Mighty polar bears create an unforgettable spectacle, whether hunting seals on pack ice, shepherding cubs along a beach or swimming near our Zodiacs. High above the Arctic Circle, we explore deep fjords, polar deserts, tundra tinged with wildflowers and vast glaciers calving into the sea. On foot and by Zodiac, we visit abandoned whaling settlements, search for walrus, Arctic fox and reindeer and revel in millions of migratory birds, including little auks, guillemots and puffin. The seas are alive with whales, bearded and possibly ringed seals.
Day 1 – Longyearbyen
Day 2 – 3 – Waggonway Glacier
Day 4-6 – Woodfjorden
Day 7 – 8 – Barents Sea / Edge islands
Day 9- 10 – South Cape / Hornsund / Bellsund
Day 11 – Isfjorden / Longyearbyen
Polar Pioneer Ship – Polar Pioneer is a small and sturdy expedition ship. A regular in polar waters having initially been built in 1982 as an icestrengthened research vessel, she was refurbished in 2000 to provide a comfortable range of triple, twin and suite cabin options for a maximum of 54 expeditioners. Her excellent reputation for polar expedition cruising is due to her strength, maneuverability and size, allowing her to access areas where larger vessels simply can’t reach.
Days 2 – 3 – Wake to spectacular alpine peaks and glacier valleys of Spitsbergen’s rugged west coast. In Magdalenefjorden we Zodiac cruise a safe distance from the aqua-blue ice cliffs of 14th July Glacier or Waggonway Glacier, and take long walks among summer flowers, alert for reindeer and Arctic fox. Thanks to the nutrient-rich Gulf Stream and relatively mild temperatures Atlantic puffins and thick-billed murres fill the cliffs. We may visit the remains of a 350-year-old Dutch whaling settlement on Amsterdam Island and hear of Swedish explorer Andrée’s ill-fated attempt to balloon over the North Pole.
Days 4 – 6 – We enter the Arctic Ocean and the world of pack ice. Ghostly beluga whales rise up in open leads, walrus impossibly crowd ice floes, and polar bears stalk ringed, bearded and harp seals. In coastal mountains, we visit trapper huts and stay alert for reindeer and Arctic fox. Delightful walks reveal exquisite tundra berries and flowers including purple saxifrage, yellow spider plants and Svalbard poppies. We attempt to cross latitude 80° North before turning south to Woodfjorden.
Days 7 -8 – We attempt to pass through narrow Hinlopen Strait, a channel flanked by austere, cream-coloured slopes rich in fossils between Spitsbergen and ice-capped Nordaustlandet. This polar desert is a landscape eroded by severe frost. Even in summer, pack ice could bar our way, but there is much to strive for. We Zodiac beneath Alkefjellt, sheer basalt cliffs rising more than 250 metres – literally buzzing with some 200,000 nests of Brunnich’s guillemots. On walks we seek eider ducks, Arctic foxes and elusive Svalbard ptarmigan. As we pass Barents and Edge islands, we cross polar bear migration routes.
Days 9 – 10 – If ice conditions allow, we round South Cape and sail north toward Hornsund and Bellsund, deep fjords with stunning glaciers and wildlife. If ice bars our way, we simply adjust our itinerary, backtrack and delve deeper into the wonders of Spitsbergen’s north and west coasts.
Gulf Stream climate
Spectacular glacier fronts
Arctic Ocean pack ice
Polar bears and cubs
200,000 guillemot nests
Sheer basalt sea cliffs
Flowering tundra plants
Arctic fox and reindeer
Fjords and rugged mountains
Clouds of little auks
Longyearbyen – Longyearbyen is the largest settlement and the administrative center of Svalbard, Norway. As of 2008, the town had a population of 2,040. Longyearbyen is located in the valley of Longyeardalen and on the shore of Adventfjorden, a bay of Isfjorden located on the west coast of Spitsbergen.
Waggonway Glacier – Waggonwaybreen is a glacier(s) and is located in Spitsbergen, Svalbard, Svalbard and Jan Mayen.
Woodfjorden – Woodfjord is a fjord on the north shore of Spitsbergen island in the Svalbard archipelago. It is the fourth longest fjord in the Svalbard archipelago with the mouth facing north adjacent to Wijdefjord, and goes 64 km into the island, west of Andrée Land.
Barents Sea – The Barents Sea is a marginal sea of the Arctic Ocean, located north of Norway and Russia. Known in the Middle Ages as the Murman Sea, the sea takes its current name from the Dutch navigator Willem Barents.
Edge Islands – Is an uninhabited Norwegian island in southeast of the Svalbard archipelago; it is the third largest island in this archipelago. An Arctic island, it forms part of the Søraust-Svalbard Nature Reserve, home to polar bears and reindeer.
Isfjorden – is the second longest fjord in the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard. It lies on the west side of Spitsbergen, an island in the Arctic Ocean about midway between Norway and the North Pole, and the largest in the archipelago.