Tailor-Made Holiday

Spitsbergen - Explorer Polar Bear Cruise

Front row seats for a polar bear encounter

11 days

from £5,425pp (excluding flights)

For those travellers who have set their heart on seeing the polar bear in its natural habitat, this is undoubtedly the trip for you.

  • The best place in the whole Arctic to see polar bears in their natural habitat, as well as being a playground for walrus, seal, arctic fox, reindeer, whales and copious birdlife
  • A  12 day High Arctic expedition deep inside the Arctic Circle only 600 miles from The North Pole
  • Choose from a wide variety of smaller ice strengthened Arctic ships (from 12 - 112 passengers), renowned for their expeditionary feel, informal atmosphere, ease of logistics and track record of wildlife sightings

With a local population of bears estimated at 3,000 (more bears than people!), Spitsbergen is considered by most to be the best place in the whole of The Arctic in which to see the world's most iconic and dangerous predator. In the last 5 years, every Steppes client visiting Spitsbergen on an expeditionary cruise has seen a polar bear - and they've got memorable photographs to prove it.

It's difficult not to be bear centric when exploring the Svalbard archipelago but Spitsbergen is no one-trick pony. Cruise sheltered coastal waterways and fjords under the midnight sun, taking advantage of the extra manouverability provided by small, ice-strengthened ships. Much of the time will be spent on exploratory zodiac excursions, getting as close as the conditions allow to glaciers and keeping a watchful eye out for Spitsbergen's other wildlife - walrus, arctic fox, whales and a myriad birdlife. Landings are accompanied by knowledgeable expeditionary staff and there is plenty of opportunity to embark on extended treks to see more remote, inland parts of the island.

For a more detailed itinerary with great ideas on what to do and where to stay, please get in touch with our experts.

Price Excluding Flights £Flight cost from 
£ 5425 £ 600
  Click here to see what is included/excluded

what is included

  • All accommodation
  • Internal flights
  • International flights as detailed
  • Sightseeing with private guide as per the itinerary
  • Transfers as detailed

what is excluded

  • Gratuities
  • Travel Insurance
  • Visas


Itinerary at a glance

Collapse all
Day 1

Fly London to Longyearbyen

The former mining town of Longyearbyen offers the Svalbard Museum and the North Pole Expedition Museum, both located close to The University Centre. The nearby Svalbard Gallery houses an interesting collection of artwork, maps, books and notes. Keen birders can make their way to the bay, a wonderful place to look for waders. A short stroll away is the infamous polar bear warning sign, while the tiny Svalbard Church is located on the far side of the valley.

You will be staying at Basecamp Hotel, Bed & Breakfast

Day 2

Longyearbyen embarkation
Transfer to the ship for embarkation. Sail out of Adventfjorden and into Isfjorden during the early evening. After an introductory briefing, sit down for the first meal on board.

You will be staying at Plancius, Full board

Day 3

Head towards the narrow sound near Bourbonhamna, where beluga whales are often spotted. The adults are pure white, whilst the calves are a mottled grey colour. It is estimated there are up to 10,000 beluga whales in the Svalbard area. Search from the ship and in Zodiacs, before heading ashore for a scenic hike.

Pass by an old hunting cabin and other artefacts en route to Ingebrigstenbukta. However, scenery is dominated by the piles of beluga bones that dot the landscape. Protected by the Svalbard government, these eerie relics are interspersed by dozens of reindeer.

You will be staying at Plancius, Full board

Day 4

The shores of Krossfjorden are home to numerous bird colonies. Anchor off a small harbour and cruise by Zodiac along the bird cliffs that lie near the 14th of July Glacier. Hope to catch a glimpse of bearded and ringed seals, which frequent the fjord.

You will be staying at Plancius, Full board

Day 5

Liefdefjorden and Monacobreen
Sail into Leifdefjorden, and towards Monaco Glacier. This spectacular glacier provides a fabulous backdrop for cruising by Zodiac or exploring by kayak. Miles of ice are broken up by the occasional ice cave or tumbling serac, whilst thousands of black-legged kittiwakes feed on the upwelling of nutrients found near the sub-glacial outflow. The coastal plain near the mouth of Liefdefjorden offers superb hiking and is often a great place to spot polar bears.

You will be staying at Plancius, Full board

Day 6

Phippsoya - Northernmost Point
At 81 degrees north, pass Phippsoya, one of the Seven Islands. Only 540 nautical miles from the North Pole, Phippsoya offers the potential for great polar bear viewing, due to its proximity to the pack ice.

You will be staying at Plancius, Full board

Day 7

Hinlopen Strait and Nordaustlandet
From the ice edge, head south between Svalbard's two main islands, Spitsbergen and Nordaustlandet. Known as the Hinlopen Strait, this stretch of water is home to the impressive bird cliffs at Alkefjellet. These house more than 100,000 breeding Brunnich's guillemots, as well as thousands of kittiwakes and black guillemots. Explore this spectacular site and experience the challenge that the Zodiacs face as the battle the strait's roaring tidal currents.

Continue on to Murchison Fjord, which is a wonderful place to kayak or cruise along the waterways that lie between islands. Have the chance to take short hikes up to high viewpoints, whist looking out for Arctic wildlife.

You will be staying at Plancius, Full board

Day 8

Hinlopen Strait and Nordaustlandet

Further exploration of the Hinlopen Strait

You will be staying at Plancius, Full board

Day 9

Fuglesangen and Smeerenburg
Continue onto the island of Fuglesangenoya, and approach by Zodiac. Home to a large dovekie colony, the island is shaped in such a way that viewing opportunities are maximised, whilst minimising disturbance to the colony.

Just a few miles from Fuglesangen is the former whaling station of Smeerenburg, which translates as 'Blubber Town'. Hike along the shoreline and learn about the importance of whaling in the discovery and exploration of the Svalbard archipelago. The blubber ovens are all that is left of this controversial industry.

You will be staying at Plancius, Full board

Day 10

Poole Pynten, Prins Karls Forland
Visit Prince Charles Island and head to a well-known spot for seeing walruses ashore. Hope to catch a glimpse of these magnificent creatures, whose presence can often be confirmed by approaching from downwind and waiting for their pungent odour to fill the air.

In the evening, celebrate the completion of the voyage with a special dinner attended by the ship's captain.

You will be staying at Plancius, Full board

Day 11

Longyearbyen, Disembarkation
After a final hearty breakfast, disembark and transfer to the town

Fly Longyearbyen to London


Below you can see some of the wonderful places we recommend you stay on your journey.

Basecamp Hotel

Basecamp Hotel

The Trappers Lodge is in the middle of Longyearbyen and is furnished with driftwood from a Russian settlement to give the feeling of a Spitsbergen hunter's cottage....

View Accommodation



The 89 metre Plancius was built in 1976 as an oceanographic research vessel for the Royal Dutch Navy and served until 2004....

View Accommodation

For a more detailed itinerary with great ideas on what to do and where to stay, please get in touch with our experts.

Destination Experts

Our experts have unrivalled firsthand knowledge of Spitsbergen

Roxy Dukes, Travel Expert

"Roxy filled us with enthusiasm and came up with some great ideas for a trip. We liked the idea of a slightly 'off the beaten track experience' and some private bespoke activities and that's exactly what we've had. Thank you!"

"Roxy created a wonderfully interesting route which was the basis for a super trip. She also chose lovely places for us to stay and interesting activities for us to participate in, introducing us to the idea of private guided experiences which we thoroughly enjoyed."

Read More

Sue Grimwood, Travel Expert

"It was tremendously helpful to be able to speak to someone who had been to Antarctica before - Sue had been on the ship we had booked, so was able to give us some very useful information. We felt that at every stage of the booking process that we were in safe hands. "

""I was uncharacteristically worried about this trip - neurotic some might say - and I was given 110% support and help with everything. I had been disappointed by not being able to get a space on the 2014 trip and so Sue was stuck with me for 2 years - a testament to her patience and professionalism. I was confident in Sue - she knows Antarctica and speaks from experience, that is worth a huge amount. Emails, which I would send were responded to almost immediately.""

Read More

For a more detailed itinerary with great ideas on what to do and where to stay, please get in touch with our experts.

Enquire about this holiday:
Speak to a Spitsbergen holiday expert:

Tailor-Made Holiday Ideas

Booking a Tailor-made holiday gives you the flexibility to customise your journey, travelling when and where suits you.

Holiday Ideas in Spitsbergen

You are unique, so we believe your holiday should be too.

We listen to what you want and create a personalised itinerary tailored around you.

Your holiday. Your experience. Your way.

Can’t find what you’re looking for?

Call our Travel Experts on +01285 880 980
Start Your Journey


  • Established for over 25 years creating journeys across 100 destinations worldwide
  • Exclusive access to the best private guides


  • We negotiate the best rates with hotels and expert guides
  • Be protected from fluctuations in exchange rates


  • Each time you travel with us we donate £5 to a local charity in the UK and £10 to an international charity

Fully Protected

  • Your monies are financially protected
  • 24/7 Emergency UK contact whilst abroad

Featured in the Press

Financial Times
The Telegraph
Sunday Times logo

Our Partners

African Parks
Galapagos Conservation Trsut
Restless Development
Save The Rhino
Tusk Trust
World Land Trsut
Gorilla Doctors

© Steppes Travel, 51 Castle St, Cirencester, GL7 1QD, United Kingdom