Depart North America on an overnight flight to Oslo, Norway’s capital and largest city.
Day 2: Oslo City Tour
Upon arrival in Oslo, check in to our hotel before embarking on a tour of this lively, sophisticated coastal city where each year the Nobel Peace Prize is awarded in the presence of the king of Norway. Our introduction begins with a stroll among the famed Vigeland sculptures—hundreds of life-size human figures set in rolling parkland. Our next stop is the Fram Museum, named for the restored 19th-century ship on display and dedicated to Norwegian polar explorers Fritjof Nansen and Roald Amundsen. The evening is free to try one of the harborside restaurants or turn in early to rest up after a long stretch of travel.
Day 3: Oslo / Longyearbyen—Embark Ship
Depart Oslo on our private chartered flight to Longyearbyen. Located on the island of Spitsbergen, Longyearbyen is the administrative center and largest settlement in Svalbard, with about 2,100 residents. We transfer to the pier to embark our ship, the National Geographic Endurance, which will be our floating base for the next week as we go in search of Svalbard polar bears and other Arctic wildlife.
Days 4–9: Exploring Svalbard
The itinerary for our Arctic adventure is truly exploratory by design, and our exact day-to-day movements will remain flexible in order to accommodate local conditions and pursue the best wildlife watching in the best locations. We'll spend six glorious days cruising among the icebergs that drift along Svalbard's rugged coast, utilizing our onboard fleet of Zodiacs to get close to the shoreline and access land for guided hikes. As we cruise among beautiful icebergs, spring conditions are likely to let us set foot on the frozen ice right off the ship, too. Our focus is on polar wildlife. While polar bears are a top draw, of course, we'll also look for drifting seals, noisy herds of walrus, reindeer on the move and the elegant Arctic fox. As we cruise in Svalbard's dramatic fjords, we get close to the face of tidewater glaciers, waiting for the telltale rumble and crack that signals an explosive calving. Via Zodiac and kayak, we make our way among icebergs at eye level, admiring the palette of blue and aqua reflected in the ice crystals. Ashore, we learn about Svalbard's geology and hardy plant life, including the miniature wildflowers that bloom here later in the summer, providing dots of color in this otherwise monochrome landscape. Throughout this early-season journey, we will take advantage of the ever-changing light and mesmerizing photographic conditions.
Day 10: Longyearbyen—Disembark / Oslo
Our polar bear expedition concludes as the National Geographic Endurance returns to port in Longyearbyen today. After disembarking, you'll meet up with a local guide to take a short bus ride to Camp Barentz in the nearby Advent Valley for a taste of Arctic culture. Here, you’ll discover a unique collection of buildings including an authentic gamme, a traditional round building with an open fire in the center, and a lavvo, the traditional tent of the Sami people. Enjoy refreshments and meet some of the friendly sled dog huskies that reside at camp before you fly to Oslo and transfer to our hotel near the airport.
Day 11: Oslo / Depart
After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your departing flights.