From transiting deep fjords to exploring a polar desert landscape, enjoy the diversity of this astonishing archipelago. Visit steep cliffs filled with birds, watch for foxes and reindeer and Polar bears, and flip out over Beluga whales. Walk the tundra alive with wildflowers and tundra berries.

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Starting from $9,900

Rates & Dates Prices are per person and shown in USD.

Stateroom TripleStateroom TwinBalcony Stateroom CBalcony Stateroom BBalcony Stateroom ABalcony SuiteJunior SuiteCaptain's Suite
Aug 18, 2021 - Aug 30, 2021$9,900
 
$10,900
 
$12,200
 
$12,500
 
$12,700
 
$13,700
 
$16,200
 
$18,600
 

Itinerary

Day 1: Kirkenes, embarkation

Arrive in Kirkenes, Norway, where you will be met by a representative to commence a tour of Kirkenes prior to boarding the Greg Mortimer late afternoon.

The tour of Kirkenes starts with a drive to the Russian border to learn about the significant historical events that have occurred in this area. Afterwards, continue to the mining community at Bjørnevatn, discovered in the 1860s and holding the largest iron reserve in Norway. The proliferation of mines in the area were home to many people during the fighting and liberation at the end of World War II. At Mount Storfjellet, enjoy marvelous views of the area before ending your tour with a visit to the Borderland Museum, different to traditional war museums by focusing on the effects of war on people rather than exhibiting war paraphernalia. Learn about the Soviet prisoners of war, deported teachers and many other fascinating, seldom-heard stories.

Transfer to the pier for embarkation, where you’ll have time to settle into your cabin before our important briefings.

Days 2-3: At Sea

Over the next two days at sea, enjoy informative and entertaining lectures from our expert expedition team including naturalists and historians before reaching Svalbard’s southeast coast.

Days 4-12: Svalbard Archipelago

Svalbard offers unspoiled, raw Arctic wilderness at its best. With majestic mountains, iridescent sea ice, countless glaciers and superb wildlife-viewing opportunities. Our experienced expedition team, who have made countless journeys to this area, will use their expertise to design our voyage from day to day, choosing the best options based on the prevailing weather, ice conditions and wildlife opportunities.

We generally make landings or Zodiac excursions twice a day. You’ll want to rug up before joining Zodiac cruises to witness walrus colonies hauled out on sea ice or on beaches, under towering cliffs of nesting sea birds or glide past glistening icebergs in your kayak.

Without a doubt, our goal is to encounter the majestic polar bear on the pack ice, and the expedition team are just as keen as you to find them. Ship cruise along spectacular fjords, hike upon colorful tundra, perhaps tasting wild blueberries along the way.

Some of the places where we may enjoy landings for deeper exploration or view spectacular wildlife and scenery follows:

Kongsfjorden (Kings Bay)

Kongsfjorden and the surrounding country are known to be one of the most beautiful fjord areas in Svalbard. The fjord is headed by two giant glaciers, Kronebreen and Kongsvegen. Hike on the lush tundra amongst the summer flowers and observe the remarkable bird cliffs near the 14th July Glacier, where even a few puffins nest between the cracks in the cliffs.

In this area we find the former mining settlement of Ny-Ålesund. Situated at 78º 55' N, Ny-Ålesund is one of the world’s northern-most year-round communities. The settlement of Ny-Ålesund is strongly linked to coal mining operations, scientific expeditions and recently also to various international research efforts. It is located more than 100 km north of Longyearbyen and is one of the northernmost settlements in the world. In and around Ny-Ålesund, the largest concentration of protected buildings, cultural monuments and various remains in Svalbard can be found, making the area an important cultural heritage site. Ny-Ålesund is the largest Norwegian settlement in Svalbard that was spared from being burned down during World War II. The settlement is well preserved and serves as a valuable historical source.

Ny-Ålesund has also been the starting point of several historical attempts to reach the North Pole. Names like Amundsen, Ellsworth and Nobile are strongly linked to Ny-Ålesund. Since 1964, Ny-Ålesund has also been a centre for international Arctic research and environmental monitoring. Several countries run their own national research stations here, and research activity is high in the summer.

The islands and islets in the inner part of Kongsfjorden are teeming with seabirds. At the head of the fjord, mighty glaciers calve into the sea. All of this is framed by majestic mountain formations. Further north-west lies Krossfjorden, with its cultural remains from the whaling period, Russian and Norwegian over-wintering and World War II. Large bird cliffs are also found here.

Nordvesthjørnet and Raudfjorden

It was here, in the far north-west, that Willem Barentsz and his crew discovered new land on 17 June, 1596. They described the land as being “rugged for the most part, and steep, mostly mountains and jagged peaks, from which we gave it the name of Spitsbergen”. In the centuries that followed, the large number of bowhead whales found here attracted whalers from the Netherlands and various other countries. Nordvesthjørnet offers the largest concentration of graves, blubber ovens and other cultural treasures on Spitsbergen, all dating back to this first era of the exploitation of Svalbard’s natural resources.

Magdalenefjorden

Magdalenefjorden is located inside the Northwest Spitsbergen National Park. According to historical sources, Magdalenefjorden was first used by the English in the early days of the whaling era. They built a land station on the headland and named the area Trinity Harbor.

The spectacular alpine scenery is lined with jagged mountain peaks, to which Spitsbergen (‘pointed mountains’, in Norwegian) owes its name. At 1,115 meters / 3,658 feet, Hornemanntoppen is the highest mountain in the area, and is located east of Magdalenefjorden. The topography of the area is mostly rocky, shorelines are covered with stones and hiking here can be challenging. Little auks breed here in large numbers, and a few reindeer can still be seen roaming around on mossy slopes. Very occasionally, polar bears and walrus are seen here.

Smeerenberg

The name “Smeerenburg” means “Blubber Town”. Its whaling station served as the main base for Dutch whaling in the first half of the 17th century, when whaling was still occurring along the coastline and in the fjords of Svalbard. Smeerenburg is situated on the island of Amsterdamøya, surrounded by fjords, tall glacier fronts and steep, rugged mountains. The most obvious sign of its whaling station history is the large cement-like remains of blubber from ovens where the blubber was boiled.

Virgohamna

Virgohamna is most famous for being the starting place of many expeditions that attempted to reach the North Pole. On the beach, are the remains of blubber ovens and a Dutch whaling station. Written permission from the Governor of Svalbard is required in order to land here.

Ytre Norskøya is situated in the middle of what used to be hub of the Dutch whaling area, when it all revolved around land-based stations for boiling the whale blubber. The station is situated by the sound Norskøysundet, between the islands of Ytre Norskøya and Indre Norskøya. A sheltered bay offers protection against the weather and a broad beach facilitates landings. Today, the remains of nine blubber ovens lie in a line along the beach. Containing around 165 graves, the island is one of the largest burial grounds in Svalbard.

Woodfjorden, Liefdefjorden and Bockfjorden

Located along the north coast, Woodfjorden, Liefdefjorden and Bockfjorden are rarely visited places. Near Reinsdyrflya lies a great fjord system that stretches towards several mountain ridges including; alpine summits of ancient granite, majestic red mountains of Devonian sandstone, cone-shaped remnants of three volcanoes and even hot springs. Large glacier fronts calve in the sea, while polar bears are busy hunting for ringed seals and sweeping the islets for birds’ eggs. Hike in the mountains on the tundra where brightly colored wildflowers and lichen grow, and where reindeer graze. We may visit trapper huts of yesteryear where Russian Pomors would hunt and survive the cold harsh winters, all while remaining alert for wandering polar bears and their cubs.

Nordaust-Svalbard Nature Reserve

Nordaust-Svalbard Nature Reserve is the most high-Arctic part of Svalbard. The fjords are covered in ice, and drift ice floats around the islands for most of the year. Glaciers cover large areas of the terrain. This is the kingdom of the polar bear and walrus. It has been protected as a nature reserve since 1973.

Nordaustlandet. The second largest island in Svalbard, with an area of 14,443 km². It is part of Nordaust-Svalbard Nature Reserve. The two large ice sheets of Austfonna and Vestfonna cover large areas of the island. The landscape is open and majestic with different types of landscapes, from the prominent fjords in the west and north to the massive glacier front facing east and south. From a distance, Nordaustlandet appears cold, unfriendly and unproductive. However, many places are unexpectedly lush, especially close to the bird cliffs.

Moffen Island is situated directly north of 80°N. After the near extinction of walrus in Svalbard in the middle of the 20th century, Moffen Island played an important conservation role and helped to re-establish the population here, a process which continues today. Large numbers of walrus can be found hauled out at the southern tip of the island and in summer, vessels must remain at least 500 m / 1,640 ft away.

Sjuøyane

In ocean north of Nordaustlandet lies the little archipelago of Sjuøyane (the seven islands), with its characteristically hat-shaped mountains. The hard granite mountains have a green covering of moss due to thousands of breeding seabirds. Walrus dive for clams in the waters between the islands and in the bays. Most of the islands have been named after the English North Pole expeditions led by Phipps (1773) and Parry (1827).

Polar bears can be spotted anywhere on Sjuøyane. Polar bear distribution is strongly related to the distribution of sea ice. Drift ice around the islands offers increased chances of polar bears sightings. Reindeer and Arctic fox are also commonly encountered on Sjuøyane.

When the ice breaks up around Sjuøyane and the first seabirds return from April–May, the islands wake from a long winter slumber. Huge bird cliffs can be found here. Little auks migrate in the largest numbers, followed closely by Atlantic puffins and guillemots. Near-threatened species of ivory gulls can be found on Phippsøya along with several walrus haul-out sites, where hundreds of the marine giants can be found in the shallow bay.

Hinlopen Strait

Along the northeast coast of Spitsbergen, we enter a different world – a polar desert. Ice conditions permitting, we pass through the narrow Hinlopen Strait, flanked by creamy coloured slabs of rock that are rich in fossils, where Polar bears are often sighted on the islands or around the bird cliffs.

Alkefjellet to the south of Lomfjorden is the largest bird cliff in the area with several hundred thousand black-legged kittiwakes and as many Brünnick’s guillemots. There are also several colonies of northern fulmar in the area, and little auks nest scattered in Hinlopen Strait. Brünnich’s guillemots’ nest in many colonies, including on the island of Wahlbergøya. Black-legged kittiwakes and black guillemots also breed in several of the colonies, most of them west of Hinlopen Strait, but also around Wahlenbergfjorden. One of the colonies is on Selanderneset. Common eiders also nest in many places, but the locations have been very poorly mapped. However, there is known to be a large colony on the island of Lemströmøya, north of Wahlbergøya.

Several of the most famous and most visited haul-out sites for walrus can be found in Hinlopen Strait. Worth mentioning are Augustabukta/Torellneset and Vibebukta. White whales, ringed seals and bearded seals also occur in the area.

The abundance of reindeer in the area varies greatly. The density is highest where the vegetation is most pronounced, such as the inner parts of Lomfjorden, at the bottom of Wahlenbergfjorden, in Palanderdalen and on Scaniahalvøya. A smaller number of reindeer are also scattered around the islands in Hinlopen Strait, and the Arctic fox can be seen on both sides of the strait. There is no doubt that the easiest place to observe foxes is around the bird cliffs. This is often also where dens can be found so we avoid entering these areas.

Barentsøya and Edgeøya

East of Spitsbergen are two large islands called Barentsøya and Edgeøya. The area has a rich array of wildlife, especially polar bears, reindeer, walrus, seabirds and geese. West of Edgeøya, cultural remains from the time of European whaling can be found, mainly Russian and Norwegian.

Alkhornet, at the northern entrance of Isfjorden, is a striking landmark. The landscape around this large bird cliff is lush and beautiful. Alkhornet and Trygghamna offer an interesting combination of cultural history and nature. The name Trygghamna refers to the West European whaling activity was carried out around Svalbard in the 17th century when whales would swim into the fjords and hunted.

At Alkhornet, reindeer are often sighted, along with Arctic fox, geese nesting on rocks and higher up on the cliffs, where Brünnich’s guillemots breed in enormous quantities. The cliffs at Alkhornet are also home to large colonies of breeding kittiwake and Arctic skuas. Glaucous gulls often patrol the air around the cliffs, hunting vulnerable prey.

Hornsund

Hornsund is the southernmost fjord in Svalbard located in Sør-Spitsbergen National Park, where majestic peaks and dramatic fjords are the defining features. The highest summits are often shrouded in mist, but if you’re lucky you might get a glimpse of Hornsundtind, peaking at 1,431 m / 4,695 ft. Traces of human activity spanning 400 years can be found almost anywhere where there are possible landing sites.

Little auks are found here in huge numbers, drawn to the large scree slopes – their typical nesting habitat. With abundant plankton and crustaceans, Hornsund and the areas off the west coast are a giant food reservoir for the little auk. The West Spitsbergen Current – a branch of the Gulf Stream – brings temperate waters north along the western Spitsbergen coast and provides favorable conditions for biological production in the area.

Northern fulmar can be seen in several colonies in Hornsund. Brünnich’s guillemot and kittiwake nest at the same locations. Dunøyane and Isøyane, islands that gained protection status as bird sanctuaries back in 1973, are important nesting areas for barnacle geese, pink-footed geese and brent geese. Pink-footed geese nest in large numbers on Dunøyane and on scree slopes and hillsides close to the sea, including in Hyttevika north of Hornsund and Gnålodden.

A huge colony of little auks is situated at Ariekammen (100,000 to one million) – possibly the largest in Svalbard. If you’ve ever been close to such a large colony of swarming little auks, you’ll never forget it.

Bellsund cuts into Spitsbergen south of Isfjorden and splits into two branches at Van Mijenfjorden and Van Keulenfjorden fjords. The area features large bird cliffs, where fertilization by seabird droppings accounts for the surprisingly lush vegetation in some areas.

Other places we may visit around the Svalbard Archipelago include:

• Sundnest

• Gnalodden

• Freemanshundet

• Hamiltonbukta

• Lilliehookbreen

• Gnalodden

• Kapp Lee

• Varsolbukta

Day 13: Longyearbyen, disembarkation

During the early morning we cruise back into Longyearbyen. Farewell your expedition team and fellow expeditioners as we all continue our onward journeys.

Discover Longyearbyen town on a half day bus excursion, where you will learn some of the town’s history, geology, flora, fauna and the modern community. You will visit Svalbard Museum and Galleri Svalbard, and take in the main sights of Longyearbyen including Office of the Governor, Svalbard Church, Nybyen (new town), a few of the town’s mines such as Santa Claus Mine, and a quick photo stop at the famous beware of polar bear street sign. Transfer to the airport afterwards.

NOTE: At the conclusion of the voyage, we do not recommend booking flights departing prior to 12.00 pm on the day of disembarkation in case there are delays.

Greg Mortimer

Greg Mortimer

Deckplan & Cabin Photos

Highlights

  • Venture close to 80° north looking for polar bears on the pack ice
  • Chance to discover other arctic wildlife including walrus, guillemots, puffins, seals, reindeer, arctic fox, seabirds and whales
  • Enjoy Zodiac-cruising past blue glaciers and through stunning fjords
  • Enjoy hikes surrounded by breathtakingly beautiful scenery

Included

  • Group arrival transfer from airport to the Greg Mortimer on Day 1
  • Group sightseeing tour of Longyearbyen on arrival pre-voyage
  • Group transfer from ship to downtown Kirkenes or to the airport on Day 13
  • On-board accommodation during voyage including daily cabin service
  • All meals, snacks, tea and coffee during voyage
  • Beer, house wine and soft drinks with dinner
  • Captain’s Welcome and Farewell reception including four-course dinner, house cocktails, house beer and wine, non-alcoholic beverages
  • All shore excursions and Zodiac cruises
  • Educational lectures and guiding services from the expedition team
  • Free access to our onboard doctor for consultations relating to seasickness. A standard fee of US $60.00 (reclaimable through your travel insurance provider) applies for medical consultations not related to seasickness
  • A 3-in-1 waterproof polar expedition jacket
  • Complimentary use of muck boots during the voyage
  • Comprehensive pre-departure information
  • Port surcharges, permits and landing fees

Adventure Options

  • Sea Kayaking: $1,150
 

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.

 
 
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