Arctic travelers in yellow coats stand on deck of ship photographing icebergs on the Spitsbergen Photography cruise.
a polar bear walks across the pack ice, lifting its paw and staring directly at the camera, in the arctic
Arctic traveler in yellow jacket looks at camera with photo guide on ship deck on the Spitsbergen Photography cruise.
Man & woman in yellow coats hold camera & phone up to photograph a small chunk of ice on a Spitsbergen Photography cruise.
Old wooden abandoned trapper's hut sits on arctic tundra beside a fjord inlet with snowy mountains & small blue & white ship behind.
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Polar Regions Arctic Cruise

Spitsbergen Photography: Domain of the Polar Bear

This unique 14-day voyage invites travelers to embrace a true expeditionary spirit: rather than follow a set itinerary, allow the search for polar bears and other wildlife to determine your route and shore landings in the pristine Norwegian Arctic. Aboard a ship with extensive outer decks and balconies in most cabins, wildlife viewings are easy to access.

Cruising along the coast, ice edge and inner fjords of Spitsbergen, you’ll be immersed in the natural wonders of the land of the midnight sun while pursuing a quest to photograph arctic wildlife: the polar bear as it prowls the edges of the pack ice on its perpetual hunt for food; the walrus with its long tusks and distinctive whiskers; cliff-dwelling Arctic birds in the thousands; and small herds of reindeer loping across the colorful tundra. Not to mention the landscape—snow-topped mountains, massive glacier fronts, deep-walled fjords, and vast swaths of untouched tundra waiting to be photographed.

Aboard the technologically-advanced, 200-guest Ultramarine, take advantage of two twin-engine helicopters and 20 quick-launching Zodiacs to create the quintessential Arctic experience. This modern, purpose-built polar expedition vessel comes equipped with specialized, cutting-edge safety features to provide added security in remote environments like Svalbard.

A special 11-day, themed “Under The Midnight Sun” departure is joined by award-winning photographer, filmmaker, workshop leader and lecturer Chris Linder. Get an extensive exploration of Spitsbergen aboard the 128-guest Ocean Adventurer, an ice-stable ship equipped for personal and intimate Arctic exploration. 

Read on for details about this trip, or learn more about AdventureSmith’s Arctic cruises, Spitsbergen Cruises and Arctic trips.


Spitsbergen Photography Itinerary

The Spitsbergen Photography cruise begins and ends in Helsinki, Finland with round-trip charter flights to and from Longyearbyen, Svalbard. This flexible itinerary takes advantage of wildlife sightings and the best lighting conditions for photography.

Route map of the Spitsbergen Photography cruise, round-trip from Helsinki, Finland with charter flights to and from Longyearbyen, Svalbard and no set route in Svalbard.
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Day 1
Arrive Helsinki, Finland

This Arctic voyage begins in Helsinki, renowned for its extraordinary architecture and intriguing mix of eastern and western influences. If arriving early, explore the many museums, galleries and restaurants, relax at a Finnish sauna or wander the vibrant Design District before retiring at the included airport hotel.


Airport Hotel TBA



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Day 2
Fly to Longyearbyen & Embark

This morning, take a group transfer to the airport and board the private charter flight to Longyearbyen, Spitsbergen’s largest settlement. As the ship sets sail, enjoy the first view of the island’s rugged, glacier-topped mountains rising majestically from icy waters.


Ocean Adventurer, Ultramarine


breakfast, lunch, dinner

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Days 3 - 13
Exploring Spitsbergen

Spitsbergen is graced with an unspoiled beauty that’s just waiting to be discovered. On this one-of-a-kind cruise, sail along the west coast of this magical island, exploring the coastal fjords and smaller, outlying islands. Each day will be a surprise, treating you to spectacular new sightings and experiences.

Every expedition is unique, depending on the weather and ice conditions, but hope to visit a few of the expedition team’s favorite landing sites, which will be chosen as much for their optimal wildlife-viewing opportunities as for their stunning scenery, historical significance and hiking activities. With no fixed itinerary, the main goal will be to sail in a constant search for polar bears on the prowl, based on ice and weather conditions, with the aim to maximize wildlife encounters and prioritize photographic opportunities. This means the ship may not move every day. Like true explorers, let the wildlife and pack ice—not a set schedule—guide the route!

Presentations by onboard experts in areas of photography, history and the natural sciences will prepare you for the adventures that await, and with continuous daylight during this time of year, photo opportunities abound. Enjoy ample time to photograph any bears found hunting on the ice edge, but they’re not the only wildlife we hope to encounter. The food-rich waters attract walrus, whales and seabirds, so you’ll want to keep your binoculars nearby while cruising. Arctic fox and the endemic Svalbard reindeer may also be spotted on Zodiac excursions to shore.

A haven for present-day explorers, Spitsbergen and the surrounding area offer unforgettable polar experiences that will keep you and your camera active for the duration of the expedition. Although 60 percent of the landscape is covered in glaciers and much of the terrain is mountainous, Spitsbergen (which means “pointed mountains”) surprises visitors with stretches of colorful tundra that burst with wildflowers in summer, perfect for macro photography. Optional hiking activities get you up close—though never obtrusively—to the abundant wildlife. At day’s end, you’ll have plenty of prized photographs and exciting stories to share with your shipmates.


Ocean Adventurer, Ultramarine


breakfast, lunch, dinner

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Day 14
Disembark Longyearbyen, Fly to Helsinki & Depart

The time to say goodbye to the expedition team and shipmates has come. The adventure ends as it began, in the historic frontier-style settlement of Longyearbyen. From here, transfer to the airport for the return group charter flight to Helsinki.





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Inclusions, Terms & Notes


Shipboard accommodation with daily housekeeping; all meals and snacks on board; soft drinks and juices on board; select beer and wine during dinner; all shore landings per the daily program; leadership throughout the voyage by experienced Expedition Leader; all Zodiac transfers and cruising per the daily program; formal and informal presentations by Expedition Team and special guests as scheduled; photographic journal documenting the expedition; waterproof expedition boots on loan for shore landings;  official Quark Expeditions® parka to keep; coffee, tea and cocoa available around the clock; hair dryer and bathrobes in every cabin; all miscellaneous service taxes and port charges throughout the program; all luggage handling aboard the ship; emergency evacuation insurance to a maximum benefit of US$500,000 per person; transfers between Longyearbyen town center and port on embarkation and disembarkation day.


Mandatory Transfer Package (approximate package price is $995 in 2023 & 2024 and includes one night’s pre-expedition hotel night at Helsinki airport hotel, charter flight from Helsinki to Longyearbyen, arrival and departure transfers in Longyearbyen, and charter flight from Longyearbyen to Helsinki); international airfare; arrival and departure transfers in Helsinki; passport and visa expenses; government arrival and departure taxes not mentioned above; meals ashore unless otherwise specified; baggage, cancellation, interruption and medical travel insurance (strongly recommended), or insurance of any kind; excess baggage fees on international flights; mandatory waterproof pants for Zodiac cruising, and any gear not mentioned; laundry, bar, beverage and other personal charges unless specified; phone and internet charges; voluntary gratuity at the end of voyage for shipboard staff and crew; additional overnight accommodation; any adventure options or excursions.

Payment & Cancellation

In order to confirm this trip, a deposit of 25% of the total trip cost is required per person at time of booking. The balance of the trip price is due 120 days before the departure date. Special holiday payment and cancellation terms apply. Guests who must cancel their trip for any reason must do so in writing. Standard cancellations are subject to the following per-person penalties, based on number of days prior to departure:
Up to 180 days – full refund, less $500 admin fee
179 to 120 days – 100% of deposit
119 to 90 days – 50% of total trip cost
89 to 60 days – 75% of total trip cost
59 to 0 days – 100% of total trip cost

Terms & Conditions

This trip is subject to AdventureSmith Explorations Terms and Conditions. Please read this information carefully and call us if you have any questions. A Traveler Information Form, which includes a release of liability, must be completed and signed by all travelers. Your Adventure Specialist will send you a unique link to complete this form along with a packing list and extensive pre-departure and travel insurance information upon booking confirmation.

Vaccination Requirement
To join this trip, all eligible guests must provide proof of being fully vaccinated (at least 14 days after your final COVID-19 vaccine shot), including a booster shot (2023 season) for those eligible. There may also be COVID-19 testing or other requirements to participate; your Adventure Specialist will provide details of current policies upon booking.

Arrival & Departure

The Spitsbergen Photography voyage begins and ends in Helsinki, Finland (HEL), with group charter flights between Helsinki and Longyearbyen, Norway (LYR). We highly recommend arriving one day prior to your trip start date in case of any flight delay, cancellation or lost luggage issues. Plan flights to arrive to Helsinki anytime on Day 1 of the itinerary. An arrival transfer is not needed, as the Day 1 hotel is at the airport. On Day 14 of the itinerary, the ship is scheduled to arrive at the pier between 7:00 and 8:00am local time. Disembarkation follows breakfast, with a transfer to the airport or hotel. Plan flights to depart Helsinki no earlier than three hours following arrival of your group charter flight from Longyearbyen on Day 14. If you would like assistance with international flights, please visit our Booking Flights resource page.

Internal Flights

Group charter flights between Helsinki and Longyearbyen are required on this trip’s itinerary; see the Mandatory Transfer Package information listed above under Exclusions. The flight to Longyearbyen is expected to depart early on Day 2 of the itinerary. There is a luggage limit of 50 lbs (23 kg) checked luggage and 18 lbs (8 kg) cabin baggage on the flights to and from Helsinki. Should you have additional luggage, it can be stored at the hotel in Helsinki; there is no option to pay for additional luggage. On Day 14 of the itinerary, the ship is scheduled to arrive at the pier between 7:00 and 8:00am local time. Disembarkation follows breakfast, with a transfer to the airport for the return charter flight to Helsinki, or to your independently arranged hotel in Longyearbyen.


Various optional activities may be available on your Spitsbergen Photography voyage at the following per person costs in 2023 & 2024: sea kayaking for $695 and one-time paddling excursion for $195. Hiking, Zodiac cruising, daily presentations, photography guides and the polar plunge are optional and included. Sea kayaking is arranged in small groups of 10 people, multiple times per voyage, and only conducted during calm weather conditions. You must have some prior kayaking experience, including the capability to do a wet exit. Each departure’s first paddling excursion may be pre-booked and all subsequent outings are booked on the ship. Contact AdventureSmith for more details and to reserve your spot on these adventure activities.

Room Configuration

In addition to listed Single cabin rates, select double-occupancy cabins may be available for single occupancy with a single supplement fee. Solo travelers willing to share can reserve a triple or twin-shared cabin, where you will be matched with a person of the same gender. If the other cabin berth goes unsold, you will be guaranteed the double rate. Single travelers wishing to book a double-occupancy cabin may do so at 1.7x (2x for Premium cabins) the per-person listed rate in select cabins based upon availability. Premium Cabins are as follows:
Ocean Adventurer: Superior, Deluxe, Suite & Owner’s Suite
Ultramarine: Deluxe Balcony Suite, Terrace Suite, Penthouse Suite, Owner’s Suite & Ultra Suite

Families & Children

At date of embarkation, a minimum age restriction of 8 years and minimum height and weight requirements (weight of 64lbs or 29kg and 48 in. or 1.2 m. tall) must be met. Children under 16 years of age must be supervised by a parent/guardian at all times, and may not participate in adventure options.

Travel Insurance

Emergency evacuation insurance to a maximum benefit of up to $500,000 USD per paying traveler provides coverage between the first and last day of ship-based travel and is included in the cost of this trip. For ship- and land-based trips, additional days of travel pre- and post-expedition are not covered. Travelers are responsible for having adequate international medical coverage prior to embarkation, with a minimum benefit of $50,000 USD. In addition, we highly recommend our travelers also protect their investment with travel insurance that includes trip cancellation and other benefits. Our partners at Travelex Insurance offer a variety of plans and policies to fit every trip and budget. Coverage for a pre-existing medical condition is also available if you purchase the Travel Select plan within 15 days of the initial trip payment; refer to plan details. Learn more about travel insurance or get a free quote.

Itinerary Notes

Read this itinerary as a guide only; the exact route and program varies according to ice, weather conditions, wildlife encountered and the captain’s discretion. Flexibility is the key to the success of any Arctic expedition.

Rates & Dates

Cruise Rates & Dates

May 18 - May 31, 2023
Ultramarine • 14 days
brown kayaking icon depicting offered kayaking activity A brown kayak paddle icon depicting a one-time paddle activity option
From $11495USD
Per Person
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Jul 19 - Jul 29, 2023
Ocean Adventurer • 11 days
themed trip icon of a blue bird flying A brown kayak paddle icon depicting a one-time paddle activity option
From $8495USD
Per Person
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May 10 - May 23, 2024
Ultramarine • 14 days
brown kayaking icon depicting offered kayaking activity A brown kayak paddle icon depicting a one-time paddle activity option
From $12295USD
Per Person
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themed trip icon of a blue bird flying Themed
brown kayaking icon depicting offered kayaking activity Kayaking
A brown kayak paddle icon depicting a one-time paddle activity option One-Time Paddling

Learn About the Small Ships on Your Itinerary

Expedition Ship
Ocean Adventurer

A handsome and newly refurbished expedition ship, the Ocean Adventurer combines travel to the polar regions with superior onboard comfort for her 128 passengers.

Expedition Ship

The new Ultramarine 200-passenger polar ship is purpose-built for safety and far-off exploration in Antarctica and the Arctic. Dual helicopter pads and an incredible 70-day cruising range allow access to the hardest-to-reach places.


Current Deals on This Trip

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Offer expires April 3rd, 2023
Save 35% & Complimentary Transfer Package On Select 2023 & 2024 Arctic Expeditions

Save up to 35% per person when you book your select 2023 or 2024 Arctic expedition. Select 2023 Ultramarine departures also offer a complimentary transfer package.

Expert Review

Reviews From Our Experts So You Know What to Expect

Arielle Lightcap • January 7th, 2020
Expert Review: What to Expect on a Polar Bear Cruise

A travel expert lends her Arctic cruise insight on what you can expect aboard a small ship polar bear cruise in the Arctic Svalbard region.

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100+ combined years of experience, 7 continents explored, decades of expedition cruising around the world & here to help you find & book your dream trip.

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Spitsbergen Photography: Domain of the Polar Bear

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