Summary : Search for polar bears and other quintessential Arctic wildlife as you explore the spectacular fjords, coasts, and islands of Svalbard. The goal for this voyage is a circumnavigation of Spitsbergen, the largest island of the Svalbard archipelago. Visit pristine natural areas including South Spitsbergen National Park, with its picturesque fjords, mighty glaciers, and remains of historical whaling operations. Discover broad tundra valleys on the islands of Edgeøya and Barentsøya as you scout for Svalbard reindeer, Arctic foxes, and ground-nesting birds such as geese, eiders, and sandpipers. Encounter significant sea ice concentrations and the Austfonna ice cap in the enormous Northwest Svalbard Nature Reserve. Along the way, visit Ny Ålesund, a former mining town and airship base that is now home to an international community of Arctic researchers, and explore of the many facets of this incredible High Arctic territory.
Activities : Birding, Hiking, Kayaking, Photography, Triple/Quad Cabins
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Welcome to Longyearbyen, the administrative center of Svalbard and starting point of your Arctic expedition! At the Longyearbyen airport, you will be greeted by staff and transferred to your included hotel. You are then free to explore the charming, walkable town center.
After breakfast at your hotel, the morning is yours to enjoy in Longyearbyen. In the afternoon, you will be transferred to the pier and warmly welcomed aboard the vessel. Settle into your suite and explore the ship that will be your home during the extraordinary adventure to come. After getting underway, a full schedule of events kicks off with informative briefings and introductions from your expedition staff. After dinner, step out onto the open decks to admire the gorgeous scenery in 24-hour daylight as the ship passes through the wildlife-rich waters of Isfjorden.
The goal for this voyage is a circumnavigation of Spitsbergen, the largest island of the Svalbard archipelago. Along the way, hope to experience the many facets of this incredible High Arctic territory. Your exact schedule and route will be shaped by weather and ice. At the peak of the summer season, expect ice conditions to be favorable for a circumnavigation. Also expect there will be enough sea ice around to support ice-dependent animals such as polar bears and walrus. In addition to seeing Spitsbergen from every angle, this itinerary offers the appealing possibility of setting foot on all four of Svalbard’s main islands.
The first of many pristine natural areas on this itinerary is South Spitsbergen National Park, a vast region of varied landscapes including polar deserts and impassible mountain ranges. The centerpiece of this park is Hornsund, a picture-perfect fjord where countless mighty glaciers cascade from soaring mountaintops into icy inlets. The park also includes the southern shores of Bellsund, a picturesque bay where you'll find the remains of historical whaling operations, including wooden boats, cabins, and thousands of whale bones—a scene from the distant past, frozen in time. Throughout the park, there is always the chance of wildlife sightings and plenty of possibilities for world-class hiking through wild polar landscapes with fascinating geology. Wildflowers will be at their peak during this time.
Next along the route is the wildlife-rich Southeast Svalbard Nature Reserve, a pristine and rarely visited wilderness containing hundreds of uninhabited islands. On the large islands of Edgeøya and Barentsøya, discover broad tundra valleys supporting the territory’s densest population of endemic Svalbard reindeer. You are likely to see rapidly growing reindeer calves at this time of year. The valleys are also important breeding areas for ground-nesting birds such a geese, eiders and sandpipers. Arctic foxes prowl the vast landscape, seeking to provide food for their young cubs, who are just now emerging from their dens. Shallow, murky seas are ideal feeding grounds for walrus, which can be seen resting in large numbers on gently sloping beaches. Historical sites throughout the islands provide glimpses into the region’s bygone era of trapping and hunting.
During this voyage, expect to encounter sea ice concentrations in the enormous Northwest Svalbard Nature Reserve. In this remote and isolated region, ice can persist very late into the summer, giving it a truly polar character. This reserve covers the rugged northwestern parts of Spitsbergen and the entirety of Nordaustlandet, the second largest island in Svalbard. Here you'll find the massive Austfonna ice cap, part of which meets the sea along the 27.9-mile ice cliff known as Bråsvellbreen—one of the great wonders of the Arctic world. The polar desert environment supports little in the way of vegetation but hosts prodigious numbers of seabirds at breeding sites such as the spectacular sea cliffs of Alkefjellet. There is the possibility of encountering polar bears and walrus in this icy wilderness.
At this time of year, expect to find the edge of the polar pack ice not too far from Nordaustlandet. Hope to sail along this dynamic boundary between solid sea ice and open ocean. Here you might witness the dramatic interplay between polar bears and seals. The captain and crew will take the ship as close as safely possible to the jumbled and constantly shifting ice floes in hopes of observing polar bears in their preferred habitat.
Finally, reach Northwest Spitsbergen National Park, the crown jewel of Svalbard’s scenic wonders. Here you will find deep fjords flanked by serrated mountain ranges and immense tidewater glaciers calving icebergs into turquoise waters. The skies are filled with millions of murres, guillemots, and little auks, whose eggs are just now hatching at countless breeding colonies located on small islands, mountainsides, and sea cliffs within the park. This is also a great time to encounter marine mammals, including beluga whales and various Arctic seals. Set among this incredible scenery and wildlife activity, also find evidence of Svalbard’s earliest sealers and whalers.
Human habitation along the route can be found at Ny Ålesund, a former mining town and airship base that is now home to an international community of Arctic researchers. This is one of the world’s most northerly settlements, and here you will find a museum, gift shop, and post office.
Every day offers something new and exciting with the possibility to view amazing Arctic wildlife, witness incredible polar scenery, and walk in the footsteps of historic expeditions.
After breakfast on board, bid farewell in Longyearbyen. A transfer is provided to the airport or the town center in case you plan to stay longer in Svalbard. By this time, you may already be making plans for your next polar adventure!
Read this itinerary as a guide only; the exact route and program varies according to ice and weather conditions—and the wildlife you encounter. If it is not possible to complete a full circumnavigation of Spitsbergen, an alternative program will be devised. The onboard expedition leader and captain of the vessel determine the final itinerary. Flexibility is the key to the success of this expedition. ExpeditionTrips is not responsible for itinerary changes.
Bilingual Departure: English/German
Mandatory Travel Insurance:
All guests are required to carry adequate travel insurance that must contain medical, evacuation and repatriation coverage. Passengers must ensure that their purchased insurance includes cruise travel in the polar regions, and has evacuation and repatriation coverage of no less than $200,000 per person. Proof of coverage is required prior to embarkation. ExpeditionTrips strongly recommends at least $200,000 Emergency Medical/Evacuation coverage which includes coverage for cancellation, trip disruption, baggage and personal property. ExpeditionTrips can assist U.S. residents with travel protection options. Other conditions may apply based on pre-existing conditions.
Pre-booking required; space is limited. Weather permitting, experience the thrill and tranquility of sea kayaking in the polar regions as part of a guided paddling group. Participants must be at least 16 years old at the time of their voyage, in good health with appropriate physical fitness, and have previous kayaking experience. Children who are 16 to 18 years of age at the time of their voyage are allowed to participate if they are accompanied and supervised at all times by a parent or guardian.
Photography Program: Included
Learn and practice your photography skills alongside an experienced professional. An expert photographer will be available to answer your questions and give advice, both in the form of onboard lectures and workshops on shore. Explore the key elements of photography in a fun and relaxed setting with plenty of opportunities for questions and feedback. Learn how to see light in a new way and experiment with the techniques of composition and framing.
One night pre-voyage hotel in Longyearbyen; group transfer airport/hotel on day prior to embarkation; group transfer to ship on embarkation day; group transfer to airport or central location upon disembarkation; shipboard accommodations; welcome and farewell cocktails on board ship; leadership throughout the voyage by experienced Expedition Leader and Expedition Team; scheduled landings/excursions (subject to weather and ice conditions); Wi-Fi on board ship; digital voyage log; photography program; gear to keep (wind- and water-resistant parka); gear on loan (rubber boots); all meals onboard the ship; 24-hour coffee/tea station on board ship; all port fees. Subject to change without notice.
Airfare; transfers to/from hotel if arriving prior to Day 1 of the program; visa and passport fees; emergency evacuation insurance to a minimum benefit of $200,000 (required); luggage and trip cancellation insurance (highly recommended); excess baggage charges; soft drinks and alcoholic beverages other than those mentioned as included; kayaking; personal expenses such as laundry and telecommunications charges; gratuities; pre- or post-cruise travel expenses; fuel surcharge may apply.
PHOTOS: © Poseidon Expeditions