Spitsbergen Odyssey

Polar Pioneer Cruise Ship
Polar Pioneer
56 Passengers
Adventure Options

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.

Voyage Highlights
• Narrow sheltered waterways and fjords
• Witness spectacular mountains rising directly out of the sea
• Historic sites: museums, whaling stations, geology and fossils
• The most wildlife-rich part of the Arctic – polar bears, walrus, seals, reindeer, sea birds and whales
• Search for the king of the Arctic, the mighty polar bear
• Great variety of terrain over short distances: Icecaps, tundra and rocky hillsides
• Sea ice and active glaciers
• Summer months when the midnight sun creates 24 hours of sunlight
• Voyage close to (within 600 miles of) the North Pole

Note: This itinerary may be run in the reverse direction depending on weather, ice conditions and the movements of other vessels.

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.

Brief Itinerary

Day 1Embark Longyearbyen
Days 2 & 3Northwest Coast
Days 4 & 5Northern Flanks of Spitsbergen
Days 6 to 8East Coast of Spitsbergen
Days 9 & 10Exploring the Northwest Fjords
Day 11Disembark Longyearbyen

Day 1 — Embark Longyearbyen

Today we will be met at the airport in Longyearbyen and taken on a sightseeing tour to explore the remote outskirts and ‘Capital’ of Spitsbergen, including a stop at the local museum. After our tour we will be transferred to the port in the late afternoon and board our ship, Polar Pioneer. Our voyage commences, cruising out of the beautiful Isfjorden, escorted by gliding fulmars and perhaps the occasional puffin.

Polar Pioneer is homely and strong, built to be a working vessel and refitted to a comfortable passenger standard. The mood on board is definitely casual. At sea we are totally self-sufficient. The days flow by whilst we travel snugly in our cocoon. A favorite 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.

Days 2 & 3 — Northwest Coast

We may cruise northwards along the West Coast of Spitsbergen, perhaps stopping at intriguing places like Kongsfjorden or Magdalenefjorden. Kongsfjorden (Kings Bay) is incredibly scenic, the fjord is headed by two giant glaciers. We spend long periods ashore hiking 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 keep watch for polar bears and Arctic foxes.

We feel a sense of history at the 350-year-old remains of a Dutch whaling settlement Smeerenberg on Amsterdamoya. The name Smeerenberg literally means blubber town in Dutch. It is a place of extraordinary legends that are myths: of thousands of men living there during the 1630's, with a complete town with shops, gambling dens and the like. In reality 400 men and fifteen ships visited Smeerenberg during its peak in the 1630's for whaling. Smeerenberg was excavated in 1979-81, which proved the latter, sometimes though, modern authors still tell the extraordinary tales of Smeerenberg.

Days 4 & 5 — Northern Flanks of Spitsbergen

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 tundra where pretty colored wildflowers and lichen grows and where reindeer graze. We may visit trapper huts of yesteryear where Russians and Pomars would hunt and survive the cold harsh winters. We will all the while be remaining alert for wandering polar bears and their cubs.

We might come face-to-face with the formidable pack ice of the Arctic Ocean, keeping our eyes peeled for bobbing walrus feeding on clams or hauled out on the beach in wallows. We will listen to the cacophony of the impressive population of sea birds and see them feeding.

Days 6 to 8 — East Coast of Spitsbergen

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 colored slabs of rock that are rich in fossils, as we discover for ourselves when we go ashore.

We may visit Alkefjellet in the Strait, where a series of 300 ft (100 m) 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 colorful flowers, particularly the yellow marsh (bog) saxifrage, various mushrooms, fungi, clear bubbling streams and small tarns. Tiny (micro) flowers such as Mouse Ears grow in Spitsbergen creating fairy like mossy rock gardens. We explore this beautiful terrain on foot, marveling at the contrast between the colorful 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.

Days 9 & 10 — Exploring the Northwest Fjords

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. Belsund Fjord is a fjord that splits into two branches. It was named Bellsund after a nearby bell shaped mountain by William Barentsz in 1596. We may visit the remnants of a Norwegian beluga whaling station from the 1930’s. Across the fjord at Våraolbukta is 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 flocks.

Day 11 — Disembark Longyearbyen

During the early morning we cruise back into Longyearbyen. After bidding farewell to new found friends, we are transferred into town and later to the airport.

* Itinerary may be subject to change

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Rates Arctic 2016
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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: Spitzbergen Odyssey-$785, Jewels of the Arctic-$920.

Adventure options must be pre-booked and paid for prior to start of the trip. Space is subject to availability. Some activities require experience.

Jewels of the Arctic includes a flight between Isafjordur and Reykavik (or vice versa).

Airfare is not included except as noted above. All trips subject to possible fuel surcharge.

Polar Pioneer Deck Plan