Take in the sights of Spitsbergen on an unforgettable Arctic trip
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.
- Longyearbyen, Norway
- Longyearbyen, Norway
- Polar, Sailing, Wildlife
- Physical rating
- Min 8
- Group size
- Min 1, Max 83
Why we love this trip
Discover the quirky city of Longyearbyen
Scour the ice sheets for polar bears
Be enchanted by the seabirds dotted along the cliffs of Alkefjellet
Trek to the impressive 14th July Glacier
Spot reindeer grazing on windswept coasts
- Cruise ship (1 night)
Special InformationEmbarkation will take place at about 4.00pm. Please make sure you arrive prior to 3.00pm. An arrival transfer is included if arriving today.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- Cruise ship (7 nights)
- Breakfast (7)
- Lunch (7)
- Dinner (7)
Special InformationAn airport transfer is included if you are departing today or to downtown Longyearbyen if you are staying on. Please do not book onward flights until after 12.00pm
Meals8 breakfasts, 7 lunches, 8 dinners
AccommodationCruise ship (8 nights)
Dates & availability
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There are currently no scheduled departures on our Introduction to Spitsbergen trip. If you are interested in other trips in the region visit one of the links below.
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Arctic and Antarctic bookings have an increased deposit requirement of 20% of the full voyage cost (before any discount). The balance is due 120 days before departure.
If a booking is cancelled 120 days or more before departure - the cancellation fee is the full loss of the deposit paid.
If a booking is cancelled between 119 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.
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.