Introduction to Spitsbergen

9 days
from
£4,300
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Traveller ratings
5 / 5 from 3 reviews >
Leisurely
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Trip code: 
PNB
Way to Travel:
Guided Group
Activity:
Polar
Min age:
18
Max group size:
132

Explore the Svalbard Archipelago and its stunning landscape and wildlife

The Svalbard Archipelago is both remote and spectacular, and yet also relatively small and easily accessible. These shorter voyages are perfect for those without the time, but with the desire to have a more exciting European holiday than most! Just a short flight from the UK, with no time difference and perpetual summer daylight, this land of peaks and glaciers is an enticing partner for any lover of the wilderness. The wildlife in Spitsbergen is diverse; seals,walrus, Arctic foxes, and at the top of the food chain, Polar bears.

Highlights

  • Explore the remarkable Svalbard Archipelago in 24 hour daylight
  • Incredible wildlife viewing including seabirds, walrus, Arctic foxes and Polar bears
  • Travel in a small expedition vessel
  • Accompanied by extremely qualified Expedition Staff

Key information

  • 8 or 9 nights on the ship
  • Expedition cruising in comfortable conditions

What's included

  • All meals while on the ship
  • All accommodation
  • All transport and listed activities
  • Full complement of qualified Expedition Staff
  • Flights from London (if booking incl. flights)

What's not included

  • Travel insurance
  • Single accommodation (available on request)
  • Visas or vaccinations
Call for general departures:
020 8772 3936
Call for tailormade trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Responsible Travel

At Exodus we believe in the power of Responsible Travel.

Every time we travel, we are part of a global movement that creates jobs, builds more sustainable societies, encourages cultural understanding and safeguards common natural and cultural heritage. To learn more about what Responsible Travel means to Exodus click here… 

Itinerary

  • Day 1

    Start Longyearbyen, board ship and begin exploration.

    The transfer to the ship takes place in the afternoon. Once on board there is a get together for introductions to the expedition team, to learn about the ship and its layout, talk about the itinerary for the next 10 days and participate in the obligatory lifeboat drill. Departure from Longyearbyen is normally around 6:00 p.m.

    Meals included: Dinner
  • Days 2-8

    Exploring Spitsbergen and the Svalbard Archipelago.

    Each expedition presents new opportunities and different weather and ice, so there is no fixed itinerary; however, we do have some favourite destinations, including the 14th of July Glacier, Smeerenburg, Alkefjellet and the Hinlopen Strait. The destinations visited will be selected for optimum wildlife viewing and appreciation of the history and geology of Spitsbergen. Polar bear viewing is almost guaranteed, with Hornsund being one of their preferred hunting areas, and the towering cliffs of Alkefjellet providing many free bird egg meals for both them and the Arctic fox.

    Poolepynton is great for walrus viewing and photography. Coming across a walrus haul-out is a moment you won’t forget. These lumbering giants of the Arctic create quite a noisy scene as each walrus vies for a choice spot of coastline.

    There is no shortage of natural beauty in Spitsbergen. The tundra can be surprisingly colourful in summer, with wildflowers bursting for a taste of sunshine. Each day, you’ll see something new, whether it is a rare bird species, a Polar bear on the hunt, or a century-old abandoned hut.

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 9

    Disembark in Lonyearbyen.

    We arrive back into Longyearbyen early this morning and disembark after breakfast.

    Meals included: Breakfast
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Essential Info

Group Information

The Ocean Nova takes a maximum capacity of 78 passengers, the Ocean Adventurer  takes a maximum capacity of 132 passengers and the Akademik Ioffe takes a maximum capacity of 96 passengers. The Exodus group forms part of the ship’s complement, enjoying the relaxed, intimate and informal atmosphere, which breaks into smaller groups to facilitate the frequent excursions. We offer these cruises in conjunction with Quark Expeditions and One Ocean Expeditions, and Exodus participants will join an international group, not all of whom have booked through Exodus. Occasionally some of these may be younger than 18 years old, the Exodus' stated minimum age for this trip.

Visas

Arctic

No visa required for British passport holders.

Vaccinations

Arctic

There are no specific health risks.

Eating and Drinking

All meals while on the ship included.

Typical Meals

The ships galley offers good quality service and cuisine throughout, with excellent chefs preparing international menus including vegetarian dishes, accompanied by a wide variety of drinks from around the world on sale.

Breakfast: Buffet style – unlimited tea and coffee, a selection of fruit juices, hot options including bacon and eggs or omelettes, a selection of bread and toast and jam/honey/marmalade, fruit and cereal.

Lunch: Three course set meal or buffet, or the occasional BBQ.

Dinner: Three or four courses with a starter of soup and/or salad, a choice of mains with at least one vegetarian option and a dessert, with tea and coffee.

Weather

Spitsbergen has a short season from mid June to mid August; and there is 24 hour daylight in all three months. There may be more sea ice in the earlier months and some more flowers, but in reality with the capricious nature of the weather and wildlife there is not much to choose between different dates.

Longyearbyen

Is this trip for you?

Travelling Conditions

The voyages are designed to be as flexible as possible, taking advantage of circumstances and events as they occur, as well as passengers’ wishes and particular interests wherever possible. The atmosphere on board is relaxed and friendly with expedition staff, including naturalists and Polar experts, on hand and the opportunity to mingle with people from all over the world. The ship is kept warm, clean and comfortable with a wet / mud room in which to hang gear and store boots ready for the next adventure.

On the Zodiac cruises you are sitting still for most of the time with the potential for some sea spray and a cold headwind - if you are not dressed appropriately you will get cold. On the shore excursions, the majority of landings are ‘wet’ which means that the Zodiacs beach and you are helped to slide into the ankle deep shore break before walking up onto dry land (wellington boots are issued to all passengers). There are, of course, no paths, so be prepared for slippery, rough terrain and sometimes fairly deep snow. Back on board the cosy ship after each adventure, you can have a sauna and/or a hot shower and then relax with a tea, coffee, hot chocolate or something stronger from the bar.

Optional activities

Sea kayaking option:

On many of our Spitsbergen voyages there is the chance for some members of the party to take regular sea kayak excursions in place of the Zodiac excursions. There are a limited number of kayaks on each ship, and you must book and pay for this option in advance. All kayak trips are guided, and are subject to suitable locations and weather conditions. Should the kayaking not be possible, a place on a Zodiac is always available. Basic kayak competence is required.

Durations
The itinerary listed is the shortest itinerary offered; the departures with a longer duration spend the extra time exploring Spitsbergen and the Svalbard Archipelago.
Departures on the Akademik Sergey Vavilov are 10 days in duration

Call for general departures:
020 8772 3936
Call for tailormade trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Accommodation

Polar Adventure Ships

The Introduction to Spitsbergen voyage is offered on the Ocean Nova, the Ocean Adventurer and the Akademik Sergey Vavilov which are Polar Adventure Ships. Please visit the Polar Fleet page (www.exodus.co.uk/polar-holidays/polar-fleet) for Ship Information and Deck Plans.

Polar Adventure Ships

These are small ice rated vessels well qualified for Polar waters. Intimate adventures are always more enjoyable with like-minded passengers and staff, so these voyages are for people who like flexible itineraries and plenty to keep them busy. Activities include frequent Zodiac excursions, trekking, kayaking and many hours on deck in areas that other ships only dream about accessing. Food and staff are superb and every guest benefits from the technical advances of this superb fleet. Rest assured our Polar Adventure Ships enable any traveller to maximize their experience sensitively in the Poles.

Call for general departures:
020 8772 3936
Call for tailormade trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Experts

Contact a member of staff who has done this trip

Call for general departures:
020 8772 3936
Call for tailormade trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Expert Blog Entries

  • Reviewed July 2014
    Paul Gofton

    Introduction to Spitsbergen

    Wow ! Awesome trip. Wildlife amazing and scenery stunning. Each day had numerous jaw dropping moments. Svalbard is unspoilt apart from a trip to the most northerly settlement we did not see any other people from joining to leaving the boat meaning the islands, birds and animals were all ours to enjoy.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Numerous, the ones I would mention though are seeing an Arctic fox take a egg from a gooses nest and the goose fighting back, tracking a pod of Walruses in our zodiacs only for one Walrus to rise out of the water within touching distance of the zodiac, an afternoon staring at the majestic scenery where the water was still and the mountains were reflected within - a photographers dream, crossing the 80 degree parallel and finally of course the "buttery" Polar Bear

    What did you think of your group leader?

    John was great, truly passionate about the Arctic and wanting to show and tell us all about it. He had some fantastic stories to tell about the explorers and settlers in Svalbard. He was also complimented by his staff of One Ocean cruises. He had put together knowledgeable people with a wide range of specialist subjects, geology, photography, nature and a policewoman who had served on Svalbard

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Go for it. I went with One Ocean expeditions who provide all your wet water gear for excursions including boots -you don't need hiking boots. However pack a warm coat as you will out on deck a lot of time looking at the birds, scenery and hunting for bears. I booked a triple room, only two people shared thankfully as three would have been tight - although you are only in there really to sleep and get ready for excursions.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Every trip will be different but give the wildlife a chance and it will greatly reward you.
  • Reviewed August 2011
    Anonymous

    SPITSBERGEN ADVENTURE

    The Introduction to Spitsbergan trip was an amazing experience, far beyond any expectations I had had.  The scenery, the wildlife, my travel companions, and - very importantly - the staff all combined to make this a wonderful trip. The expedition staff were helpful and informative on not only their subject but on all aspects of the arctic. They understood that this was a dream trip for most of passengers and were helpful & friendly making it enjoyable and fun. We were very lucky to an expert on Polar Bears travelling on our trip - a wonderful, unassuming man who shared so much of his knowledge & enthusiasm with us. The ship itself was excellent, as was the staff and the meals were superb. I can not recommend this trip or the Exodus/Quark arrangements highly enough.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    There were so many!! The first morning having just nipped onto the side deck to look at the scenery only to see a walrus on floting ice. The sighting of our first polar bear. Waking up to find the ship surrounded by ice with beluga whales in a 'pool' just ahead - and then by the side of the ship and a polar bear walking on the nearby land. Trips out on the Zodiacs looking at ice formations, bird life, glaciers and so much more. Going for walks and seeing herds of raindeer. The fact that we sailed for days without seeing any other people. Speaking to the team about the arctic and, along with learning more about the environment, hearing the enthusiasm in their voice for this special place regardless of how often they had visited.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Excellent, outstanding, proffesional, approachable, helpful and ideal for this type of trip. We could not have wished for any one better and this influences the whole of his team. The team were superb through out the trip and made every possible effort to ensure we all got as much out of the holiday as we possibly could. They were aware that people have different interests and reasons for being there and were always available to discuss issues or give answers to questions. In addition they were friendly and made the whole trip fun as well as an amazing experience. (there was just one who although excellent on his specialism did not give information on anything else and did not interact in the same way).

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The coats provided are very good - and you keep them at the end of the trip. I took some fingerless gloves to wear under warm full gloves as I found this easier when taking photos. I was impressed by the shared facilities which were vey well looked after. The information provided before travel is very good and will give an accurate picture of what to expect.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I would also like to add that the Exodus staff I booked with were outstanding - I booked late and the help & advice I received from Gabi was fantastic. I have an ankle problem & can't get wellies on (needed for landings) so Gabi sorced an excellent product for me to purchase allowing me to do the trip. Kim then took over the booking and was just as helpful - I was left with the impression that she really understood what these trips mean to people. Her friendly helpful tips helped with planning and packing and also made the planning and anticipation an enjoyable part of the experience. This is my first Exodus trip but if Gabi & Kim are typical of the people they employ, it will certainly not be the last - it was like dealing with friends who have your interests at heart but who are exceptionally professional.
  • Reviewed June 2011
    Anonymous

    INTRODUCTION TO SPITSBERGEN

    The trip surpassed our expectations in every respect. the ship was perfect, in size and atmosphere. The food amazing and abundant. The expedition Team were fabulous and made the trip very special. We had, for example a World expert in Polar Bears, an amazing, humble man who could inspire a love of the creature in the most hardened metropolis dwellers. We felt honoured  and privileged to be in his company. The weather was amazing, I believe we were lucky, and the scenery more beautiful and serene than any photo can show.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The first morning, waking up to see not only the most amazing sea-scape, but also a walrus on an ice floe near the ship! And..... there's more.... having a conversation, on deck, with Ian Stirling about it.( Polar Bear and seal expert).

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Brilliant, very professional and very organised. Made the trip! 

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Don't expect to see many Polar Bears, you are not going into a Zoo! You don't need to take a jacket if you are travelling after the trip as the jacket they provide, you keep. We thought that the jackets were for use on the ship only and then left for the next passengers.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Hugely impressed and loved the trip. There was one team guide, who in our opinion did not match the brilliance of the other members. He was an expert in his field but seemed to have no interest or knowledge of any other aspect, eg birds, other animals. A few people moved down the queue to avoid being in his zodiac. Unfortunately we didn't. We learn't more after that Zodiac cruise by talking to others and the Ornithologist on board. The guy responsible for the zodiacs would have a been a better guide.

Dates & Prices

An overview of flight options

Exodus is committed to making joining our tours as easy as possible, wherever you live. We generally only block book seats from London, but this certainly does not mean that you need to fly from there. Depending on the route and airlines available, there will usually be various options available for those who want to fly from their local airport.

This page aims to provide a useful overview of the options available to our clients. However, the best flight arrangements should be tailored to your personal requirements, so please contact our Sales team for expert advice.

 

What kind of options do I have ?

1. We can book for you: Flights from anywhere in the world - not via London  

Depending on the route, this may be direct or via an overseas hub like Amsterdam, the Middle East or elsewhere. On short haul routes there may be direct flights with low cost airlines, charter flights or scheduled airlines. Exodus can book most, but not all, of these for you. The most appropriate airline may be different to that which we use for the group flight from London, but many people now travel on different airlines and meet up with their fellow passengers at the destination.

Pros Cons
  • May be the most direct route
  • Often the extra fare compared to the London flight is minimal.
  • As you will be in the hands a single airline for your entire journey, the airline will be responsible for your bags and your connections.
  • You may not be able to join the group transfers. However, we can usually arrange private transfers, or book your flights to try and coincide with the group transfers. See notes on transfer arrangements below.

 

2. We can book for you: Connecting flights from your local airport to London

Exodus can book connecting flights to London so you can join the group flight there. Connecting times will be followed according to airline advice, or as requested by clients. There are two types of fares we can use for this option: a 'through-fare' or a 'published fare'.
 
a) A 'through-fare' is where you will be in the main airline's care throughout. You change planes, but your bags are checked all the way through to your final destination. 

b) A 'published fare' ticket is completely seperate from your onward ticket from London. It is usually cheaper than a through-fare but will need to be paid for and issued as soon as it is booked. This can be a problem if your tour has not yet reached minimum numbers. On 'published fares' neither airline is aware that you have connecting flights, so Exodus is responsible for timing your connection, not the airlines involved. The tickets are also usually non changeable and non refundable.

Pros Cons
  • Depending on the fare type, Exodus or the airline is responsible for flight connections.
  • Through fare tickets can be expensive.
  • On a published fare, tickets must be issued immediately; tickets on published fares can be very difficult to change if onward flight times change; bags are not checked though to your final destination.
  • Published fares are non-refundable.

 

3. Booking some or all of the flights yourself

You can also book connecting air travel yourself, either to London, or all the way to the start point. There may be certain airlines or routes we don't have access to, so this is always an option. However, if you make your own travel arrangements you become liable for any delays, cancellations or missed connections, and Exodus is not required to offer refunds if you have trouble reaching the start of your trip.

Pros Cons
  • You might find cheaper fares, or routes not available to Exodus.
  • You are responsible for any delays or missed connections, and the cost of the tour is not protected should you miss your flight be cancelled.

 

 Notes on transfer arrangements

Sometimes it is possible to travel on a different airline to the group flight from London. Where this is the case, we need to think about ensuring you meet up with the group with minimum extra cost and hassle.

  • On certain trips, it is easy to arrive on a different flight and still meet the group at the hotel with time in hand. We can usually arrange private transfers (at extra cost) or offer advice on taking a taxi to the start hotel.
  • On other trips (especially in Europe), the transfer meets the group flight and then travels some distance to the first night's accommodation. Where this is the case, our Sales team will try to arrange flights that arrive before (and depart after) the group. However, we do have to make it clear in your final documentation that if your flights are delayed, the transfer cannot wait for you. While Exodus or our local operators will do what we can to help you reach the start point of the tour, any additional costs must be paid by the client. 

 

Next steps? 

Call our Sales team on: 0203 733 0698

Email your query: [email protected]

Polar Ships: For information regarding ship specifications, visit the Polar Fleet page.

 

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Call us on 020 8772 3936