AIA Tours: cruise

Arctic Odyssey: Exploring Norway’s Svalbard Archipelago

Tour Dates: July 8-20, 2022 - this tour has been cancelled (13 days)

This tour has been cancelled for the July 2022 departure.

This summer, join a team of lecturers on a voyage that will explore one of the Arctic’s most interesting and magnificent areas, Norway’s Svalbard (Spitsbergen). Enjoy the comforts of a luxurious expedition ship while exploring a remote region far from tourist routes.

A group of islands located between Norway and the North Pole, Svalbard is a place of vast glaciers, calving icebergs, snowcapped mountains, and majestic serene fjords. Two thirds of the archipelago is covered by nature reserves created to protect the environment and the remarkable wildlife of the islands. Covered by ice for most of the year, the short Arctic summer that provides 24-hour days reveals the grandeur and natural life of Svalbard. The fish-rich sea that surrounds the islands attracts large numbers of birds, including kittiwakes, Arctic terns, fulmars, puffins, and black and Brunnich’s guillemots. Whales, seals, and walruses frequent the area, while the tundra supports a surprising number of flowering plants. But the undoubted king of this high Arctic archipelago is the polar bear. Svalbard is one of the best places on Earth to observe polar bears in their natural habitat. Estimated to number about 3,000, polar bears outnumber the human population of the islands.

Starting in Oslo, Norway’s lovely capital, we will fly to Tromso, located above the Arctic Circle, where we will embark our ship, and cruise across the Barents Sea to Bear Island, a nature reserve and home to thousands of birds. From Bear Island, it’s just an overnight cruise to the Svalbard archipelago, where we will spend seven days exploring this extraordinary group of islands and search for its wildlife, especially polar bears. Our Arctic Odyssey will end in Tromso, from where we will fly home.

Our home for this Arctic adventure will be SH Minerva, a state-of-the-art expedition cruise ship that was purpose built for polar exploration. Built in Finland and launched in December 2021, SH Minerva features the most advanced green mechanical technologies and systems, and accommodates a maximum of 152 guests in spacious staterooms and suites. A team of expert expedition leaders and naturalists will plan and lead our activities ashore, while a fleet of Zodiac landing craft will bring us into intimate contact with the places we will explore.

We hope you will join AIA travelers and a team of lecturers on this unique travel-study adventure. I encourage you to contact AIA Tours today to reserve your preferred cabin type.

Prices Per Person (11 nights)

Per person, double occupancy
Prices starting at $7,490

A limited number of staterooms are available for single occupancy at no additional charge. Additional single staterooms are available at a supplement of 40% of the per person double occupancy rate, instead of the normal 70% supplement.

All accommodations aboard Minerva are spacious staterooms or balcony suites. They are elegantly decorated, face outside, affording sea views, and include a queen-size bed that can be arranged as two twin beds, a spacious bathroom, mini-refrigerator, safe, ample closet space, climate control, telephone, TV, Wi-Fi, and USB connections, as well as other amenities.

To reserve your space using the online form, click here.

For reservations or questions, please email us at (and include your full name) or call us toll-free at (800) 748-6262. Download the detailed brochure.


Friday, July 8, 2022: Depart home for Oslo, Norway
Saturday, July 9: OSLO, Norway
Sunday, July 10 OSLO/FLY TO TROMSO
Monday, July 11: BEAR ISLAND
Tuesday, July 12–Monday, July 18: EXPLORING SVALBARD
Tuesday, July 19: AT SEA

View Detailed Itinerary

Friday, July 8, 2022: Depart home for Oslo, Norway.

Saturday, July 9: OSLO, Norway
Arrive in Oslo, Norway’s elegant capital, and transfer to Clarion Hotel The Hub (or similar). Tour Oslo in the afternoon, including Frogner Park, which includes the famed Vigeland sculptures, the work of Norwegian sculptor Gustav Vigeland; and the Fram Museum, home to the ships of some of Norway’s most notable explorers.  Enjoy a welcome dinner.  Meals: D

Sunday, July 10 OSLO/FLY TO TROMSO
Transfer to the airport for the group flight to Tromso. On arrival transfer to the port to board the SH Minerva. Cruise in the evening.  Meals: B, L, D

Monday, July 11: BEAR ISLAND
Arrive at Bear Island, a small, uninhabited island that is a nature reserve and a designated Important Bird Area that supports huge colonies of birds. Aboard Zodiacs, cruise along the island’s cliffs to observe the bird life. Meals: B, L, D

Tuesday, July 12–Monday, July 18: EXPLORING SVALBARD
Spend seven days exploring this incredible archipelago of the High Arctic, located some 600 miles south of the North Pole. In the spirit of an expedition voyage, the ship’s schedule will be kept flexible to take advantage of the best opportunities that arise for landings ashore and for wildlife sightings. SH Minerva’s ice-strengthened hull allows it to enter safely the icy waterways, bays, and fjords of the islands, while the fleet of Zodiacs, versatile landing craft, will bring us close to the places we want to explore and spot the amazing wildlife of the islands that includes polar bears. Some of the places we expect to visit are Bellsund, a 16-mile-long sound surrounded by snow-capped peaks and glaciers, where the cliffs house thousands of birds and polar bears are frequent visitors; Monaco Glacier, one of the most stunning in the archipelago; Nordaustlandet, part of the Spitsbergen Northeast Reserve, where polar bears may be spotted in their denning area and reindeer roam the tundra; Wijdefjorden, the longest fjord in the archipelago (more than 80 miles long), part of the Inner Wijdefjorden National Park, created to protect the rich flora of the High Arctic; and the maze of glacier-lined waterways of Southwest Spitsbergen National Park.  Meals: B, L, D every day

Tuesday, July 1: AT SEA
Cruise the Barents Sea back to Tromso. Meals: B, L, D

Disembark in Tromso, the largest city in northern Norway, and transfer to the airport for the group flight to Oslo to connect with independent flights homeward.  Meals: B

For reservations or questions, please email us at (and include your full name) or call us toll-free at (800) 748-6262 (toll: 603-756-2884). To reserve your space using the online form, click here.

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