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Spitsbergen Encounter



Bird & Wildlife Cruise: Land mammals, birds, seals, whales, scenery & photography & art.


Longyearbyen (Svalbard) – exploring west and northwest Spitsbergen and islands – Longyearbyen.


Polar Bear, Walrus, various seals, Arctic Fox, Reindeer, breeding seabirds, Ivory Gull, King Eider, Grey Phalarope.


Spring Polar.


100+ passenger comfortable expedition cruise ship, all cabins with private facilities. 

With Dick Filby, Denise Landau and Bruce Pearson onboard

Spitsbergen, the largest island in the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard, is only 600 miles from the North Pole.   About the same size as Ireland, its name means 'pointed mountains'.  It is the summer home for an abundance of special birds, mammals and plants in a land of spectacular scenery and fascinating history. In addition to our 7 night Polar Bear voyages, we can now also offer two 9 night sailings, with the ‘A- Team’ onboard. These special departures will be aboard the Akademik Vavilov. 

These voyages will appeal to all who have a spirit of adventure and who love wild, remote and peaceful places.  The bird and mammal list is small, but very special.   From the spectacle of teeming colonies of thousands of Brunnich's Guillemots and Little Auks, to the grace and beauty of Ivory and perhaps Sabine's Gulls; with colourful Grey Phalaropes and drake King Eiders alongside breeding Purple Sandpipers and Snow Buntings; with nesting Pink-footed and Barnacle Geese and Arctic and Long-tailed Skuas; and where Ptarmigan and Red-throated Divers' calls echo across the tundra; Spitsbergen has a very special appeal to the birder.  We would expect multiple Polar Bear encounters, Walruses, Bearded, Ringed and perhaps Harp Seals, Minke Whales, Belugas, Arctic Foxes and Svalbard Reindeer, and over 170 species of flowering plants, it’s appeal is irresistible to any naturalist. 

Our vessel for this expedition cruise will be the Akademik Vavilov, built in Finland in 1989. With a maximum passenger capacity of 96, we can expect to make two landings and/or Zodiac cruises each day. She is very stable and a ‘scope and tripod can often be used on deck, whilst at sea! Originally built for scientific polar exploration, she has lots of open deck space in all directions, ideal for sea-watching and photography and is quiet too, allowing for closer encounters with cetaceans. WildWings have used this wonderful vessel for over 15 years now and many of our regular voyagers have fantastic memories of incredible wildlife encounters all around the world. Her experienced staff and crew are dedicated to ensuring that you have a successful, comfortable, safe and enjoyable trip and that you see as much of the wildlife as possible.  The Zodiac drivers will take us safely ashore, and also on more leisurely cruises as well, so we gain an even more intimate and unique perspective of the seabirds and marine mammals in this stunning wilderness. 

The atmosphere on board is relaxing and informal and meals are taken at a single open sitting in two dining rooms.  Western chefs produce an international choice of cuisine throughout the voyage. At certain points during your voyage a speedy or take away dining option will be available to minimise time in the dining room and maximise time on deck for those that wish. The cabins are comfortable and all have an outside view, lower berths, desk and chair plus storage space and power points. All cabins include bathrobes and all with private facilities and the suites also include toiletry kits, a hairdryer and a tea/coffee maker.  Other on board facilities include a sauna and polar plunge pool, presentation room, bar/lounge, gift shop and a well-stocked library.  The spacious bridge is usually open for those who wish to learn about navigation, see the ship's charts, or simply sea watch in comfort and is stocked with wildlife ID guides. 

Photographic opportunities, for both scenery and wildlife are normally superb. This sailingwill have pro-photographers on board, such as Daisy Gilardini, who will conduct a photo symposium, which is free for passengers to join.


These voyages include the use of waterproof jackets, trousers and boots, plus binoculars and waterproof backpacks if required.

Dick Filby has voyaged in these waters on many occasions, as has his spouse, Denise Landau, whose infectious enthusiasm usually spreads very quickly indeed. 

Bruce’s love of the polar regions and it’s wildlife goes back many years, he will give lectures and hold workshops throughout the voyage, giving tips and advice on drawing and painting, not only of wildlife, but the ice-scapes and the amazing scenery too. For the first voyage Bruce will be one of the naturalists, for the second, Artist in Residence.

Painting and Drawing 

Bruce has written a few notes for those of you interested in trying your own hand….

‘For anyone wanting to have a go at painting and sketching the landscape and wildlife there will be opportunities both ashore and at sea to capture something a little different from the voyage.

Some extra materials will be available (sketchpads, pencils, a few brushes and watercolours for those who might suddenly become inspired), but if you are already keen on field sketching and feel that you'd like to push your creativity a little further, then please bring your own familiar bits and pieces.  That might include a particular paper or sketchpad, a watercolour painting set and favourite brushes, a water pot, a set of coloured pencils or pastels, and a bundle of soft pencils - and a bag of some sort to carry everything in.

Whether an enthusiastic hobby painter or someone picking up a pencil and seriously drawing for the very first time it will be exciting being able to lay the camera aside for a while and explore you own creativity and be gently encouraged to start learning to 'see' the natural world in a very different way.’

To see some of Bruce’s work, please visit his website…http://www.brucepearson.net  

WildWings has been running voyages here for over fifteen years now and all have all been very successful, each seeing most of the wildlife described above.   No two years are the same in the Arctic, and the unpredictability of ice conditions and consequently of wildlife make for an exciting and unique trip every time.   With a well-run and comfortable ship, a very professional expedition team, and generally settled weather with light winds and sunshine, one could not ask for more. The 2009 trip yielded five Polar Bears, with the best views being at close range from the Zodiacs, as one strode along the shoreline in front of us for about 30 minutes! Good numbers of Walrus were also seen again and several Arctic Foxes plus the usual bird species including some stunning King Eiders, a Sabine’s and two more Iceland Gulls plus very photographable Grey Phalaropes. Our 2010 departure enjoyed no less than 16 Polar Bears including 13 on one day, three Arctic Foxes, 25 hauled out Walrus, Bearded and Ringed Seals, Minke Whales and two Belugas. All the expected birds were seen well plus a vagrant Lesser Yellowlegs. 2016 yielded bears galore plus Bowhead and Blue Whales on the edge of the sea ice pack!

Join Dick, Denise and Bruce on these rewarding voyages to the Land of the Midnight Sun and the Kingdom of the Ice Bear, to experience for yourself the magic of Svalbard and its special wildlife.  

Day 1: Embark vessel late afternoon and sail from Longyearbyen.

Day 2: Bourbonhamna.

Day 3: Lilliehook Glacier.

Day 4: Monaco Glacier & Liefdefjorden.

Day 5: Phippsoya

Days 6 -7: Hinlopen Strait

Day 8: Smeerenberg

Day 9: King Charles Island

Day 10: Disembark Longyearbyen after breakfast. 


This is an outline guide only, exact sea itinerary subject to ice and local conditions on the day.

Please note: All itineraries are subject to weather, local conditions and final approval by the relevant authorities.

Dates:    19th – 28th June 2019 (Wildlife, Photography & Art)

Tour Leader:  Dick Filby, Denise Landau, Bruce Pearson & the rest of the ship’s expedition team 

Cost: From £3599 per person sharing a cabin 

Single supp: From £2385 per person

Deposit: 20%


Cost              Cabin       

£3765          Sharing a triple cabin with washbasin            

£4919           Sharing a twin cabin with semi-private facilities

£5765           Sharing a twin with private facilities

£6765           Sharing a superior twin with private facilities 

£7599           Sharing a Shackleton Suite

£8995           Sharing the One Ocean Suite

NB: Early booking prices, valid until 31/8/2018. All previous OOE Ioffe and Vavilov passengers qualify for a further 10% discount, please ask!

Price includes: Transfers in Longyearbyen (town-ship return), accommodation and all meals on board the vessel in chosen cabin grade, coffee, tea and hot chocolate (24 hours), Zodiac shore landings accompanied by naturalist guides, lectures aboard ship, waterproof coat, trousers and boot loan aboard ship (plus binoculars and daypack if required), services of ship’s expedition team, WildWings evening log call sessions, voyage information pack and WildWings daily checklist of birds and mammals plus souvenir photo USB stick.

Price excludes: Flights to and from Longyearbyen (from £585 return from Heathrow), overnight hotel at Oslo Airport (c£70pppn), travel insurance, other drinks, laundry, souvenirs and other items of a personal nature, crew and staff gratuities (suggested US$ 10-15 per passenger per day onboard ship). 



    The ‘ultimate’ Antarctic itinerary, with artist Bruce Pearson and birder Dick Filby onboard. A special voyage in aid of the ‘Save the Albatross Campaign’

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    Tour Leader

    Dick has been leading birding and wildlife trips for WildWings for over 20 years in the Polar Regions, Oceania, Alaska, the Russian Far East, Spitsbergen, Galapagos, Colorado and Poland.

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