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Spitsbergen Photography: In Search of Polar Bears

Arctic Svalbard Cruise Information

Summary : This unique voyage invites guests to embrace a true expeditionary spirit: rather than follow a set itinerary, your captain and experienced expedition team will determine the route and shore landings in the pristine Norwegian Arctic based on the search for polar bears and other wildlife. Cruising along the coast, ice edge and inner fjords of Spitsbergen, you’ll be immersed in the natural wonders of the land of the midnight sun on a quest to photograph Arctic wildlife: the polar bear as it prowls the edges of the pack ice on its perpetual hunt for food; the walrus with its long tusks and distinctive whiskers; cliff-dwelling Arctic birds in the thousands; and small herds of reindeer loping across the colorful tundra. Discover snow-topped mountains, massive glacier fronts, deep-walled fjords, and vast swaths of untouched tundra waiting to be photographed.

NOTE: This ship is NEW for the 2021 season! As with any new vessel, we strongly suggest selecting a departure date at least six weeks after launch. Please ask for details.

Activities : Birding, Hiking, Kayaking, Photography, Dedicated Solo Cabins, Triple/Quad Cabins

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Itinerary
Day 1
Olso, Norway

Your Arctic voyage begins in Oslo, Norway’s vibrant capital city. If you arrive early, there are many museums, restaurants and green spaces to keep you busy before retiring at your airport hotel.*

*See Additional Costs for mandatory transfer package information.

Day 2
Longyearbyen, Svalbard / Embarkation

In the morning, your group will transfer to the airport and board a private charter flight* to Longyearbyen, Spitsbergen's largest settlement, where you'll have some time to explore before embarkation. As your ship sets sail, enjoy your first view of the island’s rugged, glacier-topped mountains rising majestically from icy waters.

*See Additional Costs for mandatory transfer package information.

Day 3 – 13
Exploring Spitsbergen

Spitsbergen is graced with an unspoiled beauty that’s just waiting to be discovered. On this one-of-a-kind cruise, you’ll sail along the west coast of this magical island, exploring the coastal fjords and smaller, outlying islands. Each day will be a surprise, treating you to spectacular new sightings and experiences.

Every expedition is unique, depending on the weather and ice conditions. Hope to visit a few of the captain and crew's favorite landing sites, which will be chosen as much for their optimal wildlife-viewing opportunities as for their stunning scenery, historical significance, and hiking activities. With no itinerary (unusual among polar cruises), the main goal will be to sail in a constant search for polar bears on the prowl. This means the ship may not move every day as it does on regular voyages—especially if an abundance of wildlife is found in one place. Like a true explorer, you’ll let the wildlife and pack ice—not a set schedule—guide your route!

Presentations by onboard experts will prepare you for the adventures that await, and with continuous daylight during this time of year, photo ops abound. You'll have ample time to linger and photograph any bears found hunting on the ice edge, but they're not the only wildlife you can hope to encounter. The food-rich waters attract walrus, whales, and seabirds, so keep your binoculars nearby while cruising. Arctic fox and indigenous Svalbard reindeer may also be spotted on Zodiac excursions to shore.

A haven for present-day explorers, Spitsbergen and the surrounding area offer unforgettable polar experiences that will keep you and your camera active for the duration of the expedition. Although 60 percent of the landscape is covered in glaciers and much of the terrain is mountainous, Spitsbergen (which means “pointed mountains”) surprises visitors with stretches of colorful tundra that burst with wildflowers in summer. Optional hiking activities get you up close—though never obtrusively—to the abundant wildlife. At day’s end, you’ll have plenty of prized photographs and exciting stories to share with your shipmates.

Day 14
Longyearbyen / Disembarkation / Oslo, Norway

Your Arctic adventure ends in the frontier-style settlement of Longyearbyen. From here, you’ll transfer to the airport for your return group charter flight* to Oslo.

*See Additional Costs for mandatory transfer package information.

Notes

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.

NOTE: This ship is NEW for the 2021 season! As with any new vessel, we strongly suggest selecting a departure date at least six weeks after launch. Please ask for details.

Mandatory Travel Insurance:
Due to the remoteness of the areas in this itinerary, travelers must carry a minimum $50,000 of emergency medical coverage. Proof of coverage is required prior to embarkation. The travel insurance policy should also cover trip cancellation insurance, trip delay, interruption or after departure coverage, baggage and repatriation. The shipping company will not be held responsible for delays due to force majeure. Any additional costs accrued will be the responsibility of the traveler. ExpeditionTrips strongly recommends that you select a travel protection plan that includes trip cancellation and interruption coverage and at least $200,000 in medical evacuation coverage. ExpeditionTrips can assist U.S. residents with travel protection options. Other conditions may apply based on pre-existing conditions.

Kayaking:
Pre-booking required. A small group of sea kayakers will plan to go out multiple times per voyage instead of shore landings. The number of opportunities to kayak is weather dependent and will only be conducted during calm conditions. Prior kayaking experience is required and you must have the capability to do a wet exit to participate. Must be 16 years of age or older to participate. Beginners interested in kayaking should consider participating in the paddling excursions described below. Please contact ExpeditionTrips for details.

Paddling:
Pre-booking required. If you’re interested in kayaking but would like to try something less in-depth than the full kayaking program, you can still enjoy an on-water experience with a paddling excursion. Sign up for a one-time, one-hour paddle on a sit-on-top kayak, which is stable and unencumbered: perfect for anyone with little to no experience with kayaking. No experience necessary. Space is limited. Must be 16 years of age or older to participate. All sit-on-top kayaks are doubles. Please contact ExpeditionTrips for details.

Included:
Transfers between Longyearbyen town center and port on embarkation and disembarkation day; shipboard accommodations; all shore landings per the daily program; all Zodiac transfers and cruising per the daily program; experienced Expedition Leader; formal and informal presentations by Expedition Team and special guests as scheduled; photographic journal; gear to keep (expedition parka and reusable water bottle); gear on loan (waterproof expedition boots for shore landings, walking poles); all meals on board ship; snacks, soft drinks, and juices on board; beer and house wine during dinner; coffee, tea, cocoa available around the clock; daily housekeeping; miscellaneous service taxes and port charges throughout the program; luggage handling aboard ship; emergency evacuation insurance for all passengers to a maximum benefit of $500,000 per person*. Subject to change without notice.

Not Included:
Mandatory Transfer Package (see Additional Costs); international airfare; arrival and departure transfers in Oslo; passport and visa expenses; government arrival and departure taxes not mentioned above; any beverages not mentioned in inclusions; meals ashore unless otherwise specified; emergency medical coverage (required); baggage, cancellation, interruption and medical travel insurance (strongly recommended); excess baggage charges; mandatory waterproof pants for Zodiac cruising or any other gear not mentioned; laundry, bar, beverage, and other personal charges unless specified; phone and internet charges; voluntary gratuity at end of voyage for shipboard staff and crew; Adventure Options such as optional kayaking and optional paddling; additional overnight accommodation; fuel surcharge may apply.

*Emergency Evacuation Insurance:
Emergency evacuation coverage to a maximum benefit per paying passenger of $500,000 is included in the cost of this expedition. Included coverage is applicable only while traveling with the shipping company between the first and last day of the expedition. Additional days of travel prior to the expedition and/or after the expedition, including pre- and post-packages/hotels/flights, purchased from the shipping company or from suppliers other than the shipping company, are not covered by the included emergency evacuation insurance. We strongly advise all passengers to purchase medical, cancellation and baggage insurance, and additional emergency evacuation coverage.


PHOTOS: © Acacia Johnson, © David Merron, © Nicky Souness, © Quark Expeditions

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