A new cruise offering from Smithsonian Journeys and PONANT 

On a cruise under the midnight sun to Norway’s remote Svalbard archipelago, watch for polar bears, walruses, and other polar flora and fauna amid magnificent ice floes, fjords, and glaciers. 

Starting at: $9,900 * Price includes special offer Ask Us A Question or Call 855-330-1542
 Polar bear in Svalbard  Arctic landscape in Norway  Polar bears in Norway's arctic landscape

Cruising Arctic Norway: Glaciers, Ice Floes, and Polar Bears

Round-trip from Longyearbyen Aboard the 264-guest Le Boréal

10 days from $9,900

A new cruise offering from Smithsonian Journeys and PONANT 

On a cruise under the midnight sun to Norway’s remote Svalbard archipelago, watch for polar bears, walruses, and other polar flora and fauna amid magnificent ice floes, fjords, and glaciers. 

or Call 855-330-1542

Overview

Experience a wondrous land of ice and wildlife under the midnight sun on a cruise to Norway’s remote Svalbard archipelago. Just over 600 miles from the North Pole, the nine islands of Svalbard are home to a host of rare creatures—from walruses to polar bears—as well as Europe’s largest ice cap. Learn about the environmental challenges to the Arctic as you explore glaciers and polar deserts at the 80˚ parallel north. Cruise through an ethereal gallery of raw geology, deep-blue fjords, and glittering ice—an unforgettable landscape enchanted by the glow of the midnight sun.

The Smithsonian Journeys / PONANT Experience: Each cruise will be accompanied by two Smithsonian Journeys Experts and a team of naturalist guides. Lectures and information sessions will cover wildlife, history, climate, environmental issues, and more. This program will begin and end with an overnight in Paris and includes round-trip air from Paris to Longyearbyen.  

Highlights Include

  • Svalbard: Enter a world where nature is in its purest form, exploring glaciers, islands, ice floes, and secluded fjords in some of the most remote parts of the Svalbard archipelago.  
  • Zodiac excursions: Throughout your voyage, get up close to geological formations and wildlife on excursions by Zodiac. You’ll hear the sound of calving ice crashing into the sea from Kongsbreen and Nordenskiöld glaciers; stop at former mining and whaling settlements; and glide among the ice floes of Nordaust-Svalbard Nature Reserve. 
  • Wildlife: Watch for the majestic polar bear in its remote native habitat. View herds of walrus hauled out on scoured granite beaches, bearded and ring seals lazing about, and some of the world’s largest whales. You may also spot arctic foxes scurrying across the snow and iconic reindeer grazing the tundra. And you’re sure to see teeming bird colonies nesting amid the sea cliffs, including kittiwakes, guillemots, hawks, puffins, and king elders.  
  • Ice: Marvel at the spectacular icebergs of Kongsfjorden, and encounter the tremendous front of the Nordenskiöld glacier, which stretches some five kilometers. Explore Europe’s largest ice cap on Nordaustlandet and the vast ice floes of the Arctic Sea.  

Itinerary

Day 1 — Paris, France

Arrive in Paris and transfer to your hotel. The remainder of the day is at leisure.

Day 2 — Longyearbyen, Svalbard

This morning, fly to Longyearbyen, the capital of the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard. Located on the main island of Spitsbergen, at 78 degrees north, this picturesque city is perched on the water and surrounded by glaciers and mountains. Board the ship after lunch and cruise north along the spectacular fjord-carved coast. (B,L,D)

Day 3 — Kongsfjorden

Sail into one of the most beautiful fjords in Svalbard: Kongsfjorden, “the fjord of the King.” Here, snowcapped mountains cast their reflections in water scattered with superb icebergs. Keep your eye out for reindeer, barnacle geese, black guillemots, and a variety of duck species, as well as ringed and bearded seals sunbathing on the ice. At the end of the fjord, admire the Kongsbreen (glacier of the King) and its three rocky points, named after three Scandinavian countries: Svea (Sweden), Dana (Denmark) and Nora (Norway). (B,L,D)

Day 4 — Nordvest-Spitsbergen National Park

The Nordvest-Spitsbergen National Park was established in the early 1970s to protect this exceptional environment against the growing interest of the mining industry. Glaciers, large bays, and nunatuks make up this mystical landscape, as well as stretches of arctic tundra scattered with moss and lichen in shades of silver and gold. Many of Svalbard’s historic remains lie here as well—from the vestiges of 17th-century whaling stations to the camp of an unlucky 19th-century adventurer. In this pristine environment, you will be able to observe arctic terns and seals hauled out on the rocks that emerge at low tide. (B,L,D)

Day 5-7 — Nordaust-Svalbard Nature Reserve/Sailing amid the Ice Floes

Spend three days exploring Nordaustlandet, Svalbard’s second largest island, an uninhabited polar desert covered by two ice caps. In the west and north, the fjords and cliffs are warmed by the Gulf Stream and home to walruses and large colonies of birds. The colder east and south are dominated by glaciers that calve majestic icebergs into the vast Hinlopen Strait. Large colonies of thick-billed murres can be found on the sheer cliffs, and with luck, you may see a polar bear or an arctic fox roaming in the vicinity. Sail right up to the edge of the ice floe, sheets of sea ice that are home to the increasingly rare polar bear. Sea ice wanes in the summer and forms again as the winds chill, however, the dwindling midwinter ice causes polar bears to return later each season and travel further to reach ice that’s suitable for hunting, resting,and breeding. Weather and ice conditions permitting, enjoy the once-in-a-lifetime experience of riding a Zodiac amid these floating slabs of ice. The floes can be as thick as six feet, with sharp-cut, turquoise-tinged edges, and sometimes harbor seabirds, seals, and polar bears. (3B,3L,3D)

Day 8 — Soraust-Svalbard Nature Reserve

Discover wildlife and relics of whaling stations in Søraust-Svalbard Nature Reserve today. The second largest protected area in Norway, the reserve covers more than 21,000 square kilometers of mountains, plateaus, vast tundra plains, rocky islets, and ice floes. Identified as an Important Bird and Biodiversity Area, the reserve is home to a wide variety of seabirds, as well as Atlantic walruses, cetaceans, Svalbard reindeer, and arctic foxes. One of the reserve’s two main islands, Edgeoya Island, is known for providing shelter to polar bears during the breeding season. (B,L,D)

Day 9 — Isfjorden

One of the main fjords in Svalbard, Isfjorden reaches deep into the heart of Spitsbergen, splitting into three branches. Cruise into one of these branches, Billejforden, to see the magnificent Nordenskiöld Glacier. Its wall of ice, nearly five kilometers wide, is one of the most spectacular sights in the Svalbard archipelago. Conditions permitting, discover the ghost town of Pyramiden. Constructed at the foot of a mountain in the form of a pyramid, this former coal-mining town was founded by Sweden at the beginning of the 20th century and sold a few years later to the Soviet Union. Abandoned suddenly in 1998, the fascinating site has preserved all its buildings and their interiors as they were when the inhabitants left. (B,L,D)

Day 10 — Longyearbyen/Paris, France

Return to Longyearbyen and disembark this morning. After lunch, transfer to the airport for your flight to Paris. Check into our hotel and enjoy an evening at leisure. (B, L) 

Day 11 — Paris, France/Return Home

After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your flight home. (B) 

Itinerary Note

Ports of call, visited sites, outings and landings will depend on weather conditions, position of ice, winds and the state of the sea. These can force a change of plans at any time. The Captain and the Expedition Leader may at any time cancel or stop any activity, or even modify the itinerary. The final itinerary will be confirmed by the Captain, who will take into account the touristic quality of the sites and above all, the safety of the passengers. His decision will be based on advice from experts and authorities.

Included meals are denoted as follows: Breakfast (B), Lunch (L), Reception (R), Dinner (D)