• Home
  • Triplogs
  • HDS05-24, trip log, Around Spitsbergen - In the realm of polar bear & ice

HDS05-24, trip log, Around Spitsbergen - In the realm of polar bear & ice

by Oceanwide Expeditions


Day 1: Embarkation – Longyearbyen, Svalbard

Embarkation – Longyearbyen, Svalbard
Date: 24.06.2024
Position: 78°20.5’ N 15°32.0’ E
Wind: WNW1
Weather: Partly cloudy
Air Temperature: +9

A fantastic day to begin our Arctic adventure, cloudless blue sky, bright sunshine and calm waters. The Expedition Team lifted luggage aboard and then greeted everyone as they walked up the gangway of our ship, M/V Hondius.

Once all passengers and their luggage were aboard Expedition Leader Jerry, and the Chief Officer Sven commenced the mandatory ship safety briefing. During the safety briefing we were shown how the life jackets are put on, followed by the mandatory drill for abandon ship.

Before dinner we reunited once again in the lounge to receive more information from Hotel Manager Albert, the Expedition Team was then presented by the Expedition Leader Jerry and finally we all cheered with a glass of Prosecco with Captain Artur to a good and successful voyage. Soon after dinner was served in the restaurant prepared by chef Ralf and his team.

Eventually after a full day of travelling and lots of important information many of us headed to bed to be well rested for our first full day of expedition.

Day 2: Ny Ålesund (am) and Fjortende Julybukta (pm)

Ny Ålesund (am) and Fjortende Julybukta (pm)
Date: 25.06.2024
Position: 79° 07.5’ N 11° 49.9’ E
Wind: S1
Weather: Overcast
Air Temperature: +5

Our first morning of operations found us at Ny-Ålesund. It is a special treat to visit this research station. Many countries have projects happening at this site and due to the sensitive equipment in use, we were asked to not bring our phone ashore and to turn off all Wi-Fi and Bluetooth features on all our electronics the night before.

As we made our approach to the anchorage, we held our zodiac and polar bear safety briefings, which was especially appropriate since there was a polar bear on shore near the station! Resting on a small island just off the coast of Ny- Ålesund was an adult polar bear. Likely it was looking for bird eggs to eat or young seals resting on the shoreline. Ny-Ålesund is a well defended and monitored town so we could still visit with a bear in the vicinity. Eventually the bear left the island and swam to Ny-London.

The expedition team led guided walks throughout the town to see various sites; here we learned about the history of this remote settlement. Originally created as a mining town in the early XX century, due to various incidents and the poor viability of the minerals extracted here in the early ‘60 the mining was abandoned and the town soon became an important research area. Today around 20 countries have year-round managed bases in Ny-Ålesund with a floating population of 80 to 20 people between seasons.

At the Amundsen monument Will gave an interesting presentation about this interesting explorer. Later on there was even a chance to visit the gift shop and enjoy a waffle or coffee. We had some wildlife sightings in addition to the polar bear including Arctic terns, eider ducks, harbor seal pups, skua and more.

After lunch we began our operations at Fjortende Julibukta, right at the entrance of Krossfjorden. The weather was amazing; glassy calm sea conditions and partly sunny skies for our zodiac cruises and landing. Julibukta is home to beautiful hanging gardens and cliffs where a variety of seabirds nest. We had sightings of reindeer, Brunnich’s guillemot, black guillemot, black legged kittiwakes, and Atlantic Puffins.

Opposite of the bird cliffs is a stunning glacier, Fjortendejulibreen, which could be seen from the zodiacs and by a short walk from the landing site on shore. The blooming flowers turned the slopes of Fjortendejulibukta pink and purple; even tundra plants have beautiful blooms in the summertime.

What a great day to begin our journey in this remote archipelago of the Arctic ocean!

TRAK kayaking program: Fjortende Julybukta (pm)

The group of 6 TRAK kayakers had spent until midnight on our embarkation day building the kayaks for today’s paddle. This was all part of the plan and gave us a sense of satisfaction putting together our own craft, although once we had left Isfjorden, the swell made a few of us a little seasick. No matter, today we woke up refreshed and raring to go. The afternoon saw us at Fjortende Juliabukta, which offers some beautiful paddling under cliffs populated by guillemots and puffins, and the opportunity to paddle around rock stacks. There was a slight swell off the headland, but it soon eased as we paddled towards Juliabreen. We watched some kittiwakes preening on glacier ice, and the sun came out at that point, emphasizing the blue of the ice. All too soon we were back at the ship, having got familiar with our boats and ready for the next adventure.

Day 3: Texas Bar (am) and Monacobreen (pm) - Liefdefjorden

Texas Bar (am) and Monacobreen (pm) - Liefdefjorden
Date: 26.06.2024
Position: 79° 36.4’ N 12° 43.7’ E
Wind: NE3
Weather: Overcast
Air Temperature: +5

We started the day with lovely morning call in Liefdefjorden by our Expedition Leader Jerry; the “Love bay” named after a Dutch saling ship of the XVII century, the fjord branches out from the main Woodfjorden into the west-southwest for 30 kilometers into Albert I land in the Northwestern Spitsbergen island. We were excited for our first landing of the voyage at Texas Bar with some exciting hikes planned. While everyone enjoyed their breakfast the Expedition Team spotted a Polar Bear during the scouting of Texas Bar. This thrilling news led to a change of plans and the landing was cancelled. Instead we started very soon to lower the Zodiacs; quickly our Deck and expedition team launched sixteen zodiacs in the water, and everyone prepared themselves for a promising zodiac cruise on the south shore of Texas Bar.

After everyone got into the Zodiacs we slowly made our way towards the location where the Polar Bear was spotted earlier. As we approached slowly, surrounded by the pointy mountains of which many were covered in clouds, you could see already the bear in the distance walking along the shoreline. When we arrived, everyone was in excited mood and enjoyed this spectacular sighting of our second bear of our voyage. The moment was fantastic, the young female bear rather than taking the higher route which would have hidden her from us, decided instead for a leisure stroll on the coastline. First she navigated onto some big boulders, then climbed a rocky cliff and finally descended near the beach for some photographical moments. Eventually she ended up taking a rest on a snow patch, absolutely at ease with our respectful presence.

After two long hours in the Zodiacs it was time to head back the ship and warm up with a tea or a coffee and process the sighting and also check with much excitement the pictures which has been taken. While M/V Hondius was repositioned towards Monacobreen all of us enjoyed our lunch with the Monacobreen in sight and had some rest. In the afternoon we started to load the Zodiacs and started our cruise around this beautiful and picturesque icy fjord, accompanied by three glaciers: Monacobreen, Seligerbreen and Emmabreen.

Thanks to Simon we spotted already from the ship before the cruise started some White Whales in the distance and everyone was very excited to see them from a closer distance. While we were cruising alongside the snouts of this massive glaciers we started to see plenty of Beluga in the water around the icebergs from the glaciers. Everyone was very happy and glad to have some close encounters with these beautiful marine mammals. Beside the belugas we also spent some time and watched the Arctic Skuas, Black-legged Kittiwakes and the beautiful icebergs from the glaciers around us.

After two hours in the zodiacs everyone was ready to return to the ship and warm up again, before dinner we had our daily recap where Jerry told us the plan for the next day. After that William informed us about Speirs Bruce and Katlyn shared information about Beluga Whales. After an amazing dinner we all went to the outside decks and the lounge while we approached the Island of Moffen where we spotted plenty of Walruses on land and in the water. Simultaneously we celebrated our passing of 80° North.

This was a very special occasion and a great way to end this outstanding day.

TRAK kayaking program: Monacobreen (pm)

As is often the case, our plans to kayak at Texas Bar were disrupted – by the exciting news that there was a bear on shore. However, after a morning spent bear watching from Zodiacs, we took to the water for a long afternoon in front of Monacobreen and Seligerbreen Glaciers. The glaciers have receded so much that many islands have begun to appear which gave us some good sport, slaloming between them whilst keeping an ear out all the time for the crack and collapse of the glacier front. We also observed belugas who at one point looked like they were going to approach and check out our quiet, craft engineless craft!

Day 4: Phippsøya (am) and Parryøya (pm) - Sjuøyane

Phippsøya (am) and Parryøya (pm) - Sjuøyane
Date: 27.06.2024
Position: 80° 40.6’ N 20° 57.0’ E
Wind: W2
Weather: Overcast
Air Temperature: 0

Today we explored Sjuøyane, or the Seven Islands, which are the Northernmost islands of the archipelago. This region is especially known as bear territory, as it connects to the sea ice during wintertime. Being only 1024 kilometres away from the geographical North Pole, we were closer to the North Pole than to the Arctic circle. Not only that, according to Marine Traffic, we were the northernmost vessel on the planet (with AIS on, excluding military vessels)!

Unlike the previous days, the weather was rather cold, but this did not make us stop from landing on Phippsøya. The islands are quite barren and only hosted some mosses and lichens, as this region is categorized as ‘high Arctic’ and thus holds no climate for flowering plants. There wasn’t much wildlife to see, apart from some seabirds like Kittiwakes and Black Guillemots. Although, expedition guide Meike spotted a place where a Polar Bear has slept, and even found some fur where the bear had slept. Next to the landing, we made a zodiac cruise from which we could also see Markensøya. Indeed, it was quite chilly once we drove around the corner where there was no shelter from waves and wind.

Therefore, between 13:00 and 14:00 o’clock, the lunch offered a great opportunity to warm up. After that, it was time to head back out again. We only transited South for a little while, to get closer to a Walrus colony near Parryøya. To see them up close, we boarded the boats on a zodiac cruise where we observed the Walruses but also the dynamic surroundings. The Walrus colony had many females and calves, which is quite special to see! As a surprise, we had a ‘bar zodiac’ going around handing out warm glühwein, amid the high Arctic!

After everyone got back onboard and had a nice long shower to warm up, it was time for a daily recap. After Jerry announced his plans for the following day, Katlyn started off with a recap about the walruses that we just saw! It is always nice to have a bit more information on what you’ve just seen. She mentioned for example that walruses have a gestation period of 15 months, and that calves are between 35 to 75 kilograms when they are born! Then Jade talked to us about the three different North Poles and where to find them. She mentioned that the geomagnetic North Pole is always on the move and might end up in one your houses someday!

Day 5: Drifting Pack Ice around 81° N

Drifting Pack Ice around 81° N
Date: 28.06.2024
Position: 80° 58.0’ N 23°13.8’ E
Wind: S1
Weather: Overcast
Air Temperature: +3

We awoke to overcast skies for our planned day in the sea ice but most importantly it was beautifully flat calm with hardly a breath of wind. We could see the edge of the ice off our port bow and Captain Artur kindly waited for the wake-up call before turning the ship to enter this incredible environment. We were instantly immersed in this incredible, unique world and everyone from the passengers to the guides were soon entranced by its serenity and peacefulness.

All eyes were out scanning from various vantage points around the ship, entertained by our constant companions of Kittiwakes, Black Guillemots, Brunnich’s Guillemots and Little Auks along with a distant, super-rare and delicate Sabine’s Gull. We soon picked up our first Pinnipeds with a couple of nice, fat Bearded Seals giving great views, some distant Ringed Seals sat on the ice, offering a tempting snack for any passing charismatic megafauna that may be in the area and a few groups of Harp Seals in the water.

The lecture program was due to start late morning with Katlyn talking about Polar Bears but with the screens down and everything cued up, ready to go the call went out that there were some Walrus on the ice ahead of the ship so naturally, we concentrated on the big, blubbery beasts and talk of Polar Bears would have to wait. After lunch it was Marco’s lecture on sea ice’s turn to be interrupted by events out across the wilderness – this time it was the very exciting news that a Polar Bear had been spotted, distantly directly in our path.

Half an hour later and some expert maneuvering from the officers on the bridge, slowly brought us closer and closer to the Polar Bear where soon, everyone right around the ship from the bow to the bridge to those up on deck eight had awesome views of this wonderful apex predator in its natural habitat, at home in this pristine wonderland. For a moment though this fearsome hunter forgot its terrible reputation and just rolled around in the snow without a care in the world – a fabulous illustration of the world we must protect and cherish.

With a long way to travel for tomorrow’s activities we reluctantly left the Bear (it actually followed the ship for a while afterwards!) and turned south, back to Svalbard. This certainly didn’t mark the end of the days entertainment with the Polar Bear postponed hot chocolate with rum served on the bow and a pair of fascinating lectures on the history of polar exploration in English by Will and in Mandarin by Rose.

A wonderful day spent losing oneself in the peaceful, calming world of the pack ice, with the mirror-like ocean blending seamlessly into the horizon, only told apart by the floating ice floes, separating sea from sky in this unreal, beautiful world of ice and water.

Day 6: Faksevågen (am), Alkefjellet (pm) and Wahlbergøya (evening)

Faksevågen (am), Alkefjellet (pm) and Wahlbergøya (evening)
Date: 29.06.2024
Position: 79° 34.9’ N 18° 36.3’ E
Wind: SE4
Weather: Clear sky
Air Temperature: +4

We awoke early this morning as we were excited to the day was to come. Before started the activities, we all attended the restaurant for a hearty breakfast. Faksevågen, will be the landing site. Lomfjord is a side bay in the northern part of Hinlopen Strait. It is not the world's biggest fjord, but it has one lovely side bay on its western side, called Faksevågen (Fakse bay). In contrast to most other areas around Hinlopen Strait, there are green tundra areas in Faksevågen.

Some of us decided to burn some calories and took the option for a long walk. The mountain Faksefjellet, with its 360m height, is not Mount Everest, but still, the view from the top, which is decorated with a large erratic boulder, is stunning. The other groups chose to walk around the slopes and beach. Almost at the end of the operation, an alert on the radios made our hearts jumped a little bit, a Polar Bear was swimming in the water. Calmly and with a bolt professionalism, all the guides made the evacuation in just a few minutes as soon as the hikers were safely guided back from the top of the ridge. After that excitement morning, we could have the opportunity to watch the Bear from the safety of our beautiful Hondius.

Before we knew it, it was time for lunch. We enjoyed a delicious buffet before heading up to our second activity of the day. We were excited to enjoy a Zodiac cruise amongst the famous Alkefjellet, “mountain of the guillemots”. This popular Arctic location is the most famous cliff of the Svalbard archipelago.

Alkefjellet is a major bird cliff that is home to around 60,000 pairs of breeding Brünnich’s guillemots as well as a smaller number of glaucous gulls and kittiwakes. The cliffs are high and sheer and in places around 100 meters (330 feet) tall, some of them free-standing towers and others part of the main body of rock. All are impressive examples of dolerites intrusions from the Jurassic or late Cretaceous period.

We had the opportunity of seeing meltwater from glaciers creating small waterfalls that spilled down the rocks in long clear streams. The Guillemots were flying all over our heads, certainly a breathtaking scenery. When we were almost approaching the end of the cliff, an Arctic Fox made its way down the lower slopes and we had the chance to have a glimpse of how much they work for food constantly. Smiling faces in all in our zodiacs showed how much delighting and amazing our day had been so far.

We Returned to the ship to warm ourselves up and had the Dayli recap, Jerry explained about the activities of the day and the next day. Ting, teached us about lichens, and Meike all about Guillemots.

To cap off a wonderful day, our expedition team went ashore in Wahlbergøya and set up the site for us to go ashore. Wahlbergøya is the largest island in the Vaigattøyane archipelago, a group of islands in the Hinlopen Strait. The almost triangular island is about 13 km long from its northwest cape Ryggneset to its southeast cape Jåderinneset.

We just started to load the zodiacs, when through the radio the call made change our plans, the second Polar Bear of the day, was in the area. We did a zodiac cruise instead, and we had an amazing close view from a beautiful group of Walruses. With their voluminous bodies and long tusks, the outing gave us the opportunity to fill our memory cards with hundreds of pictures.

The day was over, but we stayed for hours in the lounge with the Expedition team, it had been such an incredible day that it was almost impossible to go to rest, needing to share stories and pictures.

TRAK kayaking program: Faksevågen (pm)

Another day of light winds and calm waters in Faksevågen. We left the ship at exactly 08.01 at a time when most people were finishing up their breakfasts. We took the Zodiac out to the northwest point at the fjord entrance and quickly got into our kayaks. Then we started west with a light breeze pushing us along. Kelly took advantage of the good conditions to teach us some techniques for turning the kayaks, looking at combining edging and sweep strokes. Maryse took the edging a bit too far at one point and tipped in, however she stayed in her kayak and with the support of the bow of Fran’s kayak and Kelly flipping her upright, she avoided a full swim!

After paddling to the coastal river plain at the head of the fjord we came back on the other side and just shortly before we were going to the cry went up from the front of the group “polar bear!”. Yes, a polar bear was swimming across our path about 500m distance, heading for the opposite shore. The keen eyes of Maryse spotted its creamy yellow head above the waves! How exciting. We swung into immediate action, and it was less than ten minutes before we were all safely on board the Zodiac with the kayak strung neatly behind – a credit to the calm attitude and skill of us all. Back at the ship we offloaded and our Zodiac driven by Kaitlyn made it’s way to shore to help with the landing evacuation.

Day 7: Olgastretet (am) and Storfjordbanken (pm)

Olgastretet (am) and Storfjordbanken (pm)
Date: 30.06.2024
Position: 77° 00.3’ N 24° 27.2’ E
Wind: SW4
Weather: Overcast
Air Temperature: +2

During the night M/V Hondius had sailed a great distance, passing Edgeøya on our starboard side and in the morning, we woke to find ourselves en route to Hornsund, with a substantial portion of the 410 miles already behind us. The sun played hide and seek behind the clouds, casting a soft, muted light over the gently rolling waves that caressed the bow of our ship. With no early excursions planned, we enjoyed a leisurely morning. Some of us chose to sleep in, while others relished a fresh cup of coffee served by the ever-friendly hotel staff.

After breakfast, we gathered for an engaging lecture by Katlyn on polar bears. Interrupted previously by wildlife sightings, today we had ample time to absorb fascinating facts about these majestic creatures. We learned so much about their lives and habitats, fueling our excitement to spot one in the wild from the safety of our ship or a zodiac.

Outside, the landscape showcased a palette of fifty shades of grey. The guides on the bridge mingled with guests until Hotel Manager Albert invited us to lunch. Chef Ralf and his galley team prepared a delightful meal, which we enjoyed over lively conversations about the incredible experiences we've had on this expedition.

In the afternoon, we attended Simon’s lecture on the birds of Svalbard. His imitation of the kittiwake's call was a highlight, making the session both educational and entertaining. The atmosphere around the ship was relaxed. Some guests played cards and board games, while others enjoyed the views from the deck. Our guides spotted a fin whale in the distance, prompting Chief Mate to slowly turn the ship for a better view. As luck would have it, the whale surfaced right in front of our bow, giving us an unforgettable close encounter. Hearing its powerful exhalation was a truly magical moment.

As the fin whale continued its journey, Meike and Rose began their lectures on marine pollution. Rose spoke in her native Mandarin, catering to our Chinese-speaking guests. Meike's talk featured the Northern Fulmar, a bird that soared gracefully alongside the Hondius right at the time of her lecture. Fulmars are abundant and widespread seabirds known to regularly ingest litter from the ocean. Nearly 95% of beached individuals having stomachs full of plastic, which caused their death. OSPAR ( 15 governments ) monitors and assesses plastics in the stomachs of northern fulmars as an indicator of the marine environmental quality.

With a day rich in informative talks, we sailed smoothly into the daily recap with Expedition Leader Jerry sharing plans for the next day. Valeria provided insights into the actual sizes of the animals we had seen, and Julian shared fascinating geological facts about how Svalbard's unique landscape was formed. As we drifted off to sleep, the Hondius continued her journey through the icy waters, carrying us ever closer to our next polar adventure.

Day 8: Hansbukta (am) and Gnålodden (pm)

Hansbukta (am) and Gnålodden (pm)
Date: 01.07.2024
Position: 77° 09.6’ N 15° 52.9’ E
Wind: ENE3
Weather: Overcast
Air Temperature: +3

The week started with a wake up call in Hornsund. Hornsund is the most southerly fjord in Spitsbergen and also one of the most spectacular in terms of scenery. It was known to the whalers of the 17th century for a long time and one of them, the Englishman Johnas Poole, named it Hornsund "They brought a piece of a Deers horn aboard, therefore I called this sound Horne Sound". In the Bay Gåshamna was for a short period of time in the 17th century also a English whaling station.

We actually wanted to see one of the most spectacular places in Hornsund, the Gnålodden bird cliff, but the weather put a spanner in the works. A thick bank of fog at the exact point of the fjord where we wanted to land disrupted our plan; therefore plan B had to be used. The crew lowered all the Zodiacs and we set off on a Zodiac cruise. We headed to explore the north-western coast of Hornsund between Gnålodden and Hansbreen in Isbjørnhamna Bay. Right at the start a humpback whales made its appearance and we could approach it for a few minutes.

On the drive to Hansbreen we enjoyed the rugged, alpine mountain world of Hornsund. In front of Hansbreen, we winded our way between small icebergs and marvelled at the 2.5 km long break-off edge. A glance at the map told us that this glacier is also on the retreat and that we had been cruising around on the glacier for a long time, at least according to the map. Isbjørnhamna Bay is also home to the Polish research station, which was established 1957/58 as part of the International Polar Year. Since the 1970s, the station has been continuously manned by scientists in both summer and winter who conduct all kinds of Arctic-related research here.

On the way back to the Hondius, the humpback appeared again directly in front of our Zodiacs. After lunch, the fog had completely cleared and we could land at Gnålodden. Gnålodden is Norwegian and means something like the eternally humming mountain. And as soon as we land here, we realized that the mountain lives up to its name. Thousands of seabirds, mostly kittiwakes and thick-billed guillemots, breed in the cliffs. Down in the lush green tundra stands a small trapper's hut. It is one of the huts next to the hut in Hyttevika and was used to extend the trappers' territory. The Arctic fox was trapped, especially in winter, as the white fur was the most sought-after and expensive. The fox traps were spread over a large area and it was rarely possible to reach the furthest trap in one day. The trappers therefore made use of small side huts where they spent the night or, in bad weather and storms, sometimes several nights or weeks.

The hut at Gnålodden was also used for several years by one of Spitsbergen's most prominent female trappers. Wanny Wolstad was one of the first women to work as a trapper on Spitsbergen. Together with her husband, she spent 6 winters in Hornsund. Two of them were spent with her children, who were actually at an age when they should have been at school rather than hunting polar bears. Tragically, Wanny died in a traffic accident in Tromso in 1959. But her story lives on and is vividly told by Will at the hut at Gnålodden. Otherwise, our guides have secured an area in which half of us could move freely while the others went on a zodiac cruise into Burgerbukkta at the same time.

Finally the day was wrapped up by Albert call for a fantastic barbecue. With no wind, small icebergs and ice floes floating on the glassy water we fully enjoyed this great surprise and while M/V Hondius was making her way west out from Hornsund a considerable group of dancers continued the party on Deck 5 till it was time to go to sleep.

TRAK kayaking program: Hansbukta (am) and Burgerbukta (pm)

The morning was still and foggy over Burgerbukta so plans to land at Gnålodden were abandoned and both kayakers and cruisers got to experience the bay under Hansbreen adjacent to the Polish Research Station at Isbjornhamna. As we headed over in our safety Zodiac we saw a humpback whale – which was also feeding in the area when we returned. We spent the morning kayaking around the rocky shore of Fannypynten and into Hansbukta where we encountered ice from the glacier, and the peaks of Flogtoppen revealed themselves for a brief time, time enough to take photos with the calving face of the glacier as a backdrop. We paddled so far that our journey back took nearly 50 minutes but rather than get cold, we enjoyed the scenery and sang French Canadian songs!

The plan was to do a combined kayak and landing this afternoon but by the time we arrived in West Burgerbukta, we were so taken with the scenery and almost completely windless conditions, that we decided not to rush and spend all out time on the water instead. Therefore, we spent a couple of hours in almost total silence, paddling with our own thoughts and quietly marveling at the breathtaking cliffs, cut with iron-red streams of water from the melting snow patches above. It was a sad moment when we had to climb back on the Zodiac, but as it turned out, it was our last opportunity to kayak and we could only be profoundly grateful to have left the Arctic with this stunning day as a lasting memory.

Day 9: Ahlstrandhalvøya (am) and Ingeborgfjellet (pm)

Ahlstrandhalvøya (am) and Ingeborgfjellet (pm)
Date: 02.07.2024
Position: 77° 33.8’ N 15° 02.9’ E
Wind: SE4
Weather: Clear sky
Air Temperature: +8

The sweet voice of Jerry woke us up with the promise of a grand day as the sun was shining and the temperatures were almost summery as we made our way to our first landing of the day Bamsebu. The sea made itself felt this morning and its spray kissed our faces in its cold embrace as we made our way to land on the zodiacs. We took a long walk along the shoreline and witnessed piles of whale bones from the whaling days.

The cabin of Bamsebu was made famous by two Norwegian women spending a winter in the cabin, the story told in a documentary called Hearts in Ice to sensitise people about climate change. Those of us stayed on board were treated to a fascinating lecture by the bubbly Jade and her never ending enthusiasm. Before getting back on board, the bravest among us stripped down to the bare essentials and threw themselves in the frigid Arctic waters for our traditional polar plunge! Rosy bodies, screaming from the shock, jogged their way eagerly back up the beach to hug themselves in a warm comforting towel.

After a final buffet where once again we rejoiced on finger licking food, we cruised under the beating sun to Ingeborgfjellet. This spectacular place offered us a stunning landscape with rugged rocks, grassy plains and endless cliffs populated of thousands of birds. Up on the hill we could see a family of foxes, the young daring to adventure themselves in the open, exploring their environment.

Time came for the farewell of our proud Captain Arthur. As during the welcome, his words were few but full of emotion, a man proud of a job well done. We applauded our expedition Staff who relentlessly bent over backwards to accommodate us and share with us this stunning adventure. One last dinner was shared in the dining hall and the crew took the chance to receive a well deserved round of applause. Tomorrow back to reality but with bags full of sweet memories.

Day 10: Disembarkation – Longyearbyen, Svalbard

Disembarkation – Longyearbyen, Svalbard
Date: 03.07.2024
Position: 78° 16.8’ N 15°30.2’ E
Wind: VAR1
Weather: Cloudy
Air Temperature: +9

Slowly but steadily M/V Hondius made her way into Isfjord, the biggest and more branched of all Svalbard’s fjords. Unfortunately, time had come to conclude our fantastic trip around this remote Arctic archipelago. The week we had spent between the frigid waters of the Arctic and the barren although wildlife-rich tundra of Svalbard was beyond expectations; great encounters, beautiful weather, sea ice navigation, hikes, zodiac cruises but most importantly new friends with whom to share future travels and memories. Once alongside Longyearbyen’s main pier, we walked down the gangway, hugged and shook hands with the Expedition Team, before starting our way home.


Tripcode: HDS05-24
Dates: 24 Jun - 3 Jul, 2024
Duration: 9 nights
Ship: m/v Hondius
Embark: Longyearbyen
Disembark: Longyearbyen

Have you been on this voyage?

Aboard m/v Hondius

Hondius is the world’s first-registered Polar Class 6 vessel and was built from the ground up for expedition cruising.

More about the m/v Hondius »