Summary : Explore Arctic Svalbard from Longyearbyen to the Seven Islands and Nordaustlandet. Along the way, visit historical sites, Zodiac cruise near glaciers, marvel at expansive fjords, and scout for whales, seals, and the elusive polar bear.
Activities : Birding, Child-Friendly, Hiking, Triple/Quad Cabins
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Longyearbyen, the administrative center of Spitsbergen, is the largest island of the Svalbard archipelago. Enjoy strolling around this former mining town, whose parish church and Svalbard Museum make for fascinating attractions. Though the countryside appears stark, more than a hundred species of plant have been recorded in it. In the early evening, the ship sails out of Isfjorden, where you might spot the first minke whale of your voyage.
Sailing to Raudfjorden, on the north coast of Spitsbergen, take in an expansive fjord spilling with glaciers—and maybe even visited by ringed and bearded seals. The cliffs and shoreline of this fjord also support thriving seabird colonies, rich vegetation, and the possibility of polar bears.
Depending on the weather, you could sail into Liefdefjorden and cruise within sight of the 3.1-mile-long face of the precipitous Monaco Glacier. The waters in front of this glacier are a favorite feeding spot for thousands of kittiwakes, and the base of the ice is a popular polar bear hunting ground. If ice conditions prevent sailing here early in the season, an alternate route along the west coast of Spitsbergen can be implemented.
Today you sail into Hinlopen Strait, home to bearded seals, ringed seals, and polar bears. At the entrance of the strait there is even the possibility to spot blue whales. After cruising among the ice floes of Lomfjordshalvøya in the Zodiacs, you can view the bird cliffs of Alkefjellet with their thousands of Brünnich’s guillemots. On the east side of Hinlopen Strait, you may attempt a landing on Nordaustlandet. Here reindeer, pink-footed geese, and walruses are likely sights. You may take an alternate route if ice prevents entry into Hinlopen.
The northernmost point of your voyage may be north of Nordaustlandet, in the Seven Islands. Here you reach 80° north, just 540 miles from the geographic North Pole. Polar bears inhabit this region, so the ship may park for several hours among the pack ice before wheeling around west again.
While retracing your route west, keep watch for polar bears and elusive Greenland (bowhead) whales. About 40 nautical miles west of Spitsbergen, sail the edge of the continental shelf. Here fin whales forage during the summer in the upwelling zones (where cold, nutrient-rich water wells up from below the sea’s surface) that run along Spitsbergen's banks. At the mouth of Kongsfjorden, you have a good chance of sighting minke whales.
Walruses sometimes haul out in Forlandsundet, your next stop. Alternatively, you might sail into St. Johns Fjord or south to the mouth of Isfjorden, landing at Alkhornet. Seabirds nest on these cliffs, Arctic foxes search below for fallen eggs and chicks, and reindeer graze the sparse vegetation. You arrive in Longyearbyen later tonight.
Every adventure, no matter how grand, must eventually come to an end. Disembark in Longyearbyen with memories that accompany you wherever your next adventure lies.
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 travel insurance including medical, accident, and a minimum of $50,000 in repatriation/evacuation insurance. Furthermore, the shipping company strongly recommends obtaining trip cancellation insurance. ExpeditionTrips strongly recommends at least $200,000 Emergency Medical/Evacuation coverage for Arctic 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.
Bilingual Departure: 6/5/2020, 6/10/2021
Please Note: All voyages will operate subject to a minimum of 70 participants.
Summer Solstice: 6/19/2020 departure
Experience the Summer Solstice (June Solstice) during select voyages when the midnight sun has its highest position above the Northern horizon in Spitsbergen. On the solstice, the sun does not rise precisely in the east, but rises to the north of east and sets to the north of west, making it visible in the sky for a longer period of time.
Pre-scheduled airport/ship transfers and baggage handling in Longyearbyen (select flights only; please inquire for details); shipboard accommodations; all shore excursions and activities throughout the voyage by Zodiac; program of lectures by noted naturalists and leadership by experienced expedition staff; gear on loan (rubber boots); all meals onboard the ship; snacks, coffee, and tea; all miscellaneous service taxes and port charges throughout the program; AECO fees and governmental taxes. Inclusions subject to change without notice.
Any airfare, whether on scheduled or charter flights; pre- and post- land arrangements; transfers to/from the vessel outside Spitsbergen; passport and visa expenses; government arrival and departure taxes; meals ashore; travel insurance, including medical, accident, and repatriation/evacuation insurance (required); baggage, cancellation and personal insurance (strongly recommended); excess baggage charges and all items of a personal nature such as laundry, bar, beverage charges, and telecommunication charges; gratuities; fuel surcharge may apply.
PHOTOS: © Arjen Drost; © Erwin Vermeulen; © Franco Banfi; © Joerg Ehlrich; © Petr Slavik, © Rinie van Meurs, © Oceanwide Expeditions