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Home » Destinations » Arctic & Antarctica » Arctic Circle » Ponant The Best of Spitsbergen
Discover The Arctic on this 8-day expedition cruise on board the Le Boreal. You will board the ship at Longyearbyen in Norway and make your way round the heart of Spitsbergen, the largest island in the Svalbard archipelago. On this once-in-a-lifetime journey you will uncover incredible glaciers, exceptional flora and fauna, icebergs, jagged mountains, and beautiful wildlife such as polar bears, Arctic foxes, and reindeer. You will sail to the Svalbard archipelago, and the last islands before the North Pole, where you will discover that unique feeling of having reached the top of the world!
Day 1 – LONGYEARBYEN, SPITSBERGEN
Longyearbyen is the capital of the Norwegian Svalbard archipelago, located on Svalbard’s main island, and is the northernmost territorial capital on the planet. With winter temperatures dropping to below 40°C, the landscapes of this mining town are simply breathtaking. The glaciers, the mountains stretching as far as the eye can see and the untouched nature, make you feel like you’re in completely unexplored territory.
Day 2 – LILLIEHÖÖK GLACIER
Welcome to Cross Bay’s décor of plutonic rocks and tundra. Admire the immense expanses of flowers that cover the mountain slopes, amidst 14 alpine glaciers plunging majestically into the sea. In this setting of wild beauty, which endemic wildlife has chosen to call home, set off to discover the sublime Lilliehöök Glacier. Located in the fjord of the same name, it forms a kind of circle and its front is 7 km wide. As you approach it, you will fall under the spell of the icebergs floating around it, like jewels bedecking the magical waters of the Arctic. Walruses, sea birds, seals and Svalbard reindeer will perhaps accompany as you explore these unique places.
Day 2 – 14th JULY GLACIER, SPITSBERGEN
At the entrance to Cross Bay, between tundra, plutonic rocks and mountains covered with a surprising endemic flora, set off to discover the 14th July Glacier. It was thus named by Prince Albert I of Monaco, following an expedition that he led there at the beginning of the 20th century. The glacier’s surroundings are frequented by numerous birds (Tridactyl gulls, thick-billed murres, barnacle geese, common eiders, Atlantic puffins…), as well as Arctic foxes and reindeer. As you arrive in front of the glacier, admire the impressive wall of ice and the reflection of the cliffs in the water. It is quite common to see a section of ice come loose, or a bearded seal lounging on an iceberg.
Day 3 – MAGDALENEFJORDEN (MAGDALENA BAY), SPITSBERGEN
Nestling in north western Spitsbergen, Magdalena Bay is one of Svalbard’s unmissable sites. In a spectacular landscape of snow-topped Alpine mountains, deep fjords, beaches and majestic glaciers, it offers multiple opportunities for wonderment. We will not be surprised to observe whales, walruses, seals, common eiders, terns, polar bears and Arctic foxes there. The site of Gravneset, located in Magdalenafjorden, is home to the remnants of a former whaling station used during the 17th century, as well as the graves of many sailors buried here up until the end of the 18th century. Not far from here, the Gully Glacier offers a magnificent view, a delight for photographers.
Day 3 – VIRGOHAMNA, SPITSBERGEN
Welcome to a land of rich history! Virgohamna, or Virgo Bay, to the north west of Spitsbergen, was home to a whaling station in the 17th century. Above all, though, it is known as the staging area for many attempts to reach the North Pole by balloon. In 1896, Swedish balloonist Andrée set up camp here and lifted off a year later with two team members on a trip that would cost them their lives. A few years later, the American explorer Wellmann also attempted this crazy adventure, without success. During your visit, you will be able to see a pile of planks, rusty cans, pipes, debris from earthenware and all kinds of waste on the ground. Visitors are asked to respect these historic remnants, in homage to the conquerors of the poles.
Day 4 – SAILING AMONG ICEBERGS
Your ship carefully weaves in and out of the icebergs. These ice giants, which at times are more than 60 metres high, come from the glaciers and the ice cap. Whether grounded or floating, pure white blocks or in eroded form, sparkling or blue-tinged, this is always a magical moment to experience on board the ship or on a Zodiac® dinghy. Each iceberg, sculpted by the waves, takes on diverse colours and shapes that have fuelled the imagination of the peoples of the Arctic.
Day 5 – TEXAS BAR, LIEFDEFJORDEN
Despite the name given to the place, we are neither in Texas nor in a bar; it is actually an unusual place in the High Arctic. Texas Bar is a former trapper’s hut that was used by Arctic fox and polar bear hunters in the past. The hut, still in place, has a rudimentary interior with bunkbeds and kitchen utensils. Located at the entrance to Liefdefjorden (the “fjord of love”), it stands peacefully in a landscape of hills covered with moss, lichen and flowers. The cliffs with their changing colours, very frequented by birds, complete the beauty of the panorama. Take a little hike up the slopes and admire the superb view over the Monaco Glacier, which is further south.
Day 5 – MONACO GLACIER, SPITSBERGEN
Located to the North-West of the Svalbard archipelago, the Monaco Glacier is probably one of Spitsbergen’s most beautiful and majestic. Named in honour of Prince Albert I of Monaco, a sailor, it stands as an impenetrable, blue-tinged jagged wall, the last glacier before reaching a latitude of 80° North. Imagine the sound of the ice cracking as it breaks free and crashes into the transparent water. And to make the magical landscape even more perfect, you might be lucky enough to spot bears and whales, as these two animals have a special fondness for this area.
Day 6 – NY-ALESUND, SPITSBERGEN
During your cruise, discover Ny-Ålesund, a former mining town that has been transformed into a scientific base. Founded in 1916, this small town was the departure point for many Arctic expeditions, including those of the famous explorer Roald Amundsen. Don’t miss a visit to the museum and its famous post office, considered to be the most northerly in the world!
Day 6 – KONGSFJORDEN (KING BAY), SPITSBERGEN
Very close to the former mining town of Ny-Ålesund, set off to discover Kings Bay. Your ship will sail in one of the most beautiful fjords in Svalbard: Kongsfjorden (the fjord of the King), a gateway to grandiose landscapes. Here, the snow-capped mountains are reflected in the water where superb icebergs try to outdo each other in their beauty, a delight for photographers. Bearded seals, reindeer, barnacle geese and black guillemots frequent these places that have a unique atmosphere. Once you arrive at the end of the fjord, admire the Kongsbreen (glacier of the King) and its three characteristic rocky points, which take their names from three Scandinavian countries: Svea (Sweden), Dana (Denmark) and Nora (Norway).
Day 7 – ALKHORNET, SPITSBERGEN
At the northern entrance of Isfjorden, there is a small paradise for bird lovers: the Alkhornet Cliff. It is home to a very rich avifauna, made up of thousands of birds frolicking in a joyous tumult: gulls, guillemots, pink-footed geese, terns, seagulls, puffins, Arctic skuas… The Alkhornet Cliff, easily recognisable by its rhinoceros-horn shape, is also frequented by reindeer, which are not overly timid. Attracted by the tundra that covers the foot of the mountain, they come to graze in peace in a verdant setting covered with grass and moss. With a little luck, you will perhaps have the opportunity to see some seals and Arctic foxes, who are also regular visitors.
Day 7 – PYRAMIDEN, SPITSBERGEN
This port of call will definitely make an impression on history enthusiasts. A real ghost town, Pyramiden was founded by Sweden at the beginning of the 20th century before being sold a few years later to the Soviet Union. Constructed at the foot of a mountain in the form of a pyramid, this former mining town, abandoned in 1998, has conserved all the buildings from its glory days, when it lived off coal mining. During your visit, you will be able to walk past a swimming pool, swings, a football pitch and a cinema. Even more unusual: reindeer like to wander the deserted streets of this dead town, the only companions for the handful of men who still live there in summer.
Day 7 – NORDENSKIÖLD FJORD, SPITSBERGEN
In the Billefjorden, one of the three branches of the Isfjorden, you will approach the majestic Nordenskiöld Glacier, right opposite Pyramiden, a former Russian mining settlement. This wall of ice with turquoise blue reflections, whose name is a tribute to the Finnish geologist Adolf Erik Nordenskiöld (1832-1901), is 25 km long and 11 km wide. You could be lucky enough to see a polar bear walking along the coastal ice or the surrounding rocks.
Day 8 – LONGYEARBYEN, SPITSBERGEN
Like her sisterships, Le Boréal embodies the subtle alliance between luxury, intimacy and wellbeing which is PONANT’s signature. The elegance of her exterior and interior lines and her intimate size (only 132 staterooms and suites) make this a rare and innovative yacht on the cruise market.
Superior materials, discreet elegance and a tasteful décor reflect a nautical mood subtly revisited. Aboard, soothing neutral grey tones are enlivened by splashes of red, our signature theme linking tradition and innovation to create personal touches in the spirit of a “private yacht”.
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