- Our experienced crew know the best spots to see polar bears which are at their most active in July
- A comprehensive 12 day itinerary pushing into the Arctic Circle, only 600 miles from the North Pole
- Travel in the company of marine biologist, Monty Halls and wildlife photographer Sue Flood
- Sail onboard the Akademik Sergey Vavilov and access Svalbard's most spectacular sites
The wild and dramatic landscape of Spitsbergen provides the perfect backdrop for photographing polar bears and with Sue Flood and Monty Halls at your side, you are guaranteed expert advice to ensure you make the most of every opportunity.
To see a polar bear in its natural environment is a privilege we should never take for granted. Steppes is committed to giving its clients memorable and authentic sightings but is equally determined to play its part in protecting polar bears and their Arctic habitat. On our up and coming cruise to Spitsbergen, clients can get involved in citizen science projects such as beach plastic clean-ups and water sampling to test for plastic pollutants. The issue of plastic pollution in our seas has reached a critical level and along with climate change, poses a serious threat to the future of polar bears. To give clients insight into the subject of plastic pollution, the producer of Plastic Oceans, Jo Ruxton will be on board to give lectures and oversee the water sampling. The results of the water sampling will be given to Vancouver Aquarium for further analysis as part of their Ocean Pollution Research Program.
WHAT HAPPENS ON A TYPICAL DAY ON AN ARCTIC CRUISE?
Days spent exploring Spitsbergen's untamed landscapes are made all the more poignant by the knowledge that the Arctic and its resident wildlife are overshadowed by the threats associated with climate change. There will be lectures on board that address this issue and you can be sure that our voyage will adhere to strict guidelines of sustainability and be conducted in a manner that is sympathetic to the environment and the wildlife.
While viewing wildlife from the ship can be exhilarating, this voyage is more about time spent off the ship, exploring the Arctic landscape on foot and by zodiac. Daily guided excursions by zodiac cruise along glacier fronts, cliffs and shoreline, searching for polar bear, walrus and beautiful photographic opportunities. There will be plenty of opportunities to feel the Arctic tundra under your feet with guided walks on offer to see bird colonies, glaciers, historic sites and spectacular views.
WHY SHOULD I CHOOSE THIS ARCTIC CRUISE?
The Vavilov's team of Arctic cruise specialists provide a fascinating insight into polar history and the natural world but on our exclusive charter, we felt compelled to augment their knowledge with a few of our own experts.
Monty Halls is a marine biologist, photographer and explorer whom alongside the ships’ resident experts will give lectures on board and join clients on all excursions.
Sue Flood is not only an exceptional photographer, at home in Arctic conditions, she is also an accomplished teacher and will be on hand to help clients take memorable photographs of Svalbard’s wildlife and landscapes.
Marine conservationist and producer of the documentary A Plastic Ocean, Jo Ruxton will also be onboard for the duration of the trip. She will be on hand to offer an insight into the damage being done to our oceans and how we can help mitigate this.
“Sue and Monty were excellent and kept us amused and occupied with improving our photography. They were always available and ready to help.” Eryl Holt, Antarctica 2017
“Jo Ruxton was amazing at communicating. Her passion for her subject and really getting home to us the impact of the single-use plastics that pervade every aspect of our life. Who knew that teabags contain plastic?” Cairstine Findlay, Baja 2018
What is the accommodation in spitsbergen like?
Stability, speed, manoeuvrability and a lack of ambient engine noise make the Akademik Sergey Vavilov an exceptional ice-strengthened expedition vessel. The Vavilov may not be the most luxurious ship on the Arctic seas but she is perfectly designed for a voyage of this nature and ideally capped at a maximum of 96 passengers. She has a range of cabins, from those with shared facilities through to spacious suites while social areas include a dedicated lecture room, lounge, bar and library. The bridge is open to passengers and a great place to watch for wildlife as are the multi-level outside deck areas. A fleet of 10 zodiacs are used for off-ship excursions.
Why a 12-day voyage?
Quite simply because you can see more. There are shorter (and therefore cheaper) voyages to Spitsbergen but these trips do not give the same level of exposure to the wildlife found in the High Arctic. This region is renowned for unpredictable weather and ice conditions so an extended voyage means you are more likely to have days when the weather and ice are favourable to seeing polar bears, whales, walrus and the other wildlife that has adapted to the Arctic conditions. On a 12 day voyage, there is also the chance of doing a complete circumnavigation of the Svalbard archipelago – something that is not possible on the shorter voyages.
When is the best time to visit Spitsbergen
With almost 24 hours of daylight, July is the best time to visit Spitsbergen. As the ice subsides, polar bears take refuge on land and on the edge of large ice floes, where they hunt for seals. Small tundra flowers are in bloom and the abundant birdlife creates a cacophony of noise with chicks keeping parents well occupied. The Arctic is teeming with wildlife at this time of year – expect to see species such as seals, arctic fox, reindeer, polar bears and whales.
For a detailed itinerary or to book your place on this tour, please contact us.