Top reasons to go on a Svalbard expedition cruise

  • Venture into the lair of the polar bear – they outnumber humans up here
  • Hold your breath as you get thrillingly close to walrus, reindeer, arctic fox, seals and whales
  • Gaze up at soaring cliffs teeming with millions of nesting birds 
  • Sail among the sea ice through magnificent fjords and past creaking glaciers
  • Experience the wonders of the midnight sun as day blends into night
  • Daily scheduled flights via Oslo make Svalbard easier and cheaper to reach than almost any other Arctic region.

Choosing your expedition cruise to Svalbard

Vessels

Few places in the Arctic offer such a wide range of ships to choose from: tiny yachts, small ships with between twelve and sixty passengers, Russian vessels and some of the most luxurious expedition ships in the world. 

Choosing a vessel with large amounts of deck space, or even your own balcony makes a huge difference to your experience. The most popular cabins are in high demand and so booking 12 to 18 months in advance is recommended. Ships with the highest ice-class ratings are most able to navigate through the channels, so favour these in your selection. Some trips will visit Svalbard as well as other regions, giving you an even richer view of the region.

Svalbard Cruises

Svalbard coastline in July

Landing sites on Svalbard

You can typically expect two landings per day, always accompanied by your onboard expedition team whose first job it will be to sweep every site for polar bears. 

Traveling by zodiac you might cruise across the snout of the 14th July glacier in Krossfjorden, explore the bird cliffs off Fugelsongen, or delve into hidden coves. Some of the best wildlife experiences occur whilst on these versatile little boats. For the even more adventurous, at many of these sites it is also possible to paddle in kayaks, snorkel, and dive.

Svalbard Cruises

Alkefjellet bird cliffs, home to tens of thousands of guillemots

On shore you will be able to explore the Arctic tundra; keeping watch for arctic fox, hare and reindeer. Selected voyages may also allow you to don snowshoes or skis to travel across the snow.

The scenery of Svalbard is spectacular and dotted around the archipelago there are Russian mining towns, abandoned whaling stations and trappers huts dating back over the centuries. All of these make for fascinating landings when explored with expert guides.

Svalbard Cruises

Zodiac cruising in Svalbard

Introductory Svalbard cruises

As the name suggests these shorter trips (7-10 days) offer an excellent introduction to Svalbard, with daily off-ship excursions and good opportunities for wildlife sightings.

Into the Polar Bear’s Realm

This popular introduction to Svalbard is keenly priced and with early season departures guarantees plenty of ice. Sail onboard one of the newest ships in polar waters and spot bears from the plentiful deck space. Optional kayaking and hiking come…

  • 10 Days
  • $6,495
Svalbard In-Depth

Scouting Svalbard’s ice floes for wildlife by zodiac and on foot, cruising the magnificent 14th of July glacier and reaching the world’s most northerly settlement at Ny Ålesund are just some of this 10-day voyage’s many highlights. There's also the…

  • 10 Days
  • $5,057
Kingdom of the Ice Bear

Let the midnight sun guide the way as you sail north to Phippsoya, just 540 miles from the geographical North Pole. En route you'll experience calving glaciers, teeming colonies of seabirds, walrus and whales, while keeping a sharp eye out…

  • 8 or 9 Days
  • $3,752
Svalbard in Luxury

Sail to Svalbard aboard a sleek, elegant and all-inclusive expedition vessel in serious comfort. Not to be confused with a cruise, this is definitely an expedition with daily landings and a serious emphasis on wildlife sightings and experiencing the real…

  • 10 Days
  • $10,433
Luxury Spitsbergen

For anyone keen to experience Svalbard’s rich Arctic wildlife and spectacular scenery while travelling comfortably, this is a good option. Travelling in the company of naturalists on board a modern state-of-the-art ship, equal attention is given to your experience both…

  • 8 Days
  • $10,071
Express Svalbard Cruise

In search of a whistle stop arctic experience? This is the shortest Svalbard voyage available. Walk the tundra, experience calving glaciers and reach 80 degrees north, while keeping a close eye out for Svalbard’s mega fauna - polar bears, walrus…

  • 7 Days
  • $4,995
North Svalbard Sailing Expedition

Truly escape the modern world and explore Svalbard onboard a schooner. Sail north through the melting spring ice, spot wildlife and learn about the archipelago’s rich history. Highlights include the Monaco Glacier, 17th century whaling settlements, close encounters with megafauna…

  • 8 or 11 Days
  • $3,099
Quest for the Ice Bear

Explore the fjords and ice of Svalbard keeping a close watch for polar bears onboard a choice of three truly exceptional small expedition ships. Spend time on deck, on land and in zodiacs with the hugely experienced guides learning about…

  • 9 Days
  • $6,090

Svalbard in depth

These longer trips (11-14 days) not only improve your chances of wildlife sightings, but the later departures also offer the opportunity to do a full circumnavigation of Spitsbergen.

Svalbard Wildlife In-Depth

Travelling at the height of summer this 14-day trip is the longest of any Svalbard cruise - providing the best possible conditions for wildlife encounters. This circumnavigation of Spitsbergen includes huge glaciers, bird cliffs and ice choked channels. There's even…

  • 14 Days
  • $10,995
Svalbard Explorer

Circumnavigate Spitsbergen onboard a choice of three small ships and in the company of specialist guides. Travelling in such small groups allows you more time to explore and some late season departures benefit from stunning autumn light. Ask about special…

  • 11 Days
  • $8,090
Spitsbergen Circumnavigation

Maximise wildlife sightings with the chance to circumnavigate Spitsbergen island. Search for walrus, arctic fox, whales and of course the ‘King of The Arctic'. Sail through the Hinlopen Strait and visit abandoned trapping stations and experience glaciers up close all…

  • 11 or 13 Days
  • $10,317
Svalbard Wildlife Safari

Set sail under the midnight sun and search for bears, seals, walrus and whales amongst the ice. Spot reindeer and Arctic fox on the tundra and don't forget to look up for guillemots and king eiders. All the while you…

  • 11 Days
  • $5,022
Svalbard Polar Bear Safari

This early season Svalbard voyage is a ‘classic’ providing ample time for near guaranteed polar bear sightings, alongside encounters with the region’s other plentiful wildlife and exploring its dramatic scenery. Phippsoya, 14th of July glacier and Hinlopen Strait are all…

  • 11 Days
  • $9,495

Trips to Svalbard & other regions

While Svalbard has more than enough appeal to keep you captivated, there are also some spectacular longer trips (14-24 days) which combine Svalbard with its near neighbours.

Svalbard, Greenland & Iceland Polar Quest

Introductions to the High Arctic don’t come much better. Traverse the High Arctic between wildlife-rich Svalbard, via East Greenland’s towering icebergs and autumnal tundra then onto Iceland. Aurora sightings are possible at any point. The longer trip also includes Jan…

  • 15 - 18 Days
  • $10,495
High Arctic Explorer: Svalbard, Greenland & Iceland

Beginning in Svalbard before sailing west across the Greenland Sea and exploring Greenland’s long eastern coastline to finish in Iceland, this is an audacious Arctic journey of startling diversity and contrast. Spectacular landscapes, towering glaciers and once-in-a-lifetime wildlife encounters will…

  • 13 or 15 Days
  • $6,071
Arctic Journey: Svalbard, Greenland & Iceland

This comprehensive Arctic triumvirate encompassing Svalbard, East Greenland and Iceland offers the best of the Arctic: some of the best wildlife viewing with spectacular scenery, unspoiled fjords, gigantic icebergs and Inuit communities. You may also be lucky enough to see…

  • 14 Days
  • $9,010
Arctic Odyssey: Svalbard & Greenland In-Depth

For the ultimate Arctic experience this unparalleled 24 day voyage is hard to beat. Created by splicing together two popular voyages, it maximises on wildlife sightings, with exploration of East Greenland’s deep fjords and towering icebergs and delivers extended time…

  • 24 Days
  • $22,998
Icebergs & Auroras: East Greenland & Svalbard

Beginning deep inside the High Arctic and finishing in subarctic Iceland, we like this voyage for its diversity, sense of journey and extended time exploring East Greenland. Zodiac cruising amongst towering icebergs, glimpsing the Northern Light and tracking musk oxen…

  • 14 Days
  • $6,580
Quest to Svalbard, Greenland & Iceland

From wildlife-rich Svalbard, with its large polar bear population and diverse scenery, to East Greenland’s vast icebergs and ice choked fjords, this well balanced voyage offers great contrast and a strong sense of journey. Plus, good chances of seeing the…

  • 15 Days
  • $5,602
North Pole in Luxury

Reach the top of the world in serious comfort onboard a state-of-the-art luxury, hybrid-powered icebreaker. Travel north through icebound waters and join the exclusive list of intrepid explorers who have visited the geographical North…

  • 16 Days
  • $37,160
Across the Arctic Circle: Scotland to Svalbard

Join this spring journey from historic Edinburgh in Scotland all the way north to finish in Svalbard, deep inside the Arctic Circle. En route explore in depth Norway’s dramatic glacially sculpted coastline, UNESCO sites and the charming villages of the…

  • 15 Days
  • $5,151
Arctic Archipelagos: Franz Josef Land & Svalbard

At 81 degrees north Franz Joseph Land’s 191 glaciated islands are as far from the tourist track as it gets, as such visitors are very few. Expect challenging ice, a flexible itinerary and wildlife sightings. This is expedition cruising at…

  • 14 - 15 Days
  • $10,555
Svalbard & Greenland Ice Adventure

Explore Svalbard and sail north to find the pack ice where bears spend the summer months hunting. Cruise the ice edge before heading south along the east coast of Greenland where Scoresbysund awaits, whales swim among the ice and small…

  • 11 Days
  • $4,990
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Swoop says

Svalbard is the perfect introduction to the High Arctic, with its dramatic scenery, calving glaciers and wildlife-rich tundra. 

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What our customers think of Svalbard Cruises

All kinds of opportunities to see so much wildlife and to understand how diligently Svalbard works to protect their own world. Read the full review

Travelled: June 2022

Carol Copeland - USA

Go sooner rather than later, keep an open mind, be flexible, and take the longest telephoto lens you can. Read the full review

Travelled: June 2019

Ted Schipper - Canada

If this is your first voyage to the Arctic, definitely use a specialist like Swoop. There are lots of details. Read the full review

Travelled: June 2019

Steve Liu - United States of America

Other-worldly beauty that is difficult to take in and certainly not the type where pictures would suffice. Read the full review

Travelled: June 2019

Jaime Wells - United States of America

Just go! Read the full review

Travelled: June 2018

Elizabeth & Monique Mawhood - The Netherlands

Review:

About Svalbard

Wildlife on Svalbard

From the ship you are likely to spot king eider, fulmars and puffin. Under the waves there is an ever present chance of beluga, humpback, minke and blue whales, while orca are also regular visitors. There are more polar bears here than there are people, and while we can’t guarantee sightings you would be unlucky to not see a bear, especially on the longer trips.

Walrus regularly haul out at sites such as Poolepynten, and Brunnich's guillemots nest in their thousands on the vertiginous cliffs at Akerfeldt. Nesting sites attract arctic foxes and the open tundra, despite being in permafrost, is perfect for reindeer.

Svalbard Cruises

Bear sightings can happen anywhere in Svalbard

Svalbard ships

Svalbard is unrivalled of the polar regions in the spectrum of expedition ships offered. While small yachts can be chartered, there are expeditions on small ships with cabins for just 12 passengers, as well as twin-mast schooners for between 16 and 32 passengers. Larger, ice-strengthened ships fall roughly into three size categories: small (up to 70 passengers), medium (90 to 150 passengers) and large (200+ passengers).

It is important to consider the style of expedition too. Expedition teams operate in different ways on each ship, with adventures like kayaking or snowshoeing only available on specific journeys. Getting the right balance of all this is the key to getting the best out of your time in the archipelago.

Svalbard Cruises

Month-by-Month Guide to Svalbard Wildlife

Plan your trip to Svalbard

Getting to Svalbard

Getting to Svalbard

Svalbard is geographically closer to the North Pole than to Norway. Surprising then, that getting there is quite so straightforward, with regular flights from Norway to …

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Svalbard Ships

Svalbard Ships

In the absence of hotels and infrastructure once you depart Longyearbyen, an expedition ship offers the best means to explore Svalbard's ragged coastline, while acting as both your…

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Svalbard Landing Sites

Svalbard Landing Sites

Expedition cruising is all about active exploration - trekking the arctic tundra, watching for wildlife, studying Svalbard’s history or sailing through sea ice, and accompanied …

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When to visit Svalbard

When to visit Svalbard

While Svalbard may be an almost year round destination, the changing weather, number of daylight hours, amount of ice and snow conditions through the year all have a marked effect …

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