Today embark your expedition ship in Longyearbyen. Sail out of Adventfjorden and into Isfjorden during the early evening. With almost 24 hours of daylight this time of year, enjoy the view 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.
Glacier-filled bays surround your ship as your sail into Hornsund. With good ice conditions, your captain is able to navigate close to the glaciers, which dominate the area. The entire archipelago of Svalbard is a giant lesson in glacieology and your onboard guides explain the formations of this fantastic landscape on your hikes and zodiac cruises.
Heading south overnight, arrive this morning in Bellsund, a fjord system that extends 40 nautical miles inland. With extensive and varied terrain, plan to spend at least a day in the area paddling, joining the photography program, and hiking. Excursion highlights include a beluga whale bone yard at Bamsebu, marvelous raised beach patterns at Fleur de Lys Harbor, abandoned coal carts at Rechergefjorden, and exceptional mountain views all around!
Sea kayaking is spectacular near the mouth of Van Keulenfjord and into Recherfjord, where glaciers tumble down into the sea or have receded back from the shoreline - leaving fabulous terminal and lateral moraines to paddle along.
It is often said that polar bears fall from the sky in Svalbard, and while no one has ever actually witnessed this, they can appear in the most unlikely places and at the most interesting times. Your guides can help you find the bears as well as keep you safe while you view them.
The rocky shores of Krossfjorden are home to numerous bird colonies and a variety of different species. Anchor the ship in a small harbor, launch the zodiacs and cruise beneath towering bird cliffs near the 14th of July Glacier. While cruising the dark waters here, be on the lookout for bearded and ringed seals, as both species are known to frequent this fjord.
As your zodiac approaches the shores of Fuglesangenoya, it becomes apparent that thousands of birds are nesting on the island. Home to a large dovekie colony, the formation of the island allows for excellent viewing without impacting the perimeter of the colony.
Just a few miles from Fuglesangen is the old whaling station of Smeerenburg, literally translated as "Blubber Town." As you hike the shoreline near the old whaling station, learn about the importance of the whaling industry in the discovery and exploration of the Svalbard archipelago. The rusting blubber posts stand as harsh testament to a tough industry in an equally hard environment.
Continue north and east, moving up into the ice and hoping to cross the 80 degree north parallel. As your ship approaches the ice edge, it slows down and all hands are either on the bridge or out on the outer decks scanning for wildlife. Bearded seals, ringed seals, and walrus may be found hauled out on the edges of the ice. Harp seals swim in herds of 10 to 20 through the open water channels in the ice. A buttery colored lump miles away on the ice metamorphoses into a polar bear as you slowly work your way through the ice toward it. Your ship is perfectly designed for near-silent approach and your Captain takes great pride in bringing you in close enough to experience the wildlife without disturbing it. Be sure to get up to the bridge and take a picture of the ship's GPS as it shows this incredibly high polar latitude - welcome to the top of the world!
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 is often a great place to spot polar bears who come here to hunt for ringed seals or fee on nutrient-rich bird's eggs.
Alkehornet, at the mouth of Isfjord, offers breathtaking views and an incredible tundra walk as you near the end of your adventure in Svalbard. Arctic fox can often be seen here, as well as reindeer. Towering above the landing site, listen for a chorus of thousands of birds - all singing at the same time. This evening, celebrate your journey with a special dinner attended by the ship's Captain. It is a great time to reflect on a wonderful voyage in this wild and remote place.
Arrive 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.