There is no better place to see polar bears than in the scenery of Spitsbergen's coastal mountains
A short season of long days, the Arctic summer offers sunsets that linger until dawn, snowmelt feeding waterfalls and glaciers that drop massive icebergs into the sea.
This voyage reveals the diversity of this island archipelago and takes you into the kingdom of the polar bear. You explore the coastline, with no open sea crossings, against a backdrop of spectacular glacier covered peaks. You discover deep fjords in the west; mysterious, fossil-rich desert plains in the east; and best of all, seals and whales in the Arctic pack ice. This voyage offers the best chance for seeing reindeer and polar bears, and features wildflower walks across sweeping tundra, trapper camps and historic sites. On foot and by Zodiac, you visit abandoned whaling settlements, search for walrus, Arctic fox and reindeer and revel in millions of migratory birds, including little auks, guillemots and puffin. The seas are alive with whales, bearded and possibly ringed seals.
Enjoy a guided tour of colourful Longyearbyen. Late afternoon sees us warmly welcomed on board Polar Pioneer.
Wake to spectacular alpine peaks and glacier valleys of Spitsbergen’s rugged west coast. In Magdalenefjorden we Zodiac cruise a safe distance from the aqua-blue ice cliffs of 14th July Glacier or Waggonway Glacier, and take long walks among summer flowers, alert for reindeer and Arctic fox. Thanks to the nutrientrich Gulf Stream and relatively mild temperatures, Atlantic puffins and guillemots fill the cliffs. We look for bearded seals, with their precious curling whiskers. We may visit the remains of a 350-yearold Dutch whaling settlement on Amsterdam Island and learn of an ill-fated ballooning attempt over the North Pole..
Rounding Spitsbergen’s northwest coast, we enter the Arctic Ocean and the world of pack ice. Ghostly beluga whales rise up in open leads and polar bears stalk ringed, bearded and harp seals. Offshore, walrus feed on clams or haulout on beaches, especially on Moffen Island, a walrus sanctuary. We visit trapper huts and stay alert for reindeer and Arctic fox. Delightful walks reveal delicious berries and some of the tundra’s 164 exquisite flowering plants including purple saxifrage, yellow spider plants and Svalbard poppies. If ice conditions allow, we attempt to cross latitude 80° North before turning south to Woodfjorden.
We attempt to pass through narrow Hinlopen Strait, a channel flanked by austere, cream-coloured slopes rich in fossils between Spitsbergen and ice-capped Nordaustlandet. This polar desert is a landscape eroded by severe frost. Even in summer, pack ice could bar our way, but there is much to strive for. We Zodiac beneath Alkefjellet, sheer basalt cliffs rising more than 250 metres – literally buzzing with some 200,000 nests of Brunnich’s guillemots. On walks we seek eider ducks, Arctic foxes and elusive Svalbard ptarmigan. As we pass Barentsøya and Edgeøya islands, we cross polar bear migration routes.
This is true expedition cruising. If ice conditions allow, we round South Cape and sail north toward Hornsund and Bellsund, deep fjords with stunning glaciers and wildlife. If ice bars our way, we simply adjust our itinerary, backtrack and delve deeper into the wonders of Spitsbergen’s north and west coasts.
A midnight cruise of glorious Isfjorden returns us to Longyearbyen and the end of our voyage.
Diving in Arctic is a unique experience for the advanced diver. Not just ice, but an amazing underwater world with a fascinating marine life filled with creatures that look as if they should live on another planet.
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Are you a novice diver, or not a diver at all, you can still witness the fascinating underwater world of the Polar Oceans, full of marine life and sculptured ice formations.
Waterproof Expeditions exclusively offers polar snorkeling for everyone to enjoy the crystal clear waters. Polar Snorkelers are provided with specially designed Waterproof© Snorkel-Dry suits.
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Polar Pioneer is a small and sturdy expedition ship. A regular in polar waters having initially been built in 1982 as an ice- strengthened research vessel, she was refurbished in 2000 to comfortable cruise vessel for a maximum of 54 expeditioners. Her excellent reputation for polar expedition cruising is due to her strength, maneuverability and size, allowing her to access areas where larger vessels simply can’t reach.
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Triple Cabin EUR 4,275 Superior Cabin EUR 6,600
Twin Public Cabin EUR 5,300 Suite Cabin EUR 7,300
Twin Private Cabin EUR 6,230
Optional Polar Dive Package* EUR 775
Optional Polar Snorkel Package* EUR 500
Optional Polar Dive Package* EUR 820
Optional Polar Snorkel Package* EUR 640
*minimum of 6 divers/snorkelers