Embark on a journey from the vibrant moss-covered landscapes and lively bird colonies of Iceland to the austere and stunning volcanic scenery of Jan Mayen. Follow the ice edge to reach the Arctic paradise of Svalbard, crossing the Arctic Circle and aiming for N80˚ latitude. On our cutting-edge vessel, we eagerly observe whales' tail flukes and breath blows, and keep a constant watch for majestic polar bears amid the pack ice. Zodiac excursions unveil glacier-filled fjords and walruses on ice floes. Join a guided hike across the Arctic tundra or partake in a kayak adventure along towering bird cliffs if you've enrolled in the kayak program. Enjoy the breathtaking contrasts of the Arctic landscape throughout this extraordinary journey.
This morning, ensure your cabin luggage has tags labeled with your name and cabin number. Luggage will be collected from your hotel, cleared at the port, and delivered to your cabin. Keep valuables with you. Check out, enjoy a panoramic tour of Reykjavik, then transfer to the pier for boarding. After settling into your cabin, attend important safety briefings. In the evening, join the Welcome Dinner to meet the expedition team and crew.
Over the next three days, we explore the Westfjords region, featuring breathtaking landscapes with dramatic fjords, ancient glaciers, and imposing table mountains plunging into the sea. In true expedition style, we maintain a flexible itinerary, allowing for spontaneity based on the unpredictable weather conditions. The Hornstrandir peninsula, one of Iceland's most remote and pristine areas, showcases deep fjords, towering bird cliffs, and stunning natural beauty, providing opportunities for wildlife encounters. Patreksfjordur offers a shore excursion to Latrabjarg cliffs, Europe's largest bird cliff, home to millions of seabirds. Visiting places like Isafjordur and Djupavik offers kayaking, walks, hikes, and the chance to explore local culture and abandoned herring museums.
We cruise through the Denmark Strait to Jan Mayen Island, accompanied by seabirds, with a vigilant eye for whales. Engage in enlightening lectures, connect with fellow expeditioners, stay active in the gym, or indulge in a massage at the wellness center.
The approach to Jan Mayen is breathtaking, with the impressive 2,277-meter Beerenberg volcano, the northernmost active volcano globally, last erupting in 1985. The northern part of the island is ideal for spotting whales and dolphins, featuring remarkable glaciers reaching the sea. If weather permits, we'll attempt a landing at Kvalrossbukta, a sheltered bay on the west coast, used for supplying the weather station Olonkinbyen. With favorable conditions, we aim to visit the Norwegian station at Olonkinbyen, embark on a three-hour hike (weather permitting) to the island's other side, where the vessel awaits in Kvalrossbukta, and Zodiacs will transport us back to the ship.
The waters surrounding Jan Mayen provide fantastic whale-watching chances, with possibilities of encountering bottlenose, fin, and maybe bowhead whales in the pack ice. Heading towards Svalbard, we venture north, following the path of Dutch explorer Willem Barents, who first explored Spitsbergen and the Barents Sea, named in his honor. With the harp seal breeding season underway, we anticipate observing them on sea ice. As we near Svalbard, our attention turns to spotting polar bears engaged in hunting activities on the pack ice.
Svalbard offers Arctic wilderness at its best. The members of the experienced expedition team, who have made countless journeys to this area, will use their expertise to tailor the day-to-day itinerary, choosing the best options, based on the prevailing weather, sea-ice conditions and the possibility of encounters with wildlife.
Phenomenal fjords, magnificent mountains ranges, and a polar desert rich in fossils, set the stage for heroic tales of early exploration. See walrus hauled-out on sea ice or on beaches. On land, we stretch the legs on walks across tundra carpeted in brightly coloured wildflowers. We visit towering cliffs noisy with nesting guillemots, and scree slopes that hold Svalbard’s largest little auk colonies. Most memorable will be encounters with the majestic polar bear on pack ice. Your expedition team is just as keen as you are to find them – they will be on constant watch to spot these inspiring creatures.
If you have chosen an optional activity such as kayaking, you will have an opportunity to enjoy that activity when conditions allow. For those who are enthusiastic to participate in a polar plunge, as soon as conditions are suitable, you will hear the announcement to prepare for an exhilarating dip – a memory you will savour for years to come.
In the early morning, we sail into Longyearbyen. Bid farewell to your expedition team and then immerse yourself in the exploration of captivating Longyearbyen. Delve into the town's history, geology, flora, fauna, and its vibrant modern community. Explore key sites like Svalbard Museum, Galleri Svalbard, Office of the Governor, Svalbard Church, Nybyen (new town), various mines including Santa Claus Mine, and snap a quick photo at the renowned "beware of polar bear" street sign. Subsequently, transfer to the airport to continue your journey.
Note: Following the voyage, it's advisable not to schedule flights departing Longyearbyen before 12.00 pm on the disembarkation day due to potential delays.