During the early season, it is common to see polar bears strolling across the ice with a picturesque white backdrop as the snow is starting to melt for the summer season. You may see Arctic foxes starting to shed their usual white, fluffy coats to reveal darker fur underneath, as they get ready to blend in with the muted browns and greys of the Arctic tundra. Walrus swim alongside your boat and congregate on the coast.
You can also watch the gulls, guillemots, kittiwakes and puffins flock to the cliffs to enjoy the vegetation that has thawed out from the harsh, cold winter.
Travelling to Svalbard in the later months means you are more likely to see polar bears relaxing in the sunshine amidst the fresh green flora, as the snow has melted during the summer. You may even be able to spot Arctic fox cubs as they play and run over the tundra with their siblings. Sail northwest around Spitsbergen to Olgastretet to watch 100,000 guillemots line the cliffs, with the young babies jumping into the seas below. See how close the captain braved the cliffs in the photo below - almost close enough to touch!
Svalbard in the early season is a true winter wonderland – the slopes are adorned with a fresh, white carpet of snow! From precipitous mountaintops to majestic icebergs floating along the frozen sea, this stark but beautiful wilderness is the perfect location for anyone wanting to experience some awe-inspiring sights. Your photos of polar bears with a snowy backdrop are sure to wow each and every person that is lucky enough to see them!
Purple, pink, blue and white petals cover the tundra with a blanket of colour.
In May, there is an abundance of the spectacular pack ice that makes for irresistible photos and those ‘pinch me, is this real?’ moments. As your small ship gently breaks the sheer volume of pack ice in its wake, you can’t help but be totally mesmerised by its beauty. Turn your head to see a polar bear clambering around on the ice, searching for a seal's breathing hole, and you’ve just about experienced one of the best days of your life.
Arriving in the Arctic during springtime is still a slight shock to the system. As you step outside onto the deck of the ship the cold air hits you, and thanks to the sub-zero temperatures you'll feel like you're stepping inside a giant, frosty freezer! However, with each breath you take, looking across the ice-cold water, you do get the true Arctic experience! After the initial shock you get to jump into a snowsuit (the height of Arctic fashion) that keeps you super warm and cosy - the perfect conditions to sit patiently and wait to spot a magnificent polar bear.
The weather is noticeably warmer in Svalbard during the late season - Mike didn't even wear gloves during any of his zodiac outings...
No gloves in the Arctic? Who would have thought!
Temperatures may even reach as high as 12°C, and although it will feel a little bit cooler once you factor in the wind chill, you'll still be able to sit outside on the deck of your ship underneath a clear blue nighttime sky. You may even be treated to a midnight gin and tonic or a barbecue on the beach, all while enjoying perfect sunshine and a stunning backdrop of snow-topped mountains and glaciers... it doesn't get much better than that!
Contact one of our Destination Specialists to start planning your journey.