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Established 1987

North Spitsbergen: Polar Bear Special

Cruising from Longyearbyen to Nordaustlandet and Seven Islands

Polar Bear with cubs in Spitsbergen

Locations in this tour typically include: Longyearbyen • Raudfjord • Liefdefjorden • Hinlopen Strait • Phippsøya • Kongsfjord • Prins Karls Forland (Fuglehuken) • Alkhornet • Longyearbyen;

Route map

Spitsbergen North Polar Bears Route

Key facts

  • North Spitsbergen: Polar Bear Special
  • Arctic expedition cruise with specialist expedition leaders
  • 2018 departures:
    29 May (OTL03)
    04 June (PLA04)
    12 June (OTL05)
    15 June (PLA06)
    19 June (OTL06)
    22 June (PLA07)
    29 June (PLA08)
  • Nights: 07
  • Cabin price from: £2,865* quadruple shared porthole
  • Deposit: 20%
  • Vessel: M/v Ortelius or m/v Plancius
  • Tour leader: Oceanwide Expeditions
  • * Please note that the prices quoted are for cruise only and do not include flights or hotel accommodation. We will arrange your flights and any accommodation but as fares and rates are subject to change, prices are quoted on request.
  • Spitsbergen North Polar Bears 2018 detailed itinerary
  • Spitsbergen 2018 Overview, dates & prices

The ships

M/v Ortelius was built in Gdynia, Poland in 1989, was originally named Marina Svetaeva, and served as a special purpose vessel for the Russian Academy of Science. The vessel has the highest ice-class notation (UL1 equivalent to 1A) and is therefore very suitable to navigate in solid one-year sea ice and loose multi-year pack ice. Read more about Ortelius

M/v Ortelius

M/v Plancius started her life in 1976 as an oceanographic research vessel for the Royal Dutch Navy and was named “Hr. Ms. Tydeman”. In June 2004, the vessel was taken out of active service and was purchased by Oceanwide Expeditions in December 2006. The vessel was completely rebuilt in 2009 and complies with the latest SOLAS regulations (Safety Of Life At Sea). Read more about Plancius

M/v Plancius

Your itinerary

Day 1
Arrive in Longyearbyen, the administrative capital of the Spitsbergen archipelago of which West Spitsbergen is the largest island. Before embarking there is an opportunity to stroll around this former mining town, whose parish church and Polar Museum are well worth visiting. In the surrounding area of Longyearbyen, more than 100 species of plants have been recorded. In the early evening the ship will sail out of Isfjorden, where in the mouth of the fjord we may see our first Minke Whale.

Day 2
We sail to Raudfjord on the north coast of West Spitsbergen, a beautiful fjord dominated by spectacular glaciers and favoured by Ringed and Bearded Seal. The cliffs and shoreline of the fjord also support thriving seabird colonies and a surprisingly rich vegetation, which flourishes in sheltered spots. Polar bear are often seen here.

Day 3 (Applies only to cruises departing in June)
Depending on the weather we may now sail to the mouth of Liefdefjorden and go ashore for a walk on the tundra island of Andøya. Many Common Eider and Pink-footed Goose nest here, and the rarer King Eider may also be seen. We hope to sail into Liefdefjorden, cruising near the 5km long face of the impressive Monaco Glacier. The waters of the glacier front are a favourite feeding spot for thousands of Kittiwake. As well, Polar Bear have been seen on the glacier, providing wonderful opportunities for photography.

Day 4 (Applies only to cruises departing in June)
Today we will sail into Hinlopen Strait, home to Bearded Seal, Ringed Seal, Polar Bear, and Ivory Gull. At the entrance there is the possibility to see Blue Whale. We'll navigate the ice floes of Lomfjordshalvøya in our zodiacs and explore the bird cliffs of Alkefjellet with thousands of Brünnich's Guillemot. On the east side of Hinlopenstrait, we'll attempt a landing at Palanderbukta on Nordaustlandet, home to reindeer, Pink-footed Goose, breeding Ivory Gull, and Walrus.

Days 3 – 4 (Applies only to cruises departing in August)
We sail through Beverleysundet named by Parry in 1827 and also sailed by the Swedish-Russian Arc-of-Meridian Expedition in 1898. We push east to reach the area of Nordaustlandet, where the Nobile expedition drifted around in 1928 and where the Italian Sora tried to come to the rescue. There we hope to get to Alpinøya, reached by Sora in 1928, and then to the mouth of Finn Malmgrenfjord, and Albertinibukta and to climb Soraberget (205 M) from where we have a fantastic view on the icecap of Nordaustlandet. Alternatively we will land at Storøya, where again we may meet a group of Walrus.

Day 5
We will try reach our northernmost point at Phippsøya, in the Seven Islands north of Nordaustlandet. Here we will be at 81 degrees north, just 540 miles from the geographic North Pole. Polar Bear inhabit this region, along with Ivory Gull. The ship may sit for several hours in the pack ice, before turning west again.

Day 6
Retracing our route westwards, our route takes us through and along the pack ice, keeping watch for Polar Bear and the elusive Greenland Whale (Bowhead). About 40 nautical miles west of Spitsbergen we sail along the edge of the continental shelf, where Fin Whale forage in summer in the upwellings along the Spitsbergen banks. At the mouth of the Kongsfjord we have also good chances to see Minke Whale.

Day 7
We land at the northern tip of Prins Karls Forland near Fuglehuken. Seabirds nest on the cliffs, and along the coast we see Harbour Seal, the only population found in Spitsbergen. Here we also will observe the remains of the Polar Bear hunting era, with demolished set guns and bear traps. At the opposite site of Forlandsundet at Sarstangen is a haul out place for Walrus. Alternatively we sail into St. Johns Fjord or south to the mouth of Isfjorden and land at Alkhornet. Seabirds nest on its cliffs and Arctic Fox search the cliff base for fallen eggs and chicks, while Spitsbergen Reindeer graze the relatively luxuriant vegetation. At nighttime we arrive in Longyearbyen.

Day 8
We disembark in Longyearbyen, the administrative centre of Spitsbergen, for the flights south to Oslo and onward home.

Disclaimer: This itinerary is dependent on sea and ice conditions. The final itinerary will be decided by the ship's captain and your Expedition Leader to maximize opportunities.