Summary : Embark on expedition to Svalbard that takes you to extreme latitudes, where summer can feel almost like winter. But there will be sun, in fact 24 hours of it, and you can enjoy the Midnight Sun in a wintry landscape. This is a memorable experience that is completely out of the ordinary. Start in Longyearbyen, where you will explore some of the most scenic fjords along the west coast of Svalbard, all the way up to the northwest corner of Spitsbergen. Plan to make several nature landings and also visit Ny-Ålesund, the northernmost community on earth and site for Arctic Research. The Arctic summer holds a lot of opportunities. The nights are bright and spending time outdoors, be it on shore or on open decks, you can really take in the landscape and wildlife. The sea ice is melting, allowing you to navigate the still icy fjords, while looking for seals and other mammals.
Activities : Birding, Child-Friendly, Hiking, Kayaking, Photography, Triple/Quad Cabins
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This expedition starts with a flight from Oslo. Norway's capital is quite relaxed and charming, located between the fjord and the forest. Spend a day checking out the many museums, parks and varied architecture. The contrast will be significant when you arrive in Longyearbyen a couple of hours later. Still, Longyearbyen is a modern town with first-class facilities, charming architecture, an internationally renowned museum and several bars and restaurants – all in the midst of the untouched Arctic wilderness.
After an overnight stay in Longyearbyen, you can join an exciting excursion in this unique little town and the surrounding area, before boarding your ship. The influence of the Arctic environment is obvious in Longyearbyen but it is also surprisingly cosmopolitan. While the town is often called an antidote to modern day life and is a prime destination for adventure travelers, the history and heritage of the first coal miners is evident everywhere. Then you embark the ship and sail out the Isfjord, the most extensive fjord system on Svalbard. Enjoy the view to the landscape that changes constantly with immense U-shaped valleys, carved out of the mountains by the giant glaciers that covered the area some ten thousand years ago.
As you sail into the Kongsfjord, you will come across one of only four permanent settlements on Svalbard: the old coal-mining town of Ny-Ålesund, one of the northernmost settlements in the world. Ny-Ålesund was the starting point for many expeditions to the North Pole. Names like Amundsen, Ellsworth and Nobile are strongly linked to this place. Even today, you can see the mast that the airship ‘Norge’ was moored to before her departure on the very first trans-polar flight. A number of countries run national research stations here, and there is always plenty of scientific activity during the summer months.
Cruising northbound you will take advantage of the conditions at hand, focusing on the ice edge. You will attempt to enter fjords where you can expect fast, or landlocked ice. Within the Svalbard Archipelago there are about 3,000 polar bears, probably the largest concentration on Earth. Polar bears are solitary animals with no set colony or living area. You are most likely to observe this marine mammal on the drift ice, close to the ocean or even in the water. Polar bears are often seen on this itinerary – though not every day and seldom at very close range. Like most things in a true wilderness, there are no absolute guarantees. But the more eyes scouting through binoculars, the better your chances of observing the King of the Arctic. The northwest corner of Spitsbergen offers the largest concentration of graves, blubber ovens and other cultural treasures from when men first started to inhabit Svalbard. Raudfjorden offers plenty of opportunities for great hikes. Hamiltonbukta is too shallow for your ship to navigate, but it’s perfect to explore by kayak. You might also see the enormous Monaco Glacier in Liefdefjord, and if the conditions allow it you can try what the Norwegians call 'brevandring' – this means traversing a glacier. Don’t mistake this for ice climbing. Your brevandring is on relatively even ice– but on some occasions we will have to negotiate small crevasses. There are some exceptional experiences waiting for you “on the ice”, as 60 % of the landmass of Svalbard is covered by glaciers. Setting foot on ice is almost obligatory to complete your Svalbard experience.
As you cross the Arctic Ocean and set course for the Norwegian mainland, you will arrive at Bjørnøya. With a population of 9 people, is the southernmost island of the Svalbard Archipelago. It is an isolated spot in the middle of the Arctic Ocean, known for hosting “the largest concentration of sea birds on the Northern Hemisphere”. This is where the cold waters from the Arctic Ocean meets warm Gulf Stream currents. When these water masses collide, nutrient-rich water is pushed up to the surface, making it an "all-you-can-eat" buffet for 126 different bird species. If conditions allow, you will land here.
In the early morning hours you will sail towards the spectacular North Cape cliff, offering you a stunning view of this famous landmark from the north. In Hornvika you will drop off hikers before continuing to Skarsvåg, a small village that lies along the northern coast of the island of Magerøya. It claims the distinction of being the world's northernmost fishing village. Join the optional excursion to the North Cape and get a feeling what its like to stand at the end of the Earth. There is a combined museum and restaurant at the plateau, where you can learn more on the early expeditions to North Cape and watch a panoramic film that takes you through four seasons in a landscape full of contrasts, light and breathtaking scenery. North Cape is a spectacular place for experiencing the Midnight Sun.
Tromsø is called the Gateway to the Arctic, and this is where your expedition ends. When polar explorer Roald Amundsen recruited crew for his famous expeditions more than 100 years ago, he went to Tromsø. This was the only place he could find men (yes – it was mostly men back in those days) with navigational experience from polar seas. He needed men that knew how to survive with minimal means in the Arctic, men that had survived an overwintering in Svalbard by trapping and hunting. Today Tromsø is home to polar operations experts and the academics investigating global warming the in Arctic. It is a melting pot with indigenous people, locals and Europeans. In brief, Tromsø is still the 'Gateway to the Artic' and a natural starting point for expeditions heading north. Take some time to explore the city before you fly if you have the time.
The above itinerary is a guide only, as the exact program depends on weather and ice conditions and the wildlife you encounter. Flexibility is the key to the success of this expedition. ExpeditionTrips is not responsible for itinerary changes.
Although travel insurance is not mandatory to participate in this voyage, 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. Other conditions may apply based on pre-existing conditions. ExpeditionTrips can assist U.S. residents with travel protection options.
Multilingual Departures: English/Norwegian/German (All Departures)
Reverse 9-Day Itinerary: 6/7/2018 itinerary is reversed and does not spend the day in Longyearbyen at the end of the trip
Depending on weather conditions, there may be an opportunity to sign up for fishing during the voyage. Spend 2.5-3 hours fishing with an officer and members of the crew and preparing your catch. When you return to the ship, you will be invited to meet the chef, prepare your catch, and have it served for dinner. Included: Waterproof clothing and a fishing rod. Maximum participants: 3 passengers. Please contact ExpeditionTrips for details.
Depending on weather and land conditions, there may be an opportunity to sign up for hiking during the voyage. Included: Water bottle, snack bar, and lunch pack (if hike is during lunch time). Physical fitness is essential. Please contact ExpeditionTrips for details.
Kayaking: Pre-bookable, please inquire
Embark on a 2-4 hour kayaking excursion accompanied by expert guides in a stable double kayak. Included: head-to-toe kayaking gear, including a dry suit; snack and/or lunchbox as needed. Outings are subject to weather and prevailing ice conditions. Please contact ExpeditionTrips to pre-book kayaking.
Taught by two professional photography instructors, this pre-bookable photography school program covers basic image editing, wildlife and landscape photography, and DSLR video instruction. This program is designed for proficient beginners to experienced photographers. Included: photography booklet, designated work station with software provided, priority access to the Photo Optics test center equipment, and a Zeiss Lens cleaning kit. Min/max participants: 2-10 passengers. Please contact ExpeditionTrips for details.
Science Center: Included
'Hands-on' science program where guests can perform their own science experiments with the assistance of professional biologists and geologists. Featuring ten Leica DM500 biological microscopes and ten Leica EZ4 geological microscopes, groups of 2-3 guests per microscope will work with a trained biologist or geologist. Occasionally, scientists invite guests along to sample biomaterial for use in the science center. There is also a large screen connected to the scientist's microscope for viewing during every session.
5/29/2018 (Southbound 10-Day Route) Rate Includes: Economy flight from Oslo to Longyearbyen; one hotel night in Longyearbyen before the voyage, including breakfast and lunch; transfer from the airport to the hotel in Longyearbyen; transfer from the hotel to the pier in Longyearbyen, including an excursion; cabin accommodations and meals aboard the ship; landings and activities onboard and ashore; professional English-speaking expedition team that gives lectures and accompanies landings and activities; onboard 'hands-on' science center; complimentary tea and coffee; and a wind- and water-resistant jacket. Arctic Superior Suites (P, U, QJ, YA) include an Arctic Pure amenity kit (bathroom). Expedition Suites (Q, MG, MX) include a soft drink package, a wine package, an Arctic Pure amenity kit (bathroom), a fleece blanket/throw, a cabin kit (bathrobe and slippers), an espresso maker, sweets/snacks and sparkling wine (on embarkation day), a separate check-in with sparkling wine, and a suite breakfast. Subject to change without notice.
6/7/2018 (Northbound 9-Day Reverse Route) Rate Includes: Economy flight from Longyearbyen to Oslo; transfer from the ship to the airport in Longyearbyen; cabin accommodations and meals aboard the ship; landings and activities onboard and ashore; professional English-speaking expedition team that gives lectures and accompanies landings and activities; onboard 'hands-on' science center; complimentary tea and coffee; and a wind- and water-resistant jacket. Arctic Superior Suites (P, U, QJ, YA) include an Arctic Pure amenity kit (bathroom). Expedition Suites (Q, MG, MX) include a soft drink package, a wine package, an Arctic Pure amenity kit (bathroom), a fleece blanket/throw, a cabin kit (bathrobe and slippers), an espresso maker, sweets/snacks and sparkling wine (on embarkation day), a separate check-in with sparkling wine, and a suite breakfast. Subject to change without notice.
International flights to/from the U.S.; travel insurance; luggage handling; optional excursions and gratuities; fuel surcharge may apply.