North Spitsbergen Explorer

From Longyearbyen to Longyearbyen
  • All Arctic Cruises
  • Spitsbergen
  • Wildlife and Nature
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Tour Description

An expedition cruise in North Spitsbergen is perhaps the best opportunity to get active while spotting exotic Arctic wildlife!

This North Spitsbergen cruise begins in Longyearbyen, a historic settlement on the island of Spitsbergen, then explores along the remote and rugged shorelines of the far north. Our journey will be to where nature, the wildlife and ice take us, which could include visits to; the massive Monaco Glacier, and a popular hunting area for the polar bear, the Hinlopen Strait, the impressive bird cliffs of Alkefjellet, or  Forlandsundet, St. Johns Fjord, or Alkhornet looking for walrus haul outs, arctic fox and more. 

The northernmost point of the voyage may be north of Nordaustlandet, in the Seven Islands. Here we may reach 80° north, just 870 km (540 miles) from the geographic North Pole!  Keep cruising through the icy arctic waters, pushing through pack ice, always with a sharp eye out for polar bears and the elusive bowhead whales. 

This is an exciting exploration for nature and wildlife lovers!

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Learn about life in the high arctic as you explore the small town of Longyearbyen, Spitsbergen, where the arctic wilderness starts virtually in the town centre and never ends!

Feel the excitement as you push through pack ice, heading as north as possible, which maybe Nordaustlandet, in the Seven Islands, at 80° north, just 870 km (540 miles) from the geographic North Pole.

This region offers a great chance of seeing polar bears and other amazing wildlife including bowhead whales, arctic fox, reindeer, pink-footed geese, and walruses.

Tour Itinerary

Day 1

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.

Day 2-7
North Spitsbergen’s natural beauty, wildlife, and pack-ice

This voyage will take you into the pack ice and along the remote shorelines of rugged north Spitsbergen. Places we might visit include the following:


On the north coast of Spitsbergen, you can enjoy this expansive fjord spilling with glaciers – and maybe even visited by ringed and bearded seals. The cliffs and shoreline also support thriving seabird colonies, rich vegetation, and the possibility of polar bears.

Monaco Glacier

Depending on the weather and sea ice, we could sail into Liefdefjorden and cruise within sight of the 5-kilometer-long (3.1 miles) face of Monaco Glacier. The waters in front of this precipitous glacier are a favorite feeding spot for thousands of kittiwakes, and the base of the ice is a popular polar bear hunting ground. If ice conditions prevent us from sailing here early in the season, we may sail along the west coast of Spitsbergen.

Highlights of Hinlopen

We aim to sail into Hinlopen Strait, home to bearded seals, ringed seals, and polar bears. At the entrance, there is even the possibility to spot blue whales. After cruising among the ice floes of Lomfjordshalvøya in the Zodiacs, you can view the bird cliffs of Alkefjellet, with their thousands of Brünnich’s guillemots. On the east side of Hinlopen Strait, we may attempt a landing on Nordaustlandet. Here we may see reindeer, pink-footed geese, and walruses. We can take an alternate route if ice prevents entry into Hinlopen.

The Seven Islands

The northernmost point of the voyage may be north of Nordaustlandet, in the Seven Islands. Here we may reach 80° north, just 870 km (540 miles) from the geographic North Pole. Polar bears inhabit this region, so the ship may park for several hours among the pack ice before wheeling around west again.

Sailing the continental shelf

While retracing our route west, keep watch for polar bears and elusive Greenland (bowhead) whales. About 40 nautical miles west of Spitsbergen, we sail the edge of the continental shelf. Here fin whales forage during the summer in the upwelling zones (where cold, nutrient-rich water wells up from below the sea’s surface) that run along the Spitsbergen banks. At the mouth of Kongsfjorden, you have a good chance of sighting minke whales.

Forlandsundet, St. Johns Fjord, or Alkhornet

Walruses sometimes haul out in Forlandsundet. Alternatively, we might sail into St. Johns Fjord or south to the mouth of Isfjorden, landing at Alkhornet. Seabirds nest on these cliffs, Arctic foxes search below for fallen eggs and chicks, and reindeer graze the sparse vegetation.

Day 8

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.

What’s Included

  • Included Copy 20 7 night aboard the vessel
  • Included Copy 31 Cabin upgrades available
  • Included Copy 20 All meals throughout the voyage aboard the ship including snacks, coffee and tea.
Fees & Services
  • Included Copy 20 Voyage aboard the indicated vessel as indicated in the itinerary
  • Included Copy 20 All shore excursions and activities throughout the voyage by Zodiac.
  • Included Copy 20 Program of lectures by noted naturalists and leadership by experienced expedition staff.
  • Included Copy 20 Free use of rubber boots and snowshoes.
  • Included Copy 20 Transfers and baggage handling between the airport, hotels and ship only for those passengers on the
  • Included Copy 20 All miscellaneous service taxes and port charges throughout the programme.
  • Included Copy 20 AECO fees and governmental taxes.
  • Included Copy 20 Comprehensive pre-departure material.
  • Included Copy 7 Gratuities, flights, Visa expenses, travel insurance, excess baggage charges, government taxes
  • Included Copy 31 Add on kayaking

MV Ortelius

108 Passengers

MV Hondius

176 Passengers

MV Plancius

108 Passengers


  • Included Optional Kayaking
  • Included Zodiac cruising
  • Included Landings on shore
  • Included Spot the arctic fox, polar bears, walrus, whales and reindeer
  • Included Witness incredible glaciers and stunning landscapes
Click here for dates & prices

8 days

Price from

$4,000 USD

Per person, sharing

Based on a quad share cabin

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