Spitsbergen Explorer 12 daysAboard: Akademik Sergey Vavilov
This excellent itinerary offers an exploration of almost the entire Svalbard Archipelago and will bring you up close to spectacular scenery and fantastic wildlife and birdlife experiences. Exploring through the land of the polar bear you will sail from Longyearbyen, the administrative capital of Svalbard, deep inside the Arctic Circle to discover the western, southern and northern coasts of Spitsbergen. This area has the highest concentration of wildlife and places of historic and scenic interest in the archipelago and we will spend our days enjoying regular Zodiac cruising, short or long hikes, visits to wildlife colonies and exploring noted historical areas. Throughout your journey we hope to have numerous chances to encounter polar bear, beluga, walrus, reindeer and myriad birdlife.
- Enjoy searching for polar bears
- Encounter whales and marine mammals
- Superb birdlife
- Spectacular icebergs and scenery
- Historical sites
- Kayaking options available
- Transfers to and from ship
- Full board accommodation on board ship
- Zodiac excursions and shore landings including hikes and wildlife colony visits
- Programme of expert lectures
- Experienced Expedition Leader and professional expedition team of marine biologists, naturalists, historians, adventure guides and photographers
- 24 hour hot drinks
- Expedition gear loan package
- Onboard sauna, plunge pool, Jacuzzi and fitness centre
So much to experience
Too much to choose from? This is where we come in
Take advantage of our vast experience, passion and expertise to help you hand craft the perfect Arctic adventure for you.
Mike has more than fifteen years hands-on experience in the industry, travelling to some of the most incredible wild places on the planet. His far-reaching knowledge and invaluable skills will ensure that your wildlife travel adventure is a dream come true.
Having amassed a host of extraordinary adventures in destinations all over the world, Zoe’s experience, skills and enthusiasm for helping clients plan their ideal itinerary will help make your holiday unforgettable, action packed and life-changing.
Simon’s deep passion for and first-hand knowledge of a vast range of destinations all over the world gives him the ideal skills to help you create a truly unforgettable wildlife inspired adventure to the most exciting places on the planet.
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Your Spitsbergen expedition cruise will begin in Longyearbyen, the administrative capital of Svalbard, where after having arrived independently you will board your ship ready for adventure. After settling in to your cabin and exploring your new surroundings the ship will set sail through Adventfjorden and into Isfjorden before reaching the Greenland Sea and sailing south. We recommend spending some time on deck as we sail, taking advantage of the 24 hours of daylight that offers some fantastic scenic photo opportunities.
Our first stop on our tour will be the narrow sound of Bourbonhamna where we will take our first Zodiac excursion to make land for a hike to Ingebrigstenbukta to view the old hunting cabins and relics here, alongside other artefacts and piles of beluga whalebones which offer a striking reminder of Svalbard’s hunting past. Bourbonhamna is well known for its Beluga whale population and we will search for sightings of these from the ship and from our Zodiacs. We are also likely to catch a glimpse of some of the dozens of reindeer that reside in this area.
Storfjorden / Kapp Lee
We will now sail all the way around the south of Spitsbergen to reach the area’s most southerly point, the broad expanse of Storfjorden. Here we will make land at Dolerittneset near Kapp Lee to experience the rare vegetation of the area, where green moss and grasses, black and orange lichen, purple saxifrage, yellow cinquefoil and white sandwort flowers create a blanket across this unique landscape. One of the most striking features of the landscape, however, is the large scatterings of reindeer antlers and ancient whalebones which carpet the ground and show a stark reminder of how some 400 years ago the whales in Svalbard’s waters were hunted to the brink of extinction. Thankfully this practice has long become extinct itself and now the whale bones act as a unique form of protection for the delicate flora beneath them. We will spend some time here learning about the area’s history from our experienced expedition team which contains expert in fields including geology, marine biology and history.
As we return back westwards we will stop to explore Hornsund, the home of the Polish Polar research station and an excellent place to spot Arctic foxes and reindeer. Here we will enjoy a Zodiac cruise through the glacier-filled bay which leads into Hornsund, as well as hikes across this fantastic landscape with our on-board guides who will offer insights into the formation of the unique geological formations we will see throughout our voyage.
Krossfjorden & 14th July Glacier
Today we will sail north past Prins Karls Forland to arrive at the rocky shores of Krossfjorden to see discover the huge bird colonies that are present here. Anchoring in a protected harbour, you can jump in to the Zodiacs to enjoy a cruise to the bird cliffs near the majestic 14th July Glacier to see numerous kittiwakes and ivory gulls and seek out encounters with the bearded and ringed seals which frequent the waters here. We will also see the incredible sight of the Lilliehook Glacier, at the northwestern head of Krossfjorden, and search for the polar bears that are often found here due the abundance of prey around.
Smeergenburg & Sea Ice Exploration
As we sail out of Krossfjorden we will visit Smeerenburgfjorden to take a walk along the beach to see the historic blubber cookers that remain here and spend some time photographing the spectacular landscapes that surround us, with hints and tips offered from our on-board photography expert. As with every day on our Spitsbergen adventure we will be on the lookout for wildlife sightings.
On day 7 we will spend the day sailing north and you will most likely want to be on deck as we search the edges of the sea ice for bearded seals, ringed seals and walruses, as well as polar bears. Your experienced captain will take advantage of your ship’s silent technology that will allow us to quietly approach and come up as close as possible to any wildlife we see.
Phippsoya - northernmost point
Sailing to the far north of the archipelago we will reach 81° degrees north to visit Phippsoya, an area which offers fantastic chances of excellent polar bear viewings. Being just 50 nautical miles from the North Pole this will be the northernmost part of our voyage so be sure to visit the bridge to take a picture of the ship's GPS showing this incredibly high polar latitude near the top of the world.
Hinlopen Strait & Nordaustlandet
Today we will turn south to sail through the Hinlopen Strait, the strait which separates Spitsbergen and Nordaustlandet, Svalbard’s two main islands. Here we will spend some time exploring along the bird cliffs at Alkefjellet hoping to see some of the more than a hundred thousand breeding Brunnich's guillemots, as well as thousands of kittiwakes and black guillemots.
Here we are also likely to see polar bears as well as large walrus haul-outs, and a number of adventure activity options will be offered here including kayaking and hiking close to nearby Murchison Fjord.
Liefdefjorden and Monacobreen
As we return northwest we will enter Leifdefjorden and slowly cruise towards the impressive Monaco Glacier to enjoy a thrilling Zodiac cruise against a spectacular backdrop. No trip along the north coast of Spitsbergen would be complete without a visit to this area filled with ice caves and tumbling seracs, and this is also a great place for a spot of kayaking. You can also enjoy a hike along the tundra here to marvel at its vibrancy and unique geological features. Wildlife we can expect to see here includes reindeer and Arctic foxes as well as birdlife including black-legged kittiwakes, purple sandpipers and red phalaropes.
Our final stop on our thrilling Spitsbergen adventure will be Alkehornet, at the mouth of Isfjord, where we can enjoy a fantastic walk along the tundra to seek out some spectacular views and sightings of Arctic foxes. This is also a great place for birding with sightings of guillemots and kittiwakes very likely. As we re-board our ship in the evening you will be welcomed to enjoy a celebratory final dinner which will be attended by your captain.
Arrival back into Longyearbyen this morning will sadly signal the end of our adventure and after breakfast we will disembark and bid farewell to our expedition crew. A transfer will be provided into town for a chance to visit the museums and gather up some last-minute souvenirs, before transferring to the airport for onward or homeward flights. There are numerous Arctic excursions available in Longyearbyen and should you wish to extend your stay here we will be happy to help you arrange some further adventures.
A view from Above
Built in Finland in 1988 as a Russian polar research vessel, the Akademik Sergey Vavilov, was operating as One Ocean Voyager until recently, is a comfortable, stable, ice-strengthened ship with all the facilities for modern expedition cruising. There is a mixture of suites and cabins, all with windows or portholes and some with private facilities. Public areas include dining room, lounge, bar, library with forward facing windows, multi-media room with Apple Mac computers and photo management software, presentation room, mud room, passenger lift and gift shop. There is also a wellness centre, sauna, spa, salt-water plunge pool, fitness room and infirmary. Along with plenty of open deck space, there is a top deck with 360degrees views and a small observatory with spotting scope. The ship has an open-bridge policy.
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