12 Night Cruise sailing from Reykjavik to Longyearbyen aboard Ocean Atlantic.
Day 1 Iceland. Embarking Ocean Atlantic in Reykjavík
In the afternoon, we board the Ocean Atlantic in Reykjavík and set our course Northbound through the Denmark Strait for our first destination, the remote Arctic island of Jan Mayen.
Day 2 At sea towards elusive Jan Mayen
During our voyage our lecturers onboard will make inspiring and enriching presentations about both Iceland’s past history and about nature, wildlife and climatology.
Day 3 We make a shore landing by Zodiacs on Jan Mayen, at the foot of the 2200 meter Beerenberg volcano
Listen to a lecture from our experienced expedition staff, see a film about Arctic nature – or go out on deck to catch glimpses of migrating birds and hopefully some whales.
Approximately in the middle of the North Atlantic lies the enigmatic volcanic island of Jan Mayen. And if not exactly in the middle, at least it is located precisely on the Mid Atlantic Ridge, the reason for its volcanic existence. And enigmatic it is, not only because of its isolation but also due to the almost perpetual clouds and fog that hovers above it. Jan Mayen belongs to Norway, and the mountain Beerenberg is one of the higher of Norway’s 300 summits above 2,000 meters.
The island is inhabited by only 18 persons, running the meteorological station and the Norwegian Defence. We will try to go ashore at the narrowest part of the island, from either south or north, depending on the prevailing wind and surf. The volcanic origin is visible all over with cinder cones, lava flows and the Mount Fuji-like appearance of Beerenberg looming above. After a pleasant stroll on the narrow isthmus we board the Zodiacs and Ocean Atlantic to continue our voyage north.
Day 4 At sea towards Svalbard.
Lectures, movies or maybe a game are some of the activities and this sea day.
DAY 5 Svalbard in sight. Evening call in beautiful Bellsund.
We are getting closer towards the islands of Svalbard, and it should be possible to spot the largest island, Spitsbergen during the afternoon.
Our route for this day and next are much depending on conditions. Not least the pack ice coming from Arctic Sea as well as from calving glaciers, and also solid winter sea ice. Our vessel has an ice class of 1B and the Captain should be able to safely approach the edge of the ice to give us the opportunity to spot our first polar bear, hunting for seals. During the night the ship will sail towards the main town of Svalbard, Longyearbyen.
DAY 6 Longyearbyen – city sightseeing. Optional excursions.
Early in the morning the ship arrives in Longyearbyen. After breakfast we will have a short city sightseeing including the museum of Longyearbyen and there will also be time for shopping before going back to the ship.
Day 7 Kongsfjorden, Ny Ålesund
During the ‘night’ (what is night, when the sun never sets?), we have passed Prins Karls Forland and have arrived in the magnificent Kongsfjord. Our visit to Svalbard is in the early summer and this is both the challenge and gift of this special voyage. Winter ice will possibly block the inner waters of many fjords, but this will give us the best opportunities to observe the omnipresent – but still elusive – polar bear, hunting for seals in its prime habitat. At this time of the year, the migrating birds have just arrived. They are all eager to settle and feed to get the best start for the coming hectic summer months.
Our first landing will be at Ny Ålesund. This settlement is in fact further north than Longyearbyen, making it THE northernmost town. But… is a group of scientific stations, a post office and a single shop open for a few hours a real town? You will have to judge for yourself. The setting is nice, the scientific projects are very interesting, and so is the town history. The Captain will try to get alongside, so we can enjoy an easy walk through the area.
Day 8 Smeeringburg, 17th century whaling station.
We have now entered North West Svalbard, which was declared a national park in 1973. The day could begin with a Zodiac cruise in Danskergattet, looking for seals in Virgohamna, before crossing from Danskøya to Amsterdamøya to make a landing at Smeerenburg, the legendary whaling town of 17th century. 200-plus men were living – and quite often dying – here in the heyday of blubber production.
There are several interesting places to visit in this northwestern corner of Spitsbergen. If conditions allow, we’ll make a landing on Fuglesongen, the largest colony of little auks in Svalbard. The arctic fox has noticed this as well and can often be seen roaming the base of the bird cliffs.
Day 9 Into the pack ice, heading for 80 degrees north.
During the night the ship will have steered far north towards the edge of the polar pack ice. How far north only time and weather will tell, but the main target for us is just the ‘edge’, possibly at 80 degrees north! This is the kingdom of the polar bear! As the pack ice retreats during summer, polar bears ride the floes north, as this is where their prey - the seals - resides. Bears who for unfortunate reasons do not ‘catch’ the ice moving north, are stranded on Svalbard all summer, and will have to sustain on berries, eggs and whatever whale cadavers they can find. A hard life indeed!
During the day, lectures on polar mammals, environment and/or culture can be enjoyed on board in the Viking Theater. Should we get into the pack ice where the sea usually is calm, a Zodiac cruise will be arranged.
Day 10 Into Hinlopen Strait – if pack ice permits!
Most likely the northeastern coast of Spitsbergen Island and Hinlopen Strait are still locked in by coastal ice. We will try our luck and sail as far east as possible. Should this fail, Wood Fjord and Liefde Fjord could be excellent alternatives for the day. In this case, we will circumvent the bird rich Andøya in Zodiacs, and make a landing on Reindyrflya. Other interesting landings in this fantastic fjord system could be Mushamna and the oddly named ‘Texas Bar’. In the afternoon, a Zodiac cruise along the broad glacier front of Monacobreen gives a unique insight of the glacial forces and the unlimited forms of icebergs.
Day 11 Liefdefjord with Monaco Glacier, Zodiac cruise.
In the morning we will have reached the west coast of Spitsbergen and Kongsfjorden. Ocean Atlantic will anchor behind Blomstrand Peninsula. As we will immediately see, the name is a bit misleading. Blomstrand is now an island - the Blomstrand Glacier has receded, revealing a shallow water strait. We will cruise through this on our Zodiacs and make a landing on the island. Strong hikers might want to scale Irgensfjellet, 385 m for a nice view of ‘The Three Sisters’, nunatak mountains far into the Kongs Glacier, as well as enjoy a view down to Ny Ålesund.
After lunch, we continue further north into the fjord system, and depending on the ice situation, we may do a Zodiac cruise along the Lilliehöök Glacier front… or enjoy a lecture.
Day 12 Kross Fjord, shore hikes. Lilliehöök Glacier, Zodiac cruise.
The west coast enjoys the warmer water coming up through the Atlantic, so winter ice should now have melted. This allows us to enter the southern fjord of Bellsund on this last full day of exploration.
Bellsund has some of the richest coal layers in Svalbard, and Svea Mine, far into the fjord, was formerly one of the biggest communities on the island. But prices went down, and the coal mine is currently being dismantled.
We will stay in the fjord entrance and make landings at the Vårsol Bay. The biggest attraction here is the little auk cliff. Tundra is richly fertilized by hundreds of thousands of little auks, which the Svalbard reindeer love to graze. We will go for a nice walk along the beach – and spot remains from early industrial eras.
During lunch, we’ll cross the fjord along the 4 km long (but quite narrow) island of Akseloya. We will make a Zodiac landing at Calypsobyen in Recherche Fjord. Coal was extracted here in the early 1900s, but the enterprise never attained full production. Today, Calypsobyen offers an exciting landing that gives visitors a glimpse of the era of Neo-Industrialism, when all opportunities for profit were tried out. A pleasant walk can be made on the tundra behind the buildings.
Day 13 Longyearbyen, disembarkation.
Early in the morning the ship has returned to Longyearbyen. After breakfast and farewell greetings to the expedition team and crew, disembarkation will take place.
Please note that all the outings and landings rely on weather, sea and ice conditions being favorable both for the ship to access the areas, as for the zodiacs and kayaks to maneuver under adequate conditions, ensuring the safety of all our passengers and staff.
For this reason, during moments of harsh weather and throughout the entire trip, Ocean Atlantic has excellent public areas, such as wellness/sauna, restaurant, bar and a library for our passengers to spend their spare time. Our ship is staffed by experts in the field who will also share great lectures along the way, ranging from exploration history to biology, geology, ice and wildlife.
Please note, while prices and inclusions are accurate at time of loading they are subject to change due to changes in cruise line policies and pricing and due to currency fluctuations. Currency surcharges may apply. Please check details of price and inclusions at time of booking.