Svalbard Explorer 2019

By Andy Rouse 6 | 02-11-2017

Svalbard Explorer

5th July - 15th July 2019

Availability 1 male share, 2020 trips announced soon, please signup to mailing list for announcements

A wonderful 10 day voyage on the M/S Stockholm to photograph and experience Svalbard and it's wildlife at the peak of the season. Often copied but never bettered, here are the reasons to come with us on this special Arctic adventure:

1. Flexible 10 days - we will use the light day and night for encounters, so be prepared for a midnight call, as will always try to utilise the best light when it happens. 

2. Captain - We have the most experienced ice Captains in Svalbard, who are obsessed with showing clients the wonders of Svalbard. Working in the sea ice, sometimes well into the sea ice, you need to have the best and we have it in Per and Magnus. They have their own navigation charts too so we can do things that others can't, it's as simple as that!

3. Svalbard Expedition Guides -  On this trip we will have two incredible guides with us, Adam Rheborg and Dr. Nikita Ovsyanikov:

a) Adam Rheborg is one of Svalbard's most senior and respected expedition guide. He is partnering with Andy for their 9th trip and together they make one of the best teama in these waters. Adam has great humour, is very safety conscious and lives and breathes the Arctic. All clients that have been with this dynamic duo agree that they can turn a bad day into wonderful photographic opportunities, they are simply the best at what they do.

b) Dr. Nikita Ovsyanikov is one of the most respected polar bear scientists on the planet. He has lived amongst polar bears on Wrangel Island for 25 years studying them at close quarters and is an expert on polar safety. He currently runs workshops for anyone working in polar bear country and is the only existing professional solution to save polar bear lives while preventing any damage to humans. Andy worked with Nikta and Adam on his M/S Quest expedition, and was inspired to hear his passion and knowledge on all things polar bear. Both Andy and Adam are pleased that Nikita will be a guide aboard this trip, giving polar bear talks, leading the other Zodiac and sharing his Russian humour. A great addition to this expedition that sets it above the rest for pure polar bear love and passion for the Arctic.

4. M/S Stockholm - with it's low sides and ice strengthened hull this ship is perfect for finding polar bears safely in the sea ice. It has original wood panelling and a vintage feeling, which is so much better than modern alternatives. With great food and a wonderful atmosphere she is the ultimate ship for Svalbard. For photography we have the lowest deck in Svalbard, plus higher vantage points and the awesome crows nest for the ultimate view (several of the ice pictures on this page were taken from here). We also use the crows nest for spotting bears a long way off, allowing us to approach them carefully and slowly, which is why we get so many amazing encounters. That's why we consistently do very well with bear sightings, the Stockholm has a great reputation for a reason! 

5. Andy Rouse - On his 14th trip to Svalbard Andy is one of the world's most experienced wildlife photographers, a Canon Ambassador and has a real passion for all things Svalbard. Since his early days camping out on the sea ice, he now exclusively uses the M/S Stockholm for his small ship adventures. He works closely with Adam, working out the best plan for each day and controlling any angles for wildlife encounters. Andy leads these trips from the front and this ensures that you get the best opportunities as he wants them too. 

6. Onboard talks - There are no formal lectures planned but Andy will be giving many informal ones on photography, processing and general wildlife. He will be on hand at all times for any photographic advice and you will always be inspired by his vision and ability to see a great picture. Adam gives some excellent talks on Arctic Exploration and Walrus and Nikita, well he can just talk about polar bears forever! It's an amazing team!

There are many imitations but only one M/S Stockholm trip with the team of Andy, Adam, Nikita and Captains Per and Magnus. Everything we do is geared to getting you the best images and memories in this special wilderness. 


July in Svalbard

The light in July can be simply amazing, or knowing Svalbard it can be a howling gale! That is the wonder of this amazing place and any weather has the potential to yield great pictures.

At this time of the year all options are open to us. If we can get to the pack ice then we will get long hours of daylight there. It should be warm enough for the Austfonna waterfalls to be switched on and the birds cliffs in Hinlopen will be in full swing.

Be aware though that every year though is different and the ice moves at different rates, so we may have a longer journey to reach it when expected. 

Polar Bears

Polar Bears are simply awesome and we expect to get safely up close and personal to them several times during this trip. The majority of these encounters should be in their prime habitat, the sea ice. The Captain of the M/S Stockholm has the most experience at getting bears close to the ship, they will literally be at your feet and with great open vantage points you will be able to get unparalleled images of them. 

If safety permits and the bear is amenable we will also try to launch the Zodiacs, our record on the last trip was 15 minutes from seeing the bear to having the Zodiacs in the water. We are dedicated to giving you the safest and coolest polar bear experience that we can. Of course we cannot guarantee it but we are the best at it.


One of the highlights of any trip is getting up close and personal to Walrus. They are fun, inquisitive, full of character and make wonderful subjects for your photography.

At this time of the year Walrus can be found all over Svalbard and their numbers peak at the enormous colony of Storoya. 

Our Walrus adventures will be a mixture of shooting from Zodiacs (crewed by our excellent Svalbard guides) and being on land with them. Our guides are expert on safety and will watch over us whilst Andy will help you make the most of your experience. 

Landscapes and Ice

Svalbard is more than just a home for polar bears, it is a really beautiful place. Our 10 day trip will give us the time to fully explore all the highlights that it has to offer and we will always try to target the best light at the end of the day. That's the beauty of having no time stress and no set agenda. 

So we will spend time onshore and out in Zodiacs exploring glaciers, icebergs and anything that takes our fancy. On out last trip we did some excellent zodiac cruises along glaciers and in quiet, sheltered bays. It was just perfect for photography.

And yes we really really really hope to get to Austfonna for those incredible ice cliffs and their waterfalls.

Wilderness Svalbard - a photographic journey

Svalbard is an inspiring place for photographers and naturalists alike. Andy considers it his second home, see some of his favourite images below, all of which are from travels on the M/S Stockholm with Adam as his co-leader.


The M/S Stockholm

The M/S Stockholm is an amazing vessel and this is the 14th time Andy has been on board her leading a trip. Because of her small size and the captain's personal navigation charts she can go many places where larger ships fear to sail. She is an icebreaker to Lloyd’s class A1 standard and we use where appropriate to head into the pack ice where few other ships can follow (and we do). She was built in 1953 by the Finboda shipyard in Stockholm for the National Maritime Administration and was completely refitted in 1999 as an ice-strengthened tourist vessel carrying a maximum of 12 passengers.

Accommodation on board is in 6 twin bunk cabins, all are en suite with a toilet, shower, washbasin and your own porthole (to see the outside world). The cabins are small / compact / cosy but comfortable and have power for recharging batteries and laptops. Central to the ship is the communal mess area, a place to share stories and experiences of the day. The food is excellent, really hearty Swedish fare and we can cater for special diets if we know in advance. Alcoholic drinks are included as this is an all-inclusive trip.  Upstairs you will find a lovely wood panelled bar and above that the bridge remains open to visits throughout the voyage. The intimacy and character of this ship is like no other in these waters, you will really feel like home and the crew will treat you like family. The M/S Stockholm is the jewel in these waters and Andy is delighted to once again be onboard her with his co-leader Adam Rheborg. They make a great team and really help the social nature of these trips. Nikita is a real character too and brings with him a wealth of stories that he will tell into the night.

The ship has two tough zodiacs, driven by Adam and Nikita. We will launch the Zodiacs whenever it is safe and appropriate. 
The ship has full safety equipment including immersion suits for each passenger and the zodiacs will be crewed by experienced seamen. When on land we will be armed at all times as polar bears are dangerous animals. You will be fully briefed at all times and looked after by people who know what they are doing in every way. Both Adam and Nikita are experts in non lethal polar bear encounters which ensure positive outcomes for both humans and polar bears.

Life on Board

Life on board Stockholm is!


You can see here what life is like, fun and inspiring! These are three pictures from this year's group, who were a wonderful bunch of people to spend time with. The social nature of this trip means that it is fully inclusive, i.e. all beers and wine are included in your trip cost, and you can clearly see some people tucking in! The atmosphere on board is very chilled out. We do work very hard at the photographic side when any opportunity presents itself so you should expect this, but there will be good periods of chill out too. 

This trip is so much more than just a cruise, it is a fun adventure and it is vital that you are able to participate socially with other members of the group. It is a really fun ship to be on!

Why an Andy Rouse expedition?

Here's a few reasons why....

1) Ship - Our Captains are able to go places others cannot due to personal charts, they love polar bears and love finding them for clients. All of the crew are dedicated to this as well. In our opinion it's the best small ship in the Arctic with a unique crows nest.

2) Leadership - Andy and Adam are a great leadership team and make the best and proven decisions for their clients. They are mad too.

3) Inspiration - Andy's drive and passion for photography will inspire you, he will teach you new skills and techniques. Nikita will inspire you with his passion for polar bear conservation.

The Weather

The weather in this region is changeable, that is the best way of describing it! It can be as low as -10C in the sea ice if the wind picks up and you should expect no warmer than 5C. The wind chill on deck can be significant so you will need to be prepared.

Sea conditions are impossible to predict. It can be calm or it can be rough, that's the honest truth. Most people get caught out on the first night so we will give you plenty of warning. We will take shelter when and if we need to. In the ice, the water is generally flat with little swell. If you suffer from seasickness you will need to be prepared for this and take appropriate medication. Remember this is an expedition to a remote part of the world. 

Andy will send out a full briefing document well before the trip, detailing everything that you need to know. 

Physical Fitness

It's up to you to decide your physical fitness for this cruise and be honest with yourself and us. There are several things to note:

1) The ship has steep staircases and no disabled facilities. 

2) Andy and Adam like to get everyone off the ship so we will run several hikes during the cruise of between 1 and 4 hours in length. These are completely optional. 

3) Access to the Zodiacs is via an angled vertical ladder down the side of the ship, some 20ft high.

4) Since we will be cruising in a very remote area it is essential that you advise us before booking of any pre-existing medical condition that requires regular medication. This will be treated in confidence and assessed by our qualified medical team before accepting your booking. 

The Bottom Line....

The cost for this incredible 10 night small ship wilderness adventure will be £8,250 per person based on two persons sharing. We have worked to produce a price that is competitive and on a par with others that run 10 day trips (and cheaper than some). Remember we have the best small ship in the Arctic with only 12 passengers, 3 amazing guides - Svalbard supremo Adam, world renowned polar expert Nikita and photographic expert Andy.  This will be an awesome trip. 

Availability - 3 places

The cost includes: 10 night photographic voyage through the Svalbard archipelago on the M/S Stockholm ice strengthened vessel on a full board basis inclusive of all drinks, the services of Andy Rouse and Adam Rheborg as your expedition leaders.

The cost excludes: Passport, visa (not required by British nationals), insurance, medication, flights / hotels / transfers (see below), meals other than stated above, items of personal expenditure, tips, any statutory increases beyond our control and any fuel surcharges not yet expected for the ship

The deposit will be £2000 per person, which is totally non-refundable, except in extreme circumstances. We suggest that you take out adequate insurance to cover the loss of this deposit should an unforeseen event occur. We will need the deposit by January 28th 2018 please.

International flights package - a group booking will be made from London Heathrow to Longyearbyen which will include all flights, all baggage transfers to and from the ship and airport transfers plus any additional accommodation in Oslo or Longyearbyen if required. This will be advised in Summer 2018 when schedules become available. 

Dates - note that these are approximate dates, we will know the set dates in a month or so but they are unlikely to move by more than a day or so.

A full set of terms and conditions will be sent by Wildlife & Wilderness. 

Booking your place

Owing to the special nature of this trip, the need for a group of like minded individuals to attend, this trip has been on an invite only basis. Be assured that the people that have responded to the initial email are all regular travellers of Andy's and it's an awesome group. The only dodgy people are Andy and Adam.

So if you are interested in coming then email as usual

It's going to be an epic!!!



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