Lying about half way between Norway and the North Pole, Spitsbergen is the largest island in the Svalbard archipelago. It 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 vessel is most suitable. A Spitsbergen holiday offers an amazing variety of landscapes and wildlife. You'll see walruses, polar bears, reindeer, whales numerous species of bird on your trip to Spitsbergen.
- Spitsbergen is one of the best places in the Arctic to observe Polar bears in their natural habitat
- A variety of land mammals such as the Arctic fox can be seen, as well as reindeer, hares and prolific birdlife
- The Walrus, an iconic species of the Arctic are frequently seen on the ice floe
- The best way to see the arctic is by boat for a true expeditionary experience.
- Small boat cruises are available from as few as 12 passengers
- Daily landings by zodiacs allow for close encounters and interaction with environment
- Mushing your own team of huskies is a thrilling way to experience the high arctic
- Spend days travelling across the ice to remote arctic lodges
- Experience spectacular scenery, ice blue glaciers and the mesmerising northern lights
- A fantastic winter take on the arctic is a snow mobiling adventure
- Navigate across the ice and snow on your own snow mobile staying in unique lodges such as the Isford radio boutique hotel
- Drive through Glacial valleys and across frozen fjords
What to expect on your Spitsbergen holiday
The answer depends on whether you visit in the summer or winter.
In summer, when the sun never drops below the horizon, polar bears emerge from hibernation onto the ice flows and you can see walruses basking in the warmer air. Small boats provide the best opportunity for polar bear spotting as they're 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 never lifts 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 eight 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 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 bears, walruses 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 is an expert in Spitsbergen cruises.
“So close and yet so remote, barely inhabited with much of its area under permanent icecaps, glaciers calving icebergs, towering sea cliffs covered in seabirds, reindeer munching its tundra, walrus strewn beaches and polar bears hunting seals on the sea ice Spitsbergen is perfect for those looking for wilderness, wildlife & history. I love the excitement of a zodiac cruise not knowing what is around the headland or on the far side of an ice flow, will it be a polar bear?”
Sue Grimwood | Steppes Travel Spitsbergen Specialist
Call our travel experts on 01285 885 333 to start planning your Spitsbergen holiday.