Longyearbyen is the largest settlement on archipelago of Svalbard with a population of about 2,060 people and about as many snowmobiles. Our passenger transfer to the ship is at 4:00 pm. But you will need to drop off your checked luggage by 2:00 pm at the JOINING HOTEL's luggage storage room. We depart Longyearbyen in the evening. Most of the inhabitants are Norwegians and some Russians. Located in the Advent Fjord at the entrance of the Advent Valley, this community has an infrastructure fit for a much larger city. Within the islands, there are 4 inhabited settlements and some scientific stations. Barentsburg, a Russian coal mining settlement, has approximately 850 inhabitants. Sveagruva, the functional Norwegian mine has around 100 inhabitants and Ny Ålesund, a scientific settlement has between 30 and 150 inhabitants, depending on the season. All settlements are found on the west coast, the part of Spitsbergen with the mildest climate due to the warm Gulf Current. Longyearbyen is located at 78°13′N 15°33′E. The Governor of Svalbard resides there. Due to its location far north of the polar circle, it is polar night from mid-October to mid-February and polar day from mid-April to mid-August. Longyearbyen has an arctic tundra climate. History and present day facilities: The settlement that was founded in 1906 by John Munroe Longyear, main owner of the Arctic Coal Company of Boston. "Byen" is Norwegian for "the city". It was destroyed by the Germans in 1943 and rebuilt after World War II, with the old foundations still visible in some places. Until the early 1990s the coal mining industry was the major employer in Longyearbyen. The daily life circled only around the mining business. Today, the community offers a wide range of activities and facilities. There is a bank, post office, hospital, public library, cafes/restaurants, tourist information, a swimming hall, a climbing wall, a big sports hall, a grocery store, three pubs, three hotels, one church, several tourists shops, there are various forms of lodging, from hostels to modern full-service hotels, a cinema (Sundays) and one night club. During summer, most of the people you meet here will be tourists or young people working to accommodate the visitors. A very friendly and international atmosphere reigns. And, of course, Longyearbyen has its own international airport.
We will have 2 full days to explore a small portion of the western coast of Spitsbergen. Entering the fall the days are getting shorter so we will try to take advantage of all of the sunlight possible to search for wildlife. Svalbard is one of the few places on the planet that offers a wealth and diversity of natural and cultural history sites. Highlights include fjords with breathtaking mountain scenery and glaciers flowing into the sea around us. We will spend these two days in search of the elusive polar bears hunting seals. At one or more of our stops, we hope to see Svalbard’s unique subspecies of reindeer. They are much smaller than their southern relatives, but still carry impressive antlers. We also have the possibility of Arctic foxes. This is also a land of history: from whaling to reaching for the pole, to trapping, coal mining and war. We will visit some of these historic sites. We may cruise in Zodiacs along the ice edge viewing seals or walrus, in fjords with glaciers spilling down to the sea. We will have opportunities to walk on shore, observe and photograph the Arctic flora and fauna. As we are in the land of the polar bear, your expedition staff will carry rifles and flare guns on shore for your protection. By not having a set itinerary, we take on an expedition spirit and are free to take advantage of the best that Svalbard has to offer.
Frigid waters escape the Polar Ocean south into the Greenland Sea. This can which are known to feed here in the summer months. We may see Orca, Humpback, and Minke whales as well as White-Beaked dolphins. The view is often complimented by fulmars, kittiwakes, gannets, guillemots, and razorbills. Lectures by our on board Expedition Staff will increase your appreciation of these animals and the wild coast of Greenland.
We hope to sail through and land in some of the most spectacular fjord country in the world along down the coast of Greenland, as we will explore rarely visited glaciers, bays and inlets. This is the largest National Park in the world, nearly impossible to reach except on Expedition ships, such as the MS Expedition. Spectacular geology combined with glacial features create steep mountains raising directly from the sea. Looking out for picturesque scenery, wildlife and other interesting landing sites in this unspoiled wilderness. We will spend 2 days exploring Scoresby Sund, which is one of the largest fjord systems in the world. The distance from the mouth of the sound to the head of its innermost fjord is 350 km. It is a favoured hunting ground of the Inuit and is home to walruses, seals, narwhals, polar bears, muskoxen, wolves, foxes, ermine, arctic hares, lemmings, and a variety of birds. We hope to visit the local village of Ittoqqortoormiit to get a glimpse into how people live in these harsh conditions.
We continue our lecture series as we head back towards Iceland and to the steaming hot springs of Reykjavik.
Shortly after your breakfast, you will disembark in Reykjavik. Disembarkation is scheduled for 0800 at Midbakki Harbour, which is within walking distance to downtown Reykjavik. Do not book any flights before, 1200 noon, on disembarkation day. We will offer transfers to the airport to all passengers who have flights booked on the disembarkation day. Immediately upon disembarkation there will be offered a transfer to the airport, that includes a stop enroute at the Radisson Blu 1919 Hotel. Passengers planning on staying in Reykjavik post trip, may take this transfer, or hire a taxi at the pier for transfer to their accommodations. For those with flights later in the day, we will offer a luggage storage area at the pier, until 1400, (timings to be confirmed onboard), at which time a transfer will be provided to the airport for those passengers with early evening and evening flights. Passengers taking advantage of this opportunity, will be able to explore downtown Reykjavik in the morning, and early afternoon. All transfer arrangements will be confirmed while onboard prior to departure, to ensure that all needs are met.