Arctic Cruise: Spitsbergen Explorer

The remarkable islands of the Svalbard archipelago are part of Norway, lying far to the north of the Norwegian mainland and high above the Arctic Circle. They total an area of about 62,000 square kilometers, about the same size as Ireland or Tasmania. These larger islands rise to form a group of wild and rugged mountains, with much of their highland areas being covered in ice and snow. The aim on this expedition is to undertake a complete circumnavigation of the major islands of the group, making frequent shore stops to hike or simply enjoy the amazing scenery, and to undertake zodiac cruises, often in close proximity to sea cliffs and abundant wildlife.

Itinerary

Day 1: Longyearbyen / Embark

The Spitsbergen Explorer tour begins when boarding your ship in Longyearbyen, the island's largest settlement. Enjoy the first view of Spitsbergen's rugged glacier topped mountains, rising majestically from icy Arctic waters.

Days 2-4: Western Spitsbergen

On the west coast of Spitsbergen, cruise in Zodiacs, near a magnificent ice cliff, the 14th of July Glacier. Birders should add this to their life list, as this is a known habitat for Purple Sandpipers, Common Eiders, Barnacle Geese, Arctic Terns and more. Later, visit Ny Alesund, an international Arctic research station.

Days 5-8: Smeerenburg / Phippsoya / Tusenoyane

At Smeerenburg, you’ll visit relics of the whaling industry, blubber ovens and whalebones. While you visit the former whaling station, the Expedition Team recounts the Dutch and Basque influences on the local community, which relied on the harvesting of bowhead whales for survival. Norway’s Arctic Islands of Svalbard are so numerous that certain areas within the archipelago have names that reflect the profusion, Tusenoyane (Thousand Islands) for example. You’ll go ashore on Tusenoyane to seek Red-throated Drivers and a whale skeleton. The temperature drops as you continue northward. Cross 80° N, 965 km (600 miles) from the North Pole, when ice conditions permit. Polar bear and walrus are known to inhabit the waters around this small archipelago, the most northerly in Svalbard!

Days 9-10: Bourbonhamna

The narrow sound near Bourbonhamna is a favored route of beluga whales. Explore the area in search for the white whales before going ashore.

Day 11: Longyearbyen / Disembark

The 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.

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