Voyage through the otherworldly Arctic Circle on this unique 11-day itinerary featuring an extraordinary seven-night cruise on the Five-Star, eco-friendly L’AUSTRAL, exclusively chartered for your expedition. Visit during the region’s most enchanting season, when shimmering ice basks in the midnight sun’s ceaseless glow. Sail the shores of secluded Spitsbergen, the jewel of Norway’s rarely visited Svalbard archipelago; see glaciers crease and calve in luminous blues; and look for the enigmatic polar bear, who reigns as king. Survey an ethereal topography of red sandstone mountain ranges, lush green tundra, and awe-inspiring ice formations and enjoy Zodiac excursions led by a team of expert naturalists in diverse, serene terrains, where remarkable wildlife—including whales, walruses, seals, Svalbard reindeer, Arctic foxes, northern fulmars and Arctic terns—roam freely. Complimentary Wi-Fi and alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages are available throughout the cruise. The program’s flight to Longyearbyen originates in Paris; spend one night in a downtown Paris hotel before the flight and one night in the deluxe HILTON PARIS CHARLES DE GAULLE AIRPORT HOTEL upon return from the Arctic. Paris Pre-Program Option also offered.
Day 1 & 2
Depart the U.S. for Paris, France, the “City of Lights.” Stay for one night in centrally located,
Paris/Longyearbyen, Spitsbergen, Norway/Embark L’AUSTRAL
Fly to scenic Longyearbyen and board the exclusively chartered, Five-Star L’AUSTRAL to embark on your seven-night expedition. Cruise through an ethereal gallery of rare wilderness, secluded fjords and glittering ice—an unforgettable landscape enchanted by the midnight sun’s glow. Meet your expert naturalist team, who will be aboard for the duration of the cruise, and enjoy the Captain’s Welcome Reception that evening. (B, R, D)
Hornsund for Burgerbukta and Samarin Glacier
Wind through pristine bays nestled in the Arctic’s recesses as you survey the stunning scenery
for its king—the elusive polar bear. Navigate slow-drifting ice floes and snow-stripped cliffs by
Zodiac in Burgerbukta; here, mountain ranges tower and glaciers crystallize to a bright-blue. A
shore excursion to the remote tidewater Samarin Glacier reveals a dramatic terrain of
otherworldly ice frequented by seabirds such as kittiwakes and Brünnich’s guillemots. (B, L, D)
Bellsund for Calypsobyen and Camp Millar
Anchor off the remote, former coal mining settlement of Calypsobyen—now populated with
Arctic foxes and terns, this cultural heritage site is part of Sør-Spitsbergen, Norway’s largest
National Park. Continue to Camp Millar, once the gold mining base in Vårsolbukta and a favored
grazing spot for endemic Svalbard reindeer. Watch for the deer ambling through the lush green
tundra, where the tawny-green grass, richly fertilized by the large colony of hawks, contrasts
with the frostily serene backdrop. (B, L, D)
Cruise the Arctic Ice Pack/Polar Bear Search
Approach the Arctic Ice Pack at the approximate latitude of 80° north. The sheets of sea ice
spanning the Arctic Ocean and its vicinity are home to the increasingly rare polar bear. Sea ice
wanes in the warmer seasons and forms again as the winds chill, however, the dwindling
midwinter ice causes polar bears to return later each season and travel further to their ice
habitats, crucial zones for hunting, resting and breeding. Take advantage of this unique opportunity to look for these majestic, ivory-furred creatures in their native Arctic dwelling.
Woodfjorden for Makeoyane/Monaco Glacier
Woodfjorden appears as the paragon of winter wonder—glacier-fronted shores lead to alpine
summits and red sandstone mountains, and ice glints in pale, striking blue. Sail through
Woodfjorden to Monaco Glacier, an actively calving ice sheet. Found at the end of the scenic
Liefdefjorden, the tidewater glacier cleaves into a jagged topography of breathtaking snow-white
and deep-sapphire. (B, L, D)
Hike along the shores of awe-inspiring Raudfjorden and admire rust-hued cliffs and unspoiled
waters. Enjoy an excursion to a prized resting shore for walruses, the former Dutch-Danish
whaling station of Smeerenburg, which translates to “blubber town” in Dutch. (B, L, D)
Ny-Alesund/Kongsfjorden for Kings Glacier
On your walking tour of Ny-Alesund, one of the world’s northernmost year-round communities,
learn about this research town’s rich history and scientific importance. Cruise by Zodiac through
the spectacular inlet of Kongsfjorden to the impressive tidewater Kongsbreen (King’s Glacier).
The glacial fjord’s protected islands and islets are a fertile environment for pink-footed and
barnacle geese, common and king elders, long-tailed ducks, purple sandpipers, glaucous gulls,
Atlantic puffins and snow buntings. Look for ringed and bearded seals sunbathing on ice floes.
(B, L, R, D)
Disembark L’AUSTRAL in Longyearbyen and fly to Paris, France. Spend one night in the deluxe, conveniently located HILTON PARIS CHARLES DE GAULLE AIRPORT HOTEL. (B)
Paris/Return to U.S.
Board your return flight home. (B)
Brochure mail date: September 4, 2018.
Meet Your Trip Host
Peggy McCracken is the Mary Fair Croushore Professor of Humanities, Director of the Institute for the Humanities, and Professor of French, Women’s Studies, and Comparative Literature at the University of Michigan. She teaches a broad range of courses on literature and culture, and her research focuses primarily on medieval France.
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