Visionary Wild, LLC • 2200 19th St. NW, Ste 806, Washington, DC 20009

E-mail:    •    Tel: 1-202-558-9596 (9am to 5pm, EST).

Justin Black – Managing Director: 1-202-302-9030 • Email:

Jennifer Woolley – Director of Operations • Email:

We look forward to hearing from you!


Limit 19 spaces | $* Closed
Expedition August 28 - September 6, 2018 | View other workshops

Svalbard with Daisy Gilardini, Michael Melford and Justin Black

Map via Google


Join us for this all-inclusive expedition to the crown jewel of the High Arctic!

Note: Traveling alone? Feel free to book at the lower double-occupancy rates, so long as you are content to be paired with another guest of the same sex.

Designed for photographers by photographers, this expedition to the Svalbard archipelago will take you to the places we love, to make the most of the great spectacle of Arctic light, ice, landscape, and wildlife. Led by a dream team – Michael Melford, Daisy Gilardini, and Justin Black – generous expert photographic instruction will feature prominently throughout the voyage. Here are some highlights:

  • An excellent photography experience aboard the ideal expedition vessel
  • World-class photo instructor team, and an excellent participant-to-instructor ratio (group size limit of 19 guests)
  • The natural beauty of Svalbard itself, a superb destination for both landscape and wildlife photography, timed to coincide with seemingly endless sunsets, first snows of autumn on the mountains, and excellent wildlife opportunities.
  • All-inclusive from airport pickup in Oslo, Norway, featuring a high standard of accommodations and dining, and including R/T flights from Oslo to Svalbard, and all ground transfers.

Our expedition vessel, M/V Plancius, optimizes the photographic potential and overall quality of experience on this trip. She is a very comfortable and capable 296-foot ice-rated expedition ship with accommodation in comfortable en suite cabins and staterooms. We have chosen to do this voyage on this ship because she offers the capabilities, amenities, comfort, dining, and photographic support that will enable us to deliver a thoroughly enjoyable and creatively productive experience, both aboard and on shore. If you wish to travel with a world-class team of photographic instructors to the best locations, and you appreciate the advantages of an adventure designed specifically to optimize both the photography and overall experience, this is an exceptional opportunity.

Our expedition begins in Oslo, Norway, with an introductory reception dinner at one of the capital's finest restaurants. After a restful night at The Thief – a modern Scandinavian boutique hotel that is one of Oslo’s very best – we fly as a group to the small harbor of Longyearbyen on the island of Spitsbergen, where our ship awaits us. We set sail that afternoon through the sheltered waters of Adventfjord on our way to the west coast where we will work our way northward with views of the stunning mountain landscape.

The wild landscape of Svalbard and the pack ice are characterized by a mesmerizing serenity... I felt like I was floating through a dream. –Justin Black

The High Arctic is one of Earth’s most serene, sublime, and evocative places, and in our opinion the mountainous, glacier-covered islands of the Svalbard archipelago are the crown jewels, in part because a visitor here experiences the best features of the Arctic in microcosm. We have deliberately timed this expedition for Arctic autumn – late August and early September – to take advantage of special seasonal phenomena. The quality of light at this time of year is beautiful. The sun sets for several hours at this time of year, but gorgeous post-sunset light lingers all night long. Also, by this time the mountains typically have had their first fresh snow for the season, making the landscape look its best. Polar bears are to be found on both the islands and the pack ice, and Arctic fox patrol the shorelines. Blue whales – the largest animal that has ever lived on Earth – ply the coastal waters. Large walrus colonies can be photographed both ashore and at sea, and seals – bearded, ringed, harp, and harbor – are commonly sighted. Migratory birds linger on for a while, including Ivory Gulls, Kittywakes, Fulmars, Eider ducks, and more, while native Rock Ptarmigans transition to their winter plumage. Temperatures are still relatively comfortable by Arctic standards, but the summer’s mosquitoes will have been killed off by the frost. Weather and seas tend to be calm, and free of fog that can limit visibility in summer.

We have conceived this Svalbard expedition with considerable advantages for the passionate photographer. The first-rate photo leader team comprises three outstanding professionals, all known as generous and engaging teachers, who have a superb collaborative chemistry. Their photographic specialties cover a cross-section of the opportunities we will be presented with during the expedition: wildlife, landscape, natural abstract, travel, fine art, and conservation.

M/V Plancius: Our ice-rated expedition vessel provides an excellent platform for this voyage, in part due to her strength, maneuverability, and ability to navigate the ice pack and waters that can be impassable to larger ships. Those who appreciate small-group travel will enjoy our group's participant limit of nineteen guests, with our own private Zodiacs for landings and cruises to approach wildlife and explore the ice.  The ship typically carries a complement of around 108 passengers, supported by a fleet of ten zodiacs, a highly experienced expedition staff of eight, and a top-notch crew who welcome guests on the ship's spacious bridge. With our relatively small group, everyone will have excellent access to our photo leaders and expedition staff, landing operations will be efficient, and we'll be able to get to know one another well. Plancius offers an impressive range of vantage points for photography, from close to waterline to up high, and her three diesel-electric engines are surprisingly quiet and produce little vibration.

Dining aboard Plancius is of a high standard, with menus prepared by an accomplished German chef, sous chefs, and baker, with ample fresh ingredients and healthy options available. We are assembling an excellent wine list for the trip as well! She’s just a great ship.




We have an array of excellent options at our disposal that we can use to modify our itinerary in response to actual conditions during our voyage. The following itinerary is meant to be representative of what we plan to undertake on this trip, though it is subject to change. Due to the variability of weather and other seasonal conditions, we cannot guarantee any particular landings or locations. We can guarantee that we will do our best to make the most of the opportunities available to us and deliver a first-rate experience. During down time when the ship is underway, we will schedule lectures by your photo instructors and expeditions staff, on topics such as photographic technique, natural history, Svalbard history, the Arctic ice, and more.

August 28-September 6, 2018
Day 1 – Aug 28 –  Participants will be met at Oslo Gardermoen Airport (airport code: OSL) and be transferred to The Thief hotel, a very modern Scandinavian boutique accommodation located on Oslo's waterfront. There you will meet your photography instructors/leaders Michael Melford, Daisy Gilardini, and Justin Black, for an introductory orientation program at 4pm, followed by a festive group dinner at one of Oslo's finest restaurants. Overnight at The Thief (D)
Day 2 – Aug 29 –  After an early breakfast at the hotel, our group will transfer via a comfortable chauffeured charter bus to the airport (OSL) for our flight to Longyearbyen (LYR), spectacularly positioned on the mountain-rimmed Adventsfjorden on the island of Spitsbergen. Upon arrival, we will be transferred into the town center, where the group will be let loose to explore and photograph, do some shopping, and get a bite to eat. Longyearbyen has a few excellent outdoors equipment shops if you left anything important at home. We will regroup later that afternoon to board the buses again for transfer to the harbor to embark on Plancius. We will be welcomed aboard by the expedition staff, captain and crew and settle into quarters before setting out for the remote and wild northwest corner of Spitsbergen.  Aboard Plancius (B,D)
Day 3 – Aug 30 –  Raudfjorden: We awake in one of north Spitsbergen's prettiest fjords to make our first excursions to photograph bird colonies, calving glacier faces, and the mountainous landscapes. Wildlife opportunities that may present themselves include Arctic fox, walrus, bearded and ringed seals, and even polar bear.  Aboard Plancius (B,L,D)
Day 4 – Aug 31 –  Sjuøyane and Sea Ice: We arrive in stunningly beautiful Sjuøyane (Seven islands). Possible morning excursions include dropping anchor between Phippsøya and Parryøya islands to land by Zodiac, choosing from a variety of walks of varying degrees of difficulty, including the possibility of visiting a walrus colony. Polar bears are a possibility here too, and we sighted two at this location during our September 2016 scouting trip. In the afternoon, we may head into the sea ice (depending on its position) looking for polar bears and harp seals. Depending on weather, evening light can be magical on the Sjuøyane islands and the clouds that they often form.
Aboard Plancius (B,L,D)
Day 5 – Sept 1 –  Exploring the Sea Ice – As our skillful captain maneuvers Plancius gracefully through leads and cracks in the ice, the bridge and expedition staff keep watch for polar bears as we photograph graphic ice designs, birds such as Skuas and Ivory Gulls in flight, seals around the ship, etc. Our first group image review session will be held today as well – time to see through each other's eyes and get some constructive feedback on your work. Aboard Plancius (B,L,D)
Day 6 – Sept 2 –  Karl XII Øya and a secret bay: At the northern edge of Svalbard, just above Nordaustlandet, is an island named after a Swedish king: Karl XII Øya. Close to the edge of the sea ice, it is a favored refuge for polar bears. In the afternoon, we cruise toward Duvefjorden to visit a hidden bay that offers splendid vistas.   Aboard Plancius (B,L,D)
Day 7 – Sept 3 –  Exploring the Sea Ice: We head back into the ice, photographing this dream-like seascape of ice, clouds, islands. All day long, we will have expedition staff and crew on the lookout for polar bears on the ice as well. Aboard Plancius (B,L,D)
Day 8 – Sept 4 –  Cruising south and a visit to Alkhornet: As we cruise southwards along the alpine landscape of Spitsbergen’s West coast and Prins Karls Forland, we will enjoy photography from the deck, as well as a final group image review. After lunch, Plancius will navigate around Alkepynten into Trygghamna, and the zodiacs bring us to shore for a hike. Alkhornet is a dramatically soaring rocky bird cliff on the edge of Isfjorden that is also called "Svalbard in miniature" due to its rich variety of terrain, excellent habitat for the local herd of Svalbard reindeer. Aboard Plancius (B,L,D)
Day 9 – Sept 5 – Return to Longyearbyen and Oslo – After our final breakfast aboard Plancius, we will disembark at Longyearbyen and transfer by bus to the town center where we expect to have an hour or more for final photography, shopping, a meal on your own, etc. We will then board the buses again for our ride to the airport for our flight back to Oslo. After collecting our bags in Oslo, we will check into our very convenient and comfortable accommodations at Radisson Blu Airport Hotel, before gathering for a final group dinner. Radisson Blu Airport Gardermoen. (B,L,D)
Day 10 – Sept 6 – Departure Day, Oslo Gardermoen Aiport – After breakfast, transfer to airport at your convenience to catch your flight home. (B)



Prices provided below are for the all-inclusive package, based on cabin class and either single or double occupancy. Cabin class and occupancy type may be selected via our online registration form, or contact us directly and we will assist you with registration. A 50% deposit is required upon registration, with the remaining 50% balance due by May 30th, 2018.

Up to 15 cabins are available to our guests on our expedition vessel, to host a maximum of 19 guests (up to two per cabin). All cabins have windows or portholes for views and additional light, and all have private en suite showers and toilets. Cabins are cleaned daily.

Superior (5 staterooms):  Sold Out $10,496 per person double-occupancy; $14,696 single-occupancy

  • 2 windows
  • 1 double bed
  • 1 sofa bed
  • Private shower & toilet
  • Desk & chair
  • Flatscreen TV
  • Telephone and Internet connection
  • Refrigerator
  • Coffee & tea maker
  • Hair dryer
  • Ample storage space

Twin Deluxe (2 cabins): Sold Out $9,746 per person double-occupancy; $13,646 single-occupancy

  • 2 windows
  • 2 lower berths
  • Private shower & toilet
  • Desk & chair
  • Flatscreen TV
  • Telephone and Internet connection
  • Hair dryer
  • Ample storage space
  • These cabins are corner cabins and are slightly more spacious than the normal twin porthole/window cabins

Twin Window (6 cabins): One space remaining (male)  $9,371 per person double-occupancy; $13,121 single-occupancy

  • 1 window
  • 2 lower berths
  • Private shower & toilet
  • Desk & chair
  • Flatscreen TV
  • Telephone and Internet connection
  • Hair dryer
  • Ample storage space

Daisy Gilardini

Daisy Gilardini is originally from Switzerland but now lives in British Columbia, Canada.  She started taking photography seriously during her first trip to India in 1989, and since then has visited more than 70 countries with camera in hand. After falling in love with Antarctica during her first trip there in 1997, she has spent most of her time photographing the Polar Regions. In over two decades of polar exploration she has joined over seventy expeditions to Antarctica and the Arctic, most of them on research vessels and icebreakers, one on a sailing boat, and some overland. In 2006, she joined a Russian expedition to the North Pole on skis.

Daisy’s images have been published internationally by leading magazines and organizations, such as National Geographic, Smithsonian, BBC Wildlife, Nature’s Best, Audubon, The Telegraph, Outdoor Photography, Greenpeace, World Wildlife Fund, among many others. Her work has received numerous awards at the most prestigious international photo contests such as the “BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year”, “Travel Photography of the Year”, “Nature’s Best” and many more. In April 2010 Daisy had the great honor to be part of the jury of the “BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year” considered as the “Oscars” of nature photography photo contests.

Her passion for the natural world has grown into a lifelong commitment to disseminate conservation messages. She is a fellow of the International League of Conservation Photographers (iLCP), a fellow of The Explorers Club, and she is part of the Swiss Nikon Ambassador’s team, the SanDisk Extreme Team and the Lowepro Storytellers Team.

For Daisy, photography means extreme adventure and environmental commitment.

Many times I tried to understand this irresistible attraction to the Polar Regions, which I would define almost as an addiction or obsession. These extreme adventures transport me out of my ordinary worldliness leading me in a voyage of self-discovery. The isolation from the modern civilization and all the distractions that come with it brings me back to appreciate and focus on the simple rhythm of Nature. The healing feelings of re-discovering the primordial connection with Nature and the interconnection among all species on earth inspires deep respect and awareness for the importance of these delicate ecosystems.

If human kind wants to survive and evolve with our planet we have to act responsibly, by acknowledging with humility that Nature is not dependent on us, but we are dependent on Nature.

As environmental photographers it is our duty to capture the beauty of places and species at risk, and raise awareness trough the universal power of the images we capture. While science provides the data necessary to explain issues and suggest solutions, photography symbolizes these issues. Science is the brain, while photography is the heart and we need to reach people’s heart and emotions in order to move them to action, for Nature and for us.

Michael Melford

National Geographic Photographer Michael Melford has worked with the Society for over 30 years. He has produced 19 feature stories for National Geographic magazine, and over 30 stories for National Geographic Traveler magazine.Born in New York, Michael received a bachelor’s in photography from Syracuse University and returned to New York City in 1977 to start his career.

He has been on assignment the past eleven years mostly for the National Geographic magazine, celebrating the marvels of our National Parks: Acadia, Glen Canyon, Great Smoky Mountains, Waterton/Glacier, and Death Valley, and a cover story on Our National Parks in Peril (2006). Michael recently shot for National Geographic's "The 50th Anniversary for the Wilderness Act" (2014), which was ranked #2 story of the year by the readers of National Geographic. Other National Geographic stories include: “Saving Civil War Battlefields,” “King Herod: Architect of the Holy Land,” and “Russian Kronotsky Preserve: Let it Be.” and “Solar Energy”.

Michael has produced photography for eight books for National Geographic, including three in Alaska, his favorite being Treasures of Alaska. He has received many awards for his photographs, but prefers to remain humble and share his knowledge, his love of nature, and his sense of humor with students of photography.

Michael has built an excellent reputation as an instructor and photo trip leader, teaching photography through the National Geographic, giving one-day seminars around the country, and onboard the various ships that NG has stationed around the world. His first photo expedition with Visionary Wild is to New Zealand’s south island, focus of a March 2014 feature article for National Geographic magazine.


VIDEO INTERVIEW: Michael Melford, Photographer, by National Geographic Live!


Born in New York 1950

Studied Photography at Syracuse University, Graduated 1973

Moved to New York City to pursue Career in Photography 1977

Contributing Photographer to LIFE Magazine, 1981

Worked for many publications including cover articles for :

Newsweek,  Time,  Life,  Fortune,  Smithsonian,  Geo,  Travel & Leisure, 

Travel Holiday, National Geographic Traveler,  Coastal Living,  Adventure Magazine.

Contributing Photographer to National Geographic Traveler, 1998

Began work for National Geographic Magazine (yellow magazine) 2003.  First assignment:  Acadia National Park. 

Just completed 19th assignment for National Geographic Magazine.


Awards include:  

POYi-1st Place Features Nature/Science

World Press Images Photos of the Year    

International Center of Photography

New York Art Director’s Club

Communication Arts Photo Annual

Graphis Photo Annual

The Missouri School of Journalism

Lowell Thomas Award for Travel Photography

Caribbean Tourism Award for Best Magazine Photographer


Books Published:

New England: Land of Scenic Splendor (National Geographic)      

The Emerald Realm (National Geographic) 

Canada’s Incredible Coasts (National Geographic)        

National Geographic Guide to New England

National Geographic Guide to Alaska

National Geographic Guide to San Diego

The Smithsonian Guide to Historic America   

Classic Photographs (Life)

Big Sky Country (Rizzoli)        

Treasures of Alaska (National Geographic)

Hidden Alaska-Bistol Bay and Beyond (National Geographic)

A Day in the Life of Japan ( Collins )

A Day in the Life of America ( Collins )

Expertise is in shooting the wonders of travel and nature and the people who occupy that landscape. An enthusiastic teacher of photography, with a great sense of humor.

Justin Black

JUSTIN BLACK is a photographer, writer, editor, expedition leader, photo workshops instructor, a Fellow of the International League of Conservation Writers (ILCW), and a former executive director of the International League of Conservation Photographers (ILCP). Since 2011 with Visionary Wild and for ten years at Galen Rowell's Mountain Light Photography, he has created inspiring and effective educational photographic experiences for thousands of passionate photographers. He is widely recognized as one of the world's leading photo workshops organizers.

A professional photographer since 1995 when he signed his first picture agency contract, before founding Visionary Wild he served the ILCP as Executive Director, and for seven years was General Manager and Curator of Mountain Light Gallery.

Justin's photographs have been published by magazines such as National Geographic Adventure, Sierra, Sunset, American Photo, Outdoor Photographer, Rock & Ice, and Nature Conservancy among others. His work has also been published by major news outlets in print and online, and has been used in advertising for brands such as MasterCard, Patagonia, Nikon, and Fujifilm.

Among conservation NGOs that have used his photographs in their campaigns are World Wildlife Fund, Conservation International, The Sierra Club, National Parks Conservation Association, Panthera, Land Trust Alliance, Earth Justice, The Wilderness Society, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, ILCP, and the Wild Foundation.

In 2017, he entered the world of motion pictures as an Executive Producer on the award-winning documentary film, Headhunt Revisited: With Brush, Canvas, and Camera, produced and directed by Michele Westmorland. Justin was invited to serve as a judge for the 2015 and 2017 Nature's Best Photography Africa competitions. He has also been an editor and contributor to numerous award-winning photo book projects, including Galen Rowell: A Retrospective; Freshwater: The Essence of Life; The Wealth of Nature: Ecosystem Services, Biodiversity, and Human Well-Being; Our National Parks: America's Natural Heritage; as well as Flying South: A Pilot's Inner Journey by Barbara Rowell. His limited edition fine prints are available through his portfolio website at

An early career as a travel photographer and image licensing specialist led him to Mountain Light Photography in the San Francisco Bay Area, founded by Galen Rowell – a world-renowned National Geographic photographer, author, and mountaineer – and his wife and business partner, Barbara Cushman Rowell. Beginning in May of 1999, Justin managed marketing of the Rowell image collection, assisted Galen on assignments and in his workshop program, and taught seminars on nature photography. In April 2002, the Rowells invited Justin to relocate with them to California's scenic Owens Valley as Mountain Light's General Manager. Justin eagerly embraced his new responsibility, along with the sublime Eastern Sierra Nevada landscape as his new home.

Four months later, Galen and Barbara perished in the crash of a chartered plane, leaving behind a tremendous creative and visionary vacuum. Justin went to work, building on the impressive Rowell legacy to reinvigorate Mountain Light by establishing a seasonal series of guest photographer exhibitions, expanding the image collection, and relaunching the highly acclaimed photo workshop program through collaboration with Galen's leading professional peers, including Frans Lanting, Pat O'Hara, Jack Dykinga, John Shaw, David Muench, and Jeff Foott. In May 2008, Justin's successful efforts were recognized by both Sunset and American Photo magazines, as each magazine featured editorial recommendations of his workshop program at Mountain Light.

After ten years with Mountain Light, Justin was recruited to take over the position of Executive Director of ILCP, a non-profit association of the best photographers worldwide working in the field of environmental and cultural conservation. At ILCP, Justin oversaw an explosion of productivity in expeditions, publishing, multimedia production, and the achievement of successful conservation outcomes. He contributed photographic coverage to ILCP's Rapid Assessment Visual Expeditions (RAVE) program, including Flathead Valley (Canada, 2009), Yucatán (Mexico, 2009), and Chesapeake (USA, 2010), as well as a solo project for The Nature Conservancy, documenting the Dragon Run wetland on Virginia's Middle Peninsula. One of Justin's photographs from the Flathead River project appeared as a section opener in the Vancouver Sun newspaper – the first time the threatened watershed received significant coverage in that nationally important media outlet.  The photograph was later selected by the United States Senate for display in the U.S. Capitol Building, as Canada and the USA reached an agreement to protect the Flathead.

Justin left his position at ILCP in late 2010 to establish Visionary Wild, building on his successful leadership of the Mountain Light workshop program and applying expertise gained at ILCP to provide superlative workshops and expeditions for passionate photographers seeking to advance to the next level of creativity, quality, purpose, and meaning in their work. His own work continues to evolve in new directions, driven by the ongoing search for extraordinary qualities in our world's dynamic landscapes.

Justin lives in Washington, DC, with his brilliant wife, Lena, and their children Philippe and Alexandra.

Justin Black's limited editions portfolio

Justin's Outdoor Photographer Profile

Bringing focus and meaning to your photography

The Top 40 Nature Photos Project

Justin's Conservation Photography Projects


Justin’s Camera Bag

After using an array of 4x5, medium format, and 35mm film cameras in the first two decades of his career, Justin fully embraced digital cameras in 2010. His current gear includes Nikon DSLRs and Fujifilm mirrorless systems.


Fujifilm Medium Format Mirrorless:

GFX 50S camera

23mm f/4 GF Fujinon

32-64 f/4 GF Fujinon

120mm f/4 GF Fujinon


Nikon DSLR:

Nikon D810 cameras (x2)

24mm f/3.5 PC-E tilt-shift Nikkor

45mm f/2.8 PC-E tilt-shift Nikkor

85mm f/2.8 PC-E tilt-shift Nikkor

24mm f/1.4 Sigma Art

35mm f/1.4 Sigma Art

50mm f/1.4 Sigma Art

85mm f/1.8 G AF-S ED Nikkor

200mm f/4 AF-D Micro-Nikkor

500mm f/4 AF-S Nikkor

18-35mm f/3.5-4.5 G AF-S ED Nikkor

24-70mm f/2.8 G AF-S ED Nikkor

70-200mm f/4.0 G AF-S ED VR Nikkor

200-400mm f/4.0 G AF-S ED VR Nikkor

Nikon TC-14EII teleconverter

Nikon TC-20EIII teleconverter

Nikon SB-900 flash

Nikon SB-700 flash

Assorted Nikon TTL flash cables


Fujifilm APS-C Mirrorless:

X-Pro2 Cameras (x2)

14mm f/2.8 XF Fujinon

23mm f/2 XF Fujinon

35mm f/1.4 XF Fujinon

50mm f/2 XF Fujinon

18-55mm f/2.8-4 XF Fujinon

55-200mm f/3.5-4.8 XF Fujinon


Filters and Light Modifiers

Nikon Circular Polarizer II

Singh-Ray Vari-ND

Tiffen WW IRND neutral density filters

Photoflex reflectors and diffusers

Lumiquest soft boxes

Rogue Flashbender

Rosco gels



Really Right Stuff TVC-24L with leveling base and Really Right Stuff BH-55 ballhead or Arca-Swiss D4 geared head

Gitzo 1028 with RRS BH-25 ballhead


Photo Packs

MindShift Backlight 36L

MindShift Backlight 26L

Mindshift FirstLight 30L

MindShift Rotation 180 Pro

Mindshift Rotation 180 Horizon

Mindshift Rotation 180 Panorama

ThinkTank Airport Addicted V2.0

ThinkTank Urban Disguise 50 V2.0



  • A unique opportunity to travel with and learn from three preeminent photographers with diverse styles, all renowned for being engaging teachers and excellent traveling companions, in a dream-like setting that is the quintessence of the High Arctic.
  • A world-class destination for both landscape and wildlife photography, at a very photogenic time of year.
  • Vistas including glacier-covered mountains, maritime glaciers calving into the ocean, deep blue fjords, soaring sea cliffs, islands rising dramatically from the sea, and expansive pack ice as far as the eye can see, fractured into graphic patterns.
  • Polar bears, arctic foxes, large walrus colonies, blue whales, and several species of seal are frequently sighted
  • Ivory gulls, kittywakes, fulmars, barnacle geese, thick-billed murres, little auks, and more
  • Follow in Amundsen's footsteps, learning the history of Arctic exploration.
  • The Plancius, a brilliant expedition ship for serious photographers, perfect for small-group exploration in the polar regions. With her crew's many years' experience in Arctic waters, Plancius has the capability and flexibility to make the most of our exploration of the Svalbard archipelago and the Arctic ice, using the weather and conditions to our best advantage.
  • First-rate logistics
  • Top expedition staff: Denise Landau, plus an additional seven carefully selected expedition staff.
  • Easy travel: No visa required for passport holders from most of the developed world.

Accommodations & Travel

  • In Oslo, Norway, night of August 28: The Thief – A modern luxury boutique hotel on the waterfront
  • Svalbard, nights of August 29-Sept 4: Plancius – our expedition vessel
  • Oslo Gardermoen Airport, night of Sept 5: Radisson Blu Airport Gardermoen – A nice business-class hotel just steps from the Oslo airport terminal
airplane iconcar iconboat iconfoot iconweather icon
No advance visa is required for tourist entry into Norway or Svalbard for citizens of the USA, Canada, EU nations, and most other developed countries. Fly into Oslo, Norway by afternoon of August 28, 2018 (international flights NOT included). R/T flights from Oslo to Longyearbyen in Spitsbergen are included. Ground transfers are included from pickup at Oslo Airport through return to our hotel at Oslo airport. We will Shore excursions will include walks in the easy to moderate range, typically with multiple difficulty options at each landing. Weather in Svalbard at this time of year tends to be surprisingly calm and comfortable for the High Arctic. Typical temperatures for this time of year range from the low 30s to mid 40s F, with a small chance of precipitation every day.


  • Photographic instruction throughout by Michael Melford, Daisy Gilardini, and Justin Black.
  • 8-day/7-night cruise aboard Plancius, in west and north Svalbard and the pack ice zone around 81ºN.
  • R/T flights from Oslo, to Longyearbyen on the island of Spitsbergen
  • Meals from dinner on the night of August 28 to breakfast on September 6 (with the exception of two lunches on your own during free time in Longyearbyen), and all non-alcoholic beverages plus fine wine and/or local beer with dinners.
  • All ground transfers from airport pickup in Oslo on Aug 28th to our return to our hotel in Oslo on Sept 5th.
  • First-rate support and hospitality, including eight hand-picked ship's expedition staff, Ship's Doctor, Hotel Manager, Bartender, Head Chef, Sous Chef, Baker, and restaurant waitstaff.
  • Daily group landings and excursions in the pack ice by Zodiac.
  • All accommodations, including the excellent The Thief hotel in Oslo on the night of August 28th, and cabin aboard Plancius for seven nights, August 29-Sept 5.
  • All group permits and landing fees
  • Some group gratuities, such as for servers at included group meals at restaurants before and after our cruise, and for drivers and baggage handlers during group transfers.

Not Included:

  • Cost of travel to our starting point: Oslo, Norway's Gardermoen Airport.
  • On September 6, ground transfer from Radisson Blu Hotel to Gardermoen Airport terminal is available by hotel shuttle or an easy short walk, but any transportation on this day is to be arranged by guests with the hotel according to their personal travel schedule.
  • Cost of passports, any necessary entry visas or reciprocity fees, or other personal travel expenses
  • Travel insurance and traveler's medical insurance including evacuation insurance (required)
  • Alcoholic beverages other than wine and beer offered at dinners
  • Telephone or internet charges
  • Any private excursions or services not included in the itinerary
  • Gratuities for ship's expedition staff, crew, and hotel staff, at your discretion
  • Personal purchases, souvenirs, and anything else not listed as included

Cancellation Policy Amendment:

Please note that due to the significant commitments involved in reserving a block of cabins aboard our expedition vessel, this expedition is subject to the following special cancellation schedule policy.

Refund eligibility based on date of cancellation notification

  • 121 or more days prior to expedition start date: Full refund (less any non-recoverable credit card processing fees)
  • 120 to 91 days prior to start date: 25% of package cost non-refundable
  • 90-61 days prior to start date: 50% of package cost non-refundable
  • 60 days or less before start date: No refund

For other cancellation information, please see our standard cancellation policy on the Questions page of this website for further details. We strongly recommend that participants arrange travel insurance within two weeks of booking to cover costs in the event that they need to cancel their participation for any reason.