Travel to Longyearbyen, Svalbard, Norway
Travel through Oslo, Norway on your way to Longyearbyen, Svalbard, Norway.
Sail past glaciers through Norway’s Arctic lit by the midnight sun to find a most mythic predator: the polar bear. This polar adventure is to the famed Svalbard Archipelago of northern Norway. Located between the North Pole and Norway, these islands are home to one of the greatest concentrations of polar bears on Earth. This region remains wild and pristine with its vast mountains, dramatic fjords, massive glaciers, and picturesque icebergs coupled with iconic Arctic wildlife. The primary mission of professional photographer leader Scott Davis is to provide you with skills and opportunities to produce quality images of unique Arctic wildlife and beautiful landscapes.
Itinerary Updated: October 2022
|Jun 27||Travel to Norway.|
|Jun 28||Arrive in Longyearbyen, Svalbard, Norway.||Radisson Blu Polar Hotel Spitsbergen, Longyearbyen|
|Jun 29||Embark on our ship in Longyearbyen.||Aboard our ship||B, D|
|Jun 30–Jul 8||Voyage throughout the Svalbard Archipelago with Zodiac cruises and landings for unbelievable Arctic photography.||Aboard our ship||B, L, D|
|Jul 9||Disembark in Longyearbyen for flights homeward.||B|
|Jul 10||Arrive home.|
Scott is a professional photographer specializing in wildlife, nature, and travel. Originally trained as a wildlife and marine biologist, his research and photo assignments have taken him to the far corners of the globe and all seven continents. National Geographic, BBC, Animal Planet, NY Times, and renowned magazines have used his photography. His patience for teaching and love of capturing the essence of his subjects make him one of our most popular tour leaders.
Agnès is a self-taught naturalist who studied environmental law and management; she is devoted to helping others discover nature and is a committed conservationist. She worked in partnership with the League for the Protection of Birds in France, initiating and leading a project developing access to nature for disabled people. She specializes in guiding in the polar regions and the Russian Far East, where she shares her passion for these fascinating habitats and their wildlife. Agnès is also a keen photographer and one of the authors of Journey to Antarctica.
Travel through Oslo, Norway on your way to Longyearbyen, Svalbard, Norway.
Arrive in Longyearbyen, Svalbard, Norway, for an overnight stay before boarding the ship the next day.
Longyearbyen is a Scandinavian town located on the island of Spitsbergen, the largest in the Svalbard Archipelago. Three other small settlements on Spitsbergen include another 1,000 people with most in the Russian settlement of Barentsburg. The rest of the 62,000 square kilometers of Spitsbergen, and the remainder of the archipelago, are largely pristine. While walking around Longyearbyen, you’ll be surrounded by tiny wildflowers beginning to bloom, and may encounter wildlife such as Svalbard ptarmigan and snow buntings nesting on the outskirts of town. Common eiders, parasitic jaegers (arctic skuas) and arctic terns nest along the coastal flats adjoining the town.
Today you can choose to do some last-minute shopping, visit the excellent museum next to the Radisson Blu Hotel, explore the shore for birds, or take a side trip to other locales along the coast of Isfjorden are available. You’ll board the ship in the late afternoon.
The waters around these islands are very calm compared to the Antarctic. Due to the shallow seas and the warming waters of the Gulf Stream, the climate is much milder than one would expect so far north. During this in-depth voyage, you will have ample opportunities to land ashore, Zodiac cruise, and view wildlife from the decks of our ship.
Flexibility is paramount in expedition travel. Our itinerary depends on the weather and ice conditions. We emphasize photography and observation of polar bears and other Arctic wildlife along with unique and beautiful landscapes, complying with local regulations regarding wildlife sightings in Svalbard. Our small group size gives us the flexibility to stay at a perfect photographic moment for however long needed according to the wildlife behavior and reactions.
Your expedition will have an incredible amount of freedom to explore the Svalbard archipelago. In the land of 24-hr daylight, you’ll search for Arctic wildlife of all shapes and sizes. The region hosts species that will present you with great opportunities to capture world-class images. Your small group expedition allows for flexibility and freedom to cruise around the shores. When on shore, you’ll have the opportunity to hike, explore, and photograph wildlife and landscapes. You’ll also find that Svalbard is a geologist’s paradise with all the ancient colorful rock strata exposed and ready to explore.
You’ll visit fantastic bird cliffs where black-legged kittiwakes, northern fulmars, and several species of alcids breed which include dovekie, black guillemot, thick-billed murre (Brünnich's guillemot), and Atlantic puffin. You’ll seek out polar bears, seals, and ivory gulls where ice abounds. You’ll also have time to get inland a bit to see pink-footed and barnacle geese along with common eider, king eider, and long-tailed duck (oldsquaw).
While walking, stay alert for nesting shorebirds, such as red phalaropes, terns, and skuas. Be aware that arctic terns and parasitic jaegers (arctic skuas) are quick to dive bomb if they are disturbed. While on land, keep an eye out for arctic fox and Svalbard reindeer (an endemic subspecies with short legs) foraging during the plentiful summer months. Read more about some of our favorite landing sites below.
A note about Norwegian geography terms (as seen in many of the following place names): “bukta” means bay, “sund” means sound, “sundet” or “stretet” means channel or strait, “øy” or “øya” means island, “landet” means land or country, “breen” means glacier, and, of course, “fjord” or “fjorden” means fjord or inlet.
The end of this fjord encompasses the broad, impressive glacier front of Monacobreen. Polar bears regularly visit this fjord, searching for seals, birds, and eggs to eat. At this time of year, many geese feed on the lush tundra, and keep an eye out for the rare king eider. The surrounding sea is a favorite feeding spot for thousands of kittiwakes.
Along the north coast of Spitsbergen, Raudfjorden is a beautiful fjord with spectacular glaciers. It is home to ringed and bearded seals, seabird colonies, and surprisingly rich vegetation.
Hike along the colorful lichen-covered cliffs on this small island on the northwest coast of Spitsbergen. There is an accessible breeding ground of seabirds here.
Krossfjorden and Kongsfjorden
On the west side of Spitsbergen, Zodiac cruise along the famed Fourteenth of July Glacier (or Fjortende Julibreen, its Norwegian name) and other beautiful glacier fronts, such as Lilliehöökbreen, one of the largest, at 22km in length.
At the mouth of Isfjorden, the largest of all Spitsbergen’s fjords, you may land to look for arctic foxes searching the cliff base for fallen birds, and look for Svalbard reindeer grazing the luxuriant wildflower-covered vegetation, creating some of the best reindeer photography in the archipelago.
The entire group will disembark the ship in Longyearbyen around 9:00am and either transfer to the airport or, if you depart later in the day, into town.
Visit the Svalbard Islands and sail through Norway’s Arctic past glaciers to find a most mythic predator: the polar bear.
We chose the most well-equipped and comfortable vessel in the small ship class. The ice-strengthened hull and shallow draft enables you to explore and photograph channels and inlets other ships simply cannot navigate. The ship is equipped with Zodiacs for cruising and shore excursions. Enjoy excellent wildlife and scenic viewing from a large, dual-level observation deck at the front, and large windows in the social areas. The spacious and comfortable lounge provides room to relax, gather socially, edit photos, and attend informative lectures. You have your own private cabin for lower deck cabins (or shared for main deck cabins), all with private bathroom facilities. With only twelve passengers, this ship is perfect for exploring places bigger ships cannot navigate.
See additional photos from our participants.
|Type||Cost Per Person|
|Trip Cost, single occupancy on lower deck*||$13,775|
|Trip Cost, double occupancy on main deck||$13,775|
|*Single occupancy aboard the ship, but double occupancy at Longyearbyen hotel.|
Costs are per person, single occupancy for lower deck cabins and double occupancy for main deck cabins, not including airfare. See Included and Not Included sections for more details.
If you are a single traveler, we will find a roommate for you at the hotel in Longyearbyen, but if we cannot find you a roommate, we may charge you a single supplement. If you prefer a single room for your night in the hotel, it costs extra and is subject to availability.
We cannot guarantee a specific cabin number, but if changes occur, we will assign a cabin of equal or greater value.
|Payment||Due Date||Amount Per Person|
|Deposit||Due now to reserve your space||$6,000|
|Final||January 19, 2024||Remaining balance|
Payments are due based on the schedule above. All reservations require a deposit to confirm reservation of your space.
Refunds are given depending on the time left before departure according to the following table. The cancellation fee of $300 per person can be applied toward another trip if reserved within six months of the cancelled trip’s departure date. Cancellations are non-transferrable.
|Dates||Forfeited Amount per Person|
|On or before November 18, 2023||$300|
|November 19 to December 18, 2023||10% of trip cost|
|December 19, 2023 to January 18, 2024||40% of trip cost|
|On or after January 28, 2024||100% of trip cost|
You will visit the Arctic during its summer with 24 hours of daylight. Weather patterns may be highly variable, so bring appropriate attire and gear to handle a mix of conditions including wind, snow, rain, and sun. Expect in the 40s°F (4 to 8°C) during the day and in the 30s° (0 to 4°C) at night, but weather fronts can cause temperatures to either drop further or rise to the 50s and low 60s°F (10 to 17°C).
You must be able to get from the ship into the Zodiacs via a six-foot ladder with staff assisting you above and below. Once ashore, you must be able to get in and out of the Zodiacs including occasionally on a rocky coastline. You will have opportunities for short, relaxed hikes, usually less than a mile over varied terrain (tundra, flat areas, hilly and grassy areas, or rocky slopes) and, at times, uphill for about 20 to 30min. Please contact us if you have any health concerns that may make this trip challenging.
Airfare is not included in trip costs. Detailed logistical information and the contact information for our recommended flight-ticketing agent are included in the Trip Materials we will send you. Please let us know if you are arriving earlier or staying later in Longyearbyen, as we are happy to assist you with any extra overnights that you might want to arrange.
Flights you (or a travel agent) book: Arrive in Longyearbyen, Svalbard, Norway (LYR) on June 28. Depart Longyearbyen, Svalbard (LYR) after 11:00am on July 9, as you disembark from the ship at 9:00am and we recommend one hour to check-in before departure.
With only twelve passenger cabins, our ship is smaller than most ships in Svalbard, allowing you to travel farther into smaller inlets than other ships. Our small group size gives you the flexibility to seize the moment and enjoy special wildlife encounters. With two leaders and only twelve passengers, you will receive plenty of individual attention. And, with two Zodiacs, you have plenty of room for you and your photography gear.
A decent amount of sea ice is usually still present, which provides a good platform to walk onto the shore. When this “ice platform” melts, it is almost impossible to climb onto the shore and over the shoreline banks, which decreases the number of landing possibilities. Polar bears stay with the sea ice and actively look for and hunt seals, thus providing more opportunities to see them. Large seabird colonies also are nesting along the cliffs.
Because our two expeditions visit the archipelago back-to-back, spanning four weeks, your wildlife encounters will not vary much, but the July expedition may have slightly more opportunities for wildflowers.
Don’t let a fear of seasickness scare you away! For all but the most sensitive, seasickness is rarely a problem in this region. It’s a good idea to bring medication if you get seasick or are unsure, but you may find that you do not need it after a couple days once you have your “sea legs.” Even those who have experienced seasickness reported that the incredible wildlife and overall experience were well worth the temporary discomfort. Read our suggestions for coping with seasickness and contact us if you have any concerns.
Our company ethos has always regarded conservation as inseparable from responsible tourism. We struggle with the dilemma that traveling worldwide expends climate-changing carbon. However, we wholeheartedly believe that traveling with us will cultivate your passion for conserving our beautiful world while stimulating each destination’s local economy. We encourage you to explore the various ways in which Cheesemans’ operates within this context:
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"I think my top memory was the sunny afternoon among the glacial ice with many Ivory gulls flying close by while eating a picnic pizza lunch on the top deck. Of course I also enjoyed all of the bear encounters, especially the sow and cub on a walrus carcass. And the time spent in the Little Auk colonies."
"I was ecstatic to be able to observe and photograph a polar bear mother and cub feeding on a walrus carcass. My big wish for the trip was to see polar bears feeding on a carcass, and late one afternoon Scott went back to check on the mom and cub after we had left, only to find them feeding on the other side of the island. He rushed back and whisked us over for a very special exclusive sighting, even keeping the other boats who had arrived later at bay until we were done with our viewing."