We visit Svalbard early in the season, when the midnight sun reigns supreme. The bird colonies are teeming with life and the tundra`s flower buds are bursting. Ice still keeps the islands in its grip and we can admire the ever-changing ice formations, while searching for walrus, polar bears and much, much more.
Polar Bear Quest (Ocean Nova) itinerary:
Day 1 - Longyearbyen
We arrive in Longyearbyen and transfer to our hotel.
Day 2 - 8 - Svalbard
We start our adventure in Svalbard by exploring the High Arctic capital of Longyearbyen. In the afternoon we embark our expedition ship and sail out through the spectacular Ice Fjord. 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. Our ambition is to make landings every day with our rigid Zodiac craft - here are some examples of places we may visit:
Barentsburg and Ny Ålesund
Not far from Norwegian Longyearbyen is the Russian enclave Barentsburg, a fascinating coal mining settlement. In the scientific village of Ny Ålesund, Arctic terns nest by the main street and we often see wild reindeer grazing. It was from here that Amundsen and Nobile started their heroic expeditions to the North Pole.
On the islands of Danskøya, Amsterdamøya and Ytre Norskøya there are still visible remnants from the bustling activity during the 17th century whaling period. Two of the most courageous attempts to reach the North Pole started on Danskøya. Swedish balloonist Andrée made an attempt with hydrogen balloon and American journalist Wellman started out with airship. The site is still littered with interesting remnants from these expeditions.
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.
Raudfjorden is an area of immense natural beauty - dominated by beautiful glaciers it is also a favourite spot for seals and the bird cliffs are bursting with life.
North Spitsbergen and Hinlopen
North of Spitsbergen we may meet the pack iceedge. Not many ships venture here and we can marvel at the silence and grandeur of this icy landscape. Chances of meeting polar bears increase as we sail along the ice floes. If the ice allows we may enter Hinlopen Strait. Here is Alkefjellet (Auk Mountain), a sheer, basaltic cliff, which is the home to some 200 000 Brünnich`s guillemots.
Day 9 - Longyearbyen
Early morning we reach Longyearbyen and begin our journey home.
Our exact route will depend on ice, weather conditions and wildlife. The places mentioned above are just examples of some of the many sites Svalbard has to offer. We always strive to maximise your experience, but remember that flexibility is the key to a successful expedition!
On PolarQuest expeditions you meet guides with long polar experience and a genuine love for the Arctic. Together with them you will experience exciting excursions ashore as well as interesting lectures on board. With 73 passengers on board the Ocean Nova, PolarQuest uses eight guides, which is one of the best guests per guide ratios in the business.
Vessel Type: Expedition
Length: 73 meters
Beam: 11.0 m
Draft: 4.0 m
GRT: 2,118 tons
Speed: 11 knots
Ice Class: Ice 1B, E0 (Hull Ice 1A)
Capacity: 84 (in twin & triple Cabins)
The ice-strengthened expedition ship Ocean Nova was built in Denmark in 1992 with high ice class to serve Greenland’s west coast. In 2004 to 2005 she was completely refurbished and has now a career as a small and comfortable expedition ship. The Ocean Nova accommodates 86 passengers in single, double and triple cabins, all with sea-view and private facilities. The double cabins have either two lower beds or upper and lower beds. The triple cabins have upper and lower beds. In your cabin you will also find a desk with chair and ample storage space for clothes and equipment.
In the dining room you are treated to delicious meals in between landings and in the panorama lounge you can enjoy a drink with a breathtaking view of the surrounding polar landscape. This is where PolarQuest’s on board specialists entertain and educate you with lectures on polar biology, history, geology and conservation. There is also a library with panoramic views and a good selection of polar books. On board there is a satellite phone, gym and medical doctor. Passengers are welcome on the bridge around the clock and there is always something to see or search for from the spacious observation decks. The ship has North European officers and there is a friendly and informal atmosphere on board. Travelling with this small expedition ship offers an entirely different experience and perspective than you can get on a larger and more conventional cruise ship.