akademik vavilov polar bear cruise

Spitsbergen Explorer

  • Overview

    The Norwegian territory of Svalbard and the islands that make up the archipelago offer a tremendous wildlife and birdlife experience, as well as a fascinating lesson in glaciology. The islands were first used as a whaling base in the 17th and 18th centuries and are now celebrated as a breeding ground for many seabirds, along with marine mammals and the elusive polar bear.

    Our expedition vessel is perfectly suited for remote polar exploration. With her high ice classification, we are able to push further to the north along the edge of the ice pack. It is here we frequently encounter the icon of the Arctic – the polar bear – hunting for seals and other protein sources to sustain them through the Arctic summer.

    Throughout our journey we enjoy a comprehensive series of presentations by polar experts, providing an excellent background to the expedition. Days are busy with shore excursions to places of historic interest, visits to wildlife
    colonies, viewing the exquisite native flora and soaking up the stunning landscapes. Short or long hikes on shore are another feature along with regular cruising in the zodiacs. Sea kayaking is another popular option. Our voyage focuses
    on the western and northern coast of Spitsbergen, and as far north as the permanent pack ice. This area has the highest concentration of wildlife and places of historic and scenic interest in the archipelago.

    Duration: 12 days
    Passengers: 96 passengers
    Embarkation Point: Longyearbyen, Svalbard
    Disembarkation Point: Longyearbyen, Svalbard
    Physical rating: Soft Adventure
    Fly/Cruise: Cruise only
    Single Supplement: 1.5x - 2.0x twin rate or share options
  • Itinerary
    • Day 1 - Longyearbyen, Svalbard: Embarkation day

      Embark your expedition ship, Akademik Sergey Vavilov in Longyearbyen and sail through Adventfjorden and into Isfjorden then out into the Greenland Sea. So begins your Arctic cruise, 24 hours of daylight and hopefully some great photographic opportunities and memories.

    • Day 2 - Bourbonhamna

      We arrive at Bourbonhamna, known for the beluga whales that transit the narrow sound. Head out in zodiacs for the first time in search of belugas. Adult belugas are pure white and the younger calves a mottled grey colour. It is estimated there are approximately five to ten thousand belugas in the Svalbard population. The beluga has no dorsal fin - a diagnostic feature of whale species that live in the high Arctic such as the narwhal and bowhead - and it has been postulated the lack of dorsal fin is an adaptation to living in waters that are frequently covered by ice. At Bourbonhamna we hike to Ingebrigstenbukta stopping to view the old hunting cabin and other artefacts along with piles of beluga whalebones, a reminder of Svalbard's hunting past. This is is also a great place to see reindeer.

    • Day 3 - Storfjorden

      Coming around the most southerly point of Spitsbergen, we push into the broad expanse of Storfjorden. Exploring Dolerittneset near Kapp Lee, the lush vegetation of this region is remarkable given the latitude at 70° North. This area has a large scattering of reindeer antlers, however, it is the plethora of ancient whalebones that makes the excursion so memorable. Some 400 years ago, whales were hunted almost to extinction in the waters surrounding Svalbard. Now nature has turned the decaying old bones into items of beauty. Time and the elements have altered their original shape and sculpted them into works of art, covered in blankets of green moss and grasses, black and orange lichen, and framed with purple saxifrage, yellow cinquefoil and white sandwort flowers. They are fascinating photographic subjects. Now, even after death, the noble whale supports life by robustly protecting the delicate flora from the harsh winds and providing nutrients to ensure their survival.

    • Day 4 - Hornsund

      Returning to the west coast, explore the glacier-filled bay leading into Hornsund. The entire archipelago of Svalbard is a lesson in glaciology and our on-board guides will explain the formation of this fantastic landscape during hikes and zodiac excursions. Hornsund is home to the Polish Polar research station and a good place to see reindeer and Arctic foxes.

    • Day 5 - 14th July Glacier

      The rocky shores of Krossfjorden are home to numerous bird colonies and a range of species. The ship will anchor in a protected harbour, launch the zodiacs and cruise along the bird cliffs near the 14th July Glacier. Bearded and ringed seals are known to frequent the waters here and we watch out for them in the dark waters of the fjord. Lilliehook Glacier, at the northwestern head of Krossfjorden, is an incredible sight. The glacier face stretches just over four miles and has a height of around 80 metres - viewed from the zodiac cruise you come to appreciate the enormous scale of your surroundings. Large colonies of birds inclusing kittiwakes and ivory gulls can be seen diving at the front of the glacier when chunks calve off stirring up the nutrients in the water. Polar bear can often be seen patrolling here because of the number of seals on ice.

    • Day 6 - Krossfjorden & Smeerenburgfjorden

      Sailing out of Krossfjorden and Kongsfjorden, you may be fortunate enough to see the historic airship anchor pylon near the scientific community of Ny Ålesund. This remote outpost earned its place in aviation pioneering history as a starting point for North Pole aviation exploration. Notable pioneer aviators including Zeppelin, Amundsen, Ellsworth, Byrd and Nobile all passed through Ny Ålesund. Nearby, Smeerenburgfjorden has a four hundred year history of whaling and is a favorite spot as we round the northwestern tip of Spitsbergen. A wander along the beach looking at the blubber cookers, or an hour behind a tripod shooting landscapes on your camera might be on the schedule, all the while looking for wildlife that can appear anywhere in Svalbard.

    • Day 7 - Exploration of the Sea Ice

      Continue north and east up into the ice, hoping to cross the 80° north parallel. Approaching the ice-edge the ship slows down and all hands are either on the bridge or out on the outer decks scanning for wildlife. Bearded seals, ringed seals and walruses may be found hauled-out on the edges of the ice. Harp seals swim in herds of 10 to 20 through the open water channels in the ice. A buttery coloured lump miles away on the ice metamorphosizes into a polar bear as we slowly work our way through the ice toward it. The Vavilov is perfectly designed for near silent approach and the captain takes great pride in bringing you in as close as possible to the wildlife without disturbing it for some great photographic opportunities.

    • Day 8 - Phippsoya

      At 81° degrees north latitude, Phippsoya - one of the Seven Islands - is only 540 nautical miles from the North Pole. Because of its proximity to the permanent pack ice, Phippsoya offers the potential for great polar bear viewings. Be sure to get up to the bridge and take a picture of the ship's GPS showing this incredibly high polar latitude near the top of the world. Trivia: The archipelago of seven islands is the northernmost land in Svalbard. Named in 1780s by an English sailing party. The smallest and least significant island being named Nelsonøya, after the lowly midshipman, who was promoted over the years to the rank and title of Vice Admiral Horatio Lord Nelson.

    • Day 9 - Nordaustlandet & Hinlopen Strait

      From the ice edge, turn south into the main strait separating Svalbard's two main islands: Spitsbergen and Nordaustlandet. In Hinlopen Strait, the bird cliffs at Alkefjellet are home to more than a hundred thousand breeding Brunnich's guillemots, as well as thousands of kittiwakes and black guillemots. The huge basalt cliffs and skies are thick with birds as they hurl themselves off the rockface.

      Polar bears are common in the Hinlopen area and there are a few different walrus haul-outs Nearby Murchison Fjord is a wonderful place to kayak or cruise as the ship navigates the waterways between the islands. There are some excellent hiking routes here up to high points with spectacular views and further opportunities to encounter Arctic wildlife.

    • Day 10 - Leifdefjorden

      Enter Leifdefjorden and slowly cruise towards the Monaco Glacier. This vast sweep of ice more than four miles wide provides a fabulous backdrop for a zodiac cruise. Ice caves and tumbling seracs are an impressive sight as are the thousands of black-legged kittiwakes feeding on the upwelling of rich nutrients found near the sub-glacial outflow. A morning of cruising in the ice is best followed by a hike on the tundra. Red phalaropes, purple sandpipers and vibrant tundra provide plenty of viewing and photography opportunities. The geology is fascinating and it is a great chance to see reindeer and Arctic foxes.

    • Day 11 - Alkehornet

      Alkehornet, at the mouth of Isfjord, offers breath-taking views and an incredible tundra walk. Arctic foxes can often be seen here, as well as reindeer. Towering above the site is a hornshaped mount covered in guillemots and kittiwakes. This evening, celebrate the journey with a special dinner attended by the ship's Captain. It's a great time to reflect on a wonderful voyage in this wild and remote place.

    • Day 12 - Longyearbyen, Svalbard: Disembarkation day

      Arrive back into Longyearbyen this morning and disembark after breakfast. Transfer back into town with a chance to visit the museums and buy a few last-minute souvenirs before transferring to the airport for your return flights.

    Please consider that our voyages are expeditionary in nature. This means, that there are no concrete itineraries, your captain and expedition leader will utilise their vast experience to chart the best course for your expedition depending on the climatic and environmental conditions. Mentioned highlights and wildlife cannot be guaranteed.

  • Highlights & Activities

    Kayaking

    As a pre-booked activity, our group of sixteen paddlers and three guides gears you up with the best kit in the industry to experience one of the best paddling destinations in the world. Both single and double kayaks are available.

    USD 695 per person

    The Polar Bear

    To many people, the polar bear is the Arctic. The sight of such an impressive silky white bear wandering the frozen Arctic seas in search of seals symbolizes the cold, isolated nature of the Arctic so well. Polar bears are marine mammals because they spend so much of their lives away from land. In the high Arctic where there is always some sea ice to travel on, polar bears range over ice floes in the pack ice hunting seals all summer. In some areas (e.g. southern Hudson Bay, southern Svalbard) they are simply forced to come ashore. Polar bears rarely venture inland.

  • Inclusions

    Expedition Gear Package

    A complementary expedition package is provided on a loan basis, upon boarding. Your package will include;

    - Windproof / waterproof expedition jacket and bib pants
    - Waterproof backpack
    - Comfortable insulated rubber boots
    - Water resistant binoculars
    - Trekking poles

    Inclusions / Exclusions

    Included in your Expedition

    - Free use of rubber expedition boots/pants & jacket
    - Comprehensive pre-departure material
    - Port taxes
    - All shore excursions and lectures
    - All accommodation and meals on board

    Not included in your Expedition

    - Optional excursions and activities.
    - Luggage handling
    - Mandatory expedition gear not provided
    - Baggage / cancellation / interruption and medical travel insurance
    - International flights
  • Map
    Screen shot 2017 06 28 at 1.56.31 pm
  • Gallery
  • Vessel

    AKADEMIK VAVILOV

    Akademik Sergey Vavilov is the near identical sister-ship to Akademik Ioffe. Built in Rauma (Finland) these Baltic Class 1A (Canadian Type B) ice strengthened ships are the leaders in their class. They are the pride of the polar fleet featuring first class amenities catering to the demands of today’s most discerning guests. A separate lounge and bar with panoramic views, as well as a library provide ideal places to sit and relax or catch up on some reading. A selection of movies and documentaries can also be watched in the lounge. The sumptuous meals prepared for you by our culinary team are enjoyed in our dining room, which can host all passengers in a single seating and will keep you feeling healthy and strong for the myriad of activities offered throughout the voyage. Other facilities include the theatre style presentation room, gift-shop, fitness room, massage room, hot water spa, sauna and plunge pool. There’s also a dedicated expedition ‘mud-room’ where you prepare for your off-ship excursions.

    Features & Facilities
    • Superior accommodation
    • 360 degree observation decks
    • Lounge & Bar with panoramic views
    • Theatre style presentation room
    • Wellness Centre; Gym
    • Massage services
    • Hot water spa
    • Sauna
    • Plunge Pool
    • Expedition mud room
    • Digital photography lab
    • Internet/Wifi
    Key Facts
    Luxury star rating: 3
    Guests #: 96
    Crew #: 65
    Ice Class: 1A
    Speed: 14
    Refurbished:
    Technical Specs
    Year built: 1988
    Length: 117m
    Width: 18
    Draft:
    Tonnage: 6230
    Registry: Russia
    Elec Outlets: 220V / 2 Round Pin
Check Voyage Dates, Pricing and Availability
akademik vavilov triple cabin

Triple

08 Jun 2019 - 19 Jun 2019
Triple berth cabin with shared facilities and porthole.
USD 7,995pp
USD 6,995pp
Reserve
akademik vavilov twin semi private cabin

Twin Semi-Private

08 Jun 2019 - 19 Jun 2019
Twin cabin with semi-private facilities and a porthole.
USD 8,995pp
USD 7,995pp
Reserve
akademik vavilov twin private cabin

Twin Private

08 Jun 2019 - 19 Jun 2019
Twin cabin with private facilities and window.
USD 10,395pp
USD 9,395pp
Reserve
akademik vavilov superior twin private cabin

Superior Twin

08 Jun 2019 - 19 Jun 2019
Twin cabin with private facilities, window and added benefits.
USD 12,395pp
USD 11,395pp
Reserve
akademik vavilov shackleton suite cabin

Shackleton Suite

08 Jun 2019 - 19 Jun 2019
Double cabin with private facilities, window and added benefits. This cabin can also be utilised as a Triple, where the 3rd person pays the triple rate.
USD 13,595pp
USD 12,595pp
Reserve
akademik vavilov one ocean suite cabin

One Ocean Suite

08 Jun 2019 - 19 Jun 2019
Suite with double bed, private facilities and a host of luxuries.
USD 15,495pp
USD 14,495pp
Reserve