Life before Swoop
Life as a fisherman in Finland meant that I was free 8 months of every year, so I had time to dedicate to travel. Since leaving Finland, I have travelled even more - and even made it my career. My country total now stands at 150 of the world's 193 UN countries. It hasn't always been plain sailing: some time working as a researcher for the Bradt guide to South Sudan nearly got me shot. Happily, I survived and went on to forge a career in travel, working as a Tanzania, Kenya and Madagascar specialist, before returning to my much-loved snowy roots, the Arctic regions: areas of the world I know extremely well.
When I am not daydreaming about all things "ice", you'll find me with a hammer and chisel in my hands. Building my first house in my 20s gave me the woodworking bug and, consequently, I am never happier than when I am making a dusty mess!
My polar experience
In March 2016 I visited Antarctica for the first time on board the Vavilov, and in December 2016 I made my second voyage to Antarctica on the Ocean Adventurer. In June of 2016, I took a voyage that departed from Iceland, stopping at Jan Mayen a remote island in the North Arctic ocean, and ending at 81 degrees north in Svalbard, onboard the Sea Spirit. In 2017, I revisited Svalbard for the second time onboard the Akademik Ioffe, this time circumnavigating the island. In early 2018, I took a 15 day voyage to the Falklands and South Georgia on the Polar Pioneer; circumnavigating South Georgia and walking in Shackleton’s footsteps. Most recently, August 2018, I sailed the Northwest passage onboard the Ocean Endeavour, experiencing for the first time, what it is like to be a guest onboard a larger 200 passenger vessel.
Additionally, I have been onboard almost all of the expedition vessels that sail to the polar regions, and lived on the Arctic circle for 13 years.
Day to day at Swoop
I joined Swoop in January 2016 as a polar specialist and have travelled to Antarctica and many parts of the Arctic. Much of my day is spent on the phone talking to clients about the nuances of the polar regions. Everything from which vessel to choose, when to go, and what it's actually like when you get there.
What our customers think
Definitely pleased with the advice of polar specialist John Newby, he listened to what we wanted, chatted over alternatives, and recommended absolutely the right trip for us.
David Irwin United Kingdom February 2019
Good choice for the size of the expedition cruise ship. Excellent throughout the whole progress. Thank you very much, John.
Mei Mei Mai United States Of America February 2019
John took the time to learn our hopes and expectations via email and telephone. Within days, we had a few choices presented with a ship and itinerary that met our goals.
Terrie Mandina United States Of America December 2018
We initially started negotiations with another company recommended by a friend but quickly found that Swoop (or more precisely, John) was much more superior because of the vast on-site experience and knowledge about the ins-and-outs of the various operators and ships.
Marc Florida November 2017
John was a great help from day one, steering us toward the cruise that was best for us. Without his guidance, I doubt we would have found something so perfect for us.
Nick Canada December 2017
John was fantastic. I really appreciate all he did to prepare for my trip.
Elizabeth Utah December 2017
In a word, it was sensational. Everything was terrific: the ship, the "hotel" and the expedition team. You (John) are greatly loved among multiple crew folks. And we share that enthusiasm for you because your natural joy is infectious.
Larry and Julie California February 2017
John, thanks for making me re-think my Antarctic trip. South Georgia was truly amazing and I can’t imagine that I was willing to miss it! Thank you all again!
Nadina Canada February 2017
John made this very hard decision so much easier by reassuring me of the incredible experience awaiting me and explaining every detail of the trip beforehand. If it wasn’t for John, I seriously do not know if I would have had the courage to go on this trip alone.
Jeff Arizona February 2017
Swoop, and John in particular, were fantastic. They did everything that was possible and made things very smooth and comfortable.
Sascha Germany December 2016
Thanks to John, his diligence and attention to my needs were what I needed to decide that the trip of a lifetime was within my reach!
Nancy Texas January 2017
Swoop was great! especially John, who I mainly dealt with- passion, enthusiasm, knowledge ... He actually listened to all my requirements and suggested the best voyage that would "make our dream come true" - and it did :)
Avivit Georgia February 2017
John explained everything before I left. He had been on the ship before. He was there 24-7 for phone calls if I wanted information before I left.
Bob California November 2017
Swoop was wonderful and John Newby made me feel like I was his new best friend. He gave great advice and was very attentive. I would recommend Swoop to all.
Merridith & Robert McCarthy United States Of America November 2018
Thanks to John for sending me the information that allowed me to take this trip. His diligence and attention to my needs (budget!) were what I needed to decide that the trip of a lifetime was within my reach!
Nancy Kohlman United States Of America December 2016
John was a real star. The right ship, the right voyage.
Andy & Wemmie Worner Australia February 2019
Your polar experience was invaluable John. We had such a smooth trip because of it.
Ginny Woods Australia November 2018
The service provided by Swoop was outstanding, especially by John Newby who helped me pick out the voyage and ship for my group of five ladies from Louisiana.
Carol Louisiana November 2017
The voyage was excellent and I enjoyed it. John was spot on in regards to the ship and the service prior to the voyage was excellent.
Gail Maine February 2017
John Newby was great. He found the perfect trip for me with lots of activities included; he was enthusiastic always.
Marilyn Argentina November 2016
Excellent all around! The experience was super! Everything that was recommended to us by John was on point. We lacked nothing in the voyage. We were well informed and completely prepare with the right clothing and what to expect. I will most definitely use Swoop again.
Nancy Florida December 2016
Why I love Antarctica
Antarctica is massive and there is no real way of explaining this, you have to see it. The mountains, the icebergs, the whales and the glaciers. Really the only thing thats small in Antarctica is the krill.
Kayaking in Antarctica is awesome. Leaving my camera on board the Vavilov and paddling my way past whales and huge icebergs was humbling and awing at the same time. To anyone thinking about kayaking, my advice would be to do it. You won't regret it.
For a long time, elephants were my favourite animal... now it's penguins. Cuverville Island is a fantastic place to watch them. I sat in a zodiac while 500 Gentoo "rafted" around me, the Go Pro video is fantastic.
Antarctica sparkles in the sun, and is dramatic and moody when the clouds shroud the mountains. At any time of day and from Late November to early March, it's my number one place in the world to be.
Travel tips from my blog
Thinking about braving the ice cold waters?
Preparing for Antarctica? Here are my top five reads:
Want to know more about the history of Antarctica?
A list of top apps to travel to Antarctica with:
Food, it seems, can make or break the success of an expedition:
My photos & videos
Take a look at my footage of some of the most spectacular landing sites in South Georgia, capturing the abundant wildlife and majestic scenery.
43 countries left… plenty to do... and then there are territories too. It’s a life times work, seeing the world, and I plan on travelling to as much of it as possible.