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A Guide to Choosing The Perfect Expedition Micro Cruise For You

A Guide to Choosing The Perfect Expedition Micro Cruise For You

Michele D´Agostino image

To help you plan your voyage we have put together this guide to help you decide which Expedition Micro Cruise is right for you.

The main things to consider are the trip length (we offer trips between 8 and 15 days), the time of year based on what you would like to experience, and the type of trip (we offer Expedition Cruises and Photo Tours).

svalbard expedition cruise ship review

Trip Length

Our Voyages run from 8 to 15 days in length. Our shorter length trips such as Frozen Svalbard (8 days) and Natural Wonders of Svalbard (9 days) are perfect for those that have less time but still want to see the best that Svalbard has to offer.

If you would like to see Svalbard in its frozen state as it emerges from winter choose Frozen Svalbard. If your focus is on seeing more wildlife and hiking ashore Natural Wonders of Svalbard is ideal. 

svalbard cruise map secret atlas

8-day Frozen Svalbard

svalbard photo tour

9-day Natural Wonders of Svalbard

svalbard circumnavigation map

15-day Svalbard Pioneer

A trip to Svalbard is a once in a lifetime experience and if your time and budget allow it is worth considering a longer expedition as you will see more and up the chances of encountering wildlife including polar bears. Our most in-depth exploration is Svalbard Pioneer, a 15-day voyage that aims to circumnavigate Spitsbergen and also visit the Austfonna glacier if conditions allow. 

If you would like to visit the remote and barely visited Bear Island and see Svalbard early in the season consider our adventurous 11-day trip Bear Island Voyage that departs Tromso and finishes in Svalbard.

Travel Tip: For the best chances of seeing polar bears and maximising wildlife encounters choose a longer trip such as Svalbard Pioneer.


Our voyages in Svalbard run from mid-April through to mid-September. Every month offers something different.

April to mid-May

  • See Svalbard as it emerges from winter. The landscapes are usually still snow-covered and often the fjords contain sea ice.
  • Peak breeding time for polar bears.
  • Hiking ashore is often done with snowshoes.
  • Routes during this time are shorter due to the limit of the sea ice which varies from year to year.
  • Temperatures during this time are much colder than the summer months with a low of -16 degrees to a high of -3 degrees.

If you would like to experience Svalbard during the spring choose from our Frozen Svalbard Cruise, Frozen Svalbard Photo Expedition, and Bear Island and Svalbard Explorer

shore landing by zodiac in svalbard

Early in June the shores are still snow-covered and the landscapes at their most picturesque.  

Mid-May to June

  • Experience 24 hours of sunlight.
  • The sea to the north becomes navigable as the sea ice recedes and it is possible to explore the northwest coast of Spitsbergen once more.
  • A great time for wildlife viewing and it is common to encounter polar bears, walruses and a variety of birdlife.
  • Temperatures rise over 0°C with an average ranging between -1°C and 3°C.

If you are interested in wildlife watching consider our Natural Wonders of Svalbard cruise. This time of the year is also great for photography and we run a 9-day Natural Wonders photo expedition to maximise photo opportunities.  

Kinfish Secret Atlas

During the summer months, the sea ice around Svalbard recedes and it is possible to circumnavigate Spitsbergen. 

July and August

  • Longer expedition are now possible. As the sea ice around Svalbard recedes it becomes possible to do a full circumnavigation of Spitsbergen, the largest of Svalbard’s islands.
  • The warmest months. When the sun is out it is quite possible to be hiking wearing only a base layer.
  • Hiking ashore is now easier as the coasts are free from snowmaking longer hikes possible. 
  • 24-hour sunlight until mid-August.

If a longer length in-depth exploration is something you are interested in consider our 15-day Svalbard Pioneer Expedition. This expedition has the best chances of multiple wildlife encounters and will reach places rarely visited. This is true exploration.

wildlife photo tour in svalbard

Chase Teron captures a polar bear feeding on the ice. You can join Chase on a photo tour here.

Trip Type – Expedition Cruise or Photo Tours?

We offer two different trip types, Expedition Cruises or Photo Tours. Each trip is led by a highly experienced expedition leader and as with all our voyages takes just 12 guests. 

Expedition Cruises

The focus on our expedition cruises is to see as much as possible. These trips are ideal for people looking to see as much as possible but don’t want to spend extra time in each place for photography. Our expedition micro cruises usually involve 2 shore landings per day and then short hikes to explore the shoreline. Although these trips are great for photography, the main emphasis is on exploring. 

svalbard yacht expeditions cruise shore excursion

Exploring the sea ice by Zodiac is a great way to get photography shots on all our voyages. 

Photo Tours

Our Photo Tours are led by world-class photographers with extensive experience photographing Svalbard and alongside our expedition team and will get photographers to the places to get the best shots. These tours are about maximising photo opportunities and are suitable for amateurs and pros alike with an interest in photography. Our photo tours have the same expedition leaders as our cruises and non-photographers that would like to spend more time nature watching are also welcome to join. 

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