Spitsbergen / Svalbard

Spitsbergen and the Ice Edge

Bowhead Whales and Polar Bears along the edge of the Arctic sea ice

Limosa Holidays and our sister brand, WildWings, are able to offer many different options for exploring Spitsbergen (or to give it the correct name of Svalbard as only one of the islands is actually called Spitsbergen), however, this voyage is rather different from a "normal" cruise as the plan is to explore along the Arctic ice edge, potentially reaching 80N, with the objective being to visit an area where up to 100 Bowhead Whales have been seen on previous occasions.

With good chances for Polar Bear, Harp Seal, Hooded Seal, a great range of Arctic birds and possibly even Northern Bottlenose Whale, this trip offer a rare opportunity to see some special wildlife in Europe's high Arctic.

SPECIAL OFFER: Any clients booking this cruise can add the subsequent voyage and get a 40% discount off the second trip. This week-long cruise (17-24 June) explores Eastern Spitsbergen so visits very different locations to our "Spitsbergen and the Ice Edge" voyage. Please scroll down for more information and to download our Tour Info Pack.

Subject to terms, conditions and availability.

Tour Dates & Prices

Tour Highlights

  • explore along the Arctic Ice Edge at up to 80N looking for Bowhead Whales, Harp Seal and Hooded Seal
  • great chances for encounters with Polar Bears and Walrus
  • look for Little Auk and Brunnich's Guillemot whilst exploring the amazing Svalbard archipelago
  • zodiac cruise in fjords and see glaciers
  • accompanied byLimosa/WildWings tour leader Chris Collins

Outline Itinerary

  • Arrive Longyearbyen. Board vessel and sail

  • Spitsbergen

  • Explore the ice edge and open water looking for Bowhead Whales and both Hooded and Harp Seals

  • Spitsbergen

  • Disembark after breakast. Fly home.

Trip Info
Bowhead Whale CPC
Bowhead Whale © Chris Collins

Limosa Holidays and our sister brand, WildWings, are able to offer many different options for exploring Spitsbergen (or to give it the correct name of Svalbard as only one of the islands is actually called Spitsbergen), however, this voyage is rather different from a "normal" cruise to this region, as the plan is to also explore along the Arctic ice edge to the north-west of this amazing Arctic archipelago. Assuming the ice conditions allow, this exciting expedition cruise could potentially reach 80N, with the objective being to visit an area where up to one hundred Bowhead Whales have been seen on previous occasions. There could also be Polar Bear here too, as well as both Harp and Hooded Seals which are unlikely on most standard Spitsbergen voyages.

In the deeper water to the south of the ice edge, there are chances for Northern Bottlenose Whale, however, the cruise will also spend three days exploring various sites on the western side of Spitsbergen with the potential landing options including a visit to a Walrus haul-out, as well as breeding colonies of Little Auk and Brunnich's Guillemot. There are chances for the beautiful Ivory Gull and (if you are very lucky) Sabine's Gull, plus colourful Grey Phalaropes and drake King Eiders, alongside breeding Purple Sandpipers, Pink-footed and Barnacle Geese and Snow Buntings.

For those keen on cetaceans, we may find Beluga close to Spitsbergen whilst out at sea, there are chances for the world's second largest mammal, the mighty Fin Whale.

The voyage should appeal to anyone with a spirit of adventure and who loves wild and remote places and whilst the bird and mammal list may be small, it is certainly very special.

SPECIAL OFFER: Any client booking this trip, can join the subsequent voyage to Eastern Spitsbergen and get a 40% discount off the price of the second cruise. Expect to explore some very different areas and to read more details about this cruise, please click here.

Subject to terms, conditions and availability.

Atlantic Walrus © CPC RB5A7785
Atlantic Walrus © Chris Collins

Day 1: Arrive Longyearbyen, board ship and sail

Our expedition begin in Longyearbyen, the administrative centre of Spitsbergen (which is the largest island of the Svalbard archipelago) and depending on arrival times of our flight, there should be an opportunity to explore around this former mining town.

Board M/V Hondius in the late afternoon and in the early evening the ship sails out of Isfjorden, where there are chances to spot the first Northern Minke Whales of the voyage.

Day 2: Smeerenburg and Fuglesangen

After sailing through straits and a fjord, we arrive at Smeerenburg in the late morning where there was an important whaling station in the 17th century. There is often a large Walrus haul-out and there may also be an opportunity to see Harbour Seals on rocky islets.

Later in the day, we hope to land at Fuglesangen, where it is possible to sit quietly next to a colony of hundreds of Little Auks.

In the evening, we plan to make a short landing in Birgerbukta, where Basque whalers had a station and then continue onwards towards Raudfjord.

Day 3: Raudfjorden

Raudfjord has some impressive glacier fronts and this is often a good place to look for Polar Bears and Bearded Seals on the sea ice in the fjord which may still not have fully broken up.

In Hamiltonbukta, we hope to visit a colony of Brünnichs’s Guiillemots before continuing on to Ytre Norskøya, a small island which was used for many years as a lookout point for Dutch whalers. There we can follow their path to the summit of the island. On the shore, there are the remains of 17th century blubber ovens and about 200 graves of whalers and others who perished here.

On the north side of the island, we may be able to look for Atlantic Puffin which can be relatively tricky to find in Svalbard, although we stand a decent chance here as they breed on this island along with a small colony of Kittiwakes.

In the late afternoon, we plan sail northwest for the edge of the pack-ice.

Days 4 - 6: Along the ice edge in search of Bowhead Whales, Seals & Polar Bears

We plan to explore along the outer fringes of the ice edge between approximately 76 N to 80 N where we hope to find Bowhead Whales, Harp Seals, Hooded Seals and Polar Bears. We may also find some migrating seabirds including Little Auks, Brünnich’s Guillemots and Kittiwakes. Although nothing can ever be guaranteed on previous voyages to this area, we have sometimes seen up to hundred Bowhead Whales.

On day six, we are likely to be in more open sea where there are chances for Northern Bottlenose Whales and the first Fin Whales of the season.

Day 7: Bellsund

Bellsund is a fjord system with two major branches (Van Mijenfjord, Van Keulenfjord) and a side bay (Recherchefjord). The geology is fascinating and has created amazing landscapes, such as the long, narrow island of Akseløya that blocks Van Mijenfjord almost completely.

The rich wildlife of the area has attracted hunters throughout the centuries, including English whalers, who also wintered here. We plan to walk in their footsteps and see the remains of their huts. We see often Polar Bears here and there are chances for Beluga. Like on most days of our expedition, however, what we will be able to do will be largely determined by the amount of ice, especially inside the fjords.

Day 8: Disembark in Longyearbyen

You disembark in Longyearbyen after breakfast and there may be time for some further exploring before we head to the airport for our flights home.

PLEASE NOTE: All itineraries are for guidance only. The programme may vary depending on ice, weather, and wildlife conditions. Landings are subject to site availabilities, permissions, and environmental concerns per AECO regulations. Official sailing plans and landing slots are scheduled with AECO prior to the start of the season, but the Expedition Leader determines the final plan. Flexibility is paramount for expedition cruises.

Polar Bear CPC RB5A7161_4CAWqYV.original
Polar Bear on sea ice © Chris Collins


A seven night cruise on the comfortable expedition ship, M/V Hondius, exploring the western side of Spitsbergen and visiting the ice-edge to the NW of the archipelago. The vessel is a comfortable expedition ship and has excellent cabins and passenger facilities.

At many places, we will use the ship's zodiacs (rubber inflatables) to go ashore and getting in and out of these should not be a problem for anyone with reasonable mobility and there will be staff both on the ship and ashore to assist you.

You will receive a detailed briefing about the use of the zodiacs. If you have any concerns about this aspect of the holiday, please call the office as Chris Collins has spent many years working with zodiacs and can provide more information.

Assuming minimum number of bookings are achieved (12 clients), the trip will be accompanied by a WildWings/Limosa Leader.

You will also be able to join the full programme of activities/excursions offered by the Expedition Team working on the ship which are all included in the price of the trip.


M/V Hondius was one of the first-registered Polar Class 6 vessel in the world, meeting the latest and highest Lloyd’s Register standards for ice-strengthened cruise ships. Surpassing the requirements of the Polar Code adopted by the International Maritime Organization (IMO), Hondius represents the most flexible, advanced, innovative touring vessel in the polar regions, thoroughly optimized for exploratory voyages that provide you the utmost first-hand contact with the Arctic and Antarctica.

Hondius offers high-quality accommodation for 170 passengers in six grand suites with balconies (27 square metres), eight junior suites (19 to 20 square metres), eight superior cabins (20 to 21 square metres), 11 twin deluxe cabins, (19 to 21 square metres), 14 twin window cabins (12 to 14 square metres), as well as 27 twin porthole cabins, two triple porthole cabins, and four quadruple porthole cabins that vary in size from 12 to 18 square metres.

Please be aware that a small number of cabins may have a partially obstructed view due to the size of the windows and the design requirements of the ship and some windows, for example, may be partly obstructed in the lower half by a gangway.

One deck consists of a large observation lounge and separate lecture room, which are reserved for a wide variety of interactive workshops, exhibitions, and performances particular to Hondius. Though elegantly designed in stylish mid-century modern décor, this vessel holds true to Oceanwide’s distinctive cozy and informal atmosphere.

The ship is equipped with two main engines and is capable of cruising at 15 knots. There is a crew of 72 aboard including the expedition team.

You can expect to make two landings and/or zodiac cruises on the days around Spitsbergen. The ship is very stable and, on occasions, it may even be possible to use a telescope and tripod on the outer decks.

There is plenty of open deck space making it ideal for wildlife watching, enjoying the amazing landscapes and photography. You can expect good food, a large lounge and bar and a highly experienced staff and crew who are dedicated to ensuring that you have a successful, comfortable, safe and enjoyable trip and that you see as much of the wildlife as possible. The zodiac drivers will take you safely ashore, and also on more leisurely cruises as well, so you will gain an even more intimate and unique perspective of the seabirds and marine mammals in this stunning wilderness.


Cabin grade

Quadruple Porthole £3,475

Triple Porthole £4,300

Twin Porthole £4,825

Single Porthole £8,225

Twin Window £5,200

Single Window £8,850

Twin Deluxe £5,525

Single Deluxe £9,400

Superior £6,275

Single Superior £10,675

Junior Suite £7,150

Grand Suite £7,775

Please note: all prices are per person except where reference is made to “single” .

In keeping with the spirit of expedition, dress on board is informal, so bring casual and comfortable clothing for all activities. Keep in mind that much of the scenery is best appreciated from the open decks, which can be slippery, so bring sturdy shoes with non-slip soles, and make sure your parka is never far away in case there is an announcement of “whales” over the PA system and you want to dash outside in a moment’s notice.

We recommend opting for layers, as it is comfortably warm aboard the ship though often cold out on deck.

Your physical condition

You must be in good overall health and be able to walk several hours each day. The expedition is ship-based and physically not very demanding, but we spend as much time as possible on shore. You are, however, welcome to remain aboard the ship if you prefer.

To join most excursions you must be able to get up and down the steep gangway, from the ship to the water level, to board the zodiacs. The ship's staff will assist you in and out of the boats, and boarding will become progressively easier with practice, but conditions on shore can be slippery and rocky.

Remember, you will be travelling in remote areas without access to sophisticated medical facilities, so you must not join this expedition if you have a life-threatening condition or need daily medical treatment. 

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