have weak ankles, high-top hiking boots will provide better support than shoes. Make sure your shoes or boots are well broken-in before your trip.
Waterproof, knee-high boots are essential on wet landings, as you will be stepping from the Zodiac onto the shore in wet or surf conditions. If your feet get wet, they will lose heat rapidly, so your boots need to be waterproof. Do not bring “moon boots” or leather boots. Where conditions warrant, your Expedition Leader will advise when walking or hiking shoes are able to be used. PLEASE NOTE: Waterproof, knee-high boots will be available on board the Ocean Adventurer. However, we recommend you bring your own boots for best comfort and fit and in the event your shoe size is not available.
Passport & Visa Information
A valid passport is required for participation in this program. It must be valid for at least six months after your return home, through January 23, 2019. If you do not have a passport, or if it is not valid for the correct length of time, you should apply for one as soon as possible. You need to have a minimum of four blank pages available for entry/exit stamps in your passport and secure additional pages if necessary. We suggest that you carry extra passport photos and a photocopy of your passport’s information page when you travel.
A visa is not required of U.S. nationals for entry into Norway, including the Svalbard Archipelago.
If you are traveling independently of the group or to any other countries prior to or after the voyage, check the entry and visa requirements with the local consulates of each country you plan on visiting.
PLEASE NOTE: Nationals of countries other than the U.S. should check with the nearest consulates for specific visa and entry requirements for their entire itinerary, including both the group arrangements and any travel prior to or after the program.
Payments & Cancellations
A deposit totaling 25% of the expedition fare will reserve a place for you on this Zegrahm program. The balance of the expedition fare is due 120 days prior to departure. Airfare is due at the time tickets are issued. All prices are quoted in US dollars and must be paid in US dollars.
Cancellation & Refund Policy
Notification of cancellation must be received in writing by Zegrahm. At the time we receive your written cancellation, the following penalties will apply:
- 180 days or more prior to departure: $750 per person
- 120 through 179 days prior to departure: 25% of expedition fare
- 1 through 119 days prior to departure: 100% of expedition fare
Please note, fees associated with cancelled airline tickets are in addition to this and will be clearly outlined for you on your flight itinerary.
Trip Cancellation and Interruption Insurance
We strongly advise that all travelers purchase trip cancellation and interruption insurance to protect themselves from an unforeseen emergency that may force you to cancel or leave an expedition while it is in progress. Information describing coverage will be sent to you upon receipt of your deposit for the expedition.
With Our Compliments
We are pleased to offer complimentary amenities to our explorers so they can be fully prepared before departing on one of our expeditions. A gift certificate to our Zegrahm Store will offer you the opportunity to purchase essential trip gear from our store. The certificate will be emailed to you approximately five months prior to departure. Please refer to the gift certificate for more details.