Spitsbergen In Depth: Big Islands, Big Adventure
Discover Spitsbergen in the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard aboard the Ocean Adventurer Arctic and Antarctic Cruises
Spitsbergen In Depth: Big Islands, Big Adventure
Witness iconic Arctic wildlife
Explore Spitsbergen like few travelers do
Observe a polar bear!
Breathtaking views at the birdwatching utopias 14th of July Glacier and Alkefjellet
The Polartours experience
Hike up a sparkling glacier
Experience the chill of a polar plunge
Your trip is 100% carbon offset
Learn from Polar experts
Become a Spitsbergen expert with this in-depth exploration expedition cruise in the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard. The Arctic will enchant you with its breathtaking scenery, snow-capped peaks and immense icebergs. Climb a sparkling glacier, experience the cold of a polar plunge and make the most of your trip aboard your Zodiac as you venture to some of the most remote islands on the planet. If conditions permit, your captain will attempt a complete circumnavigation of the archipelago, including a visit to the remote and uninhabited Arctic desert of Nordaustlandet.
We compensate all 4.37 tons of CO2 that this trip will cause.
Your ship: Ocean Adventurer
The Ocean Adventurer is a comfortable vessel with spacious cabins. All cabins have private bathroom facilities and exterior views. This vessel is designed to carry travelers in comfort to the most remote corners of the world. Ocean Adventurer was built in 1976 and underwent extensive upgrades in 2017. This multi-million dollar investment included renovations to the interior of the ship, significant technical upgrades, and the addition of a new cabin category, the Owner’s Suites. The refurbishment included new bathrooms in every cabin and upgrades to the lounge, dining room, gym, and suites.
Open Bridge Policy
Food & Drinks
There is one dining room located on the Upper Deck. While mealtimes may change due to landings and wildlife encounters, you’ll always be served three delicious meals a day.
Breakfasts and lunches are normally served buffet-style, while dinners are served plated. À la carte meals are made at the time of your order, allowing the chefs to prepare each dish to your individual needs. Working in a small kitchen, the chefs are able to monitor and control the quality of food being served, ensuring you receive top-quality meals during the course of your expedition.
An assortment of freshly baked cookies and/or pastries are offered each afternoon. There is also a selection of hot and cold snacks available in the lounge during cocktail hour, expedition activities permitting.
Keep in mind this is an expedition cruise, so your itinerary will depend greatly on the weather, amount of ice and wildlife breeding behavior.
Adventure options during the cruise
Arrive in Oslo, Norway, and start your adventure!
Your Arctic voyage begins in Oslo, Norway’s vibrant capital city. If you arrive early, there are many museums, restaurants and green spaces to keep you busy before retiring at your included airport hotel.
Fly to Longyearbyen, and embark you new home
Explore the North of Spitsbergen
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.
Sail to the North East
If you can venture this far north and east, you're very much in the high arctic. Closed to exploration for parts of the season due to the density of the pack ice, that often lingers here, the northern and north east areas of the Svalbard archipelago are some of the least visited.
Here the terrain gives way to the so-called "polar desert" - permanent ice caps cover much of the land, and where it does melt, very little vegetation grows on a landscape that has been hewn by ice over millions of years.
Despite the lack of cover, this part of Svalbard is well-worth exploring if you can, as there is plenty of remarkable wildlife. Arctic ducks and geese nest here, and some of the biggest concentrations of walrus in the arctic gather on the shores. Polar bears and ringed seals are also common sights, as are minke and beluga whales.
The group of islands known as Sjuøyane are the most northerly in Svalbard and always a good location for Polar Bears.
Later in the season ships often head up to the pack ice edge from the north coast of Spitsbergen.
Sail south and explore the South East
The southeastern part of the Svalbard archipelago is "warmed" by the gulf stream. Although this doesn't make much difference to the air temperature, it does mean that the area is free of sea ice for much of the season. This region is made up of the south-east coast of Spitsbergen and the islands of Barentsøya ("Barents Island") and Edgeøya ("Edge Island").
A key highlight of this part of the Spitsbergen coast is the astonishing Negribreen Glacier. This has the longest glacial front of any other on Svalbard with over 10 miles (16km) of ice meeting the sea. It's a stunning sight from the water.
Barentsøya and Edgeøya form part of the Søraust-Svalbard Nature Reserve. Popular with polar bears, innumerable bird species, and grazing reindeer, these islands provide some of the wildlife highlights of your visit to Svalbard. Although now uninhabited, the islands have some fascinating sites of human history, including the remains of huts used by Norwegian polar bear hunters, and sites used by some of the ancient peoples who made visits here.
The SW side of Edgeøya has some very good tundra with numerous pools and lakes that attracts various birds.
Explore the South West of Spitsbergen before heading back towards Longyearbyen
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.
Disembark in Longyearbyen and Fly to Oslo
Dates & Prices
Preferred date unavailable? Contact us
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.
Leadership throughout the voyage by our experienced Expedition Leaders
All Zodiac transfers and cruising per the daily program
Shipboard accommodation with daily housekeeping
All shore landings per the daily program
All meals, snacks, soft drinks and juices on board throughout your voyage (Please inform us of any dietary requirements as far in advance as possible. Unfortunately, the ships’ galleys cannot prepare kosher meals.)
Select beer and wine during dinner; and coffee, tea and cocoa available around the clock
Formal and informal presentations by our Expedition Team and special guests as scheduled
A photographic journal documenting the expedition
A pair of waterproof expedition boots on loan for landings and Zodiac cruising excursions
An official Quark Expeditions® parka to keep
Hair dryer and bathrobes in every cabin
All miscellaneous service taxes and port charges throughout the program
All luggage handling aboard the ship
Emergency Evacuation insurance for all passengers to a maximum benefit of USD $500,000 per person
Transfers between Longyearbyen town center and port on embarkation and disembarkation day
What's not included
Mandatory Transfer Package of $995 USD (your polar Travel specialist will provide you with all the information about this package)
Arrival and departure transfers in Oslo
Passport and visa expenses
Government arrival and departure taxes not mentioned above
Meals ashore unless otherwise specified
Baggage, cancellation, interruption and medical travel insurance—strongly recommended
Excess-baggage fees on international flights
Mandatory waterproof pants for Zodiac cruising, or any other gear not mentioned
Laundry, bar and other personal charges unless specified
Phone and Internet charges (connectivity may vary by location)
Voluntary gratuity at the end of the voyage for shipboard staff and crew
Additional overnight accommodation
Adventure Options not listed in Included Activities
Should I Cross the Drake Passage by Ship or Fly to Antarctica?
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.
What activities can I expect on a Polar Cruise?
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
- 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.
How to choose the right ship?
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.
What is the booking process for a Polartours Cruise?
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.
When is the best time to book?
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.
What can i do to avoid seasickness?
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.
Spitsbergen In Depth: Big Islands, Big Adventure
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