Explore Svalbard and the northern reaches of this dramatic archipelago onboard the newly built M/V Hondius. Get up close to Polar Bears, icebergs and other wildlife this last frontier presents. Sail through spectacular fjords and sea ice with some of the longest daylight hours on Earth. Start and finish this voyage with a visit to Longyearbyen, the worlds northernmost settlement with more than 1,000 residents.
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.
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. In the evening you sail by the island of Moffen, where you can find a large herd of walruses.
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.
You next sail through Beverleysundet, formerly navigated by the Swedish-Russian Arc-of-Meridian Expedition in 1898. From here you push east along Scoresby Island into Rijpfjord, where the German Wehrmacht operated the weather station Haudegen (now off-limits) until September 1945. The aim in Zorgdragerfjord is to have one group walk the eastern shore while another walks the north side of Arkvatnet, through Havsuldalen to the entrance of Duvefjorden.
Reaching Phippsøya, in the Seven Islands north of Nordaustlandet, you’re now at 80° north and just 870 km (540 miles) from the geographic North Pole. Polar bears and walruses inhabit this region. In the afternoon you venture to your northernmost point, near the 82nd parallel. 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.
Walruses sometimes haul out in Forlandsundet, your next stop – though this late in the season, they may have already departed. Alternately, 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 that night.
7 nights aboard the M/V Hondius
All meals whilst onboard 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
All service and governmental taxes, port charges and fees for the duration of the voyage
Comprehensive pre-departure material.
Domestic return flights from Oslo to Longyarbyen
Any Pre- and post- land arrangements.
Government arrival and departure taxes.
Meals whilst ashore.
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).