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QuarkExpeditions_Spitsbergen Highlights

In the realm of Polar Bear & Ice

See polar bears on this unforgettable expedition cruise aboard the Ortelius Antarctic and Arctic Cruises

Length

8 Days

Ship category

Classic

Ship type

Small Ship

Capacity

108 Passengers

In the realm of Polar Bear & Ice

3 Reviews

Trip highlights

Witness iconic Arctic wildlife

Visit spectacular glaciers and icebergs

Stop at the Seven Islands

Photograph magnificient Arctic seabirds

The Polartours experience

See a polar bear!

Hike on the snow

Your booking contributes to our Conservation Project

Polar experts to answer all your questions

Take part in a unique Arctic experience that few people get to experience in their lifetime, as we venture through the various islands of Spitsbergen. The Arctic will enchant you with its breathtaking scenery, snowy peaks and towering icebergs. Climb a sparkling glacier and enjoy a trip on your Zodiac to photograph the most beautiful polar wildlife. Search for polar bears and make the most of your cruise experience with a wide range of activities available on your Zodiac.

Your ship: Ortelius

Ortelius deck plan

Ortelius has a fascinating history of polar exploration. Originally launched as the “Marina Tsvetaeva” in 1989, she served as a special purpose vessel for the Russian Academy of Science. Later re-flagged and renamed, *Ortelius” is now classed by Lloyd’s Register in London and flies the Dutch flag.

Ortelius is first and foremost a true Antarctic exploration vessel. She has the highest Ice-Class specification (UL1, equivalent to 1A) and is certified to navigate through solid annual sea ice as well as loose multi-year pack ice. In this ship, you can discover the true Antarctic, reaching plac … Read more about Ortelius

Cabins

Twin Window Cabin

Type:

Twins

Max. occupancy:

2

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Quadruple Porthole Cabin

Type:

Quadrupel

Max. occupancy:

4

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Twin Deluxe Cabin

Type:

Twins

Max. occupancy:

2

More about this cabin

Triple Porthole Cabin

Type:

Triple

Max. occupancy:

3

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Superior Cabin

Type:

Matrimonial

Max. occupancy:

2

More about this cabin

Twin Porthole Cabin

Type:

Twins

Max. occupancy:

2

More about this cabin

Map

Itinerary

Keep in mind this is an expedition cruise, so your itinerary will depend greatly on the weather, amount of ice and wildlife breeding behavior.

Svalbard
Before and After Svalbard
Svalbard – Store norske leksikon

Arrival at Longyearbyen

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.

Svalbard
Before and After Svalbard
Svalbard – Store norske leksikon

Ny Alesund

Cruising Isfjorden

Nordfjorden

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.

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. 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).

Svalbard
Before and After Svalbard
Northern Spitsbergen

Woodfjorden

A trip along the northwestern coast of Svalbard is always worth with the wildlife, the scenery, and the history. As far back as the 1600s his part of Svalbard was a huge center for whaling, including "Blubber Town" - with the main target being the oil-rich bowhead whale, the Arctic's only full-time resident baleen whale species.

The "town" of New Ålesund is on the shore of King's Bay ("Kongsfjorden") and well worth a visit. With a summer population of 120 and a hardy winter population of about 35, this is the most northerly permanent civilian settlement in the world. Originally the coal mining town of King's Bay, it played a key role in the history of arctic exploitation and exploration, especially flight.

Today it is at the center of Arctic and atmospheric research, and is one of the most northerly communities in the World. Don't miss the chance to send a postcard from the world's most northerly Post Office.

Svalbard
Before and After Svalbard
Svalbard – Store norske leksikon

North coast - Nordaustlandet

Kvitøya

Storøya

Sjuøyane

Lågøya

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.

English: The bizarre basalt rocks at the western coast of Hinlopen strait host approximately 120,000 Brünnich's guillemot (Uria lomvia) who come here in summer for breeding. Very often the rocks are covered in fog providing an eery atmosphere. The air is filled with a large flock of birds. The birds noise and the smell are overwhelming
Hinlopen Strait, Polartours
Hinlopen Strait, Polartours

Hinlopenstretet

Torrelneset

Austfonna and Bråsvellbreen

Alkefjellet

Hinlopen Strait (or "Hinlopenstretet" in Norwegian) is a narrow channel between Spitsbergen and the Svalbard island of Nordaustlandet, often accessed via Freemansundet. At only 6 miles wide in places, the channel is often filled with pack ice and is impossible to navigate in the early parts of the season.

When ice at the north end of Hinlopenstretet still hinders the complete circumnavigation of Spitsbergen, longer Svalbard cruises will attempt to the explore the mid and southern section of the strait before heading back around the southern end of Spitsbergen. Many expedition leaders are keen to get into the strait that has tow of the highlights in the whole of Svalbard.

The ice cliff of Bråsvellbreen and the bird cliff at Alkefjellet. Both featured in the opening credits of the BBC Frozen Planet series. When it does clear, it opens up the possibility for cruise ships to circumnavigate Spitsbergen and the neighboring island of Nordaustlandet. This is uninhabited, and part of the Svalbard Nature reserve. Heavily glaciated, and with permanent ice cover in parts all year round, it's a beautiful landscape eroded by moving ice over millions of years.

The areas that do melt are classic arctic tundra and are home to roaming herds of reindeer. The shores of Nordaustlandet and north-east Spitsbergen are also used by walrus, and it's a highlight of trips here to observe them hauled out on the beaches.

Svalbard
Before and After Svalbard
Southern Spitsbergen

Whale Watching

Hornsund

Spitsbergen is the largest island in the Svalbard Peninsula, and the only one to have a permanent population.

The southwestern part of Spitsbergen benefits from facing the warmer waters that the Gulf Stream carries into this part of the Greenland Sea. This means that the shores and waters here remain ice-free for much of the year except the coldest winter months. The one area that tends to retain 'fast ice' the longest (sea ice attached to the land) happens to be the most southerly fjord, Hornsund.

As well as a warmer arctic climate than many other places on the same latitude, Spitsbergen benefits from long months of the arctic "midnight sun", when the sun doesn't set at all between the 20th of April and the 22nd of August.

The combination of long daylight hours and a warmer climate means that Spitsbergen is a haven for birdlife with the chance to sail into the heart of this part of the island surrounded by glaciers, offering stunning and rugged vistas, with some amazing geology. There is tendency to try for landings in Bellsund, and combine landings and ship cruising and Zodiac cruises in Hornsund, with some impressive glacial fronts.

Svalbard
Before and After Svalbard
Svalbard – Store norske leksikon

Disembark in Longyearbyen

Isfjorden is the second-largest fjord in Svalbard at 66 miles long. An important anchorage and shelter from the earliest times of human habitation here, most of the largest settlements on Spitsbergen have grown up along its shore. The largest is Longyearbyen, that started as a mining town and is the transport hub for those flying in and out of Svalbard, and the Russian mining town of Barentsburg.

Another key attribute of this fjord is that it very rarely ices up, thanks to the warm current of the Gulf Stream that is able to enter the fjord from the west. This not only makes it attractive to human settlers, but also for the wildlife that can't feed under fast ice.

Zodiac trips over the calm waters are a highlight, exploring the glacier fronts, and landings to explore the tundra and the chance to visit some spectacular bird cliffs. Do bear in mind that many cruise ships spend less time in the fjord (often sailing out the first evening and doing landings and exploration of the are on the last full day).

Therefore, for those that spend some extra time in Longyearbyen, it is highly recommended to spend more time exploring the area around the town, and activities like dog sledging, and also to visit other parts of Isfjorden fjord system, from day tris to camping. If you did not visit it on the cruise (and quite a few chose not to), a real highlight is to visit to the eerie and disused Russian mining town of Pyramiden. It used to be the biggest settlement in Svalbard and it feels like it belongs in Siberia, having the most northerly bust of Lenin in the World!

Dates & Prices

From

Until

Info

Availability

Price

10

Jul

2024

19

Jul

2024

- Bilingual voyage - German & English

2 Spots

Almost full

From

USD 7,708

10

Jul

2024

19

Jul

2024

Bilingual voyage - German & English

2 Spots

Almost full

From

USD 7,708

28

Jul

2024

6

Aug

2024

2 Spots

Almost full

From

USD 7,708

28

Jul

2024

6

Aug

2024

2 Spots

Almost full

From

USD 7,708

3

Jul

2025

12

Jul

2025

Available

From

USD 5,591

3

Jul

2025

12

Jul

2025

Available

From

USD 5,591

12

Jul

2025

21

Jul

2025

Available

From

USD 5,591

12

Jul

2025

21

Jul

2025

Available

From

USD 5,591

21

Jul

2025

30

Jul

2025

Available

From

USD 5,591

21

Jul

2025

30

Jul

2025

Available

From

USD 5,591

30

Jul

2025

8

Aug

2025

Available

From

USD 5,591

30

Jul

2025

8

Aug

2025

Available

From

USD 5,591

Preferred date unavailable? Contact us

Info

Single Cabin Supplement

When booking online, you can choose the option to "Upgrade to single occupancy". This will guarantee you the whole cabin to yourself, for an additional fee. If you don't select this option, then another traveler of the same sex might be placed into the same cabin with you.

What's included

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.

What's not included

Any airfare, whether on scheduled or charter flights

Pre- and post- land arrangements.

Transfers to / from the vessel outside Spitsbergen.

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).

Credit Card charges may apply

A fuel surcharge may apply at a later stage. More info

Reviews

Ian & Julie Grover

Ortelius Antarctic and Arctic Cruises

Classic

Despite not managing the full circumnavigation, we had a a wonderful and memorable trip. Great to see the Polar bears and Walrus, and all the wildlife and amazing scenery. Kayaking amongst the sea ice was amazing, and seeing the glacier calving incredible. We loved the ship and met some great people. The guides were all great too!! (Oceanwide Expeditions)

Henk Vogel

Ortelius Antarctic and Arctic Cruises

Classic

The trip with the Ortelius was planned almost one year ago and we have been looking forward to what we called the Expedition Polar Bear with high expectations. We is the male part of a family of three generations out of the “OPA” dynasty, two 13 year old boys, two 50 year old fathers and one 77 year young granddad called OPA. Each generation with his involvement and interest of the environmental changes at Svalbard. We all enjoyed each minute and each activity of the trip. We liked to sail in the zodiac, to hike on the tundra and to climbe the mountain, to swim between the seals and polar bears , we even liked the experience to cruise during foggy and stormy weather. The expedition was extremely well organized with a first class crew and equipment with much attention to safety. Especially the expedition leader, Ali with her staff, deserves a big compliment by creating a once-in-a-lifetime feeling and an atmosphere of adventure and companionship for all participants in the age from 13 till 77. The trip exceeded our already high expectations. (Copied from Oceanwide Expeditions)

Maurice O'Leary

Ortelius Antarctic and Arctic Cruises

Classic

Having previously travelled to the Antarctic Peninsula, my wife and I wanted to return to more distant parts of this gorgeous and fascinating place. The Ross Sea tour, with its abundance of natural wonders and great historical significance, had the ideal itinerary. I can say that all of our high expectations were met, and often even exceeded. With fortunate weather (especially some well-timed sea-ice breakups) and the diligent efforts of both ship and expedition crews, we had one rare and unforgettable experience after another: the rich wildlife of the Southern Ocean, the huts of the great explorers, a tour of McMurdo Station, and the otherworldly beauty of the continent, especially the shimmering blue of the ice. In our trip planning, we evaluated several tours, and the fact that the Ortelius had helicopters emerged as a compelling argument in its favor. This proved out, especially with a landing in the Taylor Dry Valley, an awe-inspiring experience that is otherwise almost impossible. We can't say enough about the crews. They were genuinely committed to providing the best experience. We immediately came look upon them as friends, colleagues, and mentors. (Copied from Oceanwide Expeditions)

FAQ

When it comes to traveling to Antarctica, one of the first questions that often arises is, "Can I fly to Antarctica?". The answer is: Yes, you can. Most trips start in Patagonia (Ushuaia and Punta Arenas) and cross the Drake Passage by ship, but there are also trips that use planes to cross that infamous sea passage. Here are the Pros and Cons for each method:

Flying to Antarctica:

  • Pros: Flying to Antarctica is the quickest way to reach the continent. It offers convenience and is often the choice for those with very limited time.

  • Cons: There are limited commercial flights to Antarctica, and these are primarily reserved for research and expedition purposes. Tourist accessibility is limited, and it can be costly. Also, as not many trips include flights, you'll be limiting your choice a lot if you decide to only look for such trips.

Crossing the Drake Passage by ship:

  • Pros: If you choose to cross the Drake Passage by ship, you embark on an incredible adventure. This journey is not just a means of transportation; it's an expedition in itself. The crossing takes 1.5 - 2 days, which are filled with scientific lectures that prepare you for the experience. You'll witness diverse wildlife, including penguins and whales, as your anticipation starts building up. To us, the crossing is a quintessential experience of a true Antarctic explorer.

  • Cons: Crossing the Drake Passage takes some time, and the seas can be rough. It's not the quickest way to reach the continent, and you need to allocate more time for your expedition.

In conclusion, when it comes to traveling to Antarctica, you have these two choices. Flying offers efficiency and direct access, perfect for specific purposes. Crossing the Drake Passage by ship provides an unmatched adventure and connection with Antarctica's unique environment. Consider what truly matters to you, and you'll find the Antarctic transportation choice that suits your goals and spirit of exploration.

All cruises in the polar regions operate to itineraries that are more-or-less fixed. We say "more or less", because wildlife (breeding, seasonality) and weather always play an important role in routing. Most cruises will offer a range of land-based and water-based activities that you will enjoy at various points in your cruise, including:

  • Land excursions (including hiking trails, visitor centers, time relaxing on beaches, observing animals, etc.)
  • Bird Watching
  • Snorkeling (from ship or beaches)
  • Dinghy rides
  • Kayaking
  • Diving (on ships with diving itineraries)
  • Naturalist presentations. These usually take place every evening - on board the bigger ships also with help of projectors, microscopes etc.

All boats carry English speaking, scientifically trained guides. They will lead you on your excursions, allowing you to learn as much as possible about the unique wildlife and habitats of the Polar Regions.

Choosing the right ship for a cruise to Antarctica or the Arctic seems difficult, but it doesn't have to be. Our fleet is over 30 vessels, we are sure that there is the perfect one for you. Please, follow these simple steps, and you will be able to find your ideal ship:

  • Determine your budget and desired level of comfort: Are you looking for luxury or more budget-friendly options? On our website you can set the price range.
  • Consider ship size: Large ships offer more amenities and facilities, but they can also feel crowded and impersonal. Smaller ships offer a more personal experience, but may not have as many amenities.
  • Look at the cabins: Although you probably won’t spend much time in your cabin, look at the photos and read the descriptions to make sure you're happy with the one you choose.
  • Consider the activities on board: Are you interested in kayaking, camping, diving or a photography workshop? Or maybe you want to take part in a Citizen Science Program? These activities can enhance your overall experience. See what our ships have to offer.
  • Read customer reviews: Learn about other travelers' experiences by reading reviews.
  • Ask your Polar Specialist: Feel free to contact your Polar Specialist. They are happy to share their knowledge and are always ready to help.

In addition: We work with responsible partners who provide a great experience for their passengers. All of our providers are committed to sustainability and to preserving the beauty of the polar regions. You don’t need to worry about the impact of your cruise, because we’ve already taken care of it.

We love to help people find their dream vacation to the Arctic and Antarctic. Whether you give us a call, contact us via email, or use our website inquiry form, one of our Polar travel experts will be more than happy to answer any questions, recommend ships and itineraries, and walk you through the whole process!

Step 1: Find your perfect trip. If you have already started looking for Polar Cruises, you will have quickly noticed that the sheer amount of options can be quite overwhelming. To help you navigate the countless departures and itineraries that our fleet offers, we have put together a great filter page for Antarctic and Arctic Expedition Cruises. Use this page to filter all trips by price, date, ship category, and even destinations you wish to visit. We update all dates, prices, and availabilities daily, and are proud to host what is doubtlessly the world's most complete collection of information.

Step 2: Found something you love? We'll hold your spaces, free of charge! If you find a cruise you like, you can either inquire directly with us or make an unbinding booking online. We will then reach out to the shipowners to put a hold on your spaces for a limited time, free of charge. Once we have confirmed your block with the ship, we will send you a written confirmation of your reservation and include full payment details in an invoice. Typically, we are able to hold unpaid reservations for up to 1 week*. This gives us time to clarify all your remaining questions, and also ensures that no other passengers can book your spaces, while we continue our conversation.

Step 3: Confirm your booking. In order to confirm your booking, we ask for a deposit payment. You can pay via bank transfer or credit card. Keep in mind, that we can only hold your spaces for a limited amount of time. If we don't receive your payment after this time, we can no longer guarantee that the places will be available or that the price won't increase. To prevent disappointment, we will automatically cancel your reservation if we don't receive your deposit by the due date stated on your booking reservation.

Step 4: Booking confirmation & Payment. As soon as we have received your deposit and a completed passenger information form, we will be pleased to send your booking confirmation and updated invoice, along with your trip itinerary, important information, and other great tips for your cruise.

Step 5: Final payment. In your initial invoice, we will define a final payment date by when you need to pay us the remaining amount of your trip. Once we have received your final payment we'll send you your cruise documents and voucher. As your trip approaches, we make sure to pass along all necessary information, so you feel super prepared and stress-free.

*For last-minute bookings, we might not be able to hold your spaces for so long. We will also require the full payment of your cruise upon booking.

An expedition cruise to Antarctica or the Arctic is a big deal! Most people plan for this type of trip at least 8 months in advance. This means the earlier you book, the better chance you'll have to reserve your prefered cabins. Early bird discounts are also popular and a great way to get 10-30% off your cruise.

Most expedition cruises offer optional activities like camping and kayaking, but the spaces are limited. A cruise with 120 passengers can have only 10-15 spaces for kayaking. These are reserved on a first come first served basis. The earlier you book, the higher your chance of grabbing a spot.

Even though last minute deals do occur, keep in mind that the airline prices will be much higher if you purchase them last minute. You may save a few hundred on your cruise, but you may end up paying the most for airfare.

If you are prone to motion sickness then here are a few hints to help you.

Firstly, book a cabin in the middle of the ship. The middle of the ship will move less, both in roll and in pitch. Secondly, chose a larger ship. Bigger vessels typically are more stable, and some of them are even equipped with "stabilizers", fins under water that remove the rolling in the swells. Thirdly, take medical advice on anti-seasickness medication. Some traditional remedies are said to be very effective, such as taking ginger or using commercially-available acupressure wristbands.

Watch this informative video about life onboard an expedition ship and seasickness from our expert guide and Polartours Brand Ambassador, Kevin.

Life Onboard & Seasickness
In the realm of Polar Bear & Ice

5.0

(3)

Classic

From

USD 5,591




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