Across the Arctic Circle - Scotland, Norway & Spitsbergen 14 DaysAboard: Polar Pioneer
Follow in the paths of the Vikings as you journey from northeast Scotland to the land of the midnight sun. In the company of expert historians and naturalists, on this fantastic itinerary you will discover the Stone Age villages, Viking relics and prolific birdlife of the Orkney and Shetland Islands before following the migrating whales along Norway’s dramatic coastline, stopping at the picturesque fishing villages that dot the landscape along the way. After commemorating crossing the Arctic Circle and a stop off at Bear Island, your ship will sail towards the polar wonderland of Spitsbergen, the breeding ground of walruses, reindeers, various birds and polar bears. Enjoy exciting Zodiac cruises around South Spitsbergen National Park and marvel at the spectacular scenery, the beautiful tundra sparkling with wildflowers, and enjoy every moment in this land where the summer sun never sets.
- Explore the Polar wonderland of Spitsbergen
- Sail around Norway's spectacular coastline with majestic fjords and soaring granite walls
- Discover Stone Age villages and Viking relics in the Orkney & Shetland Islands
- Search for Polar bears, reindeer and ringed seals in Spitsbergen
- Follow the humpback whales' migration to the Norwegian coast
- Spot puffins, guillemots, fulmars, eagles and a plethora of Arctic birdlife
- Celebrate as your ship crosses the Arctic Circle
- Kayaking option available
- Accommodation onboard Polar Pioneer with all meals, snacks, tea and coffee included
- Group transfer from ship to Longyearbyen airport
- Group sightseeing tour in Longyearbyen upon disembarkation (post-voyage)
- All shore excursions and Zodiac (inflatable boat) cruises
- Educational lectures and guiding services from an expert team
- Complimentary custom-designed polar expedition jacket
- Loan of gumboots during the voyage
- Daily cabin service
- Professionally-produced hard back voyage log
- Port taxes and charges & entry fees to historic landings sites
So much to experience
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Take advantage of our vast experience, passion and expertise to help you hand craft the perfect Arctic adventure for you.
Zoe’s abiding love of adventure travel has taken her to some of the most incredible wildlife-rich places on Earth. Her vast experience and genuine desire to share her knowledge makes her an outstanding and invaluable person to help you organise your wildlife adventure trip.
Mike lives and breathes adventure travel and has a wealth of experience in some of the most exciting and inspirational destinations in the world. His expertise and first-hand experience afford him the skills to help build holidays to remember.
With a lifetime of unforgettable nature and adventure based travel under his belt, Simon shares his passion, enthusiasm and hands-on experience to help create the perfect itinerary for every client.
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Arrive independently to the port city of Aberdeen in northeast Scotland and make your way to the port to board the Polar Pioneer. Embarkation will begin mid-afternoon and you can take the time to settle into your new surroundings as the ship begins its sail northwards.
The beautiful Orkney’s archipelago is home to 70 windswept islands filled with historical sites, archaeological features and an abundance of birdlife. We will visit 5000-year-old, World Heritage-listed, Neolithic sites and discover Viking relics from long ago, sail along the islands in Zodiacs, and for the adventure-seekers there will be time to explore the coastlines on an optional kayaking excursion. Midway between The Orkneys and the The Shetlands we will stop at Fair Isle, where you can visit traditional crofts to admire the local knitwear and explore around the area to discover the nearby colonies of fulmars, kittiwakes, guillemots, gannets, shags and puffins.
The Shetland’s are home to 100 islands, each peppered with nature reserves and archaeological sites. Warmed by Gulf Stream currents and near 24-hours’ daylight we will have plenty of time to discover some of the islands’ most enchanting features. During your time here you will see the complex Stone, Bronze and Iron Age settlement of Jarlshof, the world’s best preserved broch (fortified Iron Age tower) on Mousa, and remnants of Viking conquest along the coast.
As your ship sails towards Norway, keep an eye out on deck in search of sightings of migratory whales and seabirds. Your onboard team of experts will offer fascinating talks and lectures on everything from birdwatching to archaeology. Enjoy a moment to relax in your surroundings and look forward to more adventures ahead.
As we sail northwards up the maze-like coastline of Norway your ship will pass over the Arctic Circle and we will raise a toast in celebration of this memorable moment. As your ship weaves through the intricate channels we will visit places like Sør Gjaeslingan, once home to a busy cod-fishing fleet, and now one of Norway’s finest birdwatching areas. You can expect to see numerous kittiwakes, terns and skuas that migrate here each summer. As we share the water with orcas and the skies with puffins we will sail further north past Torghatten, a mountain with a distinctive hole through it, and learn the fable of lost love and a troll’s arrow that surrounds it. As we reach the Lofeten Islands, the majestic scenery will delight, from romantic beaches to narrow fjords hemmed by granite walls.
As we leave mainland Norway behind and head towards Spitsbergen through the Barents Sea we will pass the often fog-shrouded Bear Island. If time and weather permits we will make a landing here by Zodiac in search of sightings of the fulmars, kittiwakes, guillemots and gulls that make this island their home.
In the afternoon/late evening of day 10 your ship will have arrived in the polar wonderland of Spitsbergen. Your time here will be spent exploring South Spitsbergen National Park, a sanctuary for barnacle geese and eider ducks, before entering the iceberg-laden waters of Hornsund. Surrounded by polar desert on a grand scale, we search for reindeer, ringed and bearded seals and the mighty polar bear. Learn of human history dating back 400 years and if we’re lucky, we’ll encounter the elusive beluga whale. Throughout your time here you can enjoy exciting Zodiac excursions and optional kayaking.
Your Arctic adventure ends in Longyearbyen, the administrative capital of Svalbard. After disembarkation you can enjoy an included group sightseeing tour of this unique Arctic town. A transfer to the airport for homewards journeys is included, or should you wish to spend more time here there are many opportunities for excursions and adventures.
A view from Above
Polar Pioneer was built in Finland as an ice-strengthened research ship and was refurbished in 2000 as an expedition ship with accommodation for 54 passengers. There is a mixture of cabins and suites, including twin and triples with shared facilities. All cabins have portholes. Public areas include two dining rooms, a combined bar/lounge/library and a small clinic. There is an open bridge policy on board.
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