Travel to Spitsbergen, the land of the polar bear! There may be no better place on earth to see polar bears in their natural habitat. We'll also see a variety of other wildlife and stunning Arctic scenery of glaciers, fjords & coastal mountains.
|QUAD||TRIPLE||TWIN PORTHOLE||TWIN WINDOW||TWIN DELUXE||SUPERIOR|
|Aug 11, 2017 - Aug 20, 2017||$4,900||$6,000||$7,000||$7,450||$7,900||$8,850|
Arrive in Longyearbyen, the administrative capital of the Spitsbergen archipelago of which West Spitsbergen is the largest island. Before embarking there is an opportunity to stroll around this former mining town, whose parish church and Polar Museum are well worth visiting, while in the surrounding area of Longyearbyen. In the early evening the ship will sail out of Isfjorden.
On the offshore island of Ytre Norskøya, we visit a 17th-century Dutch whaling site, whose large graveyard is a reminder of the hardships and dangers of life here at the time. The island's bird life is prolific, with colonies of Little Auks, Black Guillemots, Brünnich's Guillemots, Puffins and Arctic Skuas accessible to visitors. Eastwards, we visit Raudfjord on the north coast of West Spitsbergen, a beautiful fjord dominated by spectacular glaciers and favoured by Ringed and Bearded Seals. The cliffs and shoreline of the fjord also support thriving seabird colonies In the evening we will sail by the island of Moffen where a big herd of Walrus can be found.
We sail through Beverleysundet named by Parry in 1827 and also sailed by the Swedish-Russian Arc-of-Meridian Expedition in 1898. Today we will reach our northernmost point at Phippsøya, in the Seven Islands north of Nordaustlandet. Here we will be at 81 degrees north, just 540 miles from the geographic North Pole. Polar bears inhabit this region, along with ivory gulls.
We push east to reach the area of Nordaustlandet, where the Nobile expedition drifted around in 1928 and where the Italian Sora tried to come to the rescue. There we hope to get to Alpinøya, reached by Sora in 1928, and then to the mouth of Finn Malmgrenfjord, and Albertinibukta and to climb Soraberget (205 M) from where we have a fantastic view on the icecap of Nordaustlandet. Alternatively we will land at Storøya, where again we may meet a group of Walruses.
Today we hope to get to the rarely visited Kvitøya farthest to the east, close to the Russian territory. The island is dominated by an ice-cap, which leaves a small area bare of ice and snow. We will land at the western tip at Andréneset, where the Swedish explorer André and his companions perished in 1898. We will also try to get to Kraemerpynten in the east, where an enormous group of Walruses resides.
South of Nordaustlandet we will try to land at Isispynten a Nunatak area surrounded by glaciers. Later we sail along the front of the Brasvell Glacier, the longest glacier front in Spitsbergen. In Olga Srait we have chances to spot the elusive Greenland Whale.
In Freemansundet we plan to land at Sundneset on the island of Barentsøya to visit an old trapper's hut and then take a brisk walk across the tundra in search of Spitsbergen Reindeer and Barnacle Geese. Later we cruise south to Diskobukta on the west side of Edgeøya. After a Zodiac cruise through the shallow bay, we land on a beach littered with whale bones and tree trunks, which have drifted here from Siberia. We can also climb to the rim of a narrow gully which is inhabited by thousands of Kittiwakes, together with Black Guillemots and piratical Glaucous Gulls. During the breeding season, the base of the cliffs is patrolled by Arctic Foxes and Polar Bears, searching for young birds that have fallen from the nesting ledges.
We start the day quietly cruising the side fjords of the spectacular Hornsund area of southern Spitsbergen, enjoying the scenery of towering mountain peaks. Hornsundtind rises to 1,431m while Bautaen shows why early Dutch explorers gave the name "Spitsbergen"—pointed mountains—to the island. There are also 14 magnificent glaciers in the area and very good chances of encounters with seals and Polar Bears. We may visit the Polish research station where the friendly staff will give us an insight into their research projects. Behind the station the mountains are home to thousands of pairs of nesting Little Auks.
Today we land on Ahlstrandhalvøya at the mouth of Van Keulenfjorden. Here piles of Beluga skeletons (the Beluga is a small white whale), the remains of 19th century slaughter, are yet another reminder of the consequences of thoughtless exploitation. Fortunately, Belugas were not hunted to the edge of extinction and may still be seen locally. Indeed, there is a good chance that we will come across a pod. Cruising into Recherchefjorden during the afternoon we can explore an area of tundra at the head of the fjord where many Reindeer feed.
Return to Longyearbyen and disembark for the transfer to the airport and the flight to Oslo and home.
The chances that we can complete a full Spitsbergen Circumnavigation (based on our experiences from 1992 until 2009)are about, 20% in the first half of July, 55% in the second half of July, 90% in the first half of August, 95% in the second half of August. In case we can not complete a full circumnavigation we will mostly resort to a program in Northeast Spitsbergen.
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.