Summary : Cross the North Sea on a wildlife expedition with opportunities to spot minke and bowhead whales, orcas, white-beaked dolphins, and harbor porpoises. Visit Jan Mayen with its massive volcano, experience a seabird paradise, mingle with the local community of Fair Isle in the Shetland Islands, and stop at Jan Mayen to visit a Norwegian meteorological station. Sail along the pack ice into Svalbard and the domain of the polar pear to search for harp seals, walruses, reindeer and Arctic foxes, and explore the astounding landscape.
Activities : Birding, Child-Friendly, Culture, Hiking, Triple/Quad Cabins
Just-Released Offer Save 5% per person
$2,500 to $6,600
Board your vessel at midday in Vlissingen, headed north. Far north.
Crossing the North Sea, you stand an excellent chance of spotting minke whales, white-beaked dolphins, and harbor porpoises. Several other cetaceans, including orcas, are also native to these seas.
Arrive in Aberdeen, famed as the Granite City and frequent winner of the Britain in Bloom competition. This is the true start of your trip. More passengers will embark the ship in Aberdeen. To the south you will see the lighthouse on Girdle Ness that was designed by the grandfather of Robert Louis Stevenson, the famed Scottish writer who wrote such classics as Treasure Island and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
At Fair Isle in the Shetlands, the roughly seventy inhabitants (renowned for their knitwear) welcome you for a walk to the local bird observatory. This location is a haven for sea birds, though you may also spot grey seals.
Sail north to the Norwegian island of Jan Mayen, situated 300 nautical miles north-east of Iceland. Your two days at sea do not pass idly, however. Keep a close lookout for any spouts of water from the surrounding seas, heralding the arrival of orcas as well as minke, fin or blue whales.
Jan Mayen is a volcanic island crowned by the snow-capped summit of Mt. Beerenberg. From the slopes of this imposing 7,545-foot volcano, broken glaciers reach out into the frigid sea. With permission from the Norwegian authorities, you can now visit the weather station. You may choose to walk to the remains of a 17th-century Dutch whaling station amid the thick moss beds of this stark volcanic landscape.
Basking in the midnight sun, you sail north along the edge of the sea ice in search of bowhead whales, harp seals, polar bears, and a variety of seabirds. You then change direction after about 79° north, cutting west to the rocky edges of the continental shelf of west Spitsbergen. Here you have a good chance of seeing fin whales and – near the glacial mouths of the gaping Spitsbergen fjords – surfacing minke whales.
Forlandsundet, between the main island of Spitsbergen and the narrow Prins Karls Forland, is a place of great beauty and fascinating wildlife. Walruses sometimes haul out here. Alternatively, you might sail into St. Johns Fjord or head south to the mouth of Isfjorden, landing at Alkhornet. Seabirds nest on these cliffs, Arctic foxes search below for fallen eggs and chicks, and reindeer graze the sparse vegetation.
Every adventure, no matter how grand, must eventually come to an end. Disembark in Longyearbyen, the administrative center of Spitsbergen, taking home memories that will accompany you wherever your next adventure lies.
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 medical, accident, and repatriation/evacuation insurance. Other conditions may apply based on pre-existing conditions. ExpeditionTrips strongly recommends at least $200,000 Emergency Medical/Evacuation coverage for polar trips which includes coverage for cancellation, trip disruption, baggage, and personal property. ExpeditionTrips can assist U.S. residents with travel protection options.
Please Note: All voyages will operate subject to a minimum of 90 participants.
Hondius Special Activities:
Pre-booking recommended but not required. This voyage aboard the Hondius includes an extensive array of activities unique to the ship itself. Interactive workshops, captivating exhibitions, and vibrant performances are planned both on board the ship and ashore. Special activities are as engaging as they are informative, covering a kaleidoscope of subjects that vary based on voyage and embarkation point. Navigation, astronomy, art, geology, and botany are just a few of the topics that might be covered, along with presentations that explore the fascinating world of whales, land mammals, birds, and the other species that call the polar regions home. In addition to colorful musical performances, Hondius offers dynamic courses in language, cooking, and mixology taught by authorities in their field. Please contact ExpeditionTrips for details.
Snowshoe walking does not require any technical skills. Easy, moderate, and more demanding walks will take place in the vicinity of landing sites. With the use of snowshoes, it is easier and safer to walk on snowy surfaces. Snowshoes will be provided to everyone on board.
Pre-scheduled transfers and baggage handling between the airport and ship (only for passengers on group flights to and from Longyearbyen); shipboard accommodations; all shore excursions and activities throughout the voyage by Zodiac; Hondius Special Activities: in-field and on-board discovery and learning workshops, exhibitions, and performances; program of lectures by noted naturalists and leadership by experienced expedition staff; gear on loan (rubber boots and snowshoes); all meals onboard the ship; snacks, coffee, and tea; comprehensive pre-departure material; all miscellaneous service taxes and port charges throughout the program; AECO fees and governmental taxes. Inclusions subject to change without notice.
Any airfare, whether on scheduled or charter flights; pre- and post- land arrangements; transfers to/from the vessel outside Spitsbergen; passport and visa expenses; government arrival and departure taxes; meals ashore; baggage, cancellation, and personal insurance (which is mandatory); excess baggage charges and all items of a personal nature such as laundry, bar, beverage charges, and telecommunication charges; customary gratuity at the end of the voyage for stewards and other service personnel aboard; fuel surcharge may apply.
PHOTOS: © Erwin Vermeulen; © Rinie van Meurs,
© Leica Akademie-Oceanwide Expeditions