Explore frontier arctic territory on a panoramic expedition cruise of the nothern island of Spitsbergen. Make your way through Norwegian Fjordland, experiencing magnificent mountains and glacier-carved valleys now buried in icey water. Sail through pack ice, coming in close range of polar bears, walrus, seals an various assortments of seabirds. See calving glaciers, and even touch an iceberg on a Zodiac excursion. Your expedition will bring you closer to this unbridaled wilderness than you could ever imagine.
Cruise Departure Dates (2014):
Aboard M/V Ortelius: Jul 18,27, Aug 5
Aboard M/V Plancius: Jul 10,28
Relax on a private airport transfer with private vehicle and driver.
Thon Hotel Opera (4*) is located close to the Airport Express Train Terminal at Oslo Central Station. The hotel offers 434 well-equipped rooms in various sizes, 2 of which are magnificent suites on the 9th floor and fabulous views of Oslo Fjord and the new opera house in Oslo.
Enjoy a city sightseeing tour in the Norwegian capital, beautifully situated by the fjord with your private vehicle, guide and driver. You will enjoy a magnificent view of Oslo from Holmenkollen Hill, with the famous ski kimps where the Winter Games were held in 1952. Among other high lights you will visit the Viking Ship Museum, with its three Viking vessels. The Vigeland's Park, one of the major Scandinavian cultural treasures, will welcome you with the sculptures of Gustav Vigeland, who dedicated his life to this Park. You will also pass by the Royal Palace and the main street, Karl Johan as well. Entrance fee to Viking Ship Museum is included in tour cost.
Take a flight from Olso to Longyearbyen (not included).
Meet your driver for a private airport transfer.
The historic Spitsbergen Hotel is centrally located in Haugen in Longyeardalen, with superb views across the waters of Adventfjorden and the striking peak of Hiortfjellet. The hotel has preserved its historic character from the time when it was a staff centre and entertainment venue for the mining company Store Norske Spitsbergen Kulkompani. Spitsbergen Hotel is within easy reach of the town centre, local attractions and tax-free stores.
Meet your private driver for a port transfer.
Welcome aboard!Take some time to get settled into your cabin and to explore the length of the ship. You'll set sail in the early evening.
M/V Ortelius is a great expedition vessel accommodating up to 100 passengers with lots of open-deck spaces and a very large bridge which is accessible to the passengers. The vessel has the highest ice-class notation (UL1 equivalent to 1A) and is therefore very suitable to navigate in solid one-year sea ice and loose multi-year pack ice. Ortelius is manned by 34 highly experienced Russian nautical crew, 15 international catering staff, including stewardesses, 6 expedition staff (1 expedition leader and 5 guides/lecturers) and 1 doctor. Ortelius offers a comfortable hotel standard, with two restaurants, a bar/lecture room and a sauna. Voyages are primarily developed to offer passengers a high quality exploratory wildlife program, trying to spend as much time ashore as possible. As the number of passengers is limited to approximately 100 on the Ortelius, flexibility assures maximum wildlife opportunities. Ortelius carries 11 zodiacs of which 9 are in use and 2 on reserve, each with a 60hp Yamaha motor.
Heading north along the west coast, you arrive by morning in Krossfjorden, where you'll go on the Zodiacs for a cruise along the sculpted front of the 14th of July Glacier. On the green slopes near the glacier, a colourful variety of flowers bloom, while large numbers of Kittiwakes and Brünnich’s Guillemots nest on the nearby cliffs. There is also a good chance of spotting Arctic Foxes, who patrol the base of the cliffs in case a chick falls from its nest, and Bearded Seals, who cruise this fjord. In the afternoon you sail to Ny Ålesund, the world’s most northerly settlement.
Once a mining village - served by the world’s most northerly railway, which can still be seen - Ny Ålesund is now a research centre. Close to the village is a breeding ground for Barnacle Geese, Pink-footed Geese and Arctic Terns. Visitors interested in the history of Arctic exploration will want to walk to the anchoring mast used by Amundsen and Nobile in the airship Norge in 1926 and Nobile in the airship Italia in 1928 before their flights to the North Pole.
Near the mouth of Liefdefjorden, you will go ashore for a walk on the tundra island of Andøya. Many common eiders and pink-footed geese nest here, and the more rare King Eider may also be seen. Sailing into Liefdefjorden, you will cruise near the face of the impressive Monaco Glacier. The waters of the glacier front are a favourite feeding spot for thousands of kittiwakes and occasionally polar bears are seen on the glacier.
Today you'll reach your northernmost point at Phippsøya, in the Seven Islands north of Nordaustlandet. Here you will be at 81 degrees north, just 540 miles from the geographic North Pole. Polar bears inhabit this region, along with ivory gulls. You may sit for several hours in the pack ice, taking in the spectacular surroundings and seeing a Ross gull, before turning south again.
You will visit Lagøya today, a low island with a big lagoon where a big herd of Walrus tends to congregate. Sabine’s Gulls nest on the island as well. At Sorg Fjord you may find another herd of walruses not far from the graves of 17th century whalers. On a nature walk, you may encounter families of ptarmigans.
Today you will sail into Hinlopen Strait, home to Bearded Seals, Ringed Seals, Polar Bears, and Ivory Gulls. You’ll navigate the ice floes of Lomfjordshalvøya in the zodiacs and explore the bird cliffs of Alkefjellet with thousands of Brünnich’s guillemots. On the east side of Hinlopenstrait, a landing will be attempted at Augustabukta on Nordaustlandet, home to Reindeer, Pink-footed Geese, breeding Ivory Gulls, and Walruses. Near Torrelneset, you will explore the polar desert of Nordaustlandet, next to the world’s third largest ice cap, which meets the sea nearby. Walk along beautiful coastline covered in smooth rocks, sculpted by the surf over thousands of years. You may encounter walruses along the way.
In Freemansundet, plan to land at Sundneset on the island of Barentsøya to visit an old trapper's hut and then take a brisk walk across the tundra in search of Spitsbergen Reindeer and Barnacle Geese. Later you cruise south to Diskobukta on the west side of Edgeøya. After a Zodiac cruise through the shallow bay, you'll land on a beach littered with whale bones and tree trunks, which have drifted here from Siberia. You can also climb to the rim of a narrow gully which is inhabited by thousands of Kitttiwakes, together with Black Guillemots and piratical Glaucous Gulls. During the breeding season, the base of the cliffs is patrolled by Arctic Foxes and Polar Bears, especially females with young cubs, searching for young birds that have fallen from the nesting ledges.
You start the day quietly cruising the side fjords of the spectacular Hornsund area of southern Spitsbergen, enjoying the scenery of towering mountain peaks. Hornsundtind rises to 1,431m while Bautaen shows why early Dutch explorers gave the name ‘Spitsbergen’ - pointed mountains - to the island. There are also 14 magnificent glaciers in the area and very good chances of encounters with seals and Polar Bears.
Today you land on Ahlstrandhalvøya at the mouth of Van Keulenfjorden. Here piles of Beluga whale skeletons, the remains of 19th century slaughter, are yet another reminder of the consequences of thoughtless exploitation. Fortunately, Belugas were not hunted to the edge of extinction and may still be seen locally. Indeed, there is a good chance that you will come across a pod. Cruising into Recherchefjorden during the afternoon you can explore an area of tundra at the head of the fjord where many Reindeer feed.
This morning you'll disembark from your ship back in Longyearbyen, and bid farewell to your expedition crew and fellow cruisemates.
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