The Best of Arctic Wildlife and Landscapes Aboard Our Private Ship
Svalbard’s location between continental Norway and the North Pole places it squarely in an area with some of the most impressive displays of wildlife in one of the largest undisturbed arctic environments on the planet. Glaciers, snow-covered mountain ranges, and fjords cover much of the archipelago. We hope to see and photograph polar bears, many types of seabirds, reindeer, arctic fox, whales, walruses, and other marine mammals.
Since it is a series of islands, Svalbard is best explored by private expedition ship. We’ve strictly limited this workshop to 12 guests on our own private, ice-strengthened, luxurious ship. With such a high instructor-to-guest ratio, there will be plenty of time for one-on-one instruction and our signature image reviews. We will work with you in the field to capture better wildlife and landscapes images. Back on the ship, we will show you how to process your images so that you’d be proud to hang them on your wall.
The focus of this workshop will be the abundant wildlife—think polar bears on ice, breeding birds, walrus, whales, and seals. Then there is the awe-inspiring scenery that surrounds you. Our schedule has been designed to optimize our time on small-boat excursions. We use two large Zodiacs to get off the ship and get close to the wildlife, and into the frozen landscape. With 24 hours of daylight, the photography never stops!
Don’t wait! This is one of our most popular workshops, and sells out early, year after year.
Varies by cabin choice
June 20–29, 2021
Itinerary and General Information
About the Wildlife: This workshop offers significant opportunities for photographing wildlife, and while we do our best to maximize our wildlife encounters—based on past experiences, local knowledge, and the current conditions—we need to impress upon you that the wildlife really is wild and that we don’t control it.
Polar Bears: Our main focus on this expedition is finding and photographing polar bears. In June we are most likely to find them on the drifting ice. It’s one thing to see a lot of bears—but getting close to them in great light is quite another! Imagine the thrill of spotting one of these magnificent creatures at a distance, and then approaching carefully to get the shot. We may get lucky and find a mom with cubs—or a bear with a kill—or even males sparring. While we can never guarantee any sightings, our guides have years of experience and have perfected their approach, providing unforgettable encounters with the King of the Arctic. But please be aware: this is not a zoo and we do not control the wildlife.
Arctic Mammals and Birds: We’ll be looking to photograph all of the major wildlife that inhabits the region: whales, walrus, seals, arctic fox, reindeer, and birds too numerous to count! Whales—including humpbacks, fin whales, blue whales and belugas—forage in nutrient-rich Arctic waters, and are commonly spotted in the summer. By June we can also spot walruses at sea, and on the beaches and ice floes. If conditions permit, we will go to the north-eastern parts of Svalbard were we may even find walrus pups. June is a great time for bird photography in Svalbard too—most birds stays in the high Arctic until the end of August, before moving out to sea. We will have many opportunities to shoot birds at sea and ashore, with potential opportunities to see high Arctic rarities like the Sabine’s Gull.
Aboard Polarfront: Our home for nine days and eight nights will be the M/V Polarfront. Built in Norway and chartered by the Norwegian state for almost all of her life, Polarfront is a regular in the Great North. A former weather and research ship for the Norwegian Meteorological Institute, she was completely refitted in 2015 as an expedition ship. Although she now flies the French flag, she’s still particularly well suited to the ice covered polar waters of Svalbard. Polarfront is fully stabilized—unparalleled on this kind of ship—making for smooth sailing and a very comfortable experience.
Everything about Polarfront is clean, fresh, new, and luxurious. The cabins are beautifully appointed, and the French cuisine is delicious. There are numerous deck areas from which to photograph, as well as two zodiacs. Accommodations on Polarfront consist of six double cabins ranging in size from 18 to 25 square meters, with en-suite bathrooms.
There are three types of Cabins aboard Polarfront:
$13,500 per person Cabin 9: Owner’s Suite. 25 square meters, Queen bed, additional sofa bed, sitting area, private bathroom.
$13,000 per person Cabins 1, 2, 5: Grand Suites. Can be set up with 2 Twins or 1 Double Bed. Sitting area, private bathroom.
$12,500 per person Cabins 3 and 4: Deluxe Suites. Can be set up with 2 Twins or 1 Double Bed. Sitting area, private bathroom.
June 20, 2021: Fly from your home to Longyearbyen, Norway (LYR airport code), arriving anytime before dinner. Group dinner TBD, then overnight at our hotel in Longyearbyen. You may find that staying overnight in Oslo (OSL) on June 19, 2021 makes your travel schedule easier. We can recommend a hotel for you right at the airport in Oslo.
June 21–29, 2021: Aboard Polarfront, cruising the waterways of the Svalbard archipelago. Our precise itinerary is not yet planned, but here are some of our expedition highlights: The small village of Ittoqqortoormiit, the most northerly settlement on the east coast of Greenland. The 450 inhabitants make their living mostly by subsistence hunting of seals, narwhale, muskoxen, and polar bear. The quaint little houses dot the rocky slopes of south Liverpool Land with magnificent views of Kap Brewster and the Volquart Boons Coast to the south. Our planned itinerary has us sailing through Hekla Havn, Denmark Ø, Føhnfjord, the huge basalt mountains of Gåseland, the hopefully iceberg-filled Rødefjord, Harfjord where we can spend some time ashore looking for wildlife. We continue on through Øfjord, with its majestic mountains, and on to Jyttes Havn where again we can spend some time ashore. Back through Bear Islands and Milne Land, and we return to Constable Point.
June 29, 2021: Workshop concludes after breakfast. Disembark Polarfront. Domestic flight to Oslo, with connections home or elsewhere. Note: there are two flights on SAS, one at 2:30 AM and one at 2:45 PM. Either flight is fine to take on June 29, 2021.
What To Bring
Please see our What to Bring page now for guidelines on packing. Approximately 90 days before your workshop, you will be sent a PDF with more specific instructions.
Lodging during the workshop
All meals during the workshop
Photographic guiding and instruction from two pros
Tips for the ship's crew
Image reviews and post-processing instruction in Lightroom
Fun, inspiration, and a great time!
What’s Not Included?
Travel to Longyearbyen, Norway, and back home. Passport and visa fees, if any. Any meals and accommodations before or after the workshop dates. Medical Evacuation Insurance (required). Travel Medical and Trip Cancellation Insurance (optional, but recommended). Items of a personal nature. Alcoholic beverages. Anything not specifically listed as included.
Your non-refundable deposit of $4,250 will hold your place on this workshop. Further non-refundable payment of $4,000 is due on November 1, 2020. Final non-refundable balance payment is due by February 1, 2021. All payments are non-refundable and this is why we recommend comprehensive travel insurance including trip cancelation. All of our other standard terms and conditions apply. While not expected, a standard clause with all voyages like this is that if fuel prices increase between now and our voyage more than anticipated, there is the possibility of a fuel surcharge.
Need special payment arrangements for your deposit? No problem, just ask us.
Small group, private, luxurious ship, and polar bears—what more could you ask for? This is always a popular trip, so if you've been thinking about it, don't delay—click the “Sign Me Up!“ button now, and we'll see you in Svalbard! Got questions?