|Day 1||Kirkenes, Norway||Board the Ship the Greg Mortimer|
|Days 2 & 3||At Sea||Spot sea birds and attend onboard lectures|
|Day 4||Explore Svalbard||Polar bears, bird life, beautiful landscapes|
|Days 5 & 6||Across the Greenland Sea||On board presentations, sea birds, whales|
|Days 7 - 13||East Greenland||Fjords, Glaciers|
|Day 14||Denmark Strait||On board presentations, sea birds, whales|
|Day 15||Reykjavik, Iceland||Disembark|
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.
Arrive in Kirkenes, Norway and board the Greg Mortimer late afternoon. Airport transfers will be included if arriving on preferred flights into Kirkenes. You’ll have time to settle into your cabin before attending important briefings, and meeting the expedition team and your fellow travellers.
Over the next two days at sea, enjoy informative and entertaining lectures from the expert expedition team including naturalists and historians before reaching Svalbard’s southeast coast.
As you pass between Spitsbergen and the smaller islands of Barentsøya and Edgeøya, you cross a major polar bear migration route and the beautiful fertile plains of Sundeneset. The spongy ground is richly covered with bright green mosses, a variety of delicate and colourful flowers, particularly the yellow marsh (bog) saxifrage, various mushrooms, fungi, clear bubbling streams and small tarns. Tiny (micro) flowers such as Mouse Ears grow in Spitsbergen creating faerie like mossy rock gardens. Look for polar bears hunting on pack ice and you may explore this beautiful terrain on foot, marvelling at the contrast between the colourful soft ground and the barren, rocky terrain from further north. Reindeer antlers lie scattered along the ground. If conditions allow we will pass through the narrow Hinlopen Strait. The strait is flanked by creamy coloured slabs of rock that are rich in fossils. You may visit Alkefjellet in the Strait, where a series of one-hundred-metre-high dolerite towers are home to nearly a million nesting Brünnich’s guillemots – the penguins of the north – that occupy every available nook and cranny. Elsewhere we seek out eider ducks and geese, and hope to spot walrus, Arctic fox and the beautiful ivory gulls.
As you cruise west 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 the ship begins to approach Greenland you will likely encounter the East Greenland pack ice, and if you are lucky you will 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 onboard 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 for everyone to cruise in the sea ice with Zodiacs. Perhaps if you have had a good crossing, you may 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 km; most of which is inland ice and the rest a composite fjord landscape.
The crew will attempt to enter Kaiser Franz Josef Fjord, a remote and rarely visited fjord system with countless opportunities for exploration within the Northeast Greenland National Park. Cruising through Kong Oskar Fjord, marvel at the geological beauty of the mountains and land in a few places to explore the landscape and wildlife of Greenland. Head south along the coast of Liverpool Land, with passage dependent on ice conditions. The crew aim to reach 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. 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. Keep a sharp eye out for musk oxen, Arctic hare and seals, and maybe if you are very lucky even a polar bear or narwhal. Scoresbysund offers many opportunities for walking cruising and kayaking so you will spend your days exploring the land, the ice and the sea. You will most likely visit the following sites:
Sefstrom Glacier adorns the narrow- peaked waterway in Alpefjord. Zodiac cruise (and kayak) around the snout of the glacier and deeper into the fjord behind. Return along magnificent cliffs that are festooned with small colourful gardens of Arctic flowers growing wherever water is available. Ittoqqortoormiit is Scoresbysund’s colourful Inuit community of approximately 500 people. Feel free to explore the village, fascinating museum or sit quietly in the beautiful Lutheran Church. The people are friendly, and the young children vie for attention from underneath their Arctic fox-fur jackets. Sydkap in Scoresbysund offers good walking and delightful views up Øfjord and into Hall Brednung. Kayakers will have good opportunities to explore the lonely beaches. You may explore the ancient grave sites on shore, or nearby giant icebergs that offer hours of enjoyment for kayak and Zodiac excursions.
Cape Humboldt – a beautiful point on Ymer Island. There is a good chance to take a tundra walk and witness musk oxen grazing. Keep a lookout for Arctic fox and ptarmigan. A lone trapper’s hut looks over the bay and magnificent icebergs.
Blomsterbugten – An important site for paleo-eskimoes and more modern trappers, walk in the tundra with musk oxen or Arctic hare to a spectacular overlook onto Lake Noa which is pink with fine sediments.
Røde Ø – one of the most remarkable collections of beautiful icebergs in the world. A combination of shallows near the island and tidal currents strand hundreds of large iceberg in a small area around Røde Ø, or Red Island. The contrast between the magnificent blue of the ice and the red sandstone landscape is breathtaking.
Other possible landing points in the area include: Rømer Fjord, Rypefjord, Ø Fjord, Fonfjord, Bjornøya, Milne Land, Hekla Havn, Denmark Island, Nordvestfjord and Eskimobugt.
Sail across Denmark Strait, reflecting on your rich experiences and enjoying the antics of northern fulmars, black-backed gulls, dolphins, orcas and other whales. The educational program will continue and you will have some time to go through the many images you are sure to have from your experiences in Greenland and Spitsbergen.
Arrive early morning in Reykjavik. After breakfast, bid farewell to your fellow expeditioners before your coach transfer to downtown Reykjavik or the airport. You may wish to spend a few more days exploring Iceland after the voyage concludes. Our friendly travel consultants will be able to put together an itinerary for you to enjoy this beautiful country.
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 want to take a ride on the beautiful Icelandic horses famous for their fifth gait.