Summary : Sail along the pack ice of North Spitsbergen on this Arctic expedition with the best opportunities to spot the King of the Arctic—the mighty polar bear. Journey to Raudfjord on the north coast of West Spitsbergen, a beautiful fjord dominated by spectacular glaciers and favored by ringed and bearded seals. The cliffs and shoreline of the fjord also support thriving seabird colonies and a surprisingly rich amount of vegetation flourishes on sheltered landscapes. Keep an eye out for whales, reindeer, and Arctic fox too on this trip of a lifetime!
Activities : Birding, Child-Friendly, Diving, Hiking, Triple/Quad Cabins
$3,900 to $6,850
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. 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, where in the mouth of the fjord you may see your first minke whale.
Sail to Raudfjord on the north coast of West Spitsbergen, a beautiful fjord dominated by spectacular glaciers and favored by ringed and bearded seal. The cliffs and shoreline of the fjord also support thriving seabird colonies and surprisingly rich vegetation, which flourishes in sheltered spots. Polar bears are often seen here.
Depending on the weather, cruise into Liefdefjorden near the 3 miles long face of the impressive Monaco Glacier. The waters of the glacier front are a favorite feeding spot for thousands of Kittiwake. Watch for polar bears on the glacier.
Sail into Hinlopen Strait, home to bearded and ringed seals, polar bears, and ivory gulls. At the entrance, you may see blue whales. Navigate the ice floes of Lomfjordshalvøya by Zodiac and explore the bird cliffs of Alkefjellet observing thousands of Brünnich’s guillemot. On the east side of Hinlopenstrait, attempt a landing at Palanderbukta on Nordaustlandet, home to reindeer, pink-footed geese, breeding ivory gulls, and walrus.
The northernmost point of your voyage may be north of Nordaustlandet, in the Seven Islands. Here you reach 80° north, just 540 miles from the geographic North Pole. Polar bears inhabit this region, so the ship may park for several hours among the pack ice before wheeling around west again.
While retracing your route west, keep watch for polar bears and elusive Greenland (bowhead) whales. About 40 nautical miles west of Spitsbergen, you sail the edge of the continental shelf. Here fin whales forage during the summer in the upwelling zones—this is where cold, nutrient-rich water wells up from below the sea’s surface—that run along the Spitsbergen banks. At the mouth of Kongsfjorden, you have a good chance of sighting minke whales.
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. Watch for Spitsbergen reindeer grazing on the vegetation. At nighttime, arrive into Longyearbyen.
Disembark in Longyearbyen, the administrative centre of Spitsbergen, for your flight south to Oslo and onward home.
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:
As a requirement of participation on this expedition, all passengers must purchase insurance including medical, accident and repatriation/evacuation insurance. ExpeditionTrips strongly recommends Emergency Medical/Evacuation coverage which includes coverage for cancellation, trip disruption, baggage and personal property. Other conditions may apply based on pre-existing conditions. ExpeditionTrips can assist U.S. residents with travel protection options.
Bilingual English-German Departure: 6/5/2018
Polar Diving: 5/29/2018
Dive under shallow water, down along walls, from the beach, or from a Zodiac. You will reach a maximum of 60 feet. Unlike no other dive—the combination of water, sunlight, and ice formations creates an ever-shifting spectacle of colors. Participants will dive in group of eight divers per guide, with a maximum of 24 divers per excursion. Compressors and weights are provided. Participants must bring their own dry suit with hood and additional equipment. Please contact ExpeditionTrips for a complete list. This activity is available for experienced divers. Participants are required to present their internationally accepted diver certificate, diver's logbook, and a statement from their doctor (not older than two years) that demonstrates they are in a good state of physical health allowing them to scuba dive. Experience with both cold water diving and dry suit diving (at least 30 dives) is required. Space is limited; request at time of booking. Please contact ExpeditionTrips for details.
Included in cruise rate. Anyone can take part, no previous experience necessary. Snowshoes are provided.
Voyage aboard the designated vessel as indicated in the itinerary; cabin accommodations and meals aboard the ship including snacks, coffee and tea; rubber boots and snowshoes on loan; transfers and baggage handling between the airport, hotels and ship only for those passengers on the group flights to and from Longyearbyen; Zodiac rides; program of lectures by noted naturalists and leadership by experienced expedition staff; miscellaneous service taxes and port charges; AECO fees and governmental taxes; comprehensive pre-departure material. Subject to change without notice.
Any airfare, whether on scheduled or charter flights; pre- and post-land arrangements; passport and visa expenses; government arrival and departure taxes; meals ashore; travel insurance; excess baggage charges and all items of a personal nature such as laundry, bar, beverage charges and telecommunication charges; and the customary gratuity at the end of the voyages for stewards and other service personnel; fuel surcharge may apply.
PHOTOS: © Erwin Vermeulen; © Majanda Hamelink; © Markus Eichenberger; © Sally Hamna; © Petr Slavik