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Polar bear in the Arctic

Around Spitsbergen - In the Realm of Polar Bears & Ice

Example 10 Day Cruise aboard MV Hondius
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Embark on a voyage around Spitsbergen and explore the icy waters of the North Atlantic. This special expedition offers you the chance to catch sight of whales, reindeer, Arctic foxes, walruses, seals, and the star attraction, the polar bear.  Enjoy hundreds of species of plants, barnacle geese, pink-footed geese, and Arctic terns, bearded and ringed seals, belugas, and even auks.
Minke whale swimming in the oceanA walrus relaxes on the snow.View beluga and other whales on your Arctic cruiseReindeer feeding in the arctic.Polar bear in the Arctic
Highlights
  • Sail to Ny Ålesund, the northernmost settlement on Earth
  • Tour the graves of 17th-century whalers in Sorgfjord
  • Be on the lookout for Arctic wildlife, birds, seals, whales, and polar bears
  • Visit Bell Sund, one of the largest fjord systems in Svalbard
Places Visited
Activity Level: Relaxed
Involves minimal physical effort and is typically associated with leisurely activities. Activities are low-intensity or last less than a few hours each day.
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Full Itinerary

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Day 1: Longyearbyen | Embark

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: Krossfjorden

Heading north along the west coast, you arrive by morning in Krossfjorden. Here you might board the Zodiacs for a cruise near the towering blue-white face of the Fourteenth of July Glacier. On the green slopes near the glacier, colorful flowers bloom while flocks of kittiwakes and Brünnich’s guillemots nest on the cliffs. You have a good chance of spotting an Arctic fox scouting for fallen chicks, or a bearded seal paddling through the fjord.

In the afternoon you sail to Ny Ålesund, the northernmost settlement on Earth. Once a mining village served by the world’s most northerly railway – you can still see its tracks – Ny Ålesund is now a research center. Close to the community is a breeding ground for barnacle geese, pink-footed geese, and Arctic terns. And if you’re interested in the history of Arctic exploration, visit the anchoring mast used by polar explorers Amundsen and Nobile in their airships, Norge (1926) and Italia (1928).

Day 3: Monaco Glacier

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 4-5: Nordaustlandet (Seven Islands)

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.

When the edge of this sea ice is tens of miles north of the Seven Islands (mostly in August), you can spend a second day in this area. Alternatively (mostly in July) you may turn to Sorgfjord, where you have the chance to find a herd of walruses not far from the graves of 17th-century whalers. A nature walk here can bring you close to families of ptarmigans, and the opposite side of the fjord is also a beautiful area for an excursion.

Day 6: Hinlopen

Today you sail into Hinlopen Strait, home to bearded and ringed seals as well as polar bears. At the entrance, there is even the possibility to spot blue whales. As with Liefdefjorden, you can take an alternate west Spitsbergen route if ice prevents entry into Hinlopen. After cruising among the ice floes of Lomfjordshalvøya in the Zodiacs, you then 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 where reindeer, pink-footed geese, and walruses are likely sights. Near Torrelneset you can also visit the polar desert of Nordaustlandet, next to the world’s third-largest ice cap. Here you may encounter walruses during a coastline hike over the area’s raised beaches. 

Day 7: Freemansundet | Barentsøya’s

The plan is to make landings in Freemansundet, though polar bears sometimes make this impossible. Potential stops on Barentsøya include Sundneset (for an old trapper’s hut), Kapp Waldburg (for its kittiwake colony), and Rindedalen (for a walk across the tundra). You might also cruise south to Diskobukta, though Kapp Lee is more likely your destination. On Kapp Lee are a walrus haul-out, Pomor ruins, and the chance for hikes along Edgeøya.

Day 8: Hornsund

You start the day by cruising the side fjords of the Hornsund area of southern Spitsbergen, taking in the spire-like peaks: Hornsundtind rises 1,431 meters (4,695 feet), and Bautaen is a perfect illustration of why early Dutch explorers named this island Spitsbergen, meaning “pointed mountains.” There are 14 sizable glaciers in this area as well as opportunities for spotting seals, beluga whales, and polar bears.

Day 9: Bell Sund

Today you find yourself in 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 shows in the 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 haunting reminder of the consequences of rampant exploitation. Fortunately, belugas were not hunted into extinction, and you have a good chance of coming across a pod. Alternately, while cruising the side fjords of Bellsund, you can explore tundra where reindeer like to feed as well as rock slopes where little auks are breeding.

Day 10: Longyearbyen | Disembark

  • 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.

Ship/Hotel

MV Hondius

M/V Hondius
MV Hondius

Dates & Prices

My Preferred Start Date

Per person starting at
MV Hondius
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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.
Grand Suite with Private BalconyMV Hondius
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Grand Suite with balcony
Located on deck 7. Approximately 291 sq. ft. 1 double window, 1 double bed, Sofa, Private balcony, Private shower & toilet, Flatscreen TV, Desk & chair, Telephone and WiFi, Refrigerator, Coffee & tea maker, Hairdryer, Cabinet, Wardrobe.

Notes

Single supplement - Single occupancy of a twin cabin is available at 1.7 times the twin occupancy rate.
Child discount: Children aged 3-15 will be discounted 40% in triple or quad cabins, one child per cabin.
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
  • Program of lectures by noted naturalists and leadership by experienced expedition staff.
  • All Miscellaneous Service Taxes and Port Charges Throughout the Program
  • All shore excursions and activities throughout the voyage by Zodiac.
  • Free use of rubber boots and snowshoes.
  • All meals throughout the voyage aboard the ship including snacks, coffee and tea.
  • Comprehensive pre-departure material.

  • Transfers and Baggage Handling between the Airport, Hotels & Ship Only for Those on the Group Flights to/from Longyearbyen.
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
  • Pre- and Post Land Arrangements
  • Fuel Surcharge - to be invoiced separately
  • 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.
  • Medical travel insurance, including emergency medical attention and evacuation coverage with a minimum of $100,000 of evacuation coverage is required.
  • Transfers to/from the Vessel Outside Spitsbergen

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Everything was amazing! The planning with Adventure Life went smoothly. The actual trip was fantastic! One of the best trips I have experienced. The cruise staff members were knowledgeable and attentive. I will be writing more about this on the blog!
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