10 days with Ponant Rating:
Day 1 – TROMSO
Embarkation from 16H00 to 17H00. Departure at 18H00.
In the north of the Arctic circle you’ll discover Tromsø, a secluded town located in the county of Troms. Norwegians call it the “Paris of the north”. You’ll soon see why when you discover its extensive neoclassical architectural heritage. A stunning example is the Arctic cathedral, a major monument whose stylistic purity echoes the outline of the mountains surrounding the town.
Day 2 – AT SEA
During your day at sea, make the most of the many services and activities on board. Treat yourself to a moment of relaxation in the spa or stay in shape in the fitness centre. Depending on the season, let yourself be tempted by the swimming pool or a spot of sunbathing. This day without a port of call will also be an opportunity to enjoy the conferences or shows proposed on board, to do some shopping in the boutique or to meet the PONANT photographers in their dedicated space. As for lovers of the open sea, they will be able to visit the ship’s upper deck to admire the spectacle of the waves and perhaps be lucky enough to observer marine species. A truly enchanted interlude, combining comfort, rest and entertainment.
Day 3 – SAILING BY BJORNOYA (BEAR ISLAND)
Halfway between Norway and Spitsbergen, you will sail not far from the coastlines of Bjørnøya, the southernmost island of Svalbard. From your ship, observe this isolated piece of land discovered in 1596 by the Dutch navigator Willem Barents, then looking for the Northwest Passage. Following a tough fight between a polar bear and the members of the expedition, he dubbed the place Bear Island. Regularly covered by a thick layer of fog, Bjørnøya shelters a meteorological station built in 1923, which is still in operation. Declared a nature reserve in 2002, the island is above all home to an enormous colony of sea birds: skuas, guillemots, puffins, Tridactyl gulls, petrels, gulls and little auks all coexist here.
Day 4 – GNALODDEN, SPITSBERGEN AND HORN GLACIER, SPITSBERGEN
The Gnålodden Cliff culminates at over 700 metres high and is home to over a thousand species of sea birds. Tridactyl gulls, northern fulmars and thick-billed murres are lords and masters in this often deafening commotion, particularly during the nesting season. Polar bears and Arctic foxes also frequent the site, a delight for lovers of the animal kingdom. The “bird cliff”, as it is known, is surrounded at its foot by very rich vegetation, unfurling its carpet of moss across a décor of wild tundra. During your visit, stop at the former hunter’s cabin, which was also used as a satellite station during the 1930s.
Nestling between millennial glaciers and carved mountains, and considered to be “the crown of Arctic Norway”, Spitsbergen is a place that never sees the night. Your ship will take you closer to this fascinating archipelago and, more particularly, the Hornsund fjord. Considered to be Svalbard’s southernmost fjord, it is especially reputed to be its most stunning: at the end of its vast bay, 8 great glaciers slowly make their way down to the sea before giving way to the many icebergs elegantly drifting along its cold and mysterious waters.
Day 5 – GASBERGKILEN AND RECHERCHEFJORDEN, SPITSBERGEN
With its oasis-like appearance, this site can be quite a surprise. It is home to one of the largest bird cliffs on the west coast of Spitsbergen, much to the delight of photographers and nature lovers. The damp climate as well as the guano, accumulating on the ground for thousands of years, explain the presence of very green and rich vegetation composed, among other things, of mosses and rock foils. On land, it is possible to come across an Arctic fox searching for food. But you will have even greater delight if you look skywards in Gåsbergkilen. Very popular with thick-billed murres and Tridactyl gulls, the superb bird cliff is also home to razorbills, barnacle geese and pink-footed geese.
During your cruise, set off to discover Recherchefjorden, located to the south of Bellsund. You will land on a beach that is home to several cabins dating from the era of the Northern Exploration Company (NEC). This company was founded in 1910 by Ernest Mansfield, a man who hoped to benefit from mineral exploration. The gold and coal rushes lasted ten years and came to nothing. These houses, a boat, some barrels and a winch are the last remnants of the a bygone era in Spitsbergen. Not far from there, a plateau of tundra covered in purple campion awaits you, regularly frequented by reindeer and Arctic foxes.
Day 6 – MAGDALENEFJORDEN (MAGDALENA BAY), SPITSBERGEN AND YTRE NORSKOYA, SVALBARD
Nestling in north western Spitsbergen, Magdalena Bay is one of Svalbard’s unmissable sites. In a spectacular landscape of snow-topped Alpine mountains, deep fjords, beaches and majestic glaciers, it offers multiple opportunities for wonderment. We will not be surprised to observe whales, walruses, seals, common eiders, terns, polar bears and Arctic foxes there. The site of Gravneset, located in Magdalenafjorden, is home to the remnants of a former whaling station used during the 17th century, as well as the graves of many sailors buried here up until the end of the 18th century. Not far from here, the Gully Glacier offers a magnificent view, a delight for photographers.
At first sight, the small island of Ytre Norskøya seems to be sterile and arid land. But once you are ashore, you will be welcomed by a thick carpet of golden moss, dotted with pygmy buttercups, Svalbard poppies and lichen. On the beach are the remains of the ovens that were used to melt whale blubber, precious evidence of the history of the whalers who came and set up in this area as of the 17th century. Another trace of the past: the presence of one of the largest cemeteries in Svalbard, with no fewer than 165 tombs. The Ytre Norskøya cliff is home to many sea birds, including little auks, barnacle geese, Atlantic puffins and thick-billed murres.
Day 7 – SAILING TOWARD THE ICE FLOES
Your captain will sail right up to the limit of the ice, to the edge of the ice floe. Weather conditions and state of the ice allowing, you will be able to go out in a Zodiac® dinghy for a unique experience in the middle of these floating slabs of ice. In addition to this grandiose journey through the middle of these floes with their cut and blue-tinged edges, sometimes over 2 metres thick, it is also often an opportunity to see a particular kind of fauna, totally dependent on the ice floe: birds, seals and polar bears.
Day 8 – 14TH JULY GLACIER, SPITSBERGEN AND NY-ALESUND
At the entrance to Cross Bay, between tundra, plutonic rocks and mountains covered with a surprising endemic flora, set off to discover the 14th July Glacier. It was thus named by Prince Albert I of Monaco, following an expedition that he led there at the beginning of the 20th century. The glacier’s surroundings are frequented by numerous birds (Tridactyl gulls, thick-billed murres, barnacle geese, common eiders, Atlantic puffins…), as well as Arctic foxes and reindeer. As you arrive in front of the glacier, admire the impressive wall of ice and the reflection of the cliffs in the water. It is quite common to see a section of ice come loose, or a bearded seal lounging on an iceberg.
During your cruise, discover Ny-Ålesund, a former mining town that has been transformed into a scientific base. Founded in 1916, this small town was the departure point for many Arctic expeditions, including those of the famous explorer Roald Amundsen. Don't miss a visit to the museum and its famous post office, considered to be the most northerly in the world!
Day 9 – ALKHORNET, SPITSBERGEN AND NORDENSKIÖLD GLACIER, SPITSBERGEN
At the northern entrance of Isfjorden, there is a small paradise for bird lovers: the Alkhornet Cliff. It is home to a very rich avifauna, made up of thousands of birds frolicking in a joyous tumult: gulls, guillemots, pink-footed geese, terns, seagulls, puffins, Arctic skuas… The Alkhornet Cliff, easily recognisable by its rhinoceros-horn shape, is also frequented by reindeer, which are not overly timid. Attracted by the tundra that covers the foot of the mountain, they come to graze in peace in a verdant setting covered with grass and moss. With a little luck, you will perhaps have the opportunity to see some seals and Arctic foxes, who are also regular visitors.
Situated deep inside Isfjorden, the Nordenskiöld Glacier is one of the very beautiful discoveries of your cruise. Its front of ice, nearly 5 km wide, is one of the most spectacular in the Svalbard Archipelago. 30 metres high, the glacier, like a gigantic frozen statue whose sections of ice sometimes come spectacularly loose, is impressive. The polar bear, the king of the Arctic, will perhaps make an appearance in these parts, which are also frequented by reindeer and seals.
Day 10 – LONGYEARBYEN, SPITSBERGEN
Disembarkation at 07H00.
Longyearbyen is the capital of the Norwegian Svalbard archipelago, located on Svalbard’s main island, and is the northernmost territorial capital on the planet. With winter temperatures dropping to below 40°C, the landscapes of this mining town are simply breathtaking. The glaciers, the mountains stretching as far as the eye can see and the untouched nature, make you feel like you’re in completely unexplored territory.
All This Included
With PONANT, set off to discover the west coast of Spitsbergen during a 10-day expedition cruise into the heart of the Svalbard Archipelago. Aboard L’Austral, fall under the spell of the magical Arctic Far North, with its ice floes, polar bears and breathtaking glaciers.
Your ship will depart from Tromsø, in Norway, and head north to bring you closer to Bear Island, a refuge for many birds, in the western part of the Barents Sea.
You will then reach the southern tip of Spitsbergen and discover Hornsund, one of the island’s most beautiful fjords, with an impressive glacier front.
Further north, follow in the footsteps of the former whalers who once settled in Ytre Norskøya and in Magdalena Bay, two sites that are home to the graves of many sailors and are still frequented by various species of cetaceans.
During your cruise, you will also have the opportunity to sail among the icebergs of the 14th July Glacier, in a sublime blue-tinged décor that will not fail to fill you with wonder.
Not far from the Nordenskiöld glacier, you will perhaps have the chance to observe a polar bear - the absolute lord of the Arctic wildlife - before your disembarkation in Longyearbyen.
Cruising: Standard cabin onboard L'Austral
Terms and Conditions
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* The prices shown are U.S. dollars per person, based on double occupancy, and subject to availability. Prices quoted for land/cruise arrangements are subject to increase without notice. Once we have received your deposit, land/cruise prices are guaranteed. Air prices quoted via phone or email are subject to increase and are guaranteed only from the time that full payment is received. Also, air prices or air promotions mentioned on this site or on the phone do not include baggage fees imposed by airlines.