On arrival in Longyearbyen you may wish to visit the Svalbard Museum which has an interesting collection on the history of Spitsbergen, the mining industry and polar exploration. In the evening we sail, setting course for Trygghamna where we will see the remains of a 17th century English whaling station and an 18th century Pomor hunting station, which we will visit the next morning.
Today we walk Tryghamna to the large seabird colony at Alkhornet. Arctic Fox can often be found below the cliffs where they scavenge off fallen eggs and chicks. Reindeer are also often found grazing on the lush vegetation. After lunch we set sail through the Forlandsundet and weather permitting we will go ashore at Fuglehuken. It is here the first Western Europeans, during the expedition of Willem Barentsz, set foot on Spitsbergen. Nearby we can see the graves of whalers. We may also be able to visit a nearby haul-out of Harbour Seal and Walrus.
Today we hope to visit the small island of Ytre Norsk ya, which for many years was as a lookout point for Dutch whalers. Today it is still possible to follow in their footsteps to the summit of the island, passing excellent bird cliffs on the way. A good number of Arctic Skua and Common Eider can also be found breeding amongst the 200 graves of whalers, which scatter the shores.
The spectacular Raudfjord, on the north coast of Spitsbergen, is our destination today. This beautiful fjord, strewn with glaciers, is a favourite with Ringed and Bearded Seal, houses numerous seabird colonies, and offers good chances for spotting Polar Bear and Beluga. Jermaktangen, at the fjord's eastern entrance, is a geography lesson in the erosion of the land by the sea.
If sea-ice conditions allow, we may land on the northern-side of Reindyrfla, the largest tundra area of Spitsbergen. The vast undulating plain is a good grazing area for reindeer and several species of waders also breed here. The area's lakes offer good chances of spotting Red-throated Diver and King Eider.
You sail into Liefdefjorden, where king eiders and grey phalaropes nest. Fjord ice might block the way to the gargantuan front of Monaco Glacier and the warm springs in Bockfjord, but the wildlife along the edge of the ice can include foraging seabirds, bearded seals, even polar bears. If ice conditions prevent sailing here early in the season, an alternate route along the west coast of Spitsbergen can be implemented.
Continuing our journey north we sail into the magnificent Magdalenafjord. Here we enjoy a walk through the tundra to view the remains of 17th century English whaling activities. We can also visit some big seabird colonies particularly noteworthy for their Little Auk.
Our objective today is a visit to Ny lesund, the northernmost permanently inhabited village in the world. As a centre for polar research it is also a former starting point for many of the legendary North Pole expeditions (Amundsen and Nobile both started from here). The local bird life has adapted itself to the human presence and is exceptionally tame. Barnacle Goose, Pink-footed Goose, Common Eider, Arctic Tern and several species of wader can be seen at close quarters.
This morning our course sets sail to the 14th of July Glacier where weather permitting we can enjoy zodiac cruising through the stunning landscape. Not far from the glacier there is an accessible breeding site for Br nnich's Guillemot, Auk and Puffin which we hope to visit. The guano of these bird colonies, the southward exposure and the sheltered situation, give rise to a relatively rich vegetation with many species of flowering plants.
On our way south, the goal is a landing at Fuglehuken. Here you see remains from the great era of polar bear hunting. There are also large seabird colonies and a haul-out spot for harbour seals. Alternatively you could land on the coast of Forlandsundet, at Engelskbukta or Sarstangen. Walruses are occasionally seen here, and the tundra is a fine place for a walk.
We hope today to stop is Bohemanflya, an expansive tundra with its own avifauna (depending on when spring arrives) as well as spectacular geological formations along the coast. In Gipsvika you can go on shore near the cliff of Templet, a mountainous area of eroded sedimentary rock from the Upper Carboniferous period around 290 million years ago.
After breakfast we disembark the ship in Longyearbyen.