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In Search of Polar Bears

In Search of Polar Bears

This 8-day expedition cruise will take you sailing around North Spitsbergen in the Arctic Svalbard Islands. Located between mainland Norway and the North Pole, the Svalbard Islands are the best location for viewing these beautiful and powerful predators. Watch the changing landscape, including rugged mountains, sweeping tundra, glaciers, and polar ice caps, as you enter the realm of the polar bear.

Itinerary & Adventure Highlights

Day 1: Longyearbyen

Your expedition will begin in Longyearbyen, one of the most northern towns on earth, and the largest town of the Svalbard Islands. Longyearbyen is accessible via flights from either Oslo or Tromso, Norway.

Board the M/V Ortelius, an ice-strengthened polar vessel that accommodates guests in a total of 52 cabins. Ortelius carries 10 zodiacs for the off-ship wildlife expeditions offered twice a day. Departure is just before dinner tonight, and you might spot your first minke whale of your voyage!

 

Day 2: Route to Raudfjorden

Today is a day at sea, as you head for Raudfjorden, a massive fjord on Spitsbergen Island’s north coast where glaciers abound. The fjord’s high cliffs and shoreline support seabird colonies, and wildlife such as ringed and bearded seals, and possibly even polar bears, could make an appearance.

Day 3: The Massive Monaco Glacier

Weather permitting, today’s highlight includes viewing the three-mile-long face of the Monaco Glacier in Liefdefjorden. The base of the glacier is a popular spot for polar bears to hunt, and the surrounding waters are a favorite feeding spot for thousands of kittiwakes.

Day 4: Highlights of Hinlopen

Today you will sail into Hinlopen Strait, a stunning location for wildlife viewing, including bearded seals, ringed seals, polar bears, and blue whales. You will board zodiacs and cruise the ice floes of Lomfjordshalvøya, and view the bird cliffs of Alkefjellet. If conditions cooperate, attempt a landing on Nordaustlandet to spot reindeer, pink-footed geese and walruses!

Day 5: Stop at the Seven Islands

Our location today reaches 80 degrees north, just over 500 miles from the geographic North Pole. This is the Seven Islands, prime polar bear country! You may enjoy several hours in this remote setting before heading west.

Day 6: Sailing the Continental Shelf

Watch for polar bears and Greenland whales while sailing west today. You’ll skim the edge of the continental shelf, approximately 40 nautical miles west of Spitsbergen. Fin whales forage in this area during the summer months, and minke whales may be spotted as you approach the mouth of Kongsfjorden.

Day 7: Reindeer, foxes and seabirds… Oh My!

As you sail toward Longyearbyen today, you may have the opportunity to view walruses at Forlandsundet, or possibly route to Alkhornet to view seabirds nesting high on the cliffs, arctic foxes scavenging for fallen eggs and chicks, and reindeer grazing the sparse vegetation. After a day filled with astonishing wildlife, arrive back in Lonyearbyen later tonight.

Day 8: Disembark in Longyearbyen

Disembark Ortelius this morning, and either continue your journey or return home with memories to last a lifetime.

NOTE:  The Arctic season begins toward the end of April and ends in late September, and while this specific itinerary only operates from late May to early July, there are other itineraries operating throughout the season. Should you choose to travel in the early months (April and May), you will encounter lots of snow and ice, and most of your excursions will be spent onboard the zodiacs. If you choose to travel later (July and August) after the snow and ice has melted some, you will have more opportunities for landings and exploring the tundra on foot. Every trip is a unique adventure!


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