Crossing the Arctic Circle, Jan Mayen & Spitsbergen
Duration: 12 days
Embarks: Edimburgh, Scotland
Disembarks: Longyearbyen, Spitsbergen
Itinerary, landings and all other activities during the cruise depend strongly on ice and weather conditions and are subject to the decisions of the Expedition Leader and the Captain of the vessel. Encounters with any mentioned wildlife cannot be guaranteed.
Day 1: Embarkation in Leith (Edinburgh),United Kingdom
Welcome to Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland andstarting point of our expedition. The famous Castlerising above the city gives immediate evidence ofEdinburgh’s rich history. While the Town areaboasts medieval architecture, the New Townaccommodates newer 18th century buildings. Eachcorner of Edinburgh’s old streets opens beautifulunexpected vistas of green hills or a blue flash ofdistant sea.In the afternoon, we welcome you aboard the luxury expedition ship M/V Sea Spirit. Explore the ship andget comfortable in your home away from home for the extraordinary adventure to come.
Day 2: Kirkwall, Orkney Islands
Kirkwall is a small, quiet town, with a gentle paceof life. The town is the capital of the remote andamazing Orkney archipelago. Kirkwall is firstmentioned in Orkneyinga saga in 1046. Such a longhistory has left a rich heritage that we exploretoday. The most famous are the sandstone StMagnus Cathedral, considered the finest medievalbuilding in the north of Scotland, the Bishop’sPalace and the Earl’s Palace.Included tour “Ancient treasures of Orkney with StMagnus Cathedral.” Depart Kirkwall and head into the west of Mainland, Orkney’s largest island. Thistour passes through the gentle rolling landscape of Orkney and into the Neolithic Heartland of Orkney; anarea designated as a World Heritage Site due to its wealth of pre-historic archaeology. Passing theStanding Stones of Stenness, we will stop at the Ring of Brodgar; a huge ceremonial circle of stonesdating back almost 5000 years. We then continue on to the 5000-year-old village of Skara Brae,beautifully interpreted in the visitor centre. See the remarkable dwellings revealed from beneath the sanddunes by storms only 150 years ago.Hear some of the stories from your guide today en route back to Kirkwall. Once back in the island capitalwe will take a tour of St Magnus Cathedral, built by the Vikings during their 500 year reign over theislands.
Day 3: Fair Isle, Shetland Islands
Fair Isle is a real paradise for birdwatchers. Hugenumber of birds inhabits the lush grasslands andspectacular cliffs. Over 345 species have beenrecorded here – more than anywhere else inBritain. During our walk across the island, we hopeto see northern fulmars, kittiwakes, northerngannets, puffins, and great and arctic skuas.
Day 4: Torshavn, Faroe Islands, Denmark
National Geographic Traveler had designated FaroeIslands as “authentic, unspoiled and likely toremain so”. It seems that the Nature spares nocolours in “painting” the islands. Deep-green hills,bright blue sea, colourful houses and boats, orange-red puffins’ beaks make the sceneriesunforgettable. We stop at the capital of the Faroes—Torshavn.Included tour “Kirkjubøur.” During the MiddleAges, Kirkjubøur was the ecclesiastical and culturalcentre of the Faroes. Here was the Bishop’s residence until the Reformation, when the Faroese diocesewas abolished. The imposing ruin of Saint Magnus Cathedral still dominates the site. Construction of theCathedral is thought to have begun in the late-thirteenth century, as the style of the building is from thebest period of Gothic architecture, common to West Norwegian church building of that time. Tradition hasit that it was never finished; yet recent research has revealed that it was probably roofed at one time. TheRoykstovan, standing on the wide, stone foundation of a portion of the Bishop’s palace, has been the homeof the farmers in Kirkjubøur for centuries and occupied by the same Faroese family for 17 generations.Covered with a traditional turf roof, it is a large building made of logs, which are said to have comedrifting all the way from Norway some 700 years ago. The farmhouse interior reflects the lifestyle of alarge Faroese farm. On our way to and from Kirkjubøur, we have a magnificent view to the west of theislands of Koltur, Hestur, Sandoy, and Vágar.
Day 5: At sea
Presentations and workshops by our expert staff, aswell as our range of onboard recreation facilities,ensure that this day at sea is not idly spent. Seabirdviewing and whale sightings can be enjoyed frompanoramic open decks as well as exterior stateroomwindows and balconies.
Day 6: Jan Mayen
Jan Mayen hosts the landscapes of breathtakingbeauty and northernmost subaerial active volcanoon the planet – the Beerenberg. The island is wildand uninhabited not including members ofNorwegian weather station. The signboard at theentrance door says (translated from theNorwegian): “Theory is when you understandeverything but nothing works. Practice is wheneverything works but nobody understands why. Onthis station, we combine theory and practice in away that nothing works and nobody understandswhy”. Northern fulmars, Kittiwakes, and Brünich’s guillemots breeding on steep cliffs and slopesrepresent the birdlife of Jan Mayen.
Day 7: At sea
The lectures of our invited speakers prepare us formeeting with the unique Arctic wildlife andawesome landscapes of Spitsbergen.
Day 8-11: Exploring Spitsbergen
This is a real expedition in a true High Arcticwilderness. As such, our route and explorationopportunities here are heavily dependent on theweather and sea ice conditions we encounter. Ourexperienced captain and expedition leader decidethe itinerary and continually adjust plans asconditions and opportunities warrant. You can besure that the best possible advantage will be takenof the circumstances presented to us by Nature inthis wild and remote corner of the Arctic.Polar bears and other quintessential Arctic wildlifecan be spotted anytime, anywhere in and around Svalbard. We exploit every opportunity to experienceexcellent wildlife viewing, to discover incredible scenery, and to walk in the footsteps of the historic polarexpeditions that came before us.We anticipate exploring the spectacular fjords, coasts, and islands in the western part of Svalbard. Thisarea contains the archipelago’s most impressive scenery and some of the Arctic’s best wildlife viewingopportunities. Deep fjords and narrow channels are flanked by jagged snowy mountain peaks. Immensetidewater glaciers calve icebergs into turquoise waters. Fields of flowering tundra are home to grazingreindeer and playful Arctic fox. Bountiful inshore and offshore waters are home to walrus and a widevariety of whales. The whole area is alive with migratory birds, including numerous rare species, takingadvantage of summer’s fecundity in 24-hour daylight.To complete the Arctic experience we also explore places rich with history. Our area of explorationcontains the historical remnants of whaling camps, coal mining operations, trappers’ cabins, stagingareas for historic attempts to discover the North Pole, and even an abandoned polar research station. Thedays are filled with memorable excursions, sumptuous meals, presentations by our experts, and enoughstunning scenery and wildlife to fill your camera and overwhelm your emotions.
Day 12: Disembarkation in Longyearbyen, Spitsbergen
After breakfast we say farewell in the town ofLongyearbyen, the administrative capital of theNorwegian territory of Svalbard. We provide atransfer to the airport or to the town center if youwish to spend more time here. In this case, be sureto see the excellent Svalbard Museum and takeadvantage of quality shopping and diningopportunities in this fascinating Arctic settlement.
* The prices are per person expressed in US Dollars.
NOTE: Embracing the unexpected is part of the legacy—and excitement—of expedition travel. When traveling in extremely remote regions, your expedition staff must allow the sea, the ice and the weather to guide route and itinerary details. This itinerary is a tentative outline of what you’ll experience on this voyage; please be aware that no specific itinerary can be guaranteed.
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