|Day 1||Oslo, Norway||Overnight in a hotel|
|Days 2||Longyearbyen, Svalbard||Fly to Longyearbyen and board the ship|
|Days 3 - 11||Svalbard Archipelago||Polar Bears, Dramatic scenery, zodiak landings|
|Day 12||Longyearbyen||Explore this small town.|
|Days 13-15||Svalbard Archipelago||Polar Bears, Dramatic scenery, zodiak landings|
|Days 16-17||Greenland Sea||On board activities and educational program|
|Days 18-23||East Coast of Greenland||Scoresbysund and Kaiser Franz Josef Fjord|
|Day 24||Denmark Straight||On board presentations, photo editing, sea birds|
|Day 25||Reykjavik||Disembark Reykjavik, Iceland|
The Greg Mortimer is a new purpose built, polar expedition vessel taking 120 guests. This vessel has been designed in close consultation with Antarctic expedition specialists and is the first expedition cruise ship designed with the ULSTEIN X-BOW hull. This cutting edge nautical technology allows for gentle travel and motion at sea, improved comfort and safety on-board, reduced vibrations, lower fuel consumption and emissions and ‘virtual anchoring’ which means the ship can float anchor-less while launching the Zodiacs without disturbing delicate sea floor areas. There are four sea-level launching platforms for fast and efficient access to and from Zodiacs.
Upon check-in at Radisson Blu Oslo Airport hotel, reception staff will provide you with Aurora Expeditions cabin tags. Please fill out the luggage tags clearly, showing your name and cabin number to allow us to deliver your luggage to your cabin ahead. At our voyage briefing, enjoy a welcome drink and meet fellow expeditioners, before spending the night in preparation for your flight to Longyearbyen.
Note: Flights between Oslo and Longyearbyen are not included. Please contact Aurora Expeditions or your travel agent if you would like assistance in booking these flights.
Fly to Longyearbyen (flight ticket not included in voyage fare), and upon arrival, you will be met by a representative of Aurora Expeditions to commence a tour of Longyearbyen. On the drive to Camp Barentz located in Advent Valley, your guide will give you an introduction to Longyearbyen’s fascinating history. At Camp Barentz enjoy a presentation in the large ‘lavvo’ – a traditional building common in northern Norway. You will also have the opportunity to meet the friendly huskies and perhaps pick up some souvenirs. A visit to the Svalbard museum is included back in town before embarking the vessel in the late afternoon.
You’ll have time to settle into your cabin prior to the compulsory briefings. Your voyage commences, cruising out of the beautiful Isfjorden, escorted by gliding fulmars and perhaps the occasional puffin. Find a spot in one of the observation areas watching seabirds, including graceful ivory gulls, kittiwakes and guillemots. They rise and fall skilfully, using the air currents created by the ship to gain momentum.
Svalbard offers Arctic wilderness at its best. The experienced expedition team, who have made countless journeys to this area, will use their expertise to design our day-to-day itinerary, choosing the best options based on the prevailing weather, sea-ice conditions, and wildlife encounters.
Phenomenal fjords, magnificent mountains ranges and a polar desert rich in fossils set the stage for heroic tales of early exploration. See walrus hauled-out on sea ice or on beaches. On land, stretch your legs on walks across tundra coming out in brightly-coloured wildflowers. Visit towering cliffs noisy with nesting guillemots and puffins, and scree slopes that hold Svalbard’s largest little auk colonies. Most memorable are encounters with the majestic polar bear on pack ice. Your expedition team is just as keen as you to find them— they will be on constant watch to spot these inspiring creatures.
Nordvesthjørnet and Raudfjorden
It was here, in the far north-west, that Willem Barentsz and his crew discovered new land on 17 June, 1596. They described the land as being “rugged for the most part, and steep, mostly mountains and jagged peaks, from which we gave it the name of Spitsbergen”. In the centuries that followed, the large number of bowhead whales found here attracted whalers from the Netherlands and various other countries, and the area became a place of high activity, both on the shore and in the surrounding sea. This is why Nordvesthjørnet offers the largest concentration of graves, blubber ovens and other cultural treasures on Spitsbergen, all dating back to this first era of the exploitation of Svalbard’s natural resources.
Cruise northwards along the west coast of Spitsbergen, visiting intriguing places like Magdalenefjorden, located inside the Northwest Spitsbergen National Park. According to historical sources, Magdalenefjorden was first used by the English in the early days of the whaling era. They erected a land station on the headland and named the area Trinity Harbour. The station was closed in 1623, but the cemetery remained in use. More tourists are visiting Gravnesetthan any other site in Svalbard outside the settlements, but since 2015, ships carrying heavy fuel on board are no longer permitted to enter the large national parks and nature reserves in Svalbard.
These are just a few of the many options of places to explore along the Svalbard Archipelago.
Longyearbyen is the capital of Svalbard, a Norwegian territory. As this voyage is a combination of two voyages, today some guests will join your cruise and some will leave. There will be a day of activities planned for you which will be advised in your final documentation. This may include Zodiac excursions, a tour of the town and possibly a landing.
Over the next few days continue to explore the magical icy wonderland of Svalbard, constantly in search of the majestic polar bear hunting on pack ice and on land. Your expert expedition team will use their extensive experience of the region to design an exciting program to give you the best possible experience to encounter wildlife, kayak amongst frozen landscapes, hike through polar desert ecosystems, practice your photography skills and learn about the fascinating history of exploration and exploitation of the area.
As you cruise across the Greenland Sea –the main outlet of the Arctic Ocean –you may encounter whales feeding in the productive waters of the north. Sightings of fin whales are common and blue whales have been seen in more recent years. As you begin to approach Greenland you will likely encounter the East Greenland pack ice, and if lucky you may see polar bears hunting for prey. The strong icy currents have isolated East Greenland from the Polar Basin, attracting large numbers of fish, seals and whales. Climatic conditions and the concentration of ice in the vicinity often create thick morning fog that vanishes with the onset of the midday sun. The experts will inform and entertain you with fascinating discussions on plants, animals, ice, and early explorers like Nansen, Andree and Scoresby. Conditions permitting, there may be a chance for kayakers to launch their sea kayaks and the rest of you to cruise in the sea ice with Zodiacs. Perhaps with a good crossing, you may even have the opportunity to make your first landing on the Greenland coast, weather permitting. This stretch of coastline is ripe for exploration, with its many secrets locked in place by drift ice for up to eight months each year. Home to polar bear, snowy owl and musk ox, it’s the world’s largest national park, covering 972,000 square kilometres; most of which is inland ice and the rest a composite fjord landscape.
In the next couple of days visit Scoresbysund and Kaiser Franz Josef Fjord. Landings may include: Sydkap in Scorsebysund where you can walk to delightful viewpoints showing off the vast sound. Kayakers will havethe opportunity to explore the lonely beaches. You may explore the ancient grave sites on the island, or the lakes with green tunnels and giant icebergs on a Zodiac cruise. Other possible landing points in the area include: Rype Fjord, Ø Fjord, Fonfjord, Bjornøya, Milne Land, Hekla Havn, and Denmark Island.
Visit Scoresbysund, the world’s largest fjord and a favourite hunting ground of the local Inuit. Massive glaciers dump into this fjord, the birthplace of the famous big Greenland icebergs. You may visit the remote Inuit community of Ittoqqortoormiit (Scoresby Town) and to hike across the tundra in search of ancient graveyards and summer villages occupied 3,000 years ago by Paleo-Eskimos. This area provides excellent opportunities for sea kayaking in its maze of calm, interconnecting waterways. If you are lucky you may see musk oxen, Arctic hare and seals, and maybe if you are extremely lucky even a polar bear or narwhal.
Sefstrom Glacier adorns the narrow- peaked waterway in Alpefjord. Zodiac access is possible and it is a scenic area, with Arctic flora growing in the autumn light. Cape Humboldt is a beautiful bay on Ymer Island. There is a good chance to take a tundra walk and witness musk oxen graze. Keep a lookout for Arctic fox and ptarmigan. A lone trapper’s hut looks over the bay and magnificent icebergs.
Cruise across the Denmark Strait towards Iceland. Be on the lookout for whale blows and the many seabirds that trail the ship in the uplifting thermals. Enjoy the time to reflect on your recent adventures, share and exchange photos, and soak in the fresh ocean air. As you near Iceland, you will find you are returning to the rest of the world as you encounter fishing vessels working the coastal waters.
During the early morning arrive into Iceland’s capital Reykjavik. Disembark and enjoy a scenic transfer to downtown Reykjavik or the airport. Farewell your expedition team and fellow expeditioners as you all continue on your onward journeys.
Reykjavik is a beautiful city with many lovely restaurants. You may wish to visit the Gullfoss waterfall, Geysir and the tectonic plate boundary where North America and Europe are pulling away from each other. You can do these activities on a Golden Circle Tour. You may also be interested in taking a ride through teh countryside on the beautiful Icelandic horses famous for their fifth gait.