If polar bears and beluga whales top your list of must-see Arctic wildlife, choose an expedition to Spitsbergen. This remarkable island – the largest in the northern archipelago of Svalbard – hosts an astonishing array of Arctic wildlife, protected within six national parks. The island itself has been nominated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here you'll find polar bears, reindeer, walrus and belugas, and add a bounty of seabird sightings to your field book - including Arctic terns and skua, barnacle geese and snow buntings.
Note: Weather, ice and other mitigating factors may result in changes to our itinerary and alteration to certain shore excursions.
Meals included: 1 dinner
Your voyage will depart in the afternoon from the Longyearbyen pier. A transfer from the town centre to the pier for embarkation onto the ship will take place at 4pm. Full details will be sent with your final joining instructions. Once onboard, our expedition team will welcome you and once you’ve settled in we’ll set sail from Longyearbyen.
A representative will meet all flights arriving into Longyearbyen on the day prior to embarkation. If you arrive before this and would like transfers, please ask Peregrine or your agent for details and costs.
No pre voyage hotel accommodation is included in the voyage price. If you arrive prior to embarkation day and need accommodation please ask Peregrine or your agent for details and costs.
Meals included: 9 breakfasts, 9 lunches, 9 dinners
These days are spent exploring the coast, moving generally in a clockwise direction. There will be ample time for shore excursions, where we can simply sit on the beach and take it all in or enjoy energetic hiking, wildlife spotting or stunning Zodiac cruises. Since our itinerary is difficult to predict due to ever-changing ice conditions, we’ve provided some samples of possible excursions we may undertake from Day 2 through to Day 10. We won’t have time to visit all these spots, but no matter where we end up, it is guaranteed that our explorations will involve many memorable moments. We may also visit other locations should their beauty or interest warrant it.
14TH OF JULY GLACIER / NY ÅLESUND This is an almost certain destination, located on the west coast of Spitsbergen. We generally drop anchor before breakfast on Day 2 at 14th of July Glacier. Following a briefing on landing procedures and polar bear precautions, we board our Zodiacs and steer toward the glacier. We also spend some time cruising near the spectacular ice cliff face. After lunch on Day 2, we visit the settlement of Ny Ålesund - one of the northernmost communities in the world. Ny Ålesund serves as a base station for international Arctic research, with a population of approximately 80 scientists and support staff. Everyone will have a chance to visit the station shop, where we can send mail from the most northerly mailbox in the world! Bird-watchers should see Arctic terns, Arctic skuas, long-tailed skuas, purple sandpipers and chicks, common eiders, barnacle geese, long-tailed ducks, kittiwakes, glaucous gulls and snow buntings. Reindeers are often seen on the periphery of the community. We also get a taste of some remarkable Arctic history as we stand near the mast used by the famous airships, 'Norge' and 'Italia'. In 1926 the Norwegian, Roald Amundsen, used the 'Norge' to fly over the North Pole from Ny Ålesund to Alaska. A few days earlier an American named Richard Byrd had also undertaken the journey and later claimed to have reached the North Pole before Amundsen. Next, it was the Italians' turn. Umberto Nobile decided to mount an airship expedition from Ny Ålesund with the 'Italia' in 1928. However, this ended in disaster when the airship crashed on the pack ice north of Spitsbergen. Many expeditions were sent out to find and rescue Nobile and his crew. One included Roald Amundsen, who disappeared during the search. In the vicinity there is a small museum and a husky dog compound. We also frequently spot Arctic fox nearby.
SMEERENBURG Another history lesson can be found in Smeerenburg, located on the north-west corner of Spitsbergen. Also known as Blubber Town, Smeerenburg was once a settlement of Dutch whalers in the first half of the 17th century. We explain the whaling techniques that were used in the 1630s when almost 200 whalers spent the summers here. Blubber ovens, whalebones and other remnants can be observed in the shadow of the mountain that Basque whalers used as a lookout-point for the bowhead whale. This is near the spot where the explorer Fridtjof Nansen's ship sheltered after being free from the Arctic pack ice. The Swedish balloonist Andree departed for his ill-fated flight to the North Pole from a small nearby island. This area is also great for walks and also kayaking.
YTRE NORSKØYA / NORVESTØYANE, HAMILTONBREEN / 80ºN / MOFFEN ISLAND It will get noticeably cooler as we near our most northerly destination, Norskøya. After landing we walk to a 17th century blubber oven that was used by whalers to process whales into valuable oil. Our guides will explain the history of whaling, the methods employed and the harsh life experienced by the early whalers. This latter point is so clearly emphasised by the hundred or so graves of whalers that stand nearby. Some of the group may wish to explore the lower area of the island, while others may climb to a cairn at the top. Later on we gather everyone on the bow as we cross 80° North - just 965 kilometres (600 miles) from the North Pole. After supper, we visit a small atoll-like island further to the northeast called Moffen Island. This island is a protected walrus sanctuary and there are often some walruses seen basking on the shores while others are seen coming out to greet our ship. In the past we have been lucky in this area, spotting the Sabine's gull and quite often polar bears on shore.
PHIPPSØYA & MARTENSØYA (SJUØYANE or SEVEN ISLANDS) In the early hours, we approach our most northerly landing and drop anchor close to Phipps Island. This is directly beside Small Blackboard Island - the termination point for the British Trans-Arctic Expedition led by Sir Wally Herbert in 1969. This is a great place for hikes and a good spot to see bears and walruses. Here we also find a small hunters’ hut with large whale vertebrae and bones strewn about, as well as an old boat. All this adds to the overall sense of antiquity in the area. Later on we may try to land on Martensøya. The geology is Precambrian - about five hundred million to one billion years old! As staggering as that fact is, the thing that will strike us most about this place is not the age of it, but rather the large accumulation of driftwood on the beach. Many of the logs have originated from Canada or Russia travelling through currents and ice floes. In 1890, adventurer Fridtjof Nansen conjectured, if the polar drift could carry articles across the Polar Sea, this drift “might also be enlisted in the service of exploration”. Using a specially designed ship, he mounted an expedition intentionally beset in the ice. After spending three years travelling the currents of the Polar Sea, the ship finally exited via the north-west side of Spitsbergen in 1896. So it’s conceivable that some of those logs we see today travelled the same route as Nansen’s ship more than a hundred years ago.
ÆKONGEN, TUSENØYANE (THOUSAND ISLANDS) We may drop anchor near the small island of Ækongen, Tusenøyane in the Thousand Islands. Once on shore, we quietly approach a small pond inhabited by several pairs of red-throated divers. We also see a bowhead whale skeleton that has been reconstructed on the beach, giving us a sense of the mammal’s gigantic size. Other bones including walrus and polar bear skulls may also be found littering the lower part of the island.
GÅSHAMNA/ HORNSUND We land on a gravel beach near a small hut in Gåshamna and walk around the area admiring the old whale bones. Some may wish to hike up to the face of a glacier to enjoy the fantastic views on top of the moraines. After lunch we sail into Hornsund, a spectacular sound with several glacier-filled bays. Seabirds, bearded and ringed seals, as well as polar bears are often spotted here. It is also home to a colony of little auks (dovekies).
BOURBONHAMNA (AHLSTRANDHALVØYA)/ BARENTSBURG) Belugas or white whales often transit the narrow sound near Bourbonhamna. The adults are pure white and the younger animals a mottled grey colour. They are the only whales that can articulate their heads to nod and turn sideways. It’s estimated that there are approximately 5000-10,000 belugas in the Svalbard population. The beluga has no dorsal fin, which is a diagnostic feature of other whale species that live in the high Arctic, like the narwhal and bowhead. Since a dorsal fin could be damaged when the animal surfaces in areas with ice, it has been postulated that the lack of dorsal fin is an adaptation to living in waters that are frequently covered by ice. We search for the belugas and also hope to go ashore to Bourbonhamna. A hunter’s cabin, grinding wheel and two overturned boats are points of interest a short walk away at Ingebrigstenbukta. However, it’s the massive piles of beluga whale bones that catch everybody’s attention. The bones and all the artefacts are protected by the Svalbard Government and can’t be removed. While wandering amongst these bone relics, we may also expect to glimpse dozens of reindeers in the area. There is good scenery and an adundance of wild flowers.
Meals included: 1 breakfast
In the early morning we arrive back in Longyearbyen, where our cruise ends. If your flight departs on disembarkation day, a transfer is included (if on a morning flight you will be taken directly to the airport from the ship, if flying in the afternoon you will be transferred to the town centre and at a pre arranged time be taken back to the airport). Accommodation: No post voyage hotel accommodation is included in the voyage price. If you need accommodation please ask Peregrine or your agent for details and costs.
Flights should be booked into and out of Longyearbyen.
Note: Weather or other conditions may require changes to our itinerary and shore excursions.
• Shipboard accommodation with daily housekeeping.
• All breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks on board throughout your voyage. (Please inform us of any dietary requirements as far in advance as possible. Unfortunately, the ships’ galleys cannot prepare kosher meals.)
• All shore landings per the daily program.
• Leadership throughout the voyage by our experienced Expedition Leader, including shore landings and other activities.
• A daily program of lectures by noted naturalists
• All Zodiac transfers and cruising per the daily program.
• Formal and informal presentations by our Expedition Team and Special Guests as scheduled.
• Photographic Journal on DVD, documenting the voyage.
• A pair of waterproof expedition boots on loan for shore landings.
• An official Quark Expeditions parka to keep.
• Coffee, tea and cocoa available around the clock.
• A selection of alcoholic and non alcoholic beverages.
• Hair dryer and bathrobe in every cabin.
• Comprehensive pre-departure materials, including a map and an informative Arctic Reader.
• All miscellaneous service taxes and port charges throughout the program.
• All luggage handling aboard ship.
• On disembarkation day, group transfer from the ship to the airport or other local designated drop-off location.
• Emergency Evacuation Insurance for all passengers to a maximum benefit of USD $100,000 per person
• ArrivaL transfer from Longyearbyen airport to your hotel if you arrive one day prior to embarkation.
• On embarkation day transfer from your hotel or Longyearbyen airport to the ship.
• On disembarkation day, a group transfer from the ship to your hotel or to the Longyearbyen airport.
• For some specified departures, the purchase of arrival transfer packages and charter or domestic flights in conjunction with the expedition is mandatory. The applicable per-person cost is indicated on the Dates and Rates summary.
• Passport and any applicable visa expenses.
• Government arrival and departure taxes.
• Any meals ashore with the exception of breakfast at the host hotel before embarkation, when applicable.
• Baggage, cancellation, interruption, and medical travel insurance.
• Excess baggage charges.
• Laundry and other personal charges.
• Telecommunications charges.
• The voluntary gratuity at the end of the voyage for shipboard staff and crew.
• On icebreakers, any private helicopter flying time that may be available for optional flights can be purchased at an hourly rate to be announced on board.
Vaccinations may be required for this trip. Talk to your doctor about the up-to-date information for this region.Visas and Permits
It is your responsibility to ensure you have all required visas for your trip. Rules and regulations governing the issuance of visas are constantly changing, and vary for different nationalities and you should check visa requirements with your travel agent or relevant consular authority well before travel.Insurance
You are required to have travel insurance before heading off on a Peregrine trip. Insurance can be organised by your Peregrine representative or your travel agent.Responsible Travel
Our Responsible Travel ethos is at the heart of everything we do, from getting the basics right like respecting local cultures and the environment, to initiating projects that make positive contributions to communities, to our staff’s fundraising efforts and offsetting our carbon emissions.
Please visit our Responsible Travel (http://www.peregrineadventures.com/rt) page for more information.
Our Pre Departure Information or Travel Dossier (provided upon booking a trip) provides tips on how you can show respect for the local customs and culture in the country you are travelling in.
The information listed above is a brief description of some things you may need to consider when booking a trip. Once a tour is booked you will be provided with a link to your Travel Dossier which will contain detailed Pre Departure information.
These Trip Notes should be read in conjunction with Peregrine’s Arctic pre-departure information that is provided to you shortly after booking. A second information manual dealing with Arctic history, geology, geography, marine and bird life will also be provided with final documents.
Please note that due to the exploratory nature of this expedition, weather, ice, wildlife or other conditions may require changes be made to the itinerary and/or cancellation of certain shore excursions. Every effort will be made to adhere to the itinerary, within the limits of safety and time constraints. We shall fit in as many stops as is practical along the way allowing you to experience as much as possible of this wonderful area. The locations mentioned in this itinerary are just some of the highlights of our fascinating expedition of discovery and exploration and we shall attempt further landings wherever and whenever time and local conditions permit.
In addition to funds for onboard expenses, it is possible to purchase souvenirs in some locations such as books, t-shirts, stamps, postcards, caps and some really good knitwear on many of the shore excursions, which include visits to towns or villages. In addition some museums and sites charge entry fees and in some locations you may wish to buy some food and drink (although the meals on the ship are very good and plentiful!). Visa and MasterCard are accepted on board our ship, but elsewhere they are of limited use. Please remember that all on-board services are charged in US dollars and your on board account (bar, gift shop, medical, gratuities) can be paid for by either US dollars cash, US dollars travellers cheques and the following credit cards - Visa and MasterCard. Norwegian kroners are accepted in Svalbard.
Please read our Arctic pre-departure information carefully. Although you don’t need to make expensive, specialist-clothing purchases for this trip, you will need clothes that adequately protect against cold and wet conditions. (Sea spray is common on board Zodiacs). It is recommended that you have warm, waterproof clothing available for use upon arrival in Longyearbyen, to protect yourself against the inclement weather. A Zodiac transfer from the pier to the ship is likely to take place on Day 1, so please be prepared with appropriate clothing.
4. Motion sickness:
Although our vessels are among the most stable ships in their class, we will still inevitably encounter motion. Unless you are certain you are impervious to the problem, you should take precautions against seasickness. Your doctor can advise you as to the best methods for avoiding this uncomfortable condition.
We suggest you allow the equivalent of US$11-13 a day for gratuities for the crew and expedition staff. This is usually collected just prior to the end of the cruise. If you wish, the amount can be paid by Visa or MasterCard.
6. Sea kayaking:
There are separate Trip Notes for the sea kayaking option. Please note that this option must be booked prior to your departure from home and it cannot be booked on the ship. Some prior experience is required.
Peregrine Voyage Documentation
Once you have booked your voyage to the Polar regions with Peregrine, you will be required to complete a series of online forms. You will be sent a link via email (my polar forms) which will take you to an enrolment form, cruise contract, medical form, arrival/departure information form and expedition parka size form. These forms must be completed
The information provided here is given in good faith and has been compiled with all reasonable care. However, things change and some of the information may become out of date. Please keep this in mind when you read it and check with us if you want to be sure about something. The document was correct at time of printing, but you can check online for the most up to date version. If you have any queries, please contact your travel agent or our staff in Australia. We are here to help you!
31 October 2012