Summary : Sail along the pack ice of North Spitsbergen, allowing for the best opportunities to spot polar bears. Journey to Raudfjord on the north coast of West Spitsbergen, a beautiful fjord dominated by spectacular glaciers and favored by ringed and bearded seals. The cliffs and shoreline of the fjord support thriving seabird colonies and a surprisingly rich amount of vegetation flourishes on sheltered landscapes. Cruise in a Zodiac, hike, and keep an eye out for whales, several bird species, reindeer, and Arctic fox on this trip of a lifetime!
Activities : Birding, Child-Friendly, Hiking, Triple/Quad Cabins
$4,100 to $7,450
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 plant species 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 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. In the evening, sail by the island of Moffen where you can find a large herd of walruses.
Depending on the weather, you might sail into Liefdefjorden and cruise within sight of the 3.1-mile-long face of 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, the expedition will take an alternate route along the west coast of Spitsbergen.
Sail through Beverleysundet, formerly navigated by the Swedish-Russian Arc-of-Meridian Expedition in 1898. From here, push east along Scoresby Island into Rijpfjord, where the German Wehrmacht operated the weather station Haudegen (now off-limits) until September 1945. The aim in Zorgdragerfjord is to have one group walk the eastern shore while another walks the north side of Arkvatnet through Havsuldalen to the entrance of Duvefjorden.
Reaching Phippsøya, in the Seven Islands north of Nordaustlandet, you’re now at 80° north and just 540 miles from the geographic North Pole. Polar bears and walruses inhabit this region. In the afternoon, venture to the northernmost point near the 82nd parallel. While retracing the 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 the Spitsbergen banks. At the mouth of Kongsfjorden, there's a good chance of sighting minke whales.
Walruses sometimes haul out in Forlandsundet, your next stop. Alternatively, sail into St. Johns Fjord or south to the mouth of Isfjorden, landing at Alkhornet. Sea birds nest on these cliffs, Arctic foxes search below for fallen eggs and chicks, and reindeer graze the sparse vegetation. Arrive in Longyearbyen later that night.
Every adventure, no matter how grand, must eventually come to an end. Disembark in Longyearbyen, taking home memories that will 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.
Please Note: All voyages will operate subject to a minimum of 70 participants.
Themed Departure: Cleaning the Shores
Included in this voyage are opportunities to pick up litter along the shores of remote beaches in North Spitsbergen. Supported by AECO and with the contribution of the Governor of Spitsbergen, this North Spitsbergen cleaning effort is supervised by expedition guides. On select landing days, about 50 passengers may clean in the morning while the other 50 passengers embark on excursions elsewhere. In the afternoon, the groups will switch activities. On a similar voyage to Spitsbergen in 2015, the effort yielded an estimated 17 cubic yards of garbage from three beaches in the areas of Raudfjorden, Rijpfjorden, and Mushamna, consisting mainly of plastics, fishing rope, nets, and floats.
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