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Iceland & Greenland – Grand Arctic Traverse

Iceland / Greenland Cruise

Summary : On the Grand Arctic Traverse voyage, you'll enjoy many Arctic highlights. You'll see the Lofoten Islands, the exotic Jan Mayen, Iceland, and the south and west sides of Greenland. Tromsø is the gateway to the Arctic. In the past, young, ambitious explorers such as Roald Amundsen came to town to recruit capable hands for future adventures. Your adventure starts here as well. First you will spend two days exploring the stunning Vesterålen and Lofoten Islands, which are known for their extreme natural beauty. As you cross the Norwegian Sea, the only island you will see between the Norwegian mainland and Iceland is Jan Mayen. Being this far north and this isolated, there are no permanent settlers here, aside from for the 18 people working at the Norwegian radio and meteorological station. If you see them, give them a wave! Next you will travel to Iceland, located at the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, which runs right through it. This location means that the island is highly geologically active with many volcanoes and geysers. The unspoiled nature, majestic mountains, and stunning waterfalls are among Europe's most powerful and awe-inspiring. You will spend three days discovering many of Iceland's natural and cultural secrets. From Iceland you will continue to the least-visited parts of southern Greenland, and then onward to the highlights of Disco Bay. En route you will visit traditional Inuit settlements and other places of historical interest. You will experience Greenland’s fascinating culture, visit historical sites from the Viking era, and see impressive alpine landscapes and the Ilulissat Icefjord. The spectacular scenery and the midnight sun provide a stunning backdrop to this expedition.

Activities : Birding, Child-Friendly, Hiking, Kayaking

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Itinerary
Day 1
Tromsø, Norway

Your journey starts in Tromsø, Norway. When Roald Amundsen recruited members to his famous expeditions, he traveled to Tromsø in order to find men (yes – it was men only in those days) with navigational experience in icy oceans, men who knew how to survive with minimal means in the Arctic. Today, Tromsø is a refined version of itself 100 years ago, and the gateway to the Arctic.

Day 2
Vesterålen Islands

You will reach the Vesterålen Islands early in the morning. As you sail along the coast there are good opportunities to spot whales from the deck, as they usually feed in this area. Myre is one of the largest fishing villages in Norway, and a place to experience local culture and hikes. In the evening you will sail through the narrow Raftsund between Lofoten and Vesterålen, with mountains stretching up nearly 4,000 feet straight from the sea. Then you will experience something extraordinary as you sail into the pristine Trollfjord. The midnight sun and sea eagles circling around the mountain peaks will make it even more memorable.

Day 3
Henningsvær, Lofoten Islands

The picturesque fishing village of Henningsvær is comprised of a number of islets spread among the waters of the Vestfjord. Go ashore and discover the most well-preserved architecture of the traditional Norwegian villages, charming cafés, small restaurants, and the Hus Gallery. In the afternoon we will sail with the tidewater current through the 11-mile long Gimsøy Strait.

Day 4
At Sea, Norwegian Sea

Relax and enjoy the company of your expert expedition team who will be leading lectures throughout the day while you're at sea.

Day 5
Jan Mayen

Jan Mayen is the most isolated island in the Northern Hemisphere. Tourists visiting and actually landing on the shores of Jan Mayen are extremely rare. Your crew will do their best to make it possible to set foot on this exotic outpost.

Day 6
At Sea, Greenland Sea

You will be sailing along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, a tectonic plate that separates the Eurasian and North American continents. This mid-ocean ridge is a part of the longest underwater mountain range in the world.

Day 7
Grímsey

Grímsey is where the Arctic Circle touches Iceland, and we will use our Polarcirkel boats to reach this green and grassy island. The Arctic Circle cuts across the island and you can step across that line.

Day 8
Stykkishólmur

As you reach the west region of Iceland, you will understand why this area is called ‘The Sagaland’. Take your time to explore Stykkishólmur’s diversity with lava and rock formations, glaciers, volcanic activity, and hot and cold springs. Participate in a range of exciting excursions such as kayaking, hiking, and horseback riding.

Day 9
Reykjavik

Reykjavik is the world’s northernmost capital city. Norwegian settlers named the place Reykjavik (meaning ‘Smoky Bay’) after the columns of steam that rose from the hot springs in the area and made such a profound impression. The surroundings offer fantastic natural beauty with geysers, mountains, glaciers, and hot springs.

Day 10
At Sea, Denmark Strait

While crossing the Denmark Strait you will sail in the wake of the great Norse settlers who left the shores of Iceland more than 900 years ago.

Day 11
At Sea, Prins Christian Sund / Nunap Isua

You will sail through the narrow channel of Prins Christian Sund and enjoy the spectacular scenery here. If the channel is blocked with ice, you will sail around Nunap Isua (Cape Farewell).

Day 12
Qassiarsuk

In Qassiarsuk you will find green fields dotted with white sheep, lush vegetation, and busy farmsteads. This forms a colorful contrast to the icescapes at sea. Qassiarsuk is also where Viking Erik the Red built his Brattahlíð estate in 982 A.D. It is a great area to try optional activities such as kayaking, hiking, or exploring the town on foot.

Day 13
Hvalsey

In Hvalsey you will find some of the best-preserved ruins from the Norse period. Hvalsey Church was probably built in the 14th century. Use Polarcirkel boats to go ashore so you can explore the area for yourself. Many consider Qaqortoq one of the most beautiful towns in Greenland due to its colorful houses. The excursions offered here include an interesting visit to the only tannery in Greenland, a city walk with a guide, and a 'kaffemik' to meet the locals and share in a traditional open-house gathering featuring a selection of homemade foods.

Day 14
Nuuk

Nuuk is the oldest town in Greenland. It is situated at the mouth of one of the largest and most spectacular fjord systems in the world. City tours and hikes are among the optional excursions you can participate in while you are here.

Day 15
Sisimiut

The Disco Bay area offers fantastic sailing with wildlife and spectacular nature. Colorful villages cling to rough, rocky hills at the feet of the mountains surrounding the inland ice. Join excursions such as kayaking, hiking, or other activities. In Sisimiut you can watch the artists make jewelry and crafts from bone, leather and metal; join a sightseeing tour or hike; and taste Greenlandic specialties at a local restaurant.

Day 16
Ilulissat

Ilulissat is set in marvelous surroundings at the Ilulissat Icefjord and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2004. You will see enormous icebergs run aground at the mouth of the fjord just outside the town. We offer a variety of optional shore excursions including hikes, a town walk with a historical theme, and a boat tour to the Icefjord.

Day 17
Itilleq

The small settlement of Itilleq has around 130 inhabitants. They are mainly engaged in hunting and fishing occupations. Visit one of the families who live here, shop for some of the area’s arts and crafts, or have fun playing soccer with the locals.

Day 18
Kangerlussuaq

Kangerlussuaq is situated at the end of the Kangerlussuaq Fjord and this is where the expedition ends. After disembarking, you can join an excursion to the ice cap before you take the night flight to Copenhagen.

Day 19
Copenhagen

Your flight arrives in Copenhagen early in the morning.

Notes

The above itinerary is a guide only, as the exact program depends on weather and ice conditions and the wildlife you encounter. Flexibility is the key to the success of this expedition. ExpeditionTrips is not responsible for itinerary changes.

Travel Insurance:
Although travel insurance is not mandatory to participate in this voyage, ExpeditionTrips strongly recommends at least $200,000 Emergency Medical/Evacuation coverage for Arctic trips which includes coverage for cancellation, trip disruption, baggage and personal property. ExpeditionTrips can assist you with this.

Multilingual Departures: English/Norwegian/German (All Departures)

Deck Camping:
Depending on weather conditions, there may be an opportunity to sign up for deck camping during the voyage. Spend the night on deck and enjoy a magnificent view of the landscape and sky. Included: Sleeping bags, a welcome drink, and a fresh pastry and coffee in the morning. Please contact ExpeditionTrips for details.

Fishing:
Depending on weather conditions, there may be an opportunity to sign up for fishing during the voyage. Set out on a 2.5-3 hour fishing trip to try your luck as a fisherman. You will be joined by an officer and members of the crew. When you return to the ship, you will be invited to meet the chef, prepare your catch, and have it served for dinner. Max. Capacity: 3 passengers. Included: waterproof clothing and a fishing rod. Fishing is not pre-bookable or guaranteed. Please contact ExpeditionTrips for details.

Glacier Walking:
Depending on weather and land conditions, there may be an opportunity to sign up for a glacier walk during the voyage. Experience close encounters with nature on a 1-2 hour glacier hike with an experienced guide. Included: crampons and rubber boots. Max. Capacity: 12-18 passengers. Glacier walking is not pre-bookable or guaranteed. Please contact ExpeditionTrips for details.

Hiking:
Depending on weather and land conditions, there may be an opportunity to sign up for hiking during the voyage. Included: Water bottle, snack bar, and lunch pack (if hike is during lunch time). Physical fitness is essential. Please contact ExpeditionTrips for details.

Kayaking:
Depending on weather conditions, there may be an opportunity to sign up for kayaking during the voyage. The duration of each excursion is 2-4 hours. Due to popular demand, kayakers are chosen by a lottery system. Kayaking is not pre-bookable or guaranteed. Basic kayak experience required. Includes kayaking gear. Please contact ExpeditionTrips for details.

Science Center: Included
'Hands-on' science program where guests can perform their own science experiments with the assistance of professional biologists and geologists. Featuring ten Leica DM500 biological microscopes and ten Leica EZ4 geological microscopes, groups of 2-3 guests per microscope will work with a trained biologist or geologist. Occasionally, scientists invite guests along to sample biomaterial for use in the science center. There is also a large screen connected to the scientist's microscope for viewing during every session.

Small Boat Cruising:
Depending on the weather conditions, there may be an opportunity to sign up for small boat ‘Polarcirkel’ cruising excursions during the voyage. The duration of each excursion is 1-2 hours. Included: Survival float suit, and a hot drink upon return. Small boat cruising is not pre-bookable or guaranteed. Max. Capacity: 21 passengers. Please contact ExpeditionTrips for details.

Included:
Cabin accommodations and meals aboard the ship; economy flight from Kangerlussuaq to Copenhagen; transfer from ship to airport in Kangerlussuaq; cabin accommodations and meals aboard the ship; landings and activities onboard and ashore; professional English-speaking expedition team that gives lectures and accompanies landings and activities; onboard 'hands-on' science center; complimentary tea and coffee; gear on loan (waterproof rubber boots); and a wind- and water-resistant jacket. Expedition Suites (M + MG) include a cabin kit with a bathrobe, slippers, and other beauty articles. Subject to change without notice.

Not Included:
International flights to/from the U.S.; travel protection plan; luggage handling; optional excursions and gratuities; fuel surcharge may apply.

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