WINNER: World’s Best Expedition Cruise Line | 2023 World Cruise Awards

As one of the world’s most extreme and captivating environments, Svalbard is the destination of a lifetime. Located between mainland Norway and the North Pole, this Norwegian archipelago is rugged and diverse, showcasing nature’s rich and varied landscapes – from icy fjords and glittering glaciers to harsh polar deserts.

Katie from our UK team was lucky enough to be able to explore Svalbard on our 12-day Svalbard Odyssey expedition, which showcases the best of this fascinating winter wonderland. Read on to discover her top 10 experiences that embraced, enchanted and contributed to her education about this untouched paradise in the High Arctic.

Mother and cub polar bears in Svalbard, in the High Arctic

1. Seeing a polar bear

The thrill of spotting the elusive polar bear has no comparison, end of story (but please, read on!).

2. Witnessing the sheer scale of Svalbard's bird cliffs

Being surrounded by thousands of guillemots, kittiwakes and puffins amongst the sheer cliffs and the cacophony of bird chatter.

3. Sailing through sea ice

The sound of ice cracking underneath the ship as you forge a path through it is simply unforgettable. 

4. Learning about the history of the archipelago

From exploration, mining, hunting and natural history, there is so much to learn about this fascinating archipelago from AE Expedition’s Expedition Team, which includes Historians, Geologists and Naturalists. 

Happywhale

Happywhale is one of seven Citizen Science programs we support. Passengers participate in destinations we visit around the world by taking identification photographs of whales and other marine mammals. Happywhale uses these photos to track marine life which, over time, helps scientists better understand, conserve and protect whales.

You can submit photos from anywhere in the world, or even images you’ve taken from previous expeditions with us. Once your whales have been identified, you can follow them across the globe in your Happywhale account. Pretty cool, right?

5. Take part in AE Expedition's Citizen Science Program

Whether it’s taking photos for Happywhale, trawling for phytoplankton or taking part in cloud and bird surveys, there is a Citizen Science project for everyone to get involved in. 

6. Stay up to witness the Midnight Sun

With a cup of tea (or wine!) in hand, feeling the Midnight Sun on your face late at night is truly magical. 

7. Stepping foot on sea ice

When you step out on to the sea ice for the first time, it feels like you are stepping back in time and exploring the region alongside the first explorers. A time to truly take it all in.  

8. Feeling dwarfed by glaciers

Experiencing the sheer vastness of glaciers as you approach in a Zodiac is perspective altering – a gentle reminder of how small we are. The effect is magnified if you experience the thunderous sound of a glacier carving into the water. 

9. Visiting Pyramiden

One of the eeriest places on earth, visiting this near abandoned coal-mining town will transport you back to the 1950s. With a little imagination, you can reflect on would it would have been like to live here when it was in its prime. 
Whale watching in Húsavík, Iceland

10. Watching out for wildlife

Wildlife is more difficult to spot in the Arctic than in the Antarctic which makes it just that little bit more exciting when you get to see iconic species! Keep your eyes peeled for walrus, whales or Arctic fox and other Arctic wildlife.

Katie Harber

Business Development Manager for the UK

Katie has firsthand experience of remote nature travel, having worked onboard cruise ships sailing around the Arctic to destinations like Greenland and Iceland. This sparked an appreciation for experiencing the natural world at its most pristine. Her passion for sustainability, and doing what we can to protect these natural destinations aligns with AE Expedition’s values of respectful exploration and discovery.

With diverse travel industry experience, including working with tour operators, a small ship startup and onboard cruise ships, Katie brings a keen drive to bring AE Expeditions to more adventurous travellers across the UK.

Discover Svalbard for yourself

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