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Polar bears in the Arctic

North Spitsbergen, In Search of Polar Bear & Pack Ice

Example 8 Day Cruise aboard MV Hondius
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Walruses huddled together on the ice
Highlights
  • Explore the north coast of Spitsbergen to admire unique wildlife
  • Prepare to be face to face with the precipitous Monaco Glacier
  • Discover Hinlopen Strait, home to bearded seals, ringed seals & polar bears
  • Visit St. Johns Fjord or south to the mouth of Isfjorden
Places Visited
Trip Type:
  • Small Ship
Activity Level: Relaxed
0

Full Itinerary

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Day 1: Largest town, biggest island

You touch down in Longyearbyen, the administrative center of Spitsbergen, the largest island of the Svalbard archipelago. Enjoy strolling around this former mining town, whose parish church and Svalbard Museum make for fascinating attractions. Though the countryside appears stark, more than a hundred species of plant have been recorded in it. In the early evening the ship sails out of Isfjorden, where you might spot the first minke whale of your voyage.

Day 2: Route to Raudfjorden

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Sailing to Raudfjorden, on the north coast of Spitsbergen, you take in an expansive fjord spilling with glaciers – and maybe even visited by ringed and bearded seals. The cliffs and shoreline of this fjord also support thriving seabird colonies, rich vegetation, and the possibility of polar bears.

Day 3: The massive Monaco Glacier

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Depending on the weather, you could sail into Liefdefjorden and cruise within sight of the 5-kilometer-long (3.1 miles) face of the precipitous Monaco Glacier. The waters in front of this glacier are a favorite feeding spot for thousands of kittiwakes, and the base of the ice is a popular polar bear hunting ground. If ice conditions prevent sailing here early in the season, an alternate route along the west coast of Spitsbergen can be implemented.

Day 4: Highlights of Hinlopen

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Today you sail into Hinlopen Strait, home to bearded seals, ringed seals, and polar bears. At the entrance, there is even the possibility to spot blue whales. After cruising among the ice floes of Lomfjordshalvøya in the Zodiacs, you can view the bird cliffs of Alkefjellet with their thousands of Brünnich’s guillemots. On the east side of Hinlopen Strait, you may attempt a landing on Nordaustlandet. Here reindeer, pink-footed geese, and walruses are likely sights. You can take an alternate route if ice prevents entry into Hinlopen.

Day 5: Stop at the Seven Islands

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
The northernmost point of your voyage may be north of Nordaustlandet, in the Seven Islands. Here you reach 80° north, just 870 km (540 miles) from the geographic North Pole. Polar bears inhabit this region, so the ship may park for several hours among the pack ice before wheeling around west again.

Day 6: Sailing the continental shelf

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
While retracing your route west, keep watch for polar bears and elusive Greenland (bowhead) whales. About 40 nautical miles west of Spitsbergen, you sail the edge of the continental shelf. Here fin whales forage during the summer in the upwelling zones (where cold, nutrient-rich water wells up from below the sea’s surface) that run along the Spitsbergen banks. At the mouth of Kongsfjorden, you have a good chance of sighting minke whales.

Day 7: Reindeer, foxes, and so many seabirds

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Walruses sometimes haul out in Forlandsundet, your next stop. Alternatively, you might sail into St. Johns Fjord or south to the mouth of Isfjorden, landing at Alkhornet. Seabirds nest on these cliffs, Arctic foxes search below for fallen eggs and chicks, and reindeer graze the sparse vegetation. You arrive in Longyearbyen later at night.

Day 8: There and back again

  • 1 Breakfast
Every adventure, no matter how grand, must eventually come to an end. You disembark in Longyearbyen, taking home memories that will accompany you wherever your next adventure lies.

Photo Gallery

Walruses huddled together on the ice Glass-still waters around Spitsbergen Arctic fox during spring in Svalbard Polar bears in the Arctic Homes in Longyearbyen, Svalbard, Norway

Map

Ship/Hotel

MV Hondius

MV Hondius
MV Hondius
MV Hondius

Dates & Prices

Per person starting at
$3,850
Select a Date
Hondius Suite
MV Hondius
Select a Date
Quadruple Porthole
Located on deck 3. Approximately 129 to 194 sq. ft. 2 portholes, 2 upper & lower berths, Small sofa, Private shower & toilet, Flatscreen TV, Desk & chair, Telephone and WiFi, Coffee & tea maker, Hairdryer, Cabinet, Wardrobe.
MV Hondius
Select a Date
Triple Porthole
Located on deck 3. Approximately 129 to 194 sq. ft. 2 portholes, 1 upper berth & 2 lower berths, Small sofa, Private shower & toilet, Flatscreen TV, Desk & chair, Telephone and WiFi, Coffee & tea maker, Hairdryer, Cabinet, Wardrobe.
MV Hondius
Select a Date
Twin Porthole
Located on deck 3. Approximately 129 to 194 sq. ft. 2 portholes, 2 single beds, Small sofa, Private shower & toilet, Flatscreen TV, Desk & chair, Telephone and WiFi, Coffee & tea maker, Hairdryer, Cabinet, Wardrobe.
MV Hondius
Select a Date
Twin Window
Located on deck 4. Approximately 129 to 151 sq. ft. 1 window, 2 single beds, Small sofa, Private shower & toilet, Flatscreen TV, Desk & chair, Telephone and WiFi, Coffee & tea maker, Hairdryer, Cabinet, Wardrobe.
MV Hondius
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Twin deluxe
Located on deck 6. Approximately 205 to 226 sq. ft. 2 windows, 2 single beds, Sofa, Private shower & toilet, Flatscreen TV, Desk & chair, Telephone and WiFi, Refrigerator, Coffee & tea maker, Hairdryer, Cabinet, Wardrobe.
MV Hondius
Select a Date
Superior
Located on deck 6. Approximately 215 to 226 sq. ft. 2 windows, 1 double bed, Sofa, Private shower & toilet, Flatscreen TV, Desk & chair, Telephone and WiFi, Refrigerator, Coffee & tea maker, Hairdryer, Cabinet, Wardrobe.
MV Hondius
Select a Date
Junior Suite
Located on deck 7. Approximately 205 to 215 sq. ft. 1 double window, 1 double bed, Sofa, Private shower & toilet, Flatscreen TV, Desk & chair, Telephone and WiFi, Refrigerator, Coffee & tea maker, Hairdryer, Cabinet, Wardrobe.
MV Hondius
Select a Date
Grand Suite with balcony
Located on deck 7. Approximately 291 sq. ft. 1 double window, 1 double bed, Sofa, Private shower & toilet, Flatscreen TV, Desk & chair, Telephone and WiFi, Refrigerator, Coffee & tea maker, Hairdryer, Cabinet, Wardrobe.

Notes

Included in this voyage
  • Voyage aboard the indicated vessel as indicated in the itinerary
  • All meals throughout the voyage aboard the ship including snacks, coffee and tea.
  • All shore excursions and activities throughout the voyage by Zodiac.
  • Program of lectures by noted naturalists and leadership by experienced expedition staff.
  • Free use of rubber boots and snowshoes.
  • Transfers and baggage handling between the airport, hotels and ship only for those passengers on the group flights to and from Longyearbyen.
  • All miscellaneous service taxes and port charges throughout the programme.
  • AECO fees and governmental taxes.
  • Comprehensive pre-departure material.
Excluded from this voyage
  • Any airfare, whether on scheduled or charter flights
  • Pre- and post- land arrangements.
  • Passport and visa expenses.
  • Government arrival and departure taxes.
  • Meals ashore.
  • Baggage, cancellation and personal insurance (which is strongly recommended).
  • Excess baggage charges and all items of a personal nature such as laundry, bar, beverage charges and telecommunication charges.
  • The customary gratuity at the end of the voyages for stewards and other service personnel aboard (guidelines will be provided).

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The trip was terrific with great planning on your part. Most of the adventures were not mainstream and somewhat off the beaten path which made it especially enjoyable!! We felt taken care of and you all were readily available to respond to questions and issues. I would highly recommend your company and friends have already expressed interest based on our pictures and excitement.
Gale Cantor

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