Hapag-Llloyd's website advertises a wide range of "Artic adventures", explaining: "It goes without saying that our expedition ships and crew are highly experienced and trained to meet the special demands presented by an Arctic expedition".
In what is being called "an act of self-defense" by Hapag-Lloyd cruise line, the bear was shot by a guard specifically hired to protect their guests and crew during unsafe encounters.
The polar bear was then shot dead "in an act of self-defense" by the second guard, a spokeswoman said.
Rising temperature have forced polar bears out of their natural icy habitats and closer to human settlements, reducing their fear of humans.
"Polar bears are only observed from aboard ships, from a safe distance", the company says. The area is known for its polar bears, sea lions and stark landscapes. "As soon as such an animal approaches, the shore leave would be stopped immediately". Some are saying it was a needless death of a vulnerable animal and that tourists shouldn't have been there in the first place. "One of the guards was unexpectedly attacked by a polar bear that had not been spotted and he was unable to react himself".
The animal attacked the guard after the boat docked at the island, with the two men reaching land before the tourists.
The injured guard was airlifted to hospital in the town of Longyearbyen with non-life-threatening head injuries and remained in stable condition.
In its Facebook statement, Hapag-Lloyd Cruises notes that landings on Spitsbergen are only possible in a few places and these are not done for polar bear observation.
Reaction to the death of this polar bear has been swift. "Customers need to start asking themselves if they feel good about a native bear being shot dead to enable their selfish intrusion into this attractive creature's home", wrote one upset poster.