Cruising the Arctic and Spitsbergen

Cruising the Arctic and Spitsbergen

An exhilarating journey to the top of the world during the “Midnight Sun” to discover majestic polar bears and dramatic glaciers.

Well above the 80th parallel, Spitsbergen is an island in the incredible arctic archipelago of Svalbard, with polar bears, reindeer, artic fox and many bird species.

We begin in Oslo – Norway’s capital surrounded by the sea and mountains, where we will tour the city and learn the history of the Vikings and brave Norwegian explorers.

Then a short flight takes us to Longyearbyen, the world’s northernmost city and base for exploration in Spitsbergen and Svalbard. This portal to the magical sub-polar world is a colourful modern town with excellent hotels and restaurants. Our excursion here will introduce us to the history of Svalbard, before we embark on our cruise.

Our ship, the MS Fram, was built specifically as an expedition vessel and uses the most advanced technology to bring guests closer to nature, wildlife and unforgettable experiences. The observation lounge at the top of the ship has large panoramic windows and provides incredible views – an ideal vantage point for spotting wildlife and watching the ever-changing landscape. Meals onboard are enjoyed in the main restaurant with panoramic views of the outdoors, and displays an exhibition of original artifacts from the historic expeditions of Amundsen and Nansen. You can also get warm and cozy in the sauna or outdoor Jacuzzis, to enjoy while icebergs float by the ship!

All cabins have separate beds where one can be turned into a sofa during the day, and all have a flat-screen TV, safe, fridge and private bathroom (showers only).

The professional English-speaking expedition team provides lectures and accompanies all landings and activities, which can include hiking, kayaking and other land and water adventures. This is an expedition in which the elements rule and the weather, wind and ice conditions will determine our schedule. Safety is paramount and the captain will decide the sailing itinerary during the voyage.

*** This tour is recommended for the fit and active traveller who enjoys walking.

*** For this special tour, final payment is due by December 1st, 2018

Tentative Itinerary

Day 1: Departure

We fly to Oslo, Norway with a change of planes in Reykjavik.

Day 2: Arrive Oslo

We arrive in Oslo and transfer to our hotel. The rest of the day is free until our Welcome Dinner.

Day 3: Oslo / Longyearbyen

Our city tour of Oslo - the Norwegian capital, shows us the Royal Palace, the National Theater, the new Opera House, Parliament and medieval Akershus Fortress. We continue to Bygdoy Peninsula to visit the Viking Ship Museum, and the FRAM Museum which tells the incredible stories of Norwegian Polar Exploration. The afternoon is free to discover more of Oslo on your own. Late tonight we fly to Longyearbyen - a small coal-mining town on Spitsbergen Island in Norway's Svalbard archipelago.

Day 4: Longyearbyen / Embarkation

We arrive in Longyearbyen early this morning and transfer to our hotel for some time at leisure. This afternoon we enjoy a tour of Longyearbyen, including the Svalbard Museum. We will visit Camp Barentz in Advent Valley to meet the friendly polar sled dogs and learn about these fascinating canines from an experienced mushing guide. After a hot beverage and special Svalbard snack we transfer to our cruise ship, the MS Fram.

Days 5 - 7: Northwest Spitsbergen National Park

The North West Corner of Spitsbergen is scattered with islands, fjords and beaches. The ocean here can be full of drifting ice, especially in the early season, and the frozen landscape changes constantly. Due to strong winds and currents, the Captain monitors conditions before deciding where we land or sail. If we can land, this area is excellent for exploring Svalbard’s history and we will have the chance to see the remnants of ancient blubber ovens used to render whale oil.

We may visit Kongsfjorden, considered one of the most beautiful fjord areas in Spitsbergen, with mighty glaciers calving icebergs into the sea, framed by stunning mountain formations. On the shore of Kongfjorden is the former mining settlement of Ny-Ålesund - now a research centre, with a picturesque mix of old and new buildings.

In the Magdalenafjorden and Gravneset areas, we may have the chance to swim in the frigid waters and earn a rare Arctic swimming certificate! There will also be exciting hiking and scenic kayaking opportunities, featuring the nearby Gully Glacier.

We may also get to see the enormous Monaco Glacier in Liefdefjord and enjoy a chance to cruise in small boats.

Days 8 – 10: Eastern Svalbard Nature Reserve, and South Spitsbergen National Park

Eastern Svalbard boasts the highest population of polar bears on the archipelago – and we of course have high hopes of seeing one on this journey! If conditions allow, we will sail to Isflakbukta on Phippsøya, part of the “Seven Islands” located at the far north of the Svalbard archipelago. Thousands of sea birds mate here, while walrus dive for clams in the various bays.

We will cruise around Sorgfjorden that borders the North East Spitsbergen Nature Reserve and was the site of a famous 17th-century battle between whalers. If the weather is favorable we can hike in beautiful Eolsneset or enjoy tender boat cruising in the Hinlopen Strait area. Another part of our journey may be a visit to Torellneset, which is an excellent place to spot walruses sunning themselves on the beach.

We continue on to Edgeøya, the third-largest island in the Svalbard archipelago. On its western shores, the landscape is largely un-glaciated, unlike most other places on the east side of Spitsbergen. Kapp Lee is a wonderful site where you will find cultural heritage from all eras in this region.

We make our way to the southern cape and the southernmost tip of Spitsbergen, where Hornsund hosts a wonderfully varied landscape and geology. Ice being pushed into the fjord early in the season attracts polar bears that hunt on the floes, so with a bit of luck, we may spot some of these magnificent predators.

Day 11: The Isfjord / Disembarkation

We spend the day exploring the Isfjord - the most prominent fjord system of Svalbard. In the inner parts of Isfjorden the landscape changes constantly. The immense U-shaped valleys, carved out of the mountains by the giant glaciers that covered the area some ten thousand years ago, are home to large populations of Svalbard Reindeer. Late this evening we will disembark our cruise ship and transfer to the airport in Longyearbyen for our flight back to Oslo.

Day 12: Oslo

We arrive Oslo in the early morning and transfer to our hotel for breakfast, followed by some free time to relax. This afternoon we visit the Oslo City Hall with its unique murals, followed by a pleasant stroll through Frogner Park with its controversial sculptures by Gustav Vigeland. This evening is our Farewell Dinner.

Day 13: Home

We return to Canada with a change of planes in Reykjavik.

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Cost per person: $5197
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