Voyage across the Arctic Circle via the Svalbard Archipelago and north-east Greenland
Natural splendour, bountiful wildlife and a pioneering spirit all coalesce in the High Arctic, a region once reserved for only the hardiest of travellers but now open to anyone with a real yearning for adventure. Starting out from the isolated Spitsbergen outpost of Longyearbyen, this expedition heads down through the Arctic Circle, taking in the islands of the Svalbard Archipelago, the north-east coast of Greenland and the journey over the Denmark Strait to Iceland. Following in the proverbial wake of explorers past, you'll be treated to stunning sceneries of vast glacial walls, sprawling fjord systems and icebergs the size of skyscrapers. Time spent on the ship will include educational presentations on tales of polar exploration and seabird identification, while there'll be plenty of opportunities for spotting the region's famed wildlife during Zodiac excursions. This voyage across the Arctic Circle allows travellers to experience three different countries of the Arctic in a relatively short space of time.
- Longyearbyen, Svalbard and Jan Mayen
- Reykjavik, Iceland
- Greenland, Iceland, Norway
- Physical rating
- Min 8
- Group size
- Min 1, Max 83
Why we love this trip
Seek out unforgettable Polar Bears sightings while roaming the hunting grounds of this ruler of the Arctic
Discover the history of Greenland with explorations of the ruins of ancient Thule settlements and learn about the Inuit life in Ittoqqortoormiit
Experience how this incredible environment is ever-changing while cruising through freshly birthed icebergs in Scoresbysund
Kayaking on crisp, clear Arctic waters is a unique and intimate way of exploring this amazing region. Book early as these activities can sell out fast
Is this trip right for you?
As you’d expect, temperatures in the Arctic are very cold. A warm parka will be provided along with waterproof boots and unlimited hot drinks, but you should also bring base layers and lots of warm clothing. Please see the trip notes for further important information about what to bring.
Weather depending, you will be making regular excursions in a Zodiac boat to explore the local area and look for wildlife. It can get very cold and wet on the Zodiac, so make sure you are dressed appropriately and that you keep your camera safe and dry. Sturdy sea legs are needed as you make wet and dry landings from the boat, and on steep terrain, snow and other uneven surfaces. Some ships have a lot of stairs, so please hold on to the handrails if seas are rough.
The weather plays a pivotal part in this adventure and although there’s an itinerary in place, there are no guarantees that you’ll be able to do everything that is planned for. A level of flexibility and openness to embracing the unexpected are important in expedition travel, especially to such a remote area.
This trip takes places during the time of year that Spitsbergen enjoys 24-hour daylight. Just one of the benefits of this is that incredible wildlife can be seen at any time of the day – be prepared to be woken at any time so as to not miss out on exciting animal sightings.
Polar bears are one of the most incredible and appealing animals on the planet, but they are also powerful predators with little fear of humans. Therefore it’s necessary to be aware of the guidelines surrounding any contact with Polar bears. Follow your leader’s instructions and do not stray from your group – your leader carries equipment to protect you.
Special InformationAn arrival transfer is included if you arrive today. Please ensure you arrive prior to 3.00pm as embarkation will take place at 4.00pm.
POSSIBLE LANDING SITES IN SVALBARD
In 1906, His Serene Highness Prince Albert I of
Monaco visited Lilliehöök Glacier to conduct scientific investigations. His great-great-grandson, HSH Albert II, visited the glacier a hundred years later as part of a scientific investigation, this time to further our understanding of the arctic clam, a species that lives for more than a century. The growth rings of a single clam’s shell contain evidence of the chemicals encountered by the clam. Scientists can determine the variations of the water’s temperature and pollutant content by studying the shell.
Eighteen hundred people inhabit the administrative capital of Svalbard, which is situated on the shore of Isfjorden. The settlement was founded in 1905 by John Munroe Longyear, the majority owner of the Arctic Coal Company of Boston.
HSH Prince Albert I of Monaco, a pioneer of oceanography, led an expedition to Svalbard in 1906. His team used sophisticated photographic techniques to understand the shape and position of several glacier fronts. Monaco Glacier honors the expedition, the prince and the principality over which he reigned.
The most southerly fjord in Svalbard offers some of the most spectacular scenery, with dramatic calving glaciers, drifting pack ice and majestic peaks (the highest of which are often shrouded in mist). A Polish research station has operated on the northern shore of Hornsund since 1957. Part of Sør-Spitsbergen National Park, this pristine area is rich in wildlife—reindeer, arctic fox and polar bears can often be spotted hunting for food, while ringed seals bask on the fast ice.The following Optional Activities are available to participate in, on some or all of the departures of this itinerary. These must be booked in advance (additional costs apply) and space is limited.
14TH OF JULY GLACIER
Named after France’s Bastille Day (the 14th of July), in honor of the arctic expeditions of His Serene Highness Prince Albert I of Monaco, this massive glacier is actually two smaller glaciers merged into one. Situated in Krossfjord, a bay on the northwest coast of Spitsbergen, the glacier is teeming with wildlife. Nesting atop the towering bird cliffs are purple sandpipers, common eiders, barnacle geese, arctic tern and Brünnich’s guillemots (thick-billed murres). Bearded and ringed seals also frequent the waters here.
KAYAKING – Our kayaking adventures are the best way to feel at one with the sea. Taken in small groups of maximum 16 people, multiple times per voyage, kayaking adventures are only conducted during calm weather conditions. Kayaking is open to all levels of experience, however kayaking in the polar waters is not suitable for novice kayakers. Beginners interested in kayaking should first take an introductory course prior to the voyage which includes how to do a wet exit. In addition regardless of your experience, we recommend you take part in some kayaking practise prior to the voyage to ensure that you are comfortable on the water in the icy conditions.
INCLUDED OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES offered on some or all departures of this itinerary
HIKING - Hiking is a great way to appreciate the immense windswept landscapes of the Arctic. The tundra comes alive during the brief arctic summer, with bursts of color from shrubs and plants that eke out a living in this polar environment. You’ll find each hike is different - exploring communities, shorelines or glaciated landscapes, often on the lookout for wildlife. Hiking participation is optional and your Expedition Team will advise you of what levels of activity you can expect prior to each excursion.
- Breakfast (4)
- Lunch (4)
- Dinner (4)
POSSIBLE LANDINGS AND WILDLIFE SIGHTINGS - EAST GREENLAND
The Red Fjord, or Rødefjord, is named for the colorful sandstone located on its western side. The stone has been “stained” red by hematite, creating an oddity in this part of Greenland.
Revered by many as the most beautiful fjord system in the world, Scoresby Sund is definitely the longest and largest. The sound was named after William Scoresby Jr., a whaler, scientist and man of the cloth, who was famed for mapping more than 400 miles (640 km) of Greenland’s coastline.
C. HOFMANN HALVØ
This is often the best location for getting close to muskoxen. The peninsula is also home to wheatears and snow buntings, and you may spot rock ptarmigans or great northern divers while at sea.
Encounter some of the most stunning icebergs before hiking across Denmark Island, which offers stupendous views of Scoresby Sund and Fønfjord below.
- Breakfast (3)
- Lunch (3)
- Dinner (3)
POSSIBLE LANDING SITES IN EAST GREENLAND
The Red Fjord, or Rypefjord, is named for the colorful sandstone located on its western side. The stone has been ‘stained’ red by hematite, creating an oddity in this part of Greenland.
Revered by many as the most beautiful fjord system in the world, Scoresbysund is definitely the longest and largest. The sound was named after William Scoresby, a whaler, scientist and man of the cloth, who was famed for mapping more than 400 miles (640 km) of Greenland coastline.
Discovered in 2005, this small island is called a ‘warming island’ as it was uncovered as the result of climate change and the melting of ice.
CAPE HOFMANN HALVØ
This is often the best location for getting close to musk oxen. The Cape is also home to wheatears and snow buntings, while you may likewise spot rock ptarmigans or northern divers while at sea.
Near Fohn Fjord, some of the most stunning icebergs are to be encountered before taking a hike across Denmark Island, which offers stupendous views of the Scoresbysund and FØn Fjord below.
- Breakfast (4)
- Lunch (4)
- Dinner (4)
Special InformationYour ship is scheduled to arrive back at the pier in Akureyri at between 7 amd 8am. After breakfast, you will disembark and transfer to the airport for your flight back to Reykjavik domestic airport. From there, you will be transferred to a central downtown location, from where you can make your way to the International Airport or to your Reykjavik accommodation if you are staying on in the city.
IMPORTANT - Onward flights should not be booked until after 2.00pm but an overnight in Reykjavik is recommended in case of any weather related flight delays.
Meals13 breakfasts, 12 lunches, 13 dinners
TransportExpedition cruise ship, Zodiac
Dates & availability
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Arctic and Antarctic bookings have an increased deposit requirement of A$2000pp ($6000pp on Icebreaker voyages. Different deposit amounts apply in other currencies). The balance is due 90 days before departure.
If a booking is cancelled 90 days or more before departure - the cancellation fee is the full loss of the deposit paid.
If a booking is cancelled between 89 days and departure - the cancellation fee is 100% of the total price of the voyage.
Other fees may apply for air tickets and other arrangements booked in conjunction with a Polar voyage.
Kayaking is available to book on all Arctic voyages (except the North Pole). This must be booked prior to departure and incurs an additional cost. Spaces are limited so please enquire at time of booking. To participate in kayaking, previous, recent experience is essential. In addition, there are other included optional activities offered on some voyages such as snow shoeing and hiking. These activities do not need to be booked in advance and no additional cost applies.
Your voyage is operated by our sister company, Quark Expeditions. All accommodation and transfer arrangements as listed in the itinerary are also operated by Quark Expeditions or their local representatives.
Strict luggage limits apply. Please see Trip Notes (What to Take) for more information.