Around Spitsbergen with Kvitøya 10 daysAboard: MV Plancius
This ten day voyage around Spitsbergen, the largest wilderness area in Europe, will bring you up-close to the spectacular scenery and amazing wildlife that makes this one of the most fascinating places to visit in the world. On this very special Arctic cruise your ship will attempt to navigate entirely around the island, including the northernmost points just 540 miles from the geographical North Pole. The added bonus of a landing on the rarely visited and historically significant island of Kvitøya makes this trip stand out from the crowd. Enjoying exciting Zodiac and land excursions throughout, you will be on a constant lookout for the abundant Arctic wildlife that resides in this remarkable part of the world including walrus, whales, reindeer, myriad birdlife, and, of course, polar bears!
Please note that whilst the chances of landing at Kvitøya are very high, as with all polar expeditions, nothing can be guaranteed. If ice and sea conditions deem an approach impossible then we will instead circumnavigate Spitsbergen through the Hinlopen Strait, an equally exciting and rewarding route.
- Attempt a navigation of the spectacular island of Spitsbergen
- Exciting Zodiac and shore excursions
- Breathtaking scenery at every turn
- Abundant Arctic wildlife including Polar bears, whales, walrus and reindeers
- Myriad birdlife
- Full board accommodation on board with all meals, snacks and hot drinks
- All zodiac excursions and landings with expert guides
- Programme of expert lectures
- Loan of rubber boots
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Your Spitsbergen circumnavigation cruise will begin in Longyearbyen, the administrative capital of the Svalbard archipelago, where after having arrived independently you can enjoy a stroll around this former mining town before making your way to the port to embark your ship in the afternoon. After settling in to your cabin and exploring your new surroundings, the ship will depart in the early evening. As we sail out of Isfjorden we recommend spending some time on deck where you may spot the first minke whale of your voyage following the ship in the waters below.
Various flight and land package options are available for transport to and from Longyearbyen, please enquire for full details.
Krossfjorden & Ny Alesund
Having sailed north along Spitsbergen’s dramatic west coast overnight, this morning we will arrive in Krossfjorden to enjoy the first of many Zodiac boat excursions of our trip. Cruising along the sculpted front of the 14th of July Glacier and down along its neighbouring green slopes, you will witness a beautiful variety of flowers blooming along with fantastic numbers of Brunnich's guillemots and kittiwakes nesting on the nearby cliffs. We also have good chances of spotting bearded seals here along with Arctic foxes who patrol the base of the cliffs in search of eggs and chicks that may drop from above.
After our exploration of Krossfjorden, later in the afternoon we will sail to Ny Alesund for more bird spotting and an introduction to some of the history of this remarkable island. Ny Alesund is the world's most northerly settlement, which, when it was a mining village, was served by the world's most northerly railway, which we can see as we enjoy a walk around the village. The history enthusiasts amongst us may enjoy a walk to the anchoring mast used by Amundsen and Nobile, in the airship Norge in 1926 and Nobile in the airship Italia in 1928, before their flights to the North Pole. The birding enthusiasts may enjoy a walk to the nearby breeding ground for Arctic Tern, Pink-footed Goose and Barnacle Goose.
As with all polar expeditions, itinerary flexibility is the key, and each day your captain and experienced crew will determine the best course to travel in order to provide you with the very best scenic and wildlife observation opportunities. Today we plan to sail to the Seven Islands, north of Nordaustlandet, and what may be the northernmost point of your voyage. We hope to land on Sjuøyane, one of the Seven Islands, to enjoy a walk along the Arctic landscape just 870 km (540 miles) from the geographic North Pole in search of the large numbers of walrus which are often found here. Polar bears also inhabit this region so we may anchor the ship for several hours or roam amongst the pack ice in order to give us time to spot some of these majestic animals.
Pushing further east along the north coast of Nordaustlandet we will reach the great glacier front of Schweigaardbreen and also the area where the Italian captain Sora tried to rescue the Nobile Expedition in 1928. We hope to take a Zodiac cruise here or make land at Firkantbukta to take a high altitude walk in search of the perfect elevated scenic photo opportunities. Alternatively we may take a Zodiac cruise close to Storøya in search of the large number of walrus that are often seen here.
Today may well be the highlight of our trip as we attempt to reach the historically significant and rarely-visited remote island of Kvitøya. The enormous ice cap covering this island close to Russian territory leaves only a small amount of land bare and we will attempt to land at the western tip of Andréeneset, where the Swedish explorer S. A. Andrée and his companions perished in 1897. We also hope to visit Kræmerpynten to see the sizeable group of walruses that reside here.
If your captain and crew deem that an attempt to reach Kvitøya is not possible then we will instead sail through the Hinlopen Strait to circumnavigate Spitsbergen. The chances of reaching Kvitøya based on previous years’ success are around 70%.
Leaving Kvitøya behind we will now sail south along the east coast of Nordaustlandet to attempt a landing on Isisøya. This fascinating place was once a Nunatak area surrounded by glaciers, but is now an island surrounded by the sea. Later that day we will pass by Bråswellbreen. This spectacular glacier is part of the largest ice cap in Europe and is famed for its meltwater waterfalls.
Barentsøya & Edgeøya
As we continue to sail southwards along Spitsbergen’s east coast our plan today will be to make a landing in Freemansundet, although the presence of polar bears on land may mean this is deemed impossible. Other landings we may make on Barentsøya include Rindedalen where we can enjoy a walk along the tundra in search of Spitsbergen reindeer and barnacle geese, Sundneset to visit an old trapper’s hut and Kapp Waldburg to see its large kittiwake colony. We also hope to enjoy a Zodiac cruise to Kapp Lee on Edgeøya where we will see a large walrus haul-out and enjoy a hike along the coast to see some Pomor ruins.
At Sea - Cruising Hornsund
Today we will enjoy some time on board as we cruise along the side fjords of the Hornsund area of southern Spitsbergen enjoying the scenery of towering spire-like mountain peaks of up to 4,695 feet. This area perfectly demonstrates why early Dutch explorers named this island Spitsbergen, meaning “pointed mountains.” As we sail we can enjoy our onboard presentation and lecture programme delivered by expert naturalists, and spending some time on deck with our cameras in hand as we sail by 14 sizeable glaciers. There are also excellent chances of spotting polar bears, seals and beluga whales from the ship.
The last region on our thrilling Spitsbergen circumnavigation will be Bellsund, one of the largest fjord systems in Svalbard. We plan to land at Ahlstrandhalvøya, at the mouth of Van Keulenfjorden to enjoy a walk to see the lush vegetation that is found here owing to the ocean currents which make this area relatively warmer than other areas in the archipelago. Here we will see the piles of beluga skeletons that remain as a haunting reminder of the whale slaughtering that happened here in the 19th century. Thankfully, these magnificent marine animals were not hunted to extinction and we have good chances of coming across a pod here. We also hope to take a Zodiac cruise along the side fjords of Bellsund to explore the tundra and search for sightings of reindeer and little auks.
Circumnavigation complete, our arrival back into Longyearbyen signals the end of our exciting Arctic cruise, and after breakfast you will disembark and bid a fond farewell to your expedition team and new-found friends. You may wish to spend some further time here exploring this unique Arctic town or enjoying some of the many extra excursions and activities that are on offer here. Please enquire for details of the land-based activities that we would be happy to arrange for you. Otherwise, it’s sadly time to make your way to the airport for your onward or homeward flights, filled with memories of the adventure of a lifetime.
A view from Above
Plancius was built as a Dutch oceanographic research vessel and refurbished as a passenger ship in 2009. It has ice strengthened bow and stern and is ideal for polar sailing. There is a mixture of suites and cabins, all with window or porthole. Some have private facilities and some shared. There are twin, triple and quadruple cabins suitable for sharing. Public areas are a spacious observation lounge and bar, library, lecture theatre and dining room along with plenty of outside deck space and an open-bridge policy. Rubber boots are supplied for all passengers.
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