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ADVENTURE CRUISING


“It’s an expedition more than just a cruise; we are VISITORS IN AN AMAZING WORLD”


seating dining, casual dress at meal-times and a 24-hour cafe where free coffee, sandwiches and biscuits were always available.


While there are no Broadway shows as with mainstream cruising, we did have excellent lectures and films on the wildlife and history, plus the crew’s hilarious entertainment night and fashion show. The gym had all the usual equipment and, if you wanted to impress your friends, you could have your picture taken in one of the two outside Jacuzzis while the snow- topped mountains drifted slowly by.


F


or the seriously hardy, you could also try your hand at swimming in the Arctic Ocean on one of the land-


ings. Those brave enough to try received a certificate to prove it!


Landing rules are not as stringent as in


the Antarctic but we did at times have to walk through disinfectant before leaving the ship. Most of the landings are “wet,” which means you have to wade through the surf for a short distance, so you need to bring waterproof trousers. Some brought walking boots but there was also the option of hiring thermally-lined Wellies for the week – very useful indeed.


What is most staggering about Spitsber- gen, though, is the array of scenery, from ice-capped mountains and huge glaciers to mile upon mile of flat tundra. Deep fjords and pebbled beaches suddenly give way to cliff faces that looked as if they have been plucked from the deserts of Arizona.


LIFE ON BOARD The Fram is one of the best expedition ships around, with a fitness room and sauna and one of the largest and most comfortable observation lounges I have experienced. There is even a laundry service. Every day the expedition team distributes a daily programme with a list of port calls, landing, lectures, meals and activities on board. Passengers are split in groups of 32 for landings and the programme indicates when groups will be called for their particular excursion. The restaurant has an ocean view from every side and I found the staff


extremely efficient. Breakfast and lunch are served buffet style, while dinner could be a buffet, set meal or barbecue as announced in the daily programme. There is a limited shop with some nice souvenir clothing (but, sadly, not selling prints of the fabulous watercolours in the Café). The Café also boasts large-scale maps of the areas we covered as well as posters on wildlife and other useful information. All announcements are made in English, German and Norwegian and there is a large section of card and board games to choose from.


 Winter 2011-12 WORLD OF CRUISING 79


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