Current as of: December 5, 2023 - 06:17
1 out of 7 - Leisurely
Spitsbergen is the largest island of the Svalbard archipelago, and this voyage will attempt a circumnavigation of the island. Lying entirely within the Arctic Circle, Spitsbergen is rugged, wild, unspoiled—utterly unforgettable. When it comes to viewing Arctic wildlife, Spitsbergen is known as one of the most prolific destinations.
The island and surrounding area offers one of the best opportunities to view Polar bears, and with luck we’ll be able to see the world’s largest carnivores in their natural habitat. Walrus populations love Spitsbergen as well, feeding in the food-rich icy waters around the island. Whales and seabirds will also entertain during the sailing portions of the expedition, and we may catch a sighting of reindeer or Arctic fox when taking Zodiac excursions to shore.
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.
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 hot shower and then relax with a tea, coffee, hot chocolate or something stronger from the bar.
Sea kayaking option:
Kayaking in the Arctic is probably one of the most intimate and inspiring ways you can explore the rugged coastlines and calm bays of the regions we visit.
Kayaking in the Polar Regions is highly weather-dependent, however we guarantee at least one outing throughout your voyage, but your kayak guides will take you out as many times as possible throughout your voyage.
Offered on most Arctic voyages, spaces are limited and require some kayaking experience. All equipment, guides and instructions are provided by Quark.
Explore the ocean from a more intimate vantage point on a sit-on-top kayak. No experience is required to manoeuvre these very stable kayaks, allowing you to enjoy an unforgettable experience on the water, taking in breathtaking landscapes and wildlife. Whether it’s your first time in a kayak or you want greater flexibility to try other Adventure options, this shorter excursion is for you.
Paddling in the Polar Regions is highly weather-dependent and a one-time experience. Your kayak guides will attempt to take you out on the water for 1-1.5 hours of paddling. Offered on most voyages, spaces are limited. All equipment, guides and instructions are provided by Quark.
All Polar itineraries should be treated as a guide only – it is possible that, amongst other things, the capricious nature of wind, visibility and ice, intelligence from previous sailings, changes in local landing regulations or the expert opinion of the crew onboard may lead to adjustments to the route published.
Please note that, as with all Polar holidays and voyages, the booking conditions for this trip differ from our standard conditions.
The required deposit is 25% per person of your selected travel arrangements (minimum £1000 per person or equivalent in booking currency) and the balance of the price of your travel arrangements must be paid at least 133 days before your departure date. The deposit is non-refundable, and at 133 days before departure date, our cancellation penalties are 100% of the holiday cost.
The Exodus group forms part of the ship’s complement (max of approx. 100), enjoying the relaxed, intimate and informal atmosphere, which breaks into smaller groups to facilitate the frequent excursions. We offer these cruises in conjunction with our partners Quark 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.
We work with many fine Expedition Leaders and Polar Experts, bringing a diversity of interests including zoology, Polar history, geology, ornithology and ocean sciences. The ship’s operating crew have many years of experience in Polar Regions and are committed to ensuring a safe and memorable journey. Each day your cabin will be serviced by the housekeeping crew, and your meals served by the friendly and attentive restaurant staff. There is also a resident medical officer.
Adult min age: 18
Max group size: 128
Your Arctic adventure begins in Helsinki, renowned for its extraordinary architecture and intriguing mix of eastern and western influences. If you arrive early, explore the many museums, galleries and restaurants, relax at a Finnish sauna or wander the vibrant Design District before retiring at your included hotel.
This morning, the group will transfer to the airport and board our private charter flight to Longyearbyen, Spitsbergen’s largest settlement, where you’ll have some time to explore before embarkation. As theship sets sail, enjoy your first view of the island’s rugged, glacier-topped mountains rising majestically from icy waters.
Expect a new adventure every day as we begin our circumnavigation by heading north and around the island of Spitsbergen, exploring smaller, outlying islands. We plan to circumnavigate Spitsbergen, but if conditions are favourable, we will also attempt a circumnavigation of the whole Svalbard archipelago. Every expedition will be different, depending on the weather and ice, but some of the places we may visit include the 14th of July Glacier, Ny London, Phippsøya, Alkefjellet and the seldom-visited Kvitøya.
These names may seem strange to you, but each site has its own unique appeal. There is no shortage of natural beauty in Spitsbergen, where colourful tundra meadows are complemented by immense glaciers. For birders, the 14th of July Glacier is home to puffins, Purple sandpipers, Common eiders, Barnacle geese and Arctic terns, while Alkefjellet’s cliffs are teeming with nesting Brünnich’s guillemots (Thick-billed murres).
Always on the lookout for wildlife, be sure to have your camera ready to capture reindeer when we visit sites like Ny London, Sundneset and Alkhornet. Searching for the iconic Polar bear is a constant activity for the Expedition Team. Phippsøya and Isbukta are two of the bears’ preferred places for hunting, which translates into great potential for you to view and capture them in action.
A big part of appreciating Spitsbergen comes from understanding the culture—not just how people live today, but also how this land was first explored. Whaling was a key industry, and you will see remains of outposts from the 16th century, plus other evidence of whaling at landing sites such as Smeerenburg.
The time to say goodbye to your Expedition Team and shipmates has come. Your adventure ends as it began, in the historic frontier-style settlement of Longyearbyen. From here, we’ll transfer you to the airport for your included return group charter flight to Helsinki.
The Spitsbergen In Depth: Big Island, Big Adventure is offered on the Ocean Adventurer which is a Polar Adventure Ship. Full board accommodation on the ship, generally on a twin share basis in a variety of cabin types, all with en suite facilities.
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 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.
The Ocean Adventurer is a comfortable vessel with spacious cabins, which all have private bathroom facilities and exterior views. Designed to carry travellers in comfort to the most remote corners of the world, Ocean Adventurer was built in 1976, and underwent extensive upgrades in 2017. This multi-million dollar investment included renovations to the interior of the ship, significant technical upgrades, and the addition of a new cabin category, the Owner’s Suites. The refurbishment gave the ship new bathrooms in every cabin, and upgrades to the Lounge, Dining Room, gym, and suites. Technical enhancements – including two new engines, generators, gear boxes, drive systems, and re-bladed propellers – resulted in increased fuel efficiency, and a minimized carbon footprint.
TRIPLE: From 145 sq. ft. (13.5 sq. m), a Triple Cabin is equipped with two lower berths and one upper berth. Located on the Main Deck, it has private facilities, and a porthole with exterior views.
LOWER DECK TWIN: From 115 sq. ft. (11 sq. m), a Lower Deck Twin Cabin is equipped with two lower berths. Located on the Lower Deck, it has private facilities, and a porthole with exterior views.
MAIN DECK TWIN PORTHOLE: From 115 sq. ft. (11 sq. m), a Main Deck Twin Porthole Cabin is equipped with two lower berths. Located on the Main Deck, it has private facilities, and a porthole with exterior views.
MAIN DECK TWIN WINDOW: From 115 sq. ft. (11 sq. m), a Main Deck Twin Window Cabin is equipped with two lower berths. Located on the Main Deck, it has private facilities, and a window with exterior views.
SUPERIOR: From 132 sq. ft. (12 sq. m), a Superior Cabin is equipped with two lower berths. Located on the Upper and Captain’s Decks, it has private facilities, and windows with exterior views.
DELUXE: From 144 sq. ft. (13 sq. m), a Deluxe Cabin is equipped with two lower berths. Located on the Captain’s Deck, it has private facilities, and windows with exterior views.
SUITE: From 215 sq. ft. (20 sq. m), a Suite is equipped with one double bed made up of two twin berths. Located on the Captain’s Deck, it has windows with exterior views and private facilities.
OWNER’S SUITE: From 208 sq. ft. (19 sq. m), an Owner’s Suite Cabin is equipped with one double bed made up of two twin berths. Located on the Bridge Deck, it has private facilities, and windows with exterior views. Cabin 403 has a bathtub and shower; other Owner’s Suites have showers.
All meals while on the ship included.
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.
Vegetarians and vegans can be well catered for on this holiday – please do inform us before departure of any special dietary requests so that our local team can be well prepared.
During the expedition, you will visit remote and isolated sites that are accessible only by Zodiac landing craft. Designed for expedition work, these large and heavy-duty inflatable vessels are extremely safe.
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 them.
Travelling land only: 14 days starting and ending in Helsinki
Your trip starts at the airport hotel in Helsinki in the afternoon of Day 1 of the itinerary listed below. Details of how to reach the start point are given in the Final Joining Instructions.
Full joining instructions including local emergency numbers will be sent to you as part of our Final Joining Instructions. If you do not receive these at least a week before departure, or require them earlier please contact our office or your travel agent.
Location start: Helsinki, Finland
Location end: Helsinki, Finland
Boots – Rubber boots are essential for a Polar Expedition, but to eliminate these from your packing list we will loan you a pair for the duration of the voyage.
Parkas – We recommend one with a wind and waterproof shell – a complimentary Quark Expeditions parka will be provided.
Trousers – Waterproof trousers or salopeltes are essential for Zodiac travel as well as activities on shore.
Gloves – To keep your hands warm and dry, pack a minimum of two pairs of gloves: a pair of thin polypropylene gloves to be worn underneath warm outer gloves.
Hat and Scarf – Pack a warm, woollen hat or cap that covers your ears, as well as a scarf, neck gaiter or other face protection.
Socks – For maximum warmth, we suggest that you wear two pairs of socks to wear inside the rubber boots.
Outer Clothing – Pack woollen or fleece jumpers and tops, plus several turtlenecks for layering.
Underclothing – Pack silk or polypropylene underwear since it will keep you warm without adding bulk.
Knapsack or Backpack – To keep your hands free for shooting photographs, bring a water resistant or waterproof knapsack or backpack.
Shoes – Non-slip shoes for walking around the vessel.
Camera, extra batteries, film or memory cards
Electric converter with adapter plug set
Small medical kit containing prescription medicines and over-the-counter medication for basic ailments such as stomach upsets, allergies, headaches and seasickness
Snow poles or trekking poles
No visa required for British passport holders.
There are no specific health risks.
There are no specific health risks on this trip.
Arctic's electricity: The electrical supply on board most of the Polar vessels is 220v/50Hz.The electrical outlets found in the cabins and around the ships on most Polar vessels accept standard European two round pin plugs, so you may need to bring your own travel adapter.
Arctic's currency: On board all Polar vessels USD are accepted as the primary currency.
ATMs dispensing Norwegian Kroner are readily available in the airports in Norway, and there is an ATM in Longyearbyen. Credit cards are widely accepted.
On board the ships all transactions are in US dollars. You may require some Norwegian Kroner before or after the trip while passing through Norway and for use in Longyearbyen At the conclusion of your voyage, you will be presented with an account. This will include any drinks from the bar, laundry or ship’s shop purchases for which you have signed. You may pay for this in US Dollars cash, credit card (Visa or MasterCard ONLY) or US dollars Traveller’s Cheques.
In addition to funds for on-board expenses, it is possible to purchase souvenirs in a few locations – mainly Longyearbyen – in the form of books, t-shirts, stamps, post cards, good knitwear as well as any essential polar clothing you may have forgotten. Visa and Mastercard are accepted.
On a couple of shore excursions, which include visits to scientific stations or small settlements, there may be the opportunity to buy and send postcards. Cash in US dollars or Norwegian Kroner is fine for these small expenses.
The appropriate amount to tip the staff and crew is a personal matter but it is customary to provide an end-of-cruise gratuity (as a rough guide approximately US$13-15 per day per passenger would be appreciated)
We work hard to create trips which improve life for the people and places we visit and look after the planet we explore. To read more about our sustainable travel ethos and practice, click here, and to find out about the work of the Exodus Travels Foundation click here.
Some sustainable travel highlights of this trip include:
How this trip helps improve life for local communities.
How this trip helps protect and conserve local landscapes and nature.
How we seek to keep the carbon footprint of this trip low.
Tips for sustainable travel on this trip
Your safe participation
When booking this trip, you should be confident in your ability to participate in all activities described in these Trip Notes. If you have any doubt about your suitability, please call the Exodus office and ask to speak to one of the experts on this itinerary.
Although our leaders are well trained to deal with different capabilities, if they have any concerns about someone’s ability to safely take part in an activity, or their impact on other people’s enjoyment, we authorise them to take necessary action which, in some circumstances, may involve asking someone to miss that activity.
By booking this trip you agree to our Booking Conditions which clearly state that our leaders have the authority to do this. In these rare instances we will ensure anyone sitting out is safely provided for and offered alternative options where possible. Refunds will not be provided for activities missed and customers may be liable for additional costs incurred.
When you’re ready to book, go to our website for online bookings, book over the phone or you can complete a booking form (available online or on request by calling us). We accept all major credit and debit cards, or you can pay be cheque.
You will receive your booking confirmation letter and invoice, which includes extra information and guidance about your travel arrangements.
Full joining instructions, including local emergency numbers and details of how to reach the start point, will be sent to you approximately two to three weeks prior to departure. If you do not receive these at least a week before departure, or require them earlier, please contact our office or your travel agent.
Trip Note validity
These Trip Notes are valid from the “Current as” date on page one. They will occasionally be updated after booking and before departure; if there are any updates that significantly impact the inclusions or itinerary, customers will be written to separately. They will also receive a link to the most up-to-date Trip Notes with their Final Joining Instructions before travelling.
The information in these Trip Notes is given in good faith. Where differences exist between the Trip Notes and our current brochure or website, the Trip Notes supersede the brochure and website. All holidays can be subject to unexpected changes; to enjoy them you should be prepared to be flexible where necessary. Occasionally, it may not be possible to follow the itinerary as planned. This may be for a variety of reasons – climatic, political, physical or other. In these circumstances we will make the best-possible alternative arrangements that maintain the integrity of the original itinerary.
Exodus is fully licensed and bonded as a tour operator. We hold Air Traffic Organisers Licence (ATOL) number 2582, issued and bonded with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). We are also bonded to the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and we are members of the Federation of Tour Operators (FTO) and ABTA – The Travel Association. This means you can book your Exodus holiday with confidence, as all money paid to us for your trip is fully protected.