Introduction to Spitsbergen 2017 Trip Notes

Introduction to Spitsbergen 2017

Last Modified: 25 Apr 2016
Introduction to Spitsbergen 2017
Trip code: BQMI
Validity: 16 Jul 2016 to 23 Jun 2017
Discover the shivery essence of the Arctic as you explore Spitsbergen and its outlying islands. Search for wildlife at every turn, and be prepared for close encounters with lumbering polar bears, noisy walruses and huge colonies of seabirds. This is the largest island in Svalbard and boasts an astonishing array of wild, natural landscapes. Hike flowering tundra at the base of the 14th of July Glacier, roam the rocky, cliff-lined shores of Alkefjellet or grab your snowshoes for an inland excursion to the abandoned whaling sites of Smeerenburg. Along the rugged western coast, be captivated by untouched fjords and discover the many enchanting shades of ice. This trip captures the icy spirit of the polar regions, giving you a unique perspective of the history and geology of this mystical place at the northern reaches of the world.
Table of Contents
StyleAccommodationVisas
ThemesMeals introductionWhat to take
MapMealsCommunications
ItineraryMoney mattersHealth
Itinerary disclaimerGroup leaderTravel insurance
Physical ratingSafetyResponsible Travel
Important notesJoining pointThe Intrepid Foundation
Group sizeFinish pointFeedback
Your fellow travellersEmergency contact
Style
Comfort
Themes
Polar, Sailing, Wildlife
Map

Itinerary
Day 1 Embarkation Day in Longyearbyen
Your Spitsbergen adventure cruise begins when you board your ship in Longyearbyen, the island’s largest settlement. As you embark, you’ll get great views of the mountainous landscape that serves as a backdrop to this seaside settlement.
Accommodation
Cruise ship (1 nt)
Meals
1 dinner
Day 2-8 Exploring Spitsbergen
You’ll cruise around this magical island on a constant search for wildlife. Your expedition will cover western Spitsbergen as well as stunning fjords and outlying islands to the north. From polar flora to immense glaciers, the natural landscape here is just as varied as the wildlife.

Each expedition presents new opportunities and different weather and ice, so there is no fixed itinerary; however, we do have some favorite destinations, including the 14th of July Glacier, Smeerenburg, Alkefjellet and the Hinlopen Strait. The destinations visited will be selected for optimum wildlife viewing and appreciation of the history and geology of Spitsbergen. Polar bear viewing is almost guaranteed, with Hornsund being one of their preferred hunting areas, and the towering cliffs of Alkefjellet providing many free bird egg meals for both them and the arctic fox.

Poolepynton is great for walrus viewing and photography. Coming across a walrus haul-out is a moment you won’t forget. These lumbering giants of the Arctic create quite a noisy scene as each walrus vies for a choice spot of coastline.

If you’re itching for a more personal and intimate view of the arctic scenery, then taking an optional kayaking excursion to some of the more isolated pockets of Spitsbergen is highly recommended. Smeerenburg is a great place for an optional snowshoeing excursion, if conditions permit. You can visit a memorial erected in 1906. This historical site honors the whalers who lost their lives in the 17th and 18th centuries while working in extreme arctic conditions.

There is no shortage of natural beauty in Spitsbergen. The tundra can be surprisingly colorful in summer, with wildflowers bursting for a taste of sunshine. Each day, you’ll see something new, whether it is a rare bird species, a polar bear on the hunt, or a century-old abandoned hut.

POSSIBLE LANDINGS AND WILDLIFE SIGHTINGS
ALKEFJELLET
This cliff is a seabird center, where Brünnich’s guillemots (thick-billed murres) raise their young. An estimated
100,000 breeding pairs reside in the basalt cliffs. The birds do not build nests; rather, they lay eggs on the bare ledge.
LILLIEHÖÖK GLACIER
In 1906, His Serene Highness Prince Albert I of
Monaco visited Lilliehöök Glacier to conduct scientific investigations. His great-great-grandson, HSH Albert II, visited the glacier a hundred years later as part of a scientific investigation, this time to further our understanding of the arctic clam, a species that lives for more than a century. The growth rings of a single clam’s shell contain evidence of the chemicals encountered by the clam. Scientists can determine the variations of the water’s temperature and pollutant content by studying the shell.
LONGYEARBYEN
Eighteen hundred people inhabit the administrative capital of Svalbard, which is situated on the shore of Isfjorden. The settlement was founded in 1905 by John Munroe Longyear, the majority owner of the Arctic Coal Company of Boston.
MONACO GLACIER
HSH Prince Albert I of Monaco, a pioneer of oceanography, led an expedition to Svalbard in 1906. His team used sophisticated photographic techniques to understand the shape and position of several glacier fronts. Monaco Glacier honors the expedition, the prince and the principality over which he reigned.
NORDAUSTLANDET ISLAND
This is the second-largest island in the entire Svalbard archipelago. The largest glacier in Europe is located on the island, which is a known habitat for reindeer and walrus.
PALANDERBUKTA
On the western coast, this bay stretches south and east from the Wahlenberg Fjord. This is a typical polar desert, where the “ice bear” (polar bear) can sometimes be seen roaming in search of food.

The following Optional Activities are available to participate in, on some or all of the departures of this itinerary. These must be booked in advance (additional costs apply) and space is limited.

KAYAKING – Our kayaking adventures are the best way to feel at one with the sea. Taken in small groups of maximum 16 people, multiple times per voyage, kayaking adventures are only conducted during calm weather conditions. Kayaking is open to all levels of experience, however kayaking in the polar waters is not suitable for novice kayakers. Beginners interested in kayaking should first take an introductory course prior to the voyage which includes how to do a wet exit. In addition regardless of your experience, we recommend you take part in some kayaking practise prior to the voyage to ensure that you are comfortable on the water in the icy conditions.

INCLUDED OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES
SNOWSHOEING - A novel way to experience the beauty of the polar landscape, and discover remote alcoves and hidden valleys. The rewards of walking atop the snow are well worth the effort, as we’ll be able to visit new places that may be inaccessible on foot. This traditional means of transport across the snow comes from the indigenous people of North America. While you can appreciate a connection with the past, the snowshoes we use today are much lighter and more forgiving than the old wood-weave snowshoes used during the days of the North American fur trade.
HIKING - Hiking is a great way to appreciate the immense windswept landscapes of the Arctic. The tundra comes alive during the brief arctic summer, with bursts of colour from shrubs and plants that eke out a living in this polar environment. You’ll find each hike is different - exploring communities, shorelines or glaciated landscapes, often on the lookout for wildlife. Hiking participation is optional and your Expedition Team will advise you of what levels of activity you can expect prior to each excursion.

Accommodation
Cruise ship (7 nt)
Meals
7 breakfasts, 7 lunches, 7 dinners
Day 9 Disembarkation Day in Longyearbyen
The time to say goodbye has come. Your adventure ends as it began, in the frontier-style settlement of Longyearbyen. From here we’ll transfer you to the airport for your flight home.
Meals
1 breakfast
Itinerary disclaimer
Polar travel requires an amount of flexibility as weather, ice conditions and wildlife can all affect where your ship is able to access, and where your Expedition Team think you will get the best experience possible from your trip. On board, daily updates are given to advise what the specific itinerary will be for the next day based on local conditions. Published itineraries are subject to change when local conditions dictate.
Physical rating

Although you don't need to be particularly fit to take part in an Arctic expedition, you do need to have a good level of mobility. You must be able to complete the on board safety drills and emergency evacuation procedures unaided. Rolling seas and windy conditions require you to be stable on your feet while negotiating the ship over potentially slippery decks and gangways. The zodiacs are accessed via a gangway or stairs which may be steep on some ships. Some of our ships have lifts, but these may not access all decks so some stair climbing on board will be necessary.
Important notes
BOOKING CONDITIONS
Arctic and Antarctic bookings have an increased deposit requirement of A$2000pp ($6000pp on Icebreaker voyages. Different deposit amounts apply in other currencies). The balance is due 90 days before departure.
If a booking is cancelled 90 days or more before departure - the cancellation fee is the full loss of the deposit paid.
If a booking is cancelled between 89 days and departure - the cancellation fee is 100% of the total price of the voyage.
Other fees may apply for air tickets and other arrangements booked in conjunction with a Polar voyage.

ADVENTURE OPTIONS
Kayaking is available to book on all Arctic voyages except on Icebreakers. Kayaking must be booked prior to departure and incurs an additional cost. Spaces are limited so please enquire at time of booking. Some previous, recent experience is essential. Snowshoeing and hiking is also offered on some itineraries. These activities are at no additional cost and do not need to be pre-booked. See the itinerary for Adventure options available on this voyage.

Your voyage is operated by our sister company, Quark Expeditions. All accommodation and transfer arrangements as listed in the itinerary are also operated by Quark Expeditions or their local representatives.


Group size
Maximum of 83 travellers per group.
Your fellow travellers
On your voyage, you will be travelling with up to 137 other people (depending on which ship you are on). The ships are spacious with ample deck space and public areas so it is always possible to find a spot to yourself to enjoy the scenery and some solitude. On excursions, you will travel in a zodiac with up to 10 guests on each boat. Polar travel attracts travellers of all nationalities and meeting people from other countries is one of the pleasures of life on board. The voyages will be conducted in English and clients who do not speak English will need to travel with someone able to translate for safety reasons. Some voyages may have large non English speaking groups travelling with translators so you may find that announcements are translated for their benefit and presentations may be given separately in their own language or translated.

Single occupancy is available in most cabin categories for 1.7 or 2 times the twin berth price (dependent on which cabin category). Single travellers wishing to share will be matched with another solo traveller of the same sex. Please note that it is not possible to share with a stranger in all cabin types. Please speak to a consultant for full details.
Accommodation
Cruise ship (8nt)
Meals introduction
Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served in the dining room. Hours of operation will be posted and are subject to change to accommodate the expedition. Coffee, tea and cocoa are available around the clock. The tap water on board is safe to drink.
We're able to meet most special dietary requests, as long as you have clearly indicated your requirements far in advance of your voyage. Kosher food cannot be prepared.
Meals
8 breakfasts, 7 lunches, 8 dinners
Money matters
When it comes to money matters on the trip, every traveller is a little different. You know your spending habits better than we do, so please budget a sensible amount for things like meals not included, drinks, shopping, optional activities, tipping and laundry. It's always better to bring a little more than you think you'll need.

Also make sure you've read your trip details thoroughly so you know what's included in the trip price and what isn't. this shoud make budgeting a little easier. You'll find this info in the Inclusions section of your Essential Trip Information (that's this document).

MEALS NOT INCLUDED
We recommend you allow US$100 per person for meals not included in the itinerary

All services onboard your ship such as communication charges, laundry, and bar charges will be added to your onboard account and are charged in US dollars. Your account can be paid with US dollars cash, traveller’s cheques or by Visa or MasterCard.

Outside of the start or end point of your expedition, cash will be of most use in the Arctic. In Svalbard, Greenland and the Canadian Arctic, credit cards are not readily accepted and ATM’s are virtually non-existent. On voyages that visit local towns and villages, there is the opportunity to buy souvenirs and some villages have thriving art scenes with local artisans selling their wares. In addition, some museums and sites charge entry fees and in some locations, you may wish to buy food and drink (although the meals on the ship are very good and plentiful).


The price for the voyage does not include the customary gratuity to the ship's personnel, which is divided equally amongst our hotel and expedition team members. As a guideline, we suggest the amount of US$14 to US$16 per traveller, per day. The amount you choose to give is at your discretion and can be added to your shipboard account at the end of your voyage.

Svalbard uses Norwegian Kroner as it's currency. Credit cards will be accepted in Longyearbyen but beyond the capital, cash in Norwegian Kroner will be required however, there are very few opportunities to spend money in Spitsbergen outside of Longyearbyen.

EMERGENCY FUNDS:
We try to plan for every eventuality, but there are still some things beyond our control. Please make sure you bring an extra USD500 for emergencies (e.g. natural disasters or civil unrest). Sometimes these things necessitate last minute changes to our itineraries, and we can’t guarantee there won’t be some extra costs involved.
Group leader
Your voyage will be led by an experienced Expedition Leader. In addition, a number of experts will be on board to add knowledge of their field to your experience. This will include a Marine Biologist, Ornithologist, Glaciologist or Geologist, Polar Historian, Kayaking guide and Naturalist guides. Voyages offering other adventure activities will have additional specialist guides on board.
Safety
Safety is paramount on an Intrepid voyage. Due to new International Security Regulations, you will not be able to approach the ship on your own. You will have to arrive with the rest of the group, accompanied by an Intrepid representative. Full details of embarkation/disembarkation procedures will be supplied with your final documentation. On board you will be asked to participate in the obligatory lifeboat drill. We will also conduct important briefings on landing procedures and Zodiac operations.

All ships operating in Polar waters must comply with a variety of regulations, codes and industry standards. All our ships adhere to regulations set by IMO (International Maritime Organisation) including ISM Code (Safety Management System), ISPS Code (for ship and port security), SOLAS (Safety of Life at Sea) and MARPOL (Maritime Pollution Prevention). In addition, Quark Expeditions is a full member of IAATO (International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators) and a full member of AECO (Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators).

Quark Expeditions have also been externally audited for its' health and safety programme and have been awarded the British Standard BS8848
Joining point
Longyearbyen

Longyearbyen
Svalbard
NORWAY
Finish point
Longyearbyen

Longyearbyen
Svalbard
NORWAY
Emergency contact
BOOKING ENQUIRIES/ISSUES
For general enquiries or questions about your booking, please contact your agent or adventure specialist, or visit us at http://www.intrepidtravel.com/ourtrips/contact/

CRISES AND EMERGENCIES
In the case of a genuine crisis or emergency please contact our local ground representative on the number below (remember to drop the +xx country code if you are calling from within the country):

Quark: 1 647 449 5303
Visas
Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. Entry requirements can change at any time, so it's important that you check for the latest information. Please visit the relevant consular website of the country or countries you’re visiting for detailed and up-to-date visa information specific to your nationality. Your consultant will also be happy to point you in the right direction with acquiring visas. Visas can take several weeks to process, so familiarise yourself with any requirements as soon as you have booked your trip to allow for processing time.

As a general rule most countries expect that your passport has a minimum of 6 months validity remaining. Please ensure the name on your passport matches the name on your booking and airline tickets. Your passport details are required to complete your booking. Your consultant will contact you when this is required.
Take a copy of the main passport pages and other important documents with you, and leave another copy at home with family or friends.

Visas are currently not required for Australian, New Zealand, US, Canadian or UK/EU passport holders wishing to visit Norway.
Some EU nationals may travel in Europe using only an identity card, however it is your responsibility to check with the relevant authorities if this applies to you.
What to take
The Arctic usually has - relatively - mild weather conditions in high summer. Temperatures below -5ºC are not common (although wind-chill factor can significantly add to the effect.) As a result, you should not need to make many expensive specialist gear purchases, although you do need good wet weather pants and you do need warm clothing. Wet weather jacket and boots are supplied on board the ship. On shore we do aim to provide hiking and walking opportunities whenever possible, so a reasonable pair of walking shoes or boots is suggested.


The dress code on board is relaxed and casual; you will not need to dress formally for meals. The inside of the ship is well heated, so you will not require special clothing on board. Indeed, you could spend most of your time in light trousers and a t-shirt! However, it is not unusual for you to want to go out on deck suddenly - a whale sighting, or seals on a nearby ice-floe or hopefully a polar bear - nearly always produce a major exodus, so you need to keep warm clothing handy at all times, even when a shore excursion is not imminent. When you do go ashore you will require warm clothing - a few layers of light and medium-weight items which can be easily adjusted rather than one or two large and bulky items - and wet weather gear to protect you from the spray which can sometimes be encountered on the Zodiacs.

Below is a list of equipment and documentation that we suggest you take with you. Please use this checklist as a guide when packing for your holiday. Laundry facilities are available on board the ship.

Travel documents: passport, visa (if required), travel insurance, air tickets or e-ticket receipts, Trip Notes
Photocopy of main passport pages, visa (if required), travel insurance and air tickets
Spare passport photos
Money: cash/credit card/EFTPOS card
Money belt (for travelling en route)
Small first-aid kit
Ecologically friendly laundry soap
Daypack (lightweight and waterproof)
Watch/alarm clock and torch/flashlight (and spare batteries)
Electrical adapter plug
Toiletries/travel wipes
Sunscreen, lip balm, moisturising cream, sunhat and sunglasses (with UV protection)
Swimsuit (in case you wish to take the Polar Plunge)
Earplugs and eye mask (for light sleepers)
Extra pair of prescription glasses (if required)
2 strong plastic garbage bags (for laundry and in case of rain)
Refillable water bottle
Phrase book (if travelling en route to ship)
Gloves (2 pairs minimum)
Hat that covers ears
Scarf or other face protection
Wind and waterproof pants (a few sizes larger)
Warm pants
Comfortable shoes
Long wool or cotton socks (for expeditions)
Silk or polypropylene socks (for inside the ship)
Jumpers/sweaters/fleeces
Cotton turtlenecks and t-shirts
Camera and spare film (or recharge for digital cameras)
Plastic bags with zippers for carrying film, etc
Binoculars

Your prescritpion medication, seasickness medication and painkillers
Communications
All of our ships have facilities to communicate with the outside world.

Satellite phone communications are available on all ships but be aware that on some ships, this connection is only available in certain locations and may not be possible from your cabin. Satellite communications can be intermittent and may not be available at all times or in all locations. Phone calls are charged per minute of usage.

Internet access is possible via wifi on your personal laptop or device in certain areas of each ship and is charged via a pre-paid card which can be purchased through the hotel manager. Each ship also has a computer for passengers to use for internet access and emails and the hotel manager can set you up with a temporary webmail address. Please be aware, accessing some websites from the ship will be very expensive as downloading picture heavy content will use up a large amount of data. Text only emails use up much less data and is a very affordable way to communicate with friends and family at home.

All communications from the ship are a bit intermittent as when travelling through mountainous areas or through narrow channels, signals can be disrupted and may not be transmitted until clearing this terrain or until satellites next pass overhead. Please make sure your loved ones have realistic expectations of your ability to communicate with them so they don’t worry about you.
Health
Vaccination requirements do change, but generally you do not need vaccinations for this voyage but some may be required or recommended for countries you are visiting enroute to the Arctic.

It is your responsibility to ensure that you obtain any vaccinations or preventative medicines for the countries you are visiting – or any which may be required by your home country upon your return. To find out which, if any, vaccinations are mandatory or recommended for your destination contact your local doctor, immunisation centre or medical centre for up-to-date information. You should be issued with an International Certificate of Vaccination booklet that records each vaccination. Always carry this with you on your travels; it could provide essential information for doctors in the event that you fall ill whilst travelling.


MOTION SICKNESS
Although our vessels are among the most stable ships in their class, we will still inevitably encounter motion. Unless you are certain you are impervious to the problem, you should take precautions against seasickness. Your doctor can advise you as to the best methods for avoiding this uncomfortable condition.

There will be a licensed English-speaking physician on board. Your vessel will have a medical clinic with a limited supply of prescription medicines and basic first aid equipment. The clinic will not be stocked with every drug or piece of equipment required for every medical problem. If you are under regular treatment for any ailment, you must bring a sufficient supply of medicines for yourself. We cannot accept responsibility for not having a specific brand or type of drug on board. It is wise to carry an extra week’s supply of prescription medications just in case of flight delays or other unforeseen circumstances. If you have particular health needs, please bring with you a signed and dated letter from your physician explaining your health problems and/or the dosage required for the prescribed medication. The letter will assist our doctor on board, and any emergency medical personnel to care for you should you become ill. Please hand the letter to the expedition doctor once you are on board.
Travel insurance
Your voyage fare includes Emergency Evacuation Insurance to a maximum benefit of US$100,000 per person. However, it is essential that you have comprehensive personal travel insurance in addition to this to cover all other eventualities.
Responsible Travel
Travelling responsibly is all about making good choices. It's about ensuring you have an incredible trip while also having a positive impact on the local environment, community and economy you're travelling in . How can you be a Responsible Traveller? See our tips below:

* Choose to travel with a responsible travel company like us! We've already offset the main carbon emissions of your trip, so your footprint is already lighter.
* Consider offsetting your flights too.
* Bring a refillable water bottle and some water purification tablets (or a Steripen) to cut down on plastic bottle waste.
* Be an animal-friendly traveller. Only go to venues that respect animals by allowing them to live normally in their natural environment. Steer clear of venues that use animals for entertainment or abnormal activities and/or keep animals in poor and unnatural conditions.
* Eat at local restaurants, buy from regional artists and support social enterprises so you can contribute directly to locals and their economy.
* Always be respectful of local customs and ask permission if you want to take a photo of someone.
* Learn a few words of the local language and engage with the people around you.
* Carry a cloth or re-usable bag so you can avoid plastic bags.
* Give back by making a donation to a local project via The Intrepid Foundation.

Share your thoughts with us by completing your feedback form after your trip. This helps us to continue to improve our commitment to responsible travel.


As a member of the Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators (AECO), Quark Expeditions are supporters of responsible tourism that mitigates the impact of our shore landings on the landscape or wildlife. Quark was the first operator to offer inclusive Carbon Neutral voyages on the Ocean Diamond. By doing so we have enhanced our commitment to ecological sensitivity and to minimising our impact on the areas we visit including:

• Having our vessels burn Marine Gas Oil (MGO) a clean burning fuel with a low emission factor.
• Conforming to all international regulations/policies governing disposal of waste at sea.
• Serving only sustainable seafood.
• Using only eco-friendly laundry chemicals and room amenities.
• Removing disposable water bottles from the ships.
• Making all our voyages virtually paperless by 2014 and having any paper used be 100% recyclable.

AECO members also operate according to established rules of conduct, which, while you travel with us, we ask you to respect. A copy of the AECO guidelines will be provided prior to travel and staff will brief all passengers prior to the first landing.


The Intrepid Foundation
The Intrepid Foundation is a not-for-profit foundation set up to enable our travellers to support some amazing grassroots projects and partner charities in the places we travel. We support a range of initiatives – from wildlife protection and environmental conservation to supporting vocational training for underprivileged individuals – all with the aim of helping to improve lives across the world. All donations to The Intrepid Foundation are matched dollar for dollar (yes – your donation is doubled!), and administration costs are covered by us so that 100 per cent of your donation is guaranteed to reach your chosen project. To learn more about the projects we support, ask your trip leader for more information about projects in the region you are travelling in or visit.

Feedback
After your travels, we want to hear from you! We realise that our partner company may ask you to complete paper or online feedback following your trip, however we would also like to know what you thought and encourage you to submit your feedback to us too. We rely on your feedback. We read it carefully. Feedback helps us understand what we and our partners are doing well and what could be done better. It allows us to suggest improvements for future travellers.

https://bookings.intrepidtravel.com/bookings/en_AU/feedback