Embark in Longyearbyen, SvalbardToday embark your expedition ship in Longyearbyen. Sail out of Adventfjorden and into Isfjorden during the early evening. With almost 24 hours of daylight during this time of year, enjoy the views from the outer decks. Meet your expedition team during an introductory briefing and then enjoy a welcome dinner in the ship's comfortable dining room.
Beluga whales are frequently seen as they transit the narrow sound near Bourbonhamna. It is estimated that there are approximately five to ten thousand belugas in the Svalbard population. The beluga has no dorsal fin, a feature of high Arctic whale species such as the narwhal and bowhead. Since a dorsal fin could be damaged when the animal surfaces in areas with ice, it has been postulated the lack of dorsal fin is an adaptation to living in frequently ice-covered waters.
On the first shore excursion, an old hunting cabin and other artifacts are points of interest during a scenic hike to Ingebrigstenbukta. However, it is the massive piles of beluga whale bones that catch everybody's attention. The bones and all artifacts are protected by the Svalbard Government and cannot be removed. While wandering amongst these relics, you can hope to catch a glimpse of dozens of reindeer that inhabit the area.
KrossfjordenLilliehook Glacier, at the head of the northwestern arm of Krossfjorden, is an incredible sight. The glacier face stretches almost seven kilometers and has a height of around 80 meters. Viewed from the ship or on a zodiac cruise you come to appreciate the enormous scale of your surroundings. The shores of Krossfjorden are home to numerous bird colonies and a variety of different species. Anchor off one small harbor and cruise in the zodiacs along the bird cliffs near the 14th of July Glacier. While cruising the dark waters, be on the lookout for bearded and ringed seals, both species known to frequent this fjord.
Liefdefjorden and MonacobreenNo trip along the north coast of Spitsbergen would be complete without a visit to Monacobreen (*Monaco Glacier). A wide glacier face at the head of the fjord makes for spectacular kayaking and zodiac cruising. The coastal plain near the mouth of Liefdefjorden offers superb hiking and is often a great place to spot polar bears who come here to hunt for ringed seals or feed on nutrient-rich bird's eggs.
PhippsøyaAt 81° north latitude, Phippsoya is just 540 nautical miles from the North Pole. Your ice-strengthened expedition ship allows you to approach the edge of the pack ice in safety and comfort. Because of its proximity to the permanent ice pack, Phippsoya offers the potential for great polar bear viewing. The crew has enjoyed excellent encounters here with the bears in recent seasons. Be sure to get up to the ship’s bridge and take a picture of the GPS showing your latitude or, better yet, take your own handheld GPS with you and mark in the waypoint as we are so close to the North Pole!
Hinlopen Strait and NordaustlandetFrom the ice edge, turn south into the main strait separating Svalbard's two main islands: Spitsbergen and Nordaustlandet. In Hinlopen Strait, the bird cliffs at Alkefjellet are home to more than a hundred thousand breeding Brunnich's guillemots, as well as thousands of kittiwakes and black guillemots. It is a spectacular site and a challenging one for the zodiacs as the tidal currents roar through Hinlopen Strait. Nearby Murchison Fjord is a wonderful place to kayak or cruise as the ship navigates the waterways between the islands. There are some excellent hiking routes here as well, which take you up to high points that offer staggering views and further opportunities to encounter Arctic wildlife.
Fuglesangen and Smeerenburg
As your zodiac approaches the shore of Fuglesangenoya, it becomes apparent there are thousands of nesting birds on the island. Home to a large dovkie colony, the formation of the island allows for excellent viewing without impacting upon the perimeter of the colony.
As you hike the shoreline of the former whaling station of Smeerenburg (literally translated as "Blubber Town"), learn about the importance of whaling in the discovery and exploration of the Svalbard archipelago. The blubber ovens stand as a reminder to this harsh industry in an equally harsh environment.
Poole Pynten, Prins Karls ForlandThe sight and sound of a walrus haul-out embodies the Arctic like nothing else can. Visit the well-known walrus colony on Prince Charles Island and hope to see these odd-looking animals ashore. Approaching from downwind can often confirm that walrus are ashore, as their smell is quite unique! Tonight, celebrate your journey with a special dinner attended by the ship's Captain. It's a great time to reflect on a wonderful voyage in this wild and remote place.
Disembark in Longyearbyen, SvalbardArrive in Longyearbyen this morning. Disembark after breakfast and say farewell to your expedition team and fellow passengers. A transfer into town is provided for those choosing to stay a few days. If you are departing today, you have a few hours this morning to explore the town before transferring to the airport for your onward flights.