South Spitsbergen Explorer – Bear Island – Hopen

South Spitsbergen Explorer – Bear Island – Hopen

From USD $5,650


The east shores of Spitsbergen are a fantastic place to view gorgeously rugged landscapes and exotic Arctic wildlife, including minke whales, Arctic foxes, and polar bears. And speaking of bears, this exploratory cruise also visits Bear Island – a bird lover’s dream, where large colonies of Brünnich’s guillemots, kittiwakes, and fulmars breed on shoreline cliffs over spans of dazzling drift ice.

Trip Name
South Spitsbergen Explorer - Bear Island - Hopen
Vessel Type: Expediton Length: 91m Passenger Capacity: 108-123 Built / Refurbished : 1989 / 2015 The vessel has the highest ice-class notation (UL1, equivalent to 1A) and is therefor suitable to navigate in solid one-year sea ice as well as loose multi-year pack ice. Ortelius can accommodate up to 116-123 passengers (108 passengers as of season Arctic 2020) and has an abundance of open-deck spaces. It is manned by 22 highly experienced nautical crew members, 19 hotel staff, eight expedition specialists (one expedition leader, one assistant, and six lecturer-guides), and one doctor. Though our voyages are primarily meant to offer our passengers an exploratory wildlife program with as much time ashore as possible, Ortelius offers all the comforts of a standard hotel ― along with a bar and lecture room. Flexibility assures maximum wildlife opportunities. As such, Ortelius carries 10 Zodiacs with 60hp Yamaha engines.


Day 1 - Day 1: Largest town, biggest island
 You touch down in Longyearbyen, the administrative center of Spitsbergen, the largest island of the Svalbard archipelago. Enjoy strolling around this former mining town, whose parish church and Svalbard Museum make for fascinating attractions. Though the countryside appears stark, more than a hundred species of plant have been recorded in it. In the early evening, the ship sails out of Isfjorden, where we might spot the first minke whale of the voyage.
Day 2 - Day 2: Spectacular Hornsund
 We start the day by quietly cruising the side fjords of the spectacular Hornsund area in southern Spitsbergen, enjoying the scenery of towering mountain peaks. The mountain of Hornsundtind rises to 1,431 meters (4,695 feet), while the peak of Bautaen testifies to why early Dutch explorers gave this island the name Spitsbergen, meaning “pointed mountains.” There are 14 magnificent glaciers in the area, and we have a fair chance of encountering seals and polar bears. The nearby cliffs of Sofiakammen are also home to thousands of pairs of nesting kittiwakes and little auks, and in the evening, we might see thousands of harp seals rutting on ice floes at Sørkapp.
Day 3 - Day 3: The seabird colonies of Bear Island
 We arrive at the southeastern end of Bear Island, a great place for viewing large seabird colonies. The nearby nesting cliffs are part of an extensive nature reserve where large ships are not allowed to bring passengers on shore. Afterward we’ll sail northeast into Sorhamna, where we can get closer to the seabird cliffs. Chiefly Brünnichs guillemots, kittiwakes, and fulmars nest here.Just north of this, in Kvalrossbukta, we will land and see the remains of a whaling station from early in the previous century. We might also make a landing in a shallow valley, such as Rendalen, and look for (at a safe distance) great skuas, large seabirds known to be fiercely territorial. As we continue north along the east side of Bear Island, we may still encounter dazzling shoals of drift ice.
Day 4 - Day 4: Rarely visited Hopen Island
 On the way to Hopen, we may encounter sea ice with rutting harp seals. We land at the southern end of Hopen Island, at Koefoetodden, where you can see the remains of 17th-century whaling sites. Through nearby Bekkeskaret is an easy route to Kvasstoppen (190 meters, 620 feet) and the remains of a plane from World War II. Hopen Radio station is the most remote manned weather station in all of Svalbard.
Day 5 - Day 5: Along and through the pack ice
 We may still encounter heavy sea ice in the Barentsz Current, where we have a good chance of spotting polar bears as well as various species of seal and seabird.
Day 6 - Day 6: Kittiwakes, canyons, and south Edgeøya
 Sailing along the western side of the Tusenöyane (where we’re not allowed to land in summer), we may see polar bears and walruses as we approach Risetreppen. This beautiful canyon features an accessible kittiwake colony, and during our walk we may encounter reindeer on the lush tundra.
Day 7 - Day 7: Pomor trappers at Russebukta
 Today we go to shore at Ardalstangen, a ruggedly scenic area with lakes and different species of waterfowl. Later in nearby Habenichtbukta, we can look from some distance to a wintering site of 18th-century Pomor trappers, who often stayed for years in the same place. Later in the afternoon, we aim to land at the south side of Russebukta, near a tundra with reindeer and great walking opportunities.
Day 8 - Day 8: Guillemot colony and south Spitsbergen
 Our goal for the first part of the day is a landing at the mountain of Stellingfjellet, near the largest colony of Brünnich’s guillemots in Spitsbergen. Later on we will make landings at the rarely visited coast of south Spitsbergen, at the bay of Isbukta.
Day 9 - Day 9: Bell Sund’s flora, fauna, and haunting history
 We continue our voyage in Bell Sund, one of the largest fjord systems in Svalbard. The ocean currents make this area slightly warmer than other areas in Spitsbergen.
Day 10 - Day 10: There and back again
 Even the greatest journeys must eventually come to an end. We disembark today in Longyearbyen, taking home memories that will accompany us wherever the next adventure lies.
Day 11 - Please note:
All itineraries are for guidance only. Programs 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. The average cruising speed of our vessel is 10.5 knots.

Trip Dates

StartEndPrice FromRoom Type
26-06-202505-07-2025USD $5,650Quadruple Porthole
26-06-202505-07-2025USD $7,000Triple Porthole
26-06-202505-07-2025USD $8,200Twin Porthole
26-06-202505-07-2025USD $8,850Twin Window
26-06-202505-07-2025USD $9,500Twin Deluxe
26-06-202505-07-2025USD $10,650Superior


    • Spectacular Hornsund
    • Rarely visited Hopen Island
    • Kittiwakes, canyons, and south Edgeøya
    • Guillemot colony and south Spitsbergen