Circumnavigating Svalbard - In the Realm of the Polar Bear

This Arctic expedition is one of a kind! We will sail above 80º N, to take you to the ice edge of the Arctic Ocean while circumnavigating Svalbard. Enjoy excursions including hiking, kayaking and traversing a glacier in the largest Arctic wilderness in Europe, with a great chance of sighting polar bears.

  • Circumnavigate Svalbard
  • Try 'brevandring', the Norwegian way to cross a glacier
  • Great chance of seeing polar bears
  • Bask in the midnight sun and experience untouched Arctic wilderness
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This cruise has sailed! Don't worry, here are a few suggestions if you want to explore Svalbard with Hurtigruten.


The itinerary

This is an expedition where the elements rule, and the weather, wind and ice conditions will determine our final schedule. Safety is paramount and the captain will decide the sailing itinerary during the voyage. Therefore, this itinerary is just an indication of what you can experience, and why every expedition with Hurtigruten is unique.

Departure 03, 11 & 19 June 2019 (MS Fram), or 11 July 2019 (MS Spitsbergen).

Departs from Oslo/Longyearbyen

With more polar bears than people, Svalbard provides an excellent chance to see these magnificent predators. 

This expedition is one of a kind, with a multitude of landing sites and exciting experiences in the Arctic. We aim to sail above 80º N, to take you to the ice edge of the Arctic Ocean. The adventure will include several excursions including hiking, kayaking and other activities on land and on the water. There’s also a good chance that we’ll see a polar bear – after all, there are more polar bears than there are humans on Svalbard.  

Highlights of the Arctic 

Starting in Longyearbyen, we sail well above the 80th parallel and place you closer than 600 nautical miles from the Geographical North Pole. Explore the great national parks and some of the most spectacular highlights of the Arctic. One might expect it to be unbearably cold this far north. However, thanks to the Gulf Stream, the Svalbard archipelago boasts a surprisingly mild climate in summer. Among a large variety of plants and wildlife are seals, thousands of seabirds, the Arctic fox and reindeer and the top predator: the polar bear.  

Deep fjords, mighty glaciers and pure wilderness 

In the summer, beautiful colours and contrasts provide the frames for dramatic glaciers, majestic mountain formations, deep fjords, buzzing bird cliffs and endless arctic tundra with its diverse flora and fauna. The midnight sun makes it possible to fill your days and nights with experiences.  

Join in for a Beach Clean Up on Svalbard  

In recent years, marine litter has become a major problem for the world’s oceans and beaches. Hurtigruten, as a proud member of the “Clean up Svalbard” team, invites our guests to participate in a beach clean up activity during one of our landings in the area.  

Two ships, same itinerary

If you wish to join this expedition, you can choose between two ships. Our original explorer ship, MS Fram, sails around Svalbard in June 2019, while our new and intimate MS Spitsbergen sails in July 2019. The itinerary is the same for both, and you are in for an extraordinary experience no matter which ship you end up boarding.

Day 1
Photo: Hanne Feyling Photo

From 59º N to 78º N


This Arctic Circumnavigation starts with an evening flight from Oslo. Norway's capital is often called 'the blue, the green and the city in between' because of its idyllic setting, nestled between fjord and forest. Spend a day checking out the museums, parks and intriguing architecture, or relax in one of the many cafés or bars.  

Then, set foot in an entirely different world when you arrive in Longyearbyen after your flight. This tiny town perched on the edge of the Arctic wilderness is surprisingly cosmopolitan, with first-class facilities, charming architecture, an internationally renowned museum and several bars and restaurants. 

Transfer to your hotel and overnight. 

Day 2
Day 2Longyearbyen_Natalia_Davidovich_shutterstock.jpg
Photo: Natalia Davidovich / shutterstock Photo
MS Fram in Burgerbukta. Photo: Arnau Ferrer Photo
MS Spitsbergen
MS Spitsbergen. Photo: Andreas Kalvig Anderson Photo

The Norwegian stronghold in the High Arctic


After an overnight stay in one of our hotels, you can join an exciting excursion to get to know this unique town and the surrounding area. The mighty Arctic wilderness dominates life here, but the town maintains a lively cultural life in spite of its remote position. Longyearbyen is often called an antidote to modern-day life and serves as a prime destination for adventure travelers. Enjoy the singular atmosphere of this colourful frontier outpost before boarding your ship. 

Day 3 - 5
Day 3-5NY_Aalesund_Dominic Barrington.jpg
Photo: Dominic Barrington Photo
Photo: Dominic Barrington Photo

Exploring Huge Fjords with Fascinating History

North West Spitsbergen National Park

The North West Corner 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 closely before deciding where we can land or sail. This is why all our itineraries are flexible; we work with the elements, not against them, and safety is our first priority. If we are able to land, this area is excellent for exploring Svalbard’s history. You will have the chance to see the remnants of ancient blubber ovens used to render whale oil.  

We might 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 an international centre for research, with a picturesque mix of old and new buildings. 

In the Magdalenafjorden and Gravneset areas, you may have the chance to actually swim 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.  

Day 6-8
Day 6-8_Spitsbergen_Camille Seaman.jpg
Photo: Camille Seaman Photo
Photo: Tori Hogan Photo
Photo: Ingrid Wörmann Photo

Enjoy expedition Days in the Arctic

Eastern Svalbard Nature Reserves and South Spitsbergen National Park

Eastern Svalbard boasts the highest population of polar bears on the archipelago – we have high hopes of seeing one on this journey!   

If conditions allow, we will to sail to Isflakbukta on Phippsøya, part of Sjuøyane (Seven Islands), which are located at the far north of the Svalbard archipelago. Thousands upon thousands of seabirds mate here, while walrus dive for clams in the bays. 

We also aim to cruise in Sorgfjorden, which borders the North East Spitsbergen Nature Reserve, and was the site of a famous 17th-century battle between whalers. If the weather is favourable here, 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 flat 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 of human exploration of Svalbard.  

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 9
day 9_Alkhornet-Spitsbergen-Ester Kokmeijer.jpg
Photo: Ester Kokmeijer Photo

Fjord, wilderness and BBQ

The Isfjord

We will spend the day exploring the Isfjord, the most prominent fjord system on 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.   

Day 10
Day 10_Oslo_shutterstock_Morten Normann Almeland.jpg
Photo: Morten Normann Almeland / Shutterstock Photo

End of the expedition


Every good explorer's voyage comes to an end. You will probably sense that time has passed faster than expected. Many report a subtle exhilaration due to having taken a journey to the very top of the globe, just a few hundred miles from the Geographical North Pole. The transfer vehicle takes you early in the morning to the airport for your flight back to Oslo.

Arrival 12, 20 & 28 June (MS Fram) and 20 July 2019 (MS Spitsbergen)

Location Longyearbyen/Oslo

Price includes:  

  • Hurtigruten Expedition with cabin grade of your choice on a full board basis 
  • Return economy flights between Longyearbyen and Oslo 
  • One hotel night in Longyearbyen before the voyage including breakfast and lunch 
  • All transfers in Longyearbyen including an excursion before the voyage 
  • Wind and water-resistant jacket 
  • Landings with small boats and activities on board and ashore 
  • Professional English-speaking Expedition team that gives lectures as well as accompanies landings and activities 
  • Free tea and coffee 

Not included:  

  • International flights 
  • Travel insurance 
  • Luggage handling 
  • Optional excursions and gratuities 
Your ship Things to see and do

Photo gallery: Svalbard

Get a closer look at the areas we explore on a cruise around Svalbard.

Video gallery: Svalbard & Spitsbergen

Get a closer look at your experience on a Hurtigruten cruise to Svalbard.

Extend your holiday

Contact us

Wish to add flights, transfers or other services to your voyage? Please get in touch with our customer service team by clicking the link below.