Summary : From the pretty painted houses of Longyearbyen to the spectacular beaches of Kristiansund, this is a journey of mighty mountains, rare fauna, deep fjords, picturesque glaciers and massive ice sheets. So much more than a sum of its parts, a flexible itinerary allows for unprecedented wildlife spotting opportunities in the mythic Fjords, which are to be enjoyed in the midnight sun.
Activities : Birding, Culture, Hiking, Kayaking, Triple/Quad Cabins
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Embark Silver Cloud and be introduced to your Expedition Team. 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.
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.
As Silver Cloud gets 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 Atlantic Puffins and Northern 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.
During the morning Silver Cloud will sail through the Andfjord to reach Hinnøya, Norway’s largest island. On the island is Harstad, your port-of-call for the afternoon and North Norway’s third-largest town. The annual North Norwegian Festival of Culture takes place during the last week of June.
The surrounding area has mountains, fjords, island, forests and many hiking trails. North of Harstad is the Trondenes Historical Center and the world’s northernmost medieval stone church as well as one of the Atlantic Wall guns set up during WWII.
In the afternoon explore the town, the Historical Center and hikes will be offered.
The morning will be used to explore the area of Tysfjord by land or Zodiac. A long hike might lead to a gigantic waterfall, while others might simply walk up to a beautiful cascade in this “alpine” area. This is the narrowest part of Norway and was formerly used by Sami reindeer herders of Sweden and Norway.
During the afternoon Silver Cloud will sail south, giving lecturers time to expand on Norway’s natural history.
Nordfjord and Melfjord are part of the very scenic county of Nordland. Silver Cloud will cruise along the picturesque fjords with their lush slopes. Occasionally waterfalls will tumble down over the smooth rocks. The Svartisen National Park extends to the bottom of Nordfjorden, a branch of the Melfjord. Svartisen is one of the largest icecaps of the Norwegian mainland. The shoreline forms part of the border of the national park with dense birch forests in the fjord’s valleys. Hikes might be offered to a viewpoint above the fjord and Zodiac cruises closer along the shore. The narrow fjords with their steep mountainsides are impressive to see from sea level.
The Vega Archipelago, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is a myriad of islands scattered in the
Norwegian Sea and home to one of Norway’s largest eider duck colony. Of the 6,000 Vega islands, 59 were once inhabited by families that made their living from fishing and from eider down harvesting. Today, there are no year-round residents, but the population returns in the summer to continue the 1,500-year-old tradition of caring for the eider ducks and harvesting their precious down. The eider ducks return to their breeding ground in the Vega Archipelago every year and lay their eggs from May into June. In the fishing harbor of Nes, visit the Eider Duck Museum, which provides insight into the islander’s unique traditions as guardians of these birds and describes the process of producing eiderdown duvets. Nearby exhibitions detail the archipelago’s UNESCO status and document the history of Lånan – the largest egg and eiderdown farm in Helgeland. Before returning to the pier stop in at the Coastal Museum to have a look at their motor collection and later make a brief visit to see the Vega Church in Gladstad, a wooden church dating from 1864.
Your approach to Geiranger will cruise Storfjorden. South of the village of Helsem the large fjord branches towards the east and the south. The 26-kilometer (16 mi) long Sunnylvsfjord to the south is one of the innermost branches of Storfjord. The fjord ranges from 600 to 2,000 meters (2,000 to 6,600 ft.) wide and the fjord reaches 452 meters (1,483 ft.) below sea level at its deepest point. The famous Geirangerfjord branches off to the west from the Sunnylvsfjord.
Of Norway’s many fjords, Geirangerfjord is doubtless the most beautiful. Impressive mountains, numerous waterfalls as well as farms clinging to the steep hillsides give the fjord its unique character. Your excursion takes you uphill past the wooden, octagonal Geiranger Church, through the wild Flydal valley where a scenic overview stop is made, and continues around hairpin bends to Lake Djupvatn, and the summit of Mount Dalsnibba (1,500 meters) From here, there is an amazing panorama of mountains, waterfalls and lakes.
Alternatively (and weather permitting) the more energetic can spend a few hours kayaking the quiet and spectacular Geirangerfjord with two-person kayaks. Geirangerfjord is one of nature’s masterpieces and on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. Its description as “the world’s most beautiful fjord” is no exaggeration and it is amidst this dramatic mountain setting that you can experience some spectacular sea kayaking. Kayaks provide an amazing perspective from which to view the cascading waterfalls and steep mountain walls that rise as high as 1500m.
After 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. ExpeditionTrips can assist you with this.
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: © Elliott Neep (polar bear, gull, and 3 Zodiacs cruising), © Richard Sidey (flowers, single Zodiac), © Denis Elterman (arches), © Daniela Plaza (blue sky birds, reindeer)