Summary : Cruise the unspoiled landscapes of the Arctic on this extraordinary voyage. Observe rare seabirds on Zodiac trips along remote stretches of water and search for polar bears during an ice cruise. The coastal waters provide fantastic opportunities to see walruses, while the terrain provides spectacular views of the surrounding valleys.
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.
As Silver Cloud sails through the Barents Sea, a series of lectures will emphasize the special history and natural history of Norway’s Far North.
Arrive in Kirkenes and choose your exploration. One option will be to drive southward into the Pasvik Valley sitting between Russia and Finland. Go for nature walks to observe the valley’s unique birds and plants. The Pasvik Valley is one of the last wilderness areas in Europe and has Norway’s highest concentration of brown bears. The tour also includes a visit to Høyde 96, a former military observation tower dating from the Cold War affording good views of the Pasvik Valley.
Another option might be heading west along Munkefjord to visit Neiden, a small village near the Finnish/Norwegian border, and see Neiden church, St. George’s Chapel, and the Neiden Waterfall, and even briefly cross into Finland at Näätämö.
Today, Silver Cloud will round the North Cape, the northernmost point of Europe. At 71° 10’ 21” northern latitude, a sheer cliff raises 307 meters above the Arctic Ocean. Adventurous guests can join members of the Expedition Team for a challenging hike to Nordkapp, retracing the original route to the cape up a winding path. For those who prefer comfort, the Silver Cloud will anchor off Skarsvag, the “most northerly fishing village in the world”, and, weather conditions permitting, head ashore via Zodiac. Travel by coach to the North Cape where you can admire the glorious scenery, stop in at the visitor’s center and take photos at the famed globe monument. On a clear day the panorama is quite spectacular. On the return to Silver Cloud watch for reindeer grazing on the surrounding hillsides.
In the afternoon Silver Cloud will anchor off the Nature Reserve of Gjesværstappan Islands. Circumnavigate Storstappen by zodiac, looking for European Shags, Common and Brünnich’s Guillemots, Black-legged Kittiwakes, White-tailed Sea-eagles and Europe’s largest Atlantic Puffin colony.
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. 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)