Travel along the same routes as famous polar explorers such as Andrée, Nordenskiöld, Amundsen and Nobile. Get to know the indigenous reindeer, trek along beaches where groups of walrus are hauled out along the shoreline, and maybe even spot the Arctic fox or Bearded seal. Seabirds, such as Ivory gulls, auks and puffins, will be your constant companions as you admire their playfulness and grace. You might encounter a few whales. A variety of known species frequent the area, in particular the Minke and Beluga.
A flexible itinerary allows you to take advantage of favorable ice and weather conditions. Search for walruses, seals, reindeer, Arctic foxes and polar bears. Shore walks and Zodiac landings will bring you up close to the mystical settings and passing icebergs. Each day your Expedition Leader and Captain will determine the best course, depending on changing weather, ice conditions and the wildlife we encounter. In the true spirit of adventure cruising, your Expedition Leader will provide daily updates. Here is a list of places you may visit:
Hornsund – This is the southernmost fjord on the rugged west coast of Spitsbergen Island. Jagged mountain peaks tower above glacier-filled bays. Listen for the crash of white thunder as huge chunks of ice fall into the fjord. Amidst floating icebergs jewels, watch for bearded seals, the rare Beluga whale and the king of the Arctic – the polar bear. Sightings are fairly common as the polar bear’s favourite food, the Ringed seal, breeds in the fjord. The surrounding bird cliffs are home to thousands of pairs of nesting Little auks. You may visit the Polish research station or the remains of whaling stations and trappers’ huts.
Danskøya Island – Rove across a small island off the northwest corner of Spitsbergen that is scattered with remnants of an ill-fated attempt by three Swedes to fly a balloon to the North Pole. The balloon went down because of icing, just 240 miles (386 km) north of the island.
Smeerenburg – This island’s name literally means “Blubber Town” in Dutch. Ruins of some of the island’s earliest settlers, Dutch whalers, are preserved at Norway’s North-West Spitsbergen National Park.
Prins Karls Forland – Off the west coast of Spitsbergen, encounter the island home of Forland National Park with craggy mountains, massive glaciers and remarkable wildlife. The entire island and the surrounding seas make up Forland National Park. Members of the Expedition Team takes you ashore at Poolypnten, a well-known walrus haul out, where your marine biologist explains the habits and habitat of these amazing creatures.
Kongfjord or Kings Bay – Cutting into the west coast of Spitsbergen and reaching inland about 15 miles (24 kilometers) and spanning up to 6 miles (10 kilometers) wide, Kongfjord is a splendid place to behold. Together with your onboard geologist, explore its complicated geological formations and visit the 14th of July glacier. Hope to land at Blomstrand, a name not referring to a flower-covered beach, but rather in memory of a Swedish chemist.
Magdalenafjord – This majestic fjord is normally accessible year-round because of the influence of the West Spitsbergen Current or Gulf Stream. Landing via Zodiac, discover the alluring fjord and search for wildlife.
Ice Cruising – With the strengthened hull of the Silver Explorer, you have the perfect platform to search for walrus and polar bears as your team devotes at least one day to exploring the pack ice north of Spitsbergen. Conditions permitting, your Expedition Leader may choose to take you out in the Zodiacs for an even closer look.