Realm of the Polar Bear In Depth

Book with KE & receive a free Yukon down jacket worth almost £300




From $5,380 Land only

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Holiday Overview


  • Zodiac excursions and shore excursions around Spitsbergen
  • Wildlife viewing including Polar Bears and Whales around Svalbard
  • 10 day Arctic holiday on the MS Expedition
  • Expert team of expedition polar leaders onboard

Similar to our Realm of the Polar Bear but with 3 additional days in Arctic waters, this exciting 10-day cruise to 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 will make a leisurely circumnavigation 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 10 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 - it is graded easy. 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.
  • 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 27 Jun - Thu 07 Jul Code PRD /01/16/ Adult$5,380 Status Guaranteed Book now
Thu 14 Jul - Sun 24 Jul Code PRD /02/16/ Adult$5,380 Status Guaranteed Book now
Sun 31 Jul - Wed 10 Aug Code PRD /03/16/ Adult$5,540 Status Guaranteed Book now
Wed 10 Aug - Sat 20 Aug Code PRD /04/16/ Adult$5,540 Status Guaranteed Book now
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'.

Please note that full payment for all Polar Cruises is 14 weeks prior to departure. Early booking is recommended as flights fill early and cabin choice can be more limited nearer to departure.

Free PHD Yukon Down Jacket worth almost £300 with every booking!Yukon PHD Jacket

Everyone booking a cruise between now and the end of 2015 will receive a FREE PHD Yukon Down Jacket worth almost £300. Made with probably the warmest down in the world (grade 900), this quality jacket was designed to keep competitors warm at -35C during the Yukon Arctic Ultra sled dog race. Naturally, it's also perfect for spotting wildlife from the deck of the recently refitted MS Expedition. Jackets will be sent out on receipt of full payment.

Medical Form

Please note that for all our Polar Cruises you are required to complete a confidential medical form which will be sent to you on booking.

Cabin Upgrade Prices

Our base price for this holiday includes accommodation in a category 1A (CAT.1A) cabin with four bunks and a porthole. It is possible to upgrade to cabins with triple or twin berths and larger windows or to a suite. Note that all cabins are outward facing with views (window or porthole) and have private en-suite bathrooms. Images of the cabins can be seen in the photo gallery. Please contact the office for details, availability and prices.

BOOK WITH KE CONFIDENCE - No surcharge guarantee*

* Against Land Only services.

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 Boat

    • 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 nine 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 Boat

    • 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.

    • Accommodation Boat

    • 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 Boat

    • 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 Boat

    • Meals bld

  • Wildlife viewing and exploring around Spitsbergen.

    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.

    • Accommodation Boat

    • Meals bld

  • Wildlife viewing and exploring around Spitsbergen.

    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 Boat

    • Meals bld

  • Wildlife viewing and exploring around Spitsbergen.

    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.

    • Accommodation Boat

    • Meals bld

  • Wildlife viewing and exploring around Spitsbergen.

    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 Boat

    • 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 Boat

    • 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 accommodation as described in the trip dossier
  • Meals as detailed in the Meal Plan
  • 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

  • Travel insurance
  • Tips for staff
  • Longyearbyen airport transfers (except for single timed transfer)
  • Cost of optional excursions (kayaking)
  • Miscellaneous expenses - drinks and souvenirs etc

During this trip the group will spend 10 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 (depending on availablity) on the M/S Expedition. Single cabins are also available for an additional cost. 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

All meals whilst on board the M/S Expedition are included.

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.

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.

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. If you have booked the kayaking then you will have opportunities to kayak where possible. 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 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.

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:

  • Casual shoes / Trainers / Sneakers 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 & Windproof jacket
  • Trekking trousers / pants
  • Waterproof pants/trousers
  • Long johns (thermal underwear)
  • Underwear
  • Baselayer shirts / fleece
  • Casual shirt and/or T-shirts
  • Fleece jacket or warm jumper/sweater
  • Sunhat
  • Warm hat
  • Scarf and/or neck gaiter
  • Sunglasses
  • Gloves or mittens (Thin polypropylene gloves under warm outer gloves is a good combination)
  • Sun protection (including total bloc for lips, nose etc.)
  • Water bottles 1 Litre (1 Quart) 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 (band-aids). Glucose tablets and multi-vitamin tablets are also a good idea

The following items are optional:

  • Warm Ski pants
  • Shorts
  • Spare gloves
  • Wet wipes
  • Travel clothes
  • Camera (in a dry bag), film/memory cards, batteries
  • Binoculars
  • Repair kit – (eg. needle, thread, duct tape)
  • Seasickness remedy

* Notes

  • 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.

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 GP 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.

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

Sea Kayaking - Arctic

From $705 per person

More info

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