Arrive in Oslo, Norway’s modern capital city, and transfer to your hotel before meeting your local guide for an afternoon walking tour. In the evening, gather for a private welcome reception at your hotel.
Board a charter flight to Longyearbyen (Spitsbergen), the capital of Svalbard. One of the most remote groups of islands on the planet, nearly two-thirds of its surface is covered in glaciers. Tour the town and its Arctic museum, then board Le Boreal in the afternoon.
Very few people have the opportunity to view the remote wilderness of the Svalbard Islands. In the Svalbard archipelago, polar bears, walrus, Svalbard reindeer and an incredibly rich variety of birds are as abundant as are cathedrals of ice, glaciers and craggy mountain peaks. An amazing amount of diminutive flora surrounds this barren landscape, which comes alive with color under the August midnight sun. Svalbard’s wildlife is contrasted by the unexpected culture of its fishing villages. Your exact itinerary depends on the weather, but your captain and expedition crew determine the day’s best sightseeing opportunities which may include the following:
Magdalenefjoren: A stunning fjord with rugged rock walls, Magdalenefjoren surmounts blue-hued glaciers crisscrossed by crevasses, with birds perched in the high cliffs. This "glacier coast" provides magnificent views of slow-moving glaciers traveling out to sea as well as beaches frequented by walrus.
Ny Alesund: History in Ny Alesund stretches back to the early Arctic explorers. Today, a polar research station occupies the site where a Norwegian coal mine once operated, and scientists study meteorology, seismology, atmospheric sciences and marine biology. Conditions permitting, you visit the small community, including a museum, art gallery and the northernmost post office in the world.
Alkjefellet (Auk Mountains): Set off on Zodiacs (sturdy inflatable boats) to explore the 325-foot sheer cliffs that are home to 60,000 guillemots and kittiwakes. These nests attract "poaching" polar bears and Arctic fox, who come for the feast of eggs and birds.
Monaco Bay and Glacier: Located in Northwest Spitsbergen, Monaco Bay is frequented by a variety of wildlife populations, including polar bears, walrus, harbor and bearded seals, and a multitude of seabirds.
Liefdefjorden (Loves Bay): In far Northern Svalbard, this is an excellent area for spotting polar bears and other Arctic wildlife.
The primary objective is to search for polar bears as they hunt in their true natural habitat — be it on land or among the ice floes. Each landing is under the close supervision of the ships bear guardians, who have the best knowledge about where to find the white giants.
Cruise along the Arctic ice edge through the Greenland Sea. As you sail, attend lectures on board to recap the wildlife, history and geology of Svalbard. Prepare yourself for your arrival on the world's largest island: Greenland.
Over the course of three days, explore the rarely visited east coast of Greenland, Kejser Franz Josef Fjords and Scoresby Sound. Embark on twice-daily Zodiac excursions to cruise the intricate fjord network and search for musk ox and reindeer, which are common here. Ice conditions permitting, disembark for a visit in Ittoqqortoormiit, a small settlement founded in 1925 and one of the most isolated villages in Greenland. Also visit the "warming island" of Uunartoq, which was once believed to be a point on the mainland of Greenland, and today provides further evidence of climate change.
Enjoy a relaxing day at sea cruising the relatively narrow strip of water which separates Greenland from Iceland and connects the Arctic Sea with the Atlantic Ocean. Watch for seabirds and whales from the deck as you sail, and gather in the evening for a gala dinner hosted by the captain.
Visit the excellent Husavik Whale Museum, one of the world's foremost centers focused on whales and their habitat. Afterward, join an optional scenic whale watching tour followed by free time in Husavik. Or, set off for Godafoss and Lake Myvatn, a thermally active region which provides a rich habitat for a variety of wildlife.
Take in the glacier-carved terrain of Iceland's West Fjords, highlighted by the sparkling waterfalls and icebergs of Drangajokull Glacier. Visit Grundarfjördur, one of the first villages in Iceland. Then, choose from three excursions.
You may visit the Snaefellsnes Peninsula to see its fishing villanges, stunning Snaaefelsnes Glacier and views of the majestic, extinct Snaaefelsjokull volcano — the site that inspired Jules Verne’s fictional Journey to the Center of the Earth. You may also embark on a boat tour among the numerous islands of Breidafjörður, an archipelago teeming with exotic birds, followed by a catch of a fresh shellfish brought on board to enjoy straight from the sea. Or, hike well-known sites from the Icelandic Sagas, including the beautiful Berserkjahraun lava field; the 240-foot Mt. Helgafell ("The Holy Mountain"), with spectacular views over the Breidafjordur islands (weather permitting); and, the old town of Stykkisholmur and Bjarnarhofn (“Bear Harbor”), where you can explore a shark museum and wooden Dutch church.
In the morning, disembark in Reykjavik and transfer to the airport for your return flight home.