Through the North Atlantic
Next DepartureMay. 28, 2020
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, Lectures, Trekking, Zodiac
From Orkney, Shetland and Faroe Islands via Jan Mayen to Svalbard. Early summer's cruise from the green islands of Scotland and North Atlantic to the Arctic islands of Jan Mayen and Svalbard. We will go north together with the migrating birds, and hopefully spot polar bears hunting from the sea ice in 24-hours of daylight.
The cruise starts in Aberdeen on the Scottish East Coast. Here we embark Albatros Expeditions’ vessel, the comfortable Ocean Atlantic, which will become our home for the next 11 days. Our first stop is Kirkwall, the fascinating capital of Orkney Islands, then cozy Lerwich on Shetland, before we venture further north to Tórshavn on the Faroe Islands. After a day at sea spotting for seabirds and whales we reach the enigmatic and isolated island of Jan Mayen, with its looming 2,200-meter high volcano of Beerenberg. We travel north with the spring and 24-hour daylight until we reach the snow-covered mountains of Svalbard. Sea ice will still cover many fjords, but with an ice class of 1B we are safe on board Ocean Atlantic. From the panorama deck we can spot the iconic polar bear on the ice and make Zodiac cruises in the vicinity of Edgeøya. We venture into the dramatic fjords of Hornsund, Bellsund and Isfjorden before we reach our destination of Longyearbyen.
The cruise does not have any special requirements for you as a participant, but it is assumed that you are in good shape, agile and good on your feet. Some landings will be made with the ship's Zodiac rubber boats, and this requires some agility to get in and out of. The journey takes place in the mild spring and early summer, and we expect calm sea, sun and temperatures of 10 to 15 degrees.
Embarkation in Aberdeen
Our journey begins in Aberdeen in North East Scotland, where MV Ocean Atlantic is located by a dock in the Dee River. Boarding is in the afternoon, where the cabins are designated. After the mandatory security review and drill, we sail out through the mouth of the Dee River towards the North Sea.
Orkney islands with historic Kirkwall - Possibility of visiting Skara Brae.
During the night we’ll have sailed out into the waters between Outer and Inner Hebrides, and in the early morning we’ll reach the town of Kirkwall on the windy Orkney off the mainland of Scotland. Orkney is old Norse for the "seal islands", and, like the other North Atlantic islands, Orkney has a rich Viking story worth visiting. But history goes even further back to one of the oldest European civilizations. Skara Brae, Northern Europe's Pompeii, was hidden for almost 5,000 years before a massive storm revealed the ancient settlement. The 10-room homes are almost ready for moving into, fully furnished and with sanitation - all made in stone. After arriving at Kirkwall there is a bus ride to visit Skara Brae on a short excursion. Back in Kirkwall, we will visit Highland Park, considered by many to be the world's best distillery. On four occasions, the golden drops from Highland have been voted the world's best. It is also Scotland's northernmost whisky.
Shetland Islands: The harbor and fishing town of Lerwich
Ocean Atlantic approaches Lerwich near the "Main Land" of Shetlands in the morning, and after breakfast we say farewell to the ship and its crew.
The island of Shetland consists of more than 100 islands and shores, of which only 15 are inhabited year-round. The islands form the northernmost part of the British kingdom, located approximately 300 km north of the mainland of Scotland. This "central" location in the North Atlantic has through the ages led many seas to the islands, and the Scandinavian heritage still shines through dialects, folklore and place names.
In the morning, it is possible to take a short bus ride out on the main island (not included in the travel price). We must include a visit to Clickimin Broch, a unique example of the architecture of the Bronze and Iron Age. We’ll also look at Fort Charlotte more closely, built in 1665 - we will enjoy the great view of the old city from its fortress.
Afterwards, we will return to Lerwich and the ship in the middle of the day. The rest of the day is for enjoying at leisure before departing in the afternoon.
Faroe Islands Tórshavn and the North Atlantic.
We arrive after breakfast at Tórshavn, possibly the smallest capital in the world, ruling the scattered 18 islands that make up the Faroes. Centred around the charming grass-roofed Parliament on Tinganes, Tórshavn is now an almost bustling modern city with shops, cafés and even three traffic lights!
By midmorning you can participate in an optional bus excursion where we will try to look a bit back in history. We drive out of the capital and over the mountains to the south. As the climate on the Faroe Island is ‘stable unstable’ it is not unlikely that we will drive through the cloud base and experience some fog on the way. But if you wait a moment, it also not unlikely that it will clear up. We arrive in Kirkjubøur, the most important historical site on the islands. Kirkjubøur was in medieval times the Episcopal centre of the Faroe Islands, and also its undisputed cultural centre. We visit the ruins of the impressive Magnus Cathedral that perhaps never was completed, and the St. Olav church – the only remaining medieval church on the Faroe Islands. Upon our return to ‘Havn’ – as Tórshavn is often just called – you can go for a leisurely stroll through the old citadel near the harbour. A visit to the Art museum and the Nordic House is also very recommendable.
(The excursion is part of the excursion package and is not included in the price of the trip).
The sailing northwards towards Jan Mayen will probably go through Vestmanna Sound, along the west-facing shore of Streymoy and the south side of Mykines. But the route depends on winds, sea and comfort. We spend day number 6 at sea and enjoy the ship’s many facilities.
On the sea towards Jan Mayen looking for seabirds, dolphins and whales
Listen to a lecture from our experienced expedition staff, see a film about Arctic nature – or go out on deck to catch glimpses of migrating birds and hopefully some whales.
Jan Mayen with landing in Zodiacs
Approximately in the middle of the North Atlantic lies the enigmatic volcanic island of Jan Mayen. And if not exactly in the middle, at least it is located precisely on the Mid Atlantic Ridge, the reason for its volcanic existence. And enigmatic it is, not only because of its isolation but also due to the almost perpetual clouds and fog that hovers above it.
Jan Mayen belongs to Norway, and the mountain Beerenberg is one of the higher of Norway’s 300 summits above 2,000 meters. The island is inhabited by only 18 persons, running the meteorological station and the Norwegian Defence.
We will try to go ashore at the narrowest part of the island, from either south or north, depending on the prevailing wind and surf. The volcanic origin is visible all over with cinder cones, lava flows and the Mount Fuji-like appearance of Beerenberg looming above.
After a pleasant stroll on the narrow isthmus we board the Zodiacs and Ocean Atlantic to continue our voyage north.
On the sea towards Svalbard.
Lectures, movies or maybe a game are some of the activities and this sea day.
Svalbard in sight and sailing past Sørkapp along the southeast coast.
We are getting closer towards the islands of Svalbard, and it should be possible to spot the largest island, Spitsbergen during the afternoon.
Our route for this day and next are much depending on conditions. Not least the pack ice coming from Arctic Sea as well as from calving glaciers, and also solid winter sea ice. Our vessel has an ice class of 1B and the Captain should be able to safely approach the edge of the ice to give us the opportunity to spot our first polar bear, hunting for seals.
Edge Island with a boat trip in the Zodiacs.
We continue as far east and north toward Edgeøya as the ice allows in our search for wildlife. Seals laying on the ice, birds on their way to sea for feeding – and of course as always, the polar bear.
Hornsund, Spitsbergen, with Hornsundbreen.
We have returned to the west coast of Spitsbergen, and hope to enter Hornsund, the southernmost fjord on the island. The west coast enjoys the warmer water coming up through the Atlantic, so winter ice should have melted – at least on the outer coast. But a few stray icebergs can alter our plans.
Hornsund is often called ‘Svalbard in a nutshell’ because of abundance of the dramatic terrains and rich wildlife. We will try and go ashore in Gåshamna, which has remains of trappers, Russian settlers and blubber boilers.
Bellsund, Spitsbergen, with Vårsol Bay and Calypsobyen. Barbecue.
Bellsund has some of the richest coal layers in Svalbard, and Svea Mine far into the fjord was formerly one of the biggest communities on the island. But prices went down, and the coal mine is currently being dismantled.
We will stay in the fjord entrance and make landings at the Vårsol Bay. The biggest attraction here is the little auk cliff. Tundra is richly fertilized by hundreds of thousands of little auks, which the Svalbard reindeer love to graze. We will go for a nice walk along the beach – and spot remains from early industrial eras.
During lunch, we’ll cross the fjord along the 4 km long (but quite narrow) island of Akseloya. We will make a Zodiac landing at Calypsobyen in Recherche Fjord. Coal was extracted here in the early 1900s, but the enterprise never attained full production. Today, Calypsobyen offers an exciting landing that gives visitors a glimpse of the era of Neo-Industrialism, when all opportunities for profit were tried out. A pleasant walk can be made on the tundra behind the buildings.
Early in the morning the ship has returned to our starting point in Longyearbyen. After breakfast and farewell greetings to the expedition team and crew, disembarkation will take place. Transfer is arranged to the airport.
Please note that all the outings and landings rely on weather, sea and ice conditions being favorable both for the ship to access the areas, as for the zodiacs and kayaks to maneuver under adequate conditions, ensuring the safety of all our passengers and staff.
For this reason, during moments of harsh weather and throughout the entire trip, Ocean Atlantic has excellent public areas such as wellness/sauna, restaurant, bar and a library for our passengers to spend their spare time. Our ship is staffed by experts in the field who will also share great lectures along the way, ranging from exploration history to biology, geology, ice and wildlife.
Inclusions / Exclusions
- 12-day/11-night cruise in a shared outside double cabin with private bathroom/toilet.
- English-speaking guides.
- Zodiac landings.
- Near-port town walks with expedition team.
- Bus excursion on Shetland from Lerwich.
- Information briefings and lectures by expedition team.
- Full board on the ship.
- Free coffee, tea and afternoon snacks on the ship.
- Airport transfer from ship to airport in Longyearbyen.
- Taxes and tariffs.
- International flights to Aberdeen/from Longyearbyen, Svalbard.
- Hotel accommodation before/after the voyage.
- Travel insurance.
- Cancellation insurance.
- Extra excursions and activities not mentioned in the itinerary.
- Single room supplement.
- Meals not on board the ship.
- Beverages (other than coffee and tea).
- Tips for the crew (we recommend USD 14 per person per day).
- Personal expenses.
- Anything not mentioned under 'Price includes'.