MS Spitsbergen sailed into the Hurtigruten fleet in 2016 after a complete re-construction. This state-of-the-art expedition ship now features environmentally-friendly technology, while her compact size and manoeuvrability make her ideal for exploring polar waters. Setting sail with a maximum of 335 passengers on board, you’ll soon get to know your fellow travellers, friendly crew, and Expedition Team. The public areas, cabins, and suites are Scandinavian in design with a marine-coloured decor. The locally-inspired and tasty cuisine is complemented by a laid-back and sociable on-board lifestyle and a casual dress code. The focus is very much on what you can experience ashore and activities on and off the ship. Spend your days at sea relaxing on the open-air explorer deck and outdoor Jacuzzi deck or enjoying the panoramic views from the observation lounge. Work up a sweat in the fitness room before winding down in the sauna.
The cuisine on board boasts authentic Scandinavian flavours, created from locally-sourced ingredients. Take your seat in the Torget Main Dining restaurant at breakfast, lunch, and dinner to enjoy attentive service and a tasty menu of starters, main courses, and desserts. Brygga Bistro is the place to choose for informal light bites.
Explorer Lounge & Bar spans Decks Five and Six at the bow of MS Spitsbergen and is the ship's social hub. From your morning espresso through to pre-dinner cocktails and late evening nightcaps; this is the place to socialise with your co-travellers and take in the ever-changing vistas through the windows.
The entertainment on board MS Spitsbergen is relaxed and low-key. The Expedition Team host a programme of informative lectures and evening get-togethers; while out on deck and ashore they guide you through the points of interest, local wildlife, and other fascinating sights. Enjoy ambient background music in the evening as you mix with your fellow guests in the Explorer Lounge & Bar.
Day 1: Fly from the UK to Oslo and onward to Longyearbyen
Fly from your chosen UK airport to Oslo for your connecting flight to Longyearbyen. This Arctic Circumnavigation starts with an evening flight from Oslo. Norway's capital is often called 'The blue, the green and the city in between' thanks to its unique position between the fjord and the forest. Spend the day exploring the museums, parks, and modern architecture or simply relax with a frothy coffee in a café. When you arrive in Longyearbyen later in the day you will be amazed by the contrast - not only is this town on the edge of harsh ice in the midst of untouched Arctic wilderness but it's also a modern place with first-class facilities, charming architecture, an internationally-famous museum, and plentiful bars and restaurants.
Day 2 - Longyearbyen
After an overnight hotel stay, you can join an exciting excursion in the unique little town of Longyearbyen and the surrounding area. Discover the town's mining history by visiting the only mine that's still working - Mine 3 - and maybe pay a call to the Svalbard Museum to learn about life underground. A trip to the 24-hour sundial is awe-inspiring, as the sun does not set for weeks during the summer months. Later in the day, step aboard MS Spitsbergen and make yourself at home.
Days 3 to 5: North West Spitsbergen National Park
Over the next few days, you'll get to discover the islands, fjords, and beaches of the North West Corner. The surrounding waters are full of drifting ice and the frozen landscape changes constantly before your eyes. The itinerary is flexible due to strong winds and currents which the Captain monitors conditions closely before deciding where you can land or sail. If you are able to step ashore, this area is excellent for exploring Svalbard’s history. The ship may visit the beautiful fjord areas of Kongsfjorden where mighty glaciers calve icebergs into the sea against a stunning mountain backdrop. On the shore is the former mining settlement of Ny-Ålesund, now an international centre for research. You might also visit Krossfjorden and Mitrahalvøya, where you can see ruins from the whaling period, beautiful alpine flora, bird cliffs, and the odd Svalbard reindeer. If conditions allow, why not try crossing a glacier with the Expedition team? Raudfjorden is great for hiking, Hamiltonbukta is perfect to explore by kayak, and you might even get to see the enormous Monaco Glacier in Liefdefjord.
Day 6 to 8: Eastern Svalbard Nature Reserves and South Spitsbergen National Park
Eastern Svalbard boasts the highest population of polar bears on the archipelago – so hopefully you’ll be able to see at least one on this journey! Today, the cruise continues into Sorgfjorden which borders the North East Spitsbergen Nature Reserve. Enjoy the view on deck as the ship passes the spectacular bird cliff of Alkefjellet. Edgeøya is the third-largest island in the Svalbard archipelago and the landscape on its western shores is largely un-glaciated. Kapp Lee is a wonderful site where you will find cultural heritage from all eras of Svalbard's exploration. Continue to the southern cape and the southernmost tip of Spitsbergen, where you'll notice large variations in the landscape and geology at Hornsund. Ice being pushed into the fjord early in the season attracts polar bears that hunt on the ice, so hopefully you'll get to spot one or two of these awesome predators.
Day 9: The Isfjord
Today will be spent exploring the Isfjord, the most prominent fjord system on Svalbard. The landscape changes constantly in the inner parts of Isfjorden and the immense U-shaped valleys are home to large populations of the Svalbard Reindeer. Later on, travel to a scenic fjord arm for a farewell barbecue in the spectacular Arctic surroundings.
Day 10: Longyearbyen /Oslo
Every good explorer's voyage comes to an end and hopefully you will have experienced the subtle exhilaration from having travelled to the very top of the globe, just a few hundred miles from the Geographical North Pole! After early morning disembarkation, the transfer vehicle will be waiting to take you to the airport for your flight back to Oslo and onward to the UK.