Head into the heart of the Svalbard Archipelago during a unique expedition cruise with National Geographic.

Experience the wonders of this pristine region in the company of a National Geographic Expert and a National Geographic photographer, who will open your eyes to the magical Arctic Far North where ice floes, polar bears and breath-taking glaciers can be found in abundance, and help you capture the story of your journey through this incredible landscape.

Located midway between the northern coast of Norway and the North Pole, this remote island group has dramatic landscapes and is home to the world’s northernmost community with more than 1000 permanent residents. The residents share the archipelago with the iconic polar bears that also call Svalbard home.

Begin your journey in Norway’s Tromsø aboard PONANT’s L’Austral and head north towards Bear Island with its enormous bird colonies. Reaching the southern tip of Spitsbergen, explore the magnificent Hornsund, one of the island’s most beautiful fjords, with an impressive glacier front.

Continuing our journey north to Nordvest Spitsbergen National Park, and beyond, we will explore to the ice edge, as well as into the grandiose fjord at King’s Bay. Our voyage will take us in the footsteps of the 17th century whalers and explorers who settled in this remote landscape as we search for the majestic wildlife of the area.

Alongside a National Geographic Expert and photographer, take the opportunity to learn more about the international scientific station in the former mining town of Ny-Alesund and enrich your expedition experience with multiple opportunities for land exploration.

Discover why this region of the world has a place on everyone’s bucket list.

At the end of your trip, sit down with your National Geographic Expert and photographer and reflect on the experiences you have shared on your voyage and how they have changed you upon your return. National Geographic and Ponant share the deep belief that when people understand the world, they care more deeply and are inspired to act to protect it.

This Expedition Cruise is onboard Ponant’s L’Austral ship, part of the Sisterships fleet.

We are privileged guests in these remote lands, and we are at the mercy of the weather and ice conditions. Landings on certain sites and the observation of certain wildlife cannot be guaranteed. This makes each National Geographic cruise a unique experience.

Flight Paris/Tromso + transfers + flight Longyearbyen/Paris

Trip highlights

Sail with a National Geographic photographer, who will be available for lectures, workshops, and one-on-one sessions to help you capture the story of your journey, whether you are a seasoned photographer or just using your phone.

Sail with a National Geographic Expert, a leader in their field who will bring to life the insights and stories of their work, and will guide you to experience Svalbard through the lens of National Geographic.

Sailing with a fantastic team of naturalists who will offer insight into local wildlife, history, geopolitics, the great explorers, climate and environmental protection

Experience the magnificence of fjords and ice floe as we cruise through Spitsbergen, one of the most picturesque and remote regions in the world.

Search for wildlife that call Svalbard home, including polar bears, Arctic foxes, Svalbard reindeer, Arctic terns, walruses, whales and puffins.

By travelling with National Geographic to Svalbard, you will also be doing your part to protect it, as part of the proceeds of your trip are returned to the National Geographic Society, who works to further the understanding and protection of our planet.

Itinerary - 8 Days

1 Tromsø, Norway

Begin your journey in the city of Tromsø, Norway. A secluded town, named locally as the Paris of the North’ thanks to the extensive neoclassical architectural heritage. Before you depart on your expedition cruise, explore the iconic Arctic cathedral, a major monument whose stylistic purity echoes the outline of the mountains surrounding the town.

2 At sea

During your day at sea, make the most of your time onboard L’Austral. Meet your onboard National Geographic Expert, as he gives greater insight into the Arctic via lectures and discussions over coffee in the bar. Meanwhile your National Geographic photographer will give initial talks and workshops to help you capture the story of your adventure with your camera, whether you are a seasoned photographer, or using your phone. Come and learn how to make the most of the incredible photographic opportunities you will find along your voyage. Alternatively, venture to the upper deck to enjoy the spectacular scenery and you may be lucky enough to observe marine wildlife in the waters below alongside one of our naturalists.

3 Sailing by Bjornoya (Bear Island), Svalbard

Situated halfway between Norway and Spitsbergen, Bjørnøya is the most southern island of Svalbard. Bear Island was discovered by the Dutch explorer Willem Barents in 1596 and was aptly named after the explorers got into a ‘fight’ with a polar bear. Today, it is still home to an operating meteorological station that was founded in 1923. As we sail by, you may be lucky enough to see the huge abundance of sea birds that reside in and around the island.

4 – 5 Sør-Spitsbergen National Park, Svalbard

Located in southern Spitsbergen, the Sør-Spitsbergen National Park is the largest in Europe, with an area of over 13,000 square kilometres. The southernmost fjord, Hornsund can be found here and is considered one of the most beautiful in all of Spitsbergen. This entry point to the archipelago sets the scene for the journey to come, penetrating 28km into the mountain landscape and is home to 8 large glaciers that create an imposing 25km ice front. It is here we will begin our search for Spitsbergen’s most iconic wildlife and will have the opportunity to observe impressive colonies of birds found on some of the largest bird cliffs in all of Spitsbergen.

As we explore the west coast, we will pass through the region that was home to the failed gold rush of 1910. Dotted along this coast are cabins, boats and other remnants of a bygone era when Ernest Mansfield founded the Northern Exploration Company, with the dream of striking it rich. While the gold rush was abandoned after 10 years, the remains of it can still be seen to this day.

6 NordVest-Spitsbergen National Park, Svalbard

Mining interest in Svalbard did not die out with the gold rushes. The Nordvest-Spitsbergen National Park was established in the early 1970s to protect this exceptional environment against the growing interest of the mining industry. Found within the landscape are the last remain vestiges that bear witness to the earlier history of the region, from the whale hunters of the 17th century to the first expeditions to the North Pole. However, it is the natural features that bring the most wonder with a landscape of arctic tundra painted in shades of silver and gold from endemic moss and lichen species and accented by Nunataks, glaciers, islands and large bays. Whether ashore on onboard, spend time with your National Geographic photographer, who will help you capture the scene, while you may be lucky to spot the seals emerging at low tide and the arctic terns who return every year to breed.

7 Exploring the Ice, Svalbard

Our journey North will bring us into the vast expanse of the ice floes. This ever-changing landscape will constantly shift around us. If conditions allow, we will explore into the ice, navigating the channels between the floes, as we search for the fauna that call the pack ice home. Take time outside to experience the magic of sailing through the ice and spend time with your National Geographic Expert who will help you reflect on how the mystery of the moment links directly into our lives back home.

8 Kongsfjorden (King Bay), Svalbard

The fjord of the king is located close to the former mining town of Ny-Ålesund and acts as a gateway to one of the most beautiful landscapes in all of Svalbard. This dramatic home to bearded seals, reindeer, barnacle geese and black guillemots is typically filled with beautiful icebergs surrounded by the snow-capped mountains that are reflected in the waters below. As we explore the Kongsbreen (glacier of the king), it will be a photographer’s delight to try and capture this stunning scene.

9 Longyearbyen, Spitsbergen

Longyearbyen is the capital of the Norwegian Svalbard archipelago and is situated on Svalbard’s main island. By many, Longyearbyen may seem like an extreme environment with winter temperatures plummeting to around -40°C but to the 2000 residents who have settled in this former mining community, it is home. Take the opportunity to explore the surroundings before your journey back home. As the plane climbs away from the tarmac, take a last look at the dramatic landscapes you leave behind as you return from one of the most remote regions on earth.

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