We will embark on the Akademik Sergey Vavilov - our home for the next 8 nights - and sail out of Isfjorden (Ice Fjord) and begin our exploration up the northwest coast of Spitsbergen. Spitsbergen is the larger of the two main islands that make up the bulk of the Svalbard archipelago. From the moment we throw the lines and start our voyage we are in the land of the polar bear, the beluga, the walrus and the reindeer, so keep your eyes peeled for wildlife.
We stop in Kongsfjorden (Kings Bay) and visit the town site of Ny Alesund. One of the northernmost communities in the world, Ny Alesund is rich in history and scientific discovery. From Kongsfjorden we continue north and around the northern coast of Spitsbergen, stopping in numerous bays before heading south down Hinlopenstretet, the strait that separates Spitsbergen from Nordaustlandet, the other main island in the Svalbard archipelago.
Leaving the bird cliffs of Hinlopenstretet behind, we head north again for Phippsoya, our northernmost point at around 80 degrees North latitude. We hope to go ashore and cruise the polar pack ice edge as we explore this region before returning to the northern coast of Spitsbergen and the stunning Monacobreen (Monaco Glacier).
As we come toward the end of our voyage we continue our search for macro-fauna on the shores of Prins Karls Forland. A walrus haul out will more than overwhelm all the senses and we hope to approach these massive beasts.
We sail back into Isfjorden and, if weather permits, will plan a final zodiac cruise at Alkehornet’s little auk or dovekie colony before returning to Longyearbyen.
Over the course of the voyage we will visit numerous bird colonies showcasing Brunnich’s guillemot (also known as the thick-billed murre), little auk (dovekie), barnacle and pink-footed geese and the Arctic tern.
Embarkation aboard the expedition cruise vessel the Akademik Sergey Vavilov, in Longyearbyen. We will sail out of Adventfjorden and into Isfjorden during the early evening. On board, we will meet for an introductory briefing and then adjourn to our dining room for our first meal aboard.
The shores of Krossfjorden are home to numerous bird colonies and species. We will anchor off one small harbour and cruise the bird cliffs near the 14th of July Glacier. As we cruise these waters, we will also keep alert for bearded and ringed seals, known to frequent this fjord. During the afternoon we will cross Kongsfjord from Krossfjorden to the town site of Ny Alesund, a former mining village and currently the world’s most northern community. Founded by the Kings Bay Kull Company A/S in 1916, Ny Alesund operated as a coal mine sporadically until coal mining was ended in 1962. Since then the community has become the site of numerous international polar science institutes.
Ny Alesund earned its place in aviation pioneering history as a jumping off place for North Pole aviation exploration. Notable pioneer aviators such as Zeppelin, Amundsen, Ellsworth, Byrd and Nobile all used Ny Alesund and the airship anchor pylon for Amundsen and Nobile is still in place today.
Tucked into the northwestern tip of Spitsbergen, Ruadfjord offers an excellent place to hike, zodiac cruise and kayak. Whilst here we will search for reindeer ashore and ringed and bearded seals adrift. For those interested in tundra vegetation and especially wildflowers, there are select spots along the shoreline of this fjord offering excellent hiking and interpretation.
Dividing the eastern side of the Svalbard archipelago from the western side, Hinlopen Strait is full of wildlife. The water that flushes through this strait each day is rich in phyto- and zooplankton, nourishing the thick-billed murre colony at Aklefjellet on the western shore of Hinlopen Strait. More than 120,000 pairs of murres nest on these cliffs each summer.The water moving through Hinlopen Strait each day also brings the sea ice and our access into the area is dictated by the ice conditions of the day. Exploring the sea ice generally brings us into much closer contact with polar bears and our captain will work with our expedition team to maximise the viewing potential.
We would be hard pressed to call it expedition cruising if we didn’t work our way into the ice edge. The senior officers on our capable vessel, the Akademik Sergey Vavilov, are experienced ice navigators who will examine the ice edge and, where conditions allow, move the ship into the ice in search of wildlife. A day or even two days spent in the ice requires all hands on deck. Warm jackets, binoculars and spotting scopes are standard and all eyes are engaged in looking for wildlife. And what are we expecting to see? Perhaps a herd of harp seals splashing through the leads between ice flows, a solitary bearded seal soaking up the sun, walrus and, of course, the mighty polar bear. We’ll reach our furthest north at around 80 degrees north latitude. Be sure to get up to the bridge and take a picture of the GPS showing your latitude or, better yet, take your own handheld GPS with you and mark the waypoint.
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 paddling and zodiac cruising. The coastal plain near the mouth of Liefdefjorden offers superb hiking and is often a great place to spot polar bears.
As your zodiac approaches the shore of Fuglesangenoya, it will become apparent that there are thousands of birds nesting on this island. Home to a large dovekie colony the formation of this island allows for excellent viewing without impacting upon the perimeter of the colony. Just a few miles from Fuglesangen is the former whaling station of Smeerenburg, literally translated as Blubber Town. As we hike the shoreline here we will learn about the importance of whaling in the discovery and exploration of the Svalbard archipelago. A harsh industry in an equally harsh environment and, as a testament to this whaling site, all that is left is the blubber ovens.
Alkehornet, or ‘The Horn’ is an incredible horn-shaped mountain close to the entrance of Isfjorden (Ice Fjord). Home to a massive colony of Brunnich’s guillemots and black legged kittiwakes, and host to reindeer and Arctic fox, this is an incredible summary of our Arctic visit. A lush tundra slope below the bird cliffs is rich in Arctic flora and to top it all off, this site has a rich history that will unfold as we hike around the headland.
As our last morning aboard the Akademik Sergey Vavilov, we enjoy a hearty breakfast and prepare to disembark shortly thereafter.
* Itinerary may be subject to change
|Per Person USD|
Rates Arctic 2014
One Ocean Suite
Photography, Kayak, Snowshoe
Rates are per person based on double occupancy. Single cabin prices are 1.5 times the cost of the appropriate twin-share prices listed above. For suites, the Single Cabin Occupancy is 2 times the cost of the prices above. All cabins are smoke-free. Smoking is only permitted in designated areas only. 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.