Embark on your expedition cruise vessel, the Akademik Sergey Vavilov, in Longyearbyen and sail out of Adventfjorden and into Isfjorden during the early evening. On board, meet for an introductory briefing and then adjourn to the dining room for your first meal aboard.
A fjord cutting deep into the mountains of Spitsbergen, Krossfjorden offers an abundance of wildlife and scenery for your first morning on the ship. Whether it be cruising by ship or zodiac in front of the 15-kilometer-wide face of Lilliehookbreen (glacier), tramping across the tundra in search of a World War II German weather station, or searching for Atlantic puffins on the cliffs near 15th of July Glacier, this is a worthy welcome to the Arctic.
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 sole remaining testament to this harsh industry in an equally harsh environment are the blubber ovens found on site.
No 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 it often a great place to spot polar bears.
Your journey lives up to its name of "expedition" when the ship works its way into the ice edge. Senior officers on your capable vessel are experienced ice navigators who examine the ice edge and, when conditions allow, move the ship into the ice in search of wildlife. A day or even two days spent on the ice requires all hands on deck. Warm jackets, binoculars, and spotting scopes are standard and all eyes are engaged in looking for wildlife. Perhaps you can catch a glimpse of a herd of harp seals splashing through the leads between ice flows, a solitary bearded seal soaking up the sun, maybe a walrus and - of course - the mighty polar bear.
Dividing the eastern side of the Svalbard archipelago from the western side, Hinlopen Strait is full of wildlife. The water that flushes through the strait each day is rich in phyto and zooplankton, nourishing the Brunnich's guillemot colony at Aklefjellet on the western shore of Hinlopen Strait. More than 120,000 pairs of guillemots nest on these cliffs each summer. The water moving through Hinlopen Strait each day also brings sea ice, which dictates the ship's access into the area. Exploring the sea ice generally brings you into much closer contact with polar bears and your captain works with the expedition team to maximize the viewing potential.
Tucked into the northwestern tip of Spitsbergen, Raudfjorden offers an excellent place to hike, zodiac cruise, or kayak. Your excursion takes you on a search of reindeer ashore and ringed and bearded seals adrift. For those interested in the tundra vegetation, especially the wildflower, select spots along the shoreline of this fjord make for excellent hiking and interpretation.
Alkehorney, of "The Horn," is an incredible horn-shaped mountain close to the entrance of Isfjorden (Ice Fjord). Home to a massive colony of Brunnich's guillemots and black legged kittiwakes, and host to reindeer and Arctic fox, this is an incredible summary of your Arctic visit. A lust tundra slope below the bird cliffs is rich in Arctic flora - and to top it all off, this site has a rich history that unfolds as you hike around the headland.
Enjoy a heart breakfast on board the Akademik Sergey Vavilov before you disembark in Longyearbyen. Transfer to airport to continue your travels.