North Spitsbergen Polar Bears - 8 DaysAboard: MV Plancius MV Ortelius M/V Hondius M/V Janssonius
Join us as we sail to 82 degrees north to explore the fantastically beautiful north coast of Spitsbergen, Svalbard’s largest island. Discovering the largest wilderness area in Europe, you can enjoy exhilarating Zodiac cruises and shore excursions in search of some of the finest scenery and wildlife experiences in the world, including whales, walrus, myriad birdlife and regular sightings of the magnificent King of the Arctic, the Polar bear.
This fantastic itinerary will take you from Longyearbyen, the administrative capital of Svalbard, to enchanting destinations on the north of the archipelago including Raudfjorden, the Monaco Glacier and the Seven Islands. A classic Spitsbergen cruise that will bring you to 82° north, just 540 miles from the geographic North Pole.
This trip operates on various dates aboard 4 different vessels. Mentioned activities may not be applicable to all departure dates. Please enquire for full rates and dates.
- Explore around the north coast of Svalbard's largest island in search of unrivalled scenic and wildlife experiences
- Excellent chances of sightings of Polar bears
- Other Arctic wildlife including whales, walrus, Arctic fox, and reindeer
- Myriad birdlife
- Spectacular scenery
- Historic sites
- In-field and on-board discovery and learning workshops (select departures)
- Kayaking and snowshoeing options (select departures)
- 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
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.
Zoe’s abiding love of adventure travel has taken her to some of the most incredible wildlife-rich places on Earth. Her vast experience and genuine desire to share her knowledge makes her an outstanding and invaluable person to help you organise your wildlife adventure trip.
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.
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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All our itinerary holidays are fully customisable
Your northern Spitsbergen expedition 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.
Today will be spent at sea sailing north towards Raudfjorden, on the very north coast of Spitsbergen. As we sail you will be able to sample some of the spectacular scenery that Spitsbergen is famous for as we travel through an expansive fjord spilling with glaciers. Already we will be on the lookout for fascinating wildlife sightings including the ringed and bearded seals that often frequent the fjord and the thriving seabird colonies that reside in the cliffs and along the shorelines. We may also have our first chances of spotting polar bears!
Your program of expert lectures and presentations will also begin, covering everything from the history of Polar exploration to the geological features and wildlife you are likely to encounter on your voyage.
Liefdefjorden & Monaco Glacier
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 hope for favourable conditions to sail into Liefdefjorden and cruise within sight of the 5-kilometer-long (3.1 miles) face of the precipitous Monaco Glacier. The base of the ice is a popular polar bear hunting ground so we will hope for lots of sightings of these majestic animals here along with the thousands of kittiwakes that make the front of the glacier their favourite feeding spot. If ice conditions are not favourable for a cruise into Liefdefjorden, your crew will determine an alternate, but similarly exciting, route along the west coast.
Today should see us sailing into the wildlife hotspot of the Hinlopen Strait which should hopefully reward in sightings of ringed and bearded seals, Polar bears and maybe even Blue whales. We hope to be able to Zodiac cruise through the ice floes of Lomfjordshalvøya before reaching the impressive Alkefjellet bird cliffs which are teeming with thousands of Brünnich’s guillemots. We also hope to search for sightings of pink-footed geese, along with reindeer and walruses, on a landing at Nordaustlandet. If ice prevents our entry into the Hinlopen Strait, an alternative route further north will be taken.
The next part of our adventure will be an attempt to reach the northernmost islands of Svalbard - the Seven Islands north of Nordaustlandet. We will try to find the pack ice to take in the spectacular surroundings and search for wildlife such as polar bears and perhaps even the illusive Ross gull. We will reach the area of 80 degrees north - just 870 km from the geographic North Pole.
We plan to spend the full day here in order to optimise our chances of polar bear observations before retracing our route back west along Spitsbergen’s north coast. As we sail, we will be on deck keeping a constant lookout for more polar bears and the elusive Greenland (bowhead) whales. About 40 nautical miles west of Spitsbergen we will sail along the edge of the continental shelf where the cold, nutrient-rich waters are home to fin whales and minke whales, so make sure to have your cameras at the ready. Your presentation program will continue, and this is also a great time to simply relax in the comfort of your ship and soak up the sights and sounds of the surrounding Arctic landscape.
Prins Karls Forland
Our final day of adventure will take us to the remarkable Prins Karls Forland. Here you can enjoy a Zodiac cruise in the surrounding Forlandsundet in search of sightings of walrus surrounded by majestic scenery. Alternatively, we may sail into St. Johns Fjord or south to the mouth of Isfjorden, landing at Alkhornet. Here we will see an abundance of seabirds nesting on the cliffs and can enjoy a walk in search of sightings of Arctic fox searching below the cliffs for fallen eggs and chicks, and reindeer grazing on the sparse vegetation.
In the evening your ship will begin its sail back towards Longyearbyen, arriving at the port by night fall.
This morning signals the end of our exciting Arctic polar bear 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.
Ortelius was built as a Russian scientific survey ship with ice strengthened hull, ideal for polar sailing. She has been completely refurbished and has a selection of suites and cabins with windows or portholes and either private or shared facilities. There are twin dining rooms, lecture room, bar and observation lounge and lots of open deck space plus an open-bridge policy. Ortelius also has a helicopter landing pad and helicopter excursions are available on some itineraries.
A brand-new (2019) deluxe vessel that has been built to the very highest Polar Class for ice-strengthened vessels. The first civilian vessel in the world to receive a Polar Class 6 notation and designed to fully comply with the mandatory requirements of the Polar code, the M/V Hondius leads the way for both safe ship operation and protection of the Polar environment. Providing deluxe accommodation for up to 174 passengers the M/V Hondius offers one of the highest comfort experiences of all vessels which operate in the Polar Regions. The accommodation onboard is provided in numerous suites of varying sizes, from the Hondius Suite to quadruple porthole cabins, with all cabins having either a balcony, large windows or portholes. Each cabin has been custom-designed and impeccably outfitted in a stylish décor. The M/V Hondius has been designed to offer a deluxe feel whilst still maintaining a sense of cosy camaraderie, with welcoming communal, observation and dining areas. An entire deck has been dedicated to space for lectures and presentations, and every element of the vessel has been thoroughly thought-out to provide the very best passenger experience. The vessel features a sheltered Zodiac boarding zone making joining and returning from land-based excursions fast and easy, and has been built to exceed the latest Green requirements imposed by the International Maritime Organisation to ensure that your trip causes as little impact as possible on the areas you will visit.
The brand-new (late 2021) M/V Janssonius is an innovative Polar vessel which meets the latest and highest Lloyd’s Register standards for ice-strengthened cruise ships. Now one of the most advanced touring vessels in the polar regions, Janssonius is thoroughly optimized for exploratory voyages and surpasses the requirements of the Polar Code adopted by the International Maritime Organization (IMO). Built to be one of the most environmentally friendly vessels on the polar seas, Janssonius uses LED lighting, steam heating, bio-degradable paints and lubricants, and state-of-the-art power management systems that keep fuel consumption and CO2 levels minimal. Offering high-quality hotel style accommodation for up to 170 passengers, Janssonius offers immaculate cabins of varying sizes, from the Grand Suite to quadruple porthole cabins, with all cabins having either a balcony, large windows, or portholes. Each cabin has been custom-designed and impeccably outfitted in a stylish mid-century modern décor. Onboard you will find a unique blend of deluxe surroundings combined with a cosy and informal atmosphere. The ship features an expansive observation lounge, a lecture theatre and a welcoming dining room, as well as two Zodiac embarkation platforms for swift access to sea and land activities.
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