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Incredible ice in Svalbard

Svalbard Circumnavigation

Example 10 Day Cruise aboard Ocean Albatros
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Enjoy the incredible beauty of high summer in the Arctic with this 10-day cruise circumnavigating the Svalbard archipelago aboard Ocean Albatros. Marvel at spectacular glaciers and icebergs, admire deep fjords and high mountains, and learn from onboard guides and naturalists about the region. Keep your eyes open for the distinctive wildlife that call these islands home, from walruses to whales to thousands of sea birds. Watch for Arctic foxes and Svalbard reindeer, as well as the king of the Arctic: the polar bear. The Zodiacs allows frequent shore landings and to embark on exploratory mini cruises in the fjords and glacial landscapes. While the exact route of this cruise will depend on ice conditions, Svalbard showcases Arctic beauty at every turn.
A polar bear climbs glacial ice in the ArcticColorful homes in Longyearbyen, SvalbardWalruses huddling together in Svalbard.Arctic fox during spring in SvalbardIncredible ice in Svalbard
Highlights
  • Look for polar bears, reindeer, foxes, and more polar wildlife
  • View hundreds of thousands of seabirds along the sea cliffs
  • Visit Longyearbyen and Ny Alesund, the northernmost towns in the world
  • Cruise through striking fjords and past calving glaciers
Places Visited
Activity Level: Variable
Activity options vary depending on destination and operator. Activity level is determined by the range and intensity of activities you choose to participate in. Discuss with your Trip Planner which options are best for you.
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Full Itinerary

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Day 1: Longyearbyen | Embark

Board your flight in Norway and arrive in Longyearbyen, Svalbard - the world's northernmost... everything! This remarkable little city is not only the northernmost town in the world (if one excludes the tiny research community of Ny-Ålesund, slightly further north on Svalbard), but also hosts the world's northernmost civilian airport, schools, bank and supermarket. The town's rugged frontier edge belies a core of warm Nordic hospitality and coziness - hyggligt, as we say in Denmark! 

Immediately after landing in Longyearbyen, you find yourself in a different world. The chilly Arctic breeze can be felt as soon as you step onto the tarmac, and the famous signpost outside the terminal reminds visitors how far north they really are; as well as to keep watch for bears! The snow-capped mountain Hjorthfjellet looms over the airport on the far side of Adventfjorden, and off in the distance can be seen the saw-toothed peaks and languid glaciers of northern Spitzbergen. 

After arrival, you will board the awaiting Ocean Albatros. After our mandatory safety briefing and lifeboat drill, head onto the outer decks to enjoy a glass of champagne while watching your expedition vessel leave civilization behind... And set a course for adventure! 

Day 2: Kongsfjorden Region, Northwest Spitzbergen

During the ‘night’ (what is night, when the sun never sets?), Ocean Albatros will have repositioned past the saw-toothed mountains of  Prins Karls Forland and arrived in magnificent Kongsfjord. Surrounded by craggy mountains, bounded by the magnificent Kongsbreen and Kongvegen Glaciers, and crowned by the Three Crowns (a set of pyramidal mountains said to represent the monarchies of Norway, Sweden and Denmark), this is surely one of the most beautiful and tranquil corners anywhere in the world. 

Our first landing will be at the small settlement of Ny Ålesund. Situated further north than Longyearbyen, Ny-Ålesund is Earth's northernmost settlement, if a group of scientific stations, a post office and a single shop open for a few hours can be described as such... You will have to judge for yourself!

These islands' geographical location has made them the staging post for exploratory and scientific expeditions for centuries - a proud legacy that continues to this day. The setting is spectacular, and the scientific projects are as fascinating as the history of the town, which has hosted the Nobile, the Norge and the Fram, Amundsen, Nansen and Nordenskiöld, all legends of polar exploration who passed this lonely outpost seeking to push the boundaries of humanity. The remnants of these expeditions (such as the mooring mast of the Norge) can still be seen today. 

Day 3: Northwest Spitzbergen

One of the largest protected wilderness areas in Europe, North West Svalbard was declared a national park in 1973. The area is famed for its history, which documents some of the earliest human arrivals on Svalbard. While Norse explorers may have sighted these icy shores during the Viking Age, the first definite arrival was the expedition of William Barents, the legendary Dutch explorer for whom the Barents Sea is named. While now protected from human distruption, when Barents arrived in 1596, he noted the vast numbers of whales and seals which were soon prey to English and Dutch whalers, who arrived within a decade of Barents to pillage the area's wildlife. The area occupies the triple point between land, sea and ice, and as such was the perfect location from which to harvest the gentle giants of the oceans. Sites used to dismember whale carcasses and render them for their precious oil include the Dutch settlement of Smeerenburg, where the remains of 16th-century blubber ovens and building foundations can still be seen. Other sites such as nearby Ytre Norskøya record the darker side of this industrialised slaughter, where hundreds of young men who hoped to make their fortunes are buried thousands of miles from home. 

Today, all that remains from this period of history are bones and the scant remnants of human habitation. Slowly reclaimed by creeping Arctic nature, the region is now a nature lovers paradise. Tiny Arctic poppies and purple saxifrage defy the brutal conditions to flower in the brief summer, while geese, eider ducks and other seabirds return to the island to raise their young. Walrus can be found hauled out on beaches, and we must always be on the careful lookout for wandering polar bears in this now again wild region. 

Day 4: Into the Ice

An icy breeze touches your exposed cheeks. The scent of snow and sea fills your nostrils. Sunlight reflects off the floating ice, illuminating the clouds overhead. Enter an environment like no other, the vast shape-shifting realm of floating ice that crowns our planet. The vast ever-changing ice pack to the north of Svalbard stretches from this already isolated archipelago to the North Pole, and onwards across the Arctic Ocean towards the northern shores of Chukotka and Alaska. 

The Arctic ice pack is one of Earth's largest habitats, although unlike most it varies hugely year on year, expanding in winter and retreating in summer. The location of the sea ice around Svalbard can also vary wildly - however, your Expedition Leader will work hard to maximize our chances of finding and exploring this impossibly remote environment. At first glance, this stark white wilderness seems barren, empty and lifeless. This icy wilderness holds on to its mysteries, and of course, wildlife sightings are at the whims of Mother Nature. With a little perseverance, however, the ice reveals its secrets.

As Ocean Albatros pushes through the narrow channels in the ice, tiny cod-like fish can be seen silhouetted against the ice in the clear water. Kittiwakes and Gloucous Gulls follow the vessel as it disturbs the water. Further out on the ice, black dots appear; moving closer, they resolve into seals, basking on the ice. A plume of water reflects the sunshine - a pod of belugas perhaps, or maybe even the vast gentle bowhead whale crushing the ice from below as its massive body surfaces. There, beyond the banks of rucked ice - a yellowish dot pads along the ice, the head swinging from side to side: the King of the Arctic continues his never-ending quest for prey. This is the kingdom of the polar bear, the vast icy waste at the top of the world. 

At the end of the day, we will start cruising towards the Hinlopen Strait that divides Spitsbergen and Nordaustlandet. 

Day 5: Northeast Svalbard

From the icy wilderness of the pack ice, we will head back towards land, cruising into the Hinlopen Strait. If the weather is on “our side” we may have a good view of the steep cliffs of Alkefjellet. The area is home to a dense congregation of Brünnichs guillemots - one of the largest colonies in the world. There are so many birds that hardly an inch is free! Nesting Brünnich's guillemots and other auks crowd the cliffs, while predatory skuas and gulls cruise the skies above, constantly on the lookout for their next meal. During the raucous summer, the breeding pairs offer a wild view of frantic activity, both along the cliffs and in the sea in front - one of nature's most spectacular sights!   

More wildlife awaits us as we land on the polar desert landscapes of Nordaustlandet. Although the polar desert landscapes of this region appear stark and barren, they are wildly beautiful - unearthly plantless landscapes illuminated by the weak Arctic sunlight. However, it is in the marine environment where Svalbard's biodiversity is richest. Walrus haul their vast bodies onto flat beaches to rest, where they snuggle together for warmth and protection. Belugas frolic in large pods in the waters off the coast, harvesting fish and crustaceans from the seabed, and further offshore the vast gentle baleen whales can sometimes be seen feasting upon copepods and small fish. 

Day 6: East Svalbard

As we continue to venture around these remarkable islands, we arrive in Southeast Svalbard - a region where the cold easterly polar waters collide with the last tepid gasp of the Gulf Stream.  If the ice is passable, we can make it through the southern edge of the Hinlopen Strait and cruise through Freemansundet, which separates Barentsøya and Edgeøya. We enjoy the views of the massive Kapp Lee as we exit the Strait. 

We will aim to land on Edgeøya, Svalbard's third-largest island. Vast piles of snow-bleached bones on the island's beaches bear witness to the systematic and industrial-scale slaughter of walrus and beluga in their thousands. The earliest humans on the islands (mainly English and Dutch whalers and Russian Pomor trappers) had little regard for conservation, seeking only profit, a situation which continued well into the 19th century. Thankfully all wildlife on Svalbard is now protected by law, and vast tracts of the archipelago are designated as nature reserves and National Parks - some of the largest and richest in the world! 

Further east on Edgeøya, sites include the walrus colonies of Andréetangen and Kapp Lee, and the spectacular raised shorelines and bird colonies of Sundneset. From these remote shores, we will cruise around Sørkapp and back towards Spitzbergen, the largest island of Svalbard. 

Day 7-8: South Svalbard

Having passed the southern tip of Spitsbergen we arrive back into the greener warmer regions of this Arctic wilderness. The southwest coast of Svalbard is washed by warmer water coming up through the Atlantic, so winter ice generally retreats first from this region. This allows us to enter the southern fjords of Bellsund and Hornsund - easily some of the most spectacular regions of this stunning archipelago. Throughout this maze of fjords and islands, birds cluster together on high cliffs and reindeer graze on the fertile slopes below, while icebergs drift by from the various large glaciers in the area. Tiny calico snow buntings flit between crags, while perfectly camouflaged purple sandpipers scamper along the shore. Look higher up on the vegetated slopes, and there - greyish white 'boulders' move and resolve themselves into sheep-sized reindeer: the unique subspecies native to Svalbard. A flash of bluish-black and the screeches of nearby birds herald the arrival of the Arctic fox, the only native land predator on Svalbard (the polar bear being classified as a marine mammal). 

The mountaintops are most often covered by dense clouds and the East-Spitsbergen current often leads pack ice into the mouths of the fjords. With a huge variety of landing sites to explore, this region is without doubt one of the most exciting and diverse regions of Svalbard! Options to explore in the area include the huge bird cliffs of Alkhjornet and Vårsolbukta, and the historical sites of Calypsobyen and Bambsebu, where prospectors, trappers and a range of other adventurers attempted to make their fortunes. 

Day 9: West Central Spitzbergen

During the night we will enter Forlandssundet, the strait that separates Prince Karls Forland from Spitsbergen. Our destinations may include Poolepynten (Poole Point), a small headland named after the British whaler Jonas Poole. Today the area is inhabited by herds of walruses who can be seen (and smelled!) from a distance. The large mammals flaunt their tusks and whiskers, as well as their considerable bulk. The remote beaches, rugged mountains and tundra plains of the region positively beg to be explored! 

From Forlandsundet, we will return southwards during the afternoon towards the town of Longyearbyen, all the while on the lookout for wildlife and spectacular views as we return to civilization. 

Day 10: Longyearbyen | Disembark

  • 1 Breakfast
During the evening, the Ocean Albatros will reposition to return to the port of Longyearbyen. Even this small town will feel like a metropolis after days of isolation in the wilderness of the Arctic! 

After enjoying exploring Longyearbyen and a fond farewell to the crew and fellow guests of Ocean Albatros, return to Svalbard Airport and join your flight back to the Norwegian mainland- with memories to last a lifetime. 

Ship/Hotel

Ocean Albatros

Ocean Albatros BBQ Deck
Ocean Albatros Fitness
Ocean Albatros Pool Deck

Dates & Prices

My Preferred Start Date

Per person starting at
$6,695 2-3 travelers
Ocean Albatros Cat GOcean Albatros Cat G
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Category G
Single Stateroom (Porthole) - 14 m2 Standard single Stateroom onboard, located on deck 3. This is a conveniently located State Room close to the Mudroom which facilitates access to the Zodiacs during embarkation and disembarkation to begin your adventures.
Ocean Albatros Cat FOcean Albatros Cat F
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Category F
Triple Stateroom (Porthole) - 22 m2 There are four Triple Staterooms on board Ocean Albatros featuring portholes, all with private en-suites. Located on Deck 3, they're close to the mudroom and loading platforms. Triple staterooms are normally with twin beds however a double bed can be accommodated.
Ocean Albatros Cat EOcean Albatros Cat E
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Category E
French Balcony Stateroom - 14 m2 The French Balcony Suite is a standard Stateroom with a French balcony, a double bed, floor-to-ceiling windows and a bathroom. All French Balcony Suites are located on Deck 7.
Ocean Albatros Cat DOcean Albatros Cat D
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Category D
Albatros Stateroom (Porthole) - 13-22 m2 The standard Stateroom on Ocean Albatros is close to the Mudroom and has quick access to the Zodiac platforms for disembarkation during landings. This is very convenient if you have more limited mobility and would like a short distance to the Zodiacs. The State Rooms are perfect for those who wish a comfortable base during their stay onboard Ocean Albatros. The standard State Rooms all have a double bed or 2 single beds and a bathroom. The State Rooms are located on deck 3 and 4.
Ocean Albatros Cat COcean Albatros Cat B Balcony
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Category C
Balcony Stateroom - 18-22 m2 The most abundant type of Stateroom on Ocean Albatros located on decks 4 & 6. They have a balcony, a double bed or two single beds, a bathroom and a sofa that can be used as a bed for a child if traveling as a family. If you desire to book two staterooms with connecting doors, this is also a possibility within this category.
Ocean Albatros Cat COcean Albatros Cat C Balcony
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Category Csp
Superior Balcony Stateroom (48) app. 24 sqm, including Balcony.
Ocean Albatros Cat COcean Albatros Cat C Balcony
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Category Cxl
Grand Balcony Stateroom (4) app. 30 sqm, including Balcony.
Ocean Albatros Cat BOcean Albatros Cat B Balcony
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Category B
Balcony Suite approximately - 25-32 m2 Ocean Albatros has 6 Balcony Suites on board located on decks 4 & 6. The suites feature double or twin beds and a seating area, bathroom, and a large balcony. The balcony suites can host 2 people.
Ocean Albatros Cat AOcean Albatros Cat A Balcony
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Category A
Junior suite - 39 m2 The 4 junior suites aboard Ocean Albatros have a great view from their location high up on the ship on deck 7. The suites feature a double bed or twin beds, sofa bed, seating area, a spacious bathroom and a private balcony. The suite can accommodate up to 3 people.
Ocean Albatros Premium SuiteOcean Albatros Premium Suite
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Premium Suite (Freydis Suite)
Premium suite - 45 m2 – FS (Freydis Suite) The second largest of all the staterooms on board the Ocean Albatros is the Premium Suite. This 2-bedroom suite features a double bed (or twin beds), a sofa bed, table and chair, a balcony and a spacious bathroom. Located on deck.4. This category is available upon request. Please refer to Albatros Expeditions for price.
Ocean Albatros Family SuiteOcean Albatros Family Suite
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Family Suite (Brynhilde Suite)
Family suite - 52 m2 – BS (Brynhilde Suite) The largest of all the staterooms on board the Ocean Albatros is the Premium Suite. The Double-Bedroom, Family Suite is going to be located on Deck 7, featuring two interconnecting French Balcony Suites, accommodating up to 5 people on two double beds and a sofa bed. This category is available upon request. Please refer to Albatros Expeditions for price.

Notes

Kayaking activities available on both Arctic and Antarctic voyages. 
Although kayaking opportunities are possible in most locations during each excursion in the Antarctic region, weather, sea, and ice conditions will dictate the when and where to ensure your safety and improve your experience.
In order to sign up for this activity, you need to have previous kayaking experience and attend a mandatory safety briefing by the Kayak Master. The cost is $345/person per outing and it can only be booked onboard.

Possible shared staterooms for same-gender, single travelers: Category C (Balcony Stateroom) and Category F (Triple Porthole Stateroom)
Included
  • 9 Breakfasts, 8 Lunches, 9 Dinners
  • 9 Nights Accommodations
  • Accommodations as listed
  • Ground transportation as listed
  • Activities as listed
  • Meals as listed
  • Access to a 24-7 Emergency line while traveling
  • Welcome and Farewell Cocktails   
  • Digital visual journal link after voyage, including voyage log, gallery, species list and more.
  • English-speaking expedition team
  • Information briefings and lectures by expedition team
  • Special photo workshop
  • Guided walks with the expedition team
  • Dinner drink package
  • Full board on the ship
  • Free coffee, tea, and afternoon snacks on the ship
  • Taxes, tariffs, and landing fees
  • Nature hikes and Zodiac cruises per itinerary
Excluded
  • Gratuities
  • Travel Insurance
  • Personal Expenses
  • Flight costs (please request a quote)
  • Additional excursions during free time
  • Anything not mentioned under 'inclusions'
  • Extra excursions and activities not mentioned in the itinerary
  • Meals not on board the ship
  • Emergency Evacuation insurance of at least $200,000 per passenger is required. Please bring a copy of your insurance onboard.
  • Single room supplement and cabin upgrades
  • Kayaking - Offered on all ships and all trips if conditions allow. This can be booked onboard only.
  • Flights between Oslo - Longyearbyen - Oslo and Group Transfer between Longyearbyen Airport and the vessel. To be booked 11 months prior to departure at additional cost.
  • Beverages (other than coffee and tea and dinner-drink package)
  • Tips for the crew (we recommend USD 16 per person per day)

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Our guide and driver were very good with their knowledge and were very helpful with our questions. It was a very pleasant visit that would have been impossible to do on our own. Hotels and restaurants were fantastic. The special places we got to go to, like the kitchens, were great. Enjoyed the entire trip!
Meyer Smolen

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