We visit Svalbard during the second half of the season. The ice is slowly starting to loosen its grip, which promotes good opportunities to explore Svalbard`s eastern parts, where few people set foot. During eleven days we explore the archipelago, searching for wildlife such as polar bears, walrus and whales. If lucky, we will be able to complete a circumnavigation of Spitsbergen.
RATE INCLUDES: 10 nights on board the M/S Stockholm . All meals . All wine, beer and drinks . An experienced Expedition Leader / knowledgeable naturalist guide . Lectures on board and on shore . All shore excursions and activities by Zodiac . The customary gratuity to the ship’s crew
NOT INCLUDED: Flight to/from Longyearbyen . Travel and cancellation insurance . Personal expenses
Around Spitsbergen aboard MS Stockholm itinerary:
Day 1: Longyearbyen
Transfer from the ariport in Longyearbyen. In the afternoon we embark M/S Stockholm and leave civilisation behind us.
Day 2 - 10: Spitsbergen
We are now in a part of the world where we are totally dependent on ice and weather conditions. Our exact itinerary depends on these factors and on the wildlife we encounter. The goal is to make several landings each day with our Zodiac craft - here are some examples of places we may visit:
Barentsburg and Ny Ålesund
Not far from Longyearbyen is the Russian enclave Barentsburg, a fascinating coal mining settlement founded in 1932. In the scientific village of Ny Ålesund, the animals completely ignore the humans. Arctic terns nest by the main street and not far from the post office, northernmost in the world, we often see wild reindeer grazing. It was from here that Amundsen and Nobile started their heroic expeditions to the North Pole.
On Danes` Island, Amsterdam Island and Ytre Norskøya we find remnants from the bustling activity during the 17th century whaling period. Many puffins, little auks and guillemots nest in the area. Two of the most courageous attempts to reach the North Pole started on Danes` Island. Swedish balloonist Andrée made an attempt with hydrogen balloon and American journalist Wellman started out with airship. The site is still littered with remnants from these expeditions, which silently evoke tales of the grand ideas of this heroic era of exploration.
Svalbard offers the visitor countless spectacular fjords. During our journey we will explore a few of them such as:
Liefdefjorden, meaning "the fjord of love", is lined with snow-covered mountain peaks and at its base we hope to cruise along the face of the spectacular Monaco Glacier. Many common eiders and pink-footed geese nest in the area and if lucky we see the rare king eider.
In Krossfjorden we delight in the beautifully sculptured front of the 14th of July Glacier to the raucous greeting of the large numbers of kittiwakes and Brünnich`s guillemots nesting on the nearby cliffs. The green slopes next to the ice blue glacier boasts a colourful flora.
Raudfjorden is an area of immense natural beauty - dominated by beautiful glaciers it is also a favourite spot for seals. The slopes offer rich vegetation and the bird cliffs are bursting with life.
North Spitsbergen and Auk Mountain
If the ice allows we may enter Hinlopen Strait. Here is Auk Mountain, a sheer, basaltic cliff, which is the dizzy home for some 200 000 Brunnich`s guillemots.
Venturing eastwards we skirt and possibly encounter the shifting Arctic Ocean pack ice. It is a harsh and seldom-experienced environment and one stands in awe at this majestic icescape. Chances of meeting polar bears increase as we sail along the ice floes.
The island of Nordaustlandet is covered by an enormous ice cap and fascinates naturalists as well as historians. Here we find a huge glacier front intersected by hundreds of melt-waterfalls, an abandoned German weather station from WWII and the well-kept scientific station at Kinnvika.
Even further east is White Island. In very favourable ice and weather conditions, we may land here on this ice-capped island where few people have ever set foot. Here Andrée and his men were found 33 years after their unsuccessful attempt to reach the North Pole with balloon.
On Barentsøya we can see the remnants of old Pomor fishing camps, some 400 years old. Brave pioneers from the shores of Russia, the Pomors sailed here in small open boats to fish and hunt.
The grand fjord of Hornsund offers spectacular glaciers and a breathtaking landscape of towering mountain peaks. This is a favourite haunt for some of Svalbard`s polar bears.
Day 11: Longyearbyen
Today we reach Longyearbyen, leave our ship and transfer to the airport.
The M/S Stockholm is a classic vessel built in 1953 for the Swedish National Maritime Administration. In 1999 she was totally refitted and started her career as a comfortable polar passenger ship. The M/S Stockholm exclusively carries a maximum of 12 passengers in outside twin cabins, all with upper and lower berth and private facilities. She is a marvellous piece of maritime history with beautiful brass details and pine decks. No wonder the M/S Stockholm is loved by so many!
On board the ship you will enjoy delicious meals in the company of likeminded travellers who enjoy the natural world, and who are as fascinated by the Arctic as you will be. The food on board is of a high standard. All wine, beer and drinks are included in the trip fare. With such a small party on board, this is like travelling on a private yacht. An entirely different experience and perspective to that of a larger and more conventional vessel! The M/S Stockholm is also ideal for private parties who wish to explore the Svalbard archipelago.
The owner, Captain and crew of the ship have long experience in Arctic waters, and are actively involved in making expeditions in tune with nature conservation. The crew onboard M/S Stockholm are great enthusiasts of the unique wildlife and unspoilt nature too, so do not be surprised if you suddenly see the chef ashore taking photographs or studying birds, whenever his time permits. The genuine curiosity of the crew is a prerequisite for expedition cruises of this kind. A trip on board M/S Stockholm in these northern waters, with its unique wildlife and pristine nature is anexperience of a lifetime, simply hard to beat.