North Spitsbergen Voyages


Some of our most memorable voyages over the last decade or so have been early summer expedition cruises to North Spitsbergen, where Aqua-Firma guides and our marine scientist have had the privilege to encounter wildlife including polar bears and graceful blue whales. The mountainous landscapes of Spitsbergen are often still steeped in snow, the air carries a distinct chill and the first hints of Spring inspire a great deal of wildlife activity. There are more than 2000 polar bears resident in the Spitsbergen Archipelago and now mothers and their polar bear cubs begin searching for food in earnest on the ice after a long dark Winter.

Polar Bear with Cub - Joshua Harrison

Whilst sea ice will have released its complete Winter grip of Spitsbergen, there is still likely to be plenty of sea ice left to find, where ringed seals can be found and polar bears are out hunting them. This is also a period when we have been enjoying some good sightings of whales, which include blue whales, fin, minke, humpback and the all white beluga.

Arctic foxes and resident Ptarmigan birds begin to change from their white winter coats and feathers to darker mottled shades in an attempt to blend into the growing vista of tundra. Spitsbergen reindeer, which are smaller than their cousins in Scandinavia, amble by, inquisitive of new visitors. The emerging spring is stunning - still waters reflecting calving ice fronts and carrying interesting forms of floating ice.

In the north of Spitsbergen, your guides will be searching for bustling walrus colonies at haulout sites, as well as large long tusked individuals basking on ice floes. The sea bird cliffs are alive with thousands of migrant birds who have travelled here to feed on rich waters and breed. Guillemots, Arctic terns, eider ducks, glaucous gulls, skuas and little auks are amongst the many species you may observe.

Zodiac Cruising in Spitsbergen

These memorable natural history voyages are onboard small expedition cruise ships which provide an inspiring environment for small groups of likeminded people. Whilst some viewing will be from the deck of the ship, there will also be opportunities to step ashore for guided walks and enjoy cruising coasts and fjords in small rigid inflatable boats (RIBs or Zodiacs). On some departures your voyage may also include snow shoe trekking, kayaking or photographic workshops. Throughout the day you will be accompanied by expert guides, whilst in the evenings a programme of onboard natural history talks will bring to life all that you are seeing by day.

North Spitsbergen Voyages provide access to some outstanding glacial scenery. On some voyages such including the North Spitsbergen Polar Bear Special departures the aim will be to reach the Hinlopen Strait and the island of Nordaustlandet, the most northerly of the major Spitsbergen islands. Ringed by high mountains and shimmering glaciers, these northern bays and fjords offer outstanding and memorable Arctic scenery, as well as opportunities, we hope, to move through floating sea ice, watching out all the while for polar bears, seals, walruses and beluga whales. The furthest north you might reach is 81 degrees - just 540 miles south of the geographic North Pole.


Whilst all of these North Spitsbergen Voyages are Arctic wilderness adventures with a strong focus on natural history, geology, scenery and polar history, some come equipped with polar bear experts, specialist guidance and equipment to cater for more developed interests in activities such as sea kayaking, scuba diving, extended trekking, snow shoe walking, birdwatching and photography:

North Spitsbergen & Beyond – Special Polar Bear Voyage

Arctic Sailing Voyages - North Spitsbergen

If you have a particular interest in any of these areas then please call one of our polar experts and polar guides on +44 (0)1428 620012 or UK 0844 412 0848 (local rates) to discuss the ideal departure for you.


As an ATOL bonded travel company, Aqua-Firma Worldwide have the expertise to arrange international flights, hotels, extended stays in Oslo and additional day trips in Spitsbergen before or after your voyage. These include sea kayaking, trekking, learning to dog sled on wheels and fossil hunting.

Itinerary

8 Day Sample Itinerary

These 8 day North Spitsbergen voyages aim to explore the stunning West & North coast of Spitsbergen offering excellent chances for wildlife and marine life encounters. You will be accompanied by a team of experienced wildlife and natural history guides, who will offer a variety of zodiac cruises and shore landings throughout the trip.

Day 1: Embarkation in Longyearbyen

This is a sample only based upon an 8 day voyage. Please note that our polar itineraries are written to provide a flavour of each voyage. The actual route will be decided by the captain and expedition team in accordance with prevailing ice, weather and sea conditions and opportunities to see wildlife and wilderness scenery. The extent of sea ice is particularly unpredictable time in the early summer, which helps to make for an altogether more exploratory feel to a voyage.
Itineraries have been changed in the past on account of instances such as impassable pack ice and the discovery of a dead whale with numerous polar bears feeding on it. We aim to provide the highest quality trips, providing you with the most rewarding experience possible and as a result, our itinerary may need to change at short notice.
Participants will need to maintain a philosophy of allowing for alternatives and a substantial degree of on-trip flexibility. Remember that any changes in our itineraries are made with you in mind.

Arrive in Longyearbyen, the administrative capital of the Spitsbergen. Before embarking there is the opportunity to wander into and explore this former mining town. We suggest you use the opportunity to visit the Svalbard Museum, which has an interesting collection on the history of Spitsbergen, the mining industry and polar exploration. In the early evening the ship will sail out of Isfjorden.

Day 2: Raudfjord

Sailing to Raudfjorden, on the north coast of Spitsbergen, you take in an expansive fjord spilling with glaciers – and maybe even visited by ringed and bearded seals. The cliffs and shoreline of this fjord also support thriving seabird colonies, rich vegetation, and the possibility of polar bears.

Day 3: Liefdefjorden & Monaco Glacier

Depending on the weather, you could sail into Liefdefjorden and cruise within sight of the 5-kilometer-long (3.1 miles) face of the precipitous Monaco Glacier. The waters in front of this 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 sailing here early in the season, an alternate route along the west coast of Spitsbergen can be implemented.

Day 4: Hinlopen Strait

Today you 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, you may attempt a landing on Nordaustlandet. Here reindeer, pink-footed geese, and walruses are likely sights. You can take an alternate route if ice prevents entry into Hinlopen.

Day 5: Seven Islands

The northernmost point of your voyage may be north of Nordaustlandet, in the Seven Islands. Here you 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.

Day 6: Sailing the Continental Shelf

While retracing your route west, keep watch for polar bears and elusive Greenland (bowhead) whales. About 40 nautical miles west of Spitsbergen, you 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.

Day 7: Fuglehuken & Alkhornet

Walruses sometimes haul out in Forlandsundet, your next stop. Alternatively, you 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. You arrive in Longyearbyen later at night.

Day 8: Disembark in Longyearbyen

Return to Longyearbyen and disembark for the transfer to the airport and the flight to Oslo then home.

Dates

20 - 31 May 2020 - from £ 5,390

Oslo - Oslo (12 Days)
Activities: Kayaking
Includes: free expedition jacket 
Transfer & hotel package not included (contact us for details)

30 May - 10 Jun 2020 - from £ 5,390

Oslo - Oslo (12 Days)
Activities: Kayaking
Includes: free expedition jacket
Transfer & hotel package not included (contact us for details)

31 May - 05 Jun 2020 - from € 2,440

Longyearbyen - Longyearbyen (6 Days)

31 May - 08 Jun 2020 - from £ 4,590

Longyearbyen - Longyearbyen (9 days)
Activities: Kayaking, Photography Workshops
Includes: 1 pre-voyage hotel night & free Expedition Parka

03 - 10 Jun 2020 - from € 3,380

Longyearbyen - Longyearbyen (8 Days)

05 - 12 Jun 2020 - from € 3,380

Longyearbyen - Longyearbyen (8 Days)
Bilingual Voyage: English & German

06 - 12 Jun 2020 - from £ 3,450

Oslo - Oslo (7 Days)
Activities: Kayaking
Includes: free expedition jacket
Transfer & hotel package not included (contact us for details)

07 - 15 Jun 2020 - from £ 4,590

Longyearbyen - Longyearbyen (9 days)
Activities: Kayaking, Photography Workshops
Includes: 1 pre-voyage hotel night & free Expedition Parka

09 - 15 Jun 2020 - from £ 2,999

Oslo - Oslo (7 Days)
Activities: Kayaking
Includes: free expedition jacket
Transfer & hotel package not included (contact us for details)

10 - 17 Jun 2020 - from € 3,380

Longyearbyen - Longyearbyen (8 Days)

11 - 20 Jun 2020 - from £ 4,990

Oslo - Oslo (10 Days)
Activities: Kayaking
Includes: free expedition jacket
Transfer & hotel package not included (contact us for details)
Bilingual voyage: English & French

12 - 19 Jun 2020 - from € 3,380

Longyearbyen - Longyearbyen (8 Days)

12 - 19 Jun 2020 - from £ 2,690 £ 2,285

Save up to 15% on new bookings!
Longyearbyen - Longyearbyen (8 Days)
Includes: free Expedition Jacket
Offer expires 31 October 2019

14 - 22 Jun 2020 - from £ 4,590

Longyearbyen - Longyearbyen (9 days)
Activities: Kayaking, Photography Workshops
Includes: 1 pre-voyage hotel night & free Expedition Parka

14 - 25 Jun 2020 - from £ 5,750

Oslo - Oslo (12 Days)
Activities: Kayaking
Includes: free expedition jacket
Transfer & hotel package not included (contact us for details)

17 - 24 Jun 2020 - from € 3,380

Longyearbyen - Longyearbyen (8 Days)

17 - 24 Jun 2020 - from € 3,380

Longyearbyen - Longyearbyen (8 Days)

19 - 26 Jun 2020 - from € 3,380

Longyearbyen - Longyearbyen (8 Days)
Bilingual Voyage: English & German

19 - 26 Jun 2020 - from £ 2,690 £ 2,285

Save up to 15% on new bookings!
Longyearbyen - Longyearbyen (8 Days)
Includes: free Expedition Jacket
Offer expires 31 October 2019

19 - 28 Jun 2020 - from £ 4,990

Oslo - Oslo (10 Days)
Activities: Kayaking
Includes: free expedition jacket
Transfer & hotel package not included (contact us for details)
Bilingual voyage: English & French

21 Jun - 01 Jul 2020 - from £ 5,750

Longyearbyen - Longyearbyen (11 days)
Activities: Kayaking, Photography Workshops
Includes: 1 pre-voyage hotel night & free Expedition Parka

24 Jun - 01 Jul 2020 - from € 3,380

Longyearbyen - Longyearbyen (8 Days)

28 Jun - 07 Jul 2020 - from US$ 6,495

Longyearbyen - Longyearbyen (10 Days)
Actvities: Kayaking, Hiking, Photography
Includes: complimentary expedition gear rental onboard
Photographic Symposium Special voyage

30 Jun - 11 Jul 2020 - from £ 6,360

Longyearbyen - Longyearbyen (12 days)
Activities: Kayaking, Photography Workshops
Includes: 1 pre-voyage hotel night & free Expedition Parka

06 - 13 Jul 2020 - from £ 2,890 £ 2,450

Save up to 15% on new bookings!
Longyearbyen - Longyearbyen (8 Days)
Activities: Kayaking
Includes: free Expedition Jacket
Offer expires 31 October 2019

07 - 18 Jul 2020 - from US$ 7,995

Longyearbyen - Longyearbyen (12 Days)
Actvities: Kayaking, Hiking, Photography
Includes: complimentary expedition gear rental onboard

09 - 18 Jul 2020 - from £ 4,990

Oslo - Oslo (10 Days)
Activities: Kayaking
Includes: free expedition jacket
Transfer & hotel package not included (contact us for details)
Bilingual voyage: English & French

17 - 26 Jul 2020 - from £ 4,990

Oslo - Oslo (10 Days)
Activities: Kayaking
Includes: free expedition jacket
Transfer & hotel package not included (contact us for details)
Bilingual voyage: English & French

23 - 30 Jul 2020 - from £ 2,390 £ 2,035

Save up to 15% on new bookings!
Longyearbyen - Longyearbyen (8 Days)
Activities: Kayaking
Includes: free Expedition Jacket
Offer expires 31 October 2019

18 - 25 Aug 2020 - from € 3,380

Longyearbyen - Longyearbyen (8 Days)

24 - 31 Aug 2020 - from € 3,380

Longyearbyen - Longyearbyen (8 Days)

25 Aug - 01 Sep 2020 - from € 3,380

Longyearbyen - Longyearbyen (8 Days)

28 Aug - 04 Sep 2020 - from € 3,380

Longyearbyen - Longyearbyen (8 Days)

Notes:

Trip Itinerary varies depending on the vessel used. Please ask for full details.

Our prices include:
- Voyage as indicated in draft itinerary
- All meals, snacks, coffee and tea
- All shore excursions and zodiac activities
- Group airport transfers to & from the vessel (when arriving/departing on
  recommended group flight)
- Program of lectures by noted naturalists and leadership by experienced
  expedition staff
- All miscellaneous services taxes and port charges throughout the programme
- Comprehensive pre-departure material
- Use of wellington boots for your voyage (certain voyages provide a parka to
  keep)
- Aqua-Firma automatically offsets the Carbon Emissions of your polar voyage
  and flights booked through us in getting to and from your voyage

Prices exclude:
- International flights (please enquire)
- Land based accommodation (please enquire)
- Pre and post land arrangements (please enquire)
- Travel insurance
- Passports and visas
- Arrival and departure tax
- Meals ashore
- Excess baggage on flights
- Items of a personal nature (alcohol unless otherwise stated, laundry etc)
- Tips

Single supplement: There is no single supplement to pay if you are willing to share your cabin with someone of the same gender. For a cabin to yourself the supplement is between 1.5x to 1.8x  the per person rate

Potential Fuel Surcharge: If the cost per Brent barrel price rises significantly then there may be an additional fuel surcharge applied to some voyages.

Activity Level: Low to Medium

Trip Reviews: North Spitsbergen Voyages

Array
View all