Polar and Zodiac, Spitsbergen

Spitsbergen Holidays

Lying about half way between Norway and the North Pole, Spitsbergen is the largest island in the Svalbard archipelago which was ceded to Norway by international treaty in 1920. The best way to enjoy your Svalbard holiday is by cruise ship and our experts will help you decide which type of vessels are most suitable. A Spitsbergen holiday stands out for its variable landscape and wildlife. Walrus, polar bear, reindeer, whales and a plethora of birds are common sightings on a holiday to Spitsbergen. 

What to expect on your Spitsbergen holiday

The answer slightly depends on whether you visit in the summer or winter.

In summer when the sun never drops below the horizon, polar bears - which outnumber the local population - emerge from hibernation onto the ice flows and walrus can be seen basking in the warmer air. Small boats provide the best opportunity for polar bear spotting being able to sail into smaller bays. In winter and spring it is the time for a dog sledding holiday or watching the flashing curtain of the Aurora Borealis, the sun will never lift above the horizon but bathes the land in an eerie pre-dawn light for a few hours each day.

Our Arctic expeditions offer a good choice of Spitsbergen cruises throughout the summer months (end of June to early September). From an 8 day Abridged voyage, a great introduction to the High Arctic, to a 14 day in-depth voyage for those who really want to maximise their Arctic wildlife sightings. It’s also possible to combine your Spitsbergen holiday with Greenland and Iceland.

Our in-depth knowledge of all of the Arctic boats, the wildlife and the seasonal nuances of travel in Spitsbergen is invaluable when planning the perfect Arctic holiday. Under the perpetual midnight sun, explore Spitsbergen's dramatic scenery, ice-choked fjords and wildlife aboard a small expeditionary ship. Our Spitsbergen Polar Bear cruise holidays provide a perfect introduction to the wildlife, history and stunning geography of this magical Arctic wilderness. Daily guided excursions by zodiac cruising along glacier fronts searching for polar bear, walrus and beautiful photographic opportunities. Landings allow you to walk on the Arctic tundra and visit the many historical sites. Combined with its relatively easy access to Longyearbyen via Oslo, the wonders of Spitsbergen couldn't be more appealing to the intrepid traveller.

Some ideas for a Spitsbergen cruise and holiday

  • Arctic cruise: spend a between 8-14 days on an expeditionary Spitsbergen cruise ship looking for both marine and land mammals along with the prolific birdlife
  • Spitsbergen holidays offer unrivalled chances to see the ‘King of the Arctic’, the polar bear
  • Try the exhilarating thrill of dog sledding for a few days travelling between remote, but surprisingly comfortable, accommodation
  • Watch the skies dance with the Aurora Borealis - Spitsbergen is located within the auroral zone and has virtually no light pollution
  • For the active, trekking is a great Spitsbergen holiday in the summer.

Beyond the ordinary

  • Dog sled out to the Noorderlicht, a ship stuck fast in the sea ice of Templefjorden

Our Spitsbergen holiday experts

Sue has cruised the waters in a variety of different vessels and are experts in Spitsbergen cruises. For something alternative, Justin, our MD, took some friends and went dog sledding in Spitsbergen for four days.

Call our travel experts on 01285 885 333 to start planning your Spitsbergen holiday. 

It is always best to pack plenty of thin thermal layers rather than one thick layer. 

Essential Items
• For voyages water proof over trousers and a waterproof jacket are essential. Most ships provide wellingtons and we will confirm the inclusions on your itinerary.   
• Hat
• Gloves
• Thermal socks
• High factor sun cream
• Sun glasses
• Insect repellent
• Due to the monochrome landscape of the arctic brightly coloured clothing is suggested, not least to stand out in your photographs.

Optional items
• Swimming costume – should you wish to partake in a polar plunge
This is an active cruise involving daily walking excursions across the arctic tundra and to be able to get the most out of it you should be in good general health. In order to join the excursions, you must be able to easily get up and down the steep gangway from the ship to the water level and to be able to get in and out of the awaiting zodiacs, which can be awkward, particularly in choppy seas. Staff will be on hand to assist all passengers, so don’t worry about this, it’s just something to be aware of.
Owing to its location far north of the Arctic Circle, Svalbard experiences extreme contrasts in daylight hours between winter and summer. Svalbard is in polar night from October 28th to February 14th, with peak darkness from November 14th to January 29th. This is an ideal time to view the Northern Lights, or Aurora Borealis, if conditions are right. In contrast, Svalbard is in polar day from April 19th to August 23rd, during which time the sun does not dip below the horizon—a polar phenomenon known as the “midnight sun”.

Generally very good, not haute cuisine but good pub grub. Breakfast and lunch are normally a buffet service while a served meal is offered in the evenings. This allows the most flexibility for excursions; the expedition leader will delay lunch rather than take you away from a polar bear sighting. 

Yes within reason, most diets can be catered for but do give us plenty of warning and mention it on your booking form. 

Certainly not, these voyages are all about experiencing the destination and there is no dressing for dinner or any formalities. You may want to be a little smarter for the Captains dinner but this is still very informal. 

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7.5 hours from UK
(via Oslo)

Holiday Ideas in Spitsbergen

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