North Spitsbergen, In search of Polar Bear & Pack Ice Summer Solstice, Arc of Meridian

The best opportunity to spot the King of the Arctic


Spitsbergen Land Tours
OEX © Ilja Reijnen principal

Duration: 8 days
Starts: Longyearbyen
Ends: Longyearbyen
Language: English speaking voyage, Language assisted 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.

Start your North Spitsbergen cruise with a trek around historic Longyearbyen, then join our expedition to the north of the island to take in the fantastically beautiful landscapes, the thousands of seabirds, and of course the star of the show, the polar bear.

2022 summer solstice: midnight sun, and 24-hour day
The midnight sun is a phenomenon that occurs during the Arctic summer, when the sun is visible for a full 24 hours in fair weather. The 2022 summer solstice in Longyearbyen falls on Tuesday, 21 June, at 11:13am. The term solstice (Latin solstitium) means “sun-stopping” and describes the point on the horizon at which the sun appears to rise and set, stopping and reversing directions after this day. On the solstice, the sun does not rise precisely in the east but rather north of east, then later sets to the north of west, making the sun visible for a longer period of time. It will not be until late August that the sun fully goes down again, and then only for a few minutes. Join us in experiencing this fascinating phenomenon during this voyage through the Arctic wilderness of Svalbard.

Workshop 1: Navigation
If you’ve ever wondered how ship crews and explorers navigate the high seas, this activity will give you all the basics of both historic and modern methods. Through engaging onboard workshops, we will provide you both the theoretical background of various navigation tools as well as hands-on training in how to use sextants, cartographic charts, and modern GPS units. All workshops are supervised by expedition staff and bridge officers with extensive experience in navigating multiple environments. You are not required to bring additional equipment. The guest speaker for this activity is Lothar Kurtze, a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society in London and volunteer project coordinator of the Faulkes Telescope Project in Germany and Austria. Lothar operates a private observatory in Weinheim (Baden-Württemberg) and is often recruited as a lecturer in astronomy on Arctic and Antarctic expedition trips.

Workshop 2: Photography
Designed for both beginners and advanced photographers, this fun and informative workshop gives passengers the chance to practice their nature photography skills under the supervision of a professional photographer. The photographer accompanies the workshop group during shore landings. Up to 20 people per guide can participate during landings, while anyone on board can attend photo lectures. During cruise days, everybody will be able to listen to photo lectures and workshops in order to learn more about objects, exposures, and photo composition. The workshop does not intend to instruct passengers in how to use specific camera models but instead teaches basic rules of photography for better outdoor pictures. Participants with special photographical interests must bring their own equipment corresponding to those interests.

Remains of the Arc-of-Meridian Expedition: -
For those interested in polar science history, this voyage offers you the chance to see the remains of a major scientific endeavor. In 1823, the Irish scientist, soldier, and explorer Edward Sabine had an observatory on Indre Norskøya, an island in northwestern Svalbard. Using a pendulum to study gravity, he suggested a project to measure the meridians (lines of longitude through the poles) on Spitsbergen, the goal of which was to define the curvature of the Earth. At the end of the 19th century, this project was finally carried out during the Swedish–Russian Arc of Meridian Expedition. The measurements required a chain of triangulation points that reached from Crozierpynten and Vesle Tavleøya in the north to Keilhaufjellet in the south. Most of the rock cairns built for this project can still be seen today, and it is our aim to view the ones that lie along our route.

Itinerary

© Erwin Vermeulen
© Nikki Born
© Markus Eichenberger

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: Route to Raudfjorden
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: The massive 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: Highlights of Hinlopen
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: Stop at the 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: Reindeer, foxes, and so many seabirds
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: 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: Route to Raudfjorden
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: The massive 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: Highlights of Hinlopen
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: Stop at the 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: Reindeer, foxes, and so many seabirds
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: 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.


© Erwin Vermeulen
© Nikki Born
© Markus Eichenberger


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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