Circumnavigating Spitsbergen – In the realm of the Polar Bear

Circumnavigating Spitsbergen – In the realm of the Polar Bear

Circumnavigating Spitsbergen – In the realm of the Polar Bear

Circumnavigating Spitsbergen – In the realm of the Polar Bear

Travel information 10 days MS Spitsbergen, MS Fram
Departures
17 departures between Jun 2022 and Sep 2023
Price from $ 9,063
$ 8,033
Breakfast, lunch and dinner included

Join us as we attempt a full circumnavigation of Spitsbergen, taking in mighty glaciers, peaceful fjords, and Arctic wildlife under the enchanting Midnight Sun.

Town at the top of the world

After a flight from Oslo, your expedition starts in Longyearbyen, the town on top of the world. Get a taste of life this far north by meeting the resilient residents of this one-of-a-kind town. From here, we traverse the stunning terrain of North West Spitsbergen National Park. Explore picturesque fjords, steep mountains, and beautiful offshore islands while scanning the landscape for wildlife.

Looking out for bears and birds

Eastern Svalbard boasts the highest population of polar bears in the archipelago. Over our three-day exploration of Spitsbergen’s eastern seaboard, we’ll be on the lookout for these iconic-but-shy predators. The cliffs in this region attract huge numbers of birds, with Svalbard being home to a wide variety including thousands of Brünnich’s guillemots, gulls and kittiwakes.

Awe-inspiring scenery

Prepare to explore the majestic landscape and geology of Hornsund. The rugged mountains and breathtaking fjords here make for some of Svalbard’s most scenic panoramas. After exploring this area, we’ll sail north toward Bellsund and the Isfjord before ending our expedition cruise in Longyearbyen.

Circumnavigating Spitsbergen – In the realm of the Polar Bear Circumnavigating Spitsbergen – In the realm of the Polar Bear
Attempt

On this epic expedition cruise, we will attempt to find a way through the Arctic’s ever-changing sea ice and venture above the 80th parallel north. Our goal is to successfully circumnavigate the island of Spitsbergen, ice permitting.

  • Day 1
    Oslo/Longyearbyen

    From 59º N to 78º N

    Your journey begins with a flight from Oslo, Norway’s fjord-side city surrounded by forested hills and lakes. The numerous electric cars you see on the roads illustrates the city’s commitment to sustainability, earning it the title of European Green Capital in 2019. Explore this green metropolis and discover its vibrant arts scene, modern beauty, and culinary delights.

    Thanks to an efficient and well-connected public transportation system, all the various neighborhoods are accessible without a car. Make use of the buses, trains, and trams while you’re here! Or tour the city on an Oslo city bike and admire the work of Oslo’s world-renowned architects in the open air.

    There’s no shortage of cultural experiences. Spend the day visiting some of the many excellent museums and contemporary art galleries. Soak up the history of Norwegian polar exploration at the Fram Museum, which features many displays and a chance to step aboard a polar exploration vessel. Discover what it was like to live and work on the Fram as you explore the decks and cabins.

    Need to rest? Options abound for enjoying traditional Norwegian dishes or New Nordic cuisine. Choose from cozy cafés, hip coffee shops, modern fine dining, hot dog stands, and maybe even a microbrewery.

    Oslo is surrounded by nature and offers a variety of activities. If you have time, take a walk in the forested hills that frame the city. Or simply spend some time relaxing in one of the many parks before your flight to Longyearbyen in the Svalbard Archipelago.

    Day 1
    Oslo/Longyearbyen

    From 59º N to 78º N

  • Day 2
    Longyearbyen

    The Norwegian stronghold in the High Arctic

    Estimated time of departure is 8:00 PM

    After an overnight stay, you have the opportunity to explore the colorful frontier town of Longyearbyen on your own before boarding your ship in the afternoon. An excursion is included in your cruise, or choose from a selection of optional adventures before your cruise begins.

    Longyearbyen is a small town on the island of Spitsbergen, where the 2,000 inhabitants are outnumbered by snowmobiles. Walk to the church during your stay, which is just a few minutes away from the hotel. You might encounter the Svalbard reindeer on the way, who often walk around town tending to their own business. Although wild, they are quite curious and tame. Stroll the main street, admire the colorful buildings, and pick out souvenirs and gifts from shops in the world’s northernmost town.

    Make sure to remove your shoes before entering public buildings! This is a custom that originated in the mining days to prevent people from trekking coal dust indoors. It is just another way the town’s mining history continues to affect its culture.

    Polar bears live outside Longyearbyen. It’s rare to see them in town, but you may spot art inspired by these iconic Arctic bears. See if you can find the polar bear statue or the giant mural in the town center.

    Once you board the ship, pick up your complimentary expedition jacket and find your cabin before attending a mandatory safety drill. Locate the restaurants, Science Center, observation deck, and the Explorer Lounge & Bar—you may be spending a lot of time there. We’ll then say a fond farewell to Longyearbyen as we start our journey of discovery.

    Day 2
    Longyearbyen

    The Norwegian stronghold in the High Arctic

  • Day 3-5
    North West Spitsbergen National Park

    Explore amazing fjords with a fascinating history.

    Leaving the limited civilization behind, we now enter full exploration mode. There is no Internet in these remote areas, nor are there telephone masts to provide a cell phone signal.

    Free from emails and text messages, this is a rare opportunity to disconnect from the modern world. It's time to get back in sync with what truly matters.

    North West Spitsbergen National Park embodies Arctic beauty in all its rugged, untouched glory. This is a wilderness of steep mountains, stark glaciers, and eerily beautiful offshore islands. It’s also a rare spots in the world where beauty and history collide. View the large concentration of graves, blubber ovens, and other cultural treasures from Svalbard’s first explorers.

    Weather and sea conditions will determine which areas we attempt to visit. Kongsfjorden is one of the most beautiful fjord areas in Spitsbergen, with panoramic coastal views and a lush alpine tundra. Framed by dramatic mountains, you might even catch sights of glaciers calving icebergs into the sea.

    We may also call on Ny-Ålesund, a former mining town that’s steeped in culture, and which has been transformed into an international science center. Its picturesque mix of old and new buildings hosts a variety of research stations from different countries, dedicated to studying glaciology, wildlife, and climate change.

    In the summer months, the northwest corner of Spitsbergen is a birdwatching mecca. Scan for wildlife, including whales, bearded seals, walrus, Svalbard reindeer, and the ‘King of the Arctic’: the mighty polar bear. With a bit of luck, you’ll spot one or more of these apex predators as they trek along the coast’s drifting ice on the hunt for seals.

    The stunning terrain of this region makes it ripe for outdoor adventure. We’ll attempt to take full advantage of any opportunities that come our way. Activities might include using our small boats (RIBs) to go ashore for hiking, participating in a beach clean-up, or launching our kayaks.

    Day 3-5
    North West Spitsbergen National Park

    Explore amazing fjords with a fascinating history.

  • Day 6-7
    Eastern Svalbard nature reserves

    Expedition days in the Arctic

    Eastern Svalbard boasts the highest population of polar bears in the archipelago. We have high hopes that over the next three days in this region, you’ll spot the elusive ‘King of the Arctic’.

    In this part of Svalbard, the Arctic Ocean is full of drifting ice, and its frozen seascape changes constantly. As modern-day explorers, the Captain and the Expedition Team carefully analyze the density and movements of the sea ice using advanced sonar and live satellite imagery. They determine which part of this Arctic wilderness we explore in landings, hikes, and optional kayaking opportunities.

    If conditions are favorable, we will cross 80°N, sail through the Hinlopen Strait and head south, scouting for walrus and seabirds along the way. This region is home to thousands of Brünnich’s guillemots, gulls and kittiwakes.

    As we cruise through Freemansundet, marvel at the sight of seabirds soaring against a panoramic backdrop. Freemansundet is a sound (not to be confused with its cousin, the fjord) that separates Barentsøya from Edgeøya.

    We’ll attempt landings along the coast of Barentsøya or Edgeøya. We may explore Kapp Lee, which has a cultural heritage from all eras of human exploration of Svalbard. If we’re lucky, we may meet some of Svalbard’s marine mammals as we head toward South Cape Island.

    Day 6-7
    Eastern Svalbard nature reserves

    Expedition days in the Arctic

  • Day 8
    South Spitsbergen National Park

    The expedition continues

    Today’s goal is to reach the southernmost tip of Spitsbergen. Explore the varied landscape and interesting geology of Hornsund, a part of South Spitsbergen National Park. For many, this is considered Svalbard’s most beautiful fjord.

    Hornsund’s rugged and steep mountains, stunning fjords, and lush vegetation make it one of the most spectacular natural corners of the world. As we cruise along the 18-mile fjord, you might catch sight of glaciers calving ice in the waters. On a clear day, you may also see Mt. Hornsundtind towering in the distance, which reaches 4,700 feet above sea level.

    Fertilization from the little auk colonies here is responsible for the surprisingly green patches you might encounter in landings. The lush tundra around the bird colonies attract fauna, including Svalbard reindeer and Arctic fox. You should also keep an eye out for seals and whales when sailing in the ocean.

    Hornsund’s other residents are the scientists based at the Polish polar station. Established here in 1957, the station serves as a research center for disciplines such as climate change, glaciology, and seismology.

    In the evening, we’ll start our journey north as we sail past Bellsund towards Isfjord.

    Day 8
    South Spitsbergen National Park

    The expedition continues

  • Day 9
    The Isfjord

    Fjords and wilderness

    Today we sail into the remarkable Isfjord, the most prominent fjord system in the Svalbard archipelago. Leading to many smaller fjords, it forms a lush, beautiful environment rich in wildlife and vegetation. Prepare to explore immense U-shaped valleys carved out of the mountains by giant glaciers some 10,000 years ago.

    Alkehornet is a prominent landmark north of the fjord. It’s an imposing example of carbonate rock, with a horn-shaped peak. Naturally, the surrounding wildlife has adapted to live in this harsh environment. You may spot the Arctic fox or the Svalbard reindeer, along with thousands of guillemots and kittiwakes.

    It is noticeable how well the traces of early human presence have been preserved in the Isfjord. The beaches and bays are dotted with cultural remains of Svalbard’s whaling and hunting heritage, such as hunting stations and tryworks, a furnace used to heat whale blubber to create oil.

    A more modern cultural icon lays farther south of the fjords. Here lies the famous yet defunct Isfjord radio station and its auxiliary buildings. This former radio and weather station was established in 1933 and now serves as one of the most beautifully situated hotels in the world.

    The landscape of the inner parts of the Isfjord is constantly changing. Based on the weather and ice conditions, we’ll decide where to go and what to do when we arrive. We have several good landing sites to choose from in this area.

    Day 9
    The Isfjord

    Fjords and wilderness

  • Day 10
    Longyearbyen/Oslo

    End of the expedition

    Estimated time of arrival is 6:00 AM

    Your Arctic adventure around Svalbard is coming to its triumphant end. As you wind down from your expedition, you’ll have time to consider your recent experiences and the elated feeling of having been so close to the ‘top of the world’.

    After saying goodbye to the ship and its crew, you’ll be transferred to the airport for your flight back to Oslo.

    Many places in Longyearbyen hold the record for being the ‘world’s northernmost’ something or other. The world’s northernmost cinema, church, library, high school, supermarket—they’re all here. Cross each landmark off your list with a selfie!

    If you have time, grab some souvenirs from the local shops before heading home. A toasty Svalbard sweater or a box of local handmade chocolates are wonderful gifts for family and friends. Svalbard is a duty-free zone and Longyearbyen has a selection of sports and outdoor clothing shops. Why not stock up on supplies for your next expedition cruise?

    Whatever’s next for you, we wish you a safe onward journey and look forward to seeing you again! Post-Program

    Guests sailing aboard MS Fram have the option of extending their stay in Longyearbyen with one of our unique Post-Programs. Please inquire for further details.

    Day 10
    Longyearbyen/Oslo

    End of the expedition

Departures

2022

  • July
  • August
  • September
  • October
  • November
  • December
June:
6.
11.
14.
19.
22.
27.
30.
September:
14.

2023

June:
7.
8.
15.
16.
23.
24.
July:
1.
9.
September:
15.

Available Promotions on This Itinerary:

  • Save up to 15% + Air Credit

    Book an expedition cruise aboard the world’s first hybrid electric-powered expedition ship or any of our other ships to destinations, and you’ll save up to 20% as well as receive up to a $1,000 air credit per person!
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    Our popular Book with Confidence policy is back, giving you the peace of mind you want for your next adventure exploring the world with us.
    The benefits of the policy apply to any new bookings made between 16 February 2022 and 30 June 2022, for expedition cruises departing on or before 31 December 2022.
    See Special Offer
  • Kids Save up to 50%

    Young Explorers Save up to 50% off
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  • Solo Traveler Offer

    Pay no single supplement on select expedition cruises to stunning destinations. Find your destinations and the applicable dates by clicking “Check prices and availability” on the itinerary pages. Combinable with existing offers.
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  • New Season

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What's Included

Included in Your Expedition

Flights

  • Flights in economy class between Oslo and Longyearbyen

Hotel

  • Overnight in Longyearbyen before the expedition cruise, including breakfast and lunch

Transfers

  • All transfers in Longyearbyen include an excursion before the expedition cruise

Expedition Cruise

  • Expedition cruise in the cabin of your choice
  • Breakfast, lunch, and dinner including beverages (house beer and wine, sodas, and mineral water) in restaurant Aune
  • The Lindstrøm À la carte restaurant is included for suite guests (on MS Fram only)
  • Complimentary tea and coffee
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi on board. Please note that Wi-Fi and phone reception are very limited in the remote areas where we travel and streaming is not supported. When in Svalbard, there is no Wi-Fi or cell coverage, except in Longyearbyen or Barentsburg.
  • Complimentary reusable water bottle to fill at onboard water refill stations
  • English-speaking Expedition Team who organize and guide activities, both on board and ashore
  • Range of included activities

Onboard activities

  • Experts from the Expedition Team present detailed lectures on a variety of topics
  • Use of the ship’s Science Center which has an extensive library and advanced biological and geological microscopes
  • The Citizen Science program allows guests to contribute to current scientific research projects
  • The onboard professional photographer will give tips and tricks for taking the best landscape and wildlife photos
  • The ship has hot tubs, a sauna with a view, and an indoor gym
  • Participate in informal gatherings with the crew, such as daily recaps and the next day’s preparations

Landing activities

  • Escorted landings with small boats (RIBs)
  • Loan of boots, trekking poles, and all equipment needed for the activities
  • Complimentary wind- and water-resistant expedition jacket
  • Expedition photographers help configure your camera settings

Not Included In Your Expedition

  • International flights
  • Travel protection
  • Baggage handling
  • Optional shore excursions with our local partners
  • Optional small-group activities with our Expedition Team

Notes

  • All planned activities are subject to weather and ice conditions
  • Excursions and activities are subject to change
  • Please ensure you can meet all entry and boarding requirements
  • No gratuities are expected

Ships

Longyearbyen, Svalbard - MS Spitsbergen
Photo: Genna Roland

MS Spitsbergen

Year built 2009
Year of refurbishment 2016
Shipyard Estaleiro Navais de Viana do Castelo (POR)
Passenger capacity 180
Beds 243
Car capacity 0
Gross tonnage 7,344
Length 100.54 m
Beam 18 m
Speed 14.5 knots

MS Spitsbergen will take you on a cruise beyond the ordinary. She cruises along the Norwegian coast from September to May and becomes part of our Global Expedition sailings the rest of the year.

Read more about MS Spitsbergen

MS Fram

Year built 2007
Year of refurbishment 2022
Shipyard Fincantieri, Italy
Passenger capacity 250 (200 in Antarctica)
Beds 276
Car capacity 0
Gross tonnage 11,647 T
Length 374 ft
Beam 66.3 ft
Speed 13 knots

The original Fram was the most famous explorer ship of its time and the achievements of her expeditions are unparalleled. The advanced technology on the MS Fram, in the spirit of the famous original, makes her exceptionally well suited for expedition cruises in polar regions.

Read more about MS Fram

MS Fram in Greenland
Photo: Stian Klo
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