Welcome to Reykjavík, the capital of Iceland and starting point of your expedition. After arriving via scheduled commercial flight service, you are free to explore this fascinating city. Reykjavík is home to a wealth of cultural institutions including museums, galleries, and the Hallgrímskirkja church. Leisure possibilities inside the city include parks, gardens, and thermal baths. You can also take advantage of Reykjavík’s wide range of shopping possibilities, excellent dining options, and famous nightlife. Your hotel for the night has been pre-arranged and is included in the price of the voyage.
In the afternoon board the luxury expedition ship M/V Sea Spirit. Explore the ship and get comfortable in your home away from home for the extraordinary adventure to come. Savor the anticipation of your Arctic dreams coming true as the ship slips its moorings and sails out of the harbor.
From Reykjavík head northwest through the bay of Faxaflói, where it is possible to encounter your first whales. After rounding the dramatic Snæfellsnes Peninsula, continue north through Breiðafjörður where seabirds nest on numerous islands. Continuing in a clockwise route around Iceland encounter the scenic Vestfirðir (Westfjords) where deep fjords and rugged mountains create one of the country’s most scenic coastlines. After passing the wild Hornstrandir peninsula, head east through waters known for whales toward Tröllaskagi and the island of Grímsey. Possible sites of exploration include:
Snæfellsnes – The famous Snæfellsjökull volcano and picturesque Kirkjufell mountain are dominant features in the impressive landscape of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula. A rich cultural and literary history and the success of fishermen and merchants are evident in local fishing villages.
Flatey Island – The unassuming island of Flatey has a long and storied history as a cultural and artistic center and was even a hub of commerce with a huge population at one time. Today the island is home mostly to various species of migratory bird, especially the puffin.
Látrabjarg – The impressive sea cliff of Látrabjarg is the summer breeding site for millions of seabirds including puffins, northern gannets, guillemots, and razorbills. At 14 kilometers long and up to 440 meters high, this is Europe’s largest bird cliff and a stunning monument of Nature.
Dynjandi – Located in Vestfirðir (Westfjords), these breathtaking waterfalls, also known as Fjallfoss, have a cumulative height of 100 meters. The thundering cataract can be appreciated from the shore or experienced more closely by hiking up along the river.
Siglufjörður – Situated in a narrow fjord on the mountainous Tröllaskagi (“Troll Peninsula”), Siglufjörður is a quiet fishing town with multicolored houses arranged around a pleasant harbor. The popular herring museum pays tribute to the town’s heyday during the herring boom of the 1940s and 1950s with excellent exhibits, reenactments, and tastings.
Grímsey – The small, green island of Grímsey, located 40 kilometers from the mainland, is the northernmost inhabited territory of Iceland. The Arctic Circle runs through the island.
After your amazing time in Iceland sail east toward Norway, crossing the Prime Meridian on the way. Your crossing of the Norwegian Sea, roughly along the Arctic Circle, coincides with the summer solstice. The sun will not set again for the duration of your voyage! Presentations and workshops, as well as a range of onboard recreation facilities, ensure that these days at sea are not idly spent. Seabird viewing and whale sightings can be enjoyed from panoramic open decks as well as exterior stateroom windows and balconies.
Meet the coast of Norway just north of the Arctic Circle near Saltfjellet-Svartisen National Park, home to the second largest glacier in mainland Norway. Sail north through Vestfjorden toward the legendary islands of Lofoten. The amazing scenery does not end as the ship continues past the mountainous islands of Vesterålen, Senja, Ringsvassøy, and Sørøya. Finally reach Nordkapp at the top of Norway. Anticipated sites of exploration include:
Saltfjellet-Svartisen National Park – The landscape in the western region of this gorgeous national park is dominated by verdant forests, high mountains, and glaciers. The goal is the picturesque Engabreen glacier, an arm of the immense Svartisen glacier, situated on a pretty lake accessible via pleasant hiking path.
Lofoten – These famous islands are among the most scenic in the world. Nestled within the stunning scenery are small fishing villages and towns, such as Nusfjord and Leknes, where traditional character merges with contemporary charm.
Tromsø – Historically significant yet attractively modern, Tromsø is a major cultural hub distinguished by its centuries-old wooden houses. The Polar Museum reveals Tromsø’s past as a starting point for Arctic expeditions.
Hammerfest – Located on Kvaløya in the far northern county of Finnmark, this is one of the northernmost towns in the world. Hammerfest has a long history as a trading port and as a center of indigenous Sami culture. The island of Kvaløya is visited each summer by thousands of migrating reindeer.
Nordkapp – Situated on the island of Magerøya, the area of Nordkapp (“North Cape”) includes the northernmost point of land on the European continent. The famous Globe Monument is situated at the top of a cliff 300 meters above the sea.
From the top of Norway head north through the Barents Sea toward Svalbard. On the way encounter the small, remote island of Bjørnøya (“Bear Island”), the southernmost island in Svalbard. The island is so named because Dutch explorer Willem Barents saw a polar bear swimming nearby when he discovered the island in 1596. Welcome to the Arctic!
Svalbard is a true High Arctic wilderness and this part of the voyage is a real expedition. As such, your route and exploration opportunities here are heavily dependent on the weather and sea ice conditions encountered. Your experienced captain and expedition leader decide the itinerary and continually adjust plans as conditions and opportunities warrant. The best possible advantage is taken of the circumstances presented by Nature in this wild and remote corner of the Arctic.
Approaching Svalbard from the south, the first opportunities for exploration are on the southwestern part of the island of Spitsbergen. Take in stunning views of glaciers and towering mountains on the starboard side as you proceed up the west coast of Spitsbergen toward Isfjorden and the town of Longyearbyen. Polar bears and other quintessential Arctic wildlife can be spotted anytime, anywhere in and around Svalbard. Bountiful inshore and offshore waters are home to walrus and a wide variety of whales. The islands are alive with migratory birds, including numerous rare species, taking advantage of summer’s fecundity in 24-hour daylight. Exploit every opportunity to experience excellent wildlife viewing, to discover incredible scenery, and to walk in the footsteps of the historic polar expeditions that came before us. Possible areas of exploration include:
Hornsund – One of the most scenic areas in Svalbard, the bay of Hornsund is surrounded by dramatic peaks and tidewater glaciers. At this time of year it is possible to spot polar bears hunting seals on sea ice that lingers in the recesses of the bay.
Bellsund – The gently sloping tundra plains around Bellsund are rich with wildlife such as reindeer and nesting geese. The eerie remains of historical whaling and trapping operations can still be seen throughout the area.
St. Jonsfjorden – At the head of this scenic fjord there is an impressive tidewater glacier and the stunning spectacle of icebergs calving from the glacier face. These waters are home to seals and whales.
Alkhornet – The lush tundra slopes below the bird cliffs at Alkhornet in Isfjorden are home to grazing reindeer and playful Arctic fox. The sky and waters are full with seabirds coming and going.
After breakfast say farewell in the town of Longyearbyen, the administrative capital of the Norwegian territory of Svalbard. A transfer is provided to the airport or to the town center if you wish to spend more time here. In this case, be sure to see the excellent Svalbard Museum and take advantage of quality shopping and dining opportunities in this fascinating Arctic settlement.
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