Arctic Cruise : Iceland - Jan Mayen - Bear Island - Spitsbergen, 12 days/11 nights
Triple with Shared Facilities
Located on Deck 3 with two lower and one upper berth, a desk, a small washbasin, storage and hanging space and portholes. Shared shower and toilet facilities are conveniently located on the same deck.
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If you are looking to experience the largest of the North Atlantic islands, Iceland's volcanoes, icecaps, rugged glaciated mountains, fjords, coastal cliffs, and beaches, then this is the cruise for you. You will be stunned by the beautiful landscapes and diverse wildlife.
Day 01 : Keflavik-Snaefellsnes Peninsula
We will board the ship in the afternoon in Keflavik, a short trip from Iceland’s international airport. We will sail north to the Snaefellsnes Peninsula, which is crowned by a beautiful snow-capped volcanic cone, Snaefellsjokull, 1,442 meters high. We will stay on deck in the evening hoping to catch a glimpse of some of the whales that are often in this area.
Day 02 : Isafjordur Peninsula
Today we will explore the Isafjordur Peninsula with its imposing basalt mountains scoured out by Ice Age glaciers. We will sail into Adalvik in the Hornstrandir Nature Reserve. Once farmed, this beautiful, sheltered fjord has been deserted for 50 years. As sheep no longer graze here and the human impact is minimal, fauna and flora thrive on a scale much different from other parts of Iceland. We continue our voyage by sailing along the Hornstrandir Peninsula spotting the remains of other farmsteads along the coastline of golden sand beaches set between sheer basalt cliffs. We have planned a landing at Hornvik, where we can follow an old path used by fowlers to reach the top of 300 meter high Hornbjarg. From the dizzy heights of this cliff we can marvel at one of the biggest seabird colonies in Iceland, home to tens of thousands of Brünnich's Guillemots and Kittiwakes.
Day 03 : Grimsey-Kolbeinsey
We will land on Grimsey, an island off the north coast and the only part of Iceland which lies within the Arctic Circle as this boundary crosses the island. The island is home to huge colonies of Kittiwakes, Razorbills, Puffins, Fulmars, and Arctic Terns which far outnumber the human inhabitants. Numbering just one hundred and living in the island’s only village, this resourceful farming and fishing community would not dream of moving to the mainland. In the evening we sail across the Arctic Circle and circumnavigate Kolbeinsey, a tiny island north of Grimsey, formed from a submarine eruption.
Day 04 : Sailing to Jan Mayen
On our way to Jan Mayen, situated 300 nautical miles northeast of Iceland, there will be plenty of time to devote to looking for whales. Humpbacks are most likely to be seen, but as we approach the pack ice, we may also encounter Minke Whales as their curiosity brings them close to the boat. We should also see Harp Seals.
Day 05 : Jan Mayen
Jan Mayen is a volcanic island of breathtaking beauty and mystique, dominated by Mt. Beerenberg. From the slopes of the 2,277 meter volcano, impressive glaciers spill into the sea. Until recently, travel to the island was restricted, but with permission from the Norwegian authorities we hope to visit the weather station. We will also walk across the island to Kvalrossbukta to look at the remains of a seventeenth century Dutch whaling station and a substantial colony of Fulmars.
Day 06-07 : At Sea
We will spend two days at sea, looking out for whales, dolphins, seals, and a variety of seabirds.
Day 08 : Kvalrossbukta
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.
Day 09 : Spitsbergen
When we approach the sea ice at the southern tip of Spitsbergen, we may encounter molting Harp Seals on the sea ice. We will take a Zodiac cruise among the ice floes. Later we will try to land at Stormbukta, with its volcanic springs and a canyon with nesting Kittiwakes.
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.