Spitsbergen: in search of Polar Bears, Bowhead Whales and Arctic Birds


Dates: 10-17 June 2025
Price: 8 Days from £3575 excluding flights. Single supplement £3,500**
International flights: £900

* The price and deposit quoted above is per person for a berth in a quad cabin. For all cabin options please see the Wildwings or Limosa websites.
** The "single supplement" shown is the difference in cost between a single and twin in a twin porthole cabin.


This voyage is rather different from a 'normal' cruise to the high Arctic archipelago of Spitsbergen as the plan is to also explore along the Arctic ice edge, potentially reaching 80°N. Here, we hope to find hunting Polar Bears, before heading to an area where underwater upwellings are known to attract up to a hundred Bowhead Whales. The cruise will also spend three days exploring various sites on the western side of Spitsbergen with the potential landing options including a visit to a Walrus haul-out, as well as breeding colonies of Little Auk and Brunnich's Guillemot. There is also the possibility of finding the beautiful Ivory Gull and (if we are very lucky) Sabine's Gull, plus colourful Grey Phalaropes and drake King Eiders, alongside breeding Purple Sandpipers, Pink-footed and Barnacle Geese and Snow Buntings.

With good chances for Polar Bear, Harp Seal, Hooded Seal, a great range of Arctic birds and possibly even Northern Bottlenose Whale, this trip offer a rare opportunity to see some special wildlife and birds in Europe's high Arctic. A seven night cruise on the comfortable expedition ship, MV Plancius, exploring the western side of Spitsbergen and visiting the ice-edge to the NW of the archipelago. The vessel is a comfortable expedition ship and has excellent cabins and passenger facilities.

For those keen on cetaceans, we may find Beluga close to Spitsbergen while out at sea, there are chances for the world's second largest mammal, the mighty Fin Whale.

The voyage should appeal to anyone with a spirit of adventure and who loves wild and remote places and while the bird and mammal list may be small, it is certainly very special.

The voyage will be accompanied by Limosa/WildWings tour leader Chris Collins subject to minimum numbers.


Day 1: Arrive Longyearbyen, board ship and sail

Our expedition begins in Longyearbyen, the administrative centre of Spitsbergen (which is the largest island of the Svalbard archipelago) and depending on the arrival time of our flight, there should be an opportunity to explore around this former mining town.
Board M/V Plancius in the late afternoon and in the early evening the ship sails out of Isfjorden, where there are chances to spot the first Northern Minke Whales of the voyage.


Days 2-7: Exploring Western and Northern Spitsbergen and the Pack Ice

Having departed Longyearbyen, we have a week to explore the remote shorelines of rugged west and north Spitsbergen as well as heading for the pack ice outside of the territorial waters of the Svalbard archipelago.The sites we visit will be determined by factors such as ice and weather conditions, but these could include the following:


This fjord has some impressive glacier fronts and can be a good place to look for Polar Bears. There are also chances for Bearded and Ringed Seals on the sea ice in the fjord. The cliffs and shoreline support thriving seabird colonies with rich vegetation ashore.

Hamiltonbukta and Ytre Norskøya

There is a colony of Brünnich's Guillemots in Hamiltonbukta whereas the small island of Ytre Norskøya has some interesting human history as it was used for many years as a lookout point for Dutch whalers. We can follow their path to the summit of the island, while on the shore there are the remains of 17th century blubber ovens and about 200 graves of whalers and others who perished here.

On the northern side of the island, we may be able to look for Atlantic Puffin which can be relatively tricky to find in Svalbard, although we stand a decent chance here as they breed on this island along with Kittiwakes.

Forlandsundet, St John's Fjord and Alkhornet

There are many other places we could explore including these three sites. At Forlandsundet, there are sometime Walruses hauled out on the beach whereas St John's Fjord and Alkhornet can provide opportunities to see nesting seabirds, Reindeer and Arctic Foxes.

Pack Ice

We aim to sail into the pack ice outside the territorial waters of Svalbard, looking for Polar Bears and Bowhead Whales. As we sail from 76 N to 80 N along and in the outer fringes of the ice edge, we also hope to find Harp Seals, Hooded Seals plus seabirds such as Little Auks and Brünnich's Guillemots. On previous voyages in this area, we have sometimes seen up to hundred Bowhead Whales and also have the chance to look for Northern Bottlenose and Fin Whales.

The pack ice sailing will be a highlight of this voyage and may take up to three days


Day 8: Disembark in Longyearbyen

We will disembark in Longyearbyen after breakfast and there may be time for some further exploring before we head to the airport for our flights home.


PLEASE NOTE: All itineraries are for guidance only. The programme may vary depending on ice, weather, and wildlife conditions. Landings are subject to site availabilities, permissions, and environmental concerns per AECO regulations. Official sailing plans and landing slots are scheduled with AECO prior to the start of the season, but the Expedition Leader determines the final plan. Flexibility is paramount for expedition cruises.

This tour is operated for Birdwatch and BirdGuides by WildWings (www.wildwings.co.uk) and Limosa Holidays (www.limosaholidays.co.uk) who are fully compliant with the Package Travel and Linked Travel Arrangements Regulations 2018.

It is fully inclusive of accommodation and meals, transport, park entrance fees and permits, guidance, tips and taxes.  Not included are international airfares, insurance, drinks and items of a personal nature. For more information or to make a reservation, call WildWings (0117 965 8333) or Limosa (01692 580623).

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