Highlights and circumnavigation depending on the circumstances (including Ny-Alesund, Moellerhafen, Magdalenefjord, Raudfjord, Liefdefjord, Mushamna, Moffen, cruising through the Hinlopen Strait, Alkefjellet, Palanderbukta, cruising through Freeman Sound, Cape Lee, Hornsund)
Legendary, ice-covered discoveries
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 HANSEATIC is setting aside lots of time on four expeditions to explore Spitsbergen with one clear objective: circumnavigation! On board is a small group of explorers wanting to fulfil this lifelong dream. Every route is determined by nature, weather and ice. 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 study 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 former 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.
Front-row seats for monumental natural spectacles
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. It is an unforgettable experience to travel past drifting ice floes close to the cliff, up to 40 m in height, with the sound of tumbling ice crashing in your ears. The colour play of Raudfjord will also trigger a wave of enthusiasm with its red-tinged mountain slopes. In this overwhelming panorama, you will feel the power and sensitivity of a raw natural beauty that also shapes the Magdalenefjord. Its glacier backdrop invites you to explore the historic graves of whalers. Cruising here, the HANSEATIC 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.
A truly special, thrilling habitat
There is a good chance of spotting polar bears throughout your Spitsbergen expedition. Ursus maritimus prefers to hunt in protected fjords and ice floes. 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 sightings. 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, for example, is known for impressive walruses which gather on the even coasts in great herds. The HANSEATIC 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 Cape Lee, the original territory of the walrus. Male walruses can weigh over 1,000 kg and grow to 3.5 m in length. These impressions can only be outdone by the whales which happily follow ships in the waters of protected biotopes from time to time.
In their element in the ice: ship and crew
Small, flexible and with the highest ice class for passenger ships: this is the only way the HANSEATIC can circumnavigate Spitsbergen. Every day is an adventure in these nautically demanding waters. Between drifting ice floes, the crew members can bring their years of polar experience to bear 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, ice caps and vast expanses of flatness. Depending on the ice conditions, 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 HANSEATIC will come into its own as the ship forges its path through the pack ice with certainty. Your reward: spectacular views of the Hinlopenbreen, the largest outlet glacier in Spitsbergen. Weather and ice 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 HANSEATIC brings together the wonders of Spitsbergen in its own fascinating way. Spectacular all round!