Summary : The Norwegian territory of Svalbard and the islands that make up its archipelago offer a tremendous wildlife and birding experience as well as a fascinating lesson in glaciology. First used as a whaling base in the 17th and 18th centuries, the islands are now a celebrated breeding ground for many seabirds, marine mammals, and polar bears. Push far to the north along the edge of the ice pack in hopes of encountering polar bears hunting seals and other protein sources to sustain them through the Arctic summer. Days are busy with onboard presentations, shore excursions, visits to wildlife colonies, viewing exquisite native flora, and soaking up stunning landscapes. Opt for short or long hikes onshore or take a Zodiac cruise. Sea kayaking is another popular option. This voyage includes a photography symposium and focuses on the western and northern coast of Spitsbergen, and as far north as the permanent pack ice for the highest concentration of wildlife and places of historic and scenic interest in the archipelago.
Activities : Birding, Child-Friendly, Hiking, Kayaking, Photography, Triple/Quad Cabins
$6,695 to $14,595
Embark in Longyearbyen. Sail out of Adventfjorden and into Isfjorden during the early evening. With almost 24 hours of daylight at this time of the year, enjoy the views from the outer decks of the ship as the ship departs. Meet fellow passengers and the expedition team during an introductory briefing and enjoy a welcome dinner.
Beluga whales are frequently seen as they transit the narrow sound near Bourbonhamna. It is estimated there are approximately five to ten thousand belugas in the Svalbard population. The beluga has no dorsal fin; a diagnostic feature of whale species that live in the High Arctic such as the narwhal and bowhead. It has been postulated that the beluga's lack of dorsal fin is an adaptation to living in waters that are frequently covered by ice. On a shore excursion, an old hunting cabin and other artifacts are points of interest during a scenic hike to Ingebrigstenbukta. However, it is the huge piles of beluga whale bones that stand out. The bones and all artifacts are protected by the Svalbard Government. While wandering on shore, hope to catch a glimpse of the reindeer that inhabit the area.
Lilliehook Glacier, at the head of the northwestern arm of Krossfjorden is an incredible sight. The glacier face stretches over 4 miles and has a height of around 262 feet. The shores of Krossfjorden are home to numerous bird colonies and a variety of different species. Anchor off one small harbor and cruise in the Zodiacs along the bird cliffs near the 14th July Glacier. As you cruise the dark waters, scout for bearded and ringed seals, both species known to frequent this fjord.
No trip along the north coast of Spitsbergen would be complete without a visit to Monacobreen (Monaco Glacier). A wide glacier face at the head of the fjord makes for spectacular kayaking [additional cost] and Zodiac cruising. The coastal plain near the mouth of Liefdefjorden offers superb hiking and is often a great place to spot polar bears that come here to hunt for ringed seals or feed on bird eggs.
At 81 degrees north latitude, Phippsoya is only 540 nautical miles from the North Pole. Because of its proximity to the Actic ice pack, Phippsoya offers the potential for great polar bear viewing. Be sure to get up to the bridge and take a picture of the GPS showing your latitude or, better yet, take your own handheld GPS with you and mark in the waypoint as you are very close to the North Pole!
From the ice edge, enter the main channel separating Svalbard’s two main islands. In Hinlopen Strait the bird cliffs at Alkefjellet are home to more than a hundred thousand breeding Brunnich’s guillemots, as well as thousands of kittiwakes and black guillemots. It is a spectacular site and a challenging one for the Zodiacs as the tidal currents roar through Hinlopen Strait. Nearby Murchison Fjord is a wonderful place to kayak or Zodiac cruise between the islands. There are some excellent hiking routes here, affording breathtaking views.
As your Zodiac approaches the shore of Fuglesangenoya, it will become apparent that there are thousands of birds nesting on this island. Home to a large dovekie colony the formation of this island allows for excellent viewing without impacting upon the perimeter of the colony. Just a few miles from Fuglesangen is the former whaling station of Smeerenburg, literally translated as 'Blubber Town.' As you hike the shoreline here you will learn about the importance of whaling in the discovery and exploration of the Svalbard archipelago. The blubber ovens stand as a reminder to this harsh industry in an equally harsh environment.
The sight and sound of a walrus haul-out spells Arctic like nothing else can. Visit the walrus colony on Prince Charles Island and hope to see these odd-looking animals ashore. Approaching from downwind can often confirm that walruses are ashore - the smell of a walrus haul out is quite 'unique'! Tonight, celebrate your journey with a special dinner attended by the ship’s captain. It's a great time to reflect on a wonderful
voyage in this wild and remote place.
Return to Longyearbyen this morning. Disembark after breakfast and say farewell to your expedition team and fellow passengers. A transfer into town is provided for those choosing to stay a few days. If you are departing today, you'll have a few hours in the morning to explore the town before transferring to the airport for your onward flight.
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. ExpeditionTrips is not responsible for itinerary changes.
Mandatory Travel Insurance:
As a requirement of participation on this expedition, all passengers must obtain a valid and enforceable policy of travel and baggage insurance including full coverage for medical, dental, accident, repatriation/evacuation (including helicopter) and baggage, together with (for all insurances) any coverage extensions required for the region and activities of the travel. The policy must also cover injury, illness and death, medical expenses, including any related to pre-existing medical conditions, personal effects and personal liability. Passengers must be able to provide evidence of insurance to the shipping company upon request. Other conditions may apply based on pre-existing conditions. ExpeditionTrips strongly recommends at least $200,000 Emergency Medical/Evacuation coverage for polar trips which includes coverage for cancellation, trip disruption, baggage, and personal property. ExpeditionTrips can assist U.S. residents with travel protection options.
Once you have booked your voyage to the polar regions, you will be required to complete a Medical Information Form. This form must be completed, signed and returned no later than 90 days prior to departure.
Important Voyage Logistics:
This trip starts in Longyearbyen, the principal twon in the Svalbard archipelago. It is recommended that you arrive in Longyearbyen at least one day prior to the scheduled voyage departure date. This gives you a buffer in the event of any unexpected travel delays between home and trip departure time. An airport transfer shuttle to your hotel is provided upon arrival. At the conclusion of the trip a transfer to the airport or a local hotel is included.
Limited to 30 guests. Pre-booking required. Must have prior sea kayaking experience. All intending kayakers must complete a questionnaire outlining their paddling experience and also attend several compulsory onboard meetings prior to the first kayak excursion. Provided equipment includes full Gore-Tex drysuits, kayak specific PFDs, neoprene booties, a waterproof deck bag, pogies, and a single or double kayak. Please contact ExpeditionTrips for details.
The photography symposium runs concurrently with a regular series of presentations on history, ornithology, geology, and the natural world. Members of the photographic team each have a special area of expertise including wildlife photography, landscape, and composition, along with technical knowledge of gear and equipment, computer-based processing, and file management and storage. Make regular use of the shipboard multimedia studio for breakout sessions and to review and critique your images throughout the voyage. The photographic goals on this departure will be influenced by the light onshore and on the water. With a varied and diverse itinerary and flexible plans, the symposium will aim to make the most out of the area's beautiful light, even if outside conventional shore landing times.
Departures are family-friendly with additional programming for 'Young Explorers.' There will be hands-on activities in the field with binoculars and journals provided, a miniature laboratory, and social events such as movie nights with popcorn, game nights, and on-deck wildlife identification. Families can expect to learn about the early explorers during their voyage, see hundreds of seabirds, spot whales and seals, take Zodiac trips to get up close to wildlife, and visit traditional communities within the region. Children will receive a membership to the Young Explorers Club, an embroidered badge and certificate, and specialized pre-departure information.
Transfer to the ship on embarkation day; transfer from the ship to the airport or local hotel upon disembarkation; shipboard accommodations; photography symposium; experienced expedition leader and professional expedition team of marine biologists, naturalists, historians, and adventure guides; adventure concierge staff; dedicated hospitality team; daily off-ship excursions by Zodiac; guided hikes and walks onshore; visits to wildlife colonies, historic sites, places of outstanding natural beauty, and science stations; educational presentations and talks by polar specialists; access to computers in the multimedia lab for image downloads, file back up, and management; emergency-trained physician on every voyage; use of onboard library, Finnish sauna, plunge pool, Jacuzzi, and fitness center; end of voyage video, photos and take-home USB; gear on loan (waterproof/windproof jacket, bib pants, insulated rubber boots, binoculars, and trekking poles); all meals onboard the ship; daily housekeeping; daily afternoon tea; 24-hour tea, coffee, and hot chocolate in the lounge and in all cabins (replenished daily); port fees and permits to access visited areas. Subject to change without notice.
Additional Inclusions for Suites:
Exclusive check-in service on day of embarkation; deluxe welcome package (wine, fruit basket, natural snacks); single brew coffee machine; mini-stereo; private in-room One Ocean Adventure Concierge service; in-room dining menu; early morning in-room café service; evening après dinner drink service; premium in-room mini bar replenished daily (including spirits); complimentary 1-hour massage/spa experience. Inclusions subject to change without notice.
Charter flights or any international or local airfare unless otherwise specified in the voyage itinerary; visa and passport expenses; pre- or post-cruise hotel accommodations unless otherwise specified in the itinerary (or pre-arranged); pre- or post-cruise transfers unless otherwise specified in the itinerary (or pre-arranged); meals and transfers in arrival/departure cities; massages from registered therapist; personal expenses on board such as alcoholic beverages, bar charges, spa treatments or laundry expenses; telecommunication charges (i.e. email, satellite phone); baggage, cancellation, or medical travel insurance-related expenses (travel insurance is mandatory on all voyages); voluntary gratuity at the end of the voyage for expedition staff and ship crew.
PHOTOS: © One Ocean Expeditions