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Whale Safari and Bear Island

12 Days FROM USD 3,000


This completely new expedition will introduce you to the wild shores of Northern Norway and the unforgettable arctic sights of Svalbard. Departing from the port town of Vlissingen (Netherlands) you will cruise north as you explore the rugged Norway coast as stay watchful for the spouts of minke, blue or fin whales. From the coast of Norway you will explore the magnificent and rugged Bear Island which is home to massive colonies of seabirds including kittiwakes and Brunnichs guillemots. The remains of former whaling stations can also be found here. As you enter the Svalbard archipelago you will be exposed to immense glaciers, rugged tundra and some of the largest fjord systems in the world. 

Optional Activities : Kayaking, Snowshoeing

Trip Code: ACOWWB

Travel Style: Small Ship Expedition Cruise

Location: Spitsbergen and Norwegian Coast

Ship: Ortelius

Flights: We offer a range of flight options to meet your cruise. Please contact us to discuss.


We board the vessel at midday in the Dutch port town of Vlissingen, headed north. Far north.

Arrival in Vlissingen

Crossing the North Sea and sailing by Dogger Bank, we stand an excellent chance of spotting minke whales, white-beaked dolphins, and harbour porpoises. Several other cetaceans, including orcas (killer whales), might also be seen in these waters.

At Sea

We continue north along the Norwegian coast, sometimes close to shore and sometimes more distant. During these days at sea, keep a close lookout for spouts of water that may announce the arrival of minke, fin, orca, or blue whales.

Especially near the famous fishing grounds of Froya and Sklinna Banken, we have a decent chance of spotting these species. As we progress farther into the northern latitudes, you will notice the daylight lasting longer and longer.

Norwegian Coast - Day 3 to 4

Passing the Arctic Circle and sailing by Skomvaer and Rost, we may see several species of large bird around the mountains of southern Lofoten. Meanwhile we’ll sail among a multitude of small islands in the Norwegian municipality of Bodo, the center of the Nordland province, not far from the famous strait of Saltstraumen. More passengers will join our voyage in Bodo.

Bodo near Saltstraumen

Today we sail close to the islands of Andoya and Bleiksoya, where we can see a beautiful seabird colony before positioning our ship. We’ll stop at the head of a submarine canyon roughly 10 km (6.2 miles) west of the northern end of Andoya. In this active area, sperm whales are known to emerge from depths of up to 1,000 meters (3,300 feet) after half an hour underwater.

Search for Whales at Andoya

As we look for more whales and seabirds, we sail north into the Barents Sea. Here we get into the low Arctic waters, where the weather and sea can sometimes be rough. But the conditions will be worth it, as we should still be able to see many birds on their migration to the islands of Svalbard.

Barents Sea

We arrive at the southeastern end of Bear Island, a great place for viewing large seabird colonies. The nearby nesting cliffs are part of an extensive nature reserve where large ships are not allowed to sail. But with our Zodiacs, we might be able to cruise near colonies made up chiefly of Brünnichs guillemots and kittiwakes. Afterward we’ll sail northeast into Sorhamna, where we can get even closer to the seabird cliffs. Just north of this, in Kvalrossbukta, we will see the remains of a whaling station from early in the previous century.

We might also make a landing in a shallow valley and look for (at a safe distance) great skuas, large seabirds known to be fiercely territorial. As we continue north along the east side of Bear Island, we may encounter dazzling shoals of drift ice.

Bear Island

Today we sail along and through sea ice drifting with the east Spitsbergen current. Near Sorkapp we may sail into Storfjorden to the east of Spitsbergen, where we have a good chance of seeing harp seals from the White Sea molting and lounging on the sea ice.

Bearded seal sightings are also possible here, and the ice edge is a good area to look for fin whales.


If the sea ice is favorable, we’ll start the day by cruising the side fjords of the Hornsund area, taking in all the towering peaks: Hornsundtind rises 1,431 meters (4,695 feet), and Bautaen is a perfect illustration of why early Dutch explorers named the island Spitsbergen, meaning “pointed mountains.” There are 14 sizable glaciers in this spot as well as opportunities for spotting seals, beluga whales, and polar bears.


Today we’ll continue to Bell Sund, one of the largest fjord systems in Svalbard. The ocean currents make this area slightly warmer than other areas in the archipelago, which leads to relatively lush vegetation. Here there are excellent opportunities to enjoy both history and wildlife.

A possibility is Ahlstrandhalvoya, at the mouth of Van Keulenfjorden, where piles of beluga skeletons can be found. These remains of 19th-century whale slaughter are a sad reminder of unrestrained exploitation. Fortunately, belugas were not hunted into extinction, and we have a good chance of coming across a pod. As an alternative, we might cruise the side fjords of Bellsund, exploring tundra where reindeer like to feed and rock slopes where little auks often nest.

Bellsund Fjord

Every adventure, no matter how great, must eventually come to an end. We disembark in Longyearbyen, taking home memories that will accompany us wherever the next journey lies. But if you’re still craving additional chances to spot polar bears, stay on board for our seven-night North Spitsbergen voyage, “in search of polar bears & pack ice.”

Disembarkation in Longyearbyen

Pricing per person & date

Whale Safari and Bear Island from USD 3,000
Departing Ending Duration
26 May 2023 06 Jun 2023 12






Important Information

  • All cabin accommodation on board vessel
    All meals whilst on board
    Guiding and lectures by experienced expedition crew
    All shore excursions and landings by zodiac 
    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.
    Comprehensive pre-departure material


    Any airfare, whether on scheduled or charter flights
    Pre and Post land arrangements
    Transfers to and from the vessel outside of Spitsbergen 
    Passport and visa expenses
    Travel insurance
    The customary gratuity at the end of the voyages for stewards and other service personnel aboard (guidelines will be provided).

  • 2 (light adventure)
  • Available on request. Please contact us for more information.

  • Please note this itinerary is subject to change depending on weather, ice and sea conditions.

  • Departure date, seasonality and availability. Please note prices are subject to change at the time of booking.



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