Your Spitsbergen adventure begins when you board your ship in Longyearbyen, the island’s largest settlement. As you embark, you’ll enjoy great views of the mountainous landscape that serves as a backdrop for this seaside village.
Explore western Spitsbergen as well as stunning fjords and outlying islands to the north. From polar deserts to immense glaciers, the natural landscape here is just as varied as the wildlife. You’ll cruise around this magical island located above the Arctic Circle, and your expedition team will be constantly searching for wildlife.
Each expedition presents new opportunities, so we have no fixed itinerary; however, we do hope to visit some of our favorite destinations, including the 14th of July Glacier, Smeerenburg, Phippsøya, Alkhornet and the Hinlopen Strait.
The destinations visited will be selected for optimum wildlife viewing and appreciation of the history and geology of Spitsbergen. Polar bear viewing is more likely here than almost anywhere else, with Phippsøya being one of their preferred hunting areas, since the towering cliffs of Alkefjellet provide many free bird egg meals for both them and the arctic fox.
Torellneset and Phippsøya are great places for walrus photography. Coming across a walrus haul-out is a moment you won’t soon forget. These giant pinnipeds of the Arctic create quite a noisy scene as each walrus vies for a choice spot of coastline.
If you’re itching to get a little closer to the action, you can book the kayaking option and take an excursion to the more isolated pockets of Spitsbergen. At Smeerenburg, you can visit a memorial erected in 1906. This historic site honors the whalers who lost their lives in the 17th and 18th centuries while working in extreme arctic conditions.
In Spitsbergen, there is no shortage of natural beauty. The tundra can be surprisingly colorful in summer, with wildflowers bursting for a taste of sunshine. Each day, you’ll see something new, whether it is a rare bird species or an abandoned site from centuries ago.
This cliff is a seabird center, where Brünnich’s guillemots (thick-billed murres) raise their young. An estimated 100,000 breeding pairs reside in the basalt cliffs. The birds do not build nests; rather, they lay eggs on the bare ledge.
KAPP LEE, EDGEØYA
This is a well-known walrus haul-out. The pink color of a walrus’s hide as it is exposed to the sun is caused by blood pumped to the skin’s surface to aid cooling, similar to that of a hippopotamus in Africa.
In 1906, Prince Albert I of Monaco visited Lilliehöök Glacier to conduct scientific investigations. His great-great-grandson, Albert II, visited the glacier a hundred years later as part of a scientific investigation, this time to further our understanding of the arctic clam, a species that lives for more than a century. The growth rings of a single clam’s shell contain evidence of the chemicals encountered by the clam. Scientists can determine the variations of the water’s temperature and pollutant content by studying the shell.
Eighteen hundred people inhabit the administrative capital of Svalbard, which is situated on the southern side of Adventfjord. The settlement was founded in 1905 by John Munroe Longyear, the majority owner of the Arctic Coal Company of Boston.
Prince Albert I of Monaco, a pioneer of oceanography, led an expedition to Svalbard in 1906. His team used sophisticated photographic techniques to understand the shape and position of several glacier fronts. Monaco Glacier honors the expedition, the prince and the principality over which he reigned.
This is the second-largest island in the entire Svalbard archipelago. The largest glacier in Europe is located on the island, which is a known habitat for reindeer and walrus.
On the western coast, this bay stretches south and east from the Wahlenberg Fjord. This is a typical polar desert, where the “ice bear” (polar bear) can sometimes be seen roaming in search of food.
PHIPPSØYA AND MARTENSØYA, SEVEN ISLANDS
This small archipelago is the northernmost land in Svalbard. Englishmen left their mark during a survey of the islands in the 1780s. The party named the islands after themselves, with the smallest and least significant island being named Nelsonøya, after the lowly midshipman who was promoted over the years to the rank and title of Vice Admiral Horatio Lord Nelson!
The time to say goodbye has come. Your adventure ends as it began, in the frontier-style settlement of Longyearbyen. From here, we’ll transfer you to the airport for your flight home.
IMPORTANT REMINDER Embracing the unexpected is part of the legacy – and excitement – of expedition travel. When traveling in extremely remote regions, your expedition staff must allow the sea, the ice and the weather to guide route and itinerary details. The above is a tentative outline of what you’ll experience on this voyage; please be aware that no specific itinerary can be guaranteed.
* Itinerary may be subject to change