Frequently Asked Questions - The Arctic

Will I see a polar bear?

As with all wild animals, we cannot guarantee you will see polar bears. However, the time of year we visit is when bear numbers are at their peak, and our experienced team and crew are aware of the bear’s habitats and are well trained to spot these marvellous creatures in the wild.

Do you provide polar expedition jackets?

Yes. Each passenger travelling on all our Arctic voyages will receive a complimentary polar expedition jacket to wear during your expedition and take home after your trip.

What clothes should I take to the Arctic?

Your expedition jacket is provided, however you’ll need to ensure you pack the correct wet weather gear for your landings. View our recommended packing list in our Planning Your Trip section.

Shipboard clothing is informal and casual; jeans, jumpers, long sleeve shirt and enclosed shoes are ideal in our polar regions. However, be sure to keep your jacket close for unexpected sightings!

Some people like to take a nice outfit or something a bit special for the Captain’s welcome and farewell drinks, but formal clothing is not necessary.

What kind of footwear do I need for our shore visits?

It is most important that you bring a comfortable pair of enclosed walking shoes to wear on board the ship. Gumboots are provided on board and are required to be worn on all landings. If you have concerns regarding extra small or large sizing, or hard-to-fit feet, we recommend you bring your own pair.

How do we dry wet clothing?

On board the Polar Pioneer, clothing dries very quickly inside your cabin. There are no passenger laundry facilities for you to do your own washing, but there is a laundry service on board. Prices are listed in your cabin. All cabins have a sink.

On board the Greg Mortimer, you can store your wet weather gear & gumboots in your locker, found in the mudroom.

How often do we get off the ship?

We aim to get off the ship as much as possible, usually at least two times a day depending on weather and itinerary. Weather permitting we spend between one to four hours at each location. We come back to the ship for meals in-between landings.

Should I bring along my own walking poles?

Yes, it’s a good idea, especially if you have trouble walking over uneven ground. Some of our landings can be on slippery rocks or deep snow, and we may go for extended walks to see different parts of our landing point. We recommend the telescopic poles, with the optional snow-basket tips. You can purchase these poles in most outdoor stores.

Can I swim or snorkel in the Arctic?

Although you cannot swim in Arctic, most of our voyages stop for a ‘Polar Plunge’, where all willing passengers can take the ultimate dip into the icy Arctic Ocean. You also have the option to take up our Polar Snorkeling activity, or experienced scuba divers have the option to dive, on selected voyages.

What if I need to go to the toilet when ashore?

Our expedition team will instruct you with these types of rules on board. Generally on our polar voyages we avoid going to the bathroom ashore, however in an emergency we ask you to find a discreet location near the shoreline to relieve yourself.

How fit do I need to be to travel on an Arctic expedition?

To make the most of our voyages, you should be in good general health and able to walk reasonable distances, sometimes over uneven terrain. However, if you have problems walking on rough ground, you can enjoy the scenery closer to shore. Should you have any physical limitations please notify us well in advance of your departure, but this should not discourage you participating.

How much time do we have in Longyearbyen?

The time available to you in Longyearbyen very much depends on your personal itinerary. Aurora Expeditions offers a pre- and post-package to connect with our voyage departure and arrival dates, which includes accommodation in Oslo and flights to Longyearbyen. Many people like to extend their stay in Europe and Aurora Expeditions can assist you with all your travel arrangements including flights, accommodation, travel insurance and transfers as well as a range of fascinating tours and activities. Contact our team on +61 2 9252 1033 for more information.

How many people on the ship?

Polar Pioneer carries just 54 passengers. We have around 20 crew members and an expedition team of 10 to 12, depending on the voyage and itinerary you choose.

The Greg Mortimer carries a maximum of 132 passengers in the Arctic. We also have approx 15-18 expedition specialists onboard, and 47-56 crew members

Where do passengers come from?

The majority of our clients come from Australia, the UK, Europe and the United States, however we do often have a mix of other nationalities on board, including our expedition team.

How much room is there for luggage?

There is ample storage space in your cabin on all our ships. Your empty baggage can be stored safely elsewhere on the ship if need be.

Is the ship air-conditioned?

All our ships are air-conditioned, with the on board temperature ranging from 15°C to 25°C. On Polar Pioneer & Greg Mortimer you can control the temperature of your cabin by adjusting the airflow through the roof vent and turning your heater on or off.

Does the crew speak English?

The crew on Polar Pioneer are all Russian. They are undoubtedly the ice-masters of the world. The Captain and most of the watch officers speak English. Whilst some of the crew speak only a little English, they do like to practice their English skills on our willing passengers.

The crew aboard the Greg Mortimer will be international and all will speak English.

Do you have facilities on board to download digital images from my camera?

We do not provide a computer to download your digital images. We recommended you bring a laptop computer or similar downloading device to download your images, either between landings, in the evenings or during sea crossings.

The Greg Mortimer will have computers in the library and media room that can be used for image review. You’ll also be able to review your imagery in your room on the TV’s in each room.

What is the electrical supply on board?

The electrical supply on board Polar Pioneer is 220 volts, 50 hertz. You will need a European round two-prong plug adapter, available at duty free or electrical supply shops.

The electrical supply on board the Greg Mortimer is 220V, 50H AC. You will need a European round, two pin plug or adapter.

Is there Internet, email or telephone access on board?

There is no internet access on board Polar Pioneer, however you can set up a dedicated email account when on board to send and receive emails only (no attachments). Prices start from approximately US$5 for email setup and US$0.50 cents per one kilobyte. A satellite telephone is available for use, and prices start from US$10 for 5 min. However please note: due to the remote location of your voyage, making contact with the ship via telephone can be difficult and expensive. In case of emergency, it is recommended your family and friends contact the Aurora Expeditions’ office and we will get the message through to the ship as soon as possible.

Your dedicated Reservations Consultant will advise you of internet availability on board the Greg Mortimer closer to your departure date.

What is not included in the price of the voyage?

In general, items that are not included in the cost of your voyage are: flights to and from your voyage, pre and post accommodation, transfers, drinks from the bar (alcohol and soft drinks), gratuities, Ship Shop items, laundry costs and other items of a personal nature (unless stated in your voyage inclusions). Some voyages do include certain pre- and post-cruise travel arrangements, so please check your specific voyage inclusions in our brochure, website or call our Expedition Experts on + 61 2 9252 1033.

Do I need travel insurance?

Travel insurance, including medical evacuation cover, is mandatory for all Aurora Expeditions’ voyages. We advise you have insurance for voyage cancellation to ensure you will be covered financially if you are forced to cancel your voyage due to circumstances beyond your control. It is in your best interest to read carefully the General Terms & Conditions on your booking form.

How much should I tip? Are tips included, if not how much per person per day?

A $15 USD per person per day gratuity for the crew is automatically added to your onboard account. It is at your discretion if you would like to increase/decrease the amount or remove the tip when you settle your bill. It is not necessary to tip the expedition team members.

Do you cater for special meal requests?

Yes. Our talented chefs will take your requirements into their meal planning and ensure you receive tasty, healthy meals. Please ensure you list any dietary requirements on your personal details form.

Do you provide toiletries on board?

We provide each passenger with a bar of soap on Polar Pioneer.

You will be provided with adequate toiletries for your voyage on the Greg Mortimer.

What sort of money do I take and how much?

Australian dollars are difficult to exchange in Scandinavia. We recommend that you take US dollars for exchanging in Norway and Iceland. It is better to carry US dollars for tipping and payment of bar bills on board the ship. You can also pay with all major credit cards including Visa, Mastercard and American Express.

What currency do you accept on the ship?

At the end of your voyage on board the Polar Pioneer, your account may be settled in Australian dollars by credit card (Visa, MasterCard, or American Express) or by USD cash. On the last day at sea we have USD cash only purchases from the bar.

Your dedicated Reservations Consultant will advise you of currency requirements on board the Greg Mortimer closer to your departure date.

Can I smoke on board?

There is a ‘No Smoking’ policy throughout the interior of our ships.

Are there hairdryers on board?

Hairdryers are provided in each cabin on both the Polar Pioneer & the Greg Mortimer.

Will I get seasick?

Many people ask us if they will get seasick. It is a very difficult question to answer because it depends so much on the individual. Our experience is that a small percentage of people are seasick on any trip and most of these people are fine after a day or so at sea. If you feel that you are particularly susceptible to seasickness then it is a good idea to talk to your doctor. We advise you come armed with motion sickness tablets, and there will be a doctor on board to assist with any bouts of seasickness.

I cannot rate Aurora, the staff, the expedition team, the hotel staff and chefs and the crew highly enough. And the Polar Pioneer in all its non-luxury glory!
Karen Hinchliffe - Jewels of the Arctic, 2015
The trip was simply brilliant, a great adventure providing us with wonderful memories and exceptional insight into this fragile environment. Thank you all so very much.
S. O'Neil - Across the Arctic Circle, 2015
The expedition staff and their knowledge were fantastic - from the lectures to the daily briefings all the relevant information to make the trip more enjoyable was provided.
Lindy Mace - Jewels of the Arctic, 2016