Summary : Spitsbergen Odyssey reveals the diversity of this island archipelago and takes you into the kingdom of the polar bear. Where warm Gulf Stream currents and Arctic pack ice collide, a wild archipelago awaits featuring deep fjords, rugged mountains, vast glaciers, and polar desert. Visit Spitsbergen as perpetual soft summer light bathes the land, and adventure across tundra alive with green moss and brilliantly colored tiny flowers. Zodiacs carry you to the base of cliffs where birds breed above, while the seas pulse with whales, bearded seals, and walrus. Cruise the fjords and coast keeping watch for the mightiest inhabitant of all – the polar bear.
Activities : Birding, Hiking, Kayaking
NEW for 2016 - Polar Snorkeling
$999,999,999 to $0
Enjoy a tour of colorful Longyearbyen before being warmly welcomed on board the expedition ship in the late afternoon. Pulse rates quicken on the departure along a wonderland of bird cliffs, sweeping glaciers, and majestic mountains.
Wake to the spectacular alpine peaks and glacier valleys of Spitsbergen’s rugged west coast. In Magdalenefjorden, take a Zodiac cruise near the aqua-blue ice cliffs of 14th July Glacier or Waggonway Glacier, and enjoy a long walk among summer flowers keeping an eye out for reindeer and Arctic fox. Thanks to the nutrient-rich Gulf Stream and relatively mild temperatures, Atlantic puffins and thick-billed murres fill the cliffs. Visit the remains of a 350-year-old Dutch whaling settlement on Amsterdam Island and hear of Swedish explorer Andrée’s ill-fated attempt to balloon over the North Pole.
Enter the Arctic Ocean, searching for beluga whales, pack ice and polar bears as you round the northwest corner of Spitsbergen and make the way down Woodfjorden. Ringed, bearded and even small numbers of harp seals can be seen, both from the ship and Zodiacs. Stretch your legs on shore, searching for trappers’ huts and keeping a watchful eye for reindeer and Arctic fox. Polar bears with cubs often hunt for eggs on Leifdefjorden’s islands, the breeding grounds of eider ducks, Arctic terns, Arctic skuas, great skuas, glaucous gulls and black-legged kittiwakes. Just offshore huffing walrus feed on clams, or haul out on the beach in wallows, especially at Moffen Island, a sanctuary for these fantastic creatures. Along the pack ice edge stay alert for sightings of minke and other whales. The long days are perfect for relaxed wildflower walks, allowing time to photograph some of the tundra’s 164 species of flowering plants, including purple saxifrage, exquisite yellow spider plants and Svalbard poppies. If ice conditions allow, attempt to cross latitude 80° North – cause for celebration!
Welcome to the wild side! Frigid Arctic currents sweep around Spitsbergen’s northeast corner, lowering air and sea temperatures, and creating a landscape eroded by severe frost. Even in summer, pack ice could bar your way. Attempt to pass through narrow Hinlopen Strait, between Spitsbergen and austere, ice-capped Nordaustlandet, your Russian crew and expedition staff use their considerable expertise to reach the region’s highlights. Zodiac cruise beneath Alkefjellt, sheer basalt cliffs rising more than 250m (820ft), literally buzzing with some 200,000 nests of Brunnich’s guillemots, possibly with Arctic fox scavenging below. On Torrellneset, you could well approach dozens of sleeping walrus. A true polar desert, the east coast offers walks among stunted glaciers, exposed fossil fields, and tundra, where you watch for Arctic fox, eider ducks and the elusive Svalbard ptarmigan. Sailing between Barentsøya and Edgeøya, cross polar bear migration routes and you may visit Sundeneset, a fertile plain covered in green mosses and delicate flowers, including the yellow marsh saxifrage.
This is true expedition cruising, where plans are dictated by ice conditions and a desire to explore. If pack ice allows, round South Cape, returning to the world of open water and rugged coastal mountains, and sail north toward Hornsund and Bellsund, deep fjords with remarkable glaciers and wildlife. If ice stops the route on the east side, itinerary will be adjusted, and you'll delve deeper into the wonders of Spitsbergen’s north and west coasts, including a visit to colonies where hundreds of thousands of little auks nest, darkening the sky as they commute to their fishing grounds.
A midnight cruise of Isfjorden returns you to Longyearbyen, the end of a spectacular voyage. Transfer to the airport.
Read this itinerary as a guide only; the exact route and program varies according to ice and weather conditions - and the wildlife you encounter. Flexibility is the key to the success of this expedition.
Mandatory Travel Insurance:
All guests are required to have emergency medical evacuation travel insurance coverage. Proof of coverage is required prior to embarkation. The policy provider, policy number and emergency contact phone number must be provided prior to departure date. ExpeditionTrips strongly recommends at least $100,000 Emergency Medical/Evacuation coverage for trips which includes coverage for cancellation, trip disruption, baggage and personal property. ExpeditionTrips can assist you with this.
Sea Kayaking Option:
If you wish to take this option, please advise ExpeditionTrips.com at the time of booking. Please note that sound sea kayaking experience is essential.
Transfers between airport and ship in Longyearbyen; sightseeing tour of Longyearbyen; ship's accommodation; meals, snacks, coffee and tea on board ship; use of gumboots on loan; shore excursions from the ship including Zodiacs; lectures, videos, slide and film shows and guide services; port taxes and charges imposed by government authorities; pre-departure information and briefing; and polar expedition jacket. Subject to change without notice.
All flights and airfare; visa, passport and vaccination charges; airport arrival and departure taxes; transfers not included in itinerary; hotels and meals not included in ship cruise itinerary; optional excursions not included in the ship cruise itinerary; laundry, postage, personal clothing, medical expenses, personal travel insurance and items of a personal nature such as gratuities, bar charges and phone calls; emergency evacuation charges; sea kayaking supplement; fuel surcharge may apply.