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.
Visit Bear Island colonies of large seabirds
Sail through Bodo and the famous Strait of Saltstraumen
Watch for minke and orca whales native to the Scottish waters
Sail along the edge of sea-ice and into elaborate fjord systems
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 8: Longyearbyen | Disembark
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.”
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.