Combining our North Spitsbergen voyage (focusing on polar bears, bowhead whales, and pack ice) with our East Spitsbergen cruise (also emphasizing bears as well as the summer solstice), this program turns two equally amazing trips into one amazing Arctic expedition.
The midnight sun is a phenomenon that occurs during the Arctic summer, when the sun is visible for a full 24 hours in fair weather. The summer solstice falls on 21 June in Longyearbyen. The term solstice (Latin solstitium) means “sun-stopping” and describes the point on the horizon at which the sun appears to rise and set, stopping and reversing directions after this day. On the solstice, the sun does not rise precisely in the east but rather north of east, then later sets to the north of west, making the sun visible for a longer period of time. It will not be until late August that the sun fully goes down again, and then only for a few minutes.Join us in experiencing this fascinating phenomenon during this voyage through the Arctic wilderness of Svalbard.
You touch down in Longyearbyen, the administrative center of Spitsbergen, the largest island of the Svalbard archipelago. Enjoy strolling around this former mining town, whose parish church and Svalbard Museum make for fascinating attractions. Though the countryside appears stark, more than a hundred species of plant have been recorded in it. In the early evening the ship sails out of Isfjorden, where you might spot the first minke whale of your voyage.
After an exciting sailing through straits and fjord we arrive late morning at Smeerenburg, where a large group of Walrusses often lays at its haul-out place. It is also a rare opportunity to see Harbour Seals on rocky islets. Smeerenburg was an important whaling station in the 17th century. Later on the day we land at Fuglesangen, where we have a great opportunity to sit among hundreds of nearby Little Auks. In the evening we make a short landing in Birgerbukta, where the Basq whalers had their station, and continue into the splendid Raudfjord.
Raudfjord, with glacier fronts, is a good area for meeting Polar Bears and Bearded Seals on fjord ice, which is still unbroken. In Hamiltonbukta is an impressive colony of Brünnichs’s Guiillemots. Later we visit Ytre Norskøya, a small island which was used for many years as a lookout point for Dutch whalers. There we can still follow their tracks to the summit of the island. On shore the remains of 17th century blubber ovens can be found near about 200 graves. The north side of the island offers the rare opportunity to see Puffins near their breeding places. There is also a small colony of Kittiwakes. From there we sail northwest to the edge of the pack-ice.
Day 4 - 6
At sea sailing from 80 N to 76 N along and in the outer fringes of the ice edge looking for Bowhead Whales, Harp Seals, Hooded Seals, Polar Bears and migrating seabirds like Little Auks, Brünnich’s Guillemots, and Kittiwakes. On previous voyages in this area we have sometimes seen up to hundred Bowhead Whales. On the last day, at open sea we have good chances for Northern Bottlenose Whales and the first Fin Whales of the season.
Bellsund is a fjord system with two major branches (Van Mijenfjord, Van Keulenfjord) and a side bay (Recherchefjord). The geology is fascinating and has created amazing landscapes, such as the long, narrow island of Akseløya that blocks Van Mijenfjord almost completely. The rich wildlife of the area has attracted hunters throughout several centuries, including English whalers, who also wintered there. – we will walk in their footsteps and see remains of their huts. We see often Polar Bears and we have also seen Beluga (white whales) in this area. Much is depending on the fjord –ice how far we can sail into these fjords.
Today we arrive in Longyearbyen, typically the endpoint for our Svalbard voyages. But while some passengers will be disembarking, others will have just arrived to join the expedition. Expect to see many new and enthusiastic faces on board.
We start the day by quietly cruising the side fjords of the spectacular Hornsund area in southern Spitsbergen, enjoying the scenery of towering mountain peaks. The mountain of Hornsundtind rises to 1,431 meters (4,695 feet), while the peak of Bautaen testifies to why early Dutch explorers gave this island the name Spitsbergen, meaning “pointed mountains.”
There are 14 magnificent glaciers in the area, and we have a fair chance of encountering seals and polar bears.
The nearby cliffs of Sofiakammen are also home to thousands of pairs of nesting kittiwakes and little auks, and in the evening, we might see thousands of harp seals rutting on ice floes at Sørkapp.
After navigating the drift ice of Storfjorden, where we sometimes see harp seals, we land in northwest Edgeøya at the northern bank of Rosenberdalriver. Here on the raised beach, we have the opportunity of walking to Rosenbergdalen, which is teeming with grazing reindeer.
Afterward we plan to walk by a cliff with nesting black guillemots on our way to Stretehamna, where we often find a herd of walruses on the beach near an octagonal trapper’s cabin built in 1905.
We can also see the remains of a 19th-century Pomor house as well as the bones of walruses hunted in previous centuries.
Sailing into the waterway of Freemansundet, we plan to land at the tundra lowland of Sundneset, on the island of Barentsøya.
Here we will visit the hut of a German scientific expedition (Würzbugerhütte) from sixty years ago, then take a brisk walk across the tundra in search of Spitsbergen reindeer and barnacle geese. After that, we plan to go on a Zodiac cruise near Freeman Glacier and visit a kittiwake colony in a canyon close by.
In case of heavy ice in Freemandundet, however, we will instead sail to Negribreen, one of the most extensive glacier fronts on the east side of Spitsbergen. Here we can take a Zodiac cruise and land on Walrus Island, which became ice-free at the end of last century.
Today we sail to the east side of west Spitsbergen (west side of Storfjorden).
Here we plan to walk to breeding places for ivory gulls in Agardhfjellet, which stands about 300 meters (980 feet) high.
The valley leading to the outcrops that house the nests is littered with fossils of belemnites and ammonites.
Today we aim to land at the mountain of Stellingfjellet, near the largest colony of Brünnich’s guillemots in Spitsbergen. Later in the day, we will make landings at the rarely visited coast of south Spitsbergen, at the bay of Isbukta.
We continue our voyage in Bell Sund, one of the largest fjord systems in Svalbard. The ocean currents make this area slightly warmer than other areas in the archipelago, which shows in the relatively lush vegetation.
Here there are excellent opportunities to enjoy both history and wildlife.
A possibility is Ahlstrandhalvøya, at the mouth of Van Keulenfjorden, where piles of beluga skeletons can be found. These remains of 19th-century whale slaughter are a haunting reminder of the consequences of rampant exploitation. Fortunately, belugas were not hunted into extinction, and you have a good chance of coming across a pod.
Alternately, while cruising the side fjords of Bellsund, we can explore tundra where reindeer like to feed as well as rock slopes where little auks are breeding.
Every adventure, no matter how grand, must eventually come to an end. You disembark in Longyearbyen, taking home memories that will accompany you wherever your next adventure lies.
All itineraries are for guidance only. Programs may vary depending on ice, weather, and wildlife conditions. Landings are subject to site availabilities, permissions, and environmental concerns per AECO regulations. Official sailing plans and landing slots are scheduled with AECO prior to the start of the season, but the expedition leader determines the final plan. Flexibility is paramount for expedition cruises. The average cruising speed of our vessel is 10.5 knots.
|Ship name||Cabin Name||Price||Sale Price||Departs on||Returns on|
|m/v Hondius||Quadruple Porthole||$6,400||NA||Jun 10th, 2024||Jun 24th, 2024|
|m/v Hondius||Triple Porthole||$8,000||NA||Jun 10th, 2024||Jun 24th, 2024|
|m/v Hondius||Twin Porthole||$8,950||NA||Jun 10th, 2024||Jun 24th, 2024|
|m/v Hondius||Twin Window||$9,700||NA||Jun 10th, 2024||Jun 24th, 2024|
|m/v Hondius||Twin Deluxe||$10,250||NA||Jun 10th, 2024||Jun 24th, 2024|
|m/v Hondius||Superior||$11,750||NA||Jun 10th, 2024||Jun 24th, 2024|
|m/v Hondius||Junior Suite||$12,450||NA||Jun 10th, 2024||Jun 24th, 2024|
|m/v Hondius||Grand Suite with private balcony||$14,400||NA||Jun 10th, 2024||Jun 24th, 2024|