Arctic beauty coveted by pioneers
The compass needle is pointing towards adventure. Creaking, the ice tells of great pioneering acts. An audience with the kings of the Arctic, the polar bears, awaits you. Welcome to Spitsbergen – wild, raw island beauty and home to a fascinating animal world. The archipelago was discovered by Willem Barents in 1596 as he was searching for a north-east passage to Asia. He was so impressed by the peaked mountains, climbing up to 1,700 m from the waters of the North Atlantic, that he named the archipelago after them.
Over 400 years later, the BREMEN is setting aside lots of time on four expeditions to explore Spitsbergen with one clear objective: circumnavigation! In 1996, it became the first passenger ship to do so. In 2015, you can join the small group of people who have experienced this first hand. Every route is determined by nature: The weather and ice determine the flexible itinerary. And every day is packed with experiences which bring together the pioneering spirit of the past and present. For example, when you set foot on historic soil and the present territory of researchers in Ny-Alesund, one of the northernmost settlements in the world. In 1926, it was the starting point for the airship Norge, in which the polar researcher Roald Amundsen and airship pioneer Umberto Nobile became the first people to reach the North Pole. Today, researchers live in this small “academic settlement” and work on climate change and its effects on the flora and fauna. Likewise, the town of Longyearbyen is of significance to the future of our planet. Here, scientists from around the world do research in the “laboratory of the Arctic”. In Moellerhafen you can visit the small “Lloyd’s Hotel”, a small refuge for explorers surrounded by a grand landscape, with an experienced polar bear lookout. These are just some of the many historical aspects and island perspectives waiting to be discovered.
Enthralling moments guaranteed
It is no wonder that glaciologists are drawn to Spitsbergen. The glacial masses in the Svalbard archipelago actively freeze and melt, with cycles often taking just a few years. The same happens in Hornsund, where powerful glaciers shape the panorama. Samarinbreen will forge lasting memories framed by imposing mountains on an impressive Zodiac ride with a view of the glacial cliff. In Liefdefjord, the calving of the majestic blue Monaco Glacier might ring in your ears. An unforgettable experience when you travel along the cliff, up to 40 m in height, past drifting ice floes. The colourful effects of Raudfjord and the view of the mountainous panorama of Magdalenefjord will trigger a wave of enthusiasm within you. The majestic silence is only broken by the cracks of the drifting ice floes and the calls of little auks. Cruising here, the BREMEN will open up fantastic perspectives. Too beautiful to be true? Far from it: every day you can seize the fascination of nature around the archipelago on many Zodiac rides and landings.
The Arctic is alive!
You have a good chance of spotting polar bears in Spitsbergen as protected fjords and ice floes are the preferred hunting grounds of the Ursus maritimus. The sudden call of “Polar bear spotted!” will fill the deck or Zodiac with whispers. The experienced crew is able to react spontaneously and bring the ship about to ensure some unforgettable animal observations. Spitsbergen provides food and protection to a variety of colourful species. This is underlined in an impressive way in Mushamna, where Arctic terns and eider ducks breed and where Arctic foxes can be seen. The highly protected island of Moffen is known for impressive walruses which gather on the even coasts in great herds. The BREMEN is always on the lookout for impressive settings. Thick-billed murres, kittiwakes and glaucous gulls inhabit the cliffs of Alkefjellet, the “bird mountain”, in their thousands. With a little luck, you can enjoy particularly weighty observations from the Zodiac off Kapp Lee, the original territory of the walruses. Male walruses can weigh over 1,000 kg and grow to 3.5 metres in length. These impressions can only be outdone by the whales which happily follow ships in these waters from time to time.
Ship and crew – experienced in ice
Small, flexible and with the highest ice class for passenger ships: This is the only way can the BREMEN circumnavigate Spitsbergen. Every day is an adventure in these nautically demanding waters. Here, the crew members can bring their years of polar experience to bear in order to give you the best possible experience. Such as when you join the small group of explorers who have pressed on to Nordaustlandet. This uninhabited island, the second largest in the Spitsbergen archipelago, boasts an atmospheric landscape featuring glaciers and vast expanses of flatness. You can land in Palanderbukta with the Zodiacs and, with a little luck, spot reindeer and Arctic foxes on a walk through the sparse tundra. In the Hinlopen Strait, the steel-reinforced hull of the BREMEN will come into its own as the ship forges its path with certainty. Your reward: spectacular views of Hinlopenbreen, the largest outlet glacier in Spitsbergen. Weather permitting, cruise through the narrow Freeman Sound – accompanied by the fascinating play of colour and light on the landscape, it makes for a crowning conclusion to your expedition. Here you can reflect on an experience granted to but a few people: the circumnavigation of Spitsbergen.
No matter when you experience this great adventure – each of the four expeditions on the BREMEN brings together the wonders of Spitsbergen in its own fascinating way. Spectacular all round!