Small Ship Arctic Expedition
Highlights of Svalbard
AUGUST 6th – 14th, 2023
An 8-night voyage right in the middle of Svalbard's high season giving us the best chance to experience all that this remote archipelago has to offer
This Polar Tracks departure in 2023 is an expedition like no other – a truly unique opportunity to experience the incomparable beauty and remote wilderness of Svalbard while in an authentic expeditionary setting on board the newly-refurbished legendary vessel, the 53 passenger MV Polar Pioneer.
A great opportunity for polar adventurers to make this bucket-list trip a reality...
…not just because of the place, but because of our small ship size and deeply knowledgable expedition team. We’ve designed this trip to give us the best chances to see everything that makes Svalbard so enchanting, by choosing the ideal ship with one of the highest ice classes, choosing the right length of trip, and at the optimal time of the boreal (or Northern hemisphere) summer.
Our route is determined by ice, bears, and a spontaneity only afforded by complete flexibility and freedom that comes with a small ship – in the hands of those who know and revere this place, its history and its wildlife.
It’s also a place to connect and unwind hundreds of miles from “civilization”, and prepare yourself to come away a changed person.
> CLICK PLAY TO SEE VIDEO FROM OUR 2022 SVALBARD EXPEDITION <
DATES: August 6th – 14th, 2023 (9 days, 8 nights on ship)
SHIP: MV Polar Pioneer
RATES – Early Booking Deal of 25%
Triple Shared: 4900 USD (
Twin Shared: 6040 USD (
Twin Private: 7300 USD (
Mini Suite: 8500 USD (
Owner’s Suite: 9350 USD (
All rates are per passenger based on shared cabins. If you prefer a suite to yourself, the rate is 1.8x the cost quoted per person. See the explanation of cabin differences following the Deck Plan below.
PASSENGERS: 53 (plus 5 expedition guides)
LANGUAGES: English and Scandinavian
REVIEWS OF 'HIGHLIGHTS OF SVALBARD' FROM GUESTS
Your Expedition Ship
MV Polar Pioneer
Guests will travel on board the newly refurbished ship, the MV Polar Pioneer, an excellent polar vessel that offers big ship sophistication in a small ship package.
This wonderful small ship is purpose-retrofit for custom groups like history buffs, wildlife enthusiasts and photographers, having added a number of features to modernize the ship as well as ensuring she is the most versatile ship of her size in Svalbard.
- a sauna
- two large outer observation decks
- a gym
Not to mention, the bridge is always open.
The Polar Pioneer owners, captain and crew have multiple decades of combined experience in Svalbard and are committed to delivering a best-in-class experience, keeping safety and environmental protection in mind.
- 8 nights onboard the Polar Pioneer
- All meals onboard the vessel (including non-alcoholic drinks such as coffee, tea, water and breakfast juice)
- Expedition team of five
- Excursions with Mark V Zodiac boats
- Rubber boots to borrow (provided we have your size)
Why We Love This Ship
- Her spacious outer decks – the lower deck for getting closer to wildlife on the ice and the upper deck for enjoying and photographing the 360° landscape
- A modernized lounge/bar area on Deck 4 where you can enjoy lectures, review your photos from the day, or share stories with other expeditioners over a cold drink
- A real luxury in a polar environment, the Polar Pioneer sauna means you can warm up when you come in from the cold
- Extra electrical outlets in the cabins and common areas for charging camera batteries and laptops
- Extra hooks in each cabin so you have lots of space to hang your outer layers when you come in from the cold + can dry your gear faster
- Her compact size means we can avoid the competing interest groups of the larger ships and just do what we really want to do!
MV POLAR pIONEER DECK PLAN
SUITES AND AMENITIES
TRIPLE PUBLIC CABIN with two lower and one upper berth, writing desk, wardrobe and drawers. Private washbasin. Nearby shower and toilet facilities are shared with other Deck 3 cabins. This cabin has a porthole. 6125 USD per guest
TWIN PUBLIC CABIN with two lower and one upper berth, writing desk, wardrobe and drawers. Private washbasin. Nearby shower and toilet facilities are shared with other Deck 3 cabins. This cabin is originally a triple but can be used as a TWIN. This cabin has a porthole. 7550 USD per guest
TWIN PUBLIC CABINS with two lower berths & sofa, writing desk, wardrobe, drawers, and private washbasin. Nearby shower & toilet facilities are shared with other Deck 3 cabins. These cabins have a porthole. 7550 USD per guest
TWIN PRIVATE CABINS with two lower berths, writing desk, wardrobe & drawers. These cabins have a private bathroom and window. 9125 USD per guest
SINGLE PRIVATE CABINS (#402 and #403) with one upper and one lower bunk, writing desk, wardrobe & drawers. These cabins have a window, private bathroom, and a sofa. 16425 USD per guest
MINI SUITE with double bed and separate lounge area, writing desk, wardrobe & drawers, and a private bathroom. These cabins have a window. 10625 USD per guest
OWNER’S SUITE with double bed and separate lounge area, writing desk, wardrobe & drawers, and a private bathroom. Forward and port windows. 11680 USD per guest
typical suite layout
MORE REVIEWS FROM GUESTS
Highlights of Svalbard
Augusy 6th - Embarkation Day
Board the Polar Pioneer between 4-5pm from the dock in Longyearbyen and enjoy a welcome cocktail with the captain.
August 7th through 13th – Expedition days
While there is a carefully planned daily schedule based on distances between points of interest and the location of the ice in any given season, our timetable in Svalbard by nature must be flexible.
We will likely begin by heading north to some key sites in the northwest before rounding the corner and heading east across the top of the archipelago where we have a number of options. We’ll be following a rough itinerary so that every day the conditions are maximized for visiting the places and landing sites that will allow us to get ashore and explore, while also offering the best wildlife watching opportunities, be they land or sea-based.
Every morning your Expedition Leader will work with the bridge officers to make decisions about the day, taking into account ice situation and the weather, looking at whether Plan A makes the most sense or if Plan B, C, or D will be better for us.
Nothing is guaranteed, but we are heading up there prepared, and will wish for some good luck to achieve our objectives.
Our aim will always be to focus on all of the wonders that Svalbard offers us. If we come across something amazing – be it a polar bear, whales, or some other unexpected gem – we would never just cruise past it because we have something else “scheduled” for the afternoon. Flexibility, and trust in our extremely experienced expedition team are key facets of a successful expedition.
August 14th - Disembarkation Day
Disembark in Longyearbyen between 8-9am
What to expect
Svalbard has a little bit of everything, including massive scenic fjords from which artfully sculpted glaciers emerge to meet the sea, up to the high snowcapped peaks, and all the way down to Arctic tundra covered in colourful vegetation such as mosses and lichens that the Svalbard reindeer love to feed on. It’s not uncommon to find seals or walruses resting on ice floes at the mouths of these fjords, and if we’re lucky, we’ll spot a whale or two as we sail up the west coast.
We’ll plan to stop in at the world’s northernmost civilian settlement, the research village of Ny Ålesund, which also boasts the world’s northernmost post office. At the height of the summer season, there are about 120 inhabitants working amongst the 15 permanent research stations.
It’s from here that Amundsen and Nobile initiated their courageous attempts to reach the North Pole by airship in 1925 – 28 years after Andrée – and there are a couple of monuments dedicated to their efforts that are worth visiting.
From there we’ll continue heading north, poking into other landing sites and fjords of interest, getting out into the two zodiacs to make landings where we’ll plan hikes to stretch our legs and optimize our chances for excellent wildlife opportunities.
Weather and ice-permitting we’ll make our way to the far Northeast corner of the archipelago to see what we can find whether that be wildlife or the incredible Austfonna glacier.
In between landings and zodiac cruises, we’ll be constantly scouting for the Ursus maritimus – the Latin name for polar bear – and if we find them, get as close as we can without disturbing them or putting passengers at any risk. There are an estimated 3000-4000 animals in the region and the population is considered to be stable. This powerful animal is amazing to behold in the wild, with males weighing up to 700kg when they are at their healthiest. Again, getting out into the inflatable zodiacs is an excellent way to safely observe the wildlife from proximity.
Weather and ice conditions permitting, we’ll sail into Hinlopen Strait and plan to visit Alkefjellet (‘Bird Mountain’), a series of otherworldly basalt cliffs stretching a number of kilometres in length and in some places, up to 100 meters high (click on the underlined text to see a fantastic video!) on which we’ll find thousands of nesting birds and the occasional Arctic fox hunting nearby.
Nordauslandet, Storøya, Bråsvellbreen, Barentsøya, and Edgeøya are all locations that we may also explore, weather and ice permitting, and offer magnificent scenery with vast tundra which hold the prospect of continued incredible landscapes and wildlife sighting opportunities.
Things we may do AND see on expedition
Click on the images below to expand and scroll through
Passport – Your passport must be valid for at least six months from the date of travel and you are responsible for any visa required to enter Norway/the Schengen Zone. If you are unsure whether you need a visa to travel to Svalbard, please consult this list of countries.
Health requirements – you must be in reasonable health and have a reasonable level of mobility in order to join the expedition. The voyage is on board a ship and at times, the sea may be rough. This requires a degree of balance and agility so that you may safely move around the vessel. Also keep in mind that at times, we may offer a hike on land (which will always be optional). Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we will have to adapt to the travel guidelines/restrictions closer to the time of departure.
Insurance Requirements – as the nature of our expedition involves visiting the remote wilderness, we require all passengers to take out appropriate trip interruption/cancellation and medical evacuation insurance as per our Terms & Conditions.
What to bring – Based on our combined years of experience braving the wilds of Svalbard, we’ve created a handy PDF packing list that you can download here. Please note that rubber boots and waterproof pants + jacket are all required to participate in landings in Svalbard.