Enjoy the best of Svalbard, a world of endless daylight where polar bear sightings quicken your pulse, guillemot cries echo from sea cliffs and beluga whales rise from the sea. Explore tundra adorned with wildflowers and look out for arctic fox, or discover historic camps of explorers and hunters. Push through pack ice to find walrus and bearded seals, or simply enjoy breathtakingly beautiful Norwegian fjords.
- Venture close to 80° north looking for polar bears on the pack ice
- Chance to discover other arctic wildlife including walrus, guillemots, puffins, seals, reindeer, arctic fox, seabirds and whales
- Enjoy Zodiac-cruising past blue glaciers and through stunning fjords
- Enjoy hikes surrounded by breathtakingly beautiful scenery
Number of passengers (SVAL50G, SVAL51G, SVAL53G, SVAL54G): 126 passengers (including kayakers)
In true expedition style we encourage exploration and adventure, offering flexibility in challenging environments in a way that puts you among the action to see and do as much as possible. This itinerary is only a guide and subject to change due to ice and weather conditions.
Day 1 Arrival Longyearbyen. Embark the Greg Mortimer
Arrive in Longyearbyen, where you will be met by a representative of Aurora Expeditions to commence a tour of Longyearbyen.
On the drive to Camp Barentz located in Advent Valley, your guide will give you an introduction to Longyearbyen’s fascinating history. At Camp Barentz enjoy a presentation in the large ‘lavvo’ - a traditional building common in northern Norway. You will also have the opportunity to meet the friendly huskies and perhaps pick up some souvenirs. A visit to the Svalbard museum is included back in town before embarking the vessel in the late afternoon.
You’ll have time to settle into your cabin prior to the compulsory briefings. Your voyage commences, cruising out of the beautiful Isfjorden, escorted by gliding fulmars and perhaps the occasional puffin. Find a spot on one of the observation areas watching for seabirds, including graceful ivory gulls, kittiwakes and guillemots. They rise and fall skilfully, using the air currents created by the ship to gain momentum. Please note: Sometimes our ship is unable to dock in Longyearbyen port due to space and capacity. In these instances, we reach the ship by Zodiac. Please ensure that you keep your wet-weather gear in your hand luggage to use in the Zodiacs, if the situation arises. Please ensure your cabin luggage tag is completed clearly showing your cabin number and name. Our crew will deliver your luggage directly to your cabin.
Days 2-10 Svalbard Archipelago
Svalbard offers unspoiled, raw Arctic wilderness at its best. With majestic mountains, iridescent sea ice, countless glaciers and superb wildlife-viewing opportunities. Our experienced expedition team, who have made countless journeys to this area, will use their expertise to design our voyage from day to day, choosing the best options based on the prevailing weather, ice conditions and wildlife opportunities.
We generally make landings or Zodiac excursions twice a day. You’ll want to rug up before joining Zodiac cruises to witness walrus colonies hauled-outs on sea ice or on beaches, under towering cliffs of nesting sea birds or glide past glistening icebergs in your kayak. Without a doubt, our goal is to encounter the majestic polar bear on the pack ice, and the expedition team are just as keen as you to find them. Ship cruise along spectacular fjords, hike upon colourful tundra, perhaps tasting wild blueberries along the way.
Some of the places where we may enjoy landings for deeper exploration or view spectacular wildlife and scenery follows:
Kongsfjorden (Kings Bay)
Kongsfjorden and the surrounding country are known to be one of the most beautiful fjord areas in Svalbard. The fjord is headed by two giant glaciers, Kronebreen and Kongsvegen. Hike on the lush tundra amongst the summer flowers and observe the remarkable bird cliffs near the 14th July Glacier, where even a few puffins nest between the cracks in the cliffs.
In this area we find the former mining settlement of Ny-Ålesund. Situated at 78º 55' N, Ny-Ålesund is one of the world’s northern-most year-round communities. The settlement of Ny-Ålesund is strongly linked to coal mining operations, scientific expeditions and recently also to various international research efforts. It is located more than 100 km north of Longyearbyen and is one of the northernmost settlements in the world. In and around Ny-Ålesund, the largest concentration of protected buildings, cultural monuments and various remains in Svalbard can be found, making the area an important cultural heritage site. Ny-Ålesund is the largest Norwegian settlement in Svalbard that was spared from being burned down during World War II. The settlement is well preserved and serves as a valuable historical source.
Ny-Ålesund has also been the starting point of several historical attempts to reach the North Pole. Names like Amundsen, Ellsworth and Nobile are strongly linked to Ny-Ålesund. Since 1964, Ny-Ålesund has also been a centre for international Arctic research and environmental monitoring. A number of countries run their own national research stations here, and research activity is high in the summer.
The islands and islets in the inner part of Kongsfjorden are teeming with seabirds. At the head of the fjord, mighty glaciers calve into the sea. All of this is framed by majestic mountain formations. Further north-west lies Krossfjorden, with its cultural remains from the whaling period, Russian and Norwegian overwinterings and World War II. Large bird cliffs are also found here.
Nordvesthjørnet and Raudfjorden
It was here, in the far north-west, that Willem Barentsz and his crew discovered new land on 17 June, 1596. They described the land as being “rugged for the most part, and steep, mostly mountains and jagged peaks, from which we gave it the name of Spitsbergen”. In the centuries that followed, the large number of bowhead whales found here attracted whalers from the Netherlands and various other countries. Nordvesthjørnet offers the largest concentration of graves, blubber ovens and other cultural treasures on Spitsbergen, all dating back to this first era of the exploitation of Svalbard’s natural resources.
Magdalenefjorden is located inside the Northwest Spitsbergen National Park. According to historical sources. Magdalenefjorden was first used by the English in the early days of the whaling era. They built a land station on the headland and named the area Trinity Harbour.
The spectacular alpine scenery is lined with jagged mountain peaks, to which Spitsbergen (‘pointed mountains’, in Norwegian) owes its name. At 1,115 metres / 3,658 feet, Hornemanntoppen is the highest mountain in the area, and is located east of Magdalenefjorden. The topography of the area is mostly rocky, shorelines are covered with stones and hiking here can be challenging. Little auks breed here in large numbers, and a few reindeer can still be seen roaming around on mossy slopes. Very occasionally, polar bears and walrus are seen here.
The name “Smeerenburg” means “Blubber Town”. Its whaling station served as the main base for Dutch whaling in the first half of the 17th century, when whaling was still occuring along the coastline and in the fjords of Svalbard. Smeerenburg is situated on the island of Amsterdamøya, surrounded by fjords, tall glacier fronts and steep, rugged mountains. The most obvious sign of its whaling station history are the large cement-like remains of blubber from ovens where the blubber was boiled.
Virgohamna is most famous for being the starting place of many expeditions that attempted to reach the North Pole. On the beach, are the remains of blubber ovens and a Dutch whaling station. Written permission from the Governor of Svalbard is required in order to land here.
Ytre Norskøya is situated in the middle of what used to be hub of the Dutch whaling area, when it all revolved around land-based stations for boiling the whale blubber. The station is situated by the sound Norskøysundet, between the islands of Ytre Norskøya and Indre Norskøya. A sheltered bay offers protection against the weather and a broad beach facilitates landings. Today, the remains of nine blubber ovens lie in a line along the beach. Containing around 165 graves, the island is one of the largest burial grounds in Svalbard.
Woodfjorden, Liefdefjorden and Bockfjorden
Located along the north coast, Woodfjorden, Liefdefjorden and Bockfjorden are rarely-visited places. Near Reinsdyrflya lies a great fjord system that stretches towards several mountain ridges including; alpine summits of ancient granite, majestic red mountains of Devonian sandstone, cone-shaped remnants of three volcanoes and even hot springs. Large glacier fronts calve in the sea, while polar bears are busy hunting for ringed seals and sweeping the islets for birds’ eggs. Hike in the mountains on the tundra where brightly-coloured wildflowers and lichen grow, and where reindeer graze. We may visit trapper huts of yesteryear where Russian Pomors would hunt and survive the cold harsh winters, all while remaining alert for wandering polar bears and their cubs.
Nordaust-Svalbard Nature Reserve
Nordaust-Svalbard Nature Reserve is the most high-Arctic part of Svalbard. The fjords are covered in ice, and drift ice floats around the islands for most of the year. Glaciers cover large areas of the terrain. This is the kingdom of the polar bear and walrus. It has been protected as a nature reserve since 1973.
Nordaustlandet. The second largest island in Svalbard, with an area of 14,443 km². It is part of Nordaust-Svalbard Nature Reserve. The two large ice sheets of Austfonna and Vestfonna cover large areas of the island. The landscape is open and majestic with different types of landscapes, from the prominent fjords in the west and north to the massive glacier front facing east and south. From a distance, Nordaustlandet appears cold, unfriendly and unproductive. However, many places are unexpectedly lush, especially close to the bird cliffs.
Moffen Island is situated directly north of 80°N. After the near-exctinction of walrus in Svalbard in the middle of the 20th century, Moffen Island played an important conservation role and helped to re-establish the population here, a process which continues today. Large numbers of walrus can be found hauled out at the southern tip of the island and in summer, vessels must remain at least 500 m / 1,640 ft away.
In ocean north of Nordaustlandet lies the little archipelago of Sjuøyane (the seven islands), with its characteristically hat-shaped mountains. The hard granite mountains have a green covering of moss due to thousands of breeding seabirds. Walrus dive for clams in the waters between the islands and in the bays. Most of the islands have been named after the English North Pole expeditions led by Phipps (1773) and Parry (1827).
Polar bears can be spotted anywhere on Sjuøyane. Polar bear distribution is strongly related to the distribution of sea ice. Drift ice around the islands offers increased chances of polar bears sightings. Reindeer and Arctic fox are also commonly encountered on Sjuøyane.
When the ice breaks up around Sjuøyane and the first seabirds return from April–May, the islands wake from a long winter slumber. Huge bird cliffs can be found here. Little auks migrate in the largest numbers, followed closely by Atlantic puffins and guillemots. Near-threatened species of ivory gulls can be found on Phippsøya along with several walrus haul-out sites, where hundreds of the marine giants can be found in the shallow bay.
Along the northeast coast of Spitsbergen we enter a different world – a polar desert. Ice conditions permitting, we pass through the narrow Hinlopen Strait, flanked by creamy coloured slabs of rock that are rich in fossils, where Polar bears are often sighted on the islands or around the bird cliffs.
Alkefjellet to the south of Lomfjorden is the largest bird cliff in the area with several hundred thousand black-legged kittiwakes and as many Brünnick’s guillemots. There are also several colonies of northern fulmar in the area, and little auks nest scattered in Hinlopen Strait. Brünnich’s guillemots nest in many colonies, including on the island of Wahlbergøya. Black-legged kittiwakes and black guillemots also breed in several of the colonies, most of them west of Hinlopen Strait, but also around Wahlenbergfjorden. One of the colonies is on Selanderneset. Common eiders also nest in many places, but the locations have been very poorly mapped. However, there is known to be a large colony on the island of Lemströmøya, north of Wahlbergøya.
Several of the most famous and most visited haul-out sites for walrus can be found in Hinlopen Strait. Worth mentioning are Augustabukta/Torellneset and Vibebukta. White whales, ringed seals and bearded seals also occur in the area.
The abundance of reindeer in the area varies greatly. The density is highest where the vegetation is most pronounced, such as the inner parts of Lomfjorden, at the bottom of Wahlenbergfjorden, in Palanderdalen and on Scaniahalvøya. A smaller number of reindeer are also scattered around the islands in Hinlopen Strait, and the Arctic fox can be seen on both sides of the strait. There is no doubt that the easiest place to observe foxes is around the bird cliffs. This is often also where dens can be found so we avoid entering these areas.
Barentsøya and Edgeøya
East of Spitsbergen are two large islands called Barentsøya and Edgeøya. The area has a rich array of wildlife, especially polar bears, reindeer, walrus, seabirds and geese. West of Edgeøya, cultural remains from the time of European whaling can be found, mainly Russian and Norwegian.
Alkhornet, at the northern entrance of Isfjorden, is a striking landmark. The landscape around this large bird cliff is lush and beautiful. Alkhornet and Trygghamna offer an interesting combination of cultural history and nature. The name Trygghamna refers to the West European whaling activity was carried out around Svalbard in the 17th century when whales would swim into the fjords and hunted.
At Alkhornet, reindeer are often sighted, along with Arctic fox, geese nesting on rocks and higher up on the cliffs, where Brünnich’s guillemots breed in enormous quantities. The cliffs at Alkhornet are also home to large colonies of breeding kittiwake and Arctic skuas. Glaucous gulls often patrol the air around the cliffs, hunting vulnerable prey.
Hornsund is the southernmost fjord in Svalbard located in Sør-Spitsbergen National Park, where majestic peaks and dramatic fjords are the defining features. The highest summits are often shrouded in mist, but if you’re lucky you might get a glimpse of Hornsundtind, peaking at 1,431 m / 4,695 ft. Traces of human activity spanning 400 years can be found almost anywhere where there are possible landing sites.
Little auks are found here in huge numbers, drawn to the large scree slopes – their typical nesting habitat. With abundant plankton and crustaceans, Hornsund and the areas off the west coast are a giant food reservoir for the little auk. The West Spitsbergen Current – a branch of the Gulf Stream – brings temperate waters north along the western Spitsbergen coast and provides favourable conditions for biological production in the area.
Northern fulmar can be seen in several colonies in Hornsund. Brünnich’s guillemot and kittiwake nest at the same locations. Dunøyane and Isøyane, islands that gained protection status as bird sanctuaries back in 1973, are important nesting areas for barnacle geese, pink-footed geese and brent geese. Pink-footed geese nest in large numbers on Dunøyane and on scree slopes and hillsides close to the sea, including in Hyttevika north of Hornsund and Gnålodden.
A huge colony of little auks is situated at Ariekammen (100,000 to one million) – possibly the largest in Svalbard. If you’ve ever been close to such a large colony of swarming little auks, you’ll never forget it.
Bellsund cuts into Spitsbergen south of Isfjorden and splits into two branches at Van Mijenfjorden and Van Keulenfjorden fjords. The area features large bird cliffs, where fertilization by seabird droppings accounts for the surprisingly lush vegetation in some areas.
Other places we may visit around the Svalbard Archipelago include:
• Kapp Lee
Day 11 Disembark Longyearbyen
During the early morning we cruise back into Longyearbyen. Farewell your expedition team and fellow expeditioners as we all continue our onward journeys.
Discover Longyearbyen town on a half day bus excursion, where you will learn some of the town’s history, geology, flora, fauna and the modern community. You will visit Svalbard Museum and Galleri Svalbard, and take in the main sights of Longyearbyen including Office of the Governor, Svalbard Church, Nybyen (new town), a few of the town’s mines such as Santa Claus Mine, and a quick photo stop at the famous beware of polar bear street sign.
Transfer to the airport afterwards. NOTE: At the conclusion of the voyage, we do not recommend booking flights departing prior to 12.00 pm on the day of disembarkation in case there are delays.
- Group arrival transfer from airport to the Greg Mortimer on Day 1
- Group sightseeing tour of Longyearbyen on arrival pre-voyage
- Group transfer from ship to airport in Longyearbyen on Day 11
- On-board accommodation during voyage including daily cabin service
- All meals, snacks, tea and coffee during voyage
- Beer, house wine and soft drinks with dinner
- Captain’s Welcome and Farewell reception including four-course dinner, house cocktails, house beer and wine, non-alcoholic beverages
- All shore excursions and Zodiac cruises
- Educational lectures and guiding services from expedition team
- Free access to our onboard doctor for consultations relating to sea-sickness. A standard fee of US $60.00 (reclaimable through your travel insurance provider) applies for medical consultations not related to sea-sickness
- A 3-in-1 waterproof polar expedition jacket
- Complimentary use of muck boots during the voyage
- Comprehensive pre-departure information
- A printed photo book produced with photos from your voyage
- Port surcharges, permits and landing fees
- International or domestic flights, unless specified
- Transfers not mentioned in the itinerary
- Airport arrival or departure taxes
- Passport, visa, reciprocity and vaccination charges
- Travel insurance or emergency evacuation charges
- Hotels and meals not included in itinerary
- Optional excursions not included in the itinerary
- Optional activity surcharges
- All items of a personal nature including but not limited to: alcoholic beverages and soft drinks (outside of dinner service), laundry services, personal clothing, medical expenses, gratuities, Wi-Fi, email or phone charges
Note: A $15 USD per person per day gratuity for the crew is automatically added to your onboard account. It is at your discretion if you would like to remove the tip (or increase/decrease the amount) when you settle your bill. It is not necessary to tip the expedition team members. This gratuity amount is included for suites as part of their ‘Suite Benefits’.
Lectures on wildlife, our environment, history and destinations
Whale and mammal spotting
From AUD $1,200.00/pp
One of the most exhilarating ways to experience Antarctica, the Arctic or any of our global voyages. The experience of …
One of the most exhilarating ways to experience Antarctica, the Arctic or any of our global voyages.
The experience of sea kayaking in the humbling wilderness of Antarctica or the European Arctic is guaranteed to stir your soul. Paddle between brash ice and icebergs of all shapes and sizes, skim past penguin rookeries or under soaring bird cliffs, or drift quietly as you watch wildlife unobtrusively, absorbing the majestic scenery.
Led by experienced guides, paddling in small groups allows us the opportunity to paddle between ice floes, brash ice and icebergs of all shapes and sizes as well as allowing easy and intimate access to beautiful coastlines.
Rather than travelling large distances, our aim is to see as much as possible. We paddle anywhere between 5 to 15 kilometres (2 to 4 hours) per outing, sometimes taking a snack and a flask of hot chocolate to enjoy on our excursion.
Each group of 4 to 10 kayakers will have their own intimate exploration of the small hidden bays and coasts that may be inaccessible to the Zodiacs and will also make time for their own shore excursions and wildlife encounters.
When we visit the poles, the elements play an important role. It is important that you have an adventurous attitude and understand that our kayaking time will be affected by the weather that we experience.
Even if your experience is limited, we’d encourage you to call us to discuss your suitability. There is often ample time to gain the required experience before you depart. Kayakers should be aged 14 years or over.
- Kayak & Paddle
- Neoprene boots
- Safety gear
- A 15-litre dry bag
- Life jackets
- Dry suits
- Pogies (insulated mittens that attach to your paddle)
Our guides have years of kayaking experience in our destinations. The sea kayaking guide will lead the group on each excursion, explaining facts about the wildlife and other highlights we paddle across. You can view our sea kayaking guides’ profiles here or see below.
How to Book
Simply inform our Expedition Experts at time of booking that you would like to include the optional sea kayaking activity for your expedition. Places are limited so we recommend reserving your place early.View more details
From AUD $1,200.00/pp
The icy waters of Antarctic and the Arctic guarantee amazing new experiences. In 1998 Aurora Expeditions offered the world-first commercial dive …
The icy waters of Antarctic and the Arctic guarantee amazing new experiences.
In 1998 Aurora Expeditions offered the world-first commercial dive trip to Antarctica, and weve built on our polar experience ever since. In Antarctica and the Arctic, we bring you the exciting and unique chance to get a closer look at the amazing marine life of our polar regions.
Antarctic and Arctic diving reveals a world of ice, where glaciers, gigantic icebergs and a unique blend of marine life greet us, making for a very special experience. With numerous diving opportunities along your voyage, no two days will be alike a truly inspiring and unforgettable experience awaits.
To participate in our polar diving activity, all divers must be a trained, certified scuba divers with proof of certification beyond entry level, i.e. Advanced Diver certification or equivalent rating issued by a recognised scuba training organisation.
In addition to this, it is extremely important that adequate training and experience is gained in dry-suit diving, and in the use of other new and unfamiliar equipment to be used in polar waters. To ensure your safety and enjoyment and to avoid any unnecessary problems on the trip, recent diving experience and proof of a minimum of 20 logged dives using a dry-suit is required prior to joining the voyage.
Our team of experienced dive guides have over 20 years polar diving experience and provide divers with detailed briefings and best practice procedures to ensure a safe diving experience. Your dive master will ensure Standard Safety Diving Practices are adhered to at all times.
How to Book
Please return the suba diving activity form at time of booking. If you have any queries regarding our scuba diving option, please contact our friendly Expeditions Experts for more information.
For voyages on the Greg Mortimer:
View more details
From AUD $940.00/pp
Discover the underwater world of Antarctica and the Arctic! Witness wildlife and scenery unlike any other place on earth. Through …
Discover the underwater world of Antarctica and the Arctic!
Witness wildlife and scenery unlike any other place on earth. Through crystal clear waters you’ll discover the amazing mobility and speed of penguins entering and exiting from the ice, marvel at beautiful sculpted icebergs below the water and witness marine life such as crustaceans, isopods, starfish and nudibranchs!
With a longstanding tradition of pushing the boundaries, Aurora Expeditions launched our Antarctic snorkelling adventures in 2014. In 2016 the activity has also been added to a range of our Arctic expeditions. This unique experience will allow passengers to see both destinations in a completely new dimension, witnessing wildlife and scenery unlike any other place on earth.
This latest innovative activity option is led by our expert polar diving guides, and utilises state of the art equipment including drysuits, gloves, hood, fins, mask, and snorkel. Passengers will be provided with all of the training and equipment they need to experience Antarctica from this truly unique angle.
Passengers who take part will enjoy the opportunity to snorkel daily (weather dependent), taking delight in sheltered bays, off shore islands and secluded ship wrecks which make for spectacular wildlife viewing.
Our team of experienced dive guides have over 20 years polar diving experience and provide snorkellers and divers with detailed briefings and best practice procedures to ensure a safe snorkelling and diving experience.
Polar snorkelling requires at least 6 snorkellers for the activity to proceed. Please ask our team for numbers at time of booking.
How to Book
Please return the polar snorkelling activity form at the time of booking. Simply inform our Expedition Experts at time of booking that you would like to include the optional snorkelling activity to your expedition. Places are limited.
For voyages on the Greg Mortimer:View more details
Cabins & Prices
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Kirkenes City Stay (Post-Voyage)
2 DAYS / 1 NIGHT Day 1 – Kirkenes Disembark from the M/V Greg Mortimer and join a shared transfer to …
2 DAYS / 1 NIGHT
Kirkenes City Stay (Pre-Voyage)
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2 DAYS / 1 NIGHT
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Start: Oslo End: Bergen Departing: Daily 6 DAYS / 5 NIGHTS Enjoy one of the world’s most scenic rail journeys and then explore picturesque …
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Reykjavik City Stay (Pre-Voyage)
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Taste of Copenhagen
3 DAYS / 2 NIGHTS Departs Daily Day 1 – Copenhagen Arrive in Copenhagen where you will be met by a representative …
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Taste of Oslo
3 DAYS / 2 NIGHTS Departs Daily Day 1 – Oslo Arrive in Oslo and make your own way to the Thon …
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*Terms & Conditions apply. Valid on select ship voyages only and select cabin categories. Offer is valid on new bookings only aboard the Greg Mortimer which must be booked and deposited by March 31st, or until sold out, whichever comes first. Promotion is subject to availability at the time of booking and capacity controlled. The promotion is not available in conjunction with any other offer, can be withdrawn at any time and is not redeemable for cash. Prices and offers correct at time of printing and subject to change. Normal booking terms and conditions apply. To confirm your booking, a completed booking form and non-refundable deposit of $2,500 pp in the booking currency is required within 7 days of reserved berth/s. Additional terms and conditions may apply. Please visit www.auroraexpeditions.com.au/terms-and-conditions for full terms and conditions.