Arctic Cruise : Faroes - Jan Mayen - Bear Island - Spitsbergen, 12 days/11 nights
Located on Deck 4 with a double bed and a single sofa-bed. A private bathroom with shower, washbasin and toilet. A sitting area with a desk, coffee maker, refrigerator and windows.
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This voyage through the North Atlantic will take you to the islands of Norway, Denmark, and Scotland. You will experience some of the most beautiful scenery in the world and hopefully spot various whales and other truly impressive wildlife.
Day 01 : Embarkation
We will embark on our voyage at Oban, a small harbor in west Scotland. The channels between the Scottish Islands offer us a great opportunity to spot Minke Whales, White-Beaked Dolphins, and Orca.
Day 02 : North Rona-Sula Sgeir
Out in the Atlantic to the northwest of Scotland are the tiny islands of North Rona and Sula Sgeir. We shall land on North Rona to see the seabird colonies and the Grey Seals. The island was inhabited in the eighteenth century and some remains are still visible. Leach's Petrels can be heard calling from their nesting burrows in the ruined walls of a small church in the village. Sula Sgeir is the last island in Britain on which Gannets are harvested annually. There will be spectacular views of its cliffs as we sail around.
Day 03 : Thorshavn-Saksun-Streymoy
We will arrive at Thorshavn, the capital and cultural centre of the Faroes. Here we are free to shop, visit the museum, or just explore the area as you wish. In the harbor, the small Faroese boats are a reminder of the Viking origins of the islanders. The walkers among us can take an exciting two hour walk across the hills to Kirkjubøer where they will find a medieval cathedral. In the early evening we will try to land at Saksun, tucked away at the head of a fjord which was once a superb natural harbor. Today the bay is full of sand, and we can only enter by Zodiac at high tide. At Saksun is the Natural Heritage Museum definitely worth a visit. Continuing along the north side of Streymoy we will pass huge seabird colonies.
Day 04-05 : Sailing to Jan Mayen
We will sail north to the Norwegian island of Jan Mayen, situated 300 nautical miles northeast of Iceland. During our two days at sea there will be plenty of time to watch for the blow of a Minke, Fin, or Blue Whale. Perhaps we might run into a pod of Orcas as their curiosity often brings them close to the boat.
Day 06 : Jan Mayen
We will sail north to the Norwegian island of Jan Mayen, situated 300 nautical miles northeast of Iceland. During our two days at sea there will be plenty of time to watch for the blow of a Minke, Fin, or Blue Whale. Perhaps we might run into a pod of Orcas as their curiosity often brings them close to the boat. We also plan to sail by Koksletta where thousands of Little Auks and Brünnich's Guillemots breed close to a glacier.
Day 07-08 : At Sea
We will spend two days at sea, looking out for whales, dolphins, seals, and a variety of seabirds.
Day 09 : Bear Island
At Bear Island we will visit the remains of a whaling station active from 1905-1908 in Kvalrossbukta. Arctic Skuas and Great Skuas can be seen during a walk across the desolate hills and tundra. The weather will decide whether we will sail along the west coast, where we can visit one of the largest seabird colonies in the North Atlantic with Little Auks, Brünnich’s Guillemots, Common Guillemots, and Kittiwakes. Alternatively we will sail along the east coast to visit Tunheim, an abandoned mining settlement. When we approach the sea ice at the southern tip of Spitsbergen, we may also encounter molting Harp Seals.
Day 10 : Hornsund
Depending on the position of the sea ice, we may cruise the maze of fjords in the spectacular Hornsund area of southern Spitsbergen, which is ringed by towering mountain peaks. Hornsundtind rises 1,431 meters while Bautaen shows why early Dutch explorers named the island Spitsbergen, meaning pointed mountains. There are also fourteen magnificent glaciers that along with the rich wildlife make this area truly spectacular. We will have a good chance of seeing seals in this area, and with a little luck polar bears as well. We may visit the Polish research station where the friendly staff will fill us in on their research projects. Behind the station, the mountains are home to thousands of pairs of nesting Little Auks. Bearded Seals often cruise the inner fjords, whose cliffs are lined with colonies of Brünnich’s Guillemots and Kittiwakes. We will also head to the tundra to observe foraging Barnacle Geese.
Day 11 : Ahlstrandhalvøya-Recherchefjord
Today we will land at Kapp Toscana on Ahlstrandhalvøya at the mouth of Van Keulenfjord, where piles of Beluga skeletons are a reminder of the twentieth century exploitation of these small white whales. However, their numbers are now recovering and we may have a chance to spot small groups in the area. We then move on to Recherchefjord where we will look for Reindeer as well walk along the fragile tundra. The Spitsbergen Reindeer is smaller that’s in mainland relative and travels in much smaller herds. We may land at Midterhuken to explore the remains of seventeenth century English whaling sites. The weather will determine which areas we will be able to visit.
Day 12 : Disembarkation
Early in the morning we arrive in Longyearbyen, the administrative center of Spitsbergen where we will catch our flights home.