The world's first family-focused Arctic expedition will burn energy and ignite the minds of the whole family. Spitsbergen is the largest of Norway's Svalbard islands, situated well above the Arctic Circle. Renowned for polar bear sightings and walrus haul-outs, Spitsbergen provides extraordinary photo opportunities. A resident photographer will lead photography workshops for point-and-shoot disposables or the latest digital camera. The specific family-friendly activities offered onboard ship may include learning about ship navigation, the study and identification of animal prints through fun quiz activities, and the building of clay models. Ashore, activities may include Zodiac cruises on the lookout for seals, walrus and whales, and a photography course geared to children.
Day 1: Longyearbyen / Embark
Flying into Longyearbyen from Oslo, see a mountainous landscape broken by valleys and fjords, sparkling in the early summer sun, under a blanket of snow. Arrive early in the morning to explore Longyearbyen. Board the Akademik Sergey Vavilov in the afternoon, at anchor off shore. The Expedition Team conducts an orientation briefing aboard to discuss the ins and outs of shipboard life.
Day 2: Alkhornet / Poolepynten
Awake on the rugged coast of Alkhornet. The towering rock face reverberates with the call of thousands of seabirds that build nests on craggy outcroppings. Arctic foxes may be patrolling the area, hunting for chicks that fell from a nest. Svalbard reindeer, unique to the islands, could be grazing nearby. The wildlife highlight of your first full day of expedition cruising could be a walrus sighting at Poolepynten. The mammoth beasts weigh more than 3,300 pounds (1500 kg). They can eat as much as 110 pounds (50 kilos) of shellfish every day!
Day 3: Smeerenburg / Fugelsangen / Moffen Island
Go ashore at Smeergenburg to learn about the lives of 17th century whalers - men who defied death to harvest whales from the icy waters of the Arctic Ocean. In the afternoon, at Fuglesangen, the resident photographer will conduct the first of many photography workshops. Whether you travel with a point and shoot disposable camera or a sophisticated digital SLR, you will find something new to learn. On the ship, photographers can begin to build a voyage gallery.
Day 4: Alkefjellet, Torellneset
On this polar bear safari, always be alert for the presence of polar bears. At Alkefjellet, however, you will be particularly watchful. Polar bears are known to patrol the cliffs where seabirds nest, hunting for an easy meal. While cruising Hinlopen Strait, learn about navigating in polar waters, then practice your newly-acquired photography skills at Torellneset, a walrus haul out.
Day 5: Monacobreen, Worsleyneset
The Expedition Team glacier specialist will explain the marvels of big ice at Monaco Glacier. The frozen rock is constantly on the move, changing the landscape and calving icebergs. The focus of the afternoon's activity is the human history of Svalbard. The islands had no native peoples, only Europeans intent on whaling, sealing and mining.
Day 6: Raudfjorden, Hamiltonbreen
Zodiac cruising is another of the exciting activities in store for families enjoying this polar bear safari. The inflatable landing craft are flat bottomed, allowing them to pull up on a beach for disembarkation when you go ashore. While cruising and ashore, learn about animal behavior. A hike to the summit of a hill to take spectacular landscape photos is also planned.
Day 7: 14th of July Glacier / Ny Alesund
Near the magnificent, but oddly named, 14th of July Glacier, explore the tundra for vibrant wildflowers to photograph. Arctic flowers make up for their short stature with fluorescent colors. Ny Alesund is a research community where scientists from 15 different countries study Arctic weather, biology, and glaciology. You'll be able to mail a postcard from the most northerly post office in the world!
Day 8: Longyearbyen / Disembark
The Spitsbergen Family Adventure ends as it began, in the frontier-style settlement of Longyearbyen. You will be transfered from the ship to the airport for your flight home. Contact ExpeditionTrips for options to extend your stay.