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Classic Svalbard Expedition Cruise

Explore Svalbard's fantastic polar landscapes and Arctic wildlife.

Enjoy the immense beauty of the Arctic during a Classic Svalbard Expedition Cruise. Imagine giant calving glaciers, beautiful fjords packed with sea ice and the possibility to spot arctic wildlife at any time. A Classic Svalbard Expedition Cruise takes you along the west coast of the archipelago, and as close as possible to the pack ice in the north.

Most Svalbard Expedition Cruises depart from Longyearbyen, the administrative capital of the Svalbard. Svalbard holds some of the most spectacular landscapes in the Arctic and is teeming with wildlife. The best way to explore this natural beauty is on board a small expedition ship. While navigating along the coast, there are good chances for seeing whales, seals and also walrus. The ultimate wildlife sighting in Svalbard will be a polar bear encouter. The pack-ice in the north of Svalbard will give us the best opportunities to find them.


Why we love Svalbard

  • Incredible polar landscapes
  • Giant glaciers
  • Lots of wildlife
  • Wonderful photography
  • Great for birding

Wherever your Classic Svalbard Expedition Cruise takes you, each day will hold new adventures. From hiking the tundra in search of wildlife to zodiac rides along a giant glacier wall. On a typical day you will have two excursions, one in the morning and another one after lunch. During the evenings, you can enjoy lectures and talks by the expedition team. Throughout the voyage, they will be on the lookout for polar bears, so make sure to keep your camera at hand in case they spot one!


Each trip might have a slightly different itinerary and offers unique experiences. We try to do as much as possible and are always ready to embrace any opportunity that occurs, but can’t guarantee anything. The final itinerary always depends on weather, ice conditions and wildlife behaviour. We count on your flexibility and sense of adventure throughout the expedition cruise to make this journey a success.

Day 1: Embarkation and departure Longyearbyen

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.
In the afternoon of the first day you will embark the ship and depart on your expedition cruise along the coast of Svalbard. In the early evening the ship will sail out of Isfjorden, where we may see our first Minke whale.
Below we have gathered some places you might visit on your Svalbard expedition cruise. On these locations you might go out for shore hikes or zodiac rides and on some expedition cruises it is even possible to go kayaking.

Day 2 - 4: Exploring Svalbard's West Coast

The expedition team will aim for several excursions every day. These could either be shore landings or zodiac cruises. For example, you might get to spend time ashore walking amongst the flowering tundra while on the lookout for reindeer and arctic foxes. Zodiac cruises offer a good chance to see where puffins and guillemots nest between the cracks in the cliffs along the coast. On any excursion, the guides are available to answer your questions about the Svalbard flor and fauna.

A unique location we hope to visit during this expedition cruise is Poolepynten, a 1.5 kilometer long headland on the eastern coast of the island Prins Karls Forland. This location is famous for the huge number of large walruses that often come ashore here, making it easy to admire them from close range. It’s a spectacular sight to see these huge animals in their natural environment.

We might make our way into Kongsfjorden where you will find Ny Ålesund on the southern coast and the Kronebreen glacier at the end of the inlet. Ny Ålesund is one of Svalbard’s four permanent settlements. This former mining town was also the starting point for several Arctic expeditions by the famous polar explorer Roald Amundsen. There are many cultural and historical remains for you to explore, as well as a museum, post office and gift shop.

On the southwestern coast of Svalbard we will find Bellsund, a large fjord system consisting of two branches (Van Mijenfjord and Van Keulenfjord) and two smaller bays (Recherchefjord and Fridtjofhamna). The landscape here is fascinating. In the middle of Van Mijenfjord you’ll see a long narrow island called Akseløya that almost completely blocks the entrance of the fjord. There are also several glaciers in the area. The glacier Recherchebreen ends at a lagoon which is frozen most of the year, with many smaller icebergs floating around. In Fridtjofhamna we will find the calving glacier Fridtjofbreen which is surrounded by steep mountains. In the past we have spotted Beluga whales here, and also polar bears are likely to be present anywhere in the Bellsund area.

Day 5 - 7: Navigating North

Of the northwestern coast of Svalbard there’s an uninhabitat island with some remnants of Dutch history. In 1614, the island was occupied by a Dutch group of whalers on a mission to explore the whaling potential around Spitsbergen. They named it Amsterdam Island and founded the settlement Smeerenburg (Blubber Town) where they built ovens to turn blubber into whale oil which was then shipped back to Europe. In its heyday the town consisted of 17 houses and had approximately 200 inhabitants during the summer seasons. Today, pieces of wooden structures and the bases of the blubber pots are all that remains.

We may sail into Liefdefjorden, cruising near the 5 kilometer long face of the impressive Monaco Glacier. The waters of the glacier front are a favorite feeding spot for thousands of Kittiwake. As well, polar bears have been seen on the glacier, providing wonderful opportunities for photography.

If the weather and ice conditions are favourable, the ship might make it as far as 80 degrees north!

Svalbard Bearded Seal
Svalbard Bearded Seal

Last day: disembarkation in Longyearbyen

After breakfast on the last day, you disembark the vessel in Longyearbyen. From here, you can make your way home, or decide to extend you trip with a few more days in Svalbard.


During this voyage you will get a chance to join long hikes free of charge. Hikes take place in groups of around 24 persons with 2 guides. You will explore at a modest pace, with occasional stops and taking lunch in the field. It’s a fun activity for those that have the ability and willingness to walk at least 15 km (9 miles) for up to six hours in semi-rough terrain. These long hikes allow you to immerse yourself in the sensory experience of Svalbard.

Passengers who don’t want to take part in the long hikes will have a landing at the starting point of the hike in the morning, and another landing at the end point in the afternoon.

Quote Image
Expedition life in Svalbard
Waterproof Expeditions’ Anu traveled to Svalbard in June 2023. You can read about her experiences in the Arctic and life on board an expedition ship.

Read the story


Dates & Rates

Classic Svalbard Expedition Cruise

Exploring West & North Svalbard
Dates and duration
17 Jun - 24 Jun 2024 8 days
Hondius 170 passengers

From € 3700 per person
More info

Other dates

Classic Svalbard Expedition Cruise

Exploring West & North Svalbard
Dates and duration
25 Jun - 06 Jul 2024 13 days
Sea Spirit 114 passengers

From € 8795 per person
More info