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Discovery of the King of the Arctic

Follow the trail of the polar bear during an Expedition Cruise in the Arctic. Set sail aboard L’Austral for a memorable 13-day cruise around Spitsbergen, one of the jewels of the northern hemisphere.

The main island of the Norwegian Svalbard archipelago, Spitsbergen offers magical landscapes, a blend of ancient glaciers, jagged mountains and spectacular fjords. In summer, the sun shines day and night, to better showcase the vastness of the ice and the animals that inhabit the region – whales, arctic foxes, walruses, but also polar bears, the undisputed kings of the ice.

Setting sail from the cosmopolitan village of Longyearbyen, your journey will begin with an exploration of the wild and unspoiled east coast of Spitsbergen.

You will then reach the Bellsund fjord, whose lush green valleys will not fail to delight you.

This will be followed by a visit to Ny-Ålesund, the former mining town that is today home to a scientific base, a museum and the most northerly post office in the world.

Further to the north you will find the majestic Monaco glacier, an impenetrable wall with blue-tinged highlights. You may even encounter a polar bear – a moving experience that you will never forget – before charting a course south to conclude your journey.

Please Note: Your voyage rates include Flight Paris / Longyearbyen + transfers + flight Longyearbyen / Paris

Discovery of the King of the Arctic itinerary:

show reverse itinerary
Day 1 - LONGYEARBYEN
Longyearbyen is the capital of the Norwegian Svalbard archipelago, located on Svalbard’s main island, and is the northernmost territorial capital on the planet. With winter temperatures dropping to below 40°C, the landscapes of this mining town are simply breathtaking. The glaciers, the mountains stretching as far as the eye can see and the untouched nature, make you feel like you’re in completely unexplored territory.
Day 2 - GNALODDEN & HORNSUND
The Gnålodden Cliff culminates at over 700 metres high and is home to over a thousand species of sea birds. Tridactyl gulls, northern fulmars and thick-billed murres are lords and masters in this often deafening commotion, particularly during the nesting season. Polar bears and Arctic foxes also frequent the site, a delight for lovers of the animal kingdom. The “bird cliff”, as it is known, is surrounded at its foot by very rich vegetation, unfurling its carpet of moss across a décor of wild tundra. During your visit, stop at the former hunter’s cabin, which was also used as a satellite station during the 1930s. Nestling between millennial glaciers and carved mountains, and considered to be “the crown of Arctic Norway”, Spitsbergen is a place that never sees the night. Your ship will take you closer to this fascinating archipelago and, more particularly, the Hornsund fjord. Considered to be Svalbard’s southernmost fjord, it is especially reputed to be its most stunning: at the end of its vast bay, 8 great glaciers slowly make their way down to the sea before giving way to the many icebergs elegantly drifting along its cold and mysterious waters.
Day 3 - BAKANBUKTA - GINEVRABOTNEN & AGARDHBUKTA
Located to the east of Spitsbergen, this bay has many surprises in store. At the entrance to the national park on the east coast, it is a region often taken over by the ice until late in the season. This preserved bay offers the opportunity to discover the assets of the High Arctic: the tundra, glaciers and polar bears. Near to the bear den areas of Barentsøya and Edgeøya, this site often provides an occasion for great sightings of the local fauna. Located to the east of Spitsbergen, in Storfjorden, Agardhbukta is a former trapping site where a cabin remains. During your visit here, you will have the opportunity to see the ice floes and explore one of the spots where the polar bears pass by to travel to Bellsund, on the western coast of Spitsbergen. The vast plains of the Agardhdalen area also offer the psossibility of long hikes to disover the High Arctic tundra.
Day 4 - BOLTODDEN & ISBUKTA
On the eastern coast of Spitsbergen, in the heart of an exceptional geological site, set off to discover the remnants left by the first to explore the region, the Pomors. These settlers, hunters and trappers from Nothern Russia, were the first to discover the Svalbard Archipelago, in the 14th century. At the time, they believed they had arrived on the coast of Greenland. They named this land “Grumant”. This port of call will certainly fascinate history and geology lovers. Nestling on the south-east point of the island of Spitsbergen, this small bay shelters an immense glacier, the Vasil’evbreen, whose front is more than 20 kilometres long. This is an opportunity for an unforgettable Zodiac® outing. If the conditions allow it, you will be able to land directly at the foot of this majestic, so as to discover the moraine and walk on the first section of the glacier. Depending on the ice conditions, you will also perhaps be lucky enough to approch Stellingfjellet, home to one of the largest guillemot colonies on the archipelago.
Day 5 - AHLSTRANDHALVOYA, BELLSUND
Day 6 - NY-ALESUND & KONGSBREEN, KONGSFJORDEN
During your cruise, discover Ny-Ålesund, a former mining town that has been transformed into a scientific base. Founded in 1916, this small town was the departure point for many Arctic expeditions, including those of the famous explorer Roald Amundsen. Don't miss a visit to the museum and its famous post office, considered to be the most northerly in the world!
Day 7 - SAILING TOWARD THE ICE FLOES
Your captain will sail right up to the limit of the ice, to the edge of the ice floe. Weather conditions and state of the ice allowing, you will be able to go out in a Zodiac® dinghy for a unique experience in the middle of these floating slabs of ice. In addition to this grandiose journey through the middle of these floes with their cut and blue-tinged edges, sometimes over 2 metres thick, it is also often an opportunity to see a particular kind of fauna, totally dependent on the ice floe: birds, seals and polar bears.
Day 8 - DAGHOGDA, WIJDEFJORDEN
Sailing into Wijdefjorden will guarantee you an unforgettable moment of wonderment. The particularity of this gigantic fjord is that it almost entirely separates the island of Spitsbergen in two, from north to south. Sailing in Wijdefjorden will enable you to reach the Daghøgda Valley and go for an exceptional hike along an ancient glacial valley. At the end of your walk, you will reach two lakes surrounded by impressive vertical cliffs. It is an exquisite spectacle, in the heart of the Svalbard Archipelago’s longest fjord.
Day 9 - JOTUNKJELDENE & MONACO GLACIER
Discover the thermal springs of Jotunkjeldene. Located in Bockfjorden, to the north-east of Spitsbergen, they offer sumptuous landscapes thanks to their geological and botanical particularities. You will be surprised by the site’s entirely brown and red décor, punctuated by a carpet of algae and moss. Surrounded by majestic glaciers, the fjord rests on the Sverrefjellet volcano, which erupted 100,000 years ago and is now extinct. However, warm springs rise to the surface all year long. During your visit, do make sure that you walk on the surrounding moraine so as to preserve as much as possible the carbonate deposits formed by the springs, which are very fragile and subject to erosion. Located to the North-West of the Svalbard archipelago, the Monaco Glacier is probably one of Spitsbergen’s most beautiful and majestic. Named in honour of Prince Albert I of Monaco, a sailor, it stands as an impenetrable, blue-tinged jagged wall, the last glacier before reaching a latitude of 80° North. Imagine the sound of the ice cracking as it breaks free and crashes into the transparent water. And to make the magical landscape even more perfect, you might be lucky enough to spot bears and whales, as these two animals have a special fondness for this area.
Day 10 - AT SEA
Day 11 - SAILING TOWARD THE ICE FLOES & YTRE NORSKOYA
Your captain will sail right up to the limit of the ice, to the edge of the ice floe. Weather conditions and state of the ice allowing, you will be able to go out in a Zodiac® dinghy for a unique experience in the middle of these floating slabs of ice. In addition to this grandiose journey through the middle of these floes with their cut and blue-tinged edges, sometimes over 2 metres thick, it is also often an opportunity to see a particular kind of fauna, totally dependent on the ice floe: birds, seals and polar bears. At first sight, the small island of Ytre Norskøya seems to be sterile and arid land. But once you are ashore, you will be welcomed by a thick carpet of golden moss, dotted with pygmy buttercups, Svalbard poppies and lichen. On the beach are the remains of the ovens that were used to melt whale blubber, precious evidence of the history of the whalers who came and set up in this area as of the 17th century. Another trace of the past: the presence of one of the largest cemeteries in Svalbard, with no fewer than 165 tombs. The Ytre Norskøya cliff is home to many sea birds, including little auks, barnacle geese, Atlantic puffins and thick-billed murres.
Day 12 - SIGNEHAMNA & 14TH JULY GLACIER
Located on the western coast of the Lilliehöök fjord, Signehamna bears many traces of its past. Indeed, you will see the remnants of a former German weather station that was used during the Second World War. In the heart of this sheltered bay frequented by many sea birds, abandoned cans, cables and utensils just lie on the floor like historic evidence that visitors are asked not to touch. Around you, admire the mosses and lichens that are characteristic of the tundra as well as the very old plutonic rocks. A short walk will enable you to enjoy a superb panorama with a view over the lake and a chain of snow-topped mountains. At the entrance to Cross Bay, between tundra, plutonic rocks and mountains covered with a surprising endemic flora, set off to discover the 14th July Glacier. It was thus named by Prince Albert I of Monaco, following an expedition that he led there at the beginning of the 20th century. The glacier’s surroundings are frequented by numerous birds (Tridactyl gulls, thick-billed murres, barnacle geese, common eiders, Atlantic puffins…), as well as Arctic foxes and reindeer. As you arrive in front of the glacier, admire the impressive wall of ice and the reflection of the cliffs in the water. It is quite common to see a section of ice come loose, or a bearded seal lounging on an iceberg.
Day 13 - ALKHORNET & NORDENSKIÖLD GLACIER
At the northern entrance of Isfjorden, there is a small paradise for bird lovers: the Alkhornet Cliff. It is home to a very rich avifauna, made up of thousands of birds frolicking in a joyous tumult: gulls, guillemots, pink-footed geese, terns, seagulls, puffins, Arctic skuas… The Alkhornet Cliff, easily recognisable by its rhinoceros-horn shape, is also frequented by reindeer, which are not overly timid. Attracted by the tundra that covers the foot of the mountain, they come to graze in peace in a verdant setting covered with grass and moss. With a little luck, you will perhaps have the opportunity to see some seals and Arctic foxes, who are also regular visitors. Situated deep inside Isfjorden, the Nordenskiöld Glacier is one of the very beautiful discoveries of your cruise. Its front of ice, nearly 5 km wide, is one of the most spectacular in the Svalbard Archipelago. 30 metres high, the glacier, like a gigantic frozen statue whose sections of ice sometimes come spectacularly loose, is impressive. The polar bear, the king of the Arctic, will perhaps make an appearance in these parts, which are also frequented by reindeer and seals.
Day 14 - LONGYEARBYEN
Longyearbyen is the capital of the Norwegian Svalbard archipelago, located on Svalbard’s main island, and is the northernmost territorial capital on the planet. With winter temperatures dropping to below 40°C, the landscapes of this mining town are simply breathtaking. The glaciers, the mountains stretching as far as the eye can see and the untouched nature, make you feel like you’re in completely unexplored territory.
Please Note:
Subject to ice and weather conditions. The expedition highlights and itineraries described above illustrate possible experiences only and cannot be guaranteed.

Discovery of the King of the Arctic reverse itinerary:

show main itinerary
Subject to ice and weather conditions. The expedition highlights and itineraries described above illustrate possible experiences only and cannot be guaranteed.
Longyearbyen is the capital of the Norwegian Svalbard archipelago, located on Svalbard’s main island, and is the northernmost territorial capital on the planet. With winter temperatures dropping to below 40°C, the landscapes of this mining town are simply breathtaking. The glaciers, the mountains stretching as far as the eye can see and the untouched nature, make you feel like you’re in completely unexplored territory.
At the northern entrance of Isfjorden, there is a small paradise for bird lovers: the Alkhornet Cliff. It is home to a very rich avifauna, made up of thousands of birds frolicking in a joyous tumult: gulls, guillemots, pink-footed geese, terns, seagulls, puffins, Arctic skuas… The Alkhornet Cliff, easily recognisable by its rhinoceros-horn shape, is also frequented by reindeer, which are not overly timid. Attracted by the tundra that covers the foot of the mountain, they come to graze in peace in a verdant setting covered with grass and moss. With a little luck, you will perhaps have the opportunity to see some seals and Arctic foxes, who are also regular visitors. Situated deep inside Isfjorden, the Nordenskiöld Glacier is one of the very beautiful discoveries of your cruise. Its front of ice, nearly 5 km wide, is one of the most spectacular in the Svalbard Archipelago. 30 metres high, the glacier, like a gigantic frozen statue whose sections of ice sometimes come spectacularly loose, is impressive. The polar bear, the king of the Arctic, will perhaps make an appearance in these parts, which are also frequented by reindeer and seals.
Located on the western coast of the Lilliehöök fjord, Signehamna bears many traces of its past. Indeed, you will see the remnants of a former German weather station that was used during the Second World War. In the heart of this sheltered bay frequented by many sea birds, abandoned cans, cables and utensils just lie on the floor like historic evidence that visitors are asked not to touch. Around you, admire the mosses and lichens that are characteristic of the tundra as well as the very old plutonic rocks. A short walk will enable you to enjoy a superb panorama with a view over the lake and a chain of snow-topped mountains. At the entrance to Cross Bay, between tundra, plutonic rocks and mountains covered with a surprising endemic flora, set off to discover the 14th July Glacier. It was thus named by Prince Albert I of Monaco, following an expedition that he led there at the beginning of the 20th century. The glacier’s surroundings are frequented by numerous birds (Tridactyl gulls, thick-billed murres, barnacle geese, common eiders, Atlantic puffins…), as well as Arctic foxes and reindeer. As you arrive in front of the glacier, admire the impressive wall of ice and the reflection of the cliffs in the water. It is quite common to see a section of ice come loose, or a bearded seal lounging on an iceberg.
Your captain will sail right up to the limit of the ice, to the edge of the ice floe. Weather conditions and state of the ice allowing, you will be able to go out in a Zodiac® dinghy for a unique experience in the middle of these floating slabs of ice. In addition to this grandiose journey through the middle of these floes with their cut and blue-tinged edges, sometimes over 2 metres thick, it is also often an opportunity to see a particular kind of fauna, totally dependent on the ice floe: birds, seals and polar bears. At first sight, the small island of Ytre Norskøya seems to be sterile and arid land. But once you are ashore, you will be welcomed by a thick carpet of golden moss, dotted with pygmy buttercups, Svalbard poppies and lichen. On the beach are the remains of the ovens that were used to melt whale blubber, precious evidence of the history of the whalers who came and set up in this area as of the 17th century. Another trace of the past: the presence of one of the largest cemeteries in Svalbard, with no fewer than 165 tombs. The Ytre Norskøya cliff is home to many sea birds, including little auks, barnacle geese, Atlantic puffins and thick-billed murres.
Discover the thermal springs of Jotunkjeldene. Located in Bockfjorden, to the north-east of Spitsbergen, they offer sumptuous landscapes thanks to their geological and botanical particularities. You will be surprised by the site’s entirely brown and red décor, punctuated by a carpet of algae and moss. Surrounded by majestic glaciers, the fjord rests on the Sverrefjellet volcano, which erupted 100,000 years ago and is now extinct. However, warm springs rise to the surface all year long. During your visit, do make sure that you walk on the surrounding moraine so as to preserve as much as possible the carbonate deposits formed by the springs, which are very fragile and subject to erosion. Located to the North-West of the Svalbard archipelago, the Monaco Glacier is probably one of Spitsbergen’s most beautiful and majestic. Named in honour of Prince Albert I of Monaco, a sailor, it stands as an impenetrable, blue-tinged jagged wall, the last glacier before reaching a latitude of 80° North. Imagine the sound of the ice cracking as it breaks free and crashes into the transparent water. And to make the magical landscape even more perfect, you might be lucky enough to spot bears and whales, as these two animals have a special fondness for this area.
Sailing into Wijdefjorden will guarantee you an unforgettable moment of wonderment. The particularity of this gigantic fjord is that it almost entirely separates the island of Spitsbergen in two, from north to south. Sailing in Wijdefjorden will enable you to reach the Daghøgda Valley and go for an exceptional hike along an ancient glacial valley. At the end of your walk, you will reach two lakes surrounded by impressive vertical cliffs. It is an exquisite spectacle, in the heart of the Svalbard Archipelago’s longest fjord.
Your captain will sail right up to the limit of the ice, to the edge of the ice floe. Weather conditions and state of the ice allowing, you will be able to go out in a Zodiac® dinghy for a unique experience in the middle of these floating slabs of ice. In addition to this grandiose journey through the middle of these floes with their cut and blue-tinged edges, sometimes over 2 metres thick, it is also often an opportunity to see a particular kind of fauna, totally dependent on the ice floe: birds, seals and polar bears.
During your cruise, discover Ny-Ålesund, a former mining town that has been transformed into a scientific base. Founded in 1916, this small town was the departure point for many Arctic expeditions, including those of the famous explorer Roald Amundsen. Don't miss a visit to the museum and its famous post office, considered to be the most northerly in the world!
On the eastern coast of Spitsbergen, in the heart of an exceptional geological site, set off to discover the remnants left by the first to explore the region, the Pomors. These settlers, hunters and trappers from Nothern Russia, were the first to discover the Svalbard Archipelago, in the 14th century. At the time, they believed they had arrived on the coast of Greenland. They named this land “Grumant”. This port of call will certainly fascinate history and geology lovers. Nestling on the south-east point of the island of Spitsbergen, this small bay shelters an immense glacier, the Vasil’evbreen, whose front is more than 20 kilometres long. This is an opportunity for an unforgettable Zodiac® outing. If the conditions allow it, you will be able to land directly at the foot of this majestic, so as to discover the moraine and walk on the first section of the glacier. Depending on the ice conditions, you will also perhaps be lucky enough to approch Stellingfjellet, home to one of the largest guillemot colonies on the archipelago.
Located to the east of Spitsbergen, this bay has many surprises in store. At the entrance to the national park on the east coast, it is a region often taken over by the ice until late in the season. This preserved bay offers the opportunity to discover the assets of the High Arctic: the tundra, glaciers and polar bears. Near to the bear den areas of Barentsøya and Edgeøya, this site often provides an occasion for great sightings of the local fauna. Located to the east of Spitsbergen, in Storfjorden, Agardhbukta is a former trapping site where a cabin remains. During your visit here, you will have the opportunity to see the ice floes and explore one of the spots where the polar bears pass by to travel to Bellsund, on the western coast of Spitsbergen. The vast plains of the Agardhdalen area also offer the psossibility of long hikes to disover the High Arctic tundra.
The Gnålodden Cliff culminates at over 700 metres high and is home to over a thousand species of sea birds. Tridactyl gulls, northern fulmars and thick-billed murres are lords and masters in this often deafening commotion, particularly during the nesting season. Polar bears and Arctic foxes also frequent the site, a delight for lovers of the animal kingdom. The “bird cliff”, as it is known, is surrounded at its foot by very rich vegetation, unfurling its carpet of moss across a décor of wild tundra. During your visit, stop at the former hunter’s cabin, which was also used as a satellite station during the 1930s. Nestling between millennial glaciers and carved mountains, and considered to be “the crown of Arctic Norway”, Spitsbergen is a place that never sees the night. Your ship will take you closer to this fascinating archipelago and, more particularly, the Hornsund fjord. Considered to be Svalbard’s southernmost fjord, it is especially reputed to be its most stunning: at the end of its vast bay, 8 great glaciers slowly make their way down to the sea before giving way to the many icebergs elegantly drifting along its cold and mysterious waters.
Longyearbyen is the capital of the Norwegian Svalbard archipelago, located on Svalbard’s main island, and is the northernmost territorial capital on the planet. With winter temperatures dropping to below 40°C, the landscapes of this mining town are simply breathtaking. The glaciers, the mountains stretching as far as the eye can see and the untouched nature, make you feel like you’re in completely unexplored territory.
* = Indicative
Map for Discovery of the King of the Arctic
L'Austral, the ship servicing Discovery of the King of the Arctic

L'Austral

Luxury Expedition / Cruise Ship

This superb mega-yacht with 132 cabins is the result of the expertise of the Italian Fincantieri shipyard and French sophistication, as interpreted by designer Jean-Philippe Nuel. L'Austral has a unique atmosphere, a subtle blend of luxury, intimacy and well-being.

A sleek silhouette softened by elegantly smooth contours and large, arched windows opening up to the sea and the light: so many features come together to give L’Austral her distinctive shape. Precious materials, discreet elegance and a perfect balance between chic and casual, combine to make you feel as if you are on your own private yacht. A design blending tradition and innovation, where a nautical mood has been subtly recreated. Precious materials in smoothing neutral tones are brought to life with splashes of cheerful reds. So many personal touches create the spirit of a “private yacht”.

Suites and staterooms

You can expect magnificent ocean views as 124 staterooms and suites have balconies. 

 Individually-controlled airconditioning • Cabin layout: kingsize bed, or twin beds, communicating cabins available (children welcome) • Minibar • Flat screen satellite TV • IPod™ players • Desk with stationery • Electronic safe • French bath products • Dressing table and hairdryer • Bath robes • Satellite direct line telephone • 110/220 volts • 24hr room service • WiFi • Balcony

Cuisine

Loyal to the great French tradition, the haute cuisine on board is worthy of the finest restaurants, where discreet, attentive service is the hallmark.

Choose from two restaurants for breakfasts, lunch and dinner. The Gastronomic Restaurant is situated on Le Liberté Deck and serves you French and international cuisine accompagnied by fine wine. On the Grill Restaurant, you have the opportuniny to eat outside and enjoy buffet lunch and themed dinner.

Life On Board

Whether you want to join other guests in the theatre or games area (Wii™ consoles, etc), or relax on your own in a quiet corner of the library, L'Austral has been designed to meet the needs of every guest.

Everything has been done to preserve the independence of each guest to suit their personal tastes: lounges for lectures and shows, a spa in partnership with Sothys™, but also more intimate spaces such as the library and internet corner. Comfortable cabins, nearly all with private balcony, are available for families either as triples or as communicating cabins. There is also a games area with Wii™ consoles, children’s menus, and a baby-sitting service. Just as if you were on a private yacht, your time is your own to do as you please.

Fitted with the latest equipment (Kinesis Wall, running machine) and in partnership with the famous Sothys™ brand, the Beauty Centre on L'Austral welcomes you for some unforgettable moments of relaxation and pampering (beauty treatments, hairdresser).

Wheelchairs
3 specially adapted wheelchair cabins (Deck 3 = Superior cabin no. 307, no balcony, Deck 4 = Prestige Cabin no. 407 - with balcony and Deck 5 = Prestige Cabin no 509, with balcony) and lifts to all decks/areas.

Details

Length:  142 metres. Passenger Capacity: 264 (200 in Antarctica). Built:  2011

Please click the following links to read more about Ponant and the other Ponant cruise ships.

Cabin layout for L'Austral
• The most complete PONANT cruise to Spitsbergen: 13 days for a fully-comprehensive discovery of the kingdom of the polar bear.

• Outings and shore visits in Zodiac®inflatables with your naturalist guides.

• Hiking opportunity.

• Landscapes: ice floes, jagged mountains, icebergs, plains covered with moss and lichens, lakes and rivers.

• Wildlife: polar bears, Arctic foxes, Svalbard reindeer, Arctic terns, walruses, whales, puffins.
Enquire now about Discovery of the King of the Arctic

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