Arrive 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, see the lighthouse on Girdle Ness to the south, designed by the grandfather of Robert Louis Stevenson.
The Scottish waters offer excellent possibilities to spot minke whales, white-beaked dolphins, and harbour porpoises. Several other cetaceans, including orcas, are also native to these waters.
At Fair Isle, in the Shetlands, you are welcomed by the 70 or so inhabitants (famed for their knitwear, examples of which you can see) to be followed by a walk to the bird observatory. Later, on Mousa, one of the smaller Shetland Islands, visit one of the best preserved brochs in Scotland. Brochs are circular stone towers probably built by the Picts. During a night excursion watch thousands of storm petrels return to their burrows or crevices. By day view grey seals, black guillemots, red-throated divers, arctic skuas, and wonderful spring flora.
Sail north to the Norwegian island of Jan Mayen, situated 300 nautical miles north-east of Iceland. During your two days at sea there is 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 the Ortelius.
Jan Mayen is a volcanic island of breathtaking beauty and mystique, dominated by Mt Beerenberg. From the slopes of the 2300m 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 hope to visit the weather station. Walk across the island to Kvalrossbukta to look at the remains of a 17th-century Dutch whaling station and a substantial colony of fulmars. Plan to sail by Koksletta where thousands of little auks and Brünnich's guillemots breed close to a glacier, watched over by glaucous gulls.
In the midnight sun, sail north along the edge of the sea-ice, looking out for different species of whales, dolphins, seals and a variety of seabirds, until the sea-ice stops the ship, then sail to North Spitsbergen.
Depending on the position of the sea-ice, sail into Raudfjord or one of the other fjords in Northwest Spitsbergen, where you have chances of seeing polar bears at the heads of the fjords, where seals are sunbathing on the fjord-ice. At Fuglesangen have an opportunity to see thousands of little auks on their breeding grounds.
Fuglehuken, the northern tip of Prins Karls Forland, is probably the place where Willem Barentsz made the first landing in Spitsbergen. It is an area with beautiful seabird-colonies and many remains of the polar bear hunting period of a century ago. Later look for walruses at Sarstangen, Engelskmansbukta or Poole-Pynten. In the evening land at Alkhornet, another seabird colony where at the slopes one can find reindeer and arctic foxes.
Disembark in Longyearbyen, the administrative center of Spitsbergen, for flights south to Oslo and onward home.
|Quadruple Porthole||Triple Porthole||Twin Porthole||Twin Window||Twin Deluxe||Superior|