North or Around Spitsbergen

Highlights

  • The most wildlife-rich part of the Arctic
  • Spectacular glaciers and fjords
  • Experiencing the history of the old mining industry in the area

Tour description provided by World Expeditions

The name Spitsbergen means "jagged peaks" and was given by the Dutch explorer, Willem Barents, who discovered the island while searching for the Northern Sea Route in 1596. Today, it is a vast wilderness that is home to an incredible flora and fauna with its location just some 900kms south of the North Pole. The exhilaration of sighting Polar Bear as they roam the ice in search of food, watching the playful activities of Grey Seals or observing a group of walrus are just some of the highlights found on this voyage. Zodiacs will ferry us from our ice-strengthened vessels to shore to walk amongst the tundra up to high points where there are sweeping views across the vast glaciated inland and down to the iceberg-strewn bay where our ship is dwarfed by the monumental landscape. The island’s bird life is prolific, with colonies of Little Auks, Black Guillemots, Brünnich’s Guillemots, Puffins and Arctic Skuas accessible to visitors. Dramatic cliffs, fjords, glaciers and an abundance of wildlife make this an unforgettable experience in the land of the midnight sun.

What's included

  • 9 breakfasts, 8 lunches and 9 dinners
  • Specialist expedition staff
  • Comfortable cabin accommodation on cruise
  • All activities while on cruise including zodiac excursions, lectures, videos, slide and film shows and guide services
  • Use of all ship facilities and public areas
  • Medical services (there is a resident medical officer and infirmary on board)
  • Complimentary photography workshop, kayaking, snowshoeing (3 july 2013 trip only)

Itinerary

Day 1 Join in Longyearbyen
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. In the early evening the ship will sail out of Isfjorden.
Day 2 Cruising north
Heading north along the west coast, we arrive by morning in Krossfjorden, where we go on the zodiacs for a cruise along the sculpted front of the 14th of July Glacier. On the green slopes near the glacier, a colourful variety of flowers bloom, while large numbers of Kittiwakes and Brünnich’s Guillemots nest on the nearby cliffs. There is also a good chance of spotting Arctic Foxes, who patrol the base of the cliffs in case a chick falls from its nest, and Bearded Seals, who cruise this fjord. In the afternoon we sail to Ny Ålesund, the world’s most northerly settlement. Once a mining village - served by the world’s most northerly railway, which can still be seen - Ny Ålesund is now a research centre. Close to the village is a breeding ground for Barnacle Geese, Pink-footed Geese and Arctic Terns. Visitors interested in the history of Arctic exploration will want to walk to the anchoring mast used by Amundsen and Nobile in the airship Norge in 1926 and Nobile in the airship Italia in 1928 before their flights to the North Pole.
Day 3 Andøya
Near the mouth of Liefdefjorden, we will go ashore for a walk on the tundra island of Andøya. Many common eider and Pink-footed gGoose nest here, and the more rare King Eider may also be seen. Sailing into Liefdefjorden, we will cruise near the face of the impressive Monaco Glacier. The waters of the glacier front are a favourite feeding spot for thousands of Kittiwakes and occasionally Polar Bear are seen on the glacier.
Day 4 Phippsøya
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 Bear inhabit this region, along with Ivory Gull. We may sit for several hours in the pack ice, taking in our spectacular surroundings and seeing a Ross Gull, before we turn south again.
Day 5 Laagøya
We will visit Laagøya today, a low island with a big lagoon where a big herd of Walrus tends to congregate. Sabine’s Gull nest on the island as well. At Sorg Fjord we may find another herd of walrus not far from the graves of 17th century whalers. On a nature walk, we may encounter families of Ptarmigans.
Day 6 Hinlopen Strait
Today we will sail into Hinlopen Strait, home to Bearded Seal, Ringed Seal, Polar Bear, and Ivory Gull. We’ll navigate the ice floes of Lomfjordshalvøya in our zodiacs and explore the bird cliffs of Alkefjellet with thousands of Brünnich’s Guillemot. On the east side of Hinlopenstrait, we’ll attempt a landing at Augustabukta on Nordaustlandet, home to reindeer, Pink-footed Goose, breeding Ivory Gull, and Walrus. Near Torrelneset, we will explore the polar desert of Nordaustlandet, next to the world’s third largest ice cap, which meets the sea nearby. We will walk along beautiful coastline covered in smooth rocks, sculpted by the surf over thousands of years. We may encounter Walrus along the way.
Day 7 Freemansundet
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 Goose. 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 Kitttiwake, together with Black Guillemot and piratical Glaucous Gull. During the breeding season, the base of the cliffs is patrolled by Arctic Fox and Polar Bear, especially females with young cubs, searching for young birds that have fallen from the nesting ledges.
Day 8 Southern Spitsbergen
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 Bear.
Day 9 Ahlstrandhalvøya
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, Beluga 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.
Day 10 Trip concludes Longyearbyen
Return to Longyearbyen and disembark and conclude trip.