hondius polar bear cruise

Northeast Spitsbergen, In the realm of Polar Bear & Ice – Summer Solstice

  • Overview

    North Spitsbergen, In search of Polar Bear & Pack Ice

    The best opportunity to spot the King of the Arctic

    Sailing along the pack-ice of North Spitsbergen, will give us the best opportunities to spot the King of the Arctic. We sail to Raudfjord on the north coast of West Spitsbergen, a beautiful fjord dominated by spectacular glaciers and favoured by Ringed and Bearded Seal. The cliffs and shoreline of the fjord also support thriving seabird colonies and a surprisingly rich vegetation, which flourishes in sheltered spots. Polar bear are often seen here.

    Summer Solstice: -

    The midnight sun is a natural phenomenon that occurs in summer, when the sun is visible for a full 24 hours in fair weather. In 2020 the summer solstice in Longyearbyen falls on Saturday, June 20, at 23:43. The word “solstice,” from the Latin solstitium, means sun-stopping, and describes a period when the sun’s zenith is farthest from the equator. The sun does not rise precisely in the east at this time, but instead rises in the northeast and sets in the northwest, making it visible for a longer period of time. Not until late August will the sun begin to disappear entirely over the horizon. Experience this impressive phenomenon on when the midnight sun has its highest position above the Arctic’s northern horizon.

    Duration: 12 days
    Passengers: 176 passengers
    Embarkation Point: Longyearbyen, Spitsbergen
    Disembarkation Point: Longyearbyen, Spitsbergen
    Physical rating: Soft Adventure
    Fly/Cruise: Cruise only
    Single Supplement: 1.7x - 2.0x twin rate or share options
  • Itinerary
    • Day 1 - Longyearbyen, Svalbard; Embarkation Day

      We arrive in Longyearbyen, the administrative capital of the Spitsbergen archipelago of which West Spitsbergen is the largest island. Before embarking there is an opportunity to stroll around this former mining town, whose parish church and Polar Museum are well worth visiting. In the surrounding area of Longyearbyen, more than 100 species of plants have been recorded. In the early evening the ship will sail out of Isfjorden, where in the mouth of the fjord we may see our first Minke Whale.

    • Day 2 - Cruising Krossfjorden

      Heading north along the west coast, you arrive by morning in Krossfjorden. Here you might board the Zodiacs for a cruise near the towering blue-white face of the Fourteenth of July Glacier. On the green slopes near the glacier, colorful flowers bloom while flocks of kittiwakes and Brünnich’s guillemots nest on the cliffs. You have a good chance of spotting an Arctic fox scouting for fallen chicks, or a bearded seal paddling through the fjord.

      In the afternoon you sail to Ny Ålesund, the northernmost settlement on Earth. Once a mining village served by the world’s most northerly railway – you can still see its tracks – Ny Ålesund is now a research center. Close to the community is a breeding ground for barnacle geese, pink-footed geese, and Arctic terns. And if you’re interested in the history of Arctic exploration, visit the anchoring mast used by polar explorers Amundsen and Nobile in their airships, Norge (1926) and Italia (1928).

      Alternately, you may sail to Raudfjorden, taking in an expansive fjord spilling with glaciers – and maybe even visited by ringed and bearded seals. The cliffs and shoreline of this fjord also support thriving seabird colonies, rich vegetation, and the possibility of polar bears.

    • Day 3 - Route to Raudfjorden

      In the morning you land at Ytre Norsköya and walk to the top of the island, where 17th-century whalers had an observation post to spot bowhead whales surrounded by puffins. Alternately (on our HDS04 voyage), you may land on Indre Norsköya at Sabine’s Observatory, where Edward Sabine (1823) studied the curvature of the Earth. Sailing to Raudfjorden on the north coast of Spitsbergen, you take in an expansive fjord spilling with glaciers – and maybe even visited by ringed and bearded seals. The cliffs and shoreline of this fjord also support thriving seabird colonies, rich vegetation, and the possibility of polar bears.

    • Day 4 - The massive Monaco Glacier

      Depending on the weather, you could sail into Liefdefjorden and cruise within sight of the 5-kilometer-long (3.1 miles) face of the precipitous Monaco Glacier. The waters in front of this glacier are a favorite feeding spot for thousands of kittiwakes, and the base of the ice is a popular polar bear hunting ground. If ice conditions prevent sailing here early in the season, an alternate route along the west coast of Spitsbergen can be implemented.

    • Day 5 - Into Sorgfjorden (Fjord of Sorrows)

      Sailing into Sorgfjorden, you land about one km (.6 miles) southwest of Eolusneset, not far from a walruss haul-out area. At nearby Krosshaugen you can see the graves of 17th-century whalers, and this is also a good area to spot ptarmigans. Later in the day, you continue to the opposite side of the fjord to Crozierpynten. Here you can view the remains of the Swedish Arc of Meridian Expedition, 1899 – 1900 and walk some distance across Basissletten to Basisodden, a track scientists once used for long-distance measurements.

    • Day 6 - Highlights of Hinlopen

      Today you sail into Hinlopen Strait, home to bearded and ringed seals as well as polar bears. At the entrance there is even the possibility to spot blue whales. As with Liefdefjorden, you can take an alternate west Spitsbergen route if ice prevents entry into Hinlopen. After cruising among the ice floes of Lomfjordshalvøya in the Zodiacs, you then view the bird cliffs of Alkefjellet with their thousands of Brünnich’s guillemots. On the east side of Hinlopen Strait, you may attempt a landing where reindeer, pink-footed geese, and walruses are likely sights. Near Torrelneset you can also visit the polar desert of Nordaustlandet, next to the world’s third-largest ice cap. Here you may encounter walruses during a coastline hike over the area’s raised beaches.

    • Day 7 - Walrus haul-outs and historic remains

      Pushing eastward along the north coast of Nordaustlandet, you will likely sail through Beverly Sundet, seeing tokens of historic expeditions along the shores of Chermsideöya. The northernmost point of your voyage may be on Phippsöya, featuring a walrus haul-out and ivory gull colony. An alternative (on our HDS04 trip) is Vesle Tavleöya, another site from the Arc-of-Meridian Expedition. At Rossöya we reach 80° 49’ north, less than 870 km (540 miles) from the geographic North Pole.

    • Day 8 - Sailing the continental shelf

      While retracing your route west, keep watch for polar bears and elusive Greenland (bowhead) whales. About 40 nautical miles west of Spitsbergen, you sail the edge of the continental shelf. Here fin whales forage during the summer in the upwelling zones (where cold, nutrient-rich water wells up from below the sea’s surface) that run along the Spitsbergen banks. At the mouth of Kongsfjorden, you have a good chance of seeing minke whales.

    • Day 9 - Reindeer, foxes, and so many seabirds

      Walruses sometimes haul out in Forlandsundet, your next stop. As an alternative, you might sail into St. Jonsfjorden or venture south to the mouth of Isfjorden, landing at Alkhornet. Seabirds nest on these renowned cliffs, while Arctic foxes search below for fallen eggs and chicks, and reindeer graze on the sparse vegetation. You arrive in Longyearbyen later at night.

    • Day 10 - Longyearbyen, Svalbard; Disembarkation

      We disembark in Longyearbyen, the administrative centre of Spitsbergen, for flights south to Oslo and onward home.

    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

    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.

    Endless Arctic nights

    Svalbard is the Arctic North as you always dreamed it existed. This wondrous archipelago is a land of dramatic snow-drowned peaks and glaciers, of vast icefields and forbidding icebergs, an elemental place where the seemingly endless Arctic night and the perpetual sunlight of summer carry a deeper kind of magic. One of Europe's last great wildernesses, this is also the domain of more polar bears than people, a terrain rich in epic legends of polar exploration.

  • Inclusions

    All meals on board

    Onboard your expedition all meals are included and prepared by our chefs. Meals are prepared to a restaurant standard and to cater for most diet requirements.

    All Zodiac excursions

    During the course of your expedition, you will have direct access to our onboard expedition team. Our expedition team members are a wealth of information, they have backgrounds in exploration or science based backgrounds. Our teams will usually comprise of naturalists, historians, geologists and ornithologists.

    Your expedition team members will expertly guide you off the ship and provide you with firsthand knowledge about the geology and wildlife of the region. Back onboard the vessel, team members hold lectures about their studies or the wildlife that was seen during the course of the day.

    Inclusions / Exclusions

    Included in your Expedition

    - Free use of rubber expedition boots
    - Comprehensive pre-departure material
    - AECO and government fees
    - Port taxes
    - All shore excursions and lectures
    - All accommodation and meals on board

    Not included in your Expedition

  • Map
    Oceanwide exp north spits
  • Gallery
  • Vessel


    Hondius will be the first vessel to be built to class “LR PC6”, meeting the latest and highest demands of Lloyd’s Register for “Polar Class 6” vessels, the highest Polar Class notation for ice-strengthened vessels. The vessel will also fully comply with the mandatory requirements of the Polar code, adopted by the International Maritime Organization (IMO), for safe ship operation and the protection of the Polar environment. Hondius will be the strongest ice-strengthened vessel in the Polar Regions and will be equipped with stabilizers, and very suitable for advanced, innovative exploratory quality voyages in the Arctic and Antarctic Regions.

    Features & Facilities
    • Brand new vessel (2019)
    • Deluxe comfort level
    • Lecture and Presentation rooms
    • Large observation decks
    • Open bridge
    • Internet/Wifi
    Key Facts
    Luxury star rating: 4
    Guests #: 176
    Crew #: 75
    Ice Class: 1A Super
    Speed: 15
    Technical Specs
    Year built: 2019
    Length: 107m
    Width: 18
    Draft: 5
    Tonnage: 5590
    Registry: The Netherlands
    Elec Outlets: 220V / 2 Round Pin
Check Voyage Dates, Pricing and Availability
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We understand that the trip of a lifetime takes planning, so we make the financial commitments easy to manage.

  • Confirm your booking today with just AUD$ 1,000 per passenger.
  • Pay your 25% deposit 5 day later.
  • Final payment due 120 days prior to departure.
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