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Ocean Nova

Crossing the Arctic Circle: Scotland to Spitsbergen

Example 15 Day Cruise aboard Ocean Nova (QU)
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Embark on the small polar ship Ocean Nova for this 15-day cruise from Scotland to Spitsbergen. Begin in Edinburgh and sail for Kirkwall, Lerwick, Bergen, and more! This magnificent expedition off the northern Atlantic offers a fascinating blend of Scottish and Norse history, and provides rich culture and wildlife experiences, including unique opportunities that will delight birders. Explore the medieval art, architecture and archaeology of Britain’s northernmost archipelagos of the Orkney and Shetland Islands, and discover contemporary life and Viking history there, before continuing to picturesque Bergen. Continue north into the Norwegian Sea toward UNESCO-protected Vega Island, a veritable ornithologists’ dream.

Day-by-Day Summary

Day 1 : Embark Edinburgh, Scotland
Day 2 : Kirkwall, Scotland
Day 3 : Lerwick, Shetland Islands
Day 4 : Bergen, Norway
Day 5 : Alesund, Norway
Day 6 : Trondheim, Norway
Day 7 : Vega Island, Norway
Day 8 : Moskenesøy Island
Day 9 : Bleiksøya and Nyksund, Lofoten Islands
Day 10 : Tromsø
Day 11 : At Sea
Day 12 : Hornsund, Norway
Day 13 : Bellsund
Day 14 : Poolepynton and Alkhornet
Day 15 : Depart Longyearbyen, Svalbard, Norway


Ocean Nova (QU)

Places Visited


Trip Type

  • Small Ship

Activity Level


Trip Snapshots

Ocean Nova Icebergs litter the seas throughout the Arctic Visit remote Arctic communities on your cruise A walrus pops up for to say hello Reindeer roam along the Arctic tundra

Day 1 Embark Edinburgh, Scotland

Arrive in Edinburgh and board the Ocean Nova. Consider arriving a few days early to explore all this UNESCO World Heritage site has to offer. Surrounded by stunning scenery, historic buildings and wonderful architecture, it is one of Europe’s favorite tourist destinations. The ship will depart in the afternoon sail north towards the Scottish Isles.

Day 2 Kirkwall, Scotland

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
This morning finds you in Orkney, an archipelago of almost 70 islands, with a history dating back 8,500 years to the first Mesolithic tribe that inhabited the area. Travel back in time here, with visits planned to the Standing Stones of Stenness, the Ring of Brodgar, Skara Brae, Skaill House and the Italian Chapel. You also have a chance to pay your respects to polar explorer John Rae, who rests in the shadow of the impressive St. Magnus Cathedral in Kirkwall. You may even have a chance to experience the vibrant and lively culture of today at a local pub.

Day 3 Lerwick, Shetland Islands

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Today, take the opportunity to visit a few of the most impressive famous archeological sites in the Shetland Islands. Visit Jarlshof, a prehistoric Norse settlement which dates back 2,500 years. Here you can see the progression of human civilization through the late Bronze and Iron Ages, as well as the Pictish and Norse eras and the Middle Ages. Return back to modern times as you visit Lerwick, the capital and main port of the Shetlands. After the excursion, return to the ship for lunch and head towards Norway.

Day 4 Bergen, Norway

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
After crossing the North Sea, arrive in Norway's second-largest city, Bergen. Here, have you first taste of Norwegian culture, which has a rich history dating back over 1,000 years. Enjoy a tour of the city, complete with world heritage sties, medieval houses, and some of the best street art in Norway.

Day 5 Alesund, Norway

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
This morning, arrive in Alesund at the mouth of the Geiranger Fjord. Take time to explore this gorgeous city and its famous Art Nouveau architecture. You may also have the opportunity to travel to the top of Mount Aksla for a spectacular view of the town.

Day 6 Trondheim, Norway

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
In the morning, explore Trondheim, the historic capital of Norway. Stroll through the quaint historic district, characterized by wooden architecture, where you can visit small specialty shops and enjoy a coffee at one of the pleasant cafés. Also visit the cathedral of the national sanctuary of Norway, Nidaris Cathedral, built over the grave of St. Olav. Work began in 1070, but the oldest parts still in existence date from the middle of the 12th century.

Day 7 Vega Island, Norway

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Spend today on the UNESCO-protected Vega Island archipelago as you head northward. Vega is an ornithologist’s dream. Be sure to keep an eye out for eider ducks and their nests that are nestled around lighthouses, fishing villages and incredible landscapes. The archipelago reflects the way fishermen and farmers have, over the past 1,500 years, maintained a sustainable living from eiderdown harvesting.

Day 8 Moskenesøy Island

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Spend the day exploring Reine, located on Moskenesøy Island. Reine is one of the wildest and most intriguing spots in Norway, where the landscape is characterized by majestic mountains and narrow shorelines, sculpted by glaciers. The island is one of the most beautiful and tranquil fishing villages in Norway. Despite its remote location, its beauty draws in thousands of visitors annually.

Day 9 Bleiksøya and Nyksund, Lofoten Islands

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
In the morning, arrive in Bleiksøya, and take a Zodiac ride around one of the most prolific bird populations in Norway. Here we should find large numbers of puffins, razorbills, sea eagles, cormorants and others in thousands. Navigate some of Norway’s northern fjords and appreciate the views of this unspoiled region. The waters approaching the Lofoten Islands are well known for whale sightings, so the Expedition Team will be at watch on deck. You may also see cormorants, sea eagles, and puffins.

Day 10 Tromsø

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Tromsø is a fascinating cultural center known for its festivals, museums, galleries, theaters, and a thriving music scene. While a multicultural and modern retreat for visitors, it is rich in history, with many traditional Norwegian wooden houses. Tromsø also has botanical gardens, as the warming Gulf Stream gives the city a more temperate climate than surrounding areas.

Day 11 At Sea

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Spend the day observing wildlife, stunning fjords, polar flora and immense icebergs at sea.

Day 12 Hornsund, Norway

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
The potential landing sites at Hornsund are steeped in history and the glaciers are massive. At Gashamna, explore the old science station. En route, you may have a chance to discover old whale bones, or hike the magnificent glacier.

At Isbjornhamna, you may see the Polish research station, colonies of delightful, stout little auks, and reindeer. As you cruise by Brepollen, be on the lookout for polar bears - Hornsund is one of their preferred hunting areas.

Day 13 Bellsund

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
About a century ago, miners came to the Bellsund region for its natural resources. Today, visitors come to Bourbanhamna and Calypsobyen to see historic mining and trapper sites, hike along the flower-strewn tundra, and admire beautiful vistas.

Day 14 Poolepynton and Alkhornet

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Poolepynton is great for photography and walrus watching. Spotting a walrus haul-out is a moment you won’t forget. These lumbering giants of the Arctic create a humorous scene, as each walrus vies for a choice spot in the blubbery pile.

Alkhornet, a mountain on the western coast of Spitsbergen, is classified as an Important Bird Area by BirdLife International. Reindeer can often be seen grazing on the rich tundra at the foot of the mountain.

Day 15 Depart Longyearbyen, Svalbard, Norway

  • 1 Breakfast
Your adventure ends in the frontier-style settlement of Longyearbyen. Disembark and transfer to the airport for your flight home, or choose to spend some extra time in Longyearbyen.

Ocean Nova (QU)

Per person starting at
Quad Cabin
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Averaging 157 sq ft. Equipped with 4 twin beds (two lower berths, two upper berths). Located on the Upper Deck with private facilities and exterior views.
Triple Cabin
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Averaging 140 sq ft. Equipped with 3 twin beds (two lower berths, one upper berth). Located on the Upper Deck with private facilities and exterior views.
Bridge Deck Twin Cabin
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Upper (Lower Berth) Deck Twin
Averaging 90 sq ft. Equipped with 2 twin beds (one upper berth and one lower berth). Located on the Upper Deck with private facilities and exterior views.
Upper Deck Twin Cabin
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Upper Deck Twin Cabin
Averaging 115 sq ft. Equipped with 2 twin beds. Located on the Upper Deck with private facilities and exterior views.
Upper (Lower Berth) Cabin
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Bridge Deck Twin Cabin
Averaging 105 sq ft. Equipped with 2 twin beds. Located on the Bridge Deck with private facilities and exterior views.


- Rates are quoted in U.S. dollars and represent costs per person, double or triple occupancy. Request the Twin or Triple Share Program where we match you with a cabin mate of the same gender. Even if we are unable to find a cabin mate for you, no single supplement will be charged. Single occupancy of a twin cabin is available at 1.7 times the twin occupancy rate. 

Mandatory medical insurance: Travelers should have a minimum US$50,000 (or equivalent) of emergency medical coverage prior to embarkation. It is recommended that you and all members of your party have comprehensive travel insurance covering trip cancellation, trip delay (interruption or after departure coverage), baggage, and repatriation.

Important reminder: Embracing the unexpected is part of the legacy – and excitement – of expedition travel. There are no guarantees that we can achieve everything we set out to accomplish. A measure of flexibility is something all of us must bring to a voyage. There are nearly 200 recognized sites in the Antarctic Peninsula and South Shetlands and the places mentioned above may be changed to others equally as interesting.
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Our guide and driver were very good with their knowledge and were very helpful with our questions. It was a very pleasant visit that would have been impossible to do on our own. Hotels and restaurants were fantastic. The special places we got to go to, like the kitchens, were great. Enjoyed the entire trip!
Meyer Smolen

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