Small Ship ARCTIC expedition

Svalbard: Flight of the Eagle

July 23rd – August 2nd, 2022

A 125 year commemorative voyage honouring Andrée's daring, ill-fated attempt to reach the North Pole by hydrogen balloon

***

This Twin Tracks departure in 2022 is an expedition like no other – a truly unique opportunity to experience the incomparable beauty and remote wilderness of Svalbard while revisiting the North Pole quest of Salomon August Andrée and his comrades, in an authentic expeditionary setting on board the 53 passenger MV Polar Pioneer, accompanied by special guest experts.

The explorers minutes before takeoff from Virgohamna on July 11th, 1897

This is a rare opportunity for history buffs to make this bucket-list trip a reality...

…not just because of the place, but because of our focus on getting to Kvitøya (White Island) where Andrée and his men lived out their final days. It is not an easy place to get to but we’ve designed this trip to give us the best chances, by choosing the ideal ship with a high ice class, and at the optimal time of the boreal (or Northern hemisphere) summer. 

Our route is determined by ice, bears, and a spontaneity only afforded by complete flexibility and freedom that comes with a small ship – in the hands of those who know and revere this place, its history and its wildlife.

It’s also a place to connect and unwind hundreds of miles from “civilization”, and prepare yourself to come away a changed person.  

Monument at Kvitøya in honour of the Andrée expedition

“It is not a little strange to be floating here above the Polar Sea. To be the first to have floated here in a balloon. How soon, I wonder, shall we have successors? Shall we be thought mad or will our example be followed? I cannot deny but that all three of us are dominated by a feeling of pride. We think we can well face death, having done what we have done.”

- S.A. Andrée

the Details

DATES: July 23rd – August 2nd, 2022 (11 days, 10 nights on ship)

SHIP: MV Polar Pioneer

RATES  

Triple Shared: 7585 EUROS

Twin Shared: 8585 EUROS

Twin Private: 9585 EUROS

Mini Suite: 10085 EUROS

Captain’s Suite: 10585 EUROS

All rates are per passenger based on shared cabins. If you prefer a suite to yourself, there are two possibilities for solo ensuite cabins and the rate is 1.8x the cost quoted per person. See explanation of cabin differences following the Deck Plan below.

PASSENGERS: 53 (plus 5 expedition guides)

LANGUAGES: English and Scandinavian

Your Expedition Ship

MV Polar Pioneer

Guests will travel on board the newly refurbished ship, the MV Polar Pioneer, an excellent polar vessel that offers big ship sophistication in a small ship package.

This wonderful small ship is purpose-retrofit for custom groups like history buffs, wildlife enthusiasts and photographers, having added a number of features to modernize the ship as well as ensuring she is the most versatile ship of her size in Svalbard.

Extras include:

  • a sauna
  • two large outer observation decks
  • a gym

Not to mention, the bridge is always open. 

The Polar Pioneer owners, captain and crew have multiple decades of combined experience in Svalbard and are committed to delivering a best-in-class experience, keeping safety and environmental protection in mind.

Why We Love This Ship

  • Her spacious outer decks – the lower deck for getting closer to wildlife on the ice and the upper deck for enjoying and photographing the 360° landscape
  • A modernized lounge/bar area on Deck 4 where you can enjoy lectures, review your photos from the day, or share stories with other expeditioners over a cold drink
  • A real luxury in a polar environment, the Polar Pioneer sauna means you can warm up when you come in from the cold 
  • Extra electrical outlets in the cabins and common areas for charging camera batteries and laptops
  • Extra hooks in each cabin so you have lots of space to hang your outer layers when you come in from the cold + can dry your gear faster
  • Her compact size means we can avoid the competing interest groups of the larger ships and just do what we really want to do!

MV POLAR pIONEER DECK PLAN

SUITES AND AMENITIES

1

TRIPLE PUBLIC CABIN with two lower and one upper berth, writing desk, wardrobe and drawers. Private washbasin. Nearby shower and toilet facilities are shared with other Main Deck cabins. This cabin has a porthole. 7585 EUR per guest

2

TWIN PUBLIC CABIN with two lower and one upper berth, writing desk, wardrobe and drawers. Private washbasin. Nearby shower and toilet facilities are shared with other Main Deck cabins. This cabin is originally a triple but will be used as a TWIN. This cabin has a porthole. 8585 EUR per guest

3

TWIN PUBLIC CABINS with two lower berths & sofa, writing desk, wardrobe, drawers, private washbasin, and hairdryer. Nearby shower & toilet facilities are shared with other Main Deck cabins. These cabins have a porthole. 8585 EUR per guest

4

TWIN PRIVATE CABINS with two lower berths, writing desk, wardrobe & drawers. These cabins have a private bathroom, hairdryer, and a window. 9585 EUR per guest

5

SINGLE PRIVATE CABINS (#402 and #403) with one upper and one lower bunk, writing desk, wardrobe and drawers. These cabins have a window, private bathroom, hairdryer, and a couch. 17250 EUR per guest

6

MINI SUITE with double bed and separate lounge area, writing desk, wardrobe and drawers. Private bathroom and hairdryer. These cabins have a window. 10085 EUR per guest

7

OWNER’S SUITE with double bed and separate lounge area, writing desk, wardrobe and drawers. Private bathroom and hairdryer. Forward and port windows. 10585 EUR per guest

Itinerary

Svalbard: The Flight of the Eagle

July 23rd - Embarkation Day

Board the Polar Pioneer at 4pm from the dock in Longyearbyen and enjoy a welcome cocktail with the captain.

July 24th through August 1st – Expedition days

While there is a carefully planned daily schedule based on distances between points of interest and the location of the ice in any given season, our timetable in Svalbard by nature must be flexible.

We will begin by heading north towards Danskøya which is the home of Virgohamna, the small bay which Andrée used as his staging area for their bid to the North Pole. We’ll be following a rough itinerary so that every day the conditions are maximized for visiting the places and landing sites that were critical to the story of Andrée and his team, while also offering the best wildlife watching opportunities, be they land or sea-based.

Every morning your Expedition Leader will work with the bridge officers to make decisions about the day, taking into account ice situation and the weather, looking at whether Plan A makes the most sense or if Plan B, C, or D will be better for us. After Danskøya, our aim will be Kvitøya where Andrée’s team finally met their end. 

Kvitøya is not easy to reach – it’s located in the far Northeast corner of the archipelago and is often blocked by ice, or once you arrive there, fogged in. Not to mention, there are often polar bears roaming the beaches and rocky outcroppings which make it impossible to go ashore, as safety is our highest priority.

However we have the luxury of time and a ship with a strong ice class which will hopefully allow us to make more than one attempt if necessary. To be able to stand ashore where the Andrée expedition’s remains were found and where the monument has been placed is a truly profound experience. Nothing is guaranteed, but we are heading up there prepared, and will wish for some good luck to achieve our objectives.

Beyond these key sites, we’ll be focusing on all of the wonders that Svalbard offers us. If we come across something amazing – be it a polar bear, whales, or some other unexpected gem – we would never just cruise past it because we have something else “scheduled” for the afternoon. Flexibility, and trust in our extremely experienced expedition team are key facets of a successful expedition.

August 2nd - Disembarkation Day

Disembark in Longyearbyen around 8:00am

What to expect

Svalbard has a little bit of everything, including massive scenic fjords from which artfully sculpted glaciers emerge to meet the sea, up to the high snowcapped peaks, and all the way down to Arctic tundra covered in colourful vegetation such as mosses and lichens that the Svalbard reindeer love to feed on. It’s not uncommon to find seals or walruses resting on ice floes at the mouths of these fjords, and if we’re lucky, we’ll spot a whale or two as we sail up the west coast.

We’ll plan to stop in at the world’s northernmost civilian settlement, the research village of Ny Ålesund, which also boasts the world’s northernmost post office. At the height of the summer season, there are about 120 inhabitants working amongst the 15 permanent research stations.

It’s from here that Amundsen and Nobile initiated their courageous attempts to reach the North Pole by airship in 1925 – 28 years after Andrée – and there are a couple of monuments dedicated to their efforts that are worth visiting.

From there we’ll continue heading north, poking into other landing sites and fjords of interest, getting out into the two zodiacs to make landings where we’ll plan hikes to stretch our legs and optimize our chances for excellent wildlife opportunities.

The next definitive stop will be Virgohamna – the jumping-off point of Andrée’s expedition where you can still see remnants of the balloon hangar pictured here.

And then of course we’ll be making our way to the far Northeast corner of the archipelago to Kvitøya where the expedition members ended up stranded and ultimately, met their fate.

In between our historical landings, we’ll be constantly scouting for the Ursus maritimus – the Latin name for polar bear  – and if we find them, get as close as we can without disturbing them or putting passengers at any risk. There are an estimated 3000-4000 animals in the region and the population is considered to be stable. This powerful animal is amazing to behold in the wild, with males weighing up to 700kg when they are at their healthiest. Again, getting out into the inflatable zodiacs is an excellent way to safely observe the wildlife from proximity.

Weather and ice conditions permitting, we’ll sail into Hinlopen Strait and plan to visit Alkefjellet (‘Bird Mountain’), a series of otherworldly basalt cliffs stretching a number of kilometres in length and in some places, up to 100 meters high (click on the underlined text to see a fantastic video!) on which we’ll find thousands of nesting birds and the occasional Arctic fox hunting nearby.

Nordauslandet, Storøya, Bråsvellbreen, Barentsøya, and Edgeøya are all locations that we may also explore, weather and ice permitting, and offer magnificent scenery with vast tundra which hold the prospect of continued incredible landscapes and wildlife sighting opportunities.

Things we may do AND see on expedition

Click on the images below to expand and scroll through

Other Information

Passport – Your passport must be valid for at least six months from the date of travel and you are responsible for any visa required to enter Norway/the Schengen Zone. If you are unsure whether you need a visa to travel to Svalbard, please consult this list of countries.

Health requirements – you must be in reasonable health and have a reasonable level of mobility in order to join the expedition. The voyage is on board a ship and at times, the sea may be rough. This requires a degree of balance and agility so that you may safely move around the vessel. Also keep in mind that at times, we may offer a hike on land (which will always be optional). Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we will have to adapt to the travel guidelines/restrictions closer to the time of departure.

Insurance Requirements – as the nature of our expedition involves visiting the remote wilderness, we require all passengers to take out appropriate trip interruption/cancellation and medical evacuation insurance as per our Terms & Conditions.

What to bring – Based on our combined years of experience braving the wilds of Svalbard, we’ve created a handy PDF packing list that you can download here. Please note that rubber boots and waterproof pants + jacket are all required to participate in landings in Svalbard.

Frequently Asked Questions

For all Svalbard voyages departing in 2022, we offer a risk-free booking policy until October 1st, 2021. For cancellations made prior to October 1st, 2021 all funds paid to Twin Tracks are 100 % refundable. However after that date, our general Terms & Conditions apply.

We certainly plan to! But as with all things in nature, these are wild animals that can travel very fast over both land and ice. Our expert expedition staff and bridge crew have decades of combined experience in this region and will use their expertise as well as regular communication with other vessels in the region to find out where polar bears have been sighted and will head to those areas. We’ll also have someone on polar bear watch at all hours of the day from the bridge. In other words, we will do everything we can to find bears and go to get a closer look. The benefits of sailing on one of the smaller expedition ships are two-fold: 1) we can maneuver closer to the animals without disturbing them and drop zodiacs on short notice – thus giving you the best opportunity to photograph them 2) the ship can change plans on a dime and head full speed towards something of interest.
A roomy, lightweight parka or winter jacket that’s wind and water-resistant is a must, and the brighter the colour, the better for safety reasons as you’ll be in a mostly monochromatic polar environment. Winter waterproof pants that are roomy enough for you to layer long underwear and hiking pants underneath are key.

Why waterproof? Sea spray is common onboard the Zodiacs and sometimes in bad weather you’ll get properly drenched. Keeping your hands warm and dry can be a challenge, so we always recommend thin liner gloves (merino is a great material) to wear under warm outer water-resistant gloves. This will make things easier when you need to remove your outer gloves to operate your camera but still keep your hands warm. We also suggest bringing more than one pair of gloves in case your main pair gets soaked and you need to trade them out for the afternoon.

A warm hat that covers your ears, and a scarf or neck cowl that can provide neck and face protection in the event of inclement weather.

A requirement for polar expeditions are high rubber boots, or Wellingtons, as you’ll be stepping into water up to 10” deep on wet landings around the peninsula. Be sure to check with us ahead of time as many ships provide complimentary boots. If you're required to provide your own, they must have non-skid rubber soles and come up to just below your knees. It’s also important that your boots are loose fitting so that you can wear 2-3 layers of socks in them for warmth on longer excursions.

For onboard the ship you need something comfortable, with grip, that you can slip in and out of. Any casual shoe should be fine. For zodiac excursions and landings you are required to wear rubber boots. This is because almost all landings are “wet landings” meaning you will be stepping into freezing cold water and rubber boots are the only safe option to keep you dry. For hiking, you can bring a sturdy pair of hiking boots or shoes to change into from your rubber boots.
The electrical outlets will be standard European style as pictured below. You may need to bring electrical converters with you in order to charge your equipment. The voltage on board is 220v. 
 
Payments to your onboard account for alcohol, soft drinks, and souvenirs can be made by credit card. Cash is also accepted (USD or EUROS) but credit card is preferred. However tipping of the crew is done by cash. If you feel you have received good service and wish to tip the crew at the end of the journey, please plan to have some hard currency with you. 

How to Book and Terms & Conditions

To ask a question, inquire about availability, or book your spot on this expedition cruise please use our contact form or email contact {at} twintracksexpeditions.com and we will get back to you shortly.

GENERAL TERMS AND CONDITIONS

§ 1 Reservations and payment

1.1 Registration is completed and binding when Twin Tracks Expeditions Inc has received a signed Booking Form, which includes acceptance of these General Terms and Conditions, and the deposit amount of 2,500 EUROS per person.

1.2 The remaining portion of the travel price shall be paid in two installments; 40% of the full travel price shall be paid no later than 250 days prior to departure date and the remaining balance no later than 90 days prior to departure date. Any partial or full fare not received within the deadlines outlined in this paragraph may result in the booking being canceled by Twin Tracks Expeditions Inc, in which case all amounts paid shall be forfeited. 

1.3 If a booking is made three months or less before the departure date, the full price shall be paid in connection with the booking.

1.4  Payments must be made in EUROS by bank transfer as per the instructions on the Booking Form. Paying in SEK or USD is also possible if requested at the time of placing the deposit. The exchange rate shall be the amount stipulated at the date of payment at http://www.xe.com/currencyconverter/. If paying in USD an additional 3% will be charged in favour of Twin Tracks (to cover banking fees and exchange rates) or such other amount as may from time to time be determined by Twin Tracks.

§ 2 Travel details

2.1 Voyage description and itinerary for each voyage, as well as other details for the travel and information as regards health requirements, insurance requirements, visa and other immigration issues and other, can be found on the trip page above. All information on this website is part of the agreement between Twin Tracks Expeditions Inc and the Traveler.

2.2 The Traveler is responsible for fulfilling all requirements, including having a valid passport and necessary visas and other documentation, and for being able to carry out the trip, as well as for all injuries that they may incur during the trip. The Traveler is required to have insurance covering cancellation or trip interruption costs as well as medical evacuation costs. Any failure by the Traveler to comply with this provision and/or to provide proof of compliance with this provision 14 days prior to the departure, shall result in the cancelation of the trip and forfeiture of all amounts paid by the Traveler to Twin Tracks as liquidated damages.

2.3 No alcoholic beverages may be brought on board by the Traveler. 

2.4 It is not allowed to fly any UAV’s (unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones) on ships operated by members of AECO or IAATO. 

2.5 Since the travel will take place out in the wilderness of nature, security is vital. The Traveler is aware of and accepts that adhering to safety routines and obeying the guides’ instructions is of critical importance. The Traveler acknowledges and accepts the inherent risks associated with arctic and remote expedition travel which may include bodily injury, risk of death and/or mental stress, anguish, and fatigue.

2.6 The travel is construed as a group travel, meaning that the price is based upon group participation. No refund will be made by Twin Tracks Expeditions Inc in the event a Traveler chooses not to participate in all parts of the program or if a Traveler withdraws from the trip prematurely, irrespective of reason.

§ 3 Traveler’s cancellation

3.1 A Traveler must notify Twin Tracks Expeditions Inc in writing of any cancellation. In case cancellation is made more than 250 days prior to departure date, the traveler forfeits 250 EUROS or 10% of the deposit amount. In case cancellation is made less than 250 days prior to the departure date, the full fare due at the time of cancellation will be forfeited. All payments made by you are non-refundable in the case of your canceling your participation.

3.2 In order to minimize loss in the event of trip cancellation or interruption, each Traveler is required to secure trip cancellation and interruption insurance as well as medical evacuation insurance for the period of travel in question as per Section 2.2.

§ 4 Twin Tracks Expeditions Inc’s cancellation or alteration

4.1 The travels arranged by Twin Tracks Expeditions Inc are carried out in remote parts of the world where weather and ice conditions are extreme and unpredictable, and where unforeseen events outside the control of Twin Tracks Expeditions Inc may occur, requiring Twin Tracks Expeditions Inc to quickly adapt to new circumstances. Twin Tracks Expeditions Inc thus reserves the right to cancel, or, as the case may be, change the conditions for the travel or change the itinerary either before or during the trip.

Twin Tracks Expeditions Inc always strive for making the voyage as best as possible for the travelers and a decision to cancel an initial plan or change the travel conditions (travel dates, travel route, etc) will always be made in the interests of the travelers and with safety in mind.

4.2 If the minimum number of Travelers is not met, Twin Tracks Expeditions Inc has the right to cancel the voyage. Such cancellation shall be notified to the Travelers no later than 90 days prior to departure date. In case cancellation is made according to this paragraph, Twin Tracks Expeditions Inc shall repay all payment made from Travelers but shall have no further obligations in relation to the Traveler.

4.3 Twin Tracks Expeditions Inc shall never be liable to pay any compensation (for airfares, visas, insurance or other) or damages because of a canceled or changed travel if:

(a) the cancellation or change of a travel is caused by the Traveler;

(b) reason for the cancellation is that the minimum number of registered Travelers is not met, and the cancellation has been notified in writing to the Traveler;

(c) the cancellation or change of the travel is due to a circumstance which was beyond the control of Twin Tracks Expeditions Inc’s and the occurrence of which were not possible to avoid or overcome, would create safety risks or are not economically reasonable to remedy; or

(d) the liability to pay damages cannot be considered reasonable.

§ 5 Price changes

5.1 Twin Tracks Expeditions Inc reserves the right to change the price for the trip due to fluctuations in currency or fuel costs or due to changes in taxes or fees which affect Twin Tracks Expeditions Inc’s costs for the travel. A potential increase in price should not exceed more than 350 EUROS per passenger, and if implemented, must legally be communicated to the passengers no later than 20 days before the voyage departure.

§ 6 Liability limitations

6.1 Twin Tracks Expeditions Inc accepts no responsibility whatsoever for any loss or damage to any property or for any injury, illness or death to any person in the tour which results from any contact with or service provided by any agent, contractor, supplier or provider, nor for any such loss, damage, injury, illness or death if it occurs in transit to or from the tour.

§ 7 Complaints

7.1 If the Traveler considers Twin Track Expeditions Inc’s services to be deviating from what is agreed, the Traveler must notify Twin Tracks Expeditions Inc in writing thereof immediately after having noticed such deviation. If not notifying Twin Tracks Expeditions Inc within this time, or notifying Twin Tracks Expeditions Inc more than one month after finishing the trip, the Traveler may not invoke any deviations from the agreement in relation to Twin Tracks Expeditions Inc.

§ 8 Applicable law

8.1 Canadian law shall govern the agreement between Twin Tracks Expeditions Inc and the Traveler.

These General Terms and Conditions are applicable to all bookings of travels from:

Twin Tracks Expeditions Inc. 5031 Barron Cres NW Calgary, AB T2L 1T8 Canada