Circumnavigating Spitsbergen - In the Realm of the Polar Bear

Circumnavigating Spitsbergen - In the Realm of the Polar Bear

Circumnavigating Spitsbergen - In the Realm of the Polar Bear

Circumnavigating Spitsbergen - In the Realm of the Polar Bear

Travel information 10 days MS Fram, MS Spitsbergen
Breakfast, lunch and dinner included

Join us as we attempt a full circumnavigation of Spitsbergen, taking in mighty glaciers, peaceful fjords and Arctic wildlife under the enchanting midnight sun. 

The town at the top of the world 

After a flight from Oslo, your expedition starts in Longyearbyen, the town at the top of the world. Get a taste of what it feels like to live this far north of the world as you meet the resilient residents of this unique settlement. From here, we traverse the stunning terrain of North West Spitsbergen National Park. Explore picturesque fjords, steep mountains and beautiful offshore islands while searching the landscape for wildlife.  

Looking out for bears and birds 

Eastern Svalbard boasts the highest population of polar bears in the archipelago. Over our three-day exploration of Spitsbergen’s eastern seaboard, we’ll be on the lookout for these iconic but shy predators. The cliffs in this region attract huge numbers of birds, with Svalbard being home to a wide variety including thousands of Brünnich’s Guillemots, gulls and Kittiwakes.   

Awe inspiring scenery 

Prepare to explore the majestic landscape and geology of Hornsund. The rugged mountains and breathtaking fjords here make for some of Svalbard’s most scenic panoramas. After exploring this area, we’ll sail north towards the Isfjord before concluding our expedition cruise in Longyearbyen. 

Circumnavigating Spitsbergen - In the Realm of the Polar Bear Circumnavigating Spitsbergen - In the Realm of the Polar Bear
  • Day 1
    Germany / Oslo / Longyearbyen

    From 59º N to 78º N

    Your journey begins with a flight to Oslo from where you will continue with your flight to Longyearbyen.  

    Longyearbyen is a small town on the island of Spitsbergen, where the 2,000 inhabitants are outnumbered by snowmobiles. During your stay, walk up to the church just a few minutes away.  Maybe you will encounter the Svalbard reindeer that are often walking around town minding their own business. Although wild, you’ll find them more curious and tamer. 

    Day 1
    Germany / Oslo / Longyearbyen

    From 59º N to 78º N

  • Day 2
    Longyearbyen

    The Norwegian Stronghold in the High Arctic

    After an overnight stay in your hotel, you’ll have the opportunity to explore the colourful frontier town of Longyearbyen on your own before boarding your ship in the afternoon. An excursion is included in your voyage--or, choose from a selection of optional adventures before your voyage begins. 

    Stroll the main street, admiring the colourful buildings and picking out souvenirs and gifts from the shops of the world’s northernmost town. 

    Before entering most public buildings, make sure to remove your shoes! This is a custom that originated in the mining days to prevent people from trekking coal dust indoors, and is just one way the town’s mining history continues to affect its culture. 

    Polar bears live outside Longyearbyen, and while it’s rare to see one in town, keep an eye out for art inspired by these iconic Arctic bears. See if you can find the polar bear statue, or the giant polar bear mural in the centre of town.  

    Once aboard the ship, you’ll pick up your complimentary expedition jacket, settle into your cabin and attend a mandatory safety drill. Locate the restaurants, Science Center, observation deck and Explorer Lounge and Bar - you’ll be spending a lot of time here. We’ll then say a fond farewell to Longyearbyen as we start our journey of discovery. 

    Day 2
    Longyearbyen

    The Norwegian Stronghold in the High Arctic

  • Day 3-5
    North West Spitsbergen National Park

    Exploring amazing fjords with fascinating history

    Leaving behind what little civilisation there is, we now enter full exploration mode. In these beautiful yet remote areas, there is no internet, nor are there telephone masts to provide a mobile phone signal.  

    Free from emails and text messages, this is therefore your rare opportunity to disconnect and detox from the modern world. It's time to really get back in sync with what truly matters.  

    North West Spitsbergen National Park embodies Arctic beauty in all its rugged, untouched glory. This is a wilderness of steep mountains, stark glaciers and eerily beautiful offshore islands. It’s also one of those rare spots of the world where natural beauty and fascinating history combine. Here, you’ll find the largest concentration of graves, blubber ovens and other cultural treasures from Svalbard’s first explorers.  

    Weather and sea conditions will determine which areas we’ll attempt to visit. Kongsfjorden is one of the most beautiful fjord areas in Spitsbergen, with panoramic coastal views and a lush alpine tundra. Framed by dramatic mountain formations, you might catch sights of glaciers calving icebergs into the sea.   

    We may also call on Ny-Ålesund, a culturally rich former mining town now transformed into an international science centre. With a picturesque mix of old and new buildings, it hosts a variety of research stations from different countries dedicated to the study of glaciology, wildlife, and climate change. 

    The north-west corner of Spitsbergen is a birdwatching mecca in the summer months. You’ll also scan for wildlife, including whales, bearded seals, walruses, Svalbard reindeer and the ‘Lord of the Arctic’ himself, the mighty polar bear. With a bit of luck, you’ll be able to spot one or more of these apex predators as they trek along the coast’s drifting ice on the hunt for seals.  

    The stunning terrain of this region makes it ripe for outdoor adventure. We’ll attempt to take full advantage of any opportunities that come our way. Activities might include using our expedition boats to come ashore for hiking, participating in a beach clean-up or launching our kayaks. 

    Day 3-5
    North West Spitsbergen National Park

    Exploring amazing fjords with fascinating history

  • Day 6-7
    Eastern Svalbard Nature Reserve

    Enjoy expedition days in the Arctic

    Eastern Svalbard boasts the highest population of polar bears in the archipelago. We have high hopes that over the next three days in this region, you’ll spot the elusive ‘King of the Arctic.’   

    In this part of Svalbard, the Arctic Ocean is full of drifting ice, and its frozen seascape changes constantly. Being modern-day explorers, the Captain and the Expedition Team will carefully analyse the sea ice’s density and movements using advanced sonar and live satellite imagery. They’ll determine which part of this Arctic wilderness we’ll explore in landings, hikes and optional kayaking opportunities.  

    If conditions are favourable, we will cross 80° N, sail through the Hinlopen Strait and head south, scouting for walrus and seabirds along the way. This region is home to thousands of Brünnich’s Guillemots, gulls and Kittiwakes. 

    As we cruise through Freemansundet, you’ll marvel at the sight of seabirds soaring against a panoramic backdrop. Not to be confused with its cousin, the fjord, Freemansundet is a sound separating Barentsøya from Edgeøya.  

    We’ll attempt landings along the coasts of Edgeøya or Barentsøya. We might explore Kapp Lee, an excellent site where you will find cultural heritage from all eras of human exploration of Svalbard. If we’re lucky, we may meet some of the marine mammals of Svalbard as we head towards the South Cape Land. 

    Day 6-7
    Eastern Svalbard Nature Reserve

    Enjoy expedition days in the Arctic

  • Day 8
    South Spitsbergen National Park

    The expedition continues

    Our aim for today is to reach the southernmost tip of Spitsbergen. Explore the wonderfully varied landscape and geology of Hornsund, a part of the South Spitsbergen National Park. For many, this is Svalbard’s most beautiful fjord. 

    Hornsund’s rugged, steep mountains, stunning fjords, and rich, colourful vegetation make it one of the world’s most scenic natural corners. As we cruise along the 18-mile-long fjord, you might catch sight of glaciers calving ice in the waters. On a clear day, you may also see the towering Hornsundtind, reaching almost 4,700 ft. above sea level.  

     Fertilisation from Little Auk colonies found here, is responsible for the surprisingly green patches you might encounter in landings. The lush tundra around the bird colonies attract fauna, including Svalbard reindeer and Arctic fox. Other animals to keep an eye out for are seals and whales when we’re sailing in the ocean.  

    Hornsund’s other residents are the scientists based at the Polish Polar station. Established here in 1957, the station serves as a research centre for disciplines such as climate change, glaciology, and seismology 

    In the evening, we’ll start our journey north as we sail past Bellsund towards Isfjorden.  

    Day 8
    South Spitsbergen National Park

    The expedition continues

  • Day 9
    The Isfjord

    Fjords and wilderness

    Today we sail into the remarkable Isfjord, the most prominent fjord system in the Svalbard archipelago. Leading to many smaller fjords, it forms a lush and beautiful system rich in wildlife and vegetation. Prepare to explore immense U-shaped valleys carved out of the mountains by giant glaciers some ten thousand years ago.  

    To the north of the fjord, Alkehornet is a prominent landmark. It’s an imposing example of carbonate rock, with a horn-shaped mount at its peak. Naturally, the surrounding wildlife has conquered it. Arctic fox might be spotted here, as well as Svalbard reindeer and thousands of Guillemots and Kittiwakes.  

    It’s noticeable how well traces of early human presence have been preserved in Isfjorden. You can find cultural remains of Svalbard’s whaling and hunting heritage along the beaches and bays, such as hunting stations and tryworks.  

    A more modern cultural icon is further south of the fjords. Here lie the buildings of the famous Isfjord Radio station, a former radio and weather station established in 1933 that now serves as undoubtedly, one of the most beautifully situated hotels in the world.  

    The landscape of the inner parts of Isfjorden is constantly changing. Still, we have several good landing sites in this area, and we will decide where to go and what to do based upon weather and ice conditions when we arrive. 

    Day 9
    The Isfjord

    Fjords and wilderness

  • Day 10
    Longyearbyen/Oslo/ Flight to Germany

    End of the Expedition

    Your Arctic adventure around Svalbard is over for this time. As you wind down from your expedition, you’ll have some time to look back on all your new memories, still holding onto that elated feeling of having just been quite literally near the “top of the world.” 

    After saying goodbye to the ship and its crew, you’ll take a transfer to the airport for your flight back to Oslo.  

    In Longyearbyen, you’ll often find many places hold the record for being the most north anything. The world’s northernmost cinema, church, library, high school, supermarket – they’re all here. You can chalk off each landmark with a customary selfie.  

    If you have the time, grab some souvenirs from the local shops before heading home. A toasty Svalbard sweater or a box of local handmade chocolates would make a wonderful gift for family and friends. Svalbard is a duty-free zone and Longyearbyen has a selection of sports and outdoor clothing shops, so you could stock up on supplies for your next expedition cruise.  

    Guests sailing aboard MS Fram have the option of extending their stay in Longyearbyen with one of our unique Post-Programmes. Please enquire for further details. 

    From Oslo you will take your flight back to Germany.   Whatever’s next for you, we wish you a safe onward journey and look forward to seeing you again! 

    Day 10
    Longyearbyen/Oslo/ Flight to Germany

    End of the Expedition

Departures

What's included

Included in your voyage

Flights  

  • Return flights in economy class between Germany and Oslo  
  • Return flights in economy class between Oslo and Longyearbyen 

Hotel  

  • Overnight in Longyearbyen before the expedition cruise, including breakfast and lunch 

Transfers  

  • All transfers in Longyearbyen including an excursion before the expedition cruise
  • Return rail and fly ticket 

Expedition Cruise  

  • Expedition cruise in a cabin of your choice 
  • Breakfast, lunch and dinner including beverages (house beer and wine, sodas, and mineral water) in restaurant Aune  
  • À la carte restaurant Lindstrøm included for suite guests (on MS Fram only) 
  • Complimentary tea and coffee 
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi on board. Please note there is very limited Wi-Fi and phone signal in the remote areas we travel to and streaming is not supported. When in Svalbard, there is no Wi-Fi or mobile coverage except in Longyearbyen or Barentsburg. 
  • Complimentary reusable water bottle to use at water refill stations on board 
  • English-speaking Expedition Team who organise and accompany activities on board and ashore 
  • Range of included activities 

Onboard Activities 

  • Experts on the Expedition Team deliver in-depth lectures on a variety of topics 
  • Use of the ship’s Science Center which has an extensive library and advanced biological and geological microscopes 
  • Citizen Science programme allows guests to assist with live scientific research 
  • Professional onboard photographer gives top tips and tricks for the best landscape and wildlife photos 
  • Use of the ship’s hot tubs, panoramic sauna and indoor gym 
  • Informal gatherings with the crew such as daily recaps and preparation for the day to come 

Landing Activities 

  • Escorted landings with small expedition boats  
  • Loan of boots, trekking poles and all equipment for activities 
  • Complimentary wind and water-resistant expedition jacket 
  • Expedition Photographers help with your camera settings  

Not included in your voyage

  • Travel insurance 
  • Luggage handling 
  • Optional shore excursions with our local partners 
  • Optional small-group activities with our Expedition Team   

Notes

  • All planned activities are subject to weather and ice conditions 
  • Excursions and activities are subject to change  
  • Please make sure you meet all entry and boarding requirements  
  • No gratuities expected 

Ships

MS Fram in Greenland
Photo: Stian Klo

MS Fram

Year built 2007
Year of refurbishment 2022
Shipyard Fincantieri, Italy
Passenger capacity 250 (200 in Antarctica)
Beds 276
Car capacity 0
Gross tonnage 11 647 T
Length 114 m
Beam 20.2 m
Speed 13 knots

The original Fram was the most famous explorer ship of its time, and the achievements of her expeditions are unparalleled. MS Fram brings on the heritage of the original Fram, using the most advanced technology to make her exceptionally well suited for expedition voyages in Polar Regions.

Read more about MS Fram

MS Spitsbergen

Year built 2009
Year of refurbishment 2016
Shipyard Estaleiro Navais de Viana do Castelo (POR)
Passenger capacity 180
Beds 243
Car capacity 0
Gross tonnage 7,344
Length 100.54m
Beam 18m
Speed 14.5 knots

MS Spitsbergen will take you on a voyage beyond the ordinary. She cruises along the Norwegian coast from September to May, and becomes part of our global Expedition sailings during the rest of the year.

Read more about MS Spitsbergen

MS spitsbergen

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