Location: Spitsbergen (Arctic Norway)
Destination: Spitsbergen Cruises
Starting at: $0
Discover why Spitsbergen is considered the best place on Earth to see polar bears in the wild. We'll also see other wildlife including reindeer, whales, seals and massive seabird colonies all while cruising through pristine Arctic wilderness!Contact us about this trip Share
We embark the expedition cruise vessel, Akademik Sergey Vavilov in Longyearbyen and sail out of Adventfjorden and into Isfjorden during the early evening. On board, we meet for an introductory briefing and then adjourn to our dining room for our first meal aboard.
A fjord cutting deep into the mountains of Spitsbergen, Krossfjorden offers us an abundance of wildlife and scenery for our first morning on the ship. Whether it be cruising by ship or zodiac in front of the 15 kilometer wide face of Liliehookbreen (glacier), tramping across the tundra in search of a World War II German weather station, or searching for Atlantic puffins on the cliffs near 15th July Glacier, this is a worthy welcome to the Arctic.
As we approach the shore of Fuglesangenoya by zodiac, it becomes apparent there are thousands of nesting birds on the island. Home to a large dovekie colony, the formation of the island allows for excellent viewing without impacting upon the perimeter of the colony. Just a few miles from Fuglesangen is the former whaling station of Smeerenburg, literally translated as Blubber Town. As we hike the shoreline of this former whaling station, we learn about the importance of whaling in the discovery and exploration of the Svalbard archipelago. A harsh industry in an equally harsh environment and as a testament to this whaling site all that is left is the blubber ovens.
No trip along the north coast of Spitsbergen would be complete without a visit to Monacobreen (Monaco Glacier). A wide glacier face at the head of the fjord makes for spectacular kayaking and zodiac cruising. The coastal plain near the mouth of Liefdefjorden offers superb hiking and is often a great place to spot polar bears.
We would be hard pressed to call it expedition cruising if we didn't work our way into the ice edge. The senior officers on our capable vessel, the Akademik Sergey Vavilov, are experienced ice navigators who will examine the ice edge and, where conditions allow, move the ship into the ice in search of wildlife. A day or even two days spent in the ice requires all hands on deck. Warm jackets, binoculars and spotting scopes are standard and all eyes are engaged in looking for wildlife. And what are we expecting to see? Perhaps a herd of harp seals splashing through the leads between ice flows, a solitary bearded seal soaking up the sun, walrus and, of course, the mighty polar bear.
Dividing the eastern side of the Svalbard archipelago from the western side, Hinlopen Strait is full of wildlife. The water that flushes through this strait each day is rich in phyto and zooplankton, nourishing the Brünnich's guillemot colony at Aklefjellet, on the western shore of Hinlopen Strait. More than 120,000 pairs of guillemots nest on these cliffs each summer. The water moving through Hinlopen Strait each day also brings the sea ice and our access into the area is dictated by the ice conditions of the day. Exploring the sea ice generally brings us into much closer contact with polar bears and our captain will work with our expedition team to maximise the viewing potential.
Tucked into the northwestern tip of Spitsbergen, Ruadfjord offers an excellent place to hike, zodiac cruise and kayak. Our excursion will be in search of reindeer ashore and ringed and bearded seals adrift. For those interested in the tundra vegetation, especially the wildflowers, select spots along the shoreline of this fjord make for excellent hiking and interpretation.
Alkehornet, or "The Horn", is an incredible horn-shaped mountain close to the entrance of Isfjorden (Ice Fjord). Home to a massive colony of Brünnich's guillemots and black legged kittiwakes, and host to reindeer and Arctic fox, this is an incredible summary of our Arctic visit. A lush tundra slope below the bird cliffs is rich in Arctic flora and, to top it all off, this site has a rich history that will unfold as we hike around the headland.
As our last morning aboard the Akademik Sergey Vavilov, we enjoy a hearty breakfast and prepare to disembark shortly thereafter.
PLEASE NOTE: Due to the nature of expedition cruising, itineraries are subject to change due to weather, ice conditions, natural and cultural events, wildlife viewing opportunities and other logistical considerations. In general, a ship's crew will endeavor to complete the itinerary provided, but the ultimate decision lies with the ship's captain and expedition leaders.