Jewels of the Arctic

Highlights

  • Spectacular scenery
  • The largest island in the world (Greenland), and world’s largest National Park (Northeast Greenland)
  • Historic sites and Inuit culture
  • Wildlife opportunities
  • Sea ice, active glaciers and icebergs
  • Rumbling volcanoes, rugged lava fields, hot springs, cascading waterfalls

Tour description provided by World Expeditions

This voyage offers wonderful opportunities for tundra and glacier walking, fjord exploration plus dramatic landscape and Arctic wildlife viewing. Commencing in Spitsbergen we cruise southwest across the Greenland Sea, spotting seabirds and admiring the east Greenland icepack that stretches north across the Arctic Ocean to the North Pole. The ice mass is home to Polar Bears, Narwhal Whales and walrus, providing a constant source of interest for all on board. We’ll take as many opportunities as possible to use our zodiacs or sea kayaks to make landings on the Greenland coast. This strip of east coast is sparsely settled by small communities of Inuit hunters who eke out a living in one of the harshest environments on earth. Iceland, where we disembark, is one of the world’s youngest islands. Forged by fire and honed by ice, it is a geological treasure trove.

What's included

  • 13 breakfasts, 12 lunches and 13 dinners
  • Comfortable cabin accommodation and use of all public areas on cruise
  • Specialist expedition staff
  • All shore excursions from the ship including the use of zodiacs
  • Lectures, videos, slide and film shows and guide services
  • Medical services (there is a resident medical officer and infirmary on board)
  • Port taxes and port charges imposed by government authorities
  • Flight from isafjordur to reykavik
  • Pre-departure information

Itinerary

Day 1 Arrive in Longyearbyen and embark
We board Polar Pioneer in late afternoon, and cruise down the beautiful Isfjorden, escorted by gliding fulmars, and perhaps the occasional puffin.
Day 2 to 3 Northwest coast of Spitsbergen
We will cruise northwards along the west coast of Spitsbergen stopping at intriguing places like Kongsfjorden or Magdallenefjorden. We will spend long periods ashore walking on the lush tundra amongst the summer flowers. We will feel a sense of history at the 350-year-old remains of the Dutch whaling settlement at Smeerenberg (blubber town) on Amsterdamoya, and at the century-old relics from Swedish explorer Andree, who set out from Danskoya in an unsuccessful attempt to fly a balloon to the North Pole. From the Zodiacs we will enjoy magnificent views of glaciers sweeping and tumbling into the sea. We may walk on smooth raised beach terraces to magnificent viewpoints, hike on flowering tundra where reindeer graze, and visit trappers? huts of yesteryear; all the while remaining alert for wandering polar bears.
Day 4 to 5 Cross the Greenland Sea and approaching East Greenland
As we cruise southwest across the Greenland Sea, the main outlet of the Arctic Ocean, we may encounter pack ice. The strong icy currents have isolated East Greenland from the rest of the world for millennia. These currents carry nutrients from the Polar Basin, attracting large numbers of fish, seals and whales. Climatic conditions and the concentration of ice in the vicinity often create thick morning fog, that vanishes with the onset of the midday sun. As we approach East Greenland, we will seek out pack ice where we may see seals and a variety of seabirds, including Ivory Gulls and migratory Brunnichs Guillemots. Conditions permitting, there will be a good chance to launch our sea kayaks. We may also land at Northeast Greenland National Park. Home to polar bear, walrus, Arctic hare and musk ox, it?s the world?s largest national park. This stretch of Greenland?s coastline is ripe for exploration, with its many secrets locked in place by drift ice for up to eight months each year.
Day 6 to 11 Kaiser Franz Josef Fjord & Scoresby Sund
We will attempt to enter Kaiser Franz Josef Fjord, a remote and rarely visited fjord system with countless opportunities for exploration, that lies within the Northeast Greenland National Park. We will then head south along the coast of Liverpool Land, with our passage dependent on ice conditions. We will aim to reach Scoresby Sund, the world?s biggest fjord and a favourite hunting ground of the local Inuit. Massive glaciers dump into this fjord, the birthplace of the famous big Greenland icebergs. We hope to visit remote Inuit communities, like the unpronounceable Ittooqqortoormiit (Scoresby town), and to hike across the tundra in search of ancient graveyards or summer villages occupied 3000 years ago by Eskimos. This area provides excellent opportunities for sea kayaking in its maze of calm, interconnecting waterways. If we are lucky we may see musk ox, Arctic fox, seals, and maybe even polar bears or narwhal; although due to the relentless pursuit of the local hunters, these sightings are very rare.
Day 12 to 13 Blosseville coast & cross Denmark Strait
We will sail south along the Blossville Coast of Knud Rasmussen Land, where our explorations will depend on the weather and ice conditions. The only sign of human habitation is tiny trappers? huts perched on empty beaches or lonely promontories. We will marvel at the complex geology of the oldest island in the world, where we will see acres of gravel beaches dumped by ice-age glaciers, and intriguing flat-topped mesas striated with layers of ancient deposits, rising dramatically between massive glaciers. We may visit Nansen Fjord, a large fjord scattered with ice debris and icebergs calving off Christian IV glacier, surrounded by tall black mountain peaks. The 8 nautical mile snout is being pushed relentlessly forward by the weight of the Greenland icecap. There are virtually no charts for some of the bays and fjords along this stretch of coast. So who knows where our adventures will take us and what we will discover? We will head out into the Denmark Strait and cruise towards Iceland. Entertaining talks will help consolidate what we've seen and experienced, as we head south.
Day 14 Disembark Isafjordur, Iceland and fly to Reykjavik
Today we will arrive at Isafjordur, Iceland. As our journey draws to an end, we will have time to reflect on the amazing experiences we have shared, before we bid each other farewell. We will be transferred from our trusty vessel to the airport for our flight to Reykjavik where our trip will conclude.