Combining the North Atlantic Ocean’s wildest outliers, this voyage takes you from historic Orkneys to the lush and craggy Faroe Islands, its cliffs teeming with seabirds, to the ice-covered slopes of Mount Beerenberg – the northernmost active volcano in the world on Jan Mayen Island, before venturing in search of enigmatic polar bears hunting on pack ice in Svalbard.
|Day 1||Aberdeen, Scotland||Overnight in hotel|
|Day 2||Aberdeen, Scotland||Embark the Greg Mortimer|
|Day 3||Kirkwall, Orkneys||Visit the Westfjords area and Grimsey Island|
|Days 4-6||Faroe Islands||Spectacular cliffs, steep mountains, deep fjords|
|Days 7-8||At Sea||Crossing to Jan Mayen|
|Day 9||Jan Mayen||Beerenberg Volcano, whales, dolphins|
|Days 10-11||At Sea||Sea Crossing to Svalbard|
|Days 12-15||Northern Svalbard||Explore the Svalbard Archipelago|
|Day 16||Longyearbyen||Disembark and farewell your fellow travellers|
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 Aberdeen and transfer to our group hotel. Upon check-in at Sandman Signature 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. At tonight’s voyage briefing, enjoy a welcome drink and meet fellow expeditioners.
Make your own way to the Aberdeen pier. Your expedition team will welcome you aboard the Greg Mortimer at approximately 4.00 pm. You’ll have time to settle into your cabin before the important briefings. After settling in the captain will set sail for the Orkney Islands, where Stone Age villages like Skara Brae, relics of Viking occupation and the wild sea vie for your attention.
Discover the rich history in Kirkwall, capital of the Orkney Islands. Initial impressions are misleading, as the harbour area looks modern, but the narrow winding streets and lanes of the old town, which have remained relatively unchanged over the centuries are appealing. Explore magnificent St Magnus Cathedral built from red and white sandstone and considered the finest medieval building in the north of Scotland before popping across the road to Tankerness House and Gardens, a restored 16th century former manse, now housing the Orkney Museum featuring archaeological artefacts from Neolithic times to the Vikings. The exhibition is a great way to whet your appetite for the archaeological gems you will find on the mainland including the unique and well-preserved 5,000-year-old semi-subterranean village of Skara Brae.
In the middle of the North Atlantic, barely visible on most world maps, you will find the Faroe Islands, an archipelago consisting of 18 islands with a population of only 50,000. The Faroe Islands are built up of layers of volcanic basalt, and are tilted with the eastern shores sloping into the sea and the western coasts rising up in soaring and spectacular cliffs. With their breathtaking beauty, steep mountains covered in soft green grass, deep fjords, long summer nights, unique culture, and humble, friendly and welcoming people, the islands are the perfect destination for travellers wanting something dramatically different from the mainstream. Discover a few of the gems of the Faroe Islands including Tórshavn, Kirkjubour, Mykines and Vestmanner.
Enjoy sailing to Jan Mayen Island accompanied by sea birds while keeping a look out for whales. Enjoy a presentation from the team of experts, get to know your fellow expeditioners, stay fit at the gym or treat yourself to a massage in the wellness centre.
As the ship approaches Jan Mayen you will see the huge Beerenberg volcano (2,277 metres altitude). This is the world’s northernmost active volcano, and last erupted in 1985. The northern part of the island is a great place to spot whales and dolphins, and contains impressive glaciers, some of which reach the sea. If the weather permits, you may have an excursion at Kvalrossbukta, a relatively sheltered bay on the island’s west coast. This is one of the landings used to supply the weather station Olonkinbyen, situated on the eastern side of the island. You may make a landing at the front of the Norwegian station at Olonkinbyen, and stop to visit the weather station before embarking on a three-hour hike (weather permitting) to the other side of the island where the Greg Mortimer will be waiting for you in Kvalrossbukta.
The sea around Jan Mayen offers excellent whale-watching opportunities (bottlenose, fin, and perhaps bowhead whales in the pack ice). Sail towards Svalbard, searching for the ice edge as we continue north, retracing the route of Dutch explorer Willem Barents who discovered Spitsbergen and the Barents Sea, named after him. It’s breeding season for the harp seals and you may see some on the sea ice. As the ship approaches Svalbard, all eyes will be focused on spotting polar bears in the pack ice.
Over the next three days, the Svalbard Archipelago is yours to explore. The experienced expedition team, who have made countless journeys to this area, will use their expertise to design the voyage from day to day. Weather permitting and sea ice conditions, you may be able explore sites including the incredibly scenic Kongsfjorden (Kings Bay), a fjord headed by two giant glaciers. Perhaps spend time ashore to hike on the lush tundra amongst the early summer flowers and observing the remarkable bird cliffs near the 14th July Glacier, where puffins nest between the cracks in the cliffs. Keep an eye out for polar bears and Arctic foxes. Visit the 350-year-old remains of a Dutch whaling settlement, Smeerenberg on Amsterdamøya and you may stop at Raudfjord which features fascinating geology, glaciers and bird cliffs.
During the early morning the ship will cruise into Longyearbyen. Farewell your expedition team and enjoy a town tour of Longyearbyen before an onward transfer to the airport in the afternoon.