Svalbard is a Norwegian archipelago in the High Arctic between mainland Norway and the North Pole, also know as Spitsbergen. A destination of a lifetime, our expeditions to Svalbard connect you to the majesty of this Arctic wilderness, where dramatic fjords, rugged mountain ranges and a fossil-rich polar desert await.
Overhead, puffins, guillemots and other native Svalbard avian circle, commanding your attention, while the scree slopes house the island’s largest little auk colony. Witness sea walruses puncturing the ice, beluga whales breaching or a fluffy Arctic fox. Svalbard is the kingdom of the polar bear – witness one of these majestic, elusive creatures if you’re lucky. All leave a lasting impression.
The polar summer spans from May to September, where the Midnight Sun’s beautiful colours and contrasts adds an extra dimension to Svalbard’s glaciers, majestic mountains and Arctic tundra. This is the best time to enjoy outside exploration and take in this frozen land.
Svalbard is large and diverse, showcasing nature’s surprisingly rich and extremely varied landscapes. Life in Longyearbyen, Svalbard’s capital city, may be perceived as harsh, but for those fortunate to live here, it’s hard to imagine living anywhere else. Its inhabitants strive to live as one with nature, working in harmony to uphold their unique way of life throughout the enormous seasonal variations in temperature, light and darkness.
Embark on one of Aurora Expeditions’ Svalbard cruises and experience an adventure of a lifetime in this polar wilderness with our professional Expedition Team. On our Svalbard cruises and expeditions, you have the best opportunity to encounter diverse wildlife in their natural environment, and you can also enjoy a number of activities in the High Arctic, including Zodiac cruising, hiking, kayaking and more.
Our Svalbard cruises and expeditions are curated with curious and adventurous travellers in mind. We aim to get you off the ship 2-3 times a day*, so you can explore awe-inspiring sea cliffs, gigantic icebergs, majestic fjords, massive glaciers and ice caps. During an expedition cruise around Svalbard, capture unique photography with dramatic scenery and Arctic wildlife, including the polar bear.
*Subject to weather and conditions
Why Join a Svalbard Cruise with Aurora Expeditions?
Svalbard is a Norwegian archipelago in the High Arctic between mainland Norway and the North Pole. A destination of a lifetime, our Svalbard cruises and expeditions connect you to the majesty of this Arctic wilderness, where dramatic fjords, rugged mountain ranges and a fossil-rich polar desert await.
Overhead, puffins, guillemots and other native Svalbard avian circle, commanding your attention, while the scree slopes house the island’s largest little auk colony. On our Svalbard expeditions, you can expect to witness walruses puncturing the ice, beluga whales swimming alongside the boat or fluffy Arctic foxes hunting in the snow. Svalbard is also the kingdom of the polar bear – you might spot one of these majestic, elusive creatures if you’re lucky. All the Arctic wildlife found here leaves a lasting impression.
The polar summer spans from May to September, when the Midnight Sun’s endless daylight, beautiful colours and striking contrasts add an extra dimension to Svalbard’s glaciers, sea ice, majestic mountains and Arctic tundra. Summertime, when the Midnight Sun shines over the Arctic, is the best time to enjoy outside exploration and take in this frozen land. The polar winter season makes up the rest of the year and features the polar night or endless night. This is when the sun never “rises” and it remains dark throughout the day – it’s the perfect backdrop to see the Northern Lights in Svalbard.
Svalbard is large and diverse, showcasing nature’s surprisingly rich and varied landscapes. Life may be perceived as harsh, but for those fortunate enough to live here, it’s hard to imagine living anywhere else. Its inhabitants strive to live as one with nature, working in harmony to uphold their unique way of life throughout the enormous seasonal variations in temperature, light and darkness.
Svalbard Wildlife Encounters
Wildlife sightings peak with the return of migratory birds to the sea cliffs of Svalbard in the summer months. However, the opportunity to see the King of the Arctic, the polar bear, is a major highlight of most Svalbard tours. Polar bears are strongly connected to the sea and ice, as this is where their major food source lives. This means our expedition cruise often hugs the Svalbard coastline where more polar bears are known to live and roam. In the summer months, polar bear sightings occur the most in the north and eastern areas of the island and in front of glaciers while they hunt for seals.
Our world-class expedition teams include naturalists who will educate you on the polar regions and the other Arctic wildlife found in Svalbard. Some of the most common Arctic wildlife sightings include the Arctic fox, Svalbard reindeer, bearded seals, ring seals, beluga whales, narwhals if you’re lucky and a large variety of Arctic birds including Atlantic puffins.
Bird sanctuaries are common in Svalbard and the bird population reflects this. Arctic birds nest here in the summer months when the weather conditions are perfect. The cliffs and mountains protect the birds from the cold winds of the Arctic Ocean and polar regions.
Unique Svalbard Experiences
Visit Svalbard with Aurora Expeditions and participate in a number of activities unique to the High Arctic. Our Svalbard cruises provide a mix of comfort and adventure, and for those willing to explore this Arctic archipelago the memories will last a lifetime. Participate in a polar plunge – something most tourists look forward to when they visit Svalbard – or go Zodiac cruising to access parts of the coastline that your ship can’t.
Our Svalbard cruises include trips ashore where your Expedition Team will take you on walks to look for wildlife and if the chance arises take photos of the Arctic fox, Svalbard reindeer and maybe even the King of the Arctic, the polar bear, if you’re lucky. Our experienced Expedition Teams know Svalbard well and safety is always the number one priority.
Svalbard Tours Regions
The Svalbard archipelago has nine main islands; some of these islands are connected by sea ice and expedition cruises are the only safe way to move between them. A lot of these islands are national parks, in fact, Svalbard has seven national parks in total. Find out more about the main islands below.
Svalbard’s largest island is 39,044 square kilometres. Its landscape is dominated by rugged mountains indented by post-card perfect fjords, and more than half of the island is covered in ice year-round. Six national parks protect its delicate environment and diverse fauna, which makes it a favourite for travellers visiting Svalbard. Spitsbergen is the only permanently inhabited part of Svalbard, with Longyearbyen the biggest settlement and administrative centre of Svalbard.
Nordaustlandet (North East Land)
The second largest island in the Svalbard archipelago is completely uninhabited. Situated entirely within the Nordaust-Svalbard Nature Reserve, it is made up of sizable ice caps and tundra.
Edgeøya (Edge Island)
Edgeøya is a Norwegian island situated in the southeast of the Svalbard archipelago. With an area of 5,073 square kilometres, it is the third-largest island in this archipelago. It forms part of the Søraust-Svalbard Nature Reserve and is home to polar bears and reindeer.
Barentsøya (Barents Island)
Named after the Dutch explorer Willem Barentsz, almost half of this island in the Søraust-Svalbard Nature Reserve is glaciated. While the island has no permanent human inhabitants, it is a favourite of polar bears and seabirds, especially kittiwakes.
Prins Karls Foreland (Prince Charles Foreland)
This long island on Svalbard’s west coast and its surrounding seas constitutes Forlandet National Park. It boasts jagged peaks and wild glaciers that remind one of the Antarctic peninsula, alongside vast green plains and polar deserts. The harbour seal is commonly found here.
Kvitøya (White Island)
When ice conditions allow, adventure seekers can discover Svalbard’s easternmost island, where polar bears roam and walrus swim. This island is the resting place of Andrée’s Arctic balloon expedition of 1897, which was one of the great mysteries of the Arctic for decades.
Kong Karls Land (King Charles Land)
This small island group is part of the Nordaust-Svalbard Nature Reserve and boasts the largest concentration of polar bears in Svalbard. Because of this, there is a ban on traffic to the island, with ships and aircraft not being able to come within 500 metres of the area.
Bjørnøya (Bear Island)
The southernmost island of Svalbard is rarely visited because it can be challenging to access, with no protected bays, rough weather, strong wind and thick fog. While its history revolves around hunting, it is now an important scientific research site and the whole island is a nature reserve with restricted access.
This small, remote island in the far southeast is part of the Southeast Svalbard Nature Reserve. Visiting can be a lucky dip because of heavy ice, fog, rough waters and unprotected beaches. The island has been identified as an Important Bird Area (IBA), supporting breeding colonies of thick-billed guillemots, black guillemots and black-legged kittiwakes.
Svalbard Cruise Activities
Visit Svalbard with Aurora Expeditions and our Expedition Team will take you on excursions unique to the High Arctic, fully included in the cost of your expedition. For those interested in a little extra excitement, there are optional activities designed to get you closer to the action. Our Svalabrd expeditions provide a mix of comfort and adventure; for those willing to explore this remote Norwegian archipelago the memories will last a lifetime.
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*Optional add-on activities are available on select voyages. They are listed on each itinerary page and additional fees apply.