|Day 1||Tromsø, Norway||Tromsø|
|Day 2||Gjesvaerstappan Islands||Large colonies of seabirds, stunning scenery|
|Day 3||Bear Island||Guillemots, puffins, razorbills, fulmars, gannets & kittiwakes|
|Days 4 - 10||Spitsbergen||Polar bears, walrus, icebergs, glaciers|
|Day 11||Disembark Longyearbyen, Spitsbergen||Itinerary ends after breakfast|
The Silver Wind is a is a modern and luxurious ship providing cosy ambiance for the 240 passengers on board (she has capacity for 254 passengers but only takes 240 to the polar regions). Originally built in 1995, she has undergone refurbishments in December 2018 with a second planned for summer 2020. She is timelessly elegant and full of opulence throughout all of her 6 passenger decks. Her new and improved strengthened ice-class hull makes for ease and adaptable sailing through the Polar Regions for whatever the conditions may bring.
Tromsø surprised visitors in the 1800s: they thought it very sophisticated and cultured for being so close to the North Pole—hence its nickname, the Paris of the North. It looks the way a polar town should—with ice-capped mountain ridges and jagged architecture that is an echo of the peaks. The midnight sun shines from May 21 to July 21, and it is said that the northern lights decorate the night skies over Tromsø more than over any other city in Norway.
Gjesværstappan Islands is a group of steep-sided islands located near the northernmost point of Norway and includes three main islands: Stortstappen, Kjerkestappen and Bukkstapen. These three islands dramatically jut out of the ocean, covered in as much grass as they are occupied by birds. Extreme in its varied beauty and wildlife on land and sea, Gjesværstappan Nature Reserve (which makes up most of the Gjesværstappan Islands) is one of Europe’s most accessible and largest nesting areas for Atlantic seabirds. On Storstappen, the largest of the islands, some varieties of birds that can be found include European Shags, Common and Brünnich’s Guillemots, Black-legged Kittiwakes, White-tailed Sea-eagles and Europe’s largest Atlantic Puffin colony.
Almost half way between Tromsø and Svalbard is isolated Bear Island – considered the southernmost island of the Svalbard Archipelago. The unglaciated island is an impressive Nature Reserve of steep, high cliffs that are frequented by seabirds, specifically at the southern tip. Brünnich’s Guillemots, Common Guillemots, Black Guillemots, Razorbills, Little Auks, Northern Fulmars, Glaucous Gulls, Black-legged Kittiwakes, and even Atlantic Puffins and Northern Gannets nest along the cliffs south of Sørhamna. Despite of the name, bear Island, polar bears are very infrequent visitors.
Svalbard’s Southern Region and specifically Spitsbergen’s west coast is less ice-clogged than the rest of Svalbard due to the moderating influenced of the Gulf Stream. Several fjords cut into the western coast of Spitsbergen and have been used by trappers and hunters, as well as the different mining companies that tried to exploit the riches of the archipelago’s largest island of Spitsbergen. Remains of huts and mines, as well as active commercial and scientific settlements can be found and visited. Depending on the time of the season, glaciers can be visited on foot or by sea.
There are several deep fjords and prominent glaciers in the northern reaches of Svalbard, as well as the northern hemisphere’s widest glacier front. Ice conditions will dictate how much can be accessed in terms of cruising bird islets like the Andøyane Islets or approaching glaciers like Monaco Glacier and Seliger Glacier. The Northern Region is also known to have several walrus haul-outs and areas defined as “Arctic Desert”. Walks and hikes ashore to have a closer look at flora and wildlife are a possibility in the spectacular Northern Region of Svalbard.
Longyearbyen is the biggest settlement in Svalbard. Seat of the Norwegian administration, it also has the best services and infrastructure in the archipelago. Located deep in the Adventfjord, a sidearm of the Isfjorden (Icefjord), Longyearbyen’s airport can be used all-year round, but its harbor is blocked by ice in winter. Most shops, hotels, restaurants and a hospital are within easy walking distance of the port.