Polar Cruise - Realm of the Polar Bear in Depth
Arctic, Svalbard, Polar, 11 days - from £3,345 (land only) - from €4,685 (land only) - from $5,545 (land only)
Day 1: Rendezvous at the hotel in Longyearbyen, single-timed transfer to the ship is included from specific flights. We embark the MS Expedition and settle into our cabins. We have a briefing with the expedition staff and leaders. We sail in the evening.
Day 2: During these next nine days we will visit ice covered seas, fjords with breathtaking mountain scenery and glaciers flowing into the sea around us. Each day will be planned to take advantage of local ice and weather conditions. Distances are relatively short in the Archipelago and as there are no ocean crossings, the seas are normally calm.
Day 3: We will spend time steaming through the ice in search of polar bears hunting seals. Ivory gulls will be a highlight for the birders, while we keep a constant lookout for walrus hauled out on ice floes or on sandy beaches.
Day 4: Ice permitting, we will visit spectacular cliffs filled with thousands of murres (guillemots), as well as kittiwakes and glaucous gulls. A little auk colony will also be on our agenda. Our shore stops will be highlighted with flowers nearing, or at the peak of, their bloom.
Day 5: At one or more of our stops, we hope to see Svalbard's unique subspecies of reindeer. They are much smaller than their southern relatives, but still carry impressive antlers. We also have the possibility of Arctic foxes.
Day 6: We may cruise in Zodiacs along the edge of the ice viewing seals or walrus and entering small fjords with glaciers spilling down to the sea or in close beneath spectacular seabird cliffs. We will have opportunities to walk on shore and to observe and photograph the Arctic flora and fauna.
Day 7: Our goal is to give the best possible opportunity to see wildlife in and around the Spitsbergen Archipelago. Ice conditions sometimes allow us to sail through Hinlopen Strait towards the east coast of Spitsbergen, then through Freemansundet towards the south.
Day 8: On early season voyages it may not be possible to sail all the way around Spitsbergan but these voyages often provide the greatest opportunity to see large ice floes in the Arctic pack ice, which usually means excellent wildlife viewing.
Day 9: Later in the season we can cover more territory, which may allow us to explore the entire Archipelago. This can lead us to the less explored regions of Nordaustlandet and Kvitoya, or the continental edges where large whales are attracted by nutrient rich upwellings.
Day 10: During the cruise the crew will receive regular reports on the locations of various birds and mammals particularly polar bears and we may change or even interrupt the day's planned activity to steam away for a sighting. The evening of our last full day of adventure will find the expedition ship anchored off Longyearbyen.
Day 11: We disembark the MS Expedition at Longyearbyen in the morning. Complimentary airport transfers are provided. KE Land Only services end.