Spitsbergen and East Greenland AdventureAboard: Polar Pioneer
This epic voyage combines 2 of our most popular itineraries, the Jewels of the Arctic and the Northern Svalbard Explorer, to create a fantastic 24 day expedition to discover the very best of the European Arctic. Explore the stunning Spitsbergen coastline with its calving glaciers, towering bird cliffs, pack ice and wildlife such as walruses, reindeer and even polar bears. If that’s not enough you will also get to experience the world’s largest fjord system, calving icebergs, friendly native communities and untouched tundra-covered valleys of spectacular Greenland. Enjoy exciting Zodiac cruises and optional kayaking excursions as you get up close to some of nature’s finest spectacles.
- Explore Spitsbergen’s stunning northwest coast & the North East Greenland National Park
- Aim for 80° North on alert for polar bears!
- Other wildlife spotting opportunities including reindeer, walrus and whales
- Zodiac cruise beneath high cliffs buzzing with seabirds
- See Scoresby Sund, the world’s largest fjord system
- Visit Inuit communities and share their Arctic lifestyle
- Kayaking and rock climbing options
- Photo Workshop
- Accommodation onboard Polar Pioneer with all meals, snacks, tea and coffee included
- Group transfers to and from ship
- Group sightseeing tour in Longyearbyen post-voyage
- Dog sledding day tour in Longyearbyen
- 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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All our itinerary holidays are fully customisable
Your Arctic adventure begins in Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland. Arrive independently and transfer to the port to board your ship. Embarkation will begin in the late afternoon and you can take the time to settle into your new surroundings as the ship sails towards the Denmark Strait.
As we sail across Denmark Strait towards Greenland, you can enjoy onboard presentations and talks from the experts that will accompany you on your voyage. Learn about the wildlife, history and geology of the areas you are about to encounter and spend time on deck enjoying the flying antics of northern fulmars and black-backed gulls, and spot dolphins, orcas and other whales in their feeding grounds.
As we sail along the Blosseville Coast we will keep an eye out for musk ox and narwhals, and marvel at the mountain scenery that dominates the skyline. If weather permits, we head for Romer Fjord, a deep waterway with stunning mountain views.
This is where your adventure begins in earnest as we spend 2 days exploring the beautiful Scoresby Sund, the world's biggest fjord system. The vast Greenland icecap sweeps down in massive glaciers that calve explosively, creating giant icebergs, and we will get up close to these on exciting Zodiac explorations. Near Sydkap, our Zodiacs weave through a maze of grounded icebergs, some more than 30-metres high, sculpted with deep green tunnels and aquamarine lakes. In Ittoqqortoormiit you will enjoy a warm welcome from Inuit happy to share their culture and explain the challenges of Arctic life. For the kayakers there are ideal paddling conditions here, and you can spend your time weaving through the interconnected waterways, watching for polar bears and narwhals.
East Greenland Coast
Upon arriving at Greenland’s eastern coast the overwhelming first impression is usually “ice”, and lots of it! An ice cap covers 81 per cent of the island and pack ice, even in summer, may fill the northern bays. We will spend our days exploring by Zodiac and visiting places like Kaiser Franz Josef Fjord where walks along the tundra in search of sightings of musk ox, Arctic fox and eider ducks wll delight. Visit trappers’ huts, see the spectacular hanging gardens at Kap Humboldt and witness the spectacular glacier-carved mountains of Kong Oskar Fjord up close.
After your exploration of Greenland its time to head towards more adventures in Svalbard. We sail through the Polar Basin's nutrient-rich waters, searching for fin and beluga whales, encroaching pack ice, and seabirds. The expert naturalists and guest lecturers onboard will entertain us with fascinating, illustrated talks on European Arctic plants and animals, and epic tales of such early explorers as Nansen, Andree and Scoresby. These are relaxed days, wonderful for getting to know fellow expeditioners and preparing for your time in the Polar wonderland of Spitsbergen.
Welcome to Spitsbergen! You will spend your days here discovering the calving icebergs, historic whaling stations and trappers’ camps of Spitsbergen’s spectacular northwest coast. You can enjoy Zodiac excursions to get fantastic views of ice cliffs, including Monacobreen, one of Spitsbergen’s largest glaciers, and search for wildlife including walrus and possibly even polar bears. Enjoy gentle hikes along the tundra dotted with wildflowers and keep an eye out for reindeer. Birdwatching opportunities here are endless as Brunnich’s guillemots, little auks and kittiwakes nest in their thousands. Make sure you have your camera ready for fantastic scenic and wildlife photo opportunities.
Please note: As this tour is a combination of 2 itineraries, your ship will head towards Longyearbyen on the night of day 12 to collect more passengers and allow those who have only booked the Greenland portion of the trip to disembark. The areas you will have visited on these 2 days may be visited again in the following days, however this will give us the opportunity to explore places we may have missed or spot wildlife we may not have seen first time around.
A midnight cruise in Isfjorden leads us into Longyearbyen where we will disembark the ship in the morning to enjoy a thrilling dog-sledding excursion, before embarking again in preparation for the next part of our adventure.
As you awake along the coast of the Nordvest-Spitsbergen National Park the sight that will greet you will be the dramatic landscapes of alpine peaks and glacier valleys. Exploring the area by Zodiac you will cruise past spectacular sea-cliffs on a constant look out for reindeer, walrus, Arctic fox and a plethora of seabirds. You will have time to explore some of the region’s calving glaciers such as Smeerenburg on Amsterdam Island and discover the remains of ancient whaling stations at Ytre Norskøya.
Nordaustlandet North Coast
The next stop on your adventure will be northern coast of Nordaustlandet, Svalbard’s second largest island. Nordaustlandet is a rarely visited polar desert which is rich in geological wonders and is home to many roaming polar bears and large colonies of walruses. Exploring by Zodiac we hope to enjoy landings at Sjuøyane (The Seven Isles), the most northerly point of Norway, and the magnificent 40 kilometre fjord at Rijpfjord. As well as exploring by Zodiac you can enjoy relaxing walks across the tundra in search of wildlife like reindeer and even more walruses.
East Nordauslandet, Kvitøya & Storøya
These days will be spent exploring the eastern coast of Nordauslandet and attempting to reach Kvitøya and Storøya, Svalbard’s most easterly islands, with an exciting Zodiac cruise around Karl XII Island on the way. Your time here will be mostly dictated by weather conditions and ice and your captain will choose the best route each day to make the most of all opportunities. The thickening pack-ice as we sail north will often bring sightings of polar bears and walrus as they hunt and haul-out on the ice, and we will keep an eye out for the elusive ivory gulls which are known to frequent the area.
Rounding down the east and south sides of Nordaustlandet your ship will complete its circumnavigation of the island by cruising north through the Hinlopen Strait. As we spend more time exploring around this area you can enjoy a Zodiac cruise under Alkfjellet, where thousands of nesting birds fill the sheer cliffs, and Austfonna, an impressively large ice cap with one of the longest glacier fronts in the northern hemisphere. There will also be time to make landings at Isisøya and Murchisonfjorden, impressively scenic lands steeped in a rich Arctic history.
North & West Spitsbergen
Returning back along the stunning north-western Spitsbergen coast, we keep an eye on ice and weather conditions and make as many landings as possible. All landings will be dictated by weather conditions but we can expect the opportunity to visit areas such as Woodfjord, Liefdefjord, Krossfjord and Kongsfjord.
A midnight cruise of beautiful Isfjorden brings us to Longyearbyen, and signals the end of our spectacular voyage. After disembarkation you can enjoy a group tour of this unique Arctic town which is the administrative capital of Svalbard. A transfer to the airport will be provided. Or should you wish to spend more time here there are many opportunities for extra excursions and adventures.
A view from Above
Polar Pioneer was built in Finland as an ice-strengthened research ship with ice class 1A Super, making it perfect for navigation in Polar areas with heavy sea ice. With a legendary reputation as a strong and capable veteran expedition ship, it was refurbished in 2022 with a modernised lounge and upgraded cabins allowing for up to 48 guests to travel in comfort and in an intimate setting that offers an authentic expedition adventure. There is a mixture of cabins and suites, including suites and cabins with ensuite bathrooms and twin and triple cabins with shared facilities. All cabins have portholes or windows. Public areas include a refurbished lounge with bar, newly refurbished dining saloons, a sauna, and multiple viewing decks and raised decks for photography. There is an Open Bridge policy and, owing to its small guest numbers, all passengers are able to fit into the 5 Zodiacs at one time so there is no waiting to go on shore. This ship features the highest ice-class capable of exploring in ice and offers the smallest group size available for trips to Antarctica and South Georgia.
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Take advantage of our vast experience, passion and expertise to help you hand craft the perfect Arctic adventure for you.
Mike has more than fifteen years hands-on experience in the industry, travelling to some of the most incredible wild places on the planet. His far-reaching knowledge and invaluable skills will ensure that your wildlife travel adventure is a dream come true.
With countless travel experiences and an enduring hunger for adventure, Amy knows exactly what’s needed to craft a holiday of a lifetime. Her experience and generosity of spirit are legendary and she’ll help you build an itinerary that will make all your dreams come true.
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.