Summary : Experience high summer in the Arctic aboard Ocean Atlantic. The goal of this expedition is to sail as close as possible to the pack ice from the North Pole north of Svalbard—favorite summer residence of the polar bear. How far north the ship reaches and the exact route will depend on the ice conditions. There are many amazing locations along the west coast of Svalbard that are kept navigable by the warm Gulf Stream.
Activities : Birding, Child-Friendly, Hiking, Kayaking, Photography, Dedicated Solo Cabins, Triple/Quad Cabins
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Embark the ship.
During the night, the ship passes Prins Karls Forland to arrive in the magnificent Kongsfjord. Your visit to Svalbard is in the early summer and this is both the challenge and gift of this special voyage. Winter ice will possibly block the inner waters of many fjords, but this will give the best opportunities to keep an eye out for the elusive polar bear, hunting for seals in its prime habitat. At this time of year the migrating birds have just arrived. They are all eager to settle and feed to get the best start to the coming summer months.
Your first landing will be at Ny Alesund. This settlement is in fact further north than Longyearbyen, making it the northernmost settlement. The setting is nice, the scientific projects are very interesting, and so is the town history.
Today you are in northwest Svalbard, which was declared a national park in 1973. The day could begin with a Zodiac cruise in Danskergattet, looking for seals in Virgohamna, before crossing from Danskøya to Amsterdamøya to make a landing at Smeerenburg, the legendary whaling town of 17th century. 200-plus men were living here in the heyday of blubber production.
There are several interesting places to visit in this northwestern corner of Spitsbergen. If conditions allow, make a landing on Fuglesongen, the home to the largest colony of little auks in Svalbard. The arctic fox has noticed this as well and can often be seen roaming the base of the bird cliffs.
During the night the ship will have steered far north towards the edge of the polar pack ice. How far north only time and weather will tell, but the main target is just the ‘edge’, possibly at 80 degrees north! This is the kingdom of the polar bear! As the pack ice retreats during summer, polar bears ride the floes north, as this is where seals reside. Bears that don't ‘catch’ the ice moving north, are stranded on Svalbard all summer, and will have to sustain on berries, eggs and whatever whale cadavers they can find.
During the day, lectures on polar mammals, environment and/or culture can be enjoyed on board in the Viking Theater. Should the ship get into the pack ice where the sea usually is calm, a Zodiac cruise will be arranged.
Most likely the northeastern coast of Spitsbergen Island and Hinlopen Strait are still locked in by coastal ice. The captain will try their luck and sail as far east as possible. Should this fail, Wood Fjord and Liefde Fjord could be excellent alternatives for the day. In this case, the ship will circumvent the bird rich Andøya in Zodiacs, and make a landing on Reindyrflya. Other interesting landings in this fantastic fjord system could be Mushamna and the oddly named ‘Texas Bar’. In the afternoon, a Zodiac cruise along the broad glacier front of Monacobreen gives a unique insight of the glacial forces and the unlimited forms of icebergs.
In the morning you will have reached the west coast of Spitsbergen and Kongsfjorden. Ocean Atlantic will anchor behind Blomstrand Peninsula. Immediately you will see, the name is a bit misleading, as Blomstrand is now an island. The Blomstrand Glacier has receded, revealing a shallow water strait. Cruise through this on Zodiacs and make a landing on the island. Strong hikers might want to scale Irgensfjellet for a nice view of ‘The Three Sisters’, nunatak mountains far into the Kongs Glacier, as well as enjoy a view down to Ny Alesund.
After lunch, continue further north into the fjord system, and depending on the ice situation, you may do a Zodiac cruise along the Lilliehöök Glacier front… or enjoy a lecture.
The west coast enjoys the warmer water coming up through the Atlantic, so winter ice should now have melted. This allows the ship to enter the southern fjord of Bellsund on this last full day of exploration.
Bellsund has some of the richest coal layers in Svalbard, and Svea Mine, far into the fjord, was formerly one of the biggest communities on the island. But prices went down, and the coal mine is currently being dismantled.
Stay in the fjord entrance and make landings at the Vårsol Bay. The biggest attraction here is the little auk cliff. Tundra is richly fertilized by hundreds of thousands of little auks, where the Svalbard reindeer love to graze. Go for a nice walk along the beach – and spot remains from early industrial eras.
During lunch, cross the fjord along the island of Akseloya. Make a Zodiac landing at Calypsobyen in Recherche Fjord. Coal was extracted here in the early 1900s, but the enterprise never attained full production. Today, Calypsobyen offers an exciting landing that gives visitors a glimpse of the era of Neo-Industrialism, when all opportunities for profit were tried out. A pleasant walk can be made on the tundra behind the buildings.
Disembark the ship after breakfast and transfer to the airport.
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 purchase emergency evacuation/repatriation insurance; minimum $200,000. The medical insurance must be able to cover all existing health issues the passenger might have. It must also cover medical treatment and medical evacuation in any of the areas traveled. Other conditions may apply based on pre-existing conditions. ExpeditionTrips strongly recommends at least $200,000 Emergency Medical/Evacuation coverage for Antarctic trips which includes coverage for cancellation, trip disruption, baggage and personal property. ExpeditionTrips can assist U.S. residents with travel protection options.
Onboard Expedition Photographer:
Each voyage has a dedicated expedition photographer onboard to document the voyage and share their passion for photography through lectures and during landings and Zodiac cruises. Svalbard is filled with mesmerizing landscapes and amazing wildlife; and the expedition photographer is available to help elevate your photographic capabilities to beautifully capture the magical moments of your voyage.
All guests interested in Kayaking need to participate in Kayaking information meetings and safety briefing on day one. After the briefing they need to be approved by the Kayak Master. If they are not approved by the Kayak Master they are not allowed to participate. All kayaks are double kayaks (no single), and there are 6 of them on board. 12 guests per outing. They try to get 2-3 kayaking outings on one Expedition (subject to weather conditions). Exercise your body while engaging your mind and heart in an unforgettable outing, safely guided by kayak masters throughout the journey. The Antarctic region, weather, sea and ice conditions will dictate when and where kayaking may be possible in order to ensure your safety and improve your experience. Kayaking is weather dependent.
Roundtrip flights between Oslo/Longyearbyen (2021 trips); shipboard accommodations; gear on loan (boots); digital photo journal of your trip; all meals onboard ship; coffee and tea onboard the ship. Subject to change without notice.
Airfare; accommodations other than the ship; transfers; passport and visa expenses; optional excursions; kayaking; alcohol, soft drinks and other beverages besides coffee and tea; Wi-Fi; communication charges; all items of a personal nature such as spa and laundry; required travel insurance; gratuities (gratuities will be automatically added to your onboard account; gratuities are adjustable); excess baggage charges; airport departure tax; fuel surcharge may apply.
Photos © Albatros Expeditions