A 125 year commemorative voyage honouring Andrée's daring, ill-fated attempt to reach the North Pole by hydrogen balloon
Small Ship ARCTIC expedition
Svalbard: Flight of the Eagle
July 23rd – August 2nd, 2022
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.
DATES: July 23rd – August 2nd, 2022 (11 days, 10 nights on ship)
SHIP: MV Polar Pioneer
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.
- 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.
- 10 nights onboard the Polar Pioneer
- All meals onboard the vessel (including non-alcoholic drinks such as coffee, tea, water and breakfast juice)
- Expedition team of five
- Excursions with Mark V Zodiac boats
- Rubber boots to borrow (provided we have your size)
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.