Summary : Who has not dreamed of the land of the midnight sun? Travel to places seen by famous polar explorers such as Andrée, Nordenskjöld, Amundsen and Nobile for a journey like no other. Search the Spitsbergen pack ice for the elusive polar bear in Zodiacs, observe huge colonies of seabirds and enjoy the coastal culture, and perhaps a local beer, in the outstanding beauty of Iceland.
Activities : Birding, Child-Friendly, Culture, Hiking, Kayaking, Triple/Quad Cabins
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$10,250 to $37,650
Embark Silver Cloud and be introduced to your Expedition Team. Attend a Zodiac briefing as well as an Arctic regulations refresher course that outlines the environmental policies that all must adhere to in order to enjoy the privilege of visiting this pristine region at the top of the world. Familiarize yourself with the elegant Silver Cloud, meet some of your fellow travelers and enjoy the first of many memorable meals in one of the restaurants.
As you near the southern tip of this arctic island, now a nature reserve, see thousands of seabirds diving into and out of the island’s steep cliffs.
With Zodiacs and favorable weather conditions, explore the rugged coastline. Close to 9 kilometers of cliffs are home to some of the largest bird colonies of the Northern Hemisphere. Common Guillemots, Brünnich’s Guillemots, Black-legged Kittiwakes, Northern Fulmars, and Glaucous Gulls are all found along the cliff. Other species have been observed, including puffins and even gannets. Of the more than 120 species registered, slightly more than 30 actually breed on the island. The Expedition Team will provide insights into the environment, the terrain, and the wildlife that exist in these extreme conditions.
Leaving Bear Island head out on deck to watch for whales -white-beaked dolphins and minke whales are known to frequent the area.
A flexible itinerary takes advantage of favorable ice and weather conditions. Whether cruising by Zodiac among ice floes and icebergs or heading ashore for a guided walk, your adventures will bring you up close to mystical settings. Each day your Expedition Leader and Captain will determine the best course depending on changing weather, ice conditions and the wildlife we encounter. Travel to see walrus haul-outs, possibly reindeer, and maybe even spot an Arctic fox or a bearded seal. Northern Fulmars will be your constant companions. You might even encounter a few whales. Several species frequent the area, in particular Minke and beluga.
Here are a few of the places you visit:
This is the southernmost fjord on the rugged west coast of Spitsbergen Island. Jagged mountain peaks tower above glacier-filled bays. Amidst floating icebergs, watch for bearded seals, the beluga whale and the king of the Arctic – the polar bear. Sightings are fairly common as the polar bear’s favorite food, the ringed seal, breeds in the fjord. The surrounding bird cliffs are home to thousands of pairs of nesting Little Auks. Perhaps visit the remains of whaling stations and trappers’ huts.
Found on Spitsbergen’s northwest coast, Magdalenefjorden was already seen by Willem Barents in 1596. Walrus was hunted here in later days and a whaling station was set up. The remains of blubber ovens and a cemetery can still be seen. Silver Cloud will enter this scenic fjord in Northwest Spitsbergen National Park and you might land at Graveneset for a short walk.
With the strengthened hull of the Silver Cloud, you have the perfect platform to search for walrus and polar bears and at least one day will be devoted to exploring the pack ice north of Spitsbergen. Conditions permitting, your Expedition Leader may choose to take out the Zodiacs for an even closer look.
At the entrance to Liefdefjorden are several small island groups. On the Andøyane (Duck Islands), encounter polar bears looking for bird’s eggs. With the Zodiacs, perhaps circumnavigate several of the islands, always on the lookout for active birdlife. When Arctic Terns circle in specific areas, it usually is a sign for polar bear presence on the islands.
Cruising past majestic red Devonian sandstone mountains reach the end of Liefdefjorden for a Zodiac cruise along the front of two different glaciers: Monacobreen and Seligerbreen. Monacobreen has a 5 kilometer long front and is a good place to look for seals, Black-legged Kittiwakes and Ivory Gulls.
The 14th of July Bay is located at the entrance of Krossfjorden. Go ashore for a hike up to the 14th of July Glacier. Conditions permitting, you can climb onto the glacier, or, alternatively walk to the Hanging Gardens, a beautiful plant oasis underneath a bird cliff.
Your Expedition Team members will recap your experiences in Svalbard in the Lecture Theatre and will prepare you for the island of Jan Mayen. Other onboard diversions include spa treatments, a workout in the Fitness Centre, and, of course, exquisite dining experiences.
During the morning go ashore close to the Norwegian Meteorological Station. Apart from a nature walk leading up to the long black sandy beach on the eastern shore, enter the station in small groups and hear about the work this remote outpost is conducting.
In the afternoon continue sailing south toward Iceland. Head out on deck to watch for seabirds and whales. When not attending an informative lecture, take some time to peruse the well-stocked Library, enjoy a fine cognac in the Connoisseur’s Corner or indulge in any of the other special amenities offered aboard ship.
Just off the north coast of Iceland and slightly above the Arctic Circle is Iceland’s northernmost inhabited island. The island is small enough (only 5.3 km²) to be explored on foot and you are bound to meet one of the seventy hardy souls that make this island their home. The island’s sheer cliffs are home to huge seabird colonies, mainly Atlantic Puffins, Black-legged Kittiwakes, Northern Fulmars, Razorbills, and Common and Brünnich’s Guillemots. Still today the islanders abseil down the cliffs to collect bird eggs. You will have the opportunity to visit with islanders to get a first-hand impression of life on Grimsey.
As you reach the mainland, get the choice of three different glimpses of Iceland. You can either focus on coastal culture, the beautiful seaside surroundings and visiting small fishing villages and the award-winning Siglufjordur Herring Museum, Iceland’s largest maritime museum.
Or you could instead look at the countryside culture, visiting small countryside churches, an Icelandic farm and seeing how life is when it is largely based on traditional livestock raising.
Or, the third choice would be to taste local delicacies on the mainland and on the small island of Hrisey. You will taste fresh and salted cod and get to see Iceland’s first micro-brewery and of course taste the local beer.
Isafjordur has a well-preserved town center from the 19th century and you can accompany a local guide dressed in 19th century clothing to see and hear what makes this place so special.
Or, you can drive to Sudavik and the largest fjord of the Westfjords. The Arctic Fox Center, a research center, museum and coffee shop in one, is located there and you will have Icelandic live music at Sudavik’s beautiful and history-charged church. For those interested in horse-back riding, a small number of Icelandic ponies will be there to take you through the Sandar Valley, a 40-minute drive from Isafjordur.
If you would like to taste some local food, choose the Sudureyri Food Trail. Visit the eco-conscious fishing village of Sudureyri and meet the locals. Sample local produce and delicacies (mainly fish) at various points of your walk – an intercultural experience you are unlikely to forget!
Silver Cloud will reposition during lunchtime and will reach the privately-owned Vigur Island. Take a guided walk around the small island famous for its Eider Ducks and eider down harvesting, as well as the abundant amount of puffins and terns that call the island their home. At the end of the walk you can enjoy the hospitality of the family of ten residing on Vigur and have a cup of coffee or tea and taste the cakes and cookies specially prepared for you.
Following breakfast, disembark Silver Cloud.
Read this itinerary as a guide only; the exact route and program varies according to ice and weather conditions – and the wildlife you encounter. Flexibility is the key to the success of this expedition.
Although travel insurance is not mandatory to participate in this voyage, ExpeditionTrips strongly recommends Emergency Medical/Evacuation coverage which includes coverage for cancellation, trip disruption, baggage and personal property. Other conditions may apply based on pre-existing conditions. ExpeditionTrips can assist U.S. residents with travel protection options.
Kayaking will be offered complimentary and will run on a first-come-first-serve sign up basis. Guests cannot pre book the kayak tours. It will be run by two professional kayak guides. Participation requires good physical condition and right of participation is reserved. The kayak guides will make the final determination if a guest is fit to participate. Kayaking will be weather dependent.
Ship accommodation; most onboard meals (Le Champagne Restaurant excluded); butler service; most wines, champagnes and spirits on the ship; tea, coffee, hot chocolate, water and soda; parka; onboard gratuities (except spa); port charges and handling fees; Vista and Veranda Suites receive one hour of included internet access per guest/per day; Medallion, Silver, Royal, Grand, and Owner’s Suites receive unlimited internet access; Royal, Grand, and Owner’s Suites receive laundry service throughout the voyage as well as dinner for two in Le Champagne (one evening per voyage) and two hours of worldwide phone use from your suite, per voyage segment. Subject to change without notice.
Airfare; transfers and luggage handling; meals on board at Le Champagne Restaurant unless mentioned above as included; some alcoholic premium beverages; travel insurance; government fees and taxes; visa and passport expenses; internet use not mentioned as included; gifts and items of a personal nature such as laundry (unless mentioned as included) and spa options; fuel surcharge may apply.
Photo Credit: © Creative Services at Silversea Cruises, © Elliott Neep (polar bear reflection, gull, Bear Island), © Richard Sidey (polar bear with passengers), © Daniela Plaza (walrus)