The Arctic Circle Cruise where shore excursions include beach clean-up
Oceanwide Expeditions has been in operation for over 25 years, using once research vessels to take their guests deep into the Arctic and Antarctic, offering shore-based beach clean-up tours.
Their director of marketing and sales, Franklin Braeckman, experienced this beauty, telling EuroNewsGreen of his love for the regions as he watches a mother polar bear and her cub walk on the ice at the North Pole.
“It’s a time when you realize how small you are, how fragile everything is and how beautiful everything is. It is breathtaking.
“When you see huge icebergs or see polar bears on the ice floe… it’s a moment when the passengers are all quiet and all you hear is the click of a few lenses. “
This genuine adoration for the environment, of course, creates the constant dilemma of trying to lead their expeditions without disturbing the beautiful ecosystems that make them possible.
Oceanwide does more than prevent its customers from damaging the environment, but rather involves them in its conservation.
Each year, Oceanwide undertakes a collaborative initiative with the Governor of Svalbard and the Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators, which involves passengers cleaning up litter from Svalbard beaches themselves.
Svalbard is a Norwegian archipelago between Norway and the North Pole and is one of the northernmost inhabited regions, experiencing 24 hours of sunshine on summer days and the piercing green of the Northern Lights in winter.
Unfortunately, however, Svalbard is experiencing the washing of plastic waste from industrial fishing. In August 2019, Oceanwide removed 1000kg of plastic waste from a beach in Svalbard and Mr Braeckman sees this not only as an important undertaking, but also part of a larger mission to promote sustainable and conscious travel. .
“Whatever we find when we go ashore, we take it with us,” he says.
“It’s like when you walk in the woods and find a plastic bag. You can’t pretend you haven’t seen it and you have a choice: either leave it there or you take it. It’s such a small thing.
Other shipping companies such as Hurtigruten are leading similar conservation initiatives. Hurtigruten also cleans beaches, targeting selected locations and removing several metric tons of trash each year, as well as partnering with an organization for conservation and research work.
Hurtigruten has also removed single-use plastic from its operations, designed hybrid-powered ships with green technologies such as MS Roald Amundsen and MS Fridtjof Nansen and pledged to reduce food waste by 30% by 2021.