Svalbard LT&C Study Tour: Oceanwide Expeditions cruise “East Spitsbergen – Summer Solstice”

This summer, explore East Spitsbergen during the high Arctic summer solstice and visit the largest seabird colonies and best places to spot polar bears with one of LT&C’s founding Emperor Penguin members, Oceanwide Expeditions.

The trip starts at the same time as the 2023 summer solstice on Tuesday, 21 June. As well as the solstice, you can experience the midnight sun, a phenomenon occurring during the Arctic summer when the sun is visible for 24 hours.

Embarking and disembarking in Longyearbyen from 21 to 28 June, you’ll spend seven nights onboard the expedition vessel M/V Hondius circumnavigating the eastern shores of Spitsbergen. 

This study tour to the Svalbard LT&C Example is a once-in-a-lifetime wildlife and wilderness experience and an opportunity to become an ambassador to protect the Arctic. Lectures by noted naturalists and leadership by experienced expedition staff are included in the voyage.

You can view the full itinerary here.

And LT&C members get an additional discount of 20% on an already reduced price for this expedition.

High peaks, history, and wildlife and polar bear spotting

Navigating through drift ice, discovering glaciers and fjords, searching for reindeer and barnacle geese, and spotting whales, walruses, seals, and, of course, polar bears are some of the highlights of this trip.

Svalbard Reindeer © Erwin Vermeulen

With mountains rising to 1,431 meters, Spitsbergen, meaning “pointed mountains,” was named by Dutch explorers. Many seabirds nest on the high cliffs, such as kittiwake, guillemots, and ivory gulls.

Brünnich’s guillemot. Photo: Peter Prokosch

The polar bear population in the Svalbard archipelago and Barents Sea is around 3,000. And according to Visit Svalbard, polar bear sightings are most common on the surrounding islands east of Spitsbergen. 

The history of Spitsbergen is also explored with a visit to the hut of a German scientific expedition (Würzbugerhütte) from 60 years ago and the remains of beluga skeletons from the 19th-century whale trade.

Polar bear with two cubs © Erwin Vermeulen

Environmental regulations to protect Svalbard

As a fragile Arctic environment, Svalbard has special environmental regulations to protect the area’s vulnerable nature, and strict rules apply to tour operators and tourist vessels.

The voyage is onboard the M/V Hondius, a Polar Class 6 cruise ship that exceeds the latest environmental requirements of the Polar Code.

This expedition vessel is Oceanwide’s newest. Released in 2019, the M/V Hondius includes steam heating, bio-degradable paints and lubricants, and power management systems that reduce fuel consumption and CO2 levels.

The ship is also quiet to minimize wildlife disturbances.

Watch a video about the Hondius:

Visitors are recommended to read the Svalbard Guidelines before they arrive to take care of this “High Arctic paradise.”

About Oceanwide Expeditions

Oceanwide Expeditions is a Dutch tour operator with a long history of cooperating with conservation organizations and supporting protected area projects. 

It is a member of the Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators (AECO) and the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO) – organizations that promote environmentally friendly travel to the Arctic and Antarctic.

Oceanwide is also a founding member of Clean Up Svalbard, a waste-removal program created by the governor of Svalbard with the AECO.  

Under the motto “giving back by taking away,” Oceanwide carries out regular cleanups to remove rubbish from beaches. Most of this rubbish is plastic, with an estimated 60-80% of the waste coming from the fishing industry. This threatens local wildlife, especially birds and reindeer, who can get tangled in fishing nets and other debris.

The cleanup activities by Oceanwide and other tour operators contribute to the removal of around four tons of waste from Svalbard’s beaches each year.

You can also read about Oceanwide’s sustainability goals here.

Photo: Governor of Svalbard

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