Spitsbergen, the land of the Polar Bear is an Arctic archipelago only 1000 kilometres south of the North Pole. It is by far the largest wilderness area of Europe. Visitors can witness enormous colonies of seabirds thronging the cliffs and shores, and enjoy the thrilling antics of whales at sea, and seals and walruses hauled out on ice-floes. The proximity of the pack-ice offers spectacular ice cruising. You may even encounter the very symbol of the Arctic - the Polar Bear! Its rugged mountains and rolling tundra offer plenty of opportunities for hikers, climbers and skiers
- Look out for Arctic wildlife such as whales, seals, walrus and polar bears
- Reach 81 degrees north, just 540 miles from the geographic North Pole
- Myriad of birdlife and spectacular seabird cliff colonies
- Sailing with m/v Plancius, a most comfortable expedition vessel
- Admire the glaciers and mountains of Svalbard
Spitsbergen, the land of the Polar Bear is an Arctic archipelago only 1000 kilometres south of the North Pole. It is by far the largest wilderness area of Europe. Visitors can witness enormous colonies of seabirds thronging the cliffs and shores, and enjoy the thrilling antics of whales at sea, and seals and walruses hauled out on ice-floes. The proximity of the pack-ice offers spectacular ice cruising. You may even encounter the very symbol of the Arctic - the Polar Bear! Its rugged mountains and rolling tundra offer plenty of opportunities for hikers, climbers and skiers.Day 1 - Longyearbyen
We arrive in Longyearbyen, the administrative capital of the Spitsbergen archipelago of which West Spitsbergen is the largest island. Before embarking there is an opportunity to stroll around this former mining town, whose parish church and Polar Museum are well worth visiting, while in the surrounding area of Longyearbyen, more than 100 species of plants have been recorded. In the early evening the ship will sail out of Isfjorden.
Day 2 - Ny Ålesund
Heading north along the west coast, we arrive by morning in Krossfjorden, where we board the Zodiacs for an exhilarating cruise along the sculpted face of the 14th of July Glacier. On the surprisingly fertile slopes near the glacier, a colourful variety of flowers bloom, while large numbers of Kittiwake and Brünnich’s Guillemot nest on the nearby cliffs. There is also a good chance of spotting opportunistic Arctic Fox, patrolling the base of the cliffs in case a hapless chick falls from its nest, and Bearded Seal, who cruise this scenic fjord. In the afternoon we sail to Ny Ålesund, the world’s most northerly settlement. Once a mining village - served by the world’s most northerly railway, which can still be seen - Ny Ålesund is now a research centre. Close to the village is a breeding ground for Barnacle Goose, Pink-footed Goose and Arctic Tern. Visitors interested in the history of Arctic exploration will want to walk to the anchoring mast used by Amundsen and Nobile, in the airship Norge in 1926 and Nobile in the airship Italia in 1928, before their flights to the North Pole.
Day 3 - Liefdefjorden
Depending on the weather we may now sail to the mouth of Liefdefjorden and go ashore for a walk on the tundra island of Andøya. Many Common Eider and Pink-footed Goose nest here, and the rarer King Eider may also be seen. We hope to sail into Liefdefjorden, cruising near the 5km long face of the impressive Monaco Glacier. The waters of the glacier face are a favourite feeding spot for thousands of Kittiwake and on previous voyages Polar Bear have been seen on the glacier, providing wonderful opportunities for photography.
Day 4 - Hinlopen Strait
Today we will sail into Hinlopen Strait, home to Bearded Seal, Ringed Seal, Polar Bear, and Ivory Gull. We’ll navigate the ice floes of Lomfjordshalvøya in our zodiacs and explore the bird cliffs of Alkefjellet with thousands of Brünnich’s Guillemot. On the east side of Hinlopenstrait, we’ll attempt a landing at Palanderbukta on Nordaustlandet, home to reindeer, Pink-footed Goose, breeding Ivory Gull, and Walrus.
Day 5 - Seven Islands
Today we will reach the northernmost islands of Svalbard: the Seven Islands north of Nordaustlandet. We will attempt to land on Phippsøya which often have walrus hauled out on land. We will then try to find the pack ice to take in the spectacular surroundings and search for wildlife such as Polar bear and perhaps even the illusive Ross gull. We will reach the area of 81 degrees north – just 540 km from the geographic North Pole.
Day 6 - Retracing our route westwards
Retracing our route westwards, we visit Raudfjord on the north coast of West Spitsbergen, a beautiful fjord dominated by spectacular glaciers and favoured by Ringed and Bearded Seal. The cliffs and shoreline of the fjord also support thriving seabird colonies and a surprisingly rich vegetation, which flourishes in sheltered spots. On the offshore island of Ytre Norskøya, we visit a 17th century Dutch whaling site, whose large graveyard is a poignant reminder of the hardships and dangers of life here at that time. The island’s bird life is prolific, with colonies of Little Auk, Black Guillemot, Brünnich’s Guillemot, Puffins and Arctic Skua accessible to visitors.
Day 7 - Prins Karls Forland
We land at the northern tip of Prins Karls Forland near Fuglehuken, where Barentsz probably set foot on Spitsbergen for the first time. Seabirds nest on the cliffs and along the coast we see Harbour Seal, the only population found in Spitsbergen. Further we also will observe the remains of the Polar Bear hunting era, with demolished set guns and bear traps. At the opposite site of Forlandsundet at Sarstangen is a haul out place for Walrus. Alternatively we sail into St. Johns Fjord or south to the mouth of Isfjorden and land at Alkhornet. Seabirds nest on its cliffs and Arctic Fox search the cliff base for fallen eggs and chicks, while Spitsbergen Reindeer graze the relatively luxuriant vegetation. The reindeer may seem unbothered by human presence, but this is not really the case. The animals must survive the harsh winter, when temperatures plummet and food is hard to find, so they preserve what energy they can, fleeing only when it is absolutely necessary. In the afternoon we cruise through beautiful Borebukta, following a glacier face before continuing to Longyearbyen.
Day 8 - Longyearbyen
We disembark in Longyearbyen, the administrative centre of Spitsbergen, for flights south to Oslo and onward home.
All itineraries are for guidance only. Programs may vary depending on local ice and weather conditions and in order to take advantage of opportunities to see wildlife. Flexibility is paramount for expedition cruises.
Kayaking in Spitsbergen
Kayaking is one of the most amazing ways to explore the remote Spitsbergen coastline. Kayakers accompanied by a kayak guide have the opportunity to go off the beaten track. Paddling between icebergs or pack ice, observing animals in their natural environment, the only sound you hear is water dripping from the paddles. Kayaking adds greatly to the experience of being in an unspoiled wilderness.
- You can't get very much closer to seals lounging on ice floes
- Paddle at your own speed and comfort between pack-ice
- Witness nature first hand
There are options of 2 to 3 different guided showshoewalks per landing (easy to challenging). Snowshoewalks vary in length, difficulty and distance and meters climbed: there are always walks that suit your ability! Several full day walks with packed-lunch will be offered along with free rental of lightweight snowshoes and rubber boots with good walking profile. There is no extra charge for showshoeing.
- It is easy to use snowshoes, everyone can do it
- Easy walking in deep snow
- Snowshoes will be provided to everyone on board
Voyage aboard the indicated vessel as indicated in the itinerary. All meals throughout the voyage aboard the ship including snacks, coffee and tea. Program of lectures by noted naturalists and leadership by experienced expedition staff. All shore excursions and activities throughout the voyage by Zodiac. Free use of rubber boots and snow shoes on Plancius and Ortelius Transfers and baggage handling between the airport, hotels and ship only for those passengers on the group flights to and from Longyearbyen. All miscellaneous service taxes and port charges throughout the programme. AECO fees and governmental taxes. Comprehensive pre-departure material.
Any airfare, whether on scheduled or charter flights. Pre- and post land arrangements. Transfers to / from the vessel outside Spitsbergen. Passport and visa expenses. Government arrival and departure taxes. Meals ashore. Baggage, cancellation and personal insurance (which is mandatory). Excess baggage charges and all items of a personal nature such as laundry, bar, beverage charges and telecommunication charges. The customary gratuity at the end of the voyages for stewards and other service personnel aboard (guidelines will be provided). Possible fuel surcharges; It is agreed that if world fuel prices will reach or exceed US Dollar 120 per Barrel Brent, 90 days prior to departure Oceanwide Expeditions reserves the right to levy a fuel surcharge of US $ 25 per passenger per night for bookings outside Europe and EURO 18 per passenger per night for bookings within Europe, to be paid by the contracting party of Oceanwide Expeditions.
Rates, Share and Sole Use policy
All rates are quoted per person, based on shared twin, triple or quad occupancy. If you are travelling alone and wish to share, you will be matched with another person of the same gender at the shared rate. Twin and Superior cabins are available for single occupancy at 1.7 times the share rate.
Upon request (some voyages may be excluded), children under 16 with parents may receive 40 % discount in Superior, Triple (sharing with 2 parents / adults) and Quadruple Cabins (sharing with 3 parents / adults).
Reservations require a deposit of 20% at the time you receive a booking confirmation from Expeditions Online. A payment link will be sent to you and this may be paid by major credit card. Bookings within 60 days of departure require full payment.
Balances are due 60 days prior to departure.
All requests for cancellation must be received in writing to Expeditions Online. Cancellations received 90 days or more prior to departure, are refunded less a fee of 20 % of the total price. If cancellation is received between 89 days and 60 days prior to departure, are refunded less a fee of 50 % of the total price. If cancellation occurs less than 59 days up to and including the day of departure: 100 % of the total price. If full payment has not yet been received, the full penalty will still apply and any unpaid balance is due immediately. We strongly recommend that you obtain adequate trip cancellation insurance.
Please read carefully the General Booking Conditions for Expeditions Online. This voyage is operated by Oceanwide Expeditions and you additionally travel under their terms and conditions as the operator as well as of the Shipping Company/transport carrier. Details will be forwarded to you at the time of booking.
All tour descriptions and conditions are given in accordance with the information of Expeditions Online