Around Spitsbergen, In the realm of Polar Bear & Ice - 10 Days

Aboard Plancius – 108 passengers

Take a cruise around Spitsbergen and explore the icy waters of the North Atlantic. This special expedition offers you the chance to catch sight of whales, reindeer, Arctic foxes, walruses, seals, and the star attraction, the polar bear.

The chances that we can complete a full Spitsbergen circumnavigation (based on our experiences from 1992 – 2019) are about 30% in the first half of July, 70% in the second half, 90% in the first half of August, and 95% in the second half. In case we cannot complete a full circumnavigation, we may devise a program in northeast or southeast Spitsbergen.

Tour Dates

Itinerary

Day 1: Embarkation in Longyearbyen, Norway
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 plants 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.

Day 2: Cruising Krossfjorden
Heading north along the west coast, you arrive by morning in Krossfjorden. Here you might board the Zodiacs for a cruise near the towering blue-white face of the Fourteenth of July Glacier. On the green slopes near the glacier, colorful flowers bloom while flocks of kittiwakes and Brünnich’s guillemots nest on the cliffs. You have a good chance of spotting an Arctic fox scouting for fallen chicks, or a bearded seal paddling through the fjord.

In the afternoon you sail to Ny Ålesund, the northernmost settlement on Earth. Once a mining village served by the world’s most northerly railway – you can still see its tracks – Ny Ålesund is now a research center. Close to the community is a breeding ground for barnacle geese, pink-footed geese, and Arctic terns. And if you’re interested in the history of Arctic exploration, visit the anchoring mast used by polar explorers Amundsen and Nobile in their airships, Norge (1926) and Italia (1928).

Day 3: The massive Monaco Glacier
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.

Day 4-5: Stop at the Seven Islands
The northernmost point of your voyage may be north of Nordaustlandet, in the Seven Islands. Here you reach 80° north, just 870 km (540 miles) from the geographic North Pole. Polar bears inhabit this region, so the ship may park for several hours among the pack ice before wheeling around west again.

When the edge of this sea ice is tens of miles north of the Seven Islands (mostly in August), you can spend a second day in this area. Alternatively (mostly in July) you may turn to Sorgfjord, where you have the chance to find a herd of walruses not far from the graves of 17th-century whalers. A nature walk here can bring you close to families of ptarmigans, and the opposite side of the fjord is also a beautiful area for an excursion.

Day 6: Highlights of Hinlopen
Today you sail into Hinlopen Strait, home to bearded and ringed seals as well as polar bears. At the entrance there is even the possibility to spot blue whales. As with Liefdefjorden, you can take an alternate west Spitsbergen route if ice prevents entry into Hinlopen. After cruising among the ice floes of Lomfjordshalvøya in the Zodiacs, you then view the bird cliffs of Alkefjellet with their thousands of Brünnich’s guillemots. On the east side of Hinlopen Strait, you may attempt a landing where reindeer, pink-footed geese, and walruses are likely sights. Near Torrelneset you can also visit the polar desert of Nordaustlandet, next to the world’s third-largest ice cap. Here you may encounter walruses during a coastline hike over the area’s raised beaches.

Day 7: Barentsøya’s many bounties
The plan is to make landings in Freemansundet, though polar bears sometimes make this impossible. Potential stops on Barentsøya include Sundneset (for an old trapper’s hut), Kapp Waldburg (for its kittiwake colony), and Rindedalen (for a walk across the tundra). You might also cruise south to Diskobukta, though Kapp Lee is more likely your destination. On Kapp Lee is a walrus haul-out, Pomor ruins, and the chance for hikes along Edgeøya.

Day 8: Land of the Pointed Mountains
You start the day by cruising the side fjords of the Hornsund area of southern Spitsbergen, taking in the spire-like peaks: Hornsundtind rises 1,431 meters (4,695 feet), and Bautaen is a perfect illustration of why early Dutch explorers named this island Spitsbergen, meaning “pointed mountains.” There are 14 sizable glaciers in this area as well as opportunities for spotting seals, beluga whales, and polar bears.

Day 9: Bell Sund’s flora, fauna, and haunting history
Today you find yourself in 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 shows in the relatively lush vegetation. Here there are excellent opportunities to enjoy both history and wildlife.

A possibility is Ahlstrandhalvøya, at the mouth of Van Keulenfjorden, where piles of beluga skeletons can be found. These remains of 19th-century whale slaughter are a haunting reminder of the consequences of rampant exploitation. Fortunately, belugas were not hunted into extinction, and you have a good chance of coming across a pod.

Alternately, while cruising the side fjords of Bellsund, you can explore tundra where reindeer like to feed as well as rock slopes where little auks are breeding.

Day 10: Disembarkation in Longyearbyen
Every adventure, no matter how grand, must eventually come to an end. You disembark in Longyearbyen, taking home memories that will accompany you wherever your next adventure lies.

PLEASE NOTE: All itineraries are for guidance only. Programs may vary depending on ice, weather, and wildlife conditions. Landings are subject to site availabilities, permissions, and environmental concerns per AECO regulations. Official sailing plans and landing slots are scheduled with AECO prior to the start of the season, but the expedition leader determines the final plan. Flexibility is paramount for expedition cruises. The average cruising speed of our vessel is 10.5 knots.

Route Map

Trips and Rates

Please note, rates are Per Person in USD
Quad Porthole
$5,650
Limited
Triple Porthole
$7,000
Full
Twin Porthole
$8,200
 
Twin Window
$8,850
 
Twin Deluxe
$9,500
Limited
Superior
$10,650
 
Quad Porthole
$5,650
 
Triple Porthole
$7,000
Full
Twin Porthole
$8,200
Limited
Twin Window
$8,850
 
Twin Deluxe
$9,500
Limited
Superior
$10,650
 
Quad Porthole
$5,650
 
Triple Porthole
$7,000
Full
Twin Porthole
$8,200
Limited
Twin Window
$8,850
 
Twin Deluxe
$9,500
Limited
Superior
$10,650
 
Quad Porthole
$5,400
Limited
Triple Porthole
$6,550
Limited
Twin Porthole
$7,700
Limited
Twin Window
$8,300
Limited
Twin Deluxe
$9,000
Full
Superior
$10,000
Limited
Quad Porthole
$5,400
Limited
Triple Porthole
$6,550
Full
Twin Porthole
$7,700
 
Twin Window
$8,300
 
Twin Deluxe
$9,000
Full
Superior
$10,000
 
Quad Porthole
$5,400
Limited
Triple Porthole
$6,550
Full
Twin Porthole
$7,700
Limited
Twin Window
$8,300
 
Twin Deluxe
$9,000
Full
Superior
$10,000
 

Single Travelers:

  • Can book into a share cabin in Quad – Twin Deluxe
  • Can book a twin cabin at solo occupancy at 1.7x the per person share price

Single Travelers:

  • Can book into a share cabin in Quad – Twin Deluxe
  • Can book a twin cabin at solo occupancy at 1.7x the per person share price

Adventure Options:

  • Kayaking (full program, multiple paddles): $560/person – requires experience
  • Camping: $225/person for 2024-25 season & $250/person for 2025-26 season
  • On Basecamp departures all activities are free

Availability & prices are subject to change at anytime. Please contact us for the real time availability & prices.

Cabin Descriptions

Superior

The Superior cabins are the most spacious and the only cabin category with a double bed. They are located on deck 4, 5 & 6, with most being on deck 5 & 6 (there is just 1 superior on deck 4). Features: 2 windows, 1 double bed, 1 sofa bed, Private shower & toilet, Desk & chair, Flatscreen TV, Telephone & WiFi (supplemented), Refrigerator, Coffee & tea maker, Hair dryer, Safe deposit box and Ample storage space. 

226 – 248 square feet / 21 – 23 square meters.

Plancius twin deluxe

Twin Deluxe

There are just 2 Twin Deluxe cabins located towards the aft of deck 4. They are corner cabins and are slightly more spacious than the Twin Porthole/Window cabins. Features: 2 windows, 2 lower berths, Private shower & toilet, Desk & chair, Flatscreen TV, Telephone & WiFi (supplemented), Hair dryer, Ample storage space and Safe deposit box. 

145 square feet / 13.5 square meters

Plancius twin window

Twin Window

The most abundant cabin category on the ship, all located on deck 4. Features: 1 window, 2 lower berths, Private shower & toilet, Desk & chair, Flatscreen TV, Telephone & WiFi (supplemented), Hair dryer, Safe deposit box and Ample storage space. 

135 – 145 square feet / 12.5 – 13.5 square meters

Plancius twin porthole

Twin Porthole

The nine Twin Porthole cabins are located on deck 3. Features: 1 porthole, 2 lower berths, Private shower & toilet, Desk & chair, Flatscreen TV, Telephone & WiFi (supplemented), Hair dryer, Safe deposit box and Ample storage space. 

129 square feet / 12 square meters

Plancius triple porthole

Triple Porthole

Just 1 Triple cabin located on deck 2. This cabin is suitable for families traveling with children, or passengers who do not require a twin or more luxurious cabin. Features: 1 porthole, 1 upper berth & 2 lower berths, Private shower & toilet, Desk & chair, Flatscreen TV, Telephone & WiFi (supplemented), Hair dryer, Safe deposit box and Ample storage space.

Plancius quad porthole

Quad Porthole

There are 4 Quad cabins on deck 2. This cabin is suitable for families traveling with children, or passengers who do not require a twin or more luxurious cabin. Features: 1 porthole, 2 upper berths & 2 lower berths, Private shower & toilet, Desk & chair, Flatscreen TV, Telephone & WiFi (supplemented), Hair dryer, Safe deposit box and Ample storage space. 

129 square feet / 12 square meters

Deck Plan

Inclusions & Exclusions

Inclusions: 

  • Voyage aboard the indicated vessel as indicated in the itinerary
  • All meals throughout the voyage aboard 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 only for those passengers on the group flights to and from Longyearbyen.
  • All miscellaneous service taxes and port charges throughout the programme.
  • AECO fees and governmental taxes.
  • Comprehensive pre-departure material.
 

Exclusions: 

  • Any airfare, whether on scheduled or charter flights
  • Pre- and post- land arrangements.
  • Passport and visa expenses.
  • Government arrival and departure taxes.
  • Meals ashore.
  • Baggage, cancellation and personal insurance (which is strongly recommended).
  • Excess baggage charges and all 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).