Spitsbergen - Life on Board

There is no average day on board an expedition vessel as the activities are determined by the prevailing weather conditions, ice and the wildlife encountered, but here is a taster:


The day begins around 7am with a wakeup call followed by an update on the weather conditions, breakfast (usually buffet) and an idea of the day’s first excursion. If a bear or other significant wildlife has been sighted then the wake-up call can be considerably earlier.


Every excursion away from the main vessel is different; you may be pushing channels through sea ice in your zodiac, cruising along the front of a shimmering glacier, or waiting expectantly for a calving that will reveal the stunning blue hues of new ice. Observe ivory gulls, arctic terns and kittiwakes wheeling around looking for scraps in the newly disturbed waters. Little auks and guillemots bob on the surface then disappear in a flurry of ripples and red feet as you approach. If you are making a landing, you may be walking amongst the remains of an old whaling station or in the footsteps of some of the great polar explorers who set out in their endeavours to reach the North Pole and the Northwest Passage. Reindeer nibble at the tundra and the wily arctic fox looks for eggs and young chicks beneath the towering bird cliffs.


During which the captain will be skilfully manoeuvring the ship to the next destination. While the ship is repositioning, it is good to spend time on the bridge, looking at the ice charts while keeping an eye out for seals and whales.

Afternoon expedition

The next trip will again bring new experiences; maybe sail into a deep sea fog that appears as a curtain across the sea and the chance to see the phenomenon of a fogbow. Or perhaps encounter a polar bear on ice.  Bears are aware they are top predator and are generally very relaxed either ignoring you completely or inquisitively coming closer. To be in their presence is simply awe-inspiring.


With 24 hours of daylight, post evening meal excursions are not uncommon, especially if a bear has been sighted. If there is no specific excursion, perhaps watch from the top deck as you cruise by magnificent fjords, searching for whales and other wildlife. In the bar join the expedition staff telling tales of the early explorers, along with the animated buzz of fellow passengers discussing the day’s sightings.

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