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Credit: Shutterstock

Can you see polar bears in Svalbard? All your questions about Seabourn’s Arctic cruises answered

Author: Lucy Abbott

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Seabourn presents an exciting opportunity to cruise Svalbard, uniquely located in-between mainland Norway and the North Pole, with countless glaciers and amazing wildlife ready for you to explore.

Seabourn provides you with a new era of ultra-luxury expedition travel thanks to its luxury Arctic cruises, combining authentic, exhilarating adventures in remote destinations alongside the impressive amenities of cruise ship Seabourn Venture.

In summer 2022, cruise through the gorgeous Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard, a remote, vast and wild place, largely untouched by the human presence with Seabourn.

Breathe in the fresh sea air and take in views of rugged mountains, ice-blue glaciers and lush greenery to fully appreciate one of the most sought-after destinations for expedition travellers.

Awaken each day onboard Seabourn Venture ready for another unforgettable adventure: glide beneath cliffs teeming with millions of nesting seabirds, weave around sculpted icebergs in a kayak and observe the whales, walruses, seals, reindeer, and yes even polar bears plus more than fill this remote region with life.

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What to do in Svalbard

The islands of Svalbard rise dramatically from the Arctic Ocean halfway between Norway’s North Cape and the North Pole. Stony, sentinel peaks soar above deeply carved fjords and sparkling bays alongside glaciers, which cover 60 percent of the island’s mass.

In summer, nature can be seen in abundance, the sparse tundra vegetation erupts under the endless shining of the midnight sun. What’s more, migratory birds in their millions arrive from southerly realms to nest and breed and nurture their young on steep, striated cliffs.

- READ MORE: Six amazing Arctic animals to see on Seabourn's expedition voyages -

Catch a glimpse of elaborately antlered reindeers which graze the slopes while Arctic foxes and predatory gulls stand ready, alert for opportunity.

Seals and walruses haul out to join the breeding season and patient polar bears patrol the rocky shorelines and floating ice, while whales roll and breach offshore, feeding on the sea’s summer abundance.

Riding in Zodiacs (inflatable boats) and paddling in kayaks, observing from the decks and trekking on the islands themselves, experience and explore this isolated, unspoiled and breathtakingly beautiful place, as it revels in its short summer.

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Seabourn cruises sails along to Longyearbyen, the largest fjords system in Svalbard. Credit: Shutterstock

Where to go in Svalbard

Longyearbyen

Located in a narrow valley along the shores of Adventfjorden, Longyearbyen is a small tributary of Isfjord, the largest fjord system in Svalbard.

It extends 60 miles into the island of Spitsbergen and is the seat of the Governor of Svalbard. An amazing nine large tidewater glaciers, with a combined ice-front of 13 miles, as well as dozens hanging glaciers drain into the fjord.

- READ MORE: Free Wi-Fi, 300 fresh recipes & new musical shows - Seabourn's latest offerings -

The town’s 2,100 inhabitants exist in one of the most northern settlements on Earth, making their living by a combination of coal mining, education and tourism.

Due to the town’s extreme isolation, proximity to wildlife and Svalbard’s pristine environment, unique laws exist that are found in few other places.

In fact, all individuals venturing outside of town are required to carry a rifle for protection against polar bears and bad news for cat lovers, as possessing a cat is illegal!

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Seabourn visits the isolated Bjørnøya where you can admire the cliffs. Credit: Seabourn

Bjørnøya

Halfway between Europe’s North Cape and the Svalbard Archipelago, isolated Bjørnøya also sits along the line between the Norwegian Sea and the Barents Sea.

Fortress-like cliffs and sea stacks greet you with the white noise of countless nesting seabirds coming and going from the rock walls.

Explore the sea caves and narrow channels between the stacks and the cliff in Seabourn Venture’s Zodiacs and, conditions permitting, the flat, lunar terrain of the opposite shore at Herwighamna may allow you to land and meet the small crew of the weather station.

- READ MORE: Seabourn unveils inaugural sailings on luxury expedition ship Seabourn Venture -

Storstappen Island

Rising from the sea to a height of 930ft, and part of a formidable nature reserve supporting hundreds of thousands of breeding seabirds, Storstappen Island is one of the most important colonies in Northern Norway.

The spectacular and exposed island is the summer residence of around 400,000 pairs of puffins, hundreds of northern gannets and numerous black-legged kittiwakes as well as many other species of seabird. This aggregation of birds attracts dozens of white-tailed eagles.

The nutrient-rich waters that surround the island are also teaming in marine life, including grey seals and many smaller marine creatures.

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Seabourn visits Bear Island on an option tour via kayak. Credit: Shutterstock

The top five things to do and see on Seabourn’s The Svalbard Experience

  1. Take a Zodiac cruise past the almost vertical cliffs of Bjørnoya and weave in and out of caves, listening to the sound of the sea and calls of the seabirds.
  2. Explore the tundra ecosystems with Seabourn’s expedition guides and learn about the tiny flora that thrives in the harsh arctic environment while admiring fascinating rock formations.
  3. Try to catch a glimpse of a polar bear in its natural habitat - an encounter with the king of the Arctic is something you will remember forever!
  4. Admire the myriad of colours and shapes that glacier ice creates as it moulds the landscape over which it flows.
  5. As an optional tour, you can join a Kayak team to paddle north of the Arctic Circle to explore Bear Island, the southernmost island of the Norwegian Svalbard archipelago, halfway between Spitsbergen and the North Cape. The island features steep and populous bird cliffs as well as a gorgeous, rugged coastline.
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Seabourn Venture has wilderness experts and naturalists onboard. Credit: Seabourn

What Seabourn cruises include The Svalbard Experience?

11-Day Arctic Svalbard Summer Exploration sails from Tromsø to Oslo, with a range of departure dates: May 4 and 25, June 15 and July 6, 2022.

10-day Arctic Svalbard Summer Exploration departs from Oslo to Tromsø, sailing on May 14, June 4 and 25 and July 16, 2022.

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