Summary : Travel north to the Arctic on a wildlife expedition with opportunities to spot Minkes, orcas, white-beaked dolphins, and harbor porpoises. Visit Jan Mayen with its massive volcano, see a seabird paradise, mingle with the local community of Fair Isle and make a stop at Jan Mayen to visit a Norwegian meteorological station. Finally, you’ll sail along the pack ice into the domain of the Polar Bear; into Svalbard to visit with its rich wildlife and explore its astounding landscape.
Activities : Birding, Child-Friendly, Hiking, Triple/Quad Cabins
$2,130 to $3,960
You will board the ship in Aberdeen, famed as the Granite City and many times a winner of the Britain in Bloom competition, and embark on your trip.
As you reach the North Sea, you will see the lighthouse on Girdle Ness to the south, designed by the grandfather of Robert Louis Stevenson. More passengers will board the ship in Aberdeen. The Scottish waters offer excellent possibilities to spot Minke Whale, White-Beaked Dolphin, and Harbour Porpoise. Several other cetaceans, including Orca, are also native to these waters.
At Fair Isle, in the Shetlands, you will be welcomed by the 70 or so inhabitants (famed for their knitwear, examples of which you will see) to be followed by a walk to the bird observatory. Fair Isle is a haven for sea-birds, which are very accessible. You may also see grey seals.
Sail north to the Norwegian island of Jan Mayen, situated 300 nautical miles north-east of Iceland. During your two days at sea there will be plenty of time to watch for the blow of a Minke, Fin or Blue Whale, which could herald a rewarding encounter with these gentle giants. Perhaps you might run into a pod of orcas, who can often be quite curious about boats such as yours.
Jan Mayen is a volcanic island of breath-taking beauty and mystique dominated by Mt Beerenberg. From the slopes of the 7,546 ft volcano, impressive glaciers spill into the sea. Until recently, the island was off-limits as it is a military base, and was rarely visited by tourists, but with permission from the Norwegian authorities you will hopefully have the opportunity to visit the weather station. You will also walk across the island to Kvalrossbukta to look at the remains of a 17th century Dutch whaling station and a substantial colony of Fulmar.
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.
The wildlife objective this day is walrus watching in Forlandsundet. In the evening you can also land at Alkhornet, a seabird colony under which you might find reindeer and Arctic foxes moving along the slopes.
Disembark in Longyearbyen, the administrative centre of Spitsbergen, for flights south to Oslo and onward home.
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.
Mandatory Travel Insurance:
As a requirement of participation on this expedition, all passengers must purchase insurance including medical, accident and repatriation/evacuation insurance. ExpeditionTrips strongly recommends at least $200,000 Emergency Medical/Evacuation coverage for Antarctic trips 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.
Hiking & Snowshoeing:
This activity is included in the voyage and snowshoes are provided. Minimum group size of 6 passengers.
Voyage aboard the indicated vessel as indicated in the itinerary, cabin accommodations and meals aboard the ship including snacks, coffee, and tea; shore excursions and activities throughout the voyage by Zodiac; program of lectures by noted naturalists and leadership by experienced expedition staff; complimentary use of rubber boots and snowshoes; transfers and baggage handling between the airport, hotels, and ship for passengers on group flights to and from Longyearbyen; miscellaneous service taxes and port charges throughout the program; AECO fees and government taxes; comprehensive pre-departure material. Subject to change without notice.
Charter flights; scheduled airfare; pre- and post-land arrangements; transfer 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 tellecommunication charges; customary gratuity at the end of the voyage for steward and other service personnel aboard (guidelines will be provided); fuel surcharge may apply.
PHOTOS: © Majanda Hamelink; © Rinie van Meurs; © Bill Smith