The 10-day Around Spitsbergen Arctic cruise sails entirely around the island of West Spitsbergen, round-trip from Longyearbyen, Norway. While in the realm of the polar bear, focus on seeing these magnificent hunters, along with other Arctic wildlife. Cruise through icy waters to impressive glaciers and attempt to reach 80 degrees north. Spitsbergen’s abundant wildlife was once a huge draw for whalers and trappers and now discerning visitors are discovering the attractions of huge Arctic seabird colonies and the chance to enjoy and photograph Arctic wildlife like walrus, reindeer, arctic fox, beluga whales and, of course, polar bears.
The Norwegian name for the Svaldbard archipelago, including Bear Island and Jan Mayen, is Spitsbergen and it contains the largest of Norway’s Arctic islands. Covering an area almost as big as the Republic of Ireland, Spitsbergen has a population of 3,500 in five settlements and is a virtually unspoiled wilderness. Highlights of this Arctic cruise include a Zodiac ride near the towering blue-white face of the 11th of July Glacier; exploring the once mining village and now research center of Ny Ålesund, the world’s most northerly settlement; photographing thousands of kittiwakes near a popular polar bear hunting ground at Monaco Glacier; attempting to reach 80 degrees north and the Seven Islands at Phippsøya; sailing the Hinlopen Strait to search for blue whales, polar bears and ringed seals; watching walruses haul out on Kapp Lee; gazing at the spire-like mountain peaks of Horsundtind; and walking amongst beluga whale skeletons and witnessing the consequences of 19th century whale hunters.
In addition to the main 10-day Around Spitsbergen itinerary, there is a 10-day alternative route that aims to reach the rarely visited Kvitøya Island as well as a 16-day Sailing Around Spitsbergen departure that offers a relaxed pace aboard a two-masted schooner, with a free itinerary to visit many fascinating stops along Spitsbergen’s east coast.
Passage is aboard the 170-guest Hondius, 108-guest Ortelius, 108-guest Plancius or 20-guest Noorderlicht schooner. Noorderlicht is an AdventureSmith favorite for private charter cruises due to her adventurous nature and intimate size, however all of these small ships are equipped for intimate exploration of the incredible sights visited on all Around Spitsbergen itineraries. While the intention is to circumnavigate Spitsbergen, it is important to note that the chances of each ship completing a full Spitsbergen circumnavigation (based on the expeditions’ experiences from 1992 until 2018) are about 30% in the first half of July, 70% in the second half of July, 90% in the first half of August and 95% in the second half of August. In case your expedition cannot complete a full circumnavigation of Spitsbergen, your captain and expedition team will devise a program in Northeast or Southeast Spitsbergen.
Regardless of itinerary choice, the wildlife, history and frigid magnificence of the Arctic makes sailing Around Spitsbergen a trip to remember. Contact the polar experts at AdventureSmith Explorations to discuss which itinerary and ship best suits your interests, ability and budget.
Read on for details about this trip, or learn more about AdventureSmith’s Arctic cruises.