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Polar Bears near the North Pole

Spitsbergen Photography: In Search of Polar Bears

See polar bears on this 2-week expedition cruise aboard the Ultramarine Arctic and Antarctic Cruises

Length

14 Days

Ship category

Luxury

Ship type

Large Ship

Capacity

199 Passengers

Spitsbergen Photography: In Search of Polar Bears

5 Reviews

Trip highlights

Experience amazing wildlife

Explore Spitsbergen like few travelers do

Spot the polar bears

Photograph magnificient Arctic seabirds

The Polartours experience

Hike up a sparkling glacier

Experience the chill of a polar plunge

Your trip is 100% carbon offset

Polar experts to answer all your questions

Retrace the steps of thousands of past explorers over fourteen days on this expedition cruise along the coast of Spitsbergen, the largest island of the Svalbard archipelago. The Arctic will enchant you with its breathtaking scenery, snow-capped peaks and towering icebergs. Climb a sparkling glacier, experience the cold of a polar plunge and make the most of your trip aboard your Zodiac to photograph the most beautiful polar wildlife.

Your ship: Ultramarine

Ultramarine
Ultramarine Deck Plan
Ultramarine

Welcome aboard the Ultramarine! One of the newest cruise ships in the Polar fleet, Ultramarine was designed to go beyond the familiar in polar exploration - to discover new places and immerse you in the best of the region. Equipped with two twin-engine helicopters, it offers robust adventure activities. It features the category’s most spacious suites, breathtaking public spaces, and more outdoor wildlife viewing spaces than other expedition ships of its size. It also features a best-in-class operational range and an innovative mix of sustainability features that exceed all industry standards. … Read more about Ultramarine

Cabins

Ultramarine explorer suite
Explorer Suite

Type:

Double/Matrimionial (convertible)

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Ultramarine ultra suite
Ultra Suite

Type:

Double/Matrimionial (convertible)

Max. occupancy:

2

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Ultramarine owners suite
Owner's Suite

Type:

Double/Matrimionial (convertible)

Max. occupancy:

2

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Ultramarine deluxe balcony
Deluxe Balcony Suite

Type:

Double/Matrimionial (convertible)

Max. occupancy:

2

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Ultramarine explorer triple
Explorer Triple Cabin

Type:

Triple

Max. occupancy:

3

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Ultramarine balcony suite
Balcony Suite

Type:

Double/Matrimionial (convertible)

Max. occupancy:

2

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Ultramarine penthouse
Penthouse Suite

Type:

Double/Matrimionial (convertible)

Max. occupancy:

2

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Ultramarine solo panorama
Solo Panorama Cabin

Type:

Single

Max. occupancy:

1

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Ultramarine terrace suite
Terrace Suite

Type:

Double/Matrimionial (convertible)

Max. occupancy:

2

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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.

Paddling Excursion

0 Days

Paddling Excursion

Please note that depending on the ship, length of your cruise, and the itinerary, this price may vary. Inquire with your Polar Specialist. Enjoy being out on Polar waters on a two-person inflatable kayak, which enables you to enjoy a more intimate sailing experience in an unforgettable location. The kayaks are stable and comfortable, the perfect vehicle to see the Polar regions from a different perspective. This is a one-time activity, and no prior experience is necessary. IMPORTANT: This activity is dependent on weather conditions and logistics.

Price on request

Sea-Kayaking-What-To-Wear-In-Antarctica

0 Days

Sea Kayaking

Embark on an exhilarating sea kayaking adventure in some of the world's most magnificent and biodiverse wilderness areas, including Antarctica and the Arctic. Take in the breathtaking scenery as you navigate through ice and icebergs of all shapes and sizes. In Antarctica, spend unforgettable moments with penguins, seals and whales, and keep an eye out for the occasional encounter with leopard seals or killer whales. In the Arctic, paddle through bird colonies, past massive glaciers and around huge icebergs. Led by experienced guides, you will join a small group of like-minded adventurers to explore the picturesque coastlines of these wild and remote destinations. Paddling offers an intimate and unique way to experience the beauty of these regions and make the most of your time there. Important: This activity is subject to weather conditions and logistics.

Price on request

Helsinki
Helsinki
Helsinki

Your Arctic adventure begins in Helsinki, renowned for its extraordinary architecture and intriguing mix of eastern and western influences. If you arrive early, explore the many museums, galleries and restaurants, relax at a Finnish sauna or wander the vibrant Design District before retiring at your included hotel.

Svalbard
Before and After Svalbard
Svalbard – Store norske leksikon

Arrival at Longyearbyen

This morning, the group will transfer to the airport and board our private charter flight to Longyearbyen.

Svalbard
Before and After Svalbard
Northern Spitsbergen

Kongsvegen and Kongsbreen

Ny London

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

Exploring the pack ice

Kvitøya

North coast - Nordaustlandet

Sjuøyane

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.

Spitsbergen
Rembrandt van Rijn _ North Spitsbergen, Arctic Summer
QuarkExpeditions_ Spitsbergen Photography: In Search of Polar Bears

Kapp Lee

Haleysundet

Negribreen

Diskobukta

Freemansundet

Russebukta

Storfjorden

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.

Svalbard
Before and After Svalbard
Southern Spitsbergen

Gåshamna

Whale Watching

Gnålodden

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

Your adventure ends in the frontier style settlement of Longyearbyen. From here, we’ll transfer you to the airport for your return group charter flight to Helsinki, included in the transfer package.

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

Leadership throughout your voyage by our experienced Expedition Leaders, including shore landings and other activities

All Zodiac transfers and cruising as per the daily program

All shore landings as per the daily program

Shipboard accommodation with daily housekeeping

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 guest speakers 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)

International airfare

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

Credit Card charges may apply

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

Reviews

Majestic Face of Ice from an Iceberg in Torssukatak

Richard

Ultramarine Arctic and Antarctic Cruises

Luxury

Possibly the best was the Walrus colony onshore. Life altering was realising the lagoon we were anchored in was 10 years ago a glacier (Copied from Swoop Arctic)

QuarkExpeditions_ Spitsbergen Photography: In Search of Polar Bears

Shari

Ultramarine Arctic and Antarctic Cruises

Luxury

Beautiful ship, though my cabin did have an weird odour issue. Dinner at night not fantastic. I felt it had been prepared way too early and had been sitting there and heated at the time . Though I could be wrong . My favourite meal was lunch due to fresh salads (copied from Swoop Arctic)

Quark Expeditions - Weddell Seal

Mlmgallant

Ultramarine Arctic and Antarctic Cruises

Luxury

That Quark only does the Arctic regions and that they have a brand new state of the art ship, the Ultramarine, made the choice of expedition cruise line easy. Additionally, the itinerary of following the epic expedition of Sir Ernest Shackleton I knew would be very special. Quark exceeded my expectations in every way. The ship’s physical spaces were well designed and comfortable. My penthouse suite had more storage than we needed. Heated bathroom floors, en suite Nespresso machine and the option of room service dining was 5 star! The crew was well trained and gracious. The expedition leaders were outstanding. Shout out to the leader, Solan . The captain made frequent adjustments to maximize our experience. Fitness facilities were very nice. A fully equipped gym, sauna and spa…all with floor to ceiling windows. Finally, the Ship management handled Covid protocols very well. We have had 5 PCR tests and are Covid free! You will have a great experience on the Ultramarine. (Copied from Cruisecritic)

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
Spitsbergen Photography: In Search of Polar Bears

4.6

(5)

Luxury

Price

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