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Destination

Svalbard

Marvel at the untouched wilderness of Svalbard, home to the King of the Arctic

Expedition Cruises Svalbard

An Expedition Cruise around the stunning Svalbard archipelago is a trip of a lifetime to an untouched Arctic wilderness. Enjoy the immense beauty of Svalbard on this Arctic adventure cruise among whales, walruses, polar bears and millions of sea birds. As you depart from Longyearbyen, the spectacular arctic scenery emerges right away. Imagine giant sculpted glacier fronts, breathtakingly scenic fjords packed with sea ice and sparkling ice caps lit by the midnight sun. Explore the wonders of Svalbard while hiking or snowshoeing on land, or see it’s beauty from your zodiac or kayak on the water. Make sure to keep your camera ready, an expedition cruise to Svalbard offers amazing photography opportunities and Arctic wildlife might be just around the next corner.

Best time to visit Svalbard

Svalbard is only accessible by ship during spring and summer, from May to September. During the short summer, wildlife is busy storing up energy for the polar winter. Foxes and reindeer are roaming on snow and grass slopes below the cliffs where countless birds are breeding. Whales and seals can be seen foraging along the edge of the pack ice and along the coasts, and we will keep a sharp lookout for colonies of huge walruses at their beach haul-outs.
Early in the season there is still a lot of snow and ice to be found in Svalbard. Seal pups start to explore their surroundings while hungry polar bears search for food. Birds will migrate from the south to make their nests, walruses lay on ice floes and whales return to the Arctic. The 24 hours of daylight will give you plenty of time to explore and photograph the beautiful nature and polar animals. Later in the season, much of the snow and ice will have melted, opening up the fjords and making wildlife more easily accessible. To the north and east of Svalbard the drift ice will start breaking up, offering chances for a circumnavigation of the archipelago.

In general your expedition cruise will start in Longyearbyen, the northernmost town in the world. In this tiny Arctic city the streets have no names and it’s not unlikely you’ll encounter reindeer crossing the road. But also polar bears are never far away. For this reason you are not allowed to leave Longyearbyen without a guide that’s carrying a rifle. While in Longyearbyen, we recommend you visit the Svalbard Museum which has an interesting collection on the history of Svalbard, the mining industry and polar exploration.

Weather Svalbard

Svalbard primarily experiences a polar climate, with the majority of its landmass covered by an ice sheet. This ice sheet, profoundly influences the island’s climate. Expedition cruises to Svalbard take place from late April through mid-August, when the midnight sun illuminates the day and temperatures climb just above freezing.

  • Spring: When travelling in early spring, you will find a virtually untouched landscape with lots of snow and sea ice. Although the ice might prevent you from reaching certain sites, the pristine Arctic scenery offers incredible photographic opportunities.
  • Summer: As summer progresses, Svalbard wildlife gets more active and the landscape slowly transforms. The tundra has surprisingly rich vegetation, which flourishes in sheltered spots. It boosts a wide array of little flowers, turning the barren landscape into a beautiful scenery.

The Midnight Sun and Polar Nights

Due to its location within the Arctic Circle, Svalbard experiences the phenomenon of the midnight sun in summer, where the sun doesn’t set for several weeks. Conversely, during winter, there are polar nights where the sun doesn’t rise for an extended period.

Coastal vs. Inland Climate of Svalbard

Svalbards size and topography mean that its climate isn’t uniform:

  • Coastal Regions: Moderated by the North Atlantic Current, coastal areas, especially in the south and west, have milder winters and cooler summers compared to the interior. They also experience more precipitation and are prone to occasional rain in summer.
  • Inland Areas: The ice and high elevation of Svalbard makes the interior much colder. It’s also drier, receiving minimal precipitation.

Wildlife Svalbard

Despite its harsh climate, Svalbard is home to a wide variety of wildlife that has adapted to the extreme polar conditions. When spring arrives, cliffs along the coast turn into thriving seabird colonies. Millions of migratory birds, such as little auks, arctic terns and northern fulmars, come to Svalbard to find a partner, lay eggs and raise their chicks. They attract Arctic foxes that are always on the hunt for a chick or egg that was left alone by its parents. On the tundra, you might spot Svalbard reindeer. The melting snow allows them to graze on the exposed patches of vegetation. You might also see walrus or seals having a nap on the pack-ice, while always keeping an eye out for polar bears. Towards the end of the summer season, Svalbard is at its most colorful. The tundra on Svalbard has some surprisingly rich vegetation, which flourishes in sheltered spots. It boosts a wide array of little flowers, turning the barren landscape into a beautiful scenery.

Animals you might be able to see during an expedition cruise to Svalbard:

  • Polar Bears
  • Svalbard Reindeer
  • Arctic Fox
  • Walrus
  • Whales
  • Many bird species

Our trips to Svalbard

Signature Expedition

Photography Expedition Svalbard

Guided by Expedition Leader Rinie van Meurs

Travel duration: 12 days
Date: 13 Jul - 24 Jul 2025
Ship: Explorer
Passengers: 12 passengers

From € 15300 per person
Signature Expedition

Svalbard On Land & In the Water

With Waterproof experts Johnny & Debbie

Travel duration: 10 days
Date: 22 Jul - 31 Jul 2025
Ship: Polarfront
Passengers: 16 passengers

From € 10400 per person

FAQ

You can fly to Longyearbyen, the largest town of Svalbard which is situated on the island of Spitsbergen. Scandinavian Airlines and Norwegian offer flights from mainland Norway to Longyearbyen. Look for flights from Oslo (OSL) or Tromso (TOS) to Longyearbyen (LYR).