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 Longyearbyen aboard Le Boreal and head north to the Kongsfjorden (King’s Fjord) before continuing to explore the ice edge.

As we turn south, our journey will take us down the west coast of Spitsbergen, following 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.

Travelling in the company of a National Geographic Expert and a National Geographic photographer, you will have many opportunities to gain a deeper insight into this region, as well as to learn how to capture the story of your journey and the wildlife encounters over these 11 days.

As we say farewell to Spitsbergen, we will finish with a final flourish, sailing through the dramatic Sør-Spitsbergen National Park, the largest National Park in Europe, before concluding our voyage in Tromsø.

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 Le Boreal ship, part of the Sisterships fleet.

Flight Paris/Longyearbyen + transfers + flight Tromsø/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 - 10 Days

1 Longyearbyen, Spitsbergen, Norway

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.

2 Isfjorden

Today, we may have the opportunity to make the first landing of our voyage at the ghost town of Pyramiden. Preserved to this day, this former mining town was founded by Sweden in the 20th century before being sold to the Soviet Union. Abandoned since 1998, you will find it well preserved and a remnant of the heyday of coal mining. As we continue to explore Isfjorden, one of the main fjords of Svalbard, our journey may take us to the Nordenskiöld Glacier, with its 5km face. Considered one of the most beautiful glaciers in Svalbard, it is the perfect way to start our voyage and sets the scene for the stunning landscapes that are to come.

3 Kongsfjorden (King Bay) and NordVest-Spitsbergen National Park

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.

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.

4 Exploring the Ice

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.

5 NordVest-Spitsbergen National Park

After a day exploring the Ice, we will be back at the Nordvest-Spitsbergen National Park to enjoy its landscapes and wildlife once more before heading south to the Sør-Spitsbergen National Park.

6 – 8 Sør-Spitsbergen National Park

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.

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. We will continue 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.

9 Sailing by Bjornoya (Bear Island)

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.

10 At Sea

Today is your last day at sea and we encourage you to make the most of your time onboard Le Boreal. Catch up with our onboard photographer for some final tips and practise your new-found skills out on deck capturing some seabird photos, or talk to the National Geographic Expert to recap on your Svalbard adventure and better understand its wildlife and landscapes. 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.

11 Tromsø, Norway

Concluding 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 flight home, you may have the chance to explore the iconic Arctic cathedral, a major monument whose stylistic purity echoes the outline of the mountains surrounding the town.

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