Summary : Cross the Arctic Circle on a remarkable voyage that features Svalbard, Greenland, and Iceland. A highlight of this expedition will be days spent exploring the spectacular icebergs and fascinating wildlife around Scoresby Sund, Greenland. Throughout the expedition, discover majestic fjords, icebergs, and glacier-filled bays from aboard your luxury vessel and by Zodiac while in the company of expert naturalists. Learn about local culture and history during a visit to an Inuit settlement abandoned 200 years ago. Search for sightings of seabirds, seals, walrus, whales, and the king of the Arctic – the polar bear.
Activities : Birding, Culture, Hiking, Triple/Quad Cabins
$15,950 to $33,350
Departing from Oslo, take a charter flight to Longyearbyen. Embark the vessel, meet Expedition Team members and attend a Zodiac briefing. Familiarize yourself with the vessel and meet fellow travelers.
An expansive Arctic Ocean archipelago woven between the North Pole and Norway, Svalbard is one of the last major European wilderness areas with pristine mountains, fauna, deep fjords, picturesque icebergs, and massive ice sheets. The goal is to explore Svalbard’s breathtaking landscapes and dramatic Spitsbergen Island. Locate wildlife and spend the maximum amount of time possible hiking on the tundra. Svalbard is home to approximately 2,500 polar bears and you hope to encounter a good number of them during the trip.
Travel along the same routes as famous polar explorers such as Andrée, Nordenskiöld, Amundsen and Nobile. Visit walrus haul-outs, hope to see reindeer, and maybe even spot the Arctic Fox or Bearded Seal. Seabirds, such as Ivory Gulls, auks and puffins will be your constant companions as you admire their playfulness and grace. You might even encounter a few whales. A variety of known species frequent the area, in particular Minke and Beluga.
The flexible itinerary allows you to take advantage of favorable ice and weather conditions. Whether cruising by Zodiac amongst floating icebergs or heading ashore for a guided walk, adventures will bring you up close to mystical settings. Each day the Expedition Leader and Captain will determine the best course depending on changing weather, ice conditions, and the wildlife encountered. Here are a few of the places you may visit:
Hornsund – This is the southernmost fjord on the rugged west coast of Spitsbergen Island. Jagged mountain peaks tower above glacier-filled bays. Listen for the crash of white thunder as huge chunks of ice fall into the fjord. Amidst floating icebergs, watch for bearded seals, the rare 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. You may visit the Polish research station or the remains of whaling stations and trappers’ huts.
Bellsund – Pushing about 50 miles (80 kilometers) into Spitsbergen is the more than 12-mile wide Bellsund. At the entrance of the fjord, you are likely to encounter some common eiders, Arctic terns and Arctic skuas. Snow bunting and purple sandpipers are also common in the area. The plan is to explore the seldom-visited Van Keulenfjord, where you will witness awe-inspiring landscapes as you trek along the tundra.
Prins Karls Forland – Off the west coast of Spitsbergen, encounter the island home of Forland National Park with cragged mountains, massive glaciers and remarkable wildlife. The entire island and the surrounding seas make up Forland National Park. Members of the Expedition Team take you ashore at Poolypnten, a well-known walrus haul out, where and a marine biologist explains the habits and habitat of these amazing creatures.
Ice Cruising – With the strengthened hull of the Silver Explorer, you have the perfect platform to search for walrus and polar bears as at least one day is devoted to exploring the pack ice north of Spitsbergen. Conditions permitting, the Expedition Leader may choose to take you out in the Zodiacs for an even closer look.
Fjortende Julibreen – 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, climb onto the glacier, or, alternatively walk to the Hanging Gardens, a beautiful plant oasis underneath a bird cliff.
Liefdefjorden – At the entrance to Liefdefjorden are several smaller island groups. On the Andøyane (Duck Islands) you may encounter polar bears looking for bird’s eggs. With the Zodiacs, circumnavigate several of the islands, always on the lookout for active birdlife –when Arctic Terns circle 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.
Alkefjellet – On the northern side of Lomfjordhalvøya (Lomfjorden Peninsula) is one of the most dramatic bird cliffs Svalbard has to offer. Depending on ice conditions, cruise along the cliff with the Zodiacs or by ship. In either case, the view of tens of thousands of Brünnich’s Guillemot breeding pairs, Black Guillemots, with the odd Glaucous Gulls and Black-legged Kittiwakes, plus the occasional Arctic fox along a cliff of several kilometers in length make this one outstanding experience. Even if there were no birds, the 100 meter high cliff with its dolerite intrusions in the Permian limestone would make for excellent viewing.
The knowledgeable Lecture Staff are experts in a variety of scientific fields. Gather in The Theater to hear fascinating tales of adventure and learn about the region’s endemic wildlife and remarkable nature. Other onboard diversions include spa treatments, a workout in the Fitness Center, and exquisite dining experiences.
Scoresby Sund is named for the Arctic explorer and whaler William Scoresby who charted the region in 1822, an impressive undertaking considering the vastness of the area. Spend your days exploring the largest and longest fjord in the world while discovering spectacular icebergs and fascinating wildlife. The onboard ornithologist will point out a variety of bird species. Watch for pink-footed geese and whooper swans as well as ducks, guillemot, auk, puffin, fulmar, kittiwake and tern.
The excitement and anticipation will be high for everyone on board – Expedition Team members as well as guests. Together, experience the best of the region. Plans may include a cruise by Zodiac along the coastline to look for polar bear and musk ox, and a landing at Danmarksø to see the excellently preserved remains of an Inuit settlement, abandoned about 200 years ago. If very lucky, spot lemmings, snow hares and narwhals to add to the growing list of animal and bird species seen on this voyage.
Visit Ittoqqortoormiit, the easternmost settlement in Greenland and the only permanent settlement in all of Scoresby Sund. Founded in 1925 by Ejnar Mikkelsen and some 80 Inuit settlers from Tasiilaq, the settlement was encouraged by Denmark which at the time had a growing interest in Northeast Greenland (as did Norway). The settlers soon prospered on the good hunting conditions of the new area, which was and is rich in seals, walrus, Narwhal, Polar Bear and Arctic Fox. On your walk through the village, you can visit the small museum, the church, and walk up to the helicopter landing pad for a grand view over the village and adjacent bays.
On the way to 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.
During the afternoon you will have the opportunity to see the Voyage DVD which our on-board photographer/videographer has prepared.
Disembark the vessel after breakfast.
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. ExpeditionTrips can assist you with this.
Ship accommodation; all onboard meals and entertainment; butler service; complimentary beverages (select wines, champagne, spirits, bottled water, specialty coffees, juices and soft drinks); onboard gratuities (except spa and salon); parka; Silver, Medallion, Grand and Owner's Suite guests receive laundry service and dinner at Officer's table; 1 hour of internet access per guest/per day for passengers booked in Adventurer, Explorer, View, Vista, and Veranda Suites; unlimited internet access for passengers booked in Medallion, Silver, Grand, and Owner’s Suites. Subject to change without notice.
Airfare; government fees and taxes; transfers and luggage handling; passport and visa expenses; travel insurance; items of a personal nature; air charter package one-way between Oslo and Longyearbyen; Wifi; fuel surcharge may apply.
Photo Credit: © Elliott Neep (polar bear reflection, gull), © Richard Sidey (polar bear with passengers, polar bear on cracked ice), © Daniela Plaza (walrus), © Creative Services at Silversea Cruises