Svalbard Circumnavigation

From Longyearbyen, Spitsbergen
  • All Arctic Cruises
  • Spitsbergen
  • Expedition
  • Small Ship Cruising
  • Wildlife and Nature
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Tour Description

A bucket list cruise opportunity - this adventure will see us attempting to circumnavigate Svalbard. 

Adventure into the high Arctic, a region of outstanding natural beauty and home to the polar bear. As we journey on the Ocean Atlantic, an ice-class expedition ship we will witness whales, seals, walruses, arctic fox and millions of sea birds.  The vessel, built to withstand the North Pole’s pack ice, will allow us the excitement of pushing through the ice, as we cruise to 80 degrees north, getting as close as possible to the pack ice north of Svalbard. Our exact route will always be determined by the ice. 

Long summer days allow lots of time to explore ashore, taking walks among the amazing flora that somehow manages to grow in these harsh landscapes. Watch reindeer graze, an arctic fox scurry along, and glaciers calve. We also explore the shorelines by zodiac, venturing under sheer cliff faces full of arctic guillemots, black guillemots, perhaps some puffins, nesting for the summer. We will also visit some extraordinary locations in the eastern part of Svalbard with Edgeøya and in the south part of Spitsbergen like Bellsund and Hornsund.  

Experience the wonders of high summer in the Arctic and circumnavigate Svalbard. 

In 2022 this will be an 11 day voyage on the Ocean Altantic, and in 2023 a 10 day voyage onboard the Ocean Albatros

Viva's Best Bits...

Venture as far north of Svalbard as possible to the edge of the pack ice, also the polar bear´s favorite summer residence. The views of the pack ice are amazing in themselves, enjoy watching from the deck as your vessel pushes through.

Take zodiac cruises passed glaciers and cliffs, land and walk in the high arctic, summer is perfect for lots of activity, birds nesting, reindeer grazing, foxes hunting and more!

"If you really want to try and see polar bears then Svalbard is a great area.Spend as long as you can there for more chances to see them, hence a Svalbard Circumnavigation is perfect for this!" Tara, Team Viva.

Tour Itinerary

Day 1
Longyearbyen, Spitsbergen

LONGYEARBYEN, SPITSBERGEN. EMBARK ON THE OCEAN ATLANTIC

Arrival to Longyearbyen, Capital of Svalbard – possibly the northernmost ‘real’ town in the world.

Our vessel, the Ocean Atlantic, is docked close to the town center. After boarding and a welcome drink, the Expedition Leader will provide information about the voyage, the ship's daily routines and the various security and safety procedures. Before sailing, there will be a mandatory safety drill. The Captain then takes the ship out of Advent Fjord and our Arctic adventure commences.

Day 2
Ny Ålesund, Ny London and Lilliehöök Glacier

NY ÅLESUND, NY LONDON AND LILIENHÖÖK GLACIER
During the ‘night’ (what is night, when the sun never sets?), we have passed Prins Karls Forland and have arrived in the magnificent Kongsfjord. Our visit to Svalbard is in the early summer and this is both the challenge and gift of this special voyage. Winter ice will possibly block the inner waters of many fjords, but this will give us the best opportunities to observe the omnipresent – but still elusive – polar bear, hunting for seals in its prime habitat. At this time of year the migrating birds have just arrived. They are all eager to settle and feed to get the best start for the coming hectic summer months.

Our first landing will be at Ny Ålesund. This settlement is in fact further north than Longyearbyen, making it THE northernmost town. But… is a group of scientific stations, a post office and a single shop open for a few hours a real town? You will have to judge for yourself. The setting is nice, the scientific projects are very interesting, and so is the town history. The Captain will try to get alongside, so we can enjoy an easy walk through the area.

In the afternoon, we continue further north into the fjord system, and depending on the ice situation, we may do a Zodiac cruise along the Lilliehöök Glacier front… or enjoy a lecture.

Day 3
Smeerenburg and Ytre Norskøya

FORMER WHALING STATION AT SMEERENBURG AND YTRE NORSKØYA

We have now entered North West Svalbard, which was declared a national park in 1973. The day could begin with a slow cruise in Danskergattet, looking for seals in Virgohamna, before crossing from Danskøya to Amsterdamøya to make a landing at Smeerenburg, the legendary whaling town of 17th century. 200-plus men were living – and quite often dying – here in the heyday of blubber production.

There are several interesting places to visit in this northwestern corner of Spitsbergen. If conditions allow we’ll make a landing on Ytre Norskøya, where whalers would have their lookout posts.

Day 4
Monaco Glacier and cruising towards the pack ice

MONACO GLACIER AND CRUISING TOWARDS THE PACK ICE
During the night we head to Wood Fjord and its branch, the Liefde Fjord. Our plan is to embark on a cruise along the broad glacier front of Monacobreen. This gives a unique insight of the glacial forces and the unlimited forms of icebergs. The ice front is named after Albert I of Monaco, who was a major sponsor of Svalbard research.

During the afternoon the ship will steer far north towards the edge of the polar pack ice. How far north only time and weather will tell, but the main target for us is just the ‘edge’, possibly at 80 degrees north! This is the kingdom of the polar bear! As the pack ice retreats during summer, polar bears ride the floes north, as this is where their prey - the seals - resides. Bears who for unfortunate reasons do not ‘catch’ the ice moving north, are stranded on Svalbard all summer, and will have to sustain on berries, eggs and whatever whale cadavers they can find. A hard life indeed!

Day 5
Polar Bear country at around 80 degrees North

SJUØYANE AND DRIFT ICE, POLAR BEAR COUNTRY AT 80 DEGREES AROUND EASTERN SVALBARD

During the day, lectures on polar mammals, environment and/or culture can be enjoyed on board in the Viking Theater. Should we get into the pack ice where the sea usually is calm, our Captain will cruise slowly between the floes to look for wildlife.

The part goal of the day is to reach the island Nordaustlandet and hopefully its 7 (or 9, depending on how you count) smaller islands Sjuøyane in the far north of Svalbard. The almost vegetation-free, rocky islands are located around 1000 km more northernly than mainland Norway’s famous Nordkapp.

Weather permitting we will land and walk these most northern landmasses. These high Arctic islands are quite barren, with moss and lichens covering the stones. The birdlife is rich in this area and some of the rarer gulls frequent these islands, so bring your binoculars.

At the end of the day, we will start cruising towards the Hinlopen Strait that divides Spitsbergen and Nordaustlandet.

Day 6
Alkefjellet and Torrelnesset

AMAZING BIRDLIFE AT ALKEFJELLET, POLAR DESERT LANDSCAPE AT TORRELNESSET
In the morning we arrive and cruise slowly by the famous Alkefjellet. If the weather is on “our side” we will have a good view of the steep cliffs. The whole area is home to a dense congregation of Brünichs guillemots. There is so many of the birds, that hardly an inch is free. During the summer the breeding pairs offer a wild view of frantic activity, both along the cliffs and in the sea in front.

More wildlife awaits us as we land at the polar desert landscapes of Torrelnesset. The beach here is home to a host of walruses that lay amongst each other. They feed on the clams and any other molluscs that they can find in the shallows of Svalbard’s waters.

Day 7
Hinlopen Strait, Freemansundet and Edgeøya

THROUGH THE HINLOPEN STRAIT AND FREEMANSUNDET, LANDING AT EDGEØYA
The main issue that can halt a circumnavigation of Spitsbergen is the ice situation along Hinlopen Strait. If the ice is passable we can make it through the southern edge of the Strait and cruise through Freemansundet that separates Barentsøya and Edgeøya. We enjoy the views of the massive Kapp Lee on our way and pass through into Storfjorden.

We plan to make a Zodiac landing along Edgeøya’s coast. Edgeøya is the third largest island in Svalbard with an area of more than 5000 square kilometers.

During the night we will cross the southernmost part of Svalbard, called Sørkapp. From here we will continue our way up the western coast.

Day 8
Hornsund and Isbjørnhamna

WILDLIFE AROUND HORNSUND AT ISBJØRNEHAMNA

Now that we have passed the southern edge of Spitsbergen we arrive at the entrance to Hornsund. We will be able to see buildings around Isbjørnhamna on the northern shore. This is a Polish research station, that has been here since 1957. Here research subjects are: geophysics, seismics, meteorology and the ionosphere. The work relationship between the Polish researchers and the Norwegian polar institute is very good, which secures the future of the station (as long as funding continues).

The fjord is almost 30 kilometres long and many call it the most beautiful, with many glaciers that calve into the waters as well as towering mountains along the shores. The mountaintops are most often covered by dense clouds and East-Spitsbergen current often leads pack ice into the fjords mouth. In other words, we are guests in a very impressive show that unfolds before us.

Day 9
Bellsund, Vårsolbukta and Calypsobyen

CALL IN BEAUTIFUL BELLSUND, VÅRSOLBUKTA AND CALYPSOBYEN

The west coast enjoys the warmer water coming up through the Atlantic, so winter ice should now have melted. This allows us to enter the southern fjord of Bellsund on this last full day of exploration.

Bellsund has some of the richest coal layers in Svalbard, and Svea Mine, far into the fjord, was formerly one of the biggest communities on the island. But prices went down and the coal mine is currently being dismantled.

We will stay in the fjord entrance and make landings at the Vårsol Bay. The biggest attraction here is the little auk cliff. Tundra is richly fertilized by hundreds of thousands of little auks, which the Svalbard reindeer love to graze. We will go for a nice walk along the beach – and spot remains from early industrial eras.

During lunch, we’ll cross the fjord along the 4 km long (but quite narrow) island of Akseloya. We will make a Zodiac landing at Calypsobyen in Recherche Fjord. Coal was extracted here in the early 1900s, but the enterprise never attained full production. Today, Calypsobyen offers an exciting landing that gives visitors a glimpse of the era of Neo-Industrialism, when all opportunities for profit were tried out. A pleasant walk can be made on the tundra behind the buildings.

Day 10
Prince Karls Forland and walruses around Poolepynten

PRINCE KARLS FORLAND WITH HERDS OF WALRUSES AROUND POOLEPYNTEN AND INTO ISFJORDEN

During the night we have entered Forlandssundet, that separates Prince Karls Forland from Spitsbergen. Our destination is Poolepynten (Poole Point), a small headland named after the British whaler Jonas Poole. Today the area is inhabited by herds of walruses who can be seen (and smelled!) from a distance. The large mammals flaunt their tusks and whiskers, as well as their considerable bulk.

After the visit, we are southbound towards the entrance to the Isfjorden.

On our way towards Longyearbyen, we hope to get our last glimpses of wildlife as well as the truly unique landscapes of Svalbard.

Day 10
Longyearbyen, Spitsbergen

LONGYEARBYEN, SPITSBERGEN. DISEMBARKATION

Early in the morning the ship has returned to our starting point in Longyearbyen. After breakfast and farewell greetings to the expedition team and crew, disembarkation will take place. Transfer is arranged to the airport.



Please note that all the outings and landings rely on weather, sea and ice conditions being favorable both for the ship to access the areas, as for the zodiacs and kayaks to maneuver under adequate conditions, ensuring the safety of all our passengers and staff.
For this reason, during moments of harsh weather and throughout the entire trip, Ocean Atlantic has excellent public areas, such as wellness/sauna, restaurant, bar and a library for our passengers to spend their spare time. Our ship is staffed by experts in the field who will also share great lectures along the way, ranging from exploration history to biology, geology, ice and wildlife.

What’s Included

Accommodation
  • Included Copy 20 10 nights in a shared stateroom featuring ensuite facilities
  • Included Copy 31 Cabin upgrades available
Food
  • Included Copy 20 Full board on the ship - breakfast, lunch, dinner
  • Included Copy 20 Free coffee, tea and afternoon snacks on the ship
  • Included Copy 20 Welcome and farewell cocktails
Fees & Services
  • Included Copy 20 Charter flight Oslo-Longyearbyen-Oslo
  • Included Copy 20 Nature hikes and Zodiac cruises per itinerary
  • Included Copy 20 Information briefings and lectures by expedition team
  • Included Copy 20 Taxes, tariffs and AECO fees
  • Included Copy 20 Special photo workshop
  • Included Copy 20 Digital visual journal link after voyage, including voyage log, gallery, species list and more!
  • Included Copy 7 Gratuities for the crew (recommended US$14 per person per day)
  • Included Copy 7 Flights not listed, travel insurance, beverages
Transportation
Ocean Atlantic

198 Passengers

Ocean Albatros

193 Passengers

Activities

  • Included Fantastic Arctic wildlife spotting opportunities - whales, walruses, reindeer, polar bears.
  • Included Spot arctic guillemots, black guillemots and razorbills, maybe even some puffins!
  • Included Shore landings to discover historic sites, view wildlife and stunning views.
  • Included Zodiac excursions, cruise close to huge glaciers and cliffs teeming with bird life.
  • Included Experience a remote area of the Arctic, full of fjords and glacial landscapes.
  • Included Sail as close as possible to the pack ice north of Svalbard, take a polar plunge if you dare!
Click here for dates & prices
Duration

11 days

Price from

$6,490 USD

Per person, twin share

Based on a twin cabin

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