West-Spitsbergen Photo Voyage, 2023

A programme for ambitious nature photography

West Spitsbergen Photo Journey – with the „Cape Race“

Spitsbergen is a dream destination for nature photographers and offers fantastic motifs. First of all, there is the species-rich Nordic fauna – including polar bears, walruses and other seal species, reindeer and arctic foxes, various species of seabirds, some with huge populations, and last but not least, whales of various species. The wildlife of Spitsbergen also shows little aversion to human visitors, as hunting on Spitsbergen is nowadays very limited and restricted to a few species.

Besides the Arctic wildlife, the Nordic landscape offers fantastic photo motifs. These include the enormous glaciers with spectacular ice formations in terms of colour and structure, icebergs drifting through the fjords, vast expanses of snow, dramatic rock formations and vast tundra landscapes – which glow in rich shades of brown and red, especially in late summer.

Capturing scenery and wildlife in beautiful images is a key interest for many travellers during a Spitsbergen nature cruise. Unfortunately, for serious photographers, the time available during the excursions is often insufficient. Reasons for this can be different interests of the trip participants. Some travellers like to hike far and fast and simply have no understanding for the endurance, patience and time requirements of ambitious photographers. Above all, the size of the excursion groups and the number of participants limits the time available for serious nature photography.

West Spitsbergen Photo Tour with the „Cape Race“ – the programme for ambitious nature photography.
With the stylish expedition ship „Cape Race“ we offer a Spitsbergen nature cruises in late summer 2023, where the focus is clearly on nature photography.

The travel time and the expedition ship offer unique conditions:

  • At the time of travel in late summer, the sun is already lower and the tundra and glaciers shine in a soft light.
  • At this time, the vegetation of the tundra is already coloured in strong yellow and red tones – a wonderful contrast to the bright snow and ice colours of the glaciers.
  • Arctic animals such as reindeer and Arctic foxes have taken advantage of the nutrient-rich summer period and show their fur and overall constitution in good condition.
  • A maximum of 12 guests can take part in the West Spitsbergen photo journey with the „Cape Race“. This small group is supervised by an experienced expedition leader and photographer Heike Ollertz guaranteeing maximum time utilisation and flexibility.
  • This special programme with the „Cape Race“ are expressly aimed at photographers who are seriously interested. Nature photography and the flexible use of good light and weather conditions are clearly at the heart of the activities.
  • The stylish and comfortable equipment of the „Cape Race“ makes participation in this programme an unforgettable experience.
  • For our Zodiac excursions and also for longer stays on deck when it is cold, we provide full body suits, so-called flotation suits, for all travellers.
Photographer Heike Ollertz  
Heike Ollertz

Heike Ollertz, currently Dean at UE University of Applied Sciences Europe, FB Art & Design, and Professor of Photography at BTK Hamburg, has published countless reportages as a freelance photographer for magazines such as mare, GEO, Stern or Der Spiegel, as well as several illustrated books over the past 25 years.


The photographic approach on our trips focuses on landscape photography. Aspects such as light, perspective or graphics play a central role. Heike Ollertz and Jan Windszus thus open up views and explain techniques that go beyond usual travel photography. From the right moment to take the picture to image editing, Heike Ollertz contributes her experience.

The West Spitsbergen Photo Voyage with the „Cape Race“ is a programme especially for travellers with a serious interest in nature photography and high demands on the style and comfort of the expedition ship.

Sample itinerary of the West Spitsbergen photo tour with the “Cape Race

Day 1: Arrival in Oslo
You fly from your home airport in Germany, Switzerland or Austria to Oslo. Once here, you will spend the first night at the Hotel Radisson SAS Oslo Airport.

Day 2 : Onward flight to Longyearbyen | Start of cruise
In the morning, you will fly on to Longyearbyen, the starting port of our North Spitsbergen cruise with the „Cape Race“ and the administrative centre of Spitsbergen. Depending on the time of arrival, you will have time to explore the interesting little settlement (and for example the Svalbard Museum) before embarkation.

In the afternoon, the itinerary begins with the “Cape Race”.
After you have greeted the crew, captain and fellow passengers and checked into your cabin, the „Cape Race“ sets sail and we cross the Adventfjord and enter the large Isfjord.

Days 3 – 11: The West Spitsbergen Photo Journey with the „Cape Race“
Depending on the ice and weather conditions, we will land at many attractive destinations on the following days and explore the surroundings while hiking and taking photographs. At this time of year, summer turns into winter very quickly. It can snow overnight and it can also get really cold quickly. As it gets darker at night, the chances of seeing the Northern Lights increase. Where there were 24 hours of brightness during the summer, there are now long periods of twilight and dramatic lighting effects.

During our shore excursions with guide and photographer Heike Ollertz or Jan Windszus, we will try out and implement different aspects of photography.

Some of the possible destinations we can visit during this trip:

Isfjorden (Alkhornet)
We plan to land at Alkhornet and hike to a bird cliff here. We can observe arctic foxes searching the slopes below the bird rock for eggs and young birds. Reindeer also graze here frequently.

Kongsfjorden and Krossfjorden
We head north along the west coast of Spitsbergen and plan to visit the large fjords of Kongsfjorden and Krossfjorden. Here the spectacular snow-covered peaks come into their own impressively. There are a variety of photographically interesting destinations in the extensive fjord landscape.
Depending on the prevailing weather conditions, we plan to visit places of historical interest such as Ny London (with the remains of marble mining in the early 20th century) and the northernmost town in the world, Ny Ålesund. There are many research institutes here where scientists from all over the world work. The famous anchor mast of the dirigible airship Norge, in which Amundsen, Nobile and Ellsworth made the first flight over the North Pole to Nome (Alaska) in 1926, is also located here.
Krossfjorden offers spectacular views of the glaciers and mountain peaks all around. The extent of the fjord ice will dictate our further progress here.

Magdalenen Fjord and Dansköya
The current ice conditions are of decisive importance for our planned continuation northwards. We hope to enter the beautiful Magdalen Fjord and land on the island of Dansköya. The north coast of Dansköya is where many aeronautical expeditions started and there are many remnants of activities in earlier centuries. Most likely, we will already encounter sea ice in these waters. This might prevent us from continuing our journey – but the drifting ice masses with their bizarre shapes and colours are truly impressive photo motifs. As are the walruses and polar bears that roam this icy landscape.

Prins Karls Forlanded and St. Johnsfjord
Our West Spitsbergen photo journey with the „Cape Race“ now heads south between the main island of West Spitsbergen and Prins Karls Forlanded. Here we have a good chance of encountering walruses, as the beach at Poolepynten is a popular gathering place for the large seals. St. Johnsfjorden is also worth a detour – there are fantastic views of the Gaffelbreen glacier. Bearded seals and ringed seals are common in these waters.

We re-enter Isfjorden and can go for a hike in Ymerbukta if conditions are good. Bohemanflya is a vast tundra area with spectacular geological formations along the coast. Northeast of Ekmanfjorden and the dramatic Mount Colosseum is another attractive excursion destination. Typical for this area are numerous glaciers that end close to or directly in the sea.
Furthermore, a hike at Gipsvika deep in the inner Isfjorden is a good idea. Here it is worth landing near the majestic Templet cliff. There is a breathtaking view of spectacular mountains made of sedimentary rock from the Upper Carboniferous period some 290 million years ago.

The mining settlements of Colesbukta, Pyramiden and Barentsburg offer other motifs: Russian culture, community life and also the hard side of human life in the Arctic. A well-known motif is the bust of Lenin.

Isfjord | Longyearbyen
On the morning of the last day of our West Spitsbergen photo tour with the „Cape Race“, we plan further landings in the large Isfjorden (ice fjord). Again, the choice of our excursion destinations will depend on the current ice and weather conditions.
In the late evening, the „Cape Race“ will enter the harbour of Longyearbyen, where we will spend the last night moored at the quay.

Day 12: Disembarkation in Longyearbyen
Today the West Spitsbergen photo tour with the „Cape Race“ comes to an end with the arrival in Longyearbyen. After disembarkation (around 9.30h), you will be transferred to the airport and then fly to Oslo. An overnight stay is usually required here and a room is reserved for you at the Radisson SAS Airport Hotel in Oslo.

Day 13: Onward flight from Oslo to your home airport
In the morning, you will fly from Oslo to your home airport in Germany, Switzerland or Austria, where your West Spitsbergen photo tour with the „Cape Race“ will end upon arrival.

Polar-Schiffsreisen Plus: We are happy to offer you an individual arrival and return programme for the West Spitsbergen photo cruise with the „Cape Race“ – and on request also additional services (overnight stays) in Longyearbyen and/or Oslo.

Important information about the itinerary for the West Spitsbergen Photo Tour with the „Cape Race“
Our exact itinerary depends on ice conditions, current weather conditions and where the wildlife will be. Therefore, the destinations mentioned are only examples of some of the many possible sights this trip has to offer. Please remember that flexibility is the key to a successful expedition!

DATES 2023
Time on board:
11 days / 10 nights
Triple cabin shower/WC Double cabin
double bed
Double cabin
twin bed
Single cabin
23.9.2023 – 4.10.2023
(MARE 19-23)
€ 9.210,- € 9.495,- € 9.495,- booked up
2.10.2023 – 14.10.2023
(MARE 20-23)
€ 9.210,- € 9.495,- € 9.495,- € 10.695,-

Services included in the travel price

  • Nature cruise on board the „Cape Race“ (11 days / 10 nights), as described
  • One night in a good middle class hotel in Tromsø (Radisson Blu or similar) before the nature cruise, including breakfast
  • Full board on board incl. soft drinks
  • Flights from / to Germany, Switzerland or Austria in economy class to Tromsø and back
  • All shore excursions and trips during the cruise
  • German speaking tour guide on board
  • Corona- additional protection: travel interruption insurance (comprehensive insurance coverage including epidemic / pandemic), travel health insurance (incl. repatriation) and travel assistance (for security, mobility, money and authorities, home and family)

Services not included in the price of the cruise

  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Travel insurance
  • Tips and personal expenses
  • Any costs for medical tests (for example COVID-19) or vaccinations required either by a government agency or by the operator before, during or after the trip.

Minimum number of participants: 8 persons, cancellation in case of non-achievement at least 2 months before the beginning of the service. All scheduled landings are subject to local weather and ice conditions. Changes in the itinerary and program are expressly reserved. The completion of various questionnaires is mandatory.

Mobility information
We are obliged to point out that this trip is generally not suitable for persons with reduced mobility. Please contact us in individual cases.

Inquire now
  • German-speaking guided nature cruise
  • Travel dates: September - October 2023
  • Embarkation: Longyearbyen
  • Disembarkation: Longyearbyen
  • Duration of stay on board: 11 days / 10 nights
  • Maximum number of participants: 12