Realm of the Polar Bear

Fantastic Polar Cruise expedition holiday to the Arctic




From $3,780 Land only

Book this holiday

Holiday Overview


  • Travel on the MS Expedition, the best of the polar cruise ships
  • Zodiac and shore excursions around Spitsbergen
  • Wildlife viewing including Polar Bears and Whales around Svalbard
  • Expert team of expedition polar leaders onboard

This exciting 8-day cruise to the Arctic waters of the Svalbard archipelago is a once in a life time opportunity to see polar bears and other arctic wildlife in their natural habitat while cruising along some of the most remote coastlines in the world. Our home for this incredible holiday is the very comfortable MS Expedition, a recently refitted and refurbished vessel, uniquely equipped to meet the demands of cruising in polar regions. We board the boat in the world's most northerly town of Longyearbyen on the island of Spitsbergen. From here we explore up and down the west coast of the island investigating the its many fjords and bays. From close-up encounters with icebergs and glaciers to the region's plentiful wildlife, this is a voyage of nonstop highlights. Always on the lookout for wildlife we will explore Svalbard not only by ship but also up close from small Zodiac boats and on foot. Roaming polar bears, lounging seals, grazing reindeer and colonies of birds all co-exist in this harsh land which is only accessible for just a couple months of the year. Each day of our cruise there are presentations and informative talks from the expert expedition staff on the wildlife, history and environment of the area and these are followed up with excursions in the Zodiacs guided by the expedition staff. There are also opportunities for exploration on foot in the company of polar experts. Outfitted as a cruise ship, the MS Expedition provides an excellent base for polar exploration. With dining areas, presentation rooms, good sized cabins, and viewing decks, we will have plenty of space and entertainment whilst onboard. After our 8 day cruise through the Arctic waters of Svalbard, we dock at Longyearbyen and disembark with some very special memories.

explore international

Explore International. This is one of our Explore International holidays. Participants on these trips can book through KE or through one of our international partners. This helps us to gather together sufficient numbers of like-minded adventurers to get your holiday up and running quickly. Led by an English-speaking guide, the cosmopolitan nature of these groups can be an important part of the experience!

Is this holiday for you?

This is principally a touring, sightseeing and wildlife viewing holiday, with minimal exertion required. If you choose to go ashore, you will need to make the transfers from the ship to a Zodiac and onto land. Short walks on the island of Spitsbergen are optional and weather dependent. You should also consider that some of the classes of accommodation involve the use of bunk-beds. Whilst on deck or during excursions, you need to be prepared for cold temperatures. The itinerary remains flexible, according to the variability of the weather and sea conditions and the locations of wildlife, particularly of polar bears. On certain departures you can book kayaking, experience is essential for these kayaking excursions. All equipment is provided. Early booking is essential. Cabin upgrades are also available.

Please see our online Polar Guide for the differences between our departures, ships and more Polar information. 

Brief Itinerary

View in full
  • Arrive Longyearbyen, and embark the MS Expedition Ship. Airport transfers are provided.
  • Wildlife viewing and exploring around Spitsbergen.
  • Wildlife viewing and exploring around Spitsbergen.
  • Wildlife viewing and exploring around Spitsbergen.
  • Wildlife viewing and exploring around Spitsbergen.
  • Wildlife viewing and exploring around Spitsbergen.
  • Wildlife viewing and exploring around Spitsbergen.
  • Disembark at Longyearbyen. Longyearbyen Airport transfers are provided.
Mon 13 Jun - Mon 20 Jun Code PRP /01/16/
Polar Cruise - The Realm of the Polar Bear
Adult$3,780 Status Guaranteed Book now
More information
  • Realm of the Polar Bear - Polar Cruise - The Realm of the Polar Bear
  • The departure reference for this tour is PRP /01/16/
  • This tour begins on Mon 13 Jun and departs on Mon 20 Jun
  • This departure is guaranteed. Secure your place today with a deposit of $1,400
Mon 20 Jun - Mon 27 Jun Code PRP /02/16/
Polar Cruise - The Realm of the Polar Bear
Adult$3,780 Status Guaranteed Book now
More information
  • Realm of the Polar Bear - Polar Cruise - The Realm of the Polar Bear
  • The departure reference for this tour is PRP /02/16/
  • This tour begins on Mon 20 Jun and departs on Mon 27 Jun
  • This departure is guaranteed. Secure your place today with a deposit of $1,400
Thu 07 Jul - Thu 14 Jul Code PRP /03/16/
Polar Cruise - The Realm of the Polar Bear
Adult$3,860 Status Guaranteed Book now
More information
  • Realm of the Polar Bear - Polar Cruise - The Realm of the Polar Bear
  • The departure reference for this tour is PRP /03/16/
  • This tour begins on Thu 07 Jul and departs on Thu 14 Jul
  • This departure is guaranteed. Secure your place today with a deposit of $1,400
Sun 24 Jul - Sun 31 Jul Code PRP /04/16/
Polar Cruise - The Realm of the Polar Bear
Adult$3,860 Status Guaranteed Book now
More information
  • Realm of the Polar Bear - Polar Cruise - The Realm of the Polar Bear
  • The departure reference for this tour is PRP /04/16/
  • This tour begins on Sun 24 Jul and departs on Sun 31 Jul
  • This departure is guaranteed. Secure your place today with a deposit of $1,400
The LAND ONLY dates and prices are for the itinerary joining in Longyearbyen. For clients making their own flight arrangements, Longyearbyen Airport is the most convenient for transfers to the group hotel. Please refer to 'Joining Arrangements and Transfers' in the trip dossier for further details.

Flights SHOULD NOT be booked until you have received your booking confirmation and the trip is showing 'Guaranteed to Run' or 'Limited'.


Cabin Upgrades

All prices are per person.  If you are paying in US$ or € the exact price will be calculated at the current exchange rate when booking.  Please contact the KE team for an exact price and availability.

CAT 1A (quad cabin) - This is our base price as listed above, if you would like to upgrade the cost below is in addition to this.

CAT 1 (triple cabin) - from £300

CAT 2 (twin with porthole) - from £850

CAT 3 (twin with window) - from £1500

CAT 4 (twin with picture window) - from £2150

CAT 5 (queen bed with picture window) - from £2800


Cabin Types

BOOK WITH KE CONFIDENCE - No surcharge guarantee

We have undertaken to guarantee that all of our Land Only prices will not change once you have booked your holiday. Unlike some of our competitors we have decided never to surcharge, whether you are booking for this year or the next.

Map & Itinerary

The Route

  • airport
  • transfer

Holiday Itinerary

  • Arrive Longyearbyen, and embark the MS Expedition Ship. Airport transfers are provided.

    This is the land of the midnight sun with 24 hour daylight from mid-April to mid-August. Longyearbyen is the world’s most northerly town, and is the largest settlement on Svalbard. Originally a whaling station, coal mining was the main occupation of the inhabitants of Longyearbyen from 1906 until the early 1990’s. Today tourism and Arctic wildlife conservation are the principal industries and there is a very friendly and international feel to the town. It has a bank, post office, hospital, public library, cafes/restaurants, tourist information, a swimming pool, climbing wall, leisure centre, three pubs, three hotels, one cinema (open on Sundays) and one night club. The transfer to the MS Expedition is in the afternoon. Once aboard we have time to settle in to our cabin before we gather together in the lounge for an initial briefing from the Expedition leader and are introduced to members of the expedition staff.

    • Accommodation MS Expedition

    • Meals d

  • Wildlife viewing and exploring around Spitsbergen.

    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. Svalbard is one of the few places on the planet that offers such a wealth and diversity of natural and cultural history sites. During these six days we will visit ice covered seas, fjords with breathtaking mountain scenery and glaciers flowing into the sea around us. We can also attend lectures hosted throughout the day on anything from local wildlife to the history and exploration of the Arctic.

    • Accommodation MS Expedition

    • Meals bld

  • Wildlife viewing and exploring around Spitsbergen.

    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. 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. 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.
    This is also a land of history: from whaling to reaching for the pole, to trapping, coal mining and war and we will visit some of these historic sites.

    • Accommodation MS Expedition

    • Meals bld

  • Wildlife viewing and exploring around Spitsbergen.

    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. As we are in the land of the polar bear, the expedition staff will carry rifles and flare guns on shore for our protection.

    • Accommodation MS Expedition

    • Meals bld

  • Wildlife viewing and exploring around Spitsbergen.

    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 or a sighting. By not having a set itinerary, we take on an expedition spirit and are free to take advantage of the best that Svalbard has to offer.

    • Accommodation MS Expedition

    • Meals bld

  • Wildlife viewing and exploring around Spitsbergen.

    Early-season voyages often provide the greatest opportunity to see large ice floes in the Arctic pack ice, which usually means excellent wildlife viewing. Later in the season, the group can cover more territory, which may allow the chance to explore the entire archipelago. This can lead into the less explored regions of Nordaustlandet and Kvitoya, or the continental edges where large whales are attracted by nutrient rich upwellings.

    • Accommodation MS Expedition

    • Meals bld

  • Wildlife viewing and exploring around Spitsbergen.

    Another full day exploring and finding the wildlife as we make our return journey to Longyearbyen. The evening of our last full day of adventure the expedition ship is anchored off Longyearbyen.

    • Accommodation MS Expedition

    • Meals bld

  • Disembark at Longyearbyen. Longyearbyen Airport transfers are provided.

    We disembark the M/S Expedition in the morning and transfer back to the group hotel. You should ensure that you have your passport and flight tickets with you as your luggage will be taken directly to the airport. KE Land Only package services end with a transfer to the airport.

    • Meals b

Holiday Information

  • Expert Expedition staff
  • Single timed airport transfers on arrival and departure days
  • All meals whilst on the MS Expedition
  • All Zodiac cruises on Svalbard with expert leaders
  • Waterproof boots supplied (different sizes available)
  • Lecture and guidance programs during the expedition
  • Arctic destination guide book
  • Expedition parka jacket
  • Travel insurance
  • Tips for staff
  • Longyearbyen airport transfers (except for single timed transfer)
  • Cost of optional excursions (kayaking)
  • Miscellaneous expenses - drinks and souvenirs etc
Onboard the ship a diverse range of international dishes is available. Meals are prepared and catered by professional chefs and all meals are included in the trip price. Dining is casual, tables are unassigned and the dining room is capable of seating the entire passenger compliment at one time. There is always a selection of different meals available with plenty of options for vegetarians. Special dietary requirements can be accommodated with advance notice (please advise us at time of booking). Coffee, tea and water are all provided free of charge. All other beverages, alcoholic and non-alcoholic are not included and can be purchased in the dining room, pub or the lounge.
All meals whilst on board the M/S Expedition are included.
You will meet at the group hotel in Longyearbyen from where you are transferred to the ship at 4pm on day 1 of the land only itinerary.

Complimentary airport transfers to the group hotel are provided if you are arriving on Day 1 or have booked pre-night accommodation as part of your package through KE Adventure Travel. We recommend that you book an extra night in Longyearbyen prior to departure in case of flight delays. The very latest that you should arrive in Longyearbyen Airport is at 2pm on day 1 of the land only itinerary.

Otherwise the airport shuttle bus, which meets all flights, will drop off at all hotels. The fare is approximately 50 NOK and tickets can be purchased on board.

You need to bring your luggage to the 'group hotel' luggage store between 9am and 12 midday on the day you set sail. This is available for all passengers already in Longyearbyen. A representative of the MS Expedition will be available to check in your bag which will be transferred to the ship.

It is important that you keep your passport with you and you should dress for changeable weather. You will be reunited with your luggage when you reach your cabin. The passenger transfer from the group hotel to the ship will depart at 4pm.

At the end of the trip (the last day of the land only itinerary) Longyearbyen Airport transfers are provided for everyone scheduled to depart on that day.

Clients MUST provide the KE office with full details of their flights. Hotel contact details and an emergency number will be provided with your booking confirmation.
During this trip the group will spend 7 nights on board the M/S Expedition Polar Cruise Ship. Accommodation on board is based on a quad cabin with porthole (CAT.1A). If you are travelling by yourself you will be paired up with other single clients of the same sex. Cabin upgrades to triples, twins and cabins with larger windows are possible as well as singles, all depending on availability. Please contact the office for prices and availability. Additional hotel nights (before or arrive) in Longyearbyen are available for a supplementary cost.

View the gallery below for images of the style of accommodation used

After breakfast in the dining room with a view out over the sea to the ice flows and mountains of the Svalbard archipelago, those who have opted to go out in the Zodiacs will make their way down to the ‘mud room’ to put on waterproofs and boots prior to boarding the boats. Out on the sea we may have a morning of whale and seal watching or tour the coast to view the gathered wildlife who are often as curious about us as we are to see them. On some days we will make landfall and it will usually be necessary to disembark into a few inches of water on the shore. Here we can explore inland and visit key sites of historical or natural interest. After our morning’s exploration we return to the ship for lunch. In the afternoon there will sometimes be an opportunity for another Zodiac tour or we can go out to the viewing decks to watch Arctic life from the ship. Dinner is a three course meal served in the main dining room and this will be followed or sometimes preceded by a presentation from one of the experts on the expedition staff. We end the day in the pub or lounge chatting about the day’s sights and activities.
A carefully chosen team will lead your voyage. The MS Expedition ships boast an international team of professional naturalists and lecturers. Their goal is to provide an informed and balanced interpretation of the destination, accomplished through stimulating lectures, day-to-day briefings, and informal discussions. Your lecturers and Expedition Leader will cover all aspects of the voyage including ornithology, marine biology, geography, geology, history and the environment, as well as practical things like photography. The expedition staff work conscientiously with you on deck and in the field, improving your observational skills to allow you to experience all that the destination has to offer. Their strong sense of ethics and ecological knowledge make for stimulating and mindful conversation whether onshore or at the dinner table. The Expedition Staff will pilot the Zodiac landing craft used for shore landings and Zodiac cruises; they are experienced drivers who operate the Zodiacs in a responsible manner.
It is not practical to set a recommended amount for personal spending money on a holiday like this. All meals while on board and the daily Zodiac excursions, are included in the trip price. The main extra spend on board will be on drinks and this will very greatly from person to person. On board ship, bar bills can be put on a tab and paid at the end of the cruise by credit or debit card or in cash US dollars. You will also need some money for any meals taken in Longyearbyen and for tips. As a guide, we recommend you allow $10 - 15 per day for tips to your crew and expedition staff. It is possible to withdraw cash in Norwegian Kroner from ATM’s in Longyearbyen, but we recommend that you bring a minimum of US$200 in cash for emergency situations where you are unable to withdraw money from ATMs. On board all prices are in $ USD.
Tipping is the accepted way of saying ‘thank you’ to the staff who have assisted you on your expedition. Tips do not form any part of the wages of the staff but they are very much appreciated. It is important to remember that tipping is voluntary and should be dependent on good service. Normally tips are collected by the Hotel Manager at the end of the voyage and distributed amongst the crew and Expedition Staff. The Officers in charge of the ship choose not to participate in the tipping pool. As a guide, we recommend that each group member contributes around $70-110 to these tips.
There is no weight restriction on baggage other than that imposed by your carrier (please note that the baggage limit on the domestic flight between Oslo and Longyearbyen is 23kg). However, we ask you to restrict your luggage to one main bag (your KE Trek Bag) and a small daypack which can be carried on the plane as cabin baggage. We recognise that for some of our holidays and for some of our travellers, the KE Trek Bag (see below) may not provide the best solution when packing for your trip. A bag with fitted wheels or a holdall with more than one compartment and more than one access zip can, in some circumstances, be more appropriate. We have no problem if you choose to use an alternative bag.

All KE clients will receive a FREE KE trek bag.  These have been specially made to stand up to the rigours of adventure travel.  Your KE bag will be posted to you when your trip is guaranteed to run or on receipt of your booking if the trip is already guaranteed.  If you have travelled with us before and already have a KE trek bag you can select an alternative free gift in the booking process.

This holiday does not involve any significant ascent to altitude and we would not expect any altitude issues with this trip.

The following checklist should help you with your packing. As a general rule, you should always try to keep the weight of your equipment to a minimum. Please restrict your baggage to one main bag (your KE Trek bag) and a small daypack. Dress on board is informal. Beware of tight clothing that leaves no room for trapped air, which is an excellent insulator. Wool, silk and some of the new synthetic fibers, like polar fleece, retain heat better than cotton.

You must bring the following items:

  • Causal shoes / Trainers or similar for onboard

  • Rubber boots (Wellington boots)*

  • Walking shoes*

  • Socks (Warm, high wool or similar socks worn over a thin pair of silk, polypropylene socks should provide enough warmth and insulation for your feet. Bring several pairs of socks, since you will inevitably get your feet wet)

  • Waterproof jacket

  • Trekking trousers

  • Waterproof trousers

  • Thermal baselayer - leggings

  • Underwear

  • Baselayer shirts

  • Casual shirt and/or T-shirts

  • Fleece jacket or warm jumper/sweater

  • Sunhat

  • Warm hat

  • Scarf and/or buff

  • Sunglasses

  • Gloves or mittens (Thin polypropylene gloves under warm and waterproof gloves is a good combination)

  • Sun protection (including total bloc for lips, nose etc.)

  • Water bottles 1 Litre  x1

  • Washbag and toiletries

  • Antibacterial handwash

  • Small towel

  • Selection of dry bags (to keep rucksack contents dry)

  • Small padlock (to lock trek bag)

  • Small daypack

  • Warm jacket (down)

  • Basic First Aid Kit including: Antiseptic cream, throat lozenges, diarrhoea treatment (Imodium), painkillers, and plasters. Glucose tablets and multi-vitamin tablets are also a good idea

The following items are optional:

  • Warm Ski pants

  • Shorts

  • Spare gloves

  • Travel clothes

  • Camera (in a dry bag)

  • Binoculars

  • Pen-knife (remember to pack sharp objects in hold baggage)

  • Repair kit – (eg. needle, thread, duct tape)

  • Seasickness remedy


*Rubber boots / Wellington boots - Complimentary waterproof boots are supplied for the following sizes:

  • Men’s USA size 8-14 / UK size 7 to 13½ / Europe 41 to 48½
  • Women’s USA size 3 to 9 / UK size 1 to 6½ / Europe 33 to 40

If you have different feet sizes to these you should bring your own rubber boots. These should be rubber, waterproof boots that are just below your knee with a strong, ridged non-skid sole.

Kayak Excursion (pre-booking essential) - If you choose the optional Kayak Excursion please ensure you have enough layers with you to keep you warm. You will need thermal underwear and vest (note that cotton is not acceptable), polypropylene/ pile (polar fleece) trousers and non bulky jacket, a fleece or tight knit wool cap (X2), a neck tube or balaclava, mid weight fleece gloves. You should also take dry bags for personal gear/camera. You will be supplied with: Kokatat Supernova Paddling suits, paddles, floatation vest, spray skirt, neoprene pogies (paddling mittens) and neoprene booties. You will be required to have with you thermal layers suitable for temperatures ranging between -5ºC (23ºF to +7ºC (45ºF)

For each holiday there is a minimum number of participants required to enable it to go ahead. Once the minimum number is reached, the trip status will change from 'Available' to 'Guaranteed to run'. You can check the trip status for each departure in ‘Dates and Prices’ table. Other than in exceptional circumstances, we will not cancel a trip once it has achieved this guaranteed to run status and so you are free to proceed with your international flight booking and other travel arrangements.

A passport with 6 months remaining validity at the end of your stay is generally required. The information that we provide is for UK passport holders. Please check the relevant embassy or consulate for other nationalities. It is your responsibility to ensure that you have the correct travel documents and visas for your holiday. Visa requirements and charges are subject to change without notice. If you are travelling outside the EU you should have at least 2 blank pages in your passport.

Visa Europe

UK and USA passport holders do not require a visa.

You should contact your doctor or travel clinic to check whether you require any specific vaccinations. UK residents should obtain a free European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). This entitles you to state provided medical treatment, but is not a substitute for medical travel insurance which is still vital when travelling overseas.

When on the ship everything is priced is US$.  If you are paying in cash you will need US$, if you are paying by card your bank will use their exchange rate.

The unit of currency in Europe is the Euro.

We recommend you check if you require an adaptor for your electrical items at:

It makes a lot of sense to spend some time before coming on an active holiday getting some additional exercise. The fitter you are, after all, the more enjoyable you will find the experience. Although this is principally a cruise holiday you will have the opportunity for walks on Spitzbergen and a basic level of fitness is required to get in and out of the Zodiacs.

As a reputable tour operator, KE supports the British Foreign & Commonwealth Offices ‘Know before you go’ campaign to enable British citizens to prepare for their journeys overseas, and we recommend that all KE travellers take a look at the FCO Travel Advice for their chosen destination on the official FCO website: North Americans can also check out the U.S. Department of State website: for essential travel advice and tips.

KE treat the safety and security of all clients as the most important aspect of any trip we organise. We would not run any trip that we did not consider reasonably safe.  Should the FCO advise against travel for any reason, we will contact everyone booked to travel to discuss the situation.  We receive regular updates direct from the FCO and are in constant touch with our contacts on the ground.  If you have any questions about government travel advice, please call our office.

Svalbard’s location within the Arctic circle is the biggest factor on climate but temperatures especially around the coast are moderated by the influence of the warm North Atlantic Current which keeps the waters navigable for most of the year and average summer temperatures at around 4 to 6°C. However, on deck with a sea breeze, the wind chill can bring the real feel temperature below freezing. Precipitation is frequent, but falls in small quantities, typically less than 400 millimetres in western Spitsbergen.
Spitsbergen. Andreas Umbreit – Bradt Guides The Arctic, A Guide to Coastal Wildlife. Tony Soper A Naturalist's Guide to the Arctic. E.C. Pielou Flora of Svalbard. Olaf I Ronning Birds and Mammals of Svalbard. Norsk Polarinstitutt Ice Bears and Kotick. Ranulph Fiennes Arctic Dreams. Barry Lopez Polar Bear. Ian Stirling
Spitsbergen Explorer Ocean Explorer 1:1,100.000

The Svalbard archipelago, at 1:1,000,000 approx. on a tourist map with extensive additional information. On one side is a map of the whole Svalbard group showing settlements and various topographic features. The reverse side has biographies of 27 polar explorers plus colour photos and descriptions of several species of fauna and flora.

Extend Your Holiday

Arctic Sea Kayak Excursion

Going eye to eye with an inquisitive whale is a rare and special moment that will carve itself into your memory. Kayaking isn't just an outdoor adventure, it's an opportunity to experience these remote regions from another vantage point. You'll venture out to sheltered bays and areas known for calmer waters and take part in group kayaking trips led by our experienced and skilled leaders. No other activity gets you as close to the natural environment! Kayaking excursions are dependent on weather but kayakers can expect around 4 trips per cruise. Previous kayaking experience is strongly recommended. You do not need to know how to roll a kayak or do a self-rescue. Professional guides will be onboard to help you with new skills or to offer coaching to improve your paddling performance. It is essential to book early for this experience.

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