Spitsbergen - Polar Bears and Arctic Adventure (Thursday - Tuesday)

This adventure voyage on MS Nordstjernen is the essential Spitsbergen experience. Spend one night on land and the rest at sea sailing along the west coast of Spitsbergen. Explore the extraordinary Arctic landscape, glaciers, fjords and scan for magnificent Arctic wildlife. If we are really lucky, we might get to see the King of the Arctic; the polar bear.

  • Chance of seeing polar bears
  • Cross 80° N and come ashore to explore the Arctic wilderness
  • Experience the Midnight Sun (until 23. August), giving you 24 hours of daylight to discover Svalbard
  • Sail with an expedition team on board the nostalgic MS Nordstjernen
Itinerary

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 23 May - 05 September 2019

Departs from Longyearbyen
Overview

Spitsbergen is the crown of Arctic Norway; an island forged by wind, ocean, ice and snow. Its location,  where the frigid Arctic Ocean meets the warmer currents of the Gulf Stream, creates a biologic hot spot in the region.

Longyearbyen and Barentsburg

The fascinating settlements of Spitsbergen each have their own distinct atmosphere, but share a rough and tumble pioneering spirit drawn from their founding days. This adventure starts in the Norwegian community often referred to as the capital of Svalbard. Here you’ll find all the amenities of a modern small town situated in a fantastic Arctic landscape. The history of Longyearbyen is rich with a tradition of coal mining, and remnants from early mining ventures can be seen everywhere. In the Russian settlement of Barentsburg, there will be opportunities to visit the Pomor Museum (optional) and see a lively folklore show. After this visit, we will continue out of Isfjord and head north along Prins Karls Forland. 

Crossing 80° N

We sail into Magdalenefjorden and the North West corner to encounter cultural heritage in the form of a whaling station from the 16th century. We will make a tender boat landing here. Moffen is a high latitude islet, set above the 80th parallel, that is popular with walrus, and we will try to reach this far north if wind and ice conditions allow.

Striking fjords and Ny-Ålesund

Woodfjord and Liefdefjord are large fjords in North Spitsbergen that offer a strikingly varied landscape – from large plains to remnants of extinct volcanoes and even the northernmost hot spring on earth. When we are cruising towards the Monaco glacier, we might get lucky and spot a polar bear searching for seals or bird eggs. Kongsfjord is the largest fjord on the northwest coast of Spitsbergen. The landscape here varies from large tundra plains to alpine peaks with dramatic glaciers tumbling into the ocean. At the end of the fjord, you will find the majestic Kongsbreen (King’s Glacier).  At 78º 55’ N, Ny-Ålesund is one of the world’s northernmost year-round communities. Previously a coal mining centre, Ny-Ålesund is now an advanced High Arctic research station. A number of countries run their own national research stations here, and there is a lot of activity in the summer. On our way back to Longyearbyen, we will sail into the most prominent fjord system on Svalbard to marvel at the large U-shaped valleys, carved out of the mountains by giant glaciers that covered the area ten thousand years ago.

The grand dame of Hurtigruten

Explore this extraordinary natural world from MS Nordstjernen, a ship that is rich in character with an aura of nostalgia. She was built for the Hurtigruten fleet in 1956, but has been extensively modernised while maintaining her classic wooden interior fittings and comfortable lodgings. Because MS Nordstjernen is a small vessel, she will take us to the less accessible gems of these beautiful coastlines, making your voyage one-of-a-kind and truly unforgettable.

During the entire adventure, our programme of shore excursions will take you close to both Arctic wildlife and cultural reminders of the early whaling era.   

Day 1
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Photo: Natalia Davidovich Photo
Coal Miner´s Cabins, Longyearbyen
Coal Miner´s Cabins, Longyearbyen Photo: Jarle Hagen Photo

Coal mining history and Arctic nature

Longyearbyen

Your adventure starts with an overnight stay in Longyearbyen. This Norwegian settlement is a unique little town. While the arctic environment is dominant, it is also a surprisingly cosmopolitan place, with art galleries, pubs, long wine lists at restaurants, stores and a mini-mall.

Longyearbyen is often called an antidote to the stress of modern day life and is a prime destination for adventure travellers. Reminders of the history and heritage of early coal miners can be seen everywhere. When Coal Mine number 1 was opened in the 1930’ s, the miners moved into flimsy two-story barracks. When World War II ravaged Europe, Svalbard was also impacted when Nybyen was set on fire in 1943. After the war, the miners moved back and into the newly built barracks.

These “barracks” have been completely renovated to offer our guests a high standard of comfort. Spitsbergen Hotel was originally built as an accommodation and dining area for employees of Store Norske Spitsbergen Coal Company. It was also the company’ s official representational building. Its interior and architecture made it Longyearbyen’ s grandest construction. The hotel is preserved and decorated using its history.

It's well worth walking through the corridors and public areas to look at the historical photographs and pictures, old maps and newspaper stories. Situated on "The Hill", it gives you great views of Longyearbyen, the Lars- and Longyear glacier. The hotel was constructed in 1947, but has been extensively refurbished over the years. You spend the night in one of these hotels.

Day 2
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Barentsburg Port Sea Office
Barentsburg Port Sea Office Photo: Arnau Ferrer Photo

Discover two very different settlements

Longyearbyen and Barentsburg

After breakfast, you are invited to a guided sightseeing tour in Longyearbyen that includes visits to the Svalbard Museum and Gallery Svalbard. This fantastic museum is really worth a visit, as it will provide you with a great deal of background information on all that you will come to experience on your expedition.

Then its time to embark on the adventure and MS Nordstjernen. We sail south in Isfjorden until we reach the Russian settlement Barentsburg. This “company coal mining town” has been Russian since 1932, and is still home to about 500 people. Here you can explore the exotic collection of old Russian artefacts and architecture, join a folklore show or soak up the real Russian atmosphere in the local pub.

Day 3
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Photo: Dominic Barrington Photo

Cultural heritage and Arctic wilderness

Magdalenefjorden and the North West Corner

Locally known as the North West Corner, this area, rich with islands, fjords and beaches, has a long history of exploration. In Magdalenefjord you’ll discover cultural heritage: a whaling station from the 16th century, including a graveyard of whalers who died during the first “oil gold rush”. We arrive in the morning, and will make our first landing to come ashore and explore this wonderful Arctic wilderness. In this beautiful fjord, we might even see polar bears, minke whales and bearded seals.

Day 4
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A walrus colony on Moffen, Svalbard
A walrus colony on Moffen, Svalbard Photo: Stefan Dall Photo
Stunning view to the glacier, Monacobreen
Stunning view to the glacier, Monacobreen Photo: Andrea Klaussner Photo

Chances of Seeing Polar Bears

Woodfjorden, Liefdefjorden, Moffen and 80°North

The North West Spitsbergen National Park is a rich environment, with islands, fjords and beaches, all with a long history of exploration. When Willhelm Barentz first sighted Svalbard in 1596, this was the land he first saw. The name he gave to this new terrain was ‘Spitzbergen’, reflecting the sharp and steep mountains in the area. Look forward to exploring some of the most spectacular fjords of Northern Spitsbergen.

Deep inside the giant Woodfjord system you will find the enormous and fast-moving Monaco Glacier. In front of this crevassed glacier there is always brash ice as well as larger pieces that have “calved off”. Sometimes we also visit the Jotunkjeldane thermal springs, the northernmost documented thermal springs on Earth. These large fjords offer a strikingly varied landscape – from the largest flat plain on Svalbard; Reinsdyrflya (the reindeer plain), to the red stone of Devonian geology, to remnants of volcanoes.

The day will be spent cruising towards the Monaco glacier, passing a number of small islets where eider ducks nest during the summer. If we are lucky, we may spot a polar bear searching for eggs here. Be on the lookout for the arched back of the occasional minke whale and bearded seals sunbathing on ice floes close to the glacier front. If the ice conditions are favourable, we will sail past 80° North and towards Moffen, an island which is often host to walrus.   

Day 5
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Landing near Kongsfjorden
Landing near Kongsfjorden Photo: Knut Dreiås Photo

Fjords, Glaciers and Research

Kongsfjorden and Ny-Ålesund

Kongsfjorden is the largest fjord in the Northwest coast of Spitsbergen. It is also known as King’s Bay. There is a very good chance that we will also cruise into the outer part of a large side fjord called Krossfjord. The landscape here varies from large tundra plains to alpine peaks with dramatic glaciers tumbling into the ocean. Be sure to sight for the mountain Mitra – named for a ‘Mitre’ or a catholic bishop’s hat – located on the northern shore of the entrance to Kongsfjord.

At the end of the fjord you will see the majestic Kongsbreen (King’s Glacier) with the three characteristic nunataks: Nora, Dana and Svea – named after the three Scandinavian countries. Later we dock at Ny-Ålesund. Situated at 78º 55’ N, this is one of the world’s northernmost year-round communities. Previously a coal mining centre, it is now an advanced High Arctic research station. A number of countries run their own national research stations here, and the activity is particularly high in the summer.

Day 6
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Photo: Dominic Barrington Photo

Flying home from the Arctic

Longyearbyen

The Spitsbergen Adventure Voyage is over and it is time to say goodbye. An early morning transfer bus will take you to the airport for your flight.

Arrival May - September 2019

Location Longyearbyen
Overview

Price includes: 

  • Hurtigruten Expedition in cabin grade of your choice on a full board basis
  • Transfer airport to hotel in Longyearbyen
  • One hotel night in Longyearbyen before the voyage including breakfast and lunch:
  • 3 hours sightseeing including Camp Barentz and Museum ending at the pier for embarking
  • Transfer ship to airport in Longyearbyen
  • Landings with small boats and activities on board and ashore
  • Professional English-speaking Expedition team that gives lectures on shore as well as accompanies landings and activities
  • Free tea and coffee

Not included: 

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

Photo gallery: Spitsbergen

The Arctic Crown of Norway should be experienced first hand, but here's a glimpse of what you will experience on your cruise to Svalbard's largest island.

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