- Narrow sheltered waterways and fjords
- Spectacular mountains rising directly out of the sea
- Historic sites
- The most wildlife-rich part of the Arctic - polar bears, walrus, seals, reindeer and sea birds
- Great variety of terrain over short distances
- Sea ice and active glaciers
- Above the Arctic Circle – only 600 miles from the North Pole
Spitsbergen Odyssey reveals the diversity of this island archipelago and takes us into the kingdom of the polar bear. We explore the coastline, with no open sea crossings, against a backdrop of spectacular peaks. We discover fjords in the west; mysterious, fossil-rich desert mountains in the east; and best of all seals and whales in the Arctic pack ice. This voyage offers the best chance for seeing reindeer and polar bears, and features wildflower walks across sweeping tundra, trapper camps and historical remains of whaling stations.
This itinerary may be run in the reverse direction depending on weather, ice conditions and the movements of other vessels.
Today we will be met at the airport in Longyearbyen and taken on a sightseeing tour to explore the remote outskirts and village of Longyearbyen, ‘capital’ of Spitsbergen. After our tour we will be transferred to the port in the later afternoon and board our ship, Polar Pioneer. Our circumnavigation commences, cruising out of the beautiful Isfjorden, escorted by gliding fulmars and perhaps the occasional puffin.
At sea we are totally self-sufficient. The days flow by whilst we travel snugly in our cocoon. A favourite pastime on board is to stand at the stern watching for seabirds, including graceful ivory gulls, kittiwakes and guillemots. They rise and fall skillfully, using the air currents created by the ship to gain momentum.
We may cruise northwards along the west coast of Spitsbergen, perhaps stopping at intriguing places like Kongsfjorden or Magdallenefjorden. We spend long periods ashore walking on the lush tundra amongst the summer flowers and observing the remarkable bird cliffs near the 14th July Glacier, where even a few puffins nest between the cracks in the cliffs. We feel a sense of history at the 350-year-old remains of a Dutch whaling settlement Smeerenberg (blubber town) on Amsterdamoya.
As we work our way along the north coast we explore rarely-visited places such as Woodfjorden and Leifdefjorden in search of the mighty polar bear. From Zodiacs we enjoy magnificent views of sweeping glaciers winding their way into the sea. We may walk on smooth raised beach terraces to a magnificent viewpoint or hike in the mountains on the flowering tundra where reindeer graze. We may visit trapper huts of yesteryear - all the while remaining alert for wandering polar bears. We might come face-to-face with the formidable pack ice of the Arctic Ocean and keep our eyes peeled for bobbing walrus feeding on clams or hauled out on the beach in wallows.
Along the east coast of Spitsbergen we enter a different world - a polar desert. If ice conditions allow we will pass south through the 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.
We may visit Alkefjellet, where a series of one hundred metre high dolerite towers are home to millions of Brunnich’s guillemots - the penguins of the north - that occupy every available nook and cranny. Elsewhere we seek out Eider ducks and geese, and hope to spot Arctic fox and the beautiful ivory gulls. As Polar Pioneer passes between Spitsbergen and the smaller islands of Barentsoya and Edgeoya, we cross the main polar bear migration route and the beautiful fertile plains of Sundeneset. The spongy ground is richly covered with bright green mosses, a variety of delicate and colourful flowers, particularly the yellow marsh (bog) saxifrage, various mushrooms, clear bubbling streams and small tarns. We explore this beautiful terrain on foot, marvelling at the contrast between the colourful soft ground and the barren, rocky terrain from further north. Reindeer antlers lie scattered along the ground. We round South Cape, Spitsbergen's most southerly point, before continuing northwards.
We enter the spectacular Hornsund Fjord where we may take an early morning Zodiac cruise to admire the beautiful ice walls of the Samarin Glacier or take a stroll beneath the towering seabird cliffs at Sofiebogen. In Bellsund Fjord we are always on the lookout for Beluga whales. We may visit the remnants of a Norwegian Beluga whaling station from the 1930’s. Across the fjord at Våraolbukta is a lush and stunning landscape where reindeer roam, Arctic flowers bloom in abundance and Arctic fox may be seen patrolling the little auk colony, where several thousand birds nest here amongst the boulders, coming and going in huge swarms.
During the early morning we cruise back into Isfjorden before docking in Longyearbyen. After bidding farewell to newfound friends, we are transferred into the village of Longyearbyen, there’s time to explore and shop before we are transferred to the airport this afternoon.
Pre & Post Voyage Package
A pre & post voyage package is available at an additional cost. The package includes overnight in Oslo hotel with half board (D,B), transfer to the Oslo airport with English speaking guide, flight to & from Longyearbyen in economy class. $1100.
* Itinerary may be subject to change
|Per Person USD|
Rates Arctic 2014
Prices quoted are in US dollars, per person, twin share. Single occupancy is 1.7 times the twin share price. No single supplement applies if you are willing to share your cabin (tripe & twin cabins only). No refund for unused services.
Kayaking option $975/person on Explorer trips, $1095 per person on Jewels of the Arctic trips.
Adventure options must be pre-booked and paid for prior to start of the trip. Space is subject to availability. Some activities require experience.
Airfare is not included. All trips subject to possible fuel surcharge