Longyearbyen is the main settlement of the Norwegian Spitsbergen archipelago. This Arctic town is located at 78° north, and is one of the world’s northernmost communities. It has approximately 2000 inhabitants and is a modern town with a wide range of facilities such as a supermarket, outdoor shops, several pubs, and hotels.
Before embarking there is an opportunity to stroll around this former mining town, whose parish church and Polar Museum are well worth visiting. In the early evening the ship sets sail out of Isfjorden.
Today plan to take a Zodiac tour to the sparkling 14th of July Glacier at Krossfjord. Weather permitting, you may land right on the glacier for an unparalleled walking tour.
We will explore Victoria Island with its large population of walruses. Naturalists are not the only creatures attracted here by these Arctic animals - polar bears visit the area frequently to have their “walrus dinner”. We hope to meet them both here while cruising nearby on our Zodiacs.
Expect to reach Franz Josef Land archipelago this morning. A landing is planned for Bell Island to visit the house built by the 1881 Lee Smith Expedition.
Continue to learn about the fascinating history of Arctic discoveries during your landing at Cape Flora on Nordbrook Island, first claimed by the Lee Smith Expedition in 1880. The group was forced to winter on this island after their steam yacht, "Aira," was crushed by ice and sunk near the coast. Later, the Jackson expedition (1894-1897) dwelled here longer than any other and made a major contribution to the exploration of the archipelago. Several memorials have been erected on the island to commemorate such daring Arctic explorers. Finally, birders take note, an enormous seabird colony finds its home on the cliffs towering over the southern side of Cape Flora.
Start the day with a visit to Wilczek Island. On the southern tip of the island find a lonely grave of the machinist Otto Krisch. He was the only victim of the Payer Wayprecht Expedition. “Peace For His Ash” is written on a small plaque attached to the cross at the grave.
The next possible stop is on Hall Island at Cape Tegetthoff. The island sights are impressive: huge cliffs resembling dorsal fins of gigantic sharks submerge into the depths. The remains of wooden structures built by the Wellman expedition (1898-1899) add colors to the vivid panorama.
Arrive on Alger Island. Your goal here is to land at the wintering place of the American Arctic expedition headed by A. Baldwin. If weather permits, your crew may lower Zodiacs to sail among drifting icebergs. Polar bears are frequent visitors here; be on the hunt to catch some...with your camera lens.
Plan a landing at Cape Heller on Wilczek Land Island. In 1899 two sailors, members of the Welle expedition, wintered here while waiting for a group attempting to conquer the North Pole. As everywhere on Franz Josef Land, this locale is prime for witnessing polar bears and sea mammals.
Sail to Stolichky and Appolonov Islands where your expedition activities are highly dependent on weather and ice conditions. If you are lucky to have favorable conditions, take a Zodiac trip near the islands. The main attraction of the islands are its walrus rookeries. Your Zodiac drivers do their best to get as close as possible.
Placed in the very center of the archipelago, like a diamond in a precious tiara, is the magnificent Champ Island. The landscape here is majestic, featuring cliffs and the island chain's tallest ice-capped mountains. Here you can see a truly unique natural wonder: perfectly spherical stones up to 3 meters in diameter, found nowhere else in the world.
It’s a remarkable day for birds lovers as well as your ship takes you to Tikhaya Bay on Hooker Island. The famous Rubini Rock, a huge cliff in the bay, is the shelter for thousands of seabirds. Attempt to approach the cliff to watch kittiwakes and other Arctic birds. If weather conditions are favorable, go ashore to visit an abandoned polar station on the shores of the Bay.
If the weather is on your side today, try landing on Kvitoya Island. It is almost completely ice-covered and belongs to the Northeast Svalbard Nature Reserve. On the ice-free parts there are moss beds which can add vibrant color to this often white landscape. Arctic terns and other birds breed here. Polar bears and walrus are also frequent visitors in this area.
If the weather and ice conditions allow, the ship may attempt a landing in the region of Sjuoyane Islands. Here you may visit the island of Rossoya, the northernmost point of Norway.
In the morning plan to visit Lagoya, a flat island off the northwestern coast of Nordaustland in Svalbard that is covered with glacial moraine and rocks of every size and type. An uninhabited island, Lagoya is perfect for walrus to haul out and rest at its shore. At times they look like a field of rocks.
Also plan on landing at Phippsoya in the Seven Islands north of Nordaustlandet. Here you find yourself at 81 degrees north, just 540 miles from the geographic North Pole. The island is named after the English explorer Constantine John Phipps, who commanded two bomb vessels on an expedition to Svalbard in 1773. Polar bear inhabit this region, along with walrus and ivory gull. You may sit for several hours in the pack ice, taking in these spectacular surroundings.
Visit Ny Alesund, the world’s most northerly settlement. The mountains around the community are covered by snow and the scenery presents a rather black and white picture. Once a mining village, Ny Alesund was served by the world’s most northerly railway whose remnants can still be seen. Now a research center, the region boasts a small community of scientists from all over the world who conduct a variety of research in the fields of atmospheric studies, glaciology, biology and related subjects. A short walk takes you into the center of this historic village. Other highlights include a visit to the local souvenir shop and to the northernmost post office. Close to the village is a breeding ground for barnacle goose, pink-footed goose, Arctic tern and ivory gulls. Visitors interested in the history of Arctic exploration may walk to the anchoring mast used by Amundsen and Nobile, in the airship Norge used in 1926 and the airship Italia Nobile used in 1928 before their flights to the North Pole.
From Tryghamna, walk to Alkhornet, a large seabird cliff. Below the cliff is a den, home to Arctic fox that scavenge off fallen eggs and chicks. Reindeer graze on the lush vegetation. At noon the ship sails through the Forlandsundet. Weather permitting you may go ashore at Fuglehuken where the first Western Europeans set foot on Spitsbergen. Here, near another big bird-cliff, visit the graves of whalers. Nearby you may be able to visit a haul-out of harbor seal and walrus.
Your adventure ends in the port of Longyearbyen. Disembark after breakfast and transfer to the airport for your flight home.