Make no mistake, this archipelago is very much at the frontier with the Arctic, and with wild nature itself. The largest settlement and administrative hub, Longyearbyen, sees so many polar bears that many establishments keep rifles ready as a last resort protection.
Polar bears aren’t the only indigenous creatures in great abundance. As you cruise around this remarkable collection of Svalbard (cold coast) islands you could also meet with indigenous reindeer, see Arctic foxes and watch fat walrus lazing about on the water’s edge. Every day will bring you to another destination and another natural wonder. You’ll see the Monaco Glacier at Ljefdefjorden; go tundra-hiking at Worsleyneset; walk through a polar desert at Vibubutka; see nesting thick-billed murres at Alkefjellet; explore a tundra meadow at Sundneset.
All round, the Spitsbergen Circumnavigation is a natural wonder.
Shore visits are part of the experience but depend on weather conditions. Extra excursions vary with different itineraries and weather, and could typically include:
- Kayaking on the icy waters
- Snow shoeing
Embark in Longyearbyen with its glacier-topped mountains.
Visit the awesome ice cliffs of the 14th of July glacier.
Take a shore visit on Smeerenburg and discover the region’s whaling history.
View the Monaco glacier, go on a tundra hike and view the walrus sanctuary off Moffen Island.
Explore the seven islands of Phippsoya mini-archipelago.
Hike across a polar desert on Vibubukta and visit a beached whale skeleton. Sail past the awesome cliff of Alkefjellet.
Sail past the awesome cliff of Alkefjellet. Day 8: Walk across the unique tundra meadow of Sundneset.
Observe a colony of kittiwakes that use a cavern on Diskobutka as a nesting site. Day 10: Visit Isbutka for a chance to watch polar bears hunt seals on the fast ice. Day 11: Go in search of a mining site and midnight sun-blooming flowers on Bourbonhamna.
Sail past Alkhornet with its vast numbers of nesting guillemots and murres.
Disembark in Longyearbyen to catch your homeward flights.