Spitsbergen – Off the Beaten Track
Spitsbergen and the Svalbard archipelago offer a tremendous wildlife and birdlife experience, as well as a fascinating lesson in glaciology. First used as a whaling base in the 17th and 18th centuries, they are now celebrated as a breeding ground for many seabirds, along with marine mammals and the elusive polar bear. Our expedition ship is the renowned Akademik Sergey Vavilov, perfectly suited for remote exploration. Throughout our journey we enjoy a comprehensive series of presentations which provide an excellent background to our expedition.
A further dimension to this wonderful voyage is our 'Off the Beaten Track' program offering an expanded choice of off-ship activities which we pioneered on our Antarctic voyages. Such activities include extended hiking opportunities ashore, snow shoeing, and full day photography excursions with our resident professional photographer. For those signed up for sea-kayaking, we offer paddling excursions which may last all day.
Our voyage commences in Longyearbyen, the principal community of this frosty Norwegian territory. On our 9-night voyage we sail out of Isfjorden and turn south before heading up west and around to the north-west coast of Spitsbergen. We will explore a beluga whale graveyard, search for Beluga whales near Bourbonhamna and photograph industrial exploration history near Recherche Fjord. Sailing north along the west coast of Spitsbergen, we reach Krossfjorden, home to numerous bird colonies as well as bearded and ringed seals. Nearby is the town of Ny Ålesund, the world’s most northerly community. Our voyage continues to Phippsoya, where, at 81° North, we have our best chance to see polar bear. Heading south, we stop at Monaco Glacier and Liefdefjorden – another great spot for bears – and at Prins Karls Forland we hope to see a walrus haul before arriving back at Longyearbyen.
Today we embark our expedition ship, the Akademik Sergey Vavilov in Longyearbyen and as we throw the lines, we sail out of Adventfjorden and into Isfjorden during the early evening. With almost 24 hours of daylight at this time of the year, enjoy the views from the outer decks of the ship as we depart. We meet our expedition team during an introductory briefing and then enjoy a welcome dinner in the ships comfortable dining room.
Glacier-filled bays surround us as we sail the ship into Hornsund. With good ice conditions, we are able to navigate close to the glaciers that are a feature of the area. The entire archipelago of Svalbard is a giant lesson in glacieology and our onboard guides will use our hikes and zodiac cruises to explain the formation of this fantastic landscape.
Heading south overnight, we arrive at Bellsund, a fjord system extending 40 nautical miles inland. With extensive and varied terrain, we will plan to spend at least a day in this area paddling, running our photography program and hiking.
Excursion highlights of this region include the beluga whale bone yard at Bamsebu, the marvelous raised beach patterns at Fleur de Lys Harbor, the abandoned coal carts at Rechergefjorden and exceptional mountain views all around.
Sea kayaking is spectacular near the mouth of Van Keulenfjord and into Recherchefjord where glaciers tumble down into the sea or have receded back from the shoreline leaving fabulous terminal and lateral moraines to paddle along.
It is often said that polar bears fall from the sky in Svalbard and while we have never actually witnessed this, they can appear in the most unlikely places and at the most interesting of times. Our guides will find the bears with you and keep you and the bears safe while you view them.
The shores of Krossfjorden are home to numerous bird colonies and a variety of different species. We anchor the ship in a small harbor, launch the zodiacs and cruise beneath the towering bird cliffs near the 14th of July Glacier. Cruising the dark waters we are always on the lookout for bearded and ringed seals, as both species are known to frequent this fjord.
As your zodiac approaches the shore of Fuglesangenoya, it becomes apparent there are thousands of birds nesting 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 old whaling station of Smeerenburg, literally translated as Blubber Town.
As we hike the shoreline near the old whaling station, we learn about the importance of the whaling industry in the discovery and exploration of the Svalbard archipelago. The rusting blubber posts stand as harsh testament to a tough industry in an equally harsh environment.
We continue north and east up into the ice, hoping to cross the 80° north parallel. As we approach the ice edge the ship slows down and all hands are either on the bridge or out on the outer decks as we start scanning for wildlife. Bearded seals, ringed seals and walrus may be found hauled out on the edges of the ice. Harp seals swim in herds of 10 to 20 through the open water channels in the ice. A buttery colored lump miles away on the ice metamorphoses into a polar bear as we slowly work our way through the ice toward it. Our ship is perfectly designed for near silent approach and our Captain takes great pride in bringing us in close enough to experience the wildlife without disturbing it. Be sure to get up to the bridge and take a picture of the ships GPS showing this incredibly high polar latitude, as we’re near the top of the world.
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 who come here to hunt for ringed seals or feed on nutrient rich bird's eggs.
Alkehornet, at the mouth of Isfjord, offers breathtaking views and an incredible tundra walk as we near the end of our adventure in Svalbard. Arctic fox can often be seen here, as well as reindeer. Towering above the landing site is a horn-shaped mount covered in guillemots and kittiwakes. Only as we approach and stop to listen will we hear the chorus of thousands of birds, all singing at the same time. This evening we celebrate our journey with a special dinner attended by the ship’s Captain. It's a great time to reflect on a wonderful voyage in this wild and remote place.
Arriving back into Longyearbyen this morning, we disembark after breakfast and say farewell to our expedition team and fellow passengers. A transfer into town is provided for those choosing to stay a few days. If you are departing today, we have a few hours this morning to explore the town before transferring to the airport for your onward flight to Tromso or Oslo.
* Itinerary may be subject to change
|Per Person USD|
Rates Arctic 2016
One Ocean Suite
Choose your Special: One-class upgrade on Twin/Superior cabins OR No Single Supplement
Charter Air: Ottawa/Iqaluit & Cambridge Bay/Edmonton
50% Discount on Charter Air (Prices in Red)
Rates are per person, based on twin-share. Single Supplement for twin cabins is 1.5 times the twin rate & single supplement for suites is double the suite rate.
All cabins are smoke-free. Smoking is only permitted in designated areas.
Trip cost does not include Mandatory Charter Flights listed in pricing chart.
Airfare to/from destination is not included.
Kayaking option available for $695 per person.
Adventure options must be pre-booked and paid for prior to start of the trip. Space is subject to availability. Some activities require experience.
All trips subject to possible fuel surcharge.
Mandatory Emergency Evacuation insurance is required on all trips.