Through the North Atlantic from Scotland to Svalbard
Next DepartureMay. 29, 2022
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, Bus Excursion, Lectures, Photography, Wildlife observations, Zodiac
There are few wilder, more magnificent and untouched places than the Arctic Islands of the North Atlantic! And no ships more suited than Ocean Atlantic for such a voyage.
Join us for an early summer's cruise from Aberdeen to the lush green Shetland isles, the Faroe Islands small capital Tórshavn and the North Atlantic to the Arctic islands of Jan Mayen and Svalbard. We will travel north along with the migrating birds, and hopefully spot the polar bears hunting from the sea ice in the 24-hour daylight.
The cruise starts in Aberdeen on the Scottish East Coast. Here we embark Albatros Expedition's vessel, the comfortable Ocean Atlantic, which is our home for the next 11 days. Our first stop is cozy Lerwick on “main” Shetland, then 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 hope to spot the iconic polar bear on the ice and feel the Arctic nature close to us as we cruise in our smaller Zodiac vessels. We venture further north into Kongsfjorden and Ny Ålesund, to Smeerenburg and hopefully as far as Yttre Norskøya in the far North west corner of Spitsbergen Island. Weather and ice conditions will often dictate the course, but each landing with Zodiac-boats will still be unique and adventurous.
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 legs. 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.
After 11 fantastic days we will disembark in Longyearbyen for your homebound flight.
Boarding 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 staterooms are designated. After the mandatory security review and drill, we sail out through the mouth of the Dee River towards the North Sea.
Shetland Islands with the harbour and fishing village of Lerwick
Ocean Atlantic approaches Lerwick near the "Main Land" of Shetlands in the morning. 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 to the islands, and the Scandinavian heritage still shines through dialects, folklore and place names.
Once securely docked at the port, we depart through Lerwick towards Scalloway for a short scenic drive. From the elevated position we can enjoy the view of the charming village and the imposing Scalloway Castle. After a short photo stop, we continue eastwards through the area that is locally known as the “Black Gates” – an area where peat is still cut to use as fuel.
Following the road northwards our main destination of Clickimin Broch is only a short drive. There will be free time to discover this well preserved and restored Broch and learn more about life in the Iron Age.
(The excursion is part of the excursion package and is not included in the price of the trip).
Afterwards, we will return to Lerwick and the ship in the middle of the day. The rest of the day is for enjoying at leisure before departing in the early 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 island 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 Norways 300 summits above 2.000 meter. The island is habited 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 ahoy! Whales at the continental shelf and navigation along the coast northbound
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 opportunity to spot our first polar bear, hunting for seals.
The west coast enjoys the warmer water coming up through the Atlantic, so winter ice should now have melted.
During the night the ship will sail north along the coast of Spitsbergen.
Ny Ålesund, Kongsfjorden and Blomstrandhalvøya
During the ‘night’ (what is night, when the sun never sets?), we have passed Prins Karls Forland and have arrived in the magnificent Kongsfjord. Our visit to Svalbard is in the early summer and this is both the challenge and gift of this special voyage. Winter ice will possibly block the inner waters of many fjords, but this will give us the best opportunities to observe the omnipresent – but still elusive – polar bear, hunting for seals in its prime habitat. At this time of the year, the migrating birds have just arrived. They are all eager to settle and feed to get the best start for the coming hectic summer months.
Our first landing will be at Ny Ålesund. This settlement is in fact further north than Longyearbyen, making it THE northernmost town. But… is a group of scientific stations, a post office and a single shop open for a few hours a real town? You will have to judge for yourself. The setting is nice, the scientific projects are very interesting, and so is the town history. The Captain will try to get alongside, so we can enjoy an easy walk through the area.
Continuing our exploration of Kongsfjorden, Ocean Atlantic will anchor behind Blomstrand Peninsula. As we will immediately see, the name is a bit misleading. Blomstrand is now an island - the Blomstrand Glacier has receded, revealing a shallow water strait. We will cruise through this on our Zodiacs and make a landing on the island.
Former whaling station at Smeerenburg and Ytre Norskøya
We have now entered North West Svalbard, which was declared a national park in 1973. The day could begin with a Zodiac cruise in Danskergattet, looking for seals in Virgohamna, before crossing from Danskøya to Amsterdamøya to make a landing at Smeerenburg, the legendary whaling town of 17th century. 200-plus men were living – and quite often dying – here in the heyday of blubber production.
There are several interesting places to visit in this northwestern corner of Spitsbergen. If conditions allow we’ll make a landing on Ytre Norskøya, where whalers would have their lookout posts.
Prince Karls Forland with herds of walruses around Poolepynten and the Icefjord
During the night we have entered Forlandssundet, that separates Prince Karls Forland from Spitsbergen. Our destination is Poole-pynten (Poolepoint), a small headland named after the British whaler Jonas Poole. Today the area is inhabited by herds of walruses who can be seen (and smelled!) from a distance. The large mammals flaunt their tusks and whiskers, as well as their considerable bulk.
After the visit, we are southbound towards the entrance to the Icefjord.
On our way towards Longyearbyen as we cruise through the Icefjord, we hope to get our last glimpses of wildlife as well as the truly unique landscapes of Svalbard.
Longyearbyen, Spitsbergen. Disembarkation. Chartered flight to Oslo.
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. From here you will board your chartered flight to Oslo.
- 11-day/10-night cruise in a shared outside double stateroom with private bathroom/toilet
- Chartered domestic flight from Longyearbyen to Oslo
- English-speaking guides
- Zodiac landings
- Near-port town walks with expedition team
- 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, tariffs and AECO fees
- Guiding and lectures by our experienced expedition leader and team
Special photo workshop
Welcome and farewell cocktails
Digital visual journal link after voyage, including voyage log, gallery, species list and more!
- International flights to Aberdeen/from Oslo
- 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'.
Highlights on this cruise includes:
- Crossing the Arctic Circle at 66 degrees North
- Shetland islands with magnificent scenery, and the harbour and fishing village of Lerwick
- Faroe Islands’ deep fjords and steep grassy mountains around Tórshavn
- The isolated volcanic island of Jan Mayen
- Very good chances of seeing polar bears as well their main prey, seals.
- Spring in Svalbard; a paradise for bird enthusiasts
- Zodiac cruises in the fjords and nature walks on the tundra.