Take a week to explore the stunning coastline, astonishing landscapes and spectacular wildlife of Spitsbergen, the largest wilderness area in Europe.
This itinerary will provide an intoxicating mix of stunning coastline, astonishing landscapes and spectacular wildlife including huge colonies of seabirds, seals, walruses, whales, Arctic foxes and – most memorable of all – polar bears! During the short summer window of opportunity, the days seem to last forever, offering maximum time to appreciate this breathtaking land of ice to the full.
Lying some 650 kilometres north of Norway, the Spitsbergen archipelago (or Svalbard, as it is known in Norwegian) covers an area of around the same size as Ireland, much of which lies under icy glaciers; some 3,000 people live in just four settlements, and there are only 50 kilometres of road. The name – given by Dutch explorer Willem Barents, who discovered it in 1596 on a mission to find a sea route to the fabled land of Cathay – refers to the jagged peaks in the north-west of the island.
A typical North Spitsbergen itinerary is shown below, however we offer a choice of itineraries, expedition vessels and cabin types to suit your requirements.
Some departures are designated 'polar bear specials': these spend more time sailing along the edge of - and even through - pack ice in search of polar bears on ice floes, rather than following the coastline.
Day1: Embark in Longyearbyen & set sail early evening
Day2: 14th of July Glacier & Ny Alesund
Sail north along the west coast to Krossfjorden, where we get on the Zodiacs for an exhilarating cruise along the sculpted front of the 14th of July Glacier. Continue to Ny Alesund, the world's most northerly settlement.
Day3: Andoya island
Weather permitting, sail to the mouth of Liefdefjorden and go ashore for a walk on the tundra island of Andoya where many common eiders and pink-footed geese nest. The waters at the mouth of the Monaco Glacier are a favourite feeding spot for thousands of kittiwakes, and on previous voyages polar bears have been seen on the glacier itself, providing wonderful opportunities for photography.
Day4: Sail into Hinlopen Strait
Sail into Hinlopen Strait and attempt a landing at Palanderbukta on Nordaustlandet, home to reindeer, pink-footed geese, breeding ivory gulls, and walrus.
Today you reach the northernmost point of the trip at Phippsoya just 865 kilometres from the geographic North Pole. Polar bears inhabit this desolate region, along with ivory gulls.
Retracing your route westwards, visit Raudfjord on the north coast of West Spitsbergen, a beautiful fjord dominated by spectacular glaciers and favoured by ringed and bearded seals. Visit a 17th century Dutch whaling sstation on the offshore island of Ytre Norskoya.
Day7: Land at Fuglehuken; continue to Longyearbyen
Land at the northern tip of Prins Karls Forland near Fuglehuken, the spot where Barents probably set foot on Spitsbergen for the first time. Seabirds nest on the cliffs and along the coast, and you'll see harbour seals - the only population found in Spitsbergen. Cruise through beautiful Borebukta, following a glacier front before continuing to Longyearbyen.
Day8: Arrive Longyearbyen & disembark
You should note: Exact itinerary and duration will depend on your chosen vessel, departure date and local conditions.
Duration and price excluding international flights: 8-10 daysfrom £4,275 pp
Group size: Varies according to vessel
When to go: May-Oct
Departures: Please contact us for departure date details.
High above the Arctic Circle lies the remarkable archipelago known in Norwegian as Svalbard. Spitsbergen, the main island, means 'jagged peaks' and befits this remarkable land with its spectacular coastline, littered with glaciers flowing into the sea, and high cliffs with endless opportunities for viewing wildlife.
This itinerary is available on the following
The Akademik Sergey Vavilov is an ice-strengthened vessel which started life in Finland as a scientific research vessel, and has since been refitted and refurbished to sail the Polar seas. The ship’s bridge is an excellent place from which to view wildlife, and the on board hot tub is a great addition!
Noorderlicht has a well-balanced two-masted schooner rig and accommodation for 20 passengers in comfortable twin cabins, with ceiling glass. While sailing, passengers are actively encouraged to participate in handling the sails, taking the helm, and being on night watch.
The ice-strengthened Ortelius is an excellent vessel for expeditions in the Arctic and Antarctic. With the highest ice-class notation, it offers possibilities to travel to remote locations such as the Ross Sea and Franz Josef Land. Flexibility assures maximum wildlife opportunities.
The Plancius accommodates a maximum of 114 passengers in cabins ranging from triple to superior, all with outside view and private facilities. She offers a range of itineraries in Antarctica and the Arctic, and the large open deck spaces offer excellent opportunities to watch wildlife.