Relish the icy mystique of Spitsbergen, Svalbard's largest island

Experience the chilling beauty of windswept polar deserts, vast cliff-lined shores and fjords shimmering with ice on this Arctic trip that takes you around Spitsbergen, the largest island in the icy Svalbard Archipelago. From flower-filled tundra to secluded, frosty beaches, there is no shortage of terrain to explore on this icy land. If you’re after a polar bear sighting or two, there are plenty of chances to spot these majestic giants hunting along the ice sheets, not to mention walruses, reindeer, Arctic foxes and vast colonies of rare seabirds. Hike, kayak or strap on some snowshoes – however you choose to explore it, Spitsbergen is brimming with possibilities for a breathtaking adventure.

Longyearbyen, The Arctic
Longyearbyen, The Arctic
Polar, Sailing, Wildlife
Physical rating
Cultural rating
Min 8
Group size
Min 1 Max 83
Carbon offset
0kg pp per trip


  • Uncover the incredible landscape of Spitsbergen, from the quirky northernmost city of Longyearbyen and brilliantly blue glaciers like the ‘14th July Glacier’, to stunning fjords and towering mountains and cliffs
  • Experience the unique and memorable sensation of 24 hours of sunlight
  • Scour sheets of ice and hopefully be rewarded with unforgettable sightings of the ruler of the Arctic – the Polar Bear
  • With endless daylight there are also endless wildlife-viewing opportunities – elusive Arctic foxes, breaching whales, lounging masses of walruses, and enchanting seabirds dotted along the cliffs of Alkefjellet
  • Choose to get even closer to this amazing environment with optional activities like snowshoeing, hiking, and gliding along pristine waters between icebergs in a sea kayak


Your Spitsbergen adventure voyage 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.
Special Information
A representative will meet all flights arriving into Longyearbyen starting from noon (12:00) on the day prior to embarkation. Travellers who arrive before noon on the day prior to embarkation will have to make their own airport transfer arrangements.

Ship embarkation will begin after 16:00 (4 PM) today. Please ensure you arrive prior to 3.00pm
We cruise around this magical island, on a constant search for wildlife. Your expedition will cover western Spitsbergen as well as some stunning fjords and outlying islands to the north. From polar deserts to immense glaciers, the natural landscape here is just as varied as the wildlife.
Each expedition presents new opportunities, so we have no fixed itinerary, however we do have some favorite destinations, including 14th of July Glacier, Smeerenburg, Phippsoya, Alkhornet and the Hinlopen Straight.
The destinations visited on your voyage will be selected for optimum wildlife viewing and appreciation of the history and geology of Spitsbergen. Polar bear viewing is almost guaranteed, with Phippsoya 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.
Torellneset and Phippsoya are great places for walrus photography. Coming across a walrus haul-out is a moment you won’t forget either. 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 to get a little closer to the action, then taking a sea-kayaking excursion to some of the more isolated pockets of Spitsbergen is highly recommended. Smeerenburg is a great place for snowshoeing (an optional, complimentary excursion on selected voyages), as you can visit a memorial erected in 1906. This historical site remembers 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 or an abandoned hut from centuries ago.


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 an egg on the bare ledge.

This is a well-known walrus haul-out. The pink color to a walrus’ hide as it lies in the sun is caused by blood pumped to the skin’s surface to aid cooling, similar to that of a hippopotamus in Africa.
In 1906, His Serene Highness Prince Albert I of
Monaco visited Lilliehöök Glacier to conduct scientific investigations. His great-great-grandson visited the glacier 100 years later. He, too, was 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’ can sometimes be seen roaming in search of food.

This small archipelago is the northernmost land in Svalbard.
Englishmen left their mark during a survey of the islands in the 1780s. The party named the islands after themselves, with the smallest and least significant island being named Nelsonøya, after the lowly midshipman, who was promoted over the years to the rank and title of Vice Admiral Horatio Lord Nelson!

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.

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.

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.

Please book departure flights out of Longyearbyen after 12:00pm.
Special Information
An departure transfer is included to the airport if you are departing today or to downtown if you are staying on.

Please book departure flights out of Longyearbyen after 12.00pm
View trip notes to read full itinerary


10 breakfasts, 9 lunches, 10 dinners
Ship, Zodiac
Cruise ship (10 nights)
Included activities
  • Activity


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Important notes

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.

Trip notes

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Your trip notes provide a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what’s included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.

View trip notes