ARCTIC

Iceland to Spitsbergen - Fire and Ice Cruise

from £7450 12 nights | Jun Exc. flights See price details
  • Departs:
  • Jun

Overview

This action-packed voyage takes in some of the highlights of two contrasting island worlds. Learn of Viking legends and glimpse the Earth’s fiery underbelly in the volcanic landscapes of Iceland, before setting off across the open sea towards the archipelago of Svalbard, home of the icon of the Arctic, the polar bear.

Highlights

  • Cruise amidst pristine landscapes of rugged mountains, massive glaciers, and icebergs
  • Explore deep fjords and lava caves
  • Search for polar bears, walrus, reindeer, Arctic foxes, seals and birds
  • Watch for whales: minke, beluga, humpback, blue, fin, and sei
  • Visit historic whaling sites and remote Jan Mayen Island
  • Learn of Viking lore and legends
  • See geothermal landscapes of sulphur pits, boiling mud pools, and lava formations

This expedition combines fascinating history with epic scenery and extraordinary wildlife to create an itinerary which offers something for everyone, from geologists to whale watchers.

EXTEND YOUR STAY IN ICELAND
With embarkation taking place in Reykjavik - Iceland's lively capital city, why not extend your stay in south Iceland and visit the famed sites of the Golden Circle, Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon and the distinctive therapeutic waters of the Blue Lagoon? Discover more about Iceland holidays.

Itinerary & Accommodation

Day 1: embarkation in Reykjavik, Iceland
Embark the ship and set off up the west coast of the ‘Land of Fire and Ice’.
Day 2: Isafjordur and Vigur Island, Iceland
Although the town has only 2.600 inhabitants Isafjordur is the largest town in north-western Iceland. Like in many other ports of Iceland, fishing was the main industry, but has declined in recent years. Isafjordur can boast to have been settled as early as the 9th century. During a town walk you will see some important historic buildings, among them the local folk museum which dates back to 1734.

During lunch relocate and anchor off Vigur Island. A little more than a mile in length and about 450 yards wide, this green oasis punctuates the waters of the Isafjardardjup fjord, east of Isafjordur. The island is home to a single farming family and has some meticulously preserved historical landmarks including Iceland’s only windmill, built in 1840 and used until 1917.

Summer is the best time to see large numbers of Atlantic Puffins, Arctic Terns and Black Guillemots here. One of the export articles from this small island is eider down and you can see where the eider ducks nest and how the down is collected and cleaned.

Prior to heading back to the ship, refreshments will be served at Viktoría House, a wooden farmhouse erected in 1862. You will also have the opportunity to visit one of the smallest post offices in Europe, where you can send home a postcard or two.
Day 3: Siglufjordur and Grimsey, Iceland
Steep mountain slopes once kept Siglufjordur secluded, but today two tunnels connect the town and fjord with the outside world, permitting easier access to the excellent hiking opportunities in the region. During the morning have a look at the small town and its award-winning museum.

Located some 60 kilometres north-east of Siglufjordur, the island of Grimsey straddles the Arctic Circle. The small community lives on the western side of the island and even has a short runway for small planes. If you want, you can actually cross the Arctic Circle via a bridge slightly north of the small airport terminal.

Because of the nutrient rich waters in this area, seals and whales are frequently seen nearby. These riches were already known in medieval times when Norwegian king Olafur requested Grimsey island as a gift. Apart from fish, the ancient settlers hunted birds and collected eggs – a practice still done to some extent today. At Grimsey’s southeast corner is an automatic lighthouse from where you have a good viewing point of the cliffs.

Slightly further south, you have cliffs of beautiful basalt columns. The east side has the highest cliffs (up to 100 metres), but bird colonies can be found all over the island- except in the village. Fortunately, the island is rat and mice free enabling birds to thrive. Potential species include black-legged kittiwakes, northern fulmars, Atlantic puffins, razorbills, black guillemots, common guillemots and Brunnich’s guillemots. Grimsey also has one of the largest tern nesting sites.
Day 4: Husavík, Iceland
This morning awake in the idyllic Skjalfandi fjord, which is a blend of the Skjalfandafljot (a glacier river), and the salmon-rich Laxa, a freshwater river. Go ashore in Húsavík, a quaint village that looks out over the fjord and travel around the Tjörnes Peninsula, where large Atlantic puffin colonies can be found.

In Jokulsargljufur –a glacial river canyon- venture into the mystical realm of Viking lore. Stop at Asbyrgi, a lush horseshoe-shaped canyon, where legend claims an airborne horse, Sleipnir, belonging to the Norse god, Odinn, shaped the canyon when accidentally touching the ground. Next, a stop is made at Hljodaklettar or “Echo Rocks” where you can walk up to the cliffs and enjoy some lunch. Afterwards, head to the mighty Dettifoss waterfall, with the greatest volume of any waterfall in Europe – it featured prominently in the film “Prometheus”. Marvel at the seething sulphur pits and boiling mud pools near Namaskard; and trek over the sand dunes of Holasandur.

Alternatively, sail from Husavik in a local boat across the bay to the magnificent mountains of Kinn that rise more than half a mile (1,000 metres) above sea level. During the cruise, learn more about the many species of whales – blue, fin, humpbacks, minke and sei – that may be seen on the way. Later visit the award-winning Hisavik Whale Centre, where you will learn about the habitats of whales around Iceland before returning to the ship.
Day 5: at sea
While at sea, gather in the theatre to hear talks about Jan Mayen’s interesting history and to learn more about the island’s remarkable nature.
Day 6: Jan Mayen Island
Humpback and minke whales may be seen on approach to this volcanic island of towering ebony peaks and broad black lava beaches. The primordial landscape is dominated to the north by the 7,500-foot-high (2,300-metre-high) Mt Beerenberg, an active volcano covered in glacial ice that last erupted in 1985.

Make a landing at this rarely visited outpost and visit the research and weather station. Walks to the station and beyond will permit birds-eye views of the meteorological station and a view of the long black sandy eastern shore of the island. Bird observations may include Atlantic puffins, fulmars, auks and snow buntings.

In the afternoon continue to sail north towards Svalbard.
Day 7: at sea
As you make your way toward Svalbard, head out on deck to watch for seabirds and whales. Attend informative lectures that will prepare you for the different sites and activities in store over the next few days.
Days 8-12: explore Svalbard
Svalbard, an expansive archipelago of the Arctic Ocean north of Norway, is one of the last major European wilderness areas. With pristine mountains, fascinating fauna, deep fjords, picturesque icebergs, and massive ice sheets, it is a must visit destination for any keen explorer. The goal on this voyage will be to locate wildlife and spend the maximum amount of time possible hiking on the tundra. Spitsbergen is home to approximately 3,000 polar bears and you have a good chance of encountering them during this trip.

Travel along the same routes as famous polar explorers such as Andree, Nordenskjold, Amundsen and Nobile. You might get to see the indigenous reindeer, trek along beaches where groups of walrus are hauled out along the shoreline, and maybe even spot the Arctic fox or bearded seal. Seabirds, such as ivory gulls, auks and sometimes Atlantic puffins, will be your constant companions. You might even encounter a few whales. A variety of species frequent the area, in particular, the minke and beluga.

Search for walrus, seals, reindeer, Arctic foxes and polar bears. Shore walks and Zodiac landings will bring you up close to the mystical settings and passing icebergs. In the true spirit of adventure cruising, each day your Expedition Leader and Captain will determine your best course depending on changing weather, ice conditions and the wildlife encountered.

Possible landing sites include:
Hornsund – The southernmost fjord on the rugged west coast of Spitsbergen Island. Jagged mountain peaks tower above glacier-filled bays. Listen for the crash of white thunder as huge chunks of ice fall into the fjord. Amidst floating icebergs, watch for bearded seals, the elusive beluga whale and the king of the Arctic – the polar bear. Sightings are fairly common as the polar bear’s favourite food, the ringed seal, breeds in the fjord. The surrounding bird cliffs are home to thousands of pairs of nesting little auks. You may visit the Polish research station or the remains of whaling stations and trappers’ huts.

Ice Cruising – At least one day is likely to be spent exploring the pack ice around Spitsbergen on the lookout for walrus and polar bears. Conditions permitting, the Expedition Leader may choose to take you out in the Zodiacs for an even closer look.

Kongfjord or Kings Bay – Cutting into the west coast of Spitsbergen and reaching inland about 15 miles (24 kilometres), Kongfjord is a land of spectacular scenery. Together with the on-board geologist, explore its complicated geological formations and visit the 14th of July Glacier, where you may be able to hike onto the glacier itself. You may also land at Blomstrand, named in memory of a Swedish chemist, to see the remains of a former marble quarry, its machinery and some of the huts.

Magdalenafjord – This majestic fjord is normally accessible year-round because of the influence of the West Spitsbergen Current or Gulf Stream. The ship will enable you to get a closer look at the glacier within the fjord. Landing via Zodiac, walk along the beach and search for wildlife. Remains of graves from the whaling past are found here, too.

Liefdefjorden – At the entrance to Liefdefjorden are several smaller island groups. On the Andoyane (Duck Islands) you may encounter polar bears looking for bird’s eggs. The Zodiacs will circumnavigate several of the islands on the lookout for active birdlife –when Arctic Terns circle specific areas it is usually a sign that polar bears are around.
Day 13: disembark in Longyearbyen, Spitsbergen
Following breakfast, disembark the ship and transfer to the airport for your flight home.
Notes

Please note that all voyage itineraries are intended as a guideline only - embracing the unexpected is part of the legacy of expedition travel. Actual routes and landings will be dependent on weather, sea and ice conditions. A degree of flexibility is essential in the polar regions!

Accommodation Options

Silver Explorer

  • Grade:
  • Type: Expedition Ship

The luxurious Silver Explorer is purpose-built for exped…

Prices & Dates

2017 Season

Prices are per person, based on a twin cabin - please contact us for details of triple, single and superior cabins.

Departure DateDurationVesselPrices from
30 Jun 2017 13 days Silver Explorer £7,450


Inclusions and Exclusions

Silver Explorer

Includes: Butler service in every cabin • Shipboard accommodation with daily housekeeping • All breakfasts, lunches and dinners on board throughout your voyage • Beverages in-suite and throughout ship (select wines, premium spirits, speciality coffee and soft drinks, plus a tailored mini-bar) • In-Suite dining and room service - available 24 hours • Leadership throughout the voyage by an experienced Expedition Leader, including shore landings and other activities • All shore landings per the daily program • All Zodiac transfers and cruising per the daily program • Formal and informal presentations by the Expedition Team and guest speakers as scheduled • A Haglof expedition parka - to keep • Hair dryer in every cabin • Flat screen television with interactive video, on-demand movies and music, and satellite news programming • All miscellaneous service taxes and port charges throughout the program • Comprehensive pre-departure materials • Free Wi-Fi throughout the ship (unlimited on selected cabins only) - connectivity throughout the voyage can not be guaranteed and the speed is likely to be slow • All gratuities for Hospitality Team members, ship’s crew and Expedition Team members

Excludes: Return airfares from the UK • Any additional pre or post voyage accommodation/meals/land arrangements (if required) - please contact our team should you require assistance • Waterproof boots and trousers are not included. While some may be available to borrow on board it is heavily advised that passengers bring or rent suitable clothing for water landings - please contact our team should you require assistance • Additional airport or airline security charges • Passport and visa expenses (we will be pleased to advise you on any necessary documentation, however this is passengers' own responsibility) • Government arrival and departure taxes • Excess baggage charges • Laundry costs (with the exception of some cabin categories) and other charges of a personal nature • Travel insurance

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