Summary : Cruise on all-balcony Le Boreal to pristine and rarely seen Arctic islands, visiting the polar bear haven of Svalbard, an Inuit village on Scoresby Sound and Iceland’s verdant West Fjords. Benefit from expert photography programming, including lectures and hands-on tutorials, led by a dedicated photo coach. Experience a vast breadth of Arctic wildlife habitat, exploring everything from the polar bear domain of Norway’s pristine Svalbard Islands to Iceland’s Hornstrandir Nature Reserve, a jaw-dropping wilderness at the edge of the Arctic Circle. Venture on a special excursion inside Iceland’s luminous Langjökull Glacier, and discover the remote, geologically rich islands of Heimaey and Surtsey in the Westman Islands archipelago on this trip of a lifetime.
Activities : Birding, Culture, Hiking, Photography, Triple/Quad Cabins
$16,495 to $39,995
Arrive in Oslo, Norway's capital city and your gateway to the Arctic. On arrival, you are met and escorted to your hotel. This evening, meet fellow guests for a welcome cocktail reception.
Board an early morning charter flight to Longyearbyen, the capital of Svalbard, also known as Spitsbergen, the sovereign Arctic archipelago of Norway. It is one of the most remote groups of islands on the planet, with nearly two-thirds of its surface covered in luminous glaciers. Tour the tiny town and its Arctic Museum. This afternoon, board your expedition cruiser.
Only a rare few have the opportunity to view the remote wilderness of the Svalbard Islands, and your knowledgeable Expedition Team and enrichment specialists reveal their riches in depth, both aboard and on shore. In this archipelago, polar bears, walruses, Svalbard reindeer and an incredibly rich variety of birds are abundant. Cathedrals of ice, glaciers and craggy mountain peaks also populate the landscape, which comes alive with diminutive flora and color under summer's midnight sun. Your Captain and Expedition Team carefully plan your active, curated itinerary, which is dependent on weather, sea, ice and wildlife conditions. With that in mind, daily excursions may include exploration of these spectacular areas:
A stunning fjord with rugged rock walls, Magdalenefjoren surmounts blue-hued glaciers crisscrossed by crevasses, with birds perched in the high cliffs. This "glacier coast" provides magnificent views of the slow-moving ice masses traveling out to sea as well as beaches frequented by walruses.
Once a mining town and launching pad for early Arctic expeditions, Ny Alesund is now home to a polar research station where scientists study meteorology, seismology, atmospheric sciences and marine biology. Conditions permitting, visit the small community, including a museum, art gallery and the northernmost post office in the world.
Navigate this passageway between the main island of Spitsbergen and the island of Nordaustlandet to arrive at the Alkefjellet, or "auk cliffs," towering rock faces that drop directly into the sea and provide a home to colonies of auks.
Located in the center of the southern entrance to Hinlopen Strait, this island, named after Swedish botanist Peter Fredrik Wahlberg, is a favorite summer haul-out for walruses.
Monaco Bay and Glacier:
Located in Northwest Spitsbergen, Monaco Bay is frequented by a variety of wildlife populations, including polar bears, walruses, harbor and bearded seals, and a multitude of seabirds.
Liefdefjorden (Loves Bay):
In far northern Svalbard, this is an excellent area for spotting polar bears and other Arctic wildlife. Throughout your landings and days of cruising in Spitsbergen, your primary objective will be to search for polar bears as they hunt in their true natural habitat - be it on land or among the ice floes. Each landing is under the close supervision of your bear guardians, who have the best knowledge about where to find the white giants.
Sail towards Greenland, spend the day at sea with new friends and the Expedition Team, who continue engaging, exciting discussions and lectures that promise an enlightening experience while you cruise.
For the next two days, explore the rarely visited east coast of Greenland and Scoresby Sound, the largest and longest fjord system in the world. Embark on thrilling, twice-daily Zodiac excursions through the fjord's glistening and intricate network, taking in its islands and icebergs, and searching for common residents that include the musk ox and reindeer. Throughout your explorations, informed enrichment specialists impart meaningful, in-depth know-how about the region. Ice conditions permitting, disembark for a visit to Ittoqqortoormiit, a small settlement founded in 1925 and one of the most isolated villages in Greenland.
Enjoy a relaxing day at sea cruising the narrow strip of water that separates Greenland from Iceland, and connects the Arctic Sea with the Atlantic Ocean. Continue exciting conversations with your Expedition Team and enrichment specialists, and watch for seabirds and whales from the deck in between the insightful lectures they present.
Today, explore the spectacular, unspoiled wilderness on Iceland's remote West Fjords. Designated as a nature reserve in 1975 and free of any roads, Hornstrandir still appears as it would have when the Vikings first arrived. Your treks this morning reveal tranquil wildflower meadows, striking waterfalls and other geological features. This afternoon, visit the small village of Hesteyri, where you are welcomed by the local villagers.
The glacier-carved West Fjords continue to provide a scenic backdrop as you journey to the Langjökull glacier. Disembark for an adventurous visit aboard special expedition trucks, stopping en route at the shimmering Hraunfossar waterfall before arriving at the entrance of Langjökull glacier. There, explore Langjökull's labyrinth of ice tunnels and caves, all revealing breathtaking shades of blue and depths of ice. Following lunch in nearby Husafell, return this afternoon to Akranes to board the ship.
This morning, arrive in the Westman Islands (Vestmannaeyjar), a rock-studded, volcanically active archipelago on the south coast of Iceland. Explore the volcanic landscape of Iceland's Heimaey Island, home to all of Iceland's seabirds, among them the iconic puffin. Visit remote Heimaey Island, where a new mountain, Eldfell ("Mount Fire"), was created during a 1973 eruption. Excavations of the ruins suggest there were inhabitants as early as 100 BC. Today, the island's 4,500 locals reside alongside upward of eight million puffins each summer. Visit the local village, seeing ruins of historic farmhouses from the year AD 650. Later, trek to Helgafell to observe the volcanic landscape with your insightful guides. This afternoon, and conditions permitting, board your Zodiac for an up-close view of Surtsey Island, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Iceland's southernmost point.
This morning, disembark in Reykjavik and transfer to the airport for your return flight home, or continue on in Iceland with an optional Reykjavik extension.
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. ExpeditionTrips is not responsible for itinerary changes.
Mandatory Travel Insurance:
As a requirement of participation on this expedition, all passengers must purchase emergency evacuation/repatriation insurance at a minimum coverage of $100,000. Other conditions may apply based on pre-existing conditions. ExpeditionTrips strongly recommends at least $200,000 Emergency Medical/Evacuation coverage for trips which includes coverage for cancellation, trip disruption, baggage and personal property. ExpeditionTrips can assist U.S. residents with travel protection options.
Experience an enhanced photography departure, enjoying added programming led by dedicated photo coaches.
One pre-cruise hotel night in Oslo; transfer from Oslo airport to hotel; transfer from ship to Reykjavik airport; shipboard accommodations; Wi-Fi onboard ship; valet laundry service onboard ship (limited amount, excludes dry cleaning); gear to keep (parka, backpack); gear on loan (boots, walking poles, pants); all meals onboard the ship; 24-hour room service onboard ship; standard bar drinks, beer, house wine, and soft drinks onboard ship; most gratuities. Butler service only for those in Suites (Categories 5-8) onboard ship. Subject to change without notice.
International airfare; charter flight from Oslo to Longyearbyen; passport and visa expenses; laundry other than mentioned as included; meals not mentioned as included; premium wines, spirits, liquors and champagnes; communication charges not mentioned as included; all items of a personal nature; required travel insurance; excess baggage charges; airport departure tax; fuel surcharge may apply.
Photos: © A&K Image Library