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Svalbard Circumnavigation

Svalbard Arctic cruise information

Summary : The goal of this voyage is to circumnavigate Svalbard, a bucket list item for many! During the adventure enjoy the immense beauty of Svalbard on this high Arctic voyage as you scout for whales, walruses, polar bears and sea birds. Approach the polar bear´s favorite summer residence, as you cruise to 80 degrees north, getting as close as possible to the pack ice north of Svalbard. How far north the ship will reach, and the exact route will depend on the ice conditions; many amazing locations along the coasts of Svalbard’s islands are kept navigable by the warm Gulf Stream. Onboard Ocean Atlantic you will experience areas of Svalbard not easily accessible otherwise. Along the way, you will also visit some extraordinary locations like Edgeøya in the eastern part of Svalbard and Bellsund and Hornsund in the south part of Spitsbergen.

Activities : Birding, Child-Friendly, Culture, Hiking, Kayaking, Photography, Dedicated Solo Cabins, Triple/Quad Cabins


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Day 1
Oslo, Norway / Longyearbyen

Fly from Oslo to Longyearbyen and embark the ship.

Day 2
Ny Ålesund / Ny London / Lilienhöök glacier

During the night, the ship will have passed Prins Karls Forland and have arrived 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 scout for the omnipresent – but still 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 for the coming hectic summer months.

Your first landing will be at Ny Ålesund. This settlement is further north than Longyearbyen. The setting is nice, the scientific projects are very interesting, and so is the town history. The Captain will try to get alongside, so you can enjoy an easy walk through the area.

In the afternoon, 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.

Day 3
Smeerenburg / Ytre Norskøya

You have now entered 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, you'll make a landing on Ytre Norskøya, where whalers would have their lookout posts.

Day 4
Monaco Glacier / Cruising towards the pack Ice

During the night, head to Wood Fjord and its branch, the Liefde Fjord. The plan is to embark on a Zodiac cruise along the broad glacier front of Monacobreen. This gives a unique insight of the glacial forces and the unlimited forms of icebergs. The ice front is named after Albert I of Monaco, who was a major sponsor of Svalbard research.

During the afternoon the ship will steer 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 their prey - the seals - resides. Bears who for unfortunate reasons do not ‘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. A hard life indeed!

Day 5

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.

The part goal of the day is to reach the island Nordaustlandet and hopefully its 7 (or 9, depending on how you count) smaller islands Sjuøyane in the far north of Svalbard.

Weather permitting, land and walk these most northern landmasses. These high Arctic islands are quite barren, with moss and lichens covering the stones. The birdlife is rich in this area and some of the rarer gulls frequent these islands, so bring your binoculars.

At the end of the day, the ship will start cruising towards the Hinlopen Strait that divides Spitsbergen and Nordaustlandet.

Day 6
Alkefjellet / Torrelnesset

In the morning, arrive and cruise slowly by the famous Alkefjellet. If the weather allows, you will have a good view of the steep cliffs. The whole area is home to a dense congregation of Brünichs guillemots. There are so many of the birds, that hardly an inch is free. During the summer the breeding pairs offer a wild view of frantic activity, both along the cliffs and in the sea in front.

More wildlife awaits as you land at the polar desert landscapes of Torrelnesset. The beach here is home to a host of walruses that lay amongst each other. They feed on the clams and any other molluscs that they can find in the shallows of Svalbard’s waters.

Day 7
Hinlopen Strait / Freemansundet / Edgeøya

The main issue that can halt a circumnavigation of Spitsbergen is the ice situation along Hinlopen Strait. If the ice is passable, the ship can make it through the southern edge of the Strait and cruise through Freemansundet that separates Barentsøya and Edgeøya. Enjoy the views of the massive Kapp Lee on your way and pass through into Storfjorden.

The plan is to make a Zodiac landing along Edgeøya’s coast. Edgeøya is the third largest island in Svalbard.

During the night, the ship will cross the southernmost part of Svalbard, called Sørkapp. From here it will continue up the western coast.

Day 8
Hornsund / Isbjørnehamna

Now that the ship has passed the southern edge of Spitsbergen you arrive at the entrance to Hornsund. You will be able to see buildings around Isbjørnhamna on the northern shore. This is a polish research station, that has been here since 1957. Here research subjects are: geophysics, seismics, meteorology and the ionosphere. The work relationship between the polish researchers and the Norwegian polar institute is very good, which secures the future of the station (as long as funding continues).

The fjord is long and many call it the most beautiful, with many glaciers that calve into the waters as well as towering mountains along the shores. The mountaintops are most often covered by dense clouds and East-Spitsbergen current often leads pack ice into the fjords' mouth. In other words, you are in for a very impressive show!

Day 9
Bellsund / Vårsolbukta / Calypsobyen

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, which 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 long (but quite narrow) 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.

Day 10
Prince Karls Forland / Poolepynten / Isfjorden

During the night the ship will have entered Forlandssundet, that separates Prince Karls Forland from Spitsbergen. Your destination is Poolepynten (Poole Point), a small headland named after the British whaler Jonas Poole. Today the area is inhabited by herds of walruses who can be seen (and smelled!) from a distance. The large mammals flaunt their tusks and whiskers, as well as their considerable bulk.

After the visit, the ship heads southbound towards the entrance to the Isfjorden.

On your way towards Longyearbyen, the hope is to get your last glimpses of wildlife as well as the truly unique landscapes of Svalbard.

Day 11
Longyearbyen / Disembark / Oslo, Norway

Early in the morning the ship has returned to your starting point in Longyearbyen. After breakfast and farewell to the expedition team and crew, disembarkation will take place. Transfer is arranged to the airport for your flight to Oslo.


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.

Optional Kayaking:
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 flight Oslo/Longyearbyen; transfers between Longyearbyen airport and ship; 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.

Not Included:
Airfare other than listed as included; 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

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