Be immersed in the natural wonders of the land of the midnight sun and pursue a quest to photograph Arctic wildlife
This unique voyage invites guests to embrace a true expeditionary spirit: rather than follow a set itinerary, together we’ll allow our search for Polar bears and other wildlife to determine our route and shore landings in the pristine Norwegian Arctic. Experience this once-in-a-lifetime journey aboard our game-changing new expedition vessel, Ultramarine, which is equipped with 20 quick-launching Zodiacs, luxurious onboard amenities and the biggest portfolio of adventure options in the Polar regions.
Cruising along the coast, ice edge and inner fjords of Spitsbergen, you’ll be immersed in the natural wonders of the land of the midnight sun as we pursue our quest to photograph Arctic wildlife: the Polar bear as it prowls the edges of the pack ice on its perpetual hunt for food; the walrus with its long tusks and distinctive whiskers; cliff-dwelling Arctic birds in the thousands; and small herds of reindeer loping across the colourful tundra. Plus, there will be snow-topped mountains, massive glacier fronts, deep-walled fjords, and vast swaths of untouched tundra waiting to be photographed. Exploring this awe-inspiring region never ceases to impress visitors with its raw beauty.
View iconic Arctic wildlife, like Polar bears, walrus and Arctic fox
Enjoy continuous daylight, perfect for photography buffs
Cruise in a Zodiac for closer views of glaciers, fjords, icebergs and more
Hike the colourful tundra
Learn techniques and tips from onboard photographers
Travel in a small expedition vessel
Accompanied by extremely qualified Expedition Staff
12 nights on the ship and 1 night hotel in Oslo
Expedition cruising in comfortable conditions
Countries visited: Spitsbergen
All meals while on the ship
Beer and house wine during dinner
All transport and listed activities
Full complement of qualified Expedition Staff
Mandatory transfer package including return flights between Helsinki and Longyearbyen
We can include flights from the UK. Please contact us for a quote.
Whats Not Included
Single accommodation (available on request)
Visas or vaccinations
People, Places & Planet
We work hard to create trips which improve life for the people and places we visit and look after the planet we explore. To read more about our sustainable travel ethos and practice, click here, and to find out about the work of the Exodus Travels Foundation click here.
Some sustainable travel highlights of this trip include:
How this trip helps improve life for local communities.
We are extremely conscious of our presence in the Polar regions. Often seeing whales, Polar bears, seals and seabirds can be a very moving experience and clients either donate to related charities or develop a lifelong interest in conservation of these species.
There is not much contact with local communities on this remote voyage, although we do encourage clients to explore and use local business before embarkation. There are some small businesses which benefit greatly from tourism commerce and plenty of locals to engage with. By supporting locally owned shops and using various other services and facilities, money goes towards an increase of employment opportunities and growth of the local economy.
We have developed a comprehensive staff training and accreditation program which ensures that our staff is fully aware of responsible tourism issues and that they are kept updated with refresher courses. From safety to environmental sustainability, our team of lecturers, specialists and crew are able to pass vital information on to clients in briefings.
We also send extensive preparatory packs out to every group including guidelines from the Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators (AECO) of which our operator is a full member.
Our onboard gift shop only sells items which have been thoroughly researched as to where an item has come from, whether it has been produced fairly, what it is made of and distance it has had to travel.
How this trip helps protect and conserve local landscapes and nature.
All of our Arctic expeditions are designed to operate in line with The Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators (AECO) which has guidelines in place to protect the fragile environment of this Polar region.
We emphasise that the protection of this pristine yet fragile environment and its wildlife is at the forefront of what we do. This is driven by our ‘leave no trace’ policy, which includes being vigilant with litter disposal and avoiding approaching animals any closer than 5 metres.
We strictly adhere to all international policies regarding disposal of waste at sea and only use recycled and acid free paper on board. Clients are also encouraged to recycle and reduce waste throughout and are provided with a re-usable water bottle for the trip. Cabins are fitted with eco-friendly amenities and the laundry is done with green detergents.
We are on board with the ‘Clean up Svalbard’ initiative, during which every summer volunteers from our vessels are invited to join the office of The Governor of Svalbard and the local population to remove debris from the beaches. The vast expanses of pristine, white landscape which people travel a long way to see are being jeopardised by waste which drifts to the area on ocean currents. As awful as this is, the problem is not just superficial- birds and other Arctic animals eat the littler or become tangled in stray fishnets. This creates a massive challenge for Arctic wildlife, which already faces the harsh effects of global warming, so this is a hugely important project.
How we seek to keep the carbon footprint of this trip low.
Read about Exodus Travels’ Planet Promise hereincluding our rewilding and carbon compensation commitments for every customer who travels.
We do our best to take advantage of local products as a means of boosting the local economy and reducing our carbon footprint as a whole. This is evident in the meals provided, which are created with sustainability in mind. Seafood, for example, will always be fresh and purchased based on the responsible management of the fishery for each particular species and will observe guidelines similar to the MSC and Audubon Society.
We make a collective effort to minimise excess waste on board and offer a carbon offsetting option for clients.
Our small Zodiac landing crafts are lightweight and nimble and they are powered by low-emission engines.
Activities include sea kayaking and guided photography which have a minimal impact on the environment.
Our eco-conscious approach means we travel to remote and pristine destinations differently than others in the industry. Most of our vessels burn Marine Gas Oil (MGO) – a clean burning fuel with a low emission factor- and despite being far more expensive, it is the only fuel we consider using. We also reduce consumption and emissions by tailoring our itinerary to operate at a more leisurely pace.
In addition, some departures of this itinerary will travel on a new Polar expedition vessel called the Ultramarine, which features a pioneering mix of advanced sustainability features that reduce its environmental impact to an extent previously unseen for a polar vessel of comparable size. Energy efficiency begins with drag reduction. Ultramarine’s hull design combined the latest computational fluid dynamic techniques and state-of-the-art production faring to ensure the lowest possible resistance. In addition, detailed analyses were conducted on the propeller and hull interaction to reduce losses and determine the optimal propeller size, hull clearance and speed.
Ultramarine has been designed and built with energy efficiency in mind, including LED lighting and lighting controls and an energy recovery wheel that collects energy from exhaust air, reducing the energy required to maintain a comfortable environment for guests and staff. She is outfitted with four diesel-electric engines of two sizes that can be run in any combination according to combined power and propulsion needs, providing very flexible and efficient fuel consumption.
By minimizing waste brought on board, gasifying combustible waste to generate useful heat with a Micro Auto Gasification System (MAGS), and compacting other retained waste, Ultramarine can operate for 40 days and discharge no solid waste. Black and grey water generated onboard are thoroughly treated to dischargeable conditions anywhere in the world.
Ultramarine has been issued CLEAN certification by DNV GL, the world’s largest resource of independent energy experts, and TIER III status by the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the organization responsible for developing the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL).
Tips for sustainable travel on this trip
Leave no trace: We do all we can to ensure we leave no rubbish behind in the wild and beautiful places we visit; we ask that you do the same. If there are no recycling facilities in-country, we’d ask you to consider bringing recyclable materials home with you.
Plastic waste reduction: Please bring your own re-usable water bottle on this trip; filtered water will be provided where tap water is not drinkable.
2022 Departures: Arrive in Oslo, Norway
Your Arctic voyage begins in Oslo, Norway’s vibrant capital city. If you arrive early, there are many museums, restaurants and green spaces to keep you busy before retiring at your included airport hotel.
2023 Departures: Arrive in Helsinki, Finland
Your Arctic adventure begins in Helsinki, renowned for its extraordinary architecture and intriguing mix of eastern and western influences. If you arrive early, explore the many museums, galleries and restaurants, relax at a Finnish sauna or wander the vibrant Design District before retiring at your included hotel.
Embarkation Day in Longyearbyen, Svalbard
This morning, the group will transfer to the airport and board our private charter flight to Longyearbyen, Spitsbergen’s largest settlement, where you’ll have some time to explore before embarkation. As your ship sets sail, enjoy your first view of the island’s rugged, glacier-topped mountains rising majestically from icy waters.
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner
Days 3 - 13
Spitsbergen is graced with an unspoiled beauty that’s just waiting to be discovered. On this one-of-a-kind cruise, you’ll sail along the west coast of this magical island, exploring the coastal fjords and smaller, outlying islands. Each day will be a surprise, treating you to spectacular new sightings and experiences.
Every expedition is unique, depending on the weather and ice conditions, but we do hope to visit a few of our favourite landing sites, which will be chosen as much for their optimal wildlife-viewing opportunities as for their stunning scenery, historical significance and hiking activities. With no itinerary (unusual amongst Polar cruises), our main goal will be to sail in a constant search for Polar bears on the prowl. This means we may not move the ship every day as we do on regular voyages, especially if we find abundant wildlife in one place. Like true explorers, we’ll let the wildlife and pack ice—not a set schedule—guide our route! Our small expedition ship allows us to navigate shallower waters and tighter spaces, so we expect to explore the more hard-to-reach areas frequented by the elusive Polar bear.
Presentations by on-board experts will prepare you for the adventures that await, and with continuous daylight during this time of year, photo ops abound. You’ll have ample time to linger and photograph any bears we find hunting on the ice edge, but they’re not the only wildlife we hope to encounter. The food-rich waters attract walrus, whales and seabirds, so you’ll want to keep your binoculars nearby while cruising. Arctic fox and the indigenous Svalbard reindeer may also be spotted on Zodiac excursions to shore.
A haven for present-day explorers, Spitsbergen and the surrounding area offer unforgettable Polar experiences that will keep you and your camera active for the duration of the expedition. Although 60 percent of the landscape is covered in glaciers and much of the terrain is mountainous, Spitsbergen (which means “pointed mountains”) surprises visitors with stretches of colourful tundra that burst with wildflowers in summer. Optional hiking activities get you up close—though never obtrusively—to the abundant wildlife. At day’s end, you’ll have plenty of prized photographs and exciting stories to share with your shipmates.
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
2022 Departures: Disembark in Longyearbyen and fly to Oslo
The time to say goodbye has come. Your adventure ends as it began, in the frontier-style settlement of Longyearbyen. From here, we’ll transfer you to the airport for your return group charter flight to Oslo.
Meals Included: Breakfast
2023 Departures: Disembark in Longyearbyen and fly to Helsinki
The time to say goodbye to your Expedition Team and shipmates has come. Your adventure ends as it began, in the historic frontier-style settlement of Longyearbyen. From here, we’ll transfer you to the airport for your included return group charter flight to Helsinki.
The Ultramarine takes a maximum capacity of 199 passengers. The Exodus group forms part of the ship’s complement, enjoying the relaxed, intimate and informal atmosphere, which breaks into smaller groups to facilitate the frequent excursions. We offer these cruises in conjunction with Quark Expeditions, and Exodus participants will join an international group, not all of whom have booked through Exodus. Occasionally some of these may be younger than 18 years old, the Exodus' stated minimum age for this trip.
No visa required for British passport holders.
No visa required for British passport holders.
There are no specific health risks.
There are no specific health risks.
Eating and Drinking
All meals while on the ship included.
The ships galley offers good quality service and cuisine throughout, with excellent chefs preparing international menus including vegetarian dishes, accompanied by a wide variety of drinks from around the world on sale.
Breakfast: Buffet style – unlimited tea and coffee, a selection of fruit juices, hot options including bacon and eggs or omelettes, a selection of bread and toast and jam/honey/marmalade, fruit and cereal.
Lunch: Three course set meal or buffet, or the occasional BBQ.
Dinner: Three or four courses with a starter of soup and/or salad, a choice of mains with at least one vegetarian option and a dessert, with tea and coffee.
Vegetarians and vegans can be well catered for on this holiday - please do inform us before departure of any special dietary requests so that our local team can be well prepared.
Spitsbergen has a short season from mid June to mid August; and there is 24 hour daylight in all three months. There may be more sea ice in the earlier months and some more flowers, but in reality with the capricious nature of the weather and wildlife there is not much to choose between them.
Is this trip for you?
The voyages are designed to be as flexible as possible, taking advantage of circumstances and events as they occur, as well as passengers’ wishes and particular interests wherever possible. The atmosphere on board is relaxed and friendly with expedition staff, including naturalists and Polar experts, on hand and the opportunity to mingle with people from all over the world. The ship is kept warm, clean and comfortable with a wet / mud room in which to hang gear and store boots ready for the next adventure.
On the Zodiac cruises you are sitting still for most of the time with the potential for some sea spray and a cold headwind - if you are not dressed appropriately you will get cold. On the shore excursions, the majority of landings are ‘wet’ which means that the Zodiacs beach and you are helped to slide into the ankle deep shore break before walking up onto dry land (wellington boots are issued to all passengers).
There are, of course, no paths, so be prepared for slippery, rough terrain and sometimes fairly deep snow. Back on board the cosy ship after each adventure, you can have a sauna and/or a hot shower and then relax with a tea, coffee, hot chocolate or something stronger from the bar.
Sea kayaking option:
Kayaking in the Arctic is probably one of the most intimate and inspiring ways you can explore the rugged coastlines and calm bays of the regions we visit.
Kayaking in the Polar Regions is highly weather-dependent, however we guarantee at least one outing throughout your voyage, but your kayak guides will take you out as many times as possible throughout your voyage.
Offered on most Arctic voyages, spaces are limited and require some kayaking experience. All equipment, guides and instructions are provided by Quark.
Explore the ocean from a more intimate vantage point on a sit-on-top kayak. No experience is required to manoeuvre these very stable kayaks, allowing you to enjoy an unforgettable experience on the water, taking in breathtaking landscapes and wildlife. Whether it’s your first time in a kayak or you want greater flexibility to try other Adventure options, this shorter excursion is for you.
Paddling in the Polar Regions is highly weather-dependent and a one-time experience. Your kayak guides will attempt to take you out on the water for 1-1.5 hours of paddling. Offered on most voyages, spaces are limited. All equipment, guides and instructions are provided by Quark.
All Polar itineraries should be treated as a guide only - it is possible that, amongst other things, the capricious nature of wind, visibility and ice, intelligence from previous sailings, changes in local landing regulations or the expert opinion of the crew onboard may lead to adjustments to the route published.
Please note that, as with all Polar holidays and voyages, the booking conditions for this trip differ from our standard conditions.
The required deposit is 25% per person of your selected travel arrangements (minimum £1000 per person or equivalent in booking currency) and the balance of the price of your travel arrangements must be paid at least 133 days before your departure date. The deposit is non-refundable, and at 133 days before departure date, our cancellation penalties are 100% of the holiday cost.
COVID-19 Vaccination: Please note that as a condition of travel on any of our Polar voyages, clients must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Clients must provide proof of their vaccination status to Quark staff before boarding the ship. For full terms and conditions please refer to our Quark Book and Travel with Confidence Policy, found here: https://www.exodus.co.uk/quark-book-and-travel-confidence
If you have any questions, please contact our specialist Polar sales team on 020 8003 9957 or at email@example.com for further details.
Following a review of all our trips we have categorised this trip as generally not suitable for persons of reduced mobility. However if you are a regular traveller on such trips, please contact customer services to discuss the trip and your personal condition.
The Spitsbergen Photography: In Search of Polar Bears voyage is offered on the Ultramarine which is a Polar Adventure Ship. Full board accommodation on the ship, generally on a twin share basis in a variety of cabin types, all with en suite facilities.
Polar Adventure Ships
These are small ice rated vessels well qualified for Polar waters. Intimate adventures are always more enjoyable with like-minded passengers and staff, so these voyages are for people who like flexible itineraries and plenty to keep them busy. Activities include frequent Zodiac excursions, trekking and many hours on deck in areas that other ships only dream about accessing. Food and staff are superb and every guest benefits from the technical advances of this superb fleet. Rest assured our Polar Adventure Ships enable any traveller to maximize their experience sensitively in the Poles.
The newest ship in Quark’s fleet, Ultramarine, is designed to go beyond the familiar in Polar exploration, to discover new places, and to immerse you in the best the region has to offer.
Equipped with two twin-engine helicopters, Ultramarine offers the most robust portfolio of adventure activities in the industry, the most spacious suites in its category, breath-taking public spaces, and more outdoor wildlife viewing spaces than other expedition ships its size. It also features an innovative mix of sustainability features that exceed all industry standards. With all this and more, Ultramarine is set to deliver the ultimate Polar expedition experience.
SOLO PANORAMA: Located on Deck 6, and approximately 132 sq. ft. (12.3 m2). This suite is perfect for solo guests who appreciate privacy and want to wake up to sweeping views from the comfort of their bed. These are the only solo suites with floor-to-ceiling windows available onboard any ship in its class.
Features: single bed, floor-to-ceiling window, desk, refrigerator, TV, private bathroom with shower and heated floors.
EXPLORER TRIPLE: Located on Deck 3, and approximately 285 sq. ft. (26.5 m2). This suite is perfect for guests traveling solo who want to share their experience with other like-minded travellers of the same gender, or for groups of three traveling together. Featuring three separate single beds, and amenities for each of the three guests.
Features: three single beds (two of which can be combined into a double bed), sitting area, picture window, desk, refrigerator, TV, private bathroom with shower and heated floors.
EXPLORER SUITE: Located on Deck 3, and approximately 285 sq. ft. (26.5 m2). These suites are perfect for people traveling together or solo guests looking to share with like-minded individuals. This suite maximizes interior living space while still offering guests the opportunity to stay connected to the outdoors. Our entry-level twin suites are the largest available on a ship of this class.
Features: one double or two single beds, sitting area with sofa bed, picture window, desk, refrigerator, TV, private bathroom with shower and heated floors.
BALCONY SUITE: Located on Decks 4 and 6, with approximately 226 sq. ft. (21 m2) of indoor living space, and a 52 sq. ft. (4.8 m2) balcony, this entry-level balcony suite is one of the largest available on a ship of this class. This suite is perfect for guests who are looking for both indoor and outdoor living spaces. There are four connecting suites in this category, making this an excellent option for families or groups wanting to stay connected to each other during their expedition.
Features: one double or two single beds, sitting area with sofa bed, private balcony, desk, refrigerator, TV, private bathroom with shower and heated floors.
DELUXE BALCONY SUITE: Located on Decks 4 and 6, with approximately 299 sq. ft. (27.8 m2) of indoor living space, and a 70 sq. ft. (6.5 m2) balcony. This suite is perfect for guests wanting a larger living space, full bathroom, and a substantial balcony. Deluxe Balcony Suites are the first suite type to offer additional privacy in the bathroom with an enclosed toilet, a full bath and shower to make it easier for guests to get ready together in the morning.
Features: one double or two single beds, sitting area with sofa bed, private balcony, desk, refrigerator, TV, private bathroom with shower, bathtub and heated floors.
TERRACE SUITE: Located on Deck 6, with approximately 350 sq. ft. (32.5 m2) of indoor living space, and a 100 sq. ft. (9.3 m2) balcony. This suite is perfect for guests wanting generous interiors with a wide layout and the largest balconies on the ship. Centrally located on Deck 6, guests will enjoy minimal movement and motion from the comfort of these suites.
Features: one double or two single beds, sitting area with sofa bed, private extra-wide balcony, desk, refrigerator, TV, private bathroom with shower, bathtub and heated floors.
PENTHOUSE SUITE:The only suite category to be located on Deck 7, with approximately 369 sq. ft. (34.3 m2) of indoor living space, and a 67 sq. ft. (6.2 m2) balcony. This suite is perfect for guests wanting to wake up to unobstructed polar views from the warmth and comfort of their bed onboard the ship. These suites offer the best of everything—views, spacious interiors, full bathrooms and generous balcony sizes—as well as easy access to the wellness centre.
Features: one double or two single beds, sitting area with sofa bed, private balcony, desk, refrigerator, TV, private bathroom with shower, bathtub and heated floors.
OWNER’S SUITE: Located on Deck 6, with approximately 446 sq. ft. (41.4 m2) of indoor living space and a 46.3 sq. ft. (4.3 m2) balcony. This suite is perfect for guests who want it all. A large, luxurious suite featuring a private bedroom, full bathroom, powder room, and two separate living spaces. This suite is perfect for families or couples who want all the comforts of home onboard the ship.
Features: one double or two single beds in a private bedroom with walk-in closet, sitting area with sofa bed and additional closet, private balcony, desk, refrigerator, TV, private bathroom with shower, bathtub and heated floors and separate powder room.
ULTRA SUITE: Located on Deck 6, with approximately 563 sq. ft. (52.3m2) of interior living space, and a 46 sq. ft. (4.3 m2) balcony. This suite is perfect for guests who want to travel without compromise. Our largest and most luxurious suite features the most sleeping, entertainment and storage space onboard the ship. It is perfect for families or travellers who want all the comforts of home onboard the ship.
Features: one double or two single beds in a private bedroom with walk-in closet, sitting area with sofa bed and additional walk-in hallway closet, private balcony, desk, refrigerator, TV, private bathroom with shower, bathtub and heated floors and separate powder room.
An outstanding adventure with so many ups and downs and only made possible by the "can do" attitude of Paul Goldstein, the Polar Team at Exodus and the crew of the Polar Pioneer. This is what all holidays should be like! My daughter and I would happily do it all again in an instant.