Cheesemans' Ecology Safaris

Ecotourism & Conservation
in Svalbard

Zodiac © Analise Dubner

When traveling with Cheesemans’ to Svalbard, your ship-based voyage reflects a cognizance of the importance of negating negative environmental impact and employs multiple strategies to address this. For example, our local operator has eliminated the need for single-use plastic onboard by installing a filtration system to provide safe, high-quality water to drink from reusable bottles or cups. They no longer purchase pre-packaged, serving-sized foodstuff such as coffee, jam, honey, and chocolates; instead, these items are bought in bulk and placed in glass jars. Further, fruits and vegetables are bought in loose crates to avoid products with plastic packaging. Additionally, each week, one vegetarian meal is served to reduce consumption of fish and meat, though fish is either purchased by local fisherman or caught by the crew, and meat comes from traditional farms in France, which is home to our operator. Apart from ecological-conscious food and beverage related practices, our operator provides dispensers for shower gel and shampoo in the bathrooms in lieu of individually packaged items. These, as well as cleaning products and detergents (also bought in bulk to limit plastic), are Cosmebio labelled, ensuring the absence of controversial and harmful ingredients. Our operator also addresses a lesser-known issue, pollution caused by synthetic textiles, by employing special laundry bags to filter broken plastic fibers that would otherwise seep into the wastewater. Limiting the consumption of fuel is yet another practice taken to be environmentally responsible, which is also beneficial for the tour experience because staying in one place rather than running long distances typically affords better wildlife encounters. This, like the other practices intended to protect the environment, provides a higher quality experience for travelers.

Svalbard’s ecotourism industry, and our trip in particular, not only seeks to avoid harm but contributes to the environmental well-being of the archipelago in a number of ways. For example, participation in Clean Up Svalbard, a partnership with the Association of Artic Expedition Operators, affords the opportunity to clean up the beaches of Spitsbergen. During your trip, you can participate in removing any rubbish that has washed up onshore to be taken back to Longyearbyen on the ship to be disposed of correctly. Each year, Clean Up Svalbard removes approximately 20 tons of waste, mostly plastic pollution from shipping and commercial fishing. In addition to this important contribution to the environment, your voyage supports science projects onboard such as communicating with the Norwegian Polar institute about wildlife observations, which is an essential piece in marine management.  With projects such as these, a mindset of preservation is effectively offsetting the potentially harmful impact of tourism.

Travelers © Scott Davis

How Can You Make A Difference?

How You Can Actively Contribute


  • Keep an eBird list for each outing – you don’t need to track EVERY bird you see. See our Reading and Resource List for more details.
  • Take GPS-referenced wildlife and nature photos, and upload to iNaturalist. See our Reading and Resource List for more details.


  • Give a talk about your experience to a local wildlife or nature group or host a virtual webinar to reach a much wider audience!
  • Post your experiences on social media so others can learn more.
  • Submit a written, video, or audio testimonial for Cheesemans’ to share with future travelers.
Acting Locally


  • Support local vendors if you buy memorabilia to take home.
  • Travel in small group sizes to limit the impact on the environment and wildlife.
  • Bring a reusable water bottle to refill. Plastic bottles will not be provided.
  • Use the biodegradable products provided on the ship to save                        waterways.
  • Conserve electricity.
  • Be moderate in your use of water.
  • Participate in Clean Up Svalbard by removing rubbish from the beaches.

We’d love to hear other ways you are actively participating, so please share that with us on our Facebook groups.

Organizations You Can Support

Polar Bear International – This global resource for information seeks to secure the long-term survival of polar bears and the sea ice that the bears require. They conduct and support scientific research and advocate for the conservation of polar bears and their habitats. They seek to be the leading voice on climate warming to affect change.