Day 1: Embarkation and departure from Longyerbyen
We arrive in Longyearbyen, the administrative capital of the Spitsbergen archipelago of which West Spitsbergen is the largest island. Before embarking there is an opportunity to stroll around this former mining town, whose parish church and Polar Museum are well worth visiting. In the surrounding area of Longyearbyen, more than 100 species of plants have been recorded. In the early evening the ship will sail out of Isfjorden, where in the mouth of the fjord we may see our first Minke Whale.
Day 2: We sail to Raudfjord on the north coast of West Spitsbergen
We sail to Raudfjord on the north coast of West Spitsbergen, a beautiful fjord dominated by spectacular glaciers and favoured by Ringed and Bearded Seal. The cliffs and shoreline of the fjord also support thriving seabird colonies and a surprisingly rich vegetation, which flourishes in sheltered spots. Polar bear are often seen here.
Day 3: Cruising near the 5km long face of the impressive Monaco Glacier
Depending on the weather we may now sail into Liefdefjorden, crui¬sing near the 5km long face of the impressive Monaco Glacier. The waters of the glacier front are a favorite feeding spot for thousands of Kittiwake. As well, Polar Bear have been seen on the glacier, providing wonderful opportunities for photography.
Day 4: We will sail into Hinlopen Strait, home to Bearded Seal
Today we will sail into Hinlopen Strait, home to Bearded Seal, Ringed Seal, Polar Bear, and Ivory Gull. At the entrance there is the possibility to see Blue Whale. We’ll navigate the ice floes of Lomfjordshalvøya in our zodiacs and explore the bird cliffs of Alkefjellet with thousands of Brünnich’s Guillemot. On the east side of Hinlopen Strait, we’ll attempt a landing at Palanderbukta on Nordaustlandet, home to reindeer, Pink-footed Goose, breeding Ivory Gull, and Walrus.
Day 5: At Seven Islands north of Nordaustlandet we will just 540 miles from the geographic North Pole.
We will try reach our northernmost point at Phippsøya, in the Seven Islands north of Nordaustlandet. Here we will be at 81 degrees north, just 540 miles from the geographic North Pole. Polar Bear inhabit this region, along with Ivory Gull. The ship may sit for several hours in the pack ice, before turning west again.
Day 6: We will retrace our route westwards to keep watch for the Polar Bear
Retracing our route westwards, our route takes us through and along the pack ice, keeping watch for Polar Bear and the elusive Greenland Whale (Bowhead). About 40 nautical miles west of Spitsbergen we sail along the edge of the continental shelf, where Fin Whale forage in summer in the upwelling’s along the Spitsbergen banks. At the mouth of the Kongsfjorden we have also good chances to see Minke Whale.
Day 7: Sail into St. Johns Fjord or south to the mouth of Isfjorden
In Forlandsundet at Sarstangen is a haul out place for Walrus. Alternatively we sail into St. Johns Fjord or south to the mouth of Isfjorden and land at Alkhornet. Seabirds nest on its cliffs and Arctic Fox search the cliff base for fallen eggs and chicks, while Spitsbergen Reindeer graze the relatively luxuriant vegetation. At nighttime we arrive in Longyearbyen.
Day 8: The last day of our voyage. We disembark the vessel in Longyearbyen
We disembark in Longyearbyen, the administrative centre of Spitsbergen, for the flights south to Oslo and onward home.
* * May 26 2022 departure on Hondius is a hiking special voyage.
The focus of this voyage will be on hiking on shore: Hikers can choose from various hiking options which suite their fitness and ability level best.
On offer: very easy beach hikes (good for photographers who need time for photography), easy/ short hikes, medium/ extended hikes, challenging/ long hikes.
Our hiking guests will be split into groups under the guidance of experienced and competent guides. The formation of walking groups will take place on site, taking into account the interests and physical condition of the guests. The hikes cannot be determined in advance because prevailing weather conditions influence the layout of the final program.
The route map in the day-by-day description outlines a possible (but not final) itinerary that serves as a rough guide. The program (walking on land) and the itinerary of the ship (at sea) will be adapted to the prevailing weather, sea, pack ice, and snow conditions. The daily program may vary considerably from the route described. Availability of landing sites and the presence of polar bears also play a role in the selection of daily outings. The program will be adapted in case of interesting wildlife observations.
The final decision about hikes will be made by the expedition leader. For the hiking program, we will be using snowshoes which will be available onboard for all passengers (free rental). With snowshoes it is easier and safer to walk on snowy surfaces. They fit all boot sizes and can be used in combination with our rubber boots. We strongly recommend bringing sturdy, ankle-high hiking boots and gaiters. Hiking poles with snow plates are required. See details in the equipment list.
At the end of a long Arctic winter, spring is starting to awaken. The climate, however, still clings to the cold: ice-covered mountains, snow-swept shores, temperatures around –4° C (25°F). It’s a good time to experience the last of the winter scenery, and with a little luck, also see some polar bears, walruses, and seals into the bargain.
Bird note: -It is still somewhat quiet on the cliffs, as this time of year the cliff-nesting birds are only just arriving to pick out their breeding places. By May all the nesting birds will have arrived, and the breeding will take place later in June.