During the adventure we will enjoy the immense beauty of Svalbard on this high Arctic voyage among whales, walruses, polar bears and millions of sea birds. We approach the polar bear´s favorite summer residence, as we cruise to 80 degrees north, getting as close as possible to the pack ice north of Svalbard. How far north we reach, and the exact route will depend on the ice conditions, while the many amazing locations along the coasts of Svalbard’s islands are kept navigable by the warm Gulf Stream. Onboard Ocean Albatros you will experience areas of Svalbard not easily accessible otherwise. But we are not only cruising in the far north, we will also visit some extraordinary locations in the eastern part of Svalbard with Edgeøya and in the south part of Spitsbergen like Bellsund and Hornsund.
During the short summer, wildlife such as reindeer is busy amassing energy for the icy polar winter.
The cliffs shimmer with life as every surface is populated with countless birds – in a few months, the new generation of arctic sea birds is ready to leave their nests. The prolific bird life can be further witnessed in the form of arctic guillemots, black guillemots and razorbills fishing in the wake of our ship. On several shores, the huge walruses enjoy the short Arctic summer as well as many whales and seals foraging along the edge of the pack ice and the coasts. In the fleet of Zodiac dinghy boats, we are able to view wildlife at close proximity. The Zodiacs allow us to have frequent shore landings and embark on exploratory mini cruises in the fjords and glacial landscapes.
Enjoy the immense beauty of Svalbard on this Arctic adventure cruise among whales, walruses, polar bears and millions of sea birds. Experience high summer in the Arctic with the brand new Ocean Albatros – one of the few ice-class expedition ships built to withstand the North Pole’s pack ice
LONGYEARBYEN, SPITSBERGEN. EMBARKATION
Arrival to Longyearbyen, Capital of Svalbard – possibly the northernmost ‘real’ town in the world.
Our vessel, the Ocean Albatros, is docked close to the town center. After boarding and a welcome drink, the Expedition Leader will provide information about the voyage, the ship's daily routines and the various security and safety procedures. Before sailing, there will be a mandatory safety drill. The Captain then takes the ship out of Advent Fjord and our Arctic adventure commences.
NY ÅLESUND, NY LONDON AND LILIENHÖÖK GLACIER
During the ‘night’ (what is night, when the sun never sets?), we have passed Prins Karls Forland and have arrived in the magnificent Kongsfjord. Our visit to Svalbard is in the early summer and this is both the challenge and gift of this special voyage. Winter ice will possibly block the inner waters of many fjords, but this will give us the best opportunities to observe the omnipresent – but still elusive – polar bear, hunting for seals in its prime habitat. At this time of year the migrating birds have just arrived. They are all eager to settle and feed to get the best start for the coming hectic summer months.
Our first landing will be at Ny Ålesund. This settlement is in fact further north than Longyearbyen, making it THE northernmost town. But… is a group of scientific stations, a post office and a single shop open for a few hours a real town? You will have to judge for yourself. The setting is nice, the scientific projects are very interesting, and so is the town history. The Captain will try to get docked alongside, so we can enjoy an easy walk through the area.
In the afternoon, we continue further north into the fjord system, and depending on the ice situation, we may do a Zodiac cruise along the Lilliehöök Glacier front… or enjoy a lecture.
FORMER WHALING STATION AT SMEERENBURG AND YTRE NORSKØYA
We have now entered North West Svalbard, which was declared a national park in 1973. The day could begin with a slow cruise in Danskergattet, looking for seals in Virgohamna, before crossing from Danskøya to Amsterdamøya to make a landing at Smeerenburg, the legendary whaling town of 17th century. 200-plus men were living – and quite often dying – here in the heyday of blubber production.
There are several interesting places to visit in this northwestern corner of Spitsbergen. If conditions allow we’ll make a landing on Ytre Norskøya, where whalers would have their lookout posts.
MONACO GLACIER AND CRUISING TOWARDS THE PACK ICE
During the night we head to Wood Fjord and its branch, the Liefde Fjord. Our plan is to embark on a cruise along the broad glacier front of Monacobreen. This gives a unique insight of the glacial forces and the unlimited forms of icebergs. The ice front is named after Albert I of Monaco, who was a major sponsor of Svalbard research.
During the afternoon the ship will steer far north towards the edge of the polar pack ice. How far north only time and weather will tell, but the main target for us is just the ‘edge’, possibly at 80 degrees north! This is the kingdom of the polar bear! As the pack ice retreats during summer, polar bears ride the floes north, as this is where their prey – the seals – resides. Bears who for unfortunate reasons do not ‘catch’ the ice moving north, are stranded on Svalbard all summer, and will have to sustain on berries, eggs and whatever whale cadavers they can find. A hard life indeed!
At the end of the day, we will start cruising towards the Hinlopen Strait that divides Spitsbergen and Nordaustlandet.
AMAZING BIRDLIFE AT ALKEFJELLET, POLAR DESERT LANDSCAPE AT TORRELNESSET
In the morning we arrive and cruise slowly by the famous Alkefjellet. If the weather is on “our side” we will have a good view of the steep cliffs. The whole area is home to a dense congregation of Brünichs guillemots. There is so many of the birds, that hardly an inch is free. During the summer the breeding pairs offer a wild view of frantic activity, both along the cliffs and in the sea in front.
More wildlife awaits us as we land at the polar desert landscapes of Torrelnesset. The beach here is home to a host of walruses that lay amongst each other. They feed on the clams and any other molluscs that they can find in the shallows of Svalbard’s waters.
THROUGH THE HINLOPEN STRAIT AND FREEMANSUNDET, LANDING AT EDGEØYA
The main issue that can halt a circumnavigation of Spitsbergen is the ice situation along Hinlopen Strait. If the ice is passable we can make it through the southern edge of the Strait and cruise through Freemansundet that separates Barentsøya and Edgeøya. We enjoy the views of the massive Kapp Lee on our way and pass through into Storfjorden.
We plan to make a Zodiac landing along Edgeøya’s coast. Edgeøya is the third largest island in Svalbard with an area of more than 5000 square kilometers.
During the night we will cross the southernmost part of Svalbard, called Sørkapp. From here we will continue our way up the western coast.
WILDLIFE AROUND HORNSUND AT ISBJØRNEHAMNA
Now that we have passed the southern edge of Spitsbergen we arrive at the entrance to Hornsund. We will be able to see buildings around Isbjørnhamna on the northern shore. This is a polish research station, that has been here since 1957. Here research subjects are: geophysics, seismics, meteorology and the ionosphere. The work relationship between the polish researchers and the Norwegian polar institute is very good, which secures the future of the station (as long as funding continues).
The fjord is almost 30 kilometers long and many call it the most beautiful, with many glaciers that calve into the waters as well as towering mountains along the shores. The mountaintops are most often covered by dense clouds and East-Spitsbergen current often leads pack ice into the fjords mouth. In other words, we are guests in a very impressive show that unfolds before us.
CALL IN BEAUTIFUL BELLSUND, VÅRSOLBUKTA AND CALYPSOBYEN
The west coast enjoys the warmer water coming up through the Atlantic, so winter ice should now have melted. This allows us to enter the southern fjord of Bellsund on this last full day of exploration.
Bellsund has some of the richest coal layers in Svalbard, and Svea Mine, far into the fjord, was formerly one of the biggest communities on the island. But prices went down, and the coal mine is currently being dismantled.
We will stay in the fjord entrance and make landings at the Vårsol Bay. The biggest attraction here is the little auk cliff. Tundra is richly fertilized by hundreds of thousands of little auks, which the Svalbard reindeer love to graze. We will go for a nice walk along the beach – and spot remains from early industrial eras.
During lunch, we’ll cross the fjord along the 4 km long (but quite narrow) island of Akseloya. We will make a Zodiac landing at Calypsobyen in Recherche Fjord. Coal was extracted here in the early 1900s, but the enterprise never attained full production. Today, Calypsobyen offers an exciting landing that gives visitors a glimpse of the era of Neo-Industrialism, when all opportunities for profit were tried out. A pleasant walk can be made on the tundra behind the buildings.
PRINCE KARLS FORLAND WITH HERDS OF WALRUSES AROUND POOLEPYNTEN AND INTO ISFJORDEN
During the night we have entered Forlandssundet, that separates Prince Karls Forland from Spitsbergen. Our destination is Poolepynten (Poole Point), a small headland named after the British whaler Jonas Poole. Today the area is inhabited by herds of walruses who can be seen (and smelled!) from a distance. The large mammals flaunt their tusks and whiskers, as well as their considerable bulk.
After the visit, we are southbound towards the entrance to the Isfjorden.
On our way towards Longyearbyen, we hope to get our last glimpses of wildlife as well as the truly unique landscapes of Svalbard.
LONGYEARBYEN, SPITSBERGEN. DISEMBARKATION
Early in the morning the ship has returned to our starting point in Longyearbyen. After breakfast and farewell greetings to the expedition team and crew, disembarkation will take place. Transfer is arranged to the airport.
Please note that all the outings and landings rely on weather, sea and ice conditions being favorable both for the ship to access the areas, as for the zodiacs and kayaks to maneuver under adequate conditions, ensuring the safety of all our passengers and staff.
For this reason, during moments of harsh weather and throughout the entire trip, Ocean Albatros has excellent public areas, such as wellness/sauna, restaurant, bar and a library for our passengers to spend their spare time. Our ship is staffed by experts in the field who will also share great lectures along the way, ranging from exploration history to biology, geology, ice and wildlife.