Fall under the spell of the Arctic as you cruise into deep fjords, hike to glaciers, and search for whales and polar bears. Look for kittiwakes and puffins and visit age-old settlements on Iceland’s most scenic coastlines. Cruising farther north to Norway, discover the incredible beauty of the Lofoten Islands, the Sami culture of Hammerfest, and the wild beauty of the Svalbard Archipelago, where polar bears roam the pack ice.
Note: This cruise is not exclusive to, nor operated by, Wilderness Travel, who acts solely as agent in booking your reservation with the ship operator. The itinerary, lecturers, and all other arrangements are subject to change at the discretion of the cruise line.
Day 1, Jun 15, 2017
Welcome to Reykjavík, the capital of Iceland and starting point of your expedition. After arriving via scheduled commercial flight service, you are free to explore this fascinating city. Reykjavík is home to a wealth of cultural institutions including museums, galleries, and the Hallgrímskirkja church. Leisure possibilities inside the city include parks, gardens, and thermal baths. You can also take advantage of Reykjavík’s wide range of shopping possibilities, excellent dining options, and famous nightlife. Overnight at hotel.
Day 2, Jun 16, 2017
Embarkation in Reykjavík
In the afternoon, board the expedition ship Sea Spirit. Explore the ship and get comfortable in your home away from home for the extraordinary adventure to come. Savor the anticipation of your Arctic dreams coming true as you sail out of the harbor.
Days 3-5, Jun 17-19, 2017
Exploration of Iceland
From Reykjavík, head northwest through the bay of Faxaflói, where it is possible to encounter whales. After rounding the dramatic Snæfellsnes peninsula, continue north through Breiðafjörður where seabirds nest on numerous islands. Continuing clockwise around Iceland, encounter the scenic Vestfirðir (Westfjords) where deep fjords and rugged mountains create one of the country’s most scenic coastlines. After passing the wild Hornstrandir peninsula, head east through waters known for whales toward Tröllaskagi and the island of Grímsey.
The exact route and exploration opportunities are dependent on the weather in this surprisingly wild part of Europe. Possible sites of exploration include:
Snæfellsnes: The famous Snæfellsjökull volcano and picturesque Kirkjufell mountain are dominant features in the impressive landscape of the Snæfellsnes peninsula. A rich cultural and literary history and the success of fishermen and merchants are evident in local fishing villages.
Flatey Island: The unassuming island of Flatey has a long and storied history as a cultural and artistic center and was even a hub of commerce with a huge population at one time. The island’s “old village” contains some beautifully restored old houses once belonging to these original inhabitants. Today the island is home mostly to various species of migratory bird, especially the puffin.
Látrabjarg: The impressive sea cliff of Látrabjarg is the summer breeding site for millions of seabirds including puffins, northern gannets, guillemots, and razorbills. At 8.5 miles long and up to 1,400 feet high, this is Europe’s largest bird cliff and a stunning monument of nature.
Dynjandi: Located in Vestfirðir (Westfjords), these breathtaking waterfalls, also known as Fjallfoss, have a cumulative height of 330 feet. The thundering cataract can be appreciated from the shore or experienced more closely by hiking up along the river.
Siglufjörður: Situated in a narrow fjord on the mountainous Tröllaskagi (“Troll Peninsula”), Siglufjörður is a quiet fishing town with multicolored houses arranged around a pleasant harbor. The popular herring museum pays tribute to the town’s heyday during the herring boom of the 1940s and 1950s with excellent exhibits, reenactments, and tastings.
Grímsey: The small, green island of Grímsey, located 25 miles from the mainland, is the northernmost inhabited territory of Iceland. The Arctic Circle runs through the island. Attractions include a historical lighthouse and an old church constructed in 1867 mostly out of driftwood. Seabirds nest on the cliffs that make up almost all the island’s coastline.
Days 6-7, Jun 20-21, 2017
Across the Norwegian Sea
After your amazing time in Iceland, sail east toward Norway, crossing the Prime Meridian on the way. Your crossing of the Norwegian Sea—roughly along the Arctic Circle—coincides with the summer solstice. The sun will not set again for the duration of our voyage. Presentations and workshops, as well as a range of onboard recreation facilities, ensure these days at sea are not idly spent. Seabird viewing and whale sightings can be enjoyed from panoramic open decks as well as exterior stateroom windows and balconies.
Days 8-11, Jun 22-25, 2017
Exploration of the Coast of Norway
Meet the coast of Norway just north of the Arctic Circle near Saltfjellet-Svartisen National Park, home to the second largest glacier in mainland Norway. Sail north through Vestfjorden toward the legendary islands of Lofoten. The amazing scenery does not end as you continue past the mountainous islands of Vesterålen, Senja, Ringsvassøy, and Sørøya. Finally reach Nordkapp at the top of Norway.
The exact route and exploration opportunities are dependent on the weather along this wild and sparsely-populated coast. Anticipated sites of exploration include:
Saltfjellet-Svartisen National Park: The landscape in the western region of this gorgeous national park is dominated by verdant forests, high mountains, and glaciers. The goal is the picturesque Engabreen glacier—an arm of the immense Svartisen glacier—situated on a pretty lake accessible via pleasant hiking path.
Lofoten: These famous islands are among the most scenic in the world. Nestled within the stunning scenery are small fishing villages and towns, such as Nusfjord and Leknes, where traditional character merges with contemporary charm. Scenic fjords such as Trollfjord showcase the islands’ wild side.
Tromsø: Historically significant yet attractively modern, Tromsø is major cultural hub distinguished by its centuries-old wooden houses. The Polar Museum reveals Tromsø’s past as a starting point for Arctic expeditions. The city’s architecturally impressive Arctic Cathedral is evocative of a giant iceberg. Altogether this port of call is an excellent primer for our northward explorations.
Hammerfest: Located on Kvaløya in the far northern county of Finnmark, this is one of the northernmost towns in the world. Hammerfest has a long history as a trading port and as a center of indigenous Sami culture. The island of Kvaløya is visited each summer by thousands of migrating reindeer.
Nordkapp: Situated on the island of Magerøya, the area of Nordkapp (“North Cape”) includes the northernmost point of land on the European continent. The famous Globe Monument is situated at the top of a cliff 1,000 feet above the sea. A modern visitor center houses a variety of facilities.
Day 12, Jun 26, 2017
Across the Barents Sea
From the top of Norway, head north through the Barents Sea toward Svalbard. On the way, encounter the small, remote island of Bjørnøya (“Bear Island”), the southernmost island in Svalbard. The island is so named because Dutch explorer Willem Barents saw a polar bear swimming nearby when he discovered the island in 1596. Welcome to the Arctic!
Days 13-14, Jun 27-28, 2017
Exploration of Svalbard
Svalbard is a true High Arctic wilderness and this part of the voyage is a real expedition. As such, the route and exploration opportunities here are heavily dependent on the weather and sea ice conditions you encounter. Your experienced captain and expedition leader decide the itinerary and continually adjust plans as conditions and opportunities warrant. You can be sure that the best possible advantage will be taken of the circumstances presented to us by nature in this wild and remote corner of the Arctic.
Approaching Svalbard from the south, your first opportunities for exploration will be on the southwestern part of the island of Spitsbergen. Take in stunning views of glaciers and towering mountains on our starboard side as you proceed up the west coast of Spitsbergen toward Isfjorden and the town of Longyearbyen.
Polar bears and other quintessential Arctic wildlife can be spotted anytime, anywhere in and around Svalbard. Bountiful inshore and offshore waters are home to walrus and a wide variety of whales. The islands are alive with migratory birds, including numerous rare species, taking advantage of summer’s fecundity in 24-hour daylight.
We exploit every opportunity to experience excellent wildlife viewing, to discover incredible scenery, and to walk in the footsteps of the historic polar expeditions that came before us. Possible areas of exploration include:
Hornsund: One of the most scenic areas in Svalbard, the bay of Hornsund is surrounded by dramatic peaks and tidewater glaciers. At this time of year it is possible to spot polar bears hunting seals on sea ice that lingers in the recesses of the bay. The area is also historically significant, having been used in previous centuries by whalers, trappers, as well as scientific and exploratory expeditions.
Bellsund: The gently sloping tundra plains around Bellsund are rich with wildlife such as reindeer and nesting geese. Excellent walking opportunities abound in this classic Svalbard landscape. The eerie remains of historical whaling and trapping operations can still be seen throughout the area.
St. Jonsfjorden: At the head of this scenic fjord there is an impressive tidewater glacier. Here it is possible to witness the stunning spectacle of icebergs calving from the glacier face. These waters are home to seals and whales. Hikers have an opportunity to gain exceptional views over strongly glaciated terrain.
Alkhornet: The lush tundra slopes below the bird cliffs at Alkhornet in Isfjorden are home to grazing reindeer and playful Arctic fox. The sky and waters are full with seabirds coming and going. One can feel the living heartbeat of the Arctic in this place.
Day 15, Jun 29, 2017
Disembarkation in Longyearbyen
After breakfast, say farewell in the town of Longyearbyen, the administrative capital of the Norwegian territory of Svalbard. A transfer brings you to the airport or to the town center if you wish to spend more time here. In this case, be sure to see the excellent Svalbard Museum and take advantage of quality shopping and dining opportunities in this fascinating Arctic settlement.
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.