Summary : Follow the trail of the polar bear during an Expedition Cruise in the Arctic. Set sail for a memorable 13-day cruise around Spitsbergen, one of the jewels of the northern hemisphere. The main island of the Norwegian Svalbard archipelago, Spitsbergen offers magical landscapes, a blend of ancient glaciers, jagged mountains, and spectacular fjords. In summer, the sun shines day and night, to better showcase the vastness of the ice and the animals that inhabit the region—whales, arctic foxes, walruses, and polar bears!
Activities : Birding, Child-Friendly, Hiking, Triple/Quad Cabins
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Board your flight from Paris to Longyearbyen and transfer to the ship upon arrival to embark the vessel and get acquainted with fellow passengers.
The Gnalodden Cliff is home to over a thousand species of sea birds. Tridactyl gulls, northern fulmars and thick-billed murres are all part of the commotion, particularly during the nesting season. Polar bears and Arctic foxes also frequent the site, a delight for lovers of the animal kingdom. The “bird cliff”, as it is known, is surrounded at its foot by very rich vegetation, unfurling its carpet of moss across a décor of wild tundra. During your visit, stop at the former hunter’s cabin, which was also used as a satellite station during the 1930s.
Nestling between millennial glaciers and carved mountains, and considered to be “the crown of Arctic Norway”, Spitsbergen is a place that never sees the night in summer. Your ship will take you closer to this fascinating archipelago and, more particularly, the Hornsund fjord. Considered to be Svalbard’s southernmost fjord, it is especially reputed to be its most stunning: at the end of its vast bay, eight great glaciers slowly make their way down to the sea before giving way to the many icebergs elegantly drifting along its cold and mysterious waters.
Located to the east of Spitsbergen, this bay has many surprises in store. At the entrance to the national park on the east coast, it is a region often taken over by the ice until late in the season. This preserved bay offers the opportunity to discover the assets of the High Arctic: the tundra, glaciers and polar bears. Near to the bear den areas of Barentsøya and Edgeøya, this site often provides an occasion for great sightings of the local fauna.
Located to the east of Spitsbergen, in Storfjorden, Agardhbukta is a former trapping site where a cabin remains. During your visit here, you will have the opportunity to see the ice floes and explore one of the spots where the polar bears pass by to travel to Bellsund, on the western coast of Spitsbergen. The vast plains of the Agardhdalen area also offer the possibility of long hikes to discover the High Arctic tundra.
On the eastern coast of Spitsbergen, in the heart of an exceptional geological site, set off to discover the remnants left by the first to explore the region, the Pomors. These settlers, hunters and trappers from Nothern Russia, were the first to discover the Svalbard Archipelago, in the 14th century. At the time, they believed they had arrived on the coast of Greenland. They named this land “Grumant”. This port of call will certainly fascinate history and geology lovers.
Nestling on the southeast point of the island of Spitsbergen, this small bay shelters an immense glacier, the Vasil’evbreen. This is an opportunity for an unforgettable Zodiac outing. If the conditions allow it, you will be able to land directly at the foot of this majestic, so as to discover the moraine and walk on the first section of the glacier. Depending on the ice conditions, you will also perhaps be lucky enough to approach Stellingfjellet, home to one of the largest guillemot colonies on the archipelago.
You will head to the Bellsund fjord to follow in the footsteps of the first explorers who came from the Norwegian coast, or those of the many fur traders seeking game and trophies. Boasting an astonishingly rich wildlife, the arms of the fjord separate to form two lush valleys. Give free rein to your imagination in the heart of this majestic natural environment where time seems to stand still.
During your cruise, discover Ny Alesund, a former mining town that has been transformed into a scientific base. Founded in 1916, this small town was the departure point for many Arctic expeditions, including those of the famous explorer Roald Amundsen. Don't miss a visit to the museum and its famous post office, considered to be the most northerly in the world!
Very close to the former mining town of Ny-Ålesund, set off to discover Kings Bay and the magnificent surprises it holds in store for you. Your ship will sail in one of the most beautiful fjords in Svalbard: Kongsfjorden (the fjord of the King), a gateway to grandiose landscapes. Here, the snow-capped mountains are reflected in the water where superb icebergs are a delight for photographers. Bearded seals, reindeer, barnacle geese, and black guillemots frequent these places that have a unique atmosphere. Once you arrive at the end of the fjord, admire the Kongsbreen (glacier of the King) and its three characteristic rocky points, which take their names from three Scandinavian countries: Svea (Sweden), Dana (Denmark) and Nora (Norway).
Your captain will sail right up to the limit of the ice, to the edge of the ice floe. Weather conditions and state of the ice allowing, you will be able to go out in a Zodiac for a unique experience in the middle of these floating slabs of ice. In addition to this grandiose journey through the middle of these floes with their cut and blue-tinged edges, it is also often an opportunity to see a particular kind of fauna, totally dependent on the ice floe: birds, seals, and polar bears.
Sailing into Wijdefjorden will guarantee you an unforgettable moment of wonderment. The particularity of this gigantic fjord is that it almost entirely separates the island of Spitsbergen in two, from north to south. Sailing in Wijdefjorden will enable you to reach the Daghøgda Valley and go for an exceptional hike along an ancient glacial valley. At the end of your walk, you will reach two lakes surrounded by impressive vertical cliffs. It is an exquisite spectacle, in the heart of the Svalbard Archipelago’s longest fjord.
Discover the thermal springs of Jotunkjeldene. Located in Bockfjorden, to the northeast of Spitsbergen, they offer sumptuous landscapes thanks to their geological and botanical particularities. You will be surprised by the site’s entirely brown and red décor, punctuated by a carpet of algae and moss. Surrounded by majestic glaciers, the fjord rests on the Sverrefjellet volcano, which erupted 100,000 years ago and is now extinct. However, warm springs rise to the surface all year long. During your visit, do make sure that you walk on the surrounding moraine so as to preserve as much as possible the carbonate deposits formed by the springs, which are very fragile and subject to erosion.
Located to the northwest of the Svalbard archipelago, the Monaco Glacier is probably one of Spitsbergen’s most beautiful and majestic. Named in honor of Prince Albert I of Monaco, a sailor, it stands as an impenetrable, blue-tinged jagged wall, the last glacier before reaching a latitude of 80° North. Imagine the sound of the ice cracking as it breaks free and crashes into the transparent water. And to make the magical landscape even more perfect, you might be lucky enough to spot bears and whales, as these two animals have a special fondness for this area.
At first sight, the small island of Ytre Norskøya seems to be sterile and arid land. But once you are ashore, you will be welcomed by a thick carpet of golden moss, dotted with pygmy buttercups, Svalbard poppies and lichen. On the beach are the remains of the ovens that were used to melt whale blubber, precious evidence of the history of the whalers who came and set up in this area as of the 17th century. Another trace of the past: the presence of one of the largest cemeteries in Svalbard, with no fewer than 165 tombs. The Ytre Norskøya cliff is home to many sea birds, including little auks, barnacle geese, Atlantic puffins, and thick-billed murres.
Located on the western coast of the Lilliehöök fjord, Signehamna bears many traces of its past. Indeed, you will see the remnants of a former German weather station that was used during the Second World War. In the heart of this sheltered bay frequented by many sea birds, abandoned cans, cables and utensils just lie on the floor like historic evidence that visitors are asked not to touch. Around you, admire the mosses and lichens that are characteristic of the tundra as well as the very old plutonic rocks. A short walk will enable you to enjoy a superb panorama with a view over the lake and a chain of snow-topped mountains.
At the entrance to Cross Bay, between tundra, plutonic rocks and mountains covered with a surprising endemic flora, set off to discover the 14th July Glacier. It was thus named by Prince Albert I of Monaco, following an expedition that he led there at the beginning of the 20th century. The glacier’s surroundings are frequented by numerous birds (Tridactyl gulls, thick-billed murres, barnacle geese, common eiders, Atlantic puffins…), as well as Arctic foxes and reindeer. As you arrive in front of the glacier, admire the impressive wall of ice and the reflection of the cliffs in the water. It is quite common to see a section of ice come loose, or a bearded seal lounging on an iceberg.
At the northern entrance of Isfjorden, there is a small paradise for bird lovers: the Alkhornet Cliff. It is home to a very rich avifauna, made up of thousands of birds frolicking in a joyous tumult: gulls, guillemots, pink-footed geese, terns, seagulls, puffins, Arctic skuas… The Alkhornet Cliff, easily recognizable by its rhinoceros-horn shape, is also frequented by reindeer, which are not overly timid. Attracted by the tundra that covers the foot of the mountain, they come to graze in peace in a verdant setting covered with grass and moss. With a little luck, you will perhaps have the opportunity to see some seals and Arctic foxes, who are also regular visitors.
Situated deep inside Isfjorden, the Nordenskiöld Glacier is one of the very beautiful discoveries of your cruise. Its front of ice is one of the most spectacular in the Svalbard Archipelago. The glacier, like a gigantic frozen statue whose sections of ice sometimes come spectacularly loose, is impressive. The polar bear, the king of the Arctic, will perhaps make an appearance in these parts, which are also frequented by reindeer and seals.
Disembark the vessel and transfer to the airport for your flight to Paris.
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.com is not responsible for itinerary changes.
Bilingual Departures: All departures are French/English.
ExpeditionTrips strongly recommends Emergency Medical/Evacuation coverage for trips 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.
Round-trip flight between Paris and Longyearbyen; transfer between Longyearbyen airport and ship; meals and accommodation on board the ship; Captain’s welcome cocktail and gala dinner; coffee, juice, soft drinks and open bar (pouring wines, house champagne, alcohol except premium brands); port and safety taxes; gratuities; luggage transfer from pier to the ship and vice versa; 24-hour room service (special selection); butler service is included for guests staying in Deck 6 Suites; parka; boot rental. Subject to change without notice.
Airfare; any ground services before and/or after the cruise other than the ones included; visa and passport fees; travel insurance; personal expenses such as onboard medical consultations and drug prescriptions, spa, Wi-Fi, laundry and hair salon; other drinks not included in open bar; fuel surcharge may apply.
Photo Credit: © Nathalie Michel, © Lorraine Turci