A Classic voyage around North Spitsbergen with the option to Kayak, Scuba Dive or Snowshoeing (additional cost)
Kayaking $350 pp
In general we plan to at least offer 4 kayaking days. Basic kayaking experience is required and physical fitness is essential. Parallel to all other activities we are planning on offering kayaking excursions during morning and / or afternoon landings. The final decision on those excursions will be met by the Expedition Leader. Oceanwide will provide kayaks and neoprene wet suits. Kayakers will bring their own personal gear. Kayaking is subject to weather and prevailing ice conditions. For more details please refer to the activity manual.
Scuba diving $420 pp
Divers must be advanced and experienced in dry suit and cold water diving. We hope for 1-2 different dives per day parallel to all other activities. Diving depends on local ice and weather conditions. Dive masters and dive guides are responsible for safety during operation. Basic equipment is onboard (scuba tanks, compressors, weights and diving essentials. Divers bring their personal gear. For more details please refer to the activity manual.
Especially on early departures at the beginning of the season there are still snow covered hills and mountains further inland. During voyages to the Antarctic we are planning on offering hiking excursions with snowshoes. Snowshoe walking is easy and does not require any technical skills. With the use of snowshoes it is easier and safer to walk on snow surfaces. Snowshoes will be provided to everyone on board. Those will fit all boot sizes and can be used in combination with Oceanwide’s rubber boots. Snowshoe hiking is free of charge, more details can be found in the activity manual and the day by day programs.
North Spitsbergen Kayaking and Diving Option itinerary:
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, more than 100 species of plants have been recorded. In the early evening the ship will sail out of Isfjorden.
Heading north along the west coast, we arrive by morning in Krossfjorden, where we get on the Zodiacs for an exhilarating cruise along the sculpted front of the 14th of July Glacier. On the surprisingly fertile 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 opportunistic Arctic Foxes, patrolling the base of the cliffs in case a hapless chick falls from its nest, and Bearded Seals, who cruise this scenic fjord. In the afternoon we 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.
Depending on the weather we may now sail to the mouth of Liefdefjorden and go ashore for a walk on the tundra island of Andøya. Many Common Eiders and Pink-footed Geese nest here, and the rarer King Eider may also be seen. We hope to sail into Liefdefjorden, cruising near the 5km long face of the impressive Monaco Glacier. The waters of the glacier front are a favourite feeding spot for thousands of Kittiwakes and on previous voyages Polar Bears have been seen on the glacier, providing wonderful opportunities for photography.
Today we will sail into Hinlopen Strait, home to Bearded Seals, Ringed Seals, Polar Bears, and Ivory Gulls. We’ll navigate the ice floes of Lomfjordshalvøya in our zodiacs and explore the bird cliffs of Alkefjellet with thousands of Brünnich’s guillemots. On the east side of Hinlopenstrait, we’ll attempt a landing at Palanderbukta on Nordaustlandet, home to Reindeer, Pink-footed Geese, breeding Ivory Gulls, and Walruses.
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. We may sit for several hours in the pack ice, taking in our spectacular surroundings and seeing a Ross Gull, before we turn south again.
Retracing our route westwards, 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 and a surprisingly rich vegetation, which flourishes in sheltered spots. On the offshore island of Ytre Norskøya, we visit a 17th century Dutch whaling site, whose large graveyard is a poignant reminder of the hardships and dangers of life here at the 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.
We land at the northern tip of Prins Karls Forland near Fuglehuken, where Barentsz probably set foot on Spitsbergen for the first time. Seabirds nest on the cliffs and along the coast we see Harbour Seals, the only population found in Spitsbergen. Further we also will observe the remains of the Polar Bear hunting era, with demolished set guns and bear traps. At the opposite site of Forlandsundet at Sarstangen is a haul out place for Walruses. 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 Foxes search the cliff base for fallen eggs and chicks, while Spitsbergen Reindeer graze the relatively luxuriant vegetation. The reindeer may seem unbothered by human presence, but this is not really the case. The animals must survive the harsh winter, when temperatures plummet and food is hard to find, so they preserve what energy they can, fleeing only when it is absolutely necessary. In the afternoon we cruise through beautiful Borebukta, following a glacier front before continuing to Longyearbyen.
Return to Longyearbyen and disembark for the transfer to the airport and the flight to Oslo and home.
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