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Spitsbergen in Focus: Photographic Symposium

Example 11 Day Cruise aboard Akademik Sergey Vavilov
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Join this 11-day cruise to thoroughly explore the western and northern coasts of Spitsbergen, the largest of the islands that make up the Svalbard archipelago. As you voyage up the coastline, make frequent stops at well-known wildlife sites, places of history interest, also witness glaciers, ice-filled bays, and fascinating plant life - all the while soaking p the stunning landscape that surrounds you. A further highlight of this departure is the on-board Photographic Symposium. Open to all guests, this program offers the expertise of four professional photographers on staff and a professional water-colorist. Use the ship-bard multimedia studio to review your images, while you aim to make the most of the beautiful Arctic light, landscape, and wildlife opportunities. For photography buffs, this trip is not to be missed!

Day-by-Day Summary

Day 1 : Embark in Longyearbyen, Svalbard
Days 2-3 : Krossfjorden and Northwestern Spitsbergen
Days 4-5 : Polar Pack Ice, Phippsoya and the Seven Islands
Days 6-8 : Hinlopen Strait and Nordaustlandet
Day 9 : Leifdefjorden
Day 10 : Alkehornet
Day 11 : Disembark in Longyearbyen, Svalbard


Akademik Sergey Vavilov

Places Visited

  • Arctic
  • Europe
  • Norway
  • Scandinavia
  • Svalbard
  • Alkehornet
  • Hinlopen Strait (Hinlopenstretet)
  • Krossfjorden
  • Leifdefjorden
  • Longyearbyen
  • Monacobreen (Monaco Glacier)
  • Nordaustlandet
  • Phippsoya
  • Seven Islands (Sjuoyane)
  • Spitsbergen


Trip Type

  • Small Ship

Activity Level


Trip Snapshots

Walrus A zodiac tour to see the beluga whale. Flora of the arctic landscape. Beautiful slabs of ice in the ocean. A baby cub follows its mother across the Arctic ice

Day 1 Embark in Longyearbyen, Svalbard

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.

Day 2-3 Krossfjorden and Northwestern Spitsbergen

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
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.

At the northwestern head of Krossfjorden, Lilliehook Glacier is an incredible sight. The glacier face stretches almost 7 kilometers and has a height of around 80 meters. Viewed from the ship or on a zodiac cruise, you can appreciate the enormous scale of your surroundings.

Later in the day, as you sail out of Krossfjorden and Kongsfjorden, you may be fortunate enough to see the historic airship anchor pylon near the scientific community of Ny Alesund. This remote outpost earned its place in aviation pioneering history as a starting point for North Pole aviation exploration., Notable pioneer aviators including Zeppelin, Amundsen, Ellsworth, Byrd, and Nobile all passed though Ny Alesund.

Nearby, Smeerenburgfjord has a four-hundred-year history of whaling and is a favorite spot as we round the northwestern tip of Spitsbergen. A wander along the beach looking at the blubber cookers, or an hour behind a tripod shooting landscapes on your camera might be on the schedule, all the while looking for wildlife that can appear anywhere in Svalbard.

Day 4-5 Polar Pack Ice, Phippsoya and the Seven Islands

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
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.

At 81 degrees North latitude, Phippsoya - one of the seven islands - is only 540 nautical miles from the North Pole. 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 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!

Day 6-8 Hinlopen Strait and Nordaustlandet

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
From 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.

Day 9 Leifdefjorden

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Entering Leifdefjorden, the ship slowly cruises toward Monaco Glacier. This vast sweep of ice is more than seven kilometers wide. The crew often encounters beluga whales along the coastline in this vicinity. Teh adults are pure white and the calves are a mottled grey. It is estimated that there are five to ten thousand belugas in the Svalbard population.

Monaco Glacier provides a fabulous backdrop for a zodiac cruise. Miles of ice face broken up by ice caves and tumbling seracs are a sight to behold, as are the thousands of black-legged kittiwakes feeding on the upswelling of rich nutrients found near the sub-glacial outflow. A morning of cruising in the ice is best followed by a hike on the tundra. Red phalaropes, purple sandpipers, and vibrant tundra provide plenty of viewing and photography opportunities. As you explore the landscape on foot, the remains of fox traps and sun-bleached seal bones speak of both human interaction and wildlife predation.

Day 10 Alkehornet

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
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 corner of the planet.

Day 11 Disembark in Longyearbyen, Svalbard

  • 1 Breakfast
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.

Akademik Sergey Vavilov

Per person starting at
Main Deck Triple Cabins
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Triple Share
Deck 3. Two lower berths (one which can be converted to a sofa during the day) and one upper berth. Shared facilities, in cabin washbasin, writing desk/chair, ample storage, and two portholes.
Twin Semi Private Cabins
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Twin Semi-Private
Deck 4. Two lower berths (one which can be converted to a sofa during the day), a writing desk/chair, bookshelf and tall wardrobes with internal shelving for storage. Facilities are semi-private (one bathroom between two cabins) and all cabins have a window that can be opened.
Twin Private Cabins
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Twin Private
Deck 3, 4 and 5. Two lower berths (one which can be converted to a sofa during the day), a writing desk/chair, bookshelf and tall wardrobes with internal shelving storage. Facilities are private and all cabins have a window that can be opened.
The Superior Cabins.
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Deck 3. Two lower berths, a sofa, a writing desk/chair and ample storage. Facilities are private and all cabins have portholes that can be opened.
Shackleton Suites
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Shackleton Suite
Deck 4 & 5. One double bed, one sofa bed, separate sleeping quarters, up-graded bedding, a writing desk/chair, IPod alarm clock, mini stereo, capsule coffee maker, mini bar. Private facilities. Large window that can be opened.
One Ocean Suite
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One Ocean Suite
Deck 5. One double bed, one sofa bed & separate sleeping quarters, up-graded bedding, a writing desk/chair, IPod alarm clock, mini stereo, capsule coffee maker, mini bar. Private facilities with tub. Windows overlooking the bow.


- Single Supplement: 1.5x for twin and superior cabins and 2x for suites. Single supplement is not available in the triple cabin category.

- Child and Youth Prices: 25% discount for young people aged up to 17 years, and 20% off for those aged from 18-21 years who can prove they are in full-time education.

Your crew puts safety first and that means weather, ice, wildlife, political, or other conditions may require modifications to the itinerary as you sail. This is considered half the intrigue of Polar exploration. Every expedition is a little different. It may mean having to cancel certain shore excursions if conditions are not suitable, but the crew always finds other fun things to do. Polar exploring is not predictable which is one of the many reasons it is so special.


  • 6 Breakfasts, 5 Lunches, 6 Dinners
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The trip might have been the absolute best of our lifetime (thus far). We particularly want to commend our guide Peter in the Guilin area-he was so incredibly attentive, energetic, enthusiastic-and absolutely dedicated to ensuring that our meals were 100% vegetarian.
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