Board the expedition ship MV Plancius and explore the shores of Spitsbergen on this unique Arctic cruise. This 10-day voyage around Spitsbergen gives you a great chance to see whales, foxes, reindeer, seals, and polar bears. The expedition makes a landing on the island of Kvitøya, a site of historical significance, and home of a large walrus population.
Visit Ny-Alesund, the northernmost settlement in the world
Catch a glimpse of the innumerable bird species
Climb Soraberget (205m) from where you have a fantastic view of the icecap
Explore the rarely-visited island Kvitøya, a historically significant site
Arrive in Longyearbyen, the administrative capital of the Spitsbergen archipelago of which West Spitsbergen is the largest island. Before embarking there is an opportunity to stroll around this former mining town, whose parish church and Polar Museum are well worth visiting, while in the surrounding area of Longyearbyen. In the early evening the ship sails out of Isfjorden as your Arctic cruise gets underway.
Heading north along the west coast, arrive by morning in Krossfjorden. Board Zodiacs for a cruise along the sculpted front of the 14th of July Glacier. On the green slopes near the glacier, a colorful variety of flowers bloom, while large numbers of kittiwake and Brünnich’s guillemot nest on the nearby cliffs. There is also a good chance of spotting arctic fox, who patrol the base of the cliffs in case a chick falls from its nest, and bearded seal, who cruise this fjord. In the afternoon sail to Ny Ålesund, the world’s most northerly settlement.
Once a mining village - served by the world’s most northerly railway, which can still be seen - Ny Ålesund is now a research center. Close to the village is a breeding ground for barnacle goose, pink-footed goose, and arctic tern. Visitors interested in the history of Arctic exploration can walk to the anchoring mast used by Amundsen and Nobile, in the airship Norge in 1926 and Nobile in the airship Italia in 1928, before their flights to the North Pole.
Sail through Beverleysundet, named by Parry in 1827 and also sailed by the Swedish-Russian Arc-of-Meridian Expedition in 1898. Today reach your northernmost point at Phippsøya, in the Seven Islands north of Nordaustlandet. Here you are at 81 degrees north, just 540 miles from the geographic North Pole. Polar bears inhabit this region, along with ivory gulls.
Push east to reach the area of Nordaustlandet, where the Nobile expedition drifted around in 1928 and where the Italian Sora tried to come to the rescue. There hope to get to Alpinøya, reached by Sora in 1928, and then to the mouth of Finn Malmgrenfjord, and Albertinibukta and to climb Soraberget (205 M) from where you have a fantastic view on the ice-cap of Nordaustlandet. Alternatively land at Storøya, where again you may meet a group of walruses.
Today hope to get to the rarely visited Kvitøya farthest to the east, close to the Russian territory. The island is dominated by an ice-cap, which leaves a small area bare of ice and snow. Land at the western tip at Andréneset, where the Swedish explorer André and his companions perished in 1898. Also try to get to Kraemerpynten in the east, where an enormous group of walruses resides.
South of Nordaustlandet try to land on Isisøya, formerly a Nunatak area surrounded by glaciers. Now it is an island surrounded by the sea. Later sail along the front of the Brasvell Glacier, the longest glacier front in Spitsbergen. In Olga Strait you have chances to spot the elusive Greenland whale.
In Freemansundet plan to land at Sundneset on the island of Barentsøya to visit an old trapper's hut and then take a brisk walk across the tundra in search of Spitsbergen reindeer and barnacle geese. Later cruise south to Diskobukta on the west side of Edgeøya. After a Zodiac cruise through the shallow bay, land on a beach littered with whale bones and tree trunks, which have drifted here from Siberia. You can also climb to the rim of a narrow gully which is inhabited by thousands of kitttiwakes, together with black guillemots and piratical glaucous gulls. During the breeding season, the base of the cliffs is patrolled by arctic foxes and polar bears, especially females with young cubs, searching for young birds that have fallen from the nesting ledges.
Start the day quietly cruising the side fjords of the spectacular Hornsund area of southern Spitsbergen, enjoying the scenery of towering mountain peaks. Hornsundtind rises to 1,431m while Bautaen shows why early Dutch explorers gave the name ‘Spitsbergen’ - pointed mountains - to the island. There are also 14 magnificent glaciers in the area and very good chances of encounters with seals and polar bears. You may visit the Polish research station where the friendly staff give you an insight into their research projects. Behind the station the mountains are home to thousands of pairs of nesting little auks.
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
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.
Kate was great to work with in the planning stage. She was prompt, helpful, and efficient. Our tour guide, Edwin, was knowledgeable and passionate. We were very happy to have traveled with Adventure Life, it made the trip easy and a true pleasure. We could concentrate on enjoying the experience rather than the details of travel.