Arctic Cruise - Spitsbergen Circumnavigation

Spitsbergen is the largest island in NorwayÂís Svalbard archipelago. This 13-day trip makes a complete circuit of Spitsbergen with visits to outer lying islands as well. The islands of the archipelago are varied, so this is the voyage to choose if you want the complete Svalbard experience. See scores of nesting seabirds, lazy walrus lolling on the shores, and of course, the iconic polar bear, prowling the ice edge. Spitsbergen also boasts a remarkably diverse landscape, offering the chance to explore everything from jagged mountain peaks to sweeping polar deserts. Tour the magnificent scenery from the viewpoint of a Zodiac, kayak or on foot ashore.

Itinerary

Day 1: Longyearbyen / Embark

The Spitsbergen expedition itinerary begins when you board Akademik Sergey Vavilov in Longyearbyen, the island's largest settlement. Enjoy your first view of the island's rugged, glacier-topped mountains, rising majestically from icy Arctic waters.

Day 2: 14th of July Glacier / Ny Alesund

Cruise past the spectacular cliffs of the 14th of July Glacier, keeping an eye out for Purple Sandpipers, Common Eiders, Barnacle Geese, Arctic Terns and more. Later, visit Ny Alesund, once a remote coal-mining town, now a unique international research station. You may spot indigenous Svalbard reindeer, so keep your camera handy!

Day 3: Smeerenburg

Dutch whalers established this community on tiny Amsterdam Island almost 400 years ago. During this shore visit, learn about Spitsbergen's whaling past and visit an authentic blubber oven.

Day 4: Monacobreen / Worsleyneset / Moffen Island

This morning, wake to find the ship at anchor near the magnificant Monaco Glacier at the head of Ljefdefjorden. Afterwards, sail on to Worsleyneset to enjoy a tundra hike, and learn more about Svalbard's human history. Strict guidelines keep visitors from sailing too close to the final stop - a walrus sanctuary off Moffen Island. Be sure to bring your telephoto lens.

Day 5: Phippsoya

An archipelago within an archipelago, Seven Islands comprises the northernmost portion of Svalbard. They lie about 10 degrees from the North Pole. Ice seldom disappears completely from the islands during the Arctic summer. Polar bears and walrus exploit the ice. Visit an abandoned trapper's cabin and watch for wildlife.

Day 6: Vibubukta

Hike through one of the most striking landscapes on Earth - a polar desert. Characterized by scant rainfall and summer temperatures no higher than 10°C (50°F), these sweeping plains of hard bedrock and gravel are unique to the polar regions. Be on the lookout for the beached skeleton of an ancient whale, and for evidence of "isostatic rebound" - the rise of a landmass after its covering ice sheet retreats.

Day 7: Alkefjellet

Today, sail past the towering cliff-face of Alkefjellet - truly remarkable site, crowded with thousands of nesting Brunich Guillemots and Thick-billed Murres. Fox and polar bear are often seen patrolling the cliff base, hoping for a meal to drop from the sky!

Day 8: Sundneset

Today, visit yet another unique Arctic landscape - the tundra meadow. Sundneset, found at the southwestern corner of Barents Island, enjoys surprisingly lush vegetation, including many beautiful wildflowers. Learn about this fascinating Arctic ecosystem and keep your eye out for reindeer that enjoy the meadow for more than its beauty.

Day 9: Diskobukta

Today, the goal is to visit a colony of kittiwakes that have chosen to nest in a cavern. Timing is everything. Approach at rising tide for the best view. For an even better view, Zodiacs will be lowered, so you can cruise along the cliff face as the tide rises.

Day 10: Isbukta

The name means "ice bay," an indication that there should be plenty of "fast ice" (sea ice that has frozen fast to the coast) during the visit. This means a good chance of spotting polar bears on the hunt, as the seals rest along the ice edge. This is also another good location for spotting the rare Ivory Gull, as they are known to dine on a polar bear's leftovers.

Day 11: Bourbanhamna

Abundant natural resources brought miners to Spitsbergen a century ago. Visit an historic mining site, then hike the tundra in search of delicate flowers that bloom under the midnight sun.

Day 12: Alkhornet

Today, sail past Alkhornet - brooding rock face crammed with nesting Guillemots or Murres. There will be time for another tundra hike during this expedition itinerary. Watch for the endemic Svalbard reindeer and the wary Arctic fox.

Day 13: Longyearbyen / Disembark

This circumnavigation ends where it began, in the frontier-style town of Longyearbyen. From here, transfer to the airport for your flight home. Contact ExpeditionTrips for options to extend your Arctic travels.

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