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Land of the Ice Bears: An In-Depth Exploration of Arctic Svalbard

Program Number: 19044RJ
Start and End Dates:
6/10/2014 - 6/20/2014;
Duration: 10 nights
Location: Norway
Price starting at: $4,499.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Adventure Afloat Study Cruise; Small Ship Cruising Activity Level: t (see description)
Meals: 23; 9 Breakfasts, 6 Lunches, 8 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian    

Under the midnight sun, only 600 miles from the North Pole, lies the Svalbard archipelago, a hauntingly beautiful wilderness known only to the adventurous few. This is the home of the ice bear, king of the Arctic, where you’ll search for these magnificent creatures amid the pack ice, their natural habitat. Board the MS Expedition on a voyage to this isolated, ethereal northern world and experience nature in its purest form.




Activity Particulars

Walking up to two miles at a time over unmarked, rocky terrain. Embarking and disembarking Zodiacs is required for all shore activities. Program cost excludes one lunch and two dinners to enjoy on your own.



Itinerary At-a-Glance

Longyearbyen, Svalbard (Norway), 1 night; aboard MS Expedition, 7 nights; Oslo, 1 night.



Day 1:
Overnight flight from the U.S.A.




Days 2-3:
Arrival Longyearbyen (Norway) / Embark MS Expedition:

Arrive in Longyearbyen on the island of Spitsbergen, the northernmost town in the world. Visit the Svalbard museum to learn about the culture and history of the Arctic. Embark the MS Expedition. Lodging: Comfortable hotel



Days 4-9:
At Sea / Svalbard:

Aboard an expedition ship, probe the waters and shoreline of the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard, searching for seals, arctic foxes and the very symbol of the Arctic — polar bears. In true expedition style, the exact route of the voyage will be dictated by nature, maximizing our opportunities to observe wildlife. Spot polar bears on the pack ice searching for a meal or even pursuing a seal. Sail among Svalbard’s fjords in the legendary land of the midnight sun, venture to the foot of stunning tidewater glaciers, Zodiac among beautiful icebergs, and experience the wildflowers that give color to the High Arctic.



Days 10-11:
Longyearbyen / disembark / flight to Oslo / departure

Lodging: Full-service hotel at Oslo Airport, Gardermoen.



M/S Expedition

Refurbished in 2009, this 345-foot, Finnish-Swedish Ice Class-rated expedition ship has lots of space for 132 passengers. A 360° Observation Deck and large common areas provide panoramic views of the sea and land around you. The ship boasts a fleet of 14 Zodiac boats. Complimentary Wellington boots provided for shore excursions.


Norway

The end of the ice-age attracted settlers to this once uninhabitable land after 7,000 BC. Vikings hold a special and prominent place in Norway’s history and were infamous in the Middle Ages for their fearless warriors, explorers and traders. The long narrow estuaries, known as fjords, and mountainous landscapes are signature attributes. Ancient property laws, Åsetesrett and the Odelsrett, helped sustain a unique character still visible in Norway today.



Meals and Lodgings
   Rica Spitsbergen Hotel
  Longyearbyen, Svalbard, Norway 1 night
   M/S Expedition
  Aboard the M/S Expedition, At Sea 7 nights
   Park Inn
  In Flight 1 night
 Rica Spitsbergen Hotel
Type: Hotel
  Description: Svalbard's historic Spitsbergen Hotel is centrally located in Haugen in Longyeardalen, with superb views across the waters of Adventfjorden and the striking peak of Hiortfjellet. The hotel is within easy reach of the town centre, local attractions and tax-free stores.
  Ship Information: n/a
  Contact info: Longyearbyen
Longyearbyen,  9171 Norway
phone: +47 ) 79 02 62 00
web: www.rica-hotels.com/hotels/svalbardlongyearbyen/spitsbergen-hotel/
  Room amenities: All rooms are equipped with TV, telephone, shower, toilet and wireless internet access
  Facility amenities: Number of rooms: 88 Number of handicap rooms: 1 Non-smoking rooms: 88 Number of restaurants: 1 Number of bars: 1 Number of cafes: 0 Number of nightclubs: 0 Number of meeting rooms: 5 Lobbybar Conference facilities Lift Spa Swimming pool Children's pool Sauna Gym Solarium Free bike rental Wireless Internet Cleaning service Parking All night reception Roomservice Concierge service Wake-up call Safe Ice machine Play area Luggage room Check-in machines Fax and copymachine Guest PC Shoe shine service Currency exchange
  Smoking allowed: Yes
  Elevators available: Yes

 M/S Expedition
Type: Cruise Ship
  Description: The M/S Expedition provides an intimate small-ship cruising experience. Completely refurbished in 2009, she boasts spacious cabins, each featuring ocean-facing windows or portholes and private en-suite facilities. Large common areas and observation decks provide panoramic views of the distinctive landscapes of some of the world's most remote regions.
  Ship Information: Built: Helsingr Skibsvaerft, Denmark, 1972 Ice Class: Swedish/Finnish 1B Length: 105m (345ft) Breadth: 18.6m (61ft) Max Draft: 4.7m (15ft) Gross Tonnage: 6334 GRT Cruising Speed: 14.5 knots Stabilizers: Fins, Type Brown/AEG Max Group Size: 132 (Max Passenger Capacity: 140) Crew: 55
  Contact info: 19 Charlotte Street
Toronto, ON M5V 2H5 Canada
phone: 416-260-0999
  Facility amenities: 360° Observation Deck All cabins with private ensuite and outside views Raised Canada Goose Observation Deck Fleet of 14 zodiacs with four stroke engines Complimentary Wellington Boots for duration of your cruise Complimentary destination guides for every passenger Large headed mud room Lonely Planet Library Discovery Lounge Fine dining- international cuisine in one sitting Large aft-deck with barbeque facilities Polar Bear Club Gift Shop Medical Clinic Sauna Computer room with internet where available Gym Mobile phones for rent
  Smoking allowed: Yes

 Park Inn
Type: Hotel
  Description: The Park Inn by Radisson Oslo Airport, Gardermoen Hotel offers comfortable accommodation just steps away from the airport terminal building. Only 20 minutes from the city centre, the hotel also provides access to top attractions like the National Gallery and the magnificent Akershus Castle. After working or sightseeing, guests can unwind in one of the stylish hotel rooms, which feature vibrant colours and window seats overlooking Gardermoen Airport. The hotel restaurant serves outstanding international cuisine, and visitors can also stop by the bar for a refreshing cocktail.
  Ship Information: n/a
  Contact info: Property Grn 207 - Brn 359
Terminal Building
Oslo,   Norway
phone: +47 67 02 40 00
  Room amenities: The Park Inn hotel boasts 300 spacious guest rooms just steps away from Oslo Airport. All accommodation options feature a sleek, simple design with soothing neutral tones accented by splashes of colour. In addition, each room includes a flat-panel TV, individual climate control and Free Wireless High-speed Internet to help guests stay in touch.
  Facility amenities: - Directly adjacent to Oslo Airport, this hotel is just a 20-minute train ride from the lovely city centre. - All 300 guest rooms feature bright colours, flat-panel TVs and Free Wireless High-speed Internet. - At the on-site RBG Bar & Grill, guests can indulge in gourmet burgers, signature grilled dishes and homemade local specialities. - Sleek and inviting, the hotel bar is the perfect place to unwind with a handcrafted cocktail or a glass of fine wine. - The hotel’s fully equipped fitness room helps guests refresh and rejuvenate after a long flight or a busy day of sightseeing. - Ideal for special events near Gardermoen Airport, the hotel offers 46 modern meeting rooms, an elegant ballroom and a large pre-function space.
  Smoking allowed: Yes
  Elevators available: Yes


Travel Details
  Start of Program:
This program starts upon arrival in Longyearbyen, Svalbard. You will be staying at Rica Spitsbergen Hotel that night.
  End of Program:
This program ends upon disembarking the ship in Longyearbyen, Svalbard. There will be a forced overnight in Oslo on the return home. You will be staying at Park Inn the night before.
  Required documents:
The Road Scholar Health & Safety Form is required.
  Parking availability:
We do not recommend driving to the site.
Transportation (For Independent Travelers)
To Start of Program
  Location:  Longyearbyen, Svalbard
  Transportation to site: All participants who purchase their air travel through Road Scholar Travel Services and are arriving in Longyearbyen on Day 2 will be provided with a transfer from the airport to the Rica Spitsbergen Hotel. The group flight is currently scheduled to arrive in Longyearbyen at 1:05 pm. The transfer will depart the airport at approximately 2:30.
  From End of Program
  Location:  Aboard the M/S Expedition
  Transportation from site: All participants who purchased their air travel through Road Scholar Travel Services, and are departing Longyearbyen on the program end date, will be provided with a transfer from the ship to the airport. There will be an early morning disembarkation fro those passengers with flights departing Longyearbyen on early morning flights. For those passengers disembarking at the regular time of 8:00am, you will be trasnsferred to either the airport or the Radisson Blu Polar Hotel, depending on the time of your flight. Those transferred to the hotel will have an opportunity to explore the town center on their own, and then be transferred to the airport later in the day as per flight schedules. Transfer times will be confirmed, and communicated onboard prior to departure. Luggage storage at the Radisson Blu Polar Hotel will be available until the time of departure.
Equipment Requirements: Parkas are being provided by G Adventures to all passengers on this program. In order to receive your parka you must notify your program provider of your parka size. You may do so by calling 866-359-5966 or by emailing your size or order form to programinfo@roadscholar.org If Road Scholar does not receive a parka size for you, you will not receive a parka on board the ship. To make sure you receive the perfect sized parka, please refer to the sizing sheet and order form at the back of this packet. The deadline for submitting parka information is May 1, 2014. Parkas will be delivered to your cabin upon your embarkation and are yours to keep after the cruise. Please plan accordingly for your time in Svalbard prior to obtaining your parka onboard. Waterproof boots are provided on board for use: Men's USA size 8-14 Women's USA size 3-9
The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.


Daily Schedule

Day 1: Depart US
(Tuesday, June 10)
   
 In Transit: In Flight

Day 2: Arrive in Longyearbyen
(Wednesday, June 11)
   
 Afternoon: Flights arrive in Longyearbyen, Svalbard. Your afternoon is free to unpack and relax at the hotel. In the late afternoon, meet your group leader and fellow travelers for a program orientation.
 Dinner: Welcome dinner at the hotel.
   
Accommodations: Rica Spitsbergen Hotel
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 3: Longyearbyen / Embark the MS Expedition
(Thursday, June 12)

Note: While it is our intention to adhere to the itinerary described below, there is a certain amount of flexibility built into the itinerary and on occasion it may be necessary, or desirable to make alterations. On the first day on board, the Expedition Leader will give you an expedition overview.



   
 Breakfast: At the hotel.
 Morning: Longyearbyen is the largest settlement on the archipelago of Svalbard with a population of about 2,060 people and about as many snowmobiles. This morning, meet with your group leader at the hotel for a brief presentation on Svalbard, and what you will see and experience during your expedition. Later, walk into town to see the Svalbard Museum (approximately 1 mile). Since opening in 1979, the goal of this unique museum is to help locals and visitors understand the relationship between nature, culture, landscape, human activity, technology and the environment in the Arctic. Following the visit you will have some free time to independently explore Longyearbyen.
 Lunch: Lunch on your own. There are several cafes and restaurants in town where you can sample local specialties, such as reindeer.
 Afternoon: Meet back at the hotel. Transfer to embark the MS Expedition. Embarkation will begin at 4:00 pm. Please note that you will not be able to embark the ship before this time.
 Dinner: On board the ship.
   
Accommodations: M/S Expedition
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 4: Svalbard Archipelago / Spitsbergen
(Friday, June 13)
   
 Breakfast: On board the ship.
 Morning: Each day will be planned to take advantage of local ice and weather conditions. Distances are relatively short in the Archipelago and as there are no ocean crossings, the seas are normally calm.
 Lunch: On board the ship.
 Afternoon: Svalbard is one of the few places on the planet that offers such a wealth of diversity of natural and cultural history sites. During the next nine days you will visit ice covered seas, fjords with breathtaking mountain scenery and glaciers flowing into the sea around you. You will spend time steaming through the ice in search of polar bears hunting seals. Ivory gulls will be a highlight for the birders, while keeping a constant lookout for walrus hauled out on ice floes or on sandy beaches. Visit, ice permitting, spectacular bird cliffs filled with thousands of murres (guillemots) as well as kittiwakes and glaucous gulls. A little auk colony will also be on your agenda. Your shore stops will be highlighted by tundra flowers. You will have the opportunity to observe and discuss some of their adaptations to what is considered a harsh environment. At one or more stops, you may even see Svalbard's unique species of reindeer. They are much smaller than their southern relatives, but still carry impressive antlers. There is also the possibility of seeing arctic foxes. Svalbard is also a land of history; from whaling to reaching for the pole, to trapping, coal mining and war, you will visit some of these historic sites. Cruise in Zodiacs along the ice edge viewing seals or walrus, in fjords with glaciers spilling down to the sea or in front of specatcular seabird cliffs. You will have opportunities to walk on shore, observe and photograph the Arctic flora and fauna. Since you are in the land of the polar bear, your expedition staff will carry rifles and flare guns on shore for your protection.
 Dinner: On board the ship.
   
Accommodations: M/S Expedition
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Svalbard Archipelago / Spitsbergen
(Saturday, June 14)
   
 Breakfast: On board the ship.
 Morning: Each day will be planned to take advantage of local ice and weather conditions. By not having a set itinerary, we take on an expedition spirit and are free to take advantage of the best that Svalbard has to offer. On board the ship, a team of naturalists, historians and other experts will present an in-depth educational program on Svalbard and the Arctic.
 Lunch: On board the ship.
 Afternoon: Krossfjord, Konigsfjord, Monaco Glacier, Hinlopen Strait, Northeast Land, Edgeoya, Hornsund, and Bellsund are just a few of the places we may visit.
 Dinner: On board the ship.
   
Accommodations: M/S Expedition
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Svalbard Archipelago / Spitsbergen
(Sunday, June 15)
   
 Breakfast: On board the ship.
 Morning: Each day will be planned to take advantage of local ice and weather conditions. By not having a set itinerary, we take on an expedition spirit and are free to take advantage of the best that Svalbard has to offer. On board the ship, a team of naturalists, historians and other experts will present an in-depth educational program on Svalbard and the Arctic.
 Lunch: On board the ship.
 Afternoon: Krossfjord, Konigsfjord, Monaco Glacier, Hinlopen Strait, Northeast Land, Edgeoya, Hornsund, and Bellsund are just a few of the places we may visit.
 Dinner: On board the ship.
   
Accommodations: M/S Expedition
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7: Svalbard Archipelago / Spitsbergen
(Monday, June 16)
   
 Breakfast: On board the ship.
 Morning: Each day will be planned to take advantage of local ice and weather conditions. By not having a set itinerary, we take on an expedition spirit and are free to take advantage of the best that Svalbard has to offer.
 Lunch: On board the ship.
 Afternoon: Krossfjord, Konigsfjord, Monaco Glacier, Hinlopen Strait, Northeast Land, Edgeoya, Hornsund, and Bellsund are just a few of the places we may visit.
 Dinner: On board the ship.
   
Accommodations: M/S Expedition
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 8: Svalbard Archipelago / Spitsbergen
(Tuesday, June 17)
   
 Breakfast: On board the ship.
 Morning: Each day will be planned to take advantage of local ice and weather conditions. By not having a set itinerary, we take on an expedition spirit and are free to take advantage of the best that Svalbard has to offer.
 Lunch: On board the ship.
 Afternoon: Krossfjord, Konigsfjord, Monaco Glacier, Hinlopen Strait, Northeast Land, Edgeoya, Hornsund, and Bellsund are just a few of the places we may visit.
 Dinner: On board the ship.
   
Accommodations: M/S Expedition
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 9: Svalbard Archipelago / Spitsbergen
(Wednesday, June 18)
   
 Breakfast: On board the ship.
 Morning: Each day will be planned to take advantage of local ice and weather conditions. By not having a set itinerary, we take on an expedition spirit and are free to take advantage of the best that Svalbard has to offer.
 Lunch: On board the ship.
 Afternoon: Krossfjord, Konigsfjord, Monaco Glacier, Hinlopen Strait, Northeast Land, Edgeoya, Hornsund, and Bellsund are just a few of the places we may visit.
 Dinner: On board the ship.
   
Accommodations: M/S Expedition
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 10: Disembarkation / Depart Longyearbyen / Overnight in Oslo
(Thursday, June 19)
   
 Breakfast: On board the ship.
 Morning: On departure day, the ship will offer transfers to Longyearbyen Airport for all passengers with flights scheduled on that day. We are pleased to offer an early morning disembarkation and transfer to the airport for those passengers with flights departing Longyearbyen at around 4:00-5:00am (depending on airline schedules). All remaining passengers will be required to disembark at the normal disembarkation time of 8:00am. Upon disembarkation, participants will be transferred to the airport or the Radisson Blu Polar Hotel, depending on the time of your flight. Those transferred to the hotel will have an opportunity to explore the town center on your own, and then be transferred to the airport later that day (there are no planned activities other than airport transfers). Transfer times will be confirmed and communicated onboard prior to departure. Luggage storage at the Radisson Blu will be available until the time of departure.
 Lunch: On your own.
 Afternoon: Arrive in Oslo. There is no programming scheduled in Oslo. Tonight is a forced overnight due to flight schedules. The hotel is only a three-minute (100 meter), covered walk from the airport terminal. You will need to be able manage your own luggage (carts are available at the airport).
 Dinner: On your own.
   
Accommodations: Park Inn
Meals Included: Breakfast

Day 11: Depart Oslo / Flights arrive to North America
(Friday, June 20)
   
 Breakfast: At the hotel.
 Morning: Make your own way back to the airport terminal (approximately 100 meters from the hotel) in time for your departure flights. We recommend arriving at the terminal 3 hours prior to your international flight. You will need to be able manage your own luggage (carts are available at the airport).
 Afternoon: Flights arrive in North America.
   
Meals Included: Breakfast
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Suggested Reading List


A Complete Guide to Arctic Wildlife


Author: Richard Sale


Description: This stunning primer features hundreds of spectacular color photographs, range maps and descriptions of 200 birds and 77 mammals.



A Naturalist's Guide to the Arctic


Author: E.C. Pielou


Description: Our bestselling book on the Arctic, this guide covers the geography and climate, plants, birds and wildlife of the Circumpolar North.



A Woman in the Polar Night


Author: Christiane Ritter


Description: Ritter's classic account of living in a hut with her husband on the north coast of Spitsbergen in the 1930s "to read thick books in the remote quiet and, not least, to sleep to my heart's content" conveys the radiant beauty and magic of the Arctic.



Arctic Dreams


Author: Barry Lopez


Description: A dazzling meditation on the Arctic, breathtaking in scope. Lopez draws on his travels throughout the North, including Baffin Island, the Chukchi and Bering seas, Alaska, the Yukon and Greenland, interweaving natural history, accounts of early exploration, anecdote and lore into an indelible portrait of place.



Bradt Guide Svalbard


Author: Andreas Umbreit


Description: This excellent introduction to Spitsbergen, Franz Josef Land and Jan Mayen Island includes an overview of history, wildlife and nature, color photographs and maps.



Ice Bears and Kotick, Rowing on Top of the World


Author: Peter Webb


Description: In Webb's thrilling tale of circumnavigating Spitsbergen in an open rowing boat, he recounts the sheer exhilaration of survival and doing what one loves. This is a story for all those that ever wanted to run away to sea.



Innocents in the Arctic, The 1951 Spitsbergen Expedition


Author: Colin Bull


Description: A marvelous account of adventure and scientific inquiry, glaciologist Colin Bull recounts his role in the 1951 Spitsbergen Expedition with humor and humility. Drawn from Bull's field notes, journals and published reports, this book paints a compelling portrait of what it means to be young and daring.



Polar Bears, A Complete Guide to their Biology and Behavior


Author: Andrew E. Derocher, Wayne Lynch (Photographer)


Description: An illustrated chronicle of the evolution, ecology and conservation of the polar bear, this captivating natural history features color photographs by Lynch and stories from the field by wildlife researcher Derocher.



Spitsbergen Explorer Map


Author: Ocean Explorer Maps


Description: A detailed map of Svalbard for the traveler, at a scale of 1:1,000,000, with illustrated biographies of 27 explorers and a guide to wildlife on the reverse.



The Arctic, A Guide to Coastal Wildlife


Author: Tony Soper


Description: An essential handbook for the ship-based traveler, this compact guide to the plants, marine mammals and birds of the Circumpolar North features handsome watercolor illustrations and lively text. This new edition includes a section on the Bering Sea.



The Great White Bear


Author: Kieran Mulvaney


Description: A journalist with an affinity for the wild (he once lived on the shores of Cook Inlet), Mulvaney combines natural and human history, myth and eyewitness reports from Barrow, Churchill and other locales in this astute chronicle.



The Ice Balloon


Author: Alec Wilkinson


Description: New Yorker writer Wilkinson recounts in thrilling detail the ill-fated attempt by Swedish engineer and aeronaut Salomon August Andree to reach the North Pole from Svalbard by balloon in 1897.



The Magnetic North


Author: Sara Wheeler


Description: Wheeler writes with zest and insight into the people, nature and future of the Circumpolar North in these marvelously recounted adventures, including tales of her time in Spitsbergen.



The Svalbard Passage


Author: Thomas Kirkwood


Description: This Cold War thriller, lush in the details of its Arctic setting, opens with a description and map of the Spitsbergen archipelago.



What We Know About Climate Change


Author: Kerry Emanuel


Description: MIT atmospheric scientist Kerry Emanuel outlines the issues, causes and concerns about the fate of our climate, updated for this second edition to cover the latest from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the lack of will in the United States to tackle this vexing issue.





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