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North Spitsbergen Explorer - Polar Bears, Bowhead Whales & more

Sail and spot the arctic wildlife of Northern Europe aboard the Hondius


8 Days

Ship category


Ship type

Large Ship


170 Passengers

North Spitsbergen Explorer - Polar Bears & Whales

9 Reviews

Trip highlights

Witness iconic Arctic wildlife

Observe breathtaking glaciers

Explore Spitsbergen like few travelers do

Spot seals, walruses & whales in their natural habitats

The Polartours experience

Best price guaranteed

Observe a polar bear!

Your booking contributes to our Conservation Project

Polar experts to answer all your questions

This expedition focuses on the versatility of north Spitsbergen's visually stunning landscapes, vast spans of sea ice, and the many opportunities to spot wildlife like whales, polar bears, seabirds, and walruses.

Become a North Spitsbergen expert on this exploration cruise in the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard. The Arctic will enchant you with its breathtaking scenery, snow-capped peaks and immense icebergs. Make the most of your trip aboard your Zodiac and venture to some of the most remote islands on the planet. See the beauty of Arctic wildlife up close and be the lucky person to see a polar bear in its natural habitat!

Your ship: Hondius

Hondius deck plan

We are proud to welcome you aboard Hondius, the world's first Polar Class 6 vessel. Purpose-built for demanding Antarctic exploration, Hondius meets the latest and highest Lloyd’s Register standards for ice-strengthened cruise ships.

Built to exceed the Polar Code requirements adopted by the International Maritime Organization (IMO), Hondius is the most flexible, advanced, innovative Antarctic cruise vessel currently operating. Her modern design allows you to enjoy genuine exploration that will bring you closer to the real Antarctic than ever before.

Huge expense and technical skill ha … Read more about Hondius


Twin Porthole Cabin



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Junior Suite



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Triple Porthole Cabin



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Twin Deluxe Cabin



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Quadruple Porthole Cabin



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Twin Window Cabin



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Grand Suite with Private Balcony



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Superior Cabin



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

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. In the evening you sail for Trygghamna, where you see the remains of a 17th-century English whaling station and 18th-century Pomor hunting station, both of which you can visit the next morning.

Rembrandt van Rijn _ North Spitsbergen, Arctic Summer
Rembrandt van Rijn _ North Spitsbergen, Arctic Summer
Rembrandt van Rijn _ North Spitsbergen, Arctic Summer



North coast - Nordaustlandet

Alkhornet and Trygghamna


This journey will lead you into the icy expanse and along the secluded shores of the rugged northern Spitsbergen. Our possible destinations include:


Located on Spitsbergen's northern coast, Raudfjord boasts expansive waters filled with glaciers, often visited by ringed and bearded seals. Its cliffs and shores are alive with vibrant seabird colonies, lush vegetation, and the potential sighting of polar bears. We'll attempt landings at Alicehamna or Buchananhalvøya.

Monaco Glacier

Weather and sea ice permitting, we may navigate into Liefdefjorden, landing at Texas Bar and cruising near the impressive 5-kilometer (3.1-mile) face of Monaco Glacier. These waters are prime feeding grounds for thousands of kittiwakes and a favored hunting area for polar bears. If early-season ice conditions prevent this, we may explore the western coast of Spitsbergen.

Highlights of Hinlopen

Our aim is to sail through Hinlopen Strait, inhabited by bearded seals, ringed seals, and polar bears. At the strait's entrance, blue whales may even be spotted. Cruising among Lomfjord's ice floes in Zodiacs offers views of Alkefjellet's bird cliffs, teeming with Brünnich’s guillemots. On the eastern side of Hinlopen Strait, we may land on Nordaustlandet, home to reindeer, pink-footed geese, and walruses. If ice blocks our entry, we'll take an alternate route.

The Seven Islands

The voyage’s northernmost point could be north of Nordaustlandet at Chermsideøya or Phippsøya in the Seven Islands. Here, we might reach 80° north, a mere 870 km (540 miles) from the North Pole. Polar bears are common in this area, so the ship may linger among the pack ice before turning westward.

Sailing the Continental Shelf

As we retrace our path west, keep an eye out for polar bears and elusive Greenland (bowhead) whales. Approximately 40 nautical miles west of Spitsbergen, we sail along the continental shelf's edge. Fin whales forage here during the summer in nutrient-rich upwelling zones along the Spitsbergen banks. Minke whale sightings are also possible near the mouth of Kongsfjorden.

Forlandsundet, St. Johns Fjord, or Alkhornet

Walruses often haul out at Sarstangen or Poolepynten in Forlandsundet. Alternatively, we might sail into St. Johns Fjord or head south to Isfjorden’s mouth, landing at Alkhornet. Seabirds nest on these cliffs, Arctic foxes scavenge for eggs and chicks, and reindeer graze on the sparse vegetation.

Before and After Svalbard
Svalbard – Store norske leksikon

Disembark in Longyearbyen

You disembark in Longyearbyen, taking home memories that will accompany you wherever your next adventure lies .


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 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.

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


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Hondius Antarctic and Arctic Cruises


The trip of a lifetime. The ship and it's crew were wonderful and we all became one big happy family on a joyous adventure. This trip was worth the wait and all the extra testing and paperwork due to Covid-19 restrictions. The ship was the perfect size and well appointed. Excursions and lectures were well orchestrated and fun. The meals were well prepared and there was always plenty of choices for even the pickiest of diners. Getting to know the other intrepid travelers on this journey really helped to make this a truly unforgettable experience. The only question now is .. where to next? (Copied from Oceanwide Expeditions)

Pedro José Cermeño Parra

Hondius Antarctic and Arctic Cruises


Great trip, the best landscape I have ever seen and kayaking was really amazing! (Copied from Oceanwide Expeditions)

Claire Torrey

Hondius Antarctic and Arctic Cruises


We had an amazing experience in the Antarctic Peninsula aboard the Hondius. The Expedition Team, led by the wonderful Sara, worked to make sure that we encountered wildlife up close as much as possible. The team was comprised of friendly people with varied backgrounds and knowledge and a passion for their work. They're enthusiasm and professionalism really made the trip extra special. The ship was beautiful, spacious, clean, and the crew was very attentive. The food was wonderful and plentiful, even for vegetarians. I highly recommend Oceanwide Expediitions and we plan to take future trips to the Arctic and Alaska. (Copied from Oceanwide Expeditions)


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
North Spitsbergen Explorer - Polar Bears & Whales





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