Spitsbergen Odyssey

Spitsbergen Odyssey information and booking

from
$6080
  • Duration
    11 days
    Days
  • Group size
    1-50
    Persons
  • Difficulty
    Discovery & Cruising
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Schedule Details

Summary
  • 11 day voyage
  • 10 nights aboard Polar Pioneer
Equipment Required
A comprehensive gear list is provided in the pre-departure information provided on booking.

Highlights

  • The most wildlife-rich part of the Arctic
  • Spectacular glaciers and fjords
  • 24 hours of sunshine
  • Above the Arctic Circle– only 600 miles from the North Pole

Tour description provided by World Expeditions

With its rugged mountains, sweeping tundra, ice caps and glaciers, Svalbard is a true High Arctic archipelago, and only 600 miles from the North Pole. Usually known as Spitsbergen, the main islands cover an area almost as big as the Republic of Ireland, and is home to a population of 3,500 in five settlements. Today virtually all of the islands are still an unspoilt wilderness. Its abundant wildlife was once a huge draw for whalers and trappers but now discerning visitors are discovering the attractions of huge Arctic seabird colonies and the chance to enjoy and photograph species like walrus, reindeer, Arctic Fox and of course, Polar Bear. During the endless summer days well north of the Arctic Circle we have ample time to explore the islands on foot and in zodiacs at a leisurely pace in the company of like minded people and highly experienced naturalists.

What's included

  • 10 breakfasts, 9 lunches and 10 dinners
  • Comfortable cabin accommodation and use of all public areas on cruise
  • Specialist expedition staff
  • All shore excursions from the ship including the use of zodiacs
  • Lectures, videos, slide and film shows and guide services
  • Medical services (there is a resident medical officer and infirmary on board)
  • Port taxes and port charges imposed by government authorities
  • Pre-departure information

Itinerary

Day 1 Arrive in Longyearbyen and embark
In the late afternoon we board the Polar Pioneer and settle into our cabins before our departure under the Midnight Sun.
Day 2 to 3 Cruise the coast of Spitsbergen
We will cruise northwards along Spitsbergen’s rugged West Coast. Turquoise ice cliffs of the 14th July Glacier (named and mapped by the expeditions organized by Albert I of Monaco in 1906) will greet us, should we awaken in Magdalenefjorden. As we soon learn, each day is action-packed, taking advantage of local weather, snow and ice conditions, spontaneous opportunities and wildlife viewing. Gulf Stream currents sweep up the coast, keeping temperatures relatively warm. Our Zodiacs will carry us close to fantastic bird cliffs alive with guillemots and thick-billed murres. We will look for bearded seals with their quaint, curling whiskers, and visit Ny Ålesund in Kongsfjorden, once a mining town, now a polar research centre. At Amsterdamoya we will stretch our legs with lush tundra walks, ever alert for reindeer and Arctic fox. We shall poke about the remains of a 350-year-old Dutch whaling settlement, and hear the tale of Swedish explorer Andrée’s ill-fated attempt to fly a balloon over the North Pole.
Day 4 to 6 Cruising the North Coast
As we work our way along the North Coast, we will explore places such as Woodfjorden and Leifdefjorden in search of the remarkable polar bear. Spitsbergen supports one of the world’s densest populations of these magnificent animals. From the zodiacs we will enjoy magnificent views of sweeping glaciers winding their way into the sea; ringed, bearded and even small numbers of harp seals can be seen. We may walk on smooth, raised beach terraces to a magnificent viewpoint, or hike in the mountains on the flowering tundra where reindeer graze. The Svalbard reindeer, an endemic subspecies, are generally not shy of humans and we hope to have some close encounters during our shore excursions. Due to the warming influence of the Gulf Stream, there is an amazing variety of flora. In addition to the typical tundra vegetation of mosses and lichens; there are also fungi, seven species of fern and 164 flowering plants including purple saxifrage, exquisite yellow spider plants and Svalbard poppies, that somehow survive in the great expanses of the tundra. We will visit trappers’ huts of yesteryear – all the while staying alert for wandering polar bears. We will come face to face with the formidable pack ice of the Arctic Ocean, and keep our eyes peeled for sightings of minke and other whales, as well as bobbing walrus feeding on clams or hauled out on the beach in wallows.
Day 7 to 10 Cruise along the East and Southern Coasts
Welcome to the wild side! Along the East Coast of Spitsbergen we will enter a different world – a polar desert. Our Russian crew and expedition staff will call on their considerable expertise to reach some of the region’s highlights. This is true expedition cruising, where our plans are dictated by ice conditions and our desire to explore. Frigid Arctic currents sweep around Spitsbergen’s northeast corner, lowering air and sea temperatures, creating a landscape worn down by severe frost. Even in summer, pack ice can make access difficult and could bar our way. We will attempt to pass through narrow Hinlopen Strait. The strait is flanked by creamy coloured slabs of rock that are rich in fossils, as we discover for ourselves when we go ashore. On our walks we will be on the lookout for some of the specialist birds that live on the tundra, including snow bunting and elusive Svalbard ptarmigan. We may hike to visit nesting guillemots or cruise past glacial fronts. We will Zodiac cruise beneath Alkefjellt, sheer basalt cliffs that rise like an ancient castle more than 250-metres, adorned with some 200,000 nests of Brunnich’s guillemots (the penguins of the north) literally buzzing with life. Elsewhere we will seek out Eider ducks and geese, and hope to spot Arctic fax and beautiful ivory gulls. As the Polar Pioneer passes between Spitsbergen and the smaller Barentsøya, we will cross the main polar bear migration route and may visit Sundeneset, a fertile plain covered with bright green mosses, various mushrooms, clear bubbling streams and a variety of delicate and colourful flowers, including the yellow marsh saxifrage. Exploring this beautiful terrain on foot will allow us to marvel at the contrast between the colourful soft ground and the barren, rocky terrain from further north. Eventually we will round South Cape, returning to the world of open water and rugged coastal mountains, and sail north toward Hornsund and Bellsund before continuing our journey northwards. If conditions allow, we will visit the Polish research station at Isbjornhamna in Hornsund fjord, where we will be shown around by the base leader, and walk to a spectacular colony where little auks nest and darken the sky as they fly from their fishing grounds.
Day 11 Disembark Longyearbyen
As our journey draws to an end, we will have time to reflect on the amazing experiences we have shared, before we bid each other farewell. During the early morning, we will cruise back into Isfjorden returning to Longyearbyen. We will disembark on arrival where our trip concludes.