On the green slopes near the 14th of July Glacier, a colourful variety of flowers bloom introducing the beauty of Spitsbergen to our passengers. Explore the spectacular and wildlife rich coastline of Spitsbergen on this 11 day voyage with sightings that may include Walrus and Reindeer as well as Seals, Polar Bears, Ivory Gulls and more. During this voyage we hope to get to the rarely visited Kvitøya farthest to the east, close to the Russian territory. The island is dominated by an ice-cap, which leaves a small area bare of ice and snow. From beginning to end, this voyage is filled with the natural beauty of the fjords, glaciers, and wildlife of Spitsbergen.
Around Spitsbergen - Kvitoya itinerary:
Day 1 - Departure from Longyearbyen
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, while in the surrounding area of Longyearbyen. In the early evening the ship will sail out of Isfjorden.
Day 2 - Ytre Norskøya & Moffen Island
On the offshore island of Ytre Norskøya, we visit a 17th century Dutch whaling site, whose large graveyard is a reminder of the hardships and dangers of life here at that time. The island’s bird life is prolific, with colonies of Little Auks, Black Guillemots, Brünnich’s Guillemots, Puffins and Arctic Skuas accessible to visitors. Eastwards, we visit Raudfjord on the north coast of West Spitsbergen, a beautiful fjord dominated by spectacular glaciers and favoured by Ringed and Bearded Seals. The cliffs and shoreline of the fjord also support thriving seabird colonies. In the evening we will sail by the island of Moffen where a big herd of Walrus can be found.
Day 3 - Beverleysundet
We sail through Beverleysundet named by Parry in 1827 and also sailed by the Swedish-Russian Arc-of-Meridian Expedition in 1898. Today we will 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 bears inhabit this region, along with ivory gulls.
Day 4 - Nordaustlandet
We push east to reach the area of Nordaustlandet, where the Nobile expedition drifted around in 1928 and where the Italian Sora tried to come to the rescue. There we hope to get to Alpinøya, reached by Sora in 1928, and then to the mouth of Finn Malmgrenfjord, and Albertinibukta and to climb Soraberget (205 M) from where we have a fantastic view on the ice-cap of Nordaustlandet. Alternatively we will land at Storøya, where again we may meet a group of Walrus.
Day 5 - Kvitøya
Today we hope to get to the rarely visited Kvitøya farthest to the east, close to the Russian territory. The island is dominated by an ice-cap, which leaves a small area bare of ice and snow. We will land at the western tip at Andréneset, where the Swedish explorer André and his companions perished in 1898. We will also try to get to Kraemerpynten in the east, where an enormous group of Walrus resides.
Day 6 - Nordaustlandet
South of Nordaustlandet we will try to land at Isispynten a Nunatak area surrounded by glaciers. Later we sail along the front of the Brasvell Glacier, the longest glacier front in Spitsbergen. In Olga Strait we have chances to spot the elusive Greenland Whale.
Day 7 - Kong Karls Land
We will sail through the seldom visited area of Kong Karls Land, which is a Polar Bear reserve, where we are not allowed to land, but where we can make a zodiac cruise. Alternatively we land in Blafjordflya at the east side of Edgeöya, a vast tundra area with a lot of reindeer.
Day 8 - Freemansundet
In Freemansundet we 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 we cruise south to Diskobukta on the west side of Edgeøya. After a Zodiac cruise through the shallow bay, we land on a beach littered with whale bones and tree trunks, which have drifted here from Siberia. We can also climb to the rim of a narrow gully which is inhabited by thousands of Kittiwakes, 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, searching for young birds that have fallen from the nesting ledges.
Day 9 - Cruising the side fjords of the spectacular Hornsund
We 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. We may visit the Polish research station where the friendly staff will give us an insight into their research projects. Behind the station the mountains are home to thousands of pairs of nesting Little Auk.
Day 10 - Ahlstrandhalvøya
Today we land on Ahlstrandhalvøya at the mouth of Van Keulenfjorden. Here piles of Beluga skeletons (the Beluga is a small white whale), 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 we will come across a pod. Cruising into Recherchefjorden during the afternoon we can explore an area of tundra at the head of the fjord where many Reindeer feed.
Day 11 - Arrival in Longyearbyen
Return to Longyearbyen and disembark for the transfer to the airport and the flight to Oslo and home.
All itineraries are for guidance only. Programs may vary depending on local ice and weather conditions and in order to take advantage of opportunities to see wildlife. Flexibility is paramount for expedition cruises.
M/v "Plancius" was built in 1976 as an oceanographic research vessel for the Royal Dutch Navy and was named "Hr. Ms. Tydeman". The ship sailed for the Dutch Navy until June 2004 and was eventually purchased by Oceanwide Expeditions.
The vessel was completely rebuilt as a 114-passenger vessel in 2009 and complies with the latest SOLAS-regulations (Safety Of Life At Sea). M/v "Plancius" is classed by Lloyd's Register in London and flies the Dutch flag.
M/v "Plancius" accommodates 114 passengers in 53 passenger cabins with private toilet and shower in 4 quadruple private cabins, 39 twin private cabins (ca. 15 square meters) and 10 twin superior cabins (ca. 21 square meters).
All cabins offer lower berths (either two single beds or one queen-size bed), except for the 4 quadruple cabins (for 4 persons in 2x upper and lower beds).
The vessel offers a restaurant/lecture room on deck 3 and a spacious observation lounge (with bar) on deck 5 with large windows, offering full panorama view. M/v "Plancius" has large open deck spaces (with full walk-around possibilities on deck 3), giving excellent opportunities to enjoy the scenery and wildlife. She is furthermore equipped with 10 Mark V zodiacs, including 40 HP 4-stroke outboard engines and 2 gangways on the starboard side, guaranteeing a swift zodiac operation.
M/v "Plancius" is comfortable and nicely decorated, but is not a luxury vessel. Our voyages in the Arctic and Antarctic regions are and will still be primarily defined by an exploratory educational travel programme, spending as much time ashore as possible. This vessel will fully meet our demands to achieve this.
The vessel is equipped with a diesel-electric propulsion system which reduces the noise and vibration of the engines considerably. The 3 diesel engines generate 1.230 horse-power each, giving the vessel a speed of 10 - 12 knots. The vessel is ice-strengthened and was specially built for oceanographic voyages.
M/v "Plancius" is manned by 17 nautical crew, 19 hotel staff (6 chefs, 1 hotel manager, 1 steward-barman and 11 stewards / cabin cleaners), 8 expedition staff (1 expedition leader and 7 guides-lecturers) and 1 doctor.
Ice class: Plancius was built for Ice conditions. To reach these ice-conditions she has a strengthened bow and stern. The hull is thicker and the whole construction on the waterline of the vessel is reinforced by using extra frames. Where the normal frame spacing is 65cm, we have on the bow-line and stern also frames in between so there the frame spacing is approx 30cm. Because Plancius was built to do surveys she has a special six blade bronze propeller, the shape of the propeller makes Plancius a very silent ship. Plancius has a Lloyds class notation 100A1 Passenger ship, Ice Class 1D at a draught of 5 meters (which is our waterline).
- Length:89 meters (293 feet)
- Breadth:14,5 meters (47 feet)
- Draft:5 meters (16 feet)
- Ice class:1D
- Displacement:3175 tonnes
- Engines:3x Diesel-Electric
- Speed:10 - 12 knots