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Spitsbergen Explorer

From $5,095

  • Fantastic scenery—a wondrous land of rock and ice, and home to a rich range of bird and animal life
  • Make the most of the long daylight hours to search for polar bears, walrus, beluga, and other wildlife

With a spectacular panorama of ice and water, rugged mountains, and expansive tundra, the Svalbard Archipelago is unequaled in wild splendor. It boasts an impressive array of wildlife and a rich human history (Spitsbergen, the largest island of the archipelago, was known to the Vikings and subsequently visited by whalers, fur traders, and explorers). Our goal on this Arctic expedition (with frequent shore stops) is to hike and to undertake cruises in Zodiacs, often close to sea cliffs and abundant wildlife, which includes polar bears (the stars of the show!), beluga whales, walrus, reindeer, Arctic fox, and a huge array of avian fauna. You'll travel in comfort aboard an ice-strengthened polar expedition ship that is the ideal home base for exploring this remarkable wilderness.

Day 1: Longyearbyen, Spitsbergen (Svalbard)

Plan to arrive in Longyearbyen, the main town on Spitsbergen, the day before your embarkation and enjoy some time on the first day of the trip to visit the museums and investigate the shops. You will be boarding the ship in the mid afternoon (usually 4pm). Once on board, we get together for introductions to meet the expedition team and learn a bit about the ship and its layout. We also discuss the itinerary and participate in the essential safety and lifeboat drill.

Set sail from Longyearbyen around 6:00 p.m., heading north from Adventfjorden—the first of our fjords—into Isfjorden.

  • Dinner
  • Accomodation:Akademik Sergey Vavilov

Days 2-3: Krossfjorden and Northwestern Spitsbergen

The shores of Krossfjorden are home to numerous bird colonies and species. We will anchor
off one small harbour and cruise the bird cliffs near the 14th of July Glacier. As we cruise
these waters we will also keep alert for bearded and ringed seals, known to frequent this
fjord.

Lilliehook Glacier, at the head of Krossfjorden, is a sight to behold. Whether by zodiac or
onboard ship, we will make time to experience this incredible view. Later in the day as we
sail out of Krossfjorden and Kongsfjorden, we may be fortunate enough to see the airship
anchor pylon near the scientific community of Ny Alesund. Notable pioneer aviators such as
Zeppelin, Amundsen, Ellsworth, Byrd and Nobile all used Ny Alesund as a jumping off point
for their Arctic exploits.

Smeerenburgfjorden has a four hundred year history of whaling and is a favorite spot as we
round the northwestern tip of Spitsbergen. A wander along the beach looking at the blubber
cookers, or an hour behind a tripod shooting landscapes, might be on the schedule all the
while looking for wildlife that can appear anywhere in Svalbard.

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accomodation:Akademik Sergey Vavilov

Days 4-5: Seven Islands and the Polar Pack Ice

We continue north and east up into the ice, hoping to cross the 80 parallel North. As we
approach the ice edge the ship slows down and all hands get up to the bridge or out on deck
as we start scanning for wildlife. Bearded seals, ringed seals and walrus may be found
hauled out on the ice. Harp seals swim in herds of 10 to 20 through the open water leads in
the ice. A buttery-colored lump miles away on the ice metamorphoses into a polar bear as we
slowly work our way through the ice toward it. Our ship is perfectly designed for near silent
approach to the wildlife on the ice and our captain takes great pride in bringing us in close
enough to experience the wildlife without disturbing it.


At 81 degrees north latitude, Phippsoya, one of the Seven Islands, is only 540 nautical miles
from the North Pole. Because of its proximity to the pack ice, Phippsoya offers the potential
for great polar bear viewing. Be sure to get up to the bridge and take a picture of the GPS
showing your latitude or, better yet, take your own handheld GPS with you and mark in the
waypoint.

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accomodation:Akademik Sergey Vavilov

Days 6-8: Hinlopen Strait and Nordaustlandet

From the ice edge we head south into the strait separating Svalbard’s two main islands:
Spitsbergen and Nordaustlandet. In Hinlopen Strait the bird cliffs at Alkefjellet are home to
more than a hundred thousand breeding Brunnich’s guillemots, as well as thousands of
kittiwakes and black guillemots. A spectacular site to behold and a challenging one for our
zodiacs as the tidal currents roar through Hinlopen Strait. Murchison Fjord is a wonderful
place to kayak or cruise as we navigate the waterways between the islands. Short hikes will
take us on to high points with great views, while keeping our eyes open for Arctic wildlife.

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accomodation:Akademik Sergey Vavilov

Day 9: Leifdefjorden

As we sail into Leifdefjorden and towards Monaco Glacier, we will keep a look out for beluga
whales along the coast. The adults are pure white and the younger animals a mottled grey.
They are the only whales that can articulate their heads to nod and turn sideways. It is
estimated that there are approximately five to ten thousand belugas in the Svalbard
population. The beluga has no dorsal fin, a diagnostic feature of other whale species that live
in the high Arctic such as the narwhal and bowhead. Since a dorsal fin could be damaged
when the animal surfaces in areas with ice, it has been postulated that the lack of dorsal fin is
an adaptation to living in waters that are frequently covered by ice.

Monaco Glacier provides a fabulous backdrop for a zodiac cruise. Miles of ice face broken up
by the odd ice cave or tumbling serac with perhaps a thousand black-legged kittiwakes
feeding on the upwelling of nutrients found near the sub-glacial outflow.

A morning of cruising in the ice is best followed by a hike on the tundra. Red phalaropes,
purple sandpipers and vibrant tundra provide plenty of viewing and photography
opportunities. As we walk, the remains of fox traps and sun bleached seal bones speak of
both human interaction and wildlife predation.

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accomodation:Akademik Sergey Vavilov

Day 10: Alkehornet

Alkehornet, at the mouth of Isfjord, offers stunning views and an incredible tundra walk as we
wrap up our adventure in Svalbard. Arctic fox can often be seen here, as well as reindeer.
Rearing up above the landing site is a horn-shaped mount covered in guillemots and
kittiwakes. Only as we approach and stop to listen will we hear the chorus of thousands of
birds, all talking at the same time.

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accomodation:Akademik Sergey Vavilov

Day 11: Longyearbyen, Spitsbergen (Svalbard)

As our last morning aboard the Akademik Sergey Vavilov, we enjoy a hearty breakfast and prepare to disembark shortly thereafter.

  • Breakfast

Jul 03 - 13, 2015 Special Photography departure!!

Jul 13 - 23, 2015 Note: this trip is only 10 days long and ends on July 22

pricing

Air Credit of $500 per person on Summer 2015 departures. Subject to availability.

All prices are per person in US$:

Summer 2015

July 3-13  (11-day trip):
$5,495 per person (Triple cabin shared bath)
$7,495 per person (Twin cabin semi-private bath)
$8,595 per person (Twin cabin private bath)
$9,395 per person (Superior cabin)
$10,395 per person (Shackleton suite)
$11,495 per person (One Ocean suite)

July 13-22 (10-day trip):
$5,095 per person (Triple cabin shared bath)
$6,695 per person (Twin cabin semi-private bath)
$7,395 per person (Twin cabin private bath)
$8,495 per person (Superior cabin)
$9,295 per person (Shackleton suite)
$10,195 per person (One Ocean suite)

$695 Optional Sea Kayaking (limited space, must be reserved at time of booking)

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Akademik Sergey Vavilov

The 92-passenger Akademik Sergey Vavilov is modern and comfortable. Scandinavian-built for the Russian Academy of Science, the Vavilov was designed to travel quietly during hydro-acoustic research. The ship is maneuverable and yet exceptionally stable, due to external stabilizers and a built-in trimming system. Akademik Sergey Vavilov has an ice-strengthened hull and a cruising speed in open water of 14.5 knots. This expedition ship is the ideal base for polar adventure trips.

From small group sessions to briefings for all passengers, the public spaces onboard the ship are ideally suited for each and every need. A separate bar and lounge located on Deck 6, as well as a library, provide ideal places to relax or catch up on some reading. A selection of movies and documentaries can also be watched in the lounge.

The ship’s bridge is located on Deck 6 and is open to passengers virtually 24-hours a day. The chart room is a fascinating place to visit and expedition staff or ship’s crew are often available to answer questions about the equipment and instruments found on the bridge. In addition, the bridge is an excellent place to view wildlife from. Binoculars and wildlife identification guidebooks are available.

Amenities

One dining room with unreserved seating. 
Theatre-style presentation room. 
Lounge and bar, open late afternoon and evening with a wide selection of wines and spirits. 
Library with a collection of polar-themed books. 
Ship-to-shore communications via satellite. 
Clinic with licensed doctor. 
Gym, sauna and swimming pool. 
One elevator between passenger deck levels and to the Bridge level.


 

  • Fantastic scenery—a wondrous land of rock and ice, and home to a rich range of bird and animal life
  • Make the most of the long daylight hours to search for polar bears, walrus, beluga, and other wildlife

With a spectacular panorama of ice and water, rugged mountains, and expansive tundra, the Svalbard Archipelago is unequaled in wild splendor. It boasts an impressive array of wildlife and a rich human history (Spitsbergen, the largest island of the archipelago, was known to the Vikings and subsequently visited by whalers, fur traders, and explorers). Our goal on this Arctic expedition (with frequent shore stops) is to hike and to undertake cruises in Zodiacs, often close to sea cliffs and abundant wildlife, which includes polar bears (the stars of the show!), beluga whales, walrus, reindeer, Arctic fox, and a huge array of avian fauna. You'll travel in comfort aboard an ice-strengthened polar expedition ship that is the ideal home base for exploring this remarkable wilderness.

DAILY itinerary

Day 1: Longyearbyen, Spitsbergen (Svalbard)

Plan to arrive in Longyearbyen, the main town on Spitsbergen, the day before your embarkation and enjoy some time on the first day of the trip to visit the museums and investigate the shops. You will be boarding the ship in the mid afternoon (usually 4pm). Once on board, we get together for introductions to meet the expedition team and learn a bit about the ship and its layout. We also discuss the itinerary and participate in the essential safety and lifeboat drill.

Set sail from Longyearbyen around 6:00 p.m., heading north from Adventfjorden—the first of our fjords—into Isfjorden.

  • Dinner
  • Accomodation:Akademik Sergey Vavilov

Days 2-3: Krossfjorden and Northwestern Spitsbergen

The shores of Krossfjorden are home to numerous bird colonies and species. We will anchor
off one small harbour and cruise the bird cliffs near the 14th of July Glacier. As we cruise
these waters we will also keep alert for bearded and ringed seals, known to frequent this
fjord.

Lilliehook Glacier, at the head of Krossfjorden, is a sight to behold. Whether by zodiac or
onboard ship, we will make time to experience this incredible view. Later in the day as we
sail out of Krossfjorden and Kongsfjorden, we may be fortunate enough to see the airship
anchor pylon near the scientific community of Ny Alesund. Notable pioneer aviators such as
Zeppelin, Amundsen, Ellsworth, Byrd and Nobile all used Ny Alesund as a jumping off point
for their Arctic exploits.

Smeerenburgfjorden has a four hundred year history of whaling and is a favorite spot as we
round the northwestern tip of Spitsbergen. A wander along the beach looking at the blubber
cookers, or an hour behind a tripod shooting landscapes, might be on the schedule all the
while looking for wildlife that can appear anywhere in Svalbard.

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accomodation:Akademik Sergey Vavilov

Days 4-5: Seven Islands and the Polar Pack Ice

We continue north and east up into the ice, hoping to cross the 80 parallel North. As we
approach the ice edge the ship slows down and all hands get up to the bridge or out on deck
as we start scanning for wildlife. Bearded seals, ringed seals and walrus may be found
hauled out on the ice. Harp seals swim in herds of 10 to 20 through the open water leads in
the ice. A buttery-colored lump miles away on the ice metamorphoses into a polar bear as we
slowly work our way through the ice toward it. Our ship is perfectly designed for near silent
approach to the wildlife on the ice and our captain takes great pride in bringing us in close
enough to experience the wildlife without disturbing it.


At 81 degrees north latitude, Phippsoya, one of the Seven Islands, is only 540 nautical miles
from the North Pole. Because of its proximity to the pack ice, Phippsoya offers the potential
for great polar bear viewing. Be sure to get up to the bridge and take a picture of the GPS
showing your latitude or, better yet, take your own handheld GPS with you and mark in the
waypoint.

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accomodation:Akademik Sergey Vavilov

Days 6-8: Hinlopen Strait and Nordaustlandet

From the ice edge we head south into the strait separating Svalbard’s two main islands:
Spitsbergen and Nordaustlandet. In Hinlopen Strait the bird cliffs at Alkefjellet are home to
more than a hundred thousand breeding Brunnich’s guillemots, as well as thousands of
kittiwakes and black guillemots. A spectacular site to behold and a challenging one for our
zodiacs as the tidal currents roar through Hinlopen Strait. Murchison Fjord is a wonderful
place to kayak or cruise as we navigate the waterways between the islands. Short hikes will
take us on to high points with great views, while keeping our eyes open for Arctic wildlife.

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accomodation:Akademik Sergey Vavilov

Day 9: Leifdefjorden

As we sail into Leifdefjorden and towards Monaco Glacier, we will keep a look out for beluga
whales along the coast. The adults are pure white and the younger animals a mottled grey.
They are the only whales that can articulate their heads to nod and turn sideways. It is
estimated that there are approximately five to ten thousand belugas in the Svalbard
population. The beluga has no dorsal fin, a diagnostic feature of other whale species that live
in the high Arctic such as the narwhal and bowhead. Since a dorsal fin could be damaged
when the animal surfaces in areas with ice, it has been postulated that the lack of dorsal fin is
an adaptation to living in waters that are frequently covered by ice.

Monaco Glacier provides a fabulous backdrop for a zodiac cruise. Miles of ice face broken up
by the odd ice cave or tumbling serac with perhaps a thousand black-legged kittiwakes
feeding on the upwelling of nutrients found near the sub-glacial outflow.

A morning of cruising in the ice is best followed by a hike on the tundra. Red phalaropes,
purple sandpipers and vibrant tundra provide plenty of viewing and photography
opportunities. As we walk, the remains of fox traps and sun bleached seal bones speak of
both human interaction and wildlife predation.

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accomodation:Akademik Sergey Vavilov

Day 10: Alkehornet

Alkehornet, at the mouth of Isfjord, offers stunning views and an incredible tundra walk as we
wrap up our adventure in Svalbard. Arctic fox can often be seen here, as well as reindeer.
Rearing up above the landing site is a horn-shaped mount covered in guillemots and
kittiwakes. Only as we approach and stop to listen will we hear the chorus of thousands of
birds, all talking at the same time.

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accomodation:Akademik Sergey Vavilov

Day 11: Longyearbyen, Spitsbergen (Svalbard)

As our last morning aboard the Akademik Sergey Vavilov, we enjoy a hearty breakfast and prepare to disembark shortly thereafter.

  • Breakfast

Akademik Sergey Vavilov

The 92-passenger Akademik Sergey Vavilov is modern and comfortable. Scandinavian-built for the Russian Academy of Science, the Vavilov was designed to travel quietly during hydro-acoustic research. The ship is maneuverable and yet exceptionally stable, due to external stabilizers and a built-in trimming system. Akademik Sergey Vavilov has an ice-strengthened hull and a cruising speed in open water of 14.5 knots. This expedition ship is the ideal base for polar adventure trips.

From small group sessions to briefings for all passengers, the public spaces onboard the ship are ideally suited for each and every need. A separate bar and lounge located on Deck 6, as well as a library, provide ideal places to relax or catch up on some reading. A selection of movies and documentaries can also be watched in the lounge.

The ship’s bridge is located on Deck 6 and is open to passengers virtually 24-hours a day. The chart room is a fascinating place to visit and expedition staff or ship’s crew are often available to answer questions about the equipment and instruments found on the bridge. In addition, the bridge is an excellent place to view wildlife from. Binoculars and wildlife identification guidebooks are available.

Amenities

One dining room with unreserved seating. 
Theatre-style presentation room. 
Lounge and bar, open late afternoon and evening with a wide selection of wines and spirits. 
Library with a collection of polar-themed books. 
Ship-to-shore communications via satellite. 
Clinic with licensed doctor. 
Gym, sauna and swimming pool. 
One elevator between passenger deck levels and to the Bridge level.


 

Dates and Pricing

Jul 03 - 13, 2015 Special Photography departure!!

Jul 13 - 23, 2015 Note: this trip is only 10 days long and ends on July 22

pricing

Air Credit of $500 per person on Summer 2015 departures. Subject to availability.

All prices are per person in US$:

Summer 2015

July 3-13  (11-day trip):
$5,495 per person (Triple cabin shared bath)
$7,495 per person (Twin cabin semi-private bath)
$8,595 per person (Twin cabin private bath)
$9,395 per person (Superior cabin)
$10,395 per person (Shackleton suite)
$11,495 per person (One Ocean suite)

July 13-22 (10-day trip):
$5,095 per person (Triple cabin shared bath)
$6,695 per person (Twin cabin semi-private bath)
$7,395 per person (Twin cabin private bath)
$8,495 per person (Superior cabin)
$9,295 per person (Shackleton suite)
$10,195 per person (One Ocean suite)

$695 Optional Sea Kayaking (limited space, must be reserved at time of booking)

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