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A humpback whale breaches the polar waters

Bodo - Whale Safari - Bear Island - South Spitsbergen

Example 12 Day Cruise aboard Ortelius
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From the wild shores of Northern Norway to the bird cliffs of Bear Island to Svalbard's fantastic Bell Sund fjord system, this wildlife-centered expedition gives you the best of both the lower and higher Arctic. You might encounter blue whales, harp seals, kittiwakes, and many more memorable residents of the far north as you explore some of Earth's most dramatically sculpted scenery.
A single home in the desolate arctic.Surfacing Humpback WhalesColorful flora of SpitsbergenGiant whale jaw in the arcticA humpback whale breaches the polar waters
Highlights
  • Cruise along the edge of sea-ice and into elaborate fjord systems
  • Visit Bear Island colonies of large seabirds
  • Observe orca and minke whales native to the Scottish waters
  • Sail through Bodo and the famous Strait of Saltstraumen
Activity Level: Relaxed
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Full Itinerary

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Day 1: Vlissingen | Embark

Embark your ship, Ortelius, in the Dutch port of Vlissingen, located in Southwest Netherlands. 

Day 2: At Sea

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Cross the North Sea and head for Aberdeen, Scotland. 

Day 3-4: Norwegian Coast

  • Ship
  • 2 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 2 Dinners
We continue north along the Norwegian coast, sometimes close to shore and sometimes more distant. During these days at sea, keep a close lookout for spouts of water that may announce the arrival of minke, fin, orca, or blue whales.

Especially near the famous fishing grounds of Fröya and Sklinna Banken, we have a decent chance of spotting these species. As we progress farther into the northern latitudes, you will notice the daylight lasting longer and longer.

Day 5: Bodo

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Passing the Arctic Circle and sailing by Skomvaer and Røst, we may see several species of large bird around the mountains of southern Lofoten. Meanwhile we’ll sail among a multitude of small islands in the Norwegian municipality of Bodø, the center of the Nordland province, not far from the famous strait of Saltstraumen. More passengers will join our voyage in Bodø.

Day 6: Andoya | Bleiksoya

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Today we sail close to the islands of Andøya and Bleiksøya, where we can see a beautiful seabird colony before positioning our ship.

We’ll stop at the head of a submarine canyon roughly 10 km (6.2 miles) west of the northern end of Andøya.

In this active area, sperm whales are known to emerge from depths of up to 1,000 meters (3,300 feet) after half an hour underwater.

Day 7: Barents Sea

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
As we look for more whales and seabirds, we sail north into the Barents Sea. Here we get into the low Arctic waters, where the weather and sea can sometimes be rough.

But the conditions will be worth it, as we should still be able to see many birds on their migration to the islands of Svalbard.

Day 8: Bear Island

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
We arrive at the southeastern end of Bear Island, a great place for viewing large seabird colonies. The nearby nesting cliffs are part of an extensive nature reserve where large ships are not allowed to sail.

But with our Zodiacs, we might be able to cruise near colonies made up chiefly of Brünnichs guillemots and kittiwakes.
Afterward we’ll sail northeast into Sorhamna, where we can get even closer to the seabird cliffs.

Just north of this, in Kvalrossbukta, we will see the remains of a whaling station from early in the previous century.

We might also make a landing in a shallow valley and look for (at a safe distance) great skuas, large seabirds known to be fiercely territorial.
As we continue north along the east side of Bear Island, we may encounter dazzling shoals of drift ice.

Day 9: At sea

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Today we sail along and through sea ice drifting with the east Spitsbergen current.

Near Sørkapp we may sail into Storfjorden to the east of Spitsbergen, where we have a good chance of seeing harp seals from the White Sea molting and lounging on the sea ice.

Bearded seal sightings are also possible here, and the ice edge is a good area to look for fin whales.

Day 10: Hornsund

  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
If the sea ice is favorable, we’ll start the day by cruising the side fjords of the Hornsund area, taking in all the towering peaks: Hornsundtind rises 1,431 meters (4,695 feet), and Bautaen is a perfect illustration of why early Dutch explorers named the island Spitsbergen, meaning “pointed mountains.” There are 14 sizable glaciers in this spot as well as opportunities for spotting seals, beluga whales, and polar bears.

Day 11: Bell Sund

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Today we’ll continue to Bell Sund, one of the largest fjord systems in Svalbard.

The ocean currents make this area slightly warmer than other areas in the archipelago, which leads to relatively lush vegetation. Here there are excellent opportunities to enjoy both history and wildlife.

A possibility is Ahlstrandhalvøya, at the mouth of Van Keulenfjorden, where piles of beluga skeletons can be found. These remains of 19th-century whale slaughter are a sad reminder of unrestrained exploitation. Fortunately, belugas were not hunted into extinction, and we have a good chance of coming across a pod.
As an alternative, we might cruise the side fjords of Bellsund, exploring tundra where reindeer like to feed and rock slopes where little auks often nest.

Day 12: Longyearbyen | Disembark

  • 1 Breakfast
Every adventure, no matter how great, must eventually come to an end. We disembark in Longyearbyen, taking home memories that will accompany us wherever the next journey lies.

But if you’re still craving additional chances to spot polar bears, stay on board for our seven-night North Spitsbergen voyage, “in search of polar bears & pack ice.”

Ship/Hotel

Ortelius

The Ortelius
Dining area aboard the Ortelius.
Ortelius' dining area.

Dates & Prices

My Preferred Start Date

Per person starting at
$2,130
Twin porthole cabin
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Quadruple Porthole
4 quadruple cabins with 2 portholes, 2 upper / lower berths, Private shower & toilet, Desk & chair, Flatscreen TV, Telephone & WiFi (supplemented), Hairdryer, Ample storage space.
Twin porthole cabin
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Triple Porthole
4 quadruple cabins with bunk beds and private facilities (these can also be used as triple or twin cabins). Spacious outside cabins with a minimum of two portholes or windows per cabin
Twin Porthole on the Ortelius
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Twin Porthole
23 twin cabins with 2 portholes, 2 lower berths, Private shower & toilet, Desk & chair, Flatscreen TV, Telephone & WiFi (supplemented), Hairdryer, ample storage space.
Twin Window on the Ortelius
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Twin Window
10 twin cabins with 2 windows, 2 lower berths, Private shower & toilet, Desk & chair Flatscreen TV, Telephone & WiFi (supplemented), Hairdryer, ample storage space.
Twin Deluxe on the Ortelius
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Twin Deluxe
6 superior cabins with 3 windows, 2 lower berths, Private shower & toilet, Desk & chair, Small sofa, Refrigerator, Coffee & tea maker, Flatscreen TV, Telephone & WiFi (supplemented), Hairdryer, ample storage space.
Superior Suite on the Ortelius
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Superior
1 suite with 2 windows (minimum), 1 double bed, 1 single (sofa) bed, Private shower & toilet, Desk & chair, Flatscreen TV, Telephone & WiFi (supplemented), Refrigerator, Coffee & tea maker, Hairdryer, ample storage space.

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).
Included
  • 11 Breakfasts, 10 Lunches, 11 Dinners
  • 11 Nights Accommodations
  • Accommodations as listed
  • Ground transportation as listed
  • Excursions and activities as listed
  • Meals as listed
  • Comprehensive Pre- and Post-voyage Information Materials
     
  • Program of lectures by noted naturalists and leadership by experienced expedition staff.
  • All Miscellaneous Service Taxes and Port Charges Throughout the Program
     
  • Snowshoes Available on Loan for Shore Excursions on Designated Voyages
  •  Luggage Transfer from Pick-up Point to the Vessel on the Day of Embarkation in Ushuaia
Excluded
  • Gratuities
  • Travel Insurance
  • Personal Expenses
  • Flight costs (please request a quote)
  • Additional excursions during free time
  • Fuel and transportation surcharges (when applicable)
  • Passport and Applicable Visa Expenses
  • Government arrival and departure taxes
  • Loan of Waterproof Boots for Landings
  • Excess baggage charges
  • Pre- and Post Land Arrangements

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Beyond expectations! Then again we weren't sure what to expect. Lovely stay at the lodge, met other like-minded travelers (many had their trips planned by Adventure Life) and the owner was a gracious hostess. It felt like you were one happy family, visiting with a favorite aunt.
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