North Spitsbergen, Along the pack ice, Bowhead Whales and Polar Bears

This expedition focuses on spotting whales, polar bears, birds and other Arctic wildlife while enjoying the 24-hour daylight of the Arctic summer


Spitsbergen Land Tours
OEX © Phil Wickens

Duration: 8 days
Starts: Longyearbyen
Ends: Longyearbyen
Language: English speaking voyage


Included


PLEASE NOTE: All itineraries are for guidance only. Programs may vary depending on ice, weather, and wildlife conditions. Landings are subject to site availabilities, permissions, and environmental concerns per AECO regulations. Official sailing plans and landing slots are scheduled with AECO prior to the start of the season, but the expedition leader determines the final plan. Flexibility is paramount for expedition cruises. The average cruising speed of our vessel is 10.5 knots.

Search for whales, polar bears, birds and other exotic wildlife among the Arctic sea ice while enjoying the 24-hour daylight which provides excellent conditions for outdoor photography and activities.

Workshop: Sounds of whales and seals
In this engaging audio workshop, the theoretical background of various acoustic tools will be provided, you´ll be helped to use them to locate and interpret the songs of whales and seals. This fun and informative workshop covers both the theory and practice of analyzing marine mammal sounds, requiring you to bring no additional equipment.

Birding:
There will be at least one dedicated expedition guide in the team who will share their expert knowledge about bird species and who will be available to help you identify, photograph on deck and learn more about the birds that you see. In addition to outdoor sessions, the guide will focus on species and related information on the birds of the Arctic in re-caps and lectures onboard.

Itinerary

© Sara Jenner
© Melissa Scott
© Oliver Vogler

Day 1: Largest town, biggest island
You touch down in Longyearbyen, the administrative center of Spitsbergen, the largest island of the Svalbard archipelago. Enjoy strolling around this former mining town, whose parish church and Svalbard Museum make for fascinating attractions. Though the countryside appears stark, more than a hundred species of plant have been recorded in it. In the early evening the ship sails out of Isfjorden, where you might spot the first minke whale of your voyage.

Day 2: Walrusses, seals & sea birds
After an exciting sailing through straits and fjord we arrive late morning at Smeerenburg, where a large group of Walrusses often lays at its haul-out place. It is also a rare opportunity to see Harbour Seals on rocky islets. Smeerenburg was an important whaling station in the 17th century. Later on the day you land at Fuglesangen, where you have a great opportunity to sit among hundreds of nearby Little Auks. In the evening you make a short landing in Birgerbukta, where the Basq whalers had their station, and continue into the splendid Raudfjord.

Day 3: Route to Raudfjorden
Raudfjord, with glacier fronts, is a good area for meeting Polar Bears and Bearded Seals on fjord ice, which is still unbroken. In Hamiltonbukta is an impressive colony of Brünnichs’s Guiillemots. Later we visit Ytre Norskøya, a small island which was used for many years as a lookout point for Dutch whalers. There you can still follow their tracks to the summit of the island. On shore the remains of 17th century blubber ovens can be found near about 200 graves. The north side of the island offers the rare opportunity to see Puffins near their breeding places. There is also a small colony of Kittiwakes. From there you sail northwest to the edge of the pack-ice.

Day 4 - 6: Along the ice edge in search of Bowhead Whales, Seals & Polar Bears
At sea sailing from 80 N to 76 N along and in the outer fringes of the ice edge looking for Bowhead Whales, Harp Seals, Hooded Seals, Polar Bears and migrating seabirds like Little Auks, Brünnich’s Guillemots, and Kittiwakes. On previous voyages in this area there have sometimes seen up to hundred Bowhead Whales. On the last day, at open sea you have good chances for Northern Bottlenose Whales and the first Fin Whales of the season.

Day 7: Bell Sund’s flora, fauna, and haunting history
Bellsund is a fjord system with two major branches (Van Mijenfjord, Van Keulenfjord) and a side bay (Recherchefjord). The geology is fascinating and has created amazing landscapes, such as the long, narrow island of Akseløya that blocks Van Mijenfjord almost completely. The rich wildlife of the area has attracted hunters throughout several centuries, including English whalers, who also wintered there. - you will walk in their footsteps and see remains of their huts. Polar Bears are often seen,as Belugas (white whales), in this area. Much is depending on the fjord –ice how far you can sail into these fjords.

Day 8: There and back again
Every adventure, no matter how grand, must eventually come to an end. You disembark in Longyearbyen, taking home memories that will accompany you wherever your next adventure lies.

Itinerary

Day 1: Largest town, biggest island
You touch down in Longyearbyen, the administrative center of Spitsbergen, the largest island of the Svalbard archipelago. Enjoy strolling around this former mining town, whose parish church and Svalbard Museum make for fascinating attractions. Though the countryside appears stark, more than a hundred species of plant have been recorded in it. In the early evening the ship sails out of Isfjorden, where you might spot the first minke whale of your voyage.

Day 2: Walrusses, seals & sea birds
After an exciting sailing through straits and fjord we arrive late morning at Smeerenburg, where a large group of Walrusses often lays at its haul-out place. It is also a rare opportunity to see Harbour Seals on rocky islets. Smeerenburg was an important whaling station in the 17th century. Later on the day you land at Fuglesangen, where you have a great opportunity to sit among hundreds of nearby Little Auks. In the evening you make a short landing in Birgerbukta, where the Basq whalers had their station, and continue into the splendid Raudfjord.

Day 3: Route to Raudfjorden
Raudfjord, with glacier fronts, is a good area for meeting Polar Bears and Bearded Seals on fjord ice, which is still unbroken. In Hamiltonbukta is an impressive colony of Brünnichs’s Guiillemots. Later we visit Ytre Norskøya, a small island which was used for many years as a lookout point for Dutch whalers. There you can still follow their tracks to the summit of the island. On shore the remains of 17th century blubber ovens can be found near about 200 graves. The north side of the island offers the rare opportunity to see Puffins near their breeding places. There is also a small colony of Kittiwakes. From there you sail northwest to the edge of the pack-ice.

Day 4 - 6: Along the ice edge in search of Bowhead Whales, Seals & Polar Bears
At sea sailing from 80 N to 76 N along and in the outer fringes of the ice edge looking for Bowhead Whales, Harp Seals, Hooded Seals, Polar Bears and migrating seabirds like Little Auks, Brünnich’s Guillemots, and Kittiwakes. On previous voyages in this area there have sometimes seen up to hundred Bowhead Whales. On the last day, at open sea you have good chances for Northern Bottlenose Whales and the first Fin Whales of the season.

Day 7: Bell Sund’s flora, fauna, and haunting history
Bellsund is a fjord system with two major branches (Van Mijenfjord, Van Keulenfjord) and a side bay (Recherchefjord). The geology is fascinating and has created amazing landscapes, such as the long, narrow island of Akseløya that blocks Van Mijenfjord almost completely. The rich wildlife of the area has attracted hunters throughout several centuries, including English whalers, who also wintered there. - you will walk in their footsteps and see remains of their huts. Polar Bears are often seen,as Belugas (white whales), in this area. Much is depending on the fjord –ice how far you can sail into these fjords.

Day 8: There and back again
Every adventure, no matter how grand, must eventually come to an end. You disembark in Longyearbyen, taking home memories that will accompany you wherever your next adventure lies.


© Sara Jenner
© Melissa Scott
© Oliver Vogler


INCLUSIONS

· Voyage aboard the indicated vessel as indicated in the itinerary
· All meals throughout the voyage aboard the ship including snacks, coffee and tea.
· All shore excursions and activities throughout the voyage by Zodiac.
· Program of lectures by noted naturalists and leadership by experienced expedition staff.
· Free use of rubber boots and snowshoes.
· Transfers and baggage handling between the airport, hotels and ship only for those passengers on the group flights to and from Longyearbyen.
· All miscellaneous service taxes and port charges throughout the programme.
· AECO fees and governmental taxes.
· Comprehensive pre-departure material.

EXCLUSIONS

· Any airfare, whether on scheduled or charter flights
· Pre- and post- land arrangements.
· Passport and visa expenses.
· Government arrival and departure taxes.
· Meals ashore.
· Baggage, cancellation and personal insurance (which is strongly recommended).
· Excess baggage charges and all items of a personal nature such as laundry, bar, beverage charges and telecommunication charges.
· The customary gratuity at the end of the voyages for stewards and other service personnel aboard (guidelines will be provided).


* The prices are per person in US Dollars, unless expressly specified in a different currency. In that case, payment will be in US dollars at the exchange rate of the day.
** All prices will be re-confirmed by email at the time of booking.
NOTE: Embracing the unexpected is part of the legacy—and excitement—of expedition travel. When traveling in extremely remote regions, your expedition staff must allow the sea, the ice and the weather to guide route and itinerary details. This itinerary is a tentative outline of what you’ll experience on this voyage; please be aware that no specific itinerary can be guaranteed.

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