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Spitsbergen’s coastline is magnificent. The area (also known as Svalbard) is located at the southernmost tip of Hornsund, where fourteen glaciers flow into the sea and create a haven for wildlife. Some of the wildlife, such as seabirds and seals, can be found here in huge numbers.

This remarkable archipelago, offers exceptional opportunities to watch wildlife, from the impressive Monaco Glacier, a favourite feeding spot for thousands of kittiwakes, to the spectacular cliffs that are home to more than 200,000 little auks. Opportunistic Arctic foxes patrol the base of the cliffs in the hope of chicks falling from ledges, distinctive reindeer browse of the mossy tundra, while bearded seals cruise the fjords.

Spitsbergen and the surrounding area is also home to the world's highest population of polar bears, numbering around 3,000. Each year when the pack ice starts to break up, bears head to the mainland to spend the summer on shore. Individuals are often seen from aboard expedition cruise vessels, and we offer departures which are specifically designed as polar bear trips. If you are fortunate, they may even approach the vessel - seemingly out of sheer curiosity.

While sailing, sighting various species of whale such as blue whale, narwhal and beluga is a distinct and exciting possibility.

Some departures are also designed to combine the wildlife viewing with the chance to see the extraordinary phenomenon of the Northern Lights.

View suggested itineraries

Key info

  • Ideal for viewing: Arctic tern, bearded seal, beluga whale, narwal, polar bear

Wildlife trips

This wildlife location is featured in the following itineraries:

Festival of Wildlife Spitsbergen

The Festival of Wildlife returns once again – this time we venture to the Arctic and the captivating island of Spitsbergen for a true wildlife expedition on board the Ocean Adventurer. Travelling at the start of the season, we will go in search of some of the Arctic’s most iconic wildlife.

  • When to go: May
  • Duration inc. flights: 11 days
  • Price inc. flights: From £5,995 pp
  • Trip type: Group tour

Around Spitsbergen

Sail through a wonderland of mountain and glacial scenery and enjoy spectacular wildlife encounters in this polar bear and birding paradise. Highlights include an exhilarating ride along the spectacular 14th of July Glacier, where large numbers of kittiwakes and Brunnichs guillemots nest on the nearby cliffs.

  • When to go: May-Oct
  • Duration exc. flights: 10 days
  • Price exc. flights: From £5,525 pp
  • Trip type: Group tour

Central Spitsbergen

This one week voyage combines Spitsbergen’s rich wildlife and impressive glaciers. Some trips depart during the onset of winter, when you can observe the extraordinary phenomenon of the Aurora Borealis, when the night skies glow green and red with one of Mother Nature's finest displays.

  • When to go: May-Oct
  • Duration exc. flights: 8 days
  • Price exc. flights: From £2,345 pp
  • Trip type: Group tour

North Spitsbergen

This one week voyage provides an intoxicating mix of astonishing landscapes, stunning coastline and spectacular wildlife, including huge colonies of seabirds, walruses, whales, Arctic foxes and polar bears. The long daylight hours offer maximum time to appreciate this breathtaking land of ice to the full.

  • When to go: May-Oct
  • Duration exc. flights: 8-10 days
  • Price exc. flights: From £4,275 pp
  • Trip type: Group tour

Spitsbergen, Greenland & Iceland

Sailing amid awe-inspiring scenery of fjords and glaciers, this comprehensive itinerary starts in Spitsbergen, home to the world's highest population of polar bears. Continuing across the Greenland Sea, orcas and dolphins follow in your wake, and there are chances to see walrus, Arctic hare and musk ox.

  • When to go: May-Oct
  • Duration exc. flights: 13-14 days
  • Price exc. flights: From £6,345 pp
  • Trip type: Group tour
Recommended cruise vessels:

Greg Mortimer

The Greg Mortimer introduces an exciting new generation of ship for cruising in the Polar regions. Purpose-built for expedition cruising with a uniquely designed ice-strengthened hull to provide a more comfortable voyage, this small ship can venture into remote areas that larger vessels cannot reach.


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.

Polar Pioneer

Small and manoeuvrable, the Polar Pioneer is an ice-strengthened vessel, capable of venturing into remote corners of the world that many larger ships cannot reach. The atmosphere is relaxed and informal, and you will be in the company of an experienced team of expedition experts and crew.

The Ocean Adventurer

The Ocean Adventurer is an ice-strengthened ship and is one of the most comfortable expedition vessels to navigate the polar seas. An aspect of this ship which sets it apart from other expedition ships is the substantial outdoor space – spread over four decks - for observing wildlife.