Arctic Saga: Exploring Spitsbergen via the Faroes and Jan Mayen

14 days
from
£3,900
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Polar Expeditions
Suitable for:
Age 18+
Activity level:
Leisurely
Activity Level: Leisurely
Trip code: 
POS
Way to Travel:
Guided Group
Activity:
Polar
Max group size:
132
Min age:
18

Travel under the midnight sun to some of the most remote islands on the planet, where only a small number of adventurers have ever left their footprints

Sailing across the North Atlantic, you’ll be immersed in the region’s rugged beauty and whaling and Viking history, visiting the awe-inspiring and unspoiled destinations of Fair Isle, the Faroe Islands, Jan Mayen and Spitsbergen. Towering fjords, massive glaciers, soaring sea stacks and coastal cliffs teeming with thousands of seabirds, like the amazing Atlantic puffin, will take your breath away. So too will the diverse wildlife of this far-flung region, from Svalbard reindeer to dolphins, seals and whales. Having continuous daylight for part of the voyage means optimum chances to spot these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat at any time of day… or night!

Highlights

  • Follow in the footsteps of the Norsemen on Fair Isle and the Vikings in the Faroe Islands
  • Explore the volcanic and glacier covered Jan Mayen island, in the heart of the North Atlantic Ocean
  • Encounter iconic Arctic wildlife, such as puffins, reindeer, whales and seabirds
  • Cruise in a Zodiac to explore diverse landscapes and wildlife
  • Travel in a small expedition vessel
  • Accompanied by extremely qualified Expedition Staff

Key information

  • 12 nights on the ship, 1 night hotel in Aberdeen
  • Expedition cruising in comfortable conditions
  • Countries visited: Arctic, United Kingdom, Spitsbergen, Denmark

What's included

  • All meals while on the ship
  • Beer and house wine during dinner
  • All accommodation
  • All transport and listed activities
  • Tour leader throughout and qualified Expedition Staff
  • We can include flights from the UK.  Please contact us for a quote.

What's not included

  • Travel insurance
  • Single accommodation (available on request)
  • Visas or vaccinations
Call for general departures:
00 97150 5550 445
Call for tailor made trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

At Exodus we believe in the power of Responsible Travel.

Every time we travel, we are part of a global movement that creates jobs, builds more sustainable societies, encourages cultural understanding and safeguards common natural and cultural heritage. To learn more about what Responsible Travel means to Exodus click here… 

Itinerary

  • Day 1

    Embark in Aberdeen, United Kingdom

    Arrive any time on Day 1 and make your way to your included hotel. The gateway for your Arctic adventure, the Scottish city of Aberdeen, has many monikers, but its most famous is Granite City, as it was once the granite capital of the world. Wandering the streets, you’ll soon see why, as the Victorian buildings sparkle in the sun. A bustling cultural hub, Aberdeen also offers a range of museums, galleries, theaters, shops, cafés and restaurants to explore.

    Meals included: Dinner
  • Day 2

    Embarkation Day

    Today you will have some free time before being transferred to the port to board your ship. As you set sail this afternoon, you’ll want to be out on deck, camera in hand—the area’s coastal waters offer excellent possibilities for spotting Bottlenose and White-beaked dolphins, Harbor porpoises and Minke whales.

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 3

    Exploring Fair Isle

    The U.K.’s most remote inhabited island, the extraordinary Fair Isle is located halfway between the Shetland and Orkney Islands. Boasting a rugged beauty, Fair Isle’s landscape is diverse, with fields and moors dominated by seaside cliffs and an astounding amount of sea stacks, natural arches and caves.

    Despite its small size, the island offers activities for history, nature and photography buffs alike. Visit the museum to immerse yourself in local artifacts, photos, knitwear and other historic memorabilia. Don’t forget to snap a shot of the circa 1935 classic red phone booth by the post office!

    In terms of wildlife, Orcas are native to the waters around Fair Isle, and they sometimes come close in pursuit of seals. But the island is best known for its coastal cliffs teeming with seabirds in spring and summer. The star attraction is the Atlantic puffin, a clown-like bird that clings to the steep slopes. Photographers will surely want to capture pictures of their bemused expressions, and Fair Isle’s easily accessible grassy banks make it one of the best places in the Shetlands to observe these colourful creatures. Northern fulmars, kittiwakes, Storm petrels, razorbills and guillemots are also likely to be spotted, soaring over the open waters.

    Visitors to this community of crofters, artisans and artists may be able to pick up a traditional Fair Isle sweater to keep you warm during the rest of your arctic voyage. Be sure to pick one up, along with a matching hat, scarf and mittens, at the town hall.

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Days 4-5

    Exploring the Faroe Islands

    Known for its beautiful, unspoiled landscape, with verdant pastures giving way to rugged, steep cliffs, the Faroe Islands have a storied past, though the details of the archipelago’s early history are a bit hazy. The first settlers may have been seventh-century Irish monks seeking solitude on these islands far removed from any continent. Their isolation ended in 800 AD, with the arrival of Norse farmers, and Norwegian colonization continued throughout the Viking Age. Today, many of the inhabitants of the Faroe Islands, now a self-governing country within the Kingdom of Denmark, are descendants of Norwegian Vikings.

    We will have two days to explore this unspoiled and seldom-visited archipelago made up of 18 rugged islands located about halfway between Scotland and Iceland. The mighty North Atlantic is omnipresent wherever we go with no place on the Faroe Islands farther than 3 miles (5 km) from its shores. The sea has always dominated life on the Faroes – throughout history as much as today: rich fisheries, magnificent ocean views and thriving sea bird colonies make up this rare Nordic jewel – often referred to as Europe’s best kept secret.

    We will spend a day exploring the outer islands of the archipelago which are separated by narrow sounds and fjords and delight in their surreal landscapes, dramatic cliffs and rock formations, green valleys engulfed by steep dramatic mountains, protecting small picturesque villages with colorful turf-topped housed. Wind, weather and sea conditions will influence and shape our activity options, but we will of course always keep our eyes out for marine and bird life especially the iconic Atlantic puffin.

    Our second day in the Faroes will be dedicated to the capital city of Tórshavn, where the Vikings established their government in 825 AD. One of the world’s smallest capitals, the picturesque Tórshavn has a relaxed vibe and a number of historical and cultural sites. Meander the maze of narrow laneways of the Old Town, admiring the quaint wooden houses with traditional sod roofs and white paned windows. If you’re looking for more action, a hike up to the historic fort, built in 1580 to guard against pirate raids, offers stunning views of the port below. Or perhaps you prefer to wander the charming harbor, filled with cafés, pubs and old warehouses, and simply gaze out at the sea while sipping a latte.

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Days 6-7

    At Sea

    Say goodbye to the Faroes as we cruise toward the world’s most northerly volcanic island, Jan Mayen. There are several activities to keep you engaged while at sea. Learn to identify seabirds gliding alongside your ship, attend dynamic presentations by the Expedition Team, relax in our polar library or simply spend some time on deck, admiring the sea. With your binoculars and camera at the ready, keep your eyes peeled for the blow of a Humpback, Blue or Fin whale. Encounters with Minke whales or Orcas are also possible, since their curiosity can bring them near the ship. If you’re lucky, you may even see Harp seals.

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Days 8-9

    Exploring Jan Mayen

    North of the Arctic Circle, about 280 miles (450 km) east of Greenland and 340 miles (550 km) north of Iceland, is the mysterious Jan Mayen, deep in the North Atlantic Ocean. Often shrouded in thick fog, the small mountainous island was declared a nature reserve in 2010 and is rarely visited, save for the 18 rotating personnel of the Norwegian military and Norwegian Meteorological Institute, who are the only inhabitants.

    Landing here will be dictated by the weather and sea. If conditions allow, as we approach, keep watch on deck as the spoon-shaped island’s highest summit emerges. At 7,470 feet (2,277 metres) high, the breathtaking Beerenberg volcano features a symmetrical cone shape and impressive glaciers that spill into the sea. During the summer months, the island’s lower landscape is covered with grass, moss and a smattering of hardy flowers that add a cheery pop of color to the otherwise barren black lava terrain.

    One site we hope to visit is Olonkinbyen and the surrounding area. Named after Russian-Norwegian Polar explorer Gennady Olonkin, it’s the island’s only settlement and the location of the meteorological station, where you may have the chance to learn about Polar research while seeing how weather is monitored at the top of the world. Another option might be the black sand beach at Kvalrossbukta, where the remnants of a 17th-century Dutch whaling station and a large fulmar colony can be found. In 1632, two Basque ships landed at the small bay and plundered the station. A Dutch party was sent here the following year to protect the land stations during winter, but all seven men perished from scurvy. Whaling in the area came to an end about 20 years later.

    If we’re fortunate, we may view the volcano and the stratified cliffs of the spectacular north coast as we Zodiac cruise around the island, searching for wildlife. Designated an Important Bird Area by BirdLife International for the large numbers of breeding seabirds, Jan Mayen supports colonies of Northern fulmars, Little auks, Glaucous gulls, kittiwakes, and Black and Brünnich’s guillemots (Thick-billed murres). And if we are fortunate, you might see “sea parrots,” the Atlantic puffin again. The waters here are rich feeding grounds for marine life, so keep a lookout for Minke, Fin, Blue or Humpback whales.

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 10

    At Sea

    As we sail farther north, spend some time with your shipmates in the lounge, swapping stories and photos, or pause for a moment on the bridge, joining in as the Expedition Team looks out for whales, seals and a variety of seabirds.

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Days 11-13

    Explore Spitsbergen

    Rugged, wild, unspoiled and situated entirely within the Arctic Circle, the largest island of the Svalbard archipelago is unforgettable. From immense glaciers to Polar deserts, the landscape here is as varied as the wildlife.

    As we explore the fjords of the southwestern corner of this magical island, it won’t take long for you to see firsthand why Spitsbergen is the “wildlife capital of the Arctic.” Some areas we hope to visit include Hornsund and Bellsund fjords and the Lilliehöök Glacier.

    The possible landing sites at Hornsund, the island’s most southerly fjord, have rich histories. En route to Isbjornhamna, a bay at the southern end, where we hope to explore the former science station, you may have the opportunity to discover old whale bones. You may spot Svalbard reindeer and colonies of delightful Little auks.

    A 12-mile (20 km) long sound, Bellsund lured miners a century ago to its natural resources. Today, visitors come to Bourbanhamna and Calypsobyen to see historic mining and trapper sites and marvel at the magnificent vistas. It may also be possible to hike along the colourful tundra, dotted with flowers bursting for a taste of sunshine. Viewing reindeer here is likely, as they frequent the area.

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 14

    Disembark in Longyearbyen

    The time has come to say farewell to your newfound friends and Expedition Team. After disembarking, spend the day exploring the frontier-style settlement of Longyearbyen or catch your homeward flights.

    Meals included: Breakfast
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Essential Info

Group Information

The Ocean Adventurer takes a maximum capacity of 132 passengers.The Exodus group forms part of the ship’s complement, enjoying the relaxed, intimate and informal atmosphere, which breaks into smaller groups to facilitate the frequent excursions. We offer these cruises in conjunction with our partner, Quark Expeditions, and Exodus participants will join an international group, not all of whom have booked through Exodus. Occasionally some of these may be younger than 18 years old, the Exodus' stated minimum age for this trip.

Visas

Arctic

No visa required for British passport holders.

Vaccinations

Arctic

There are no specific health risks.

United Kingdom

No vaccinations are obligatory.

Denmark

There are no specific health risks.

Eating and Drinking

All meals while on the ship included.

Typical Meals

The ships galley offers good quality service and cuisine throughout, with excellent chefs preparing international menus including vegetarian dishes, accompanied by a wide variety of drinks from around the world on sale.

Breakfast: Buffet style – unlimited tea and coffee, a selection of fruit juices, hot options including bacon and eggs or omelettes, a selection of bread and toast and jam/honey/marmalade, fruit and cereal.

Lunch: Three course set meal, or the occasional buffet or BBQ.

Dinner: Three courses with a starter of soup, salad or anti-pasto, a choice of three mains with at least one vegetarian and one seafood option and a dessert of sweet pudding or ice cream or fruit, tea and coffee.

Weather

Spitsbergen has a short season from mid June to mid August; and there is 24 hour daylight in all three months. There may be more sea ice in the earlier months and some more flowers, but in reality with the capricious nature of the weather and wildlife there is not much to choose between different dates.

Jan Mayen and the Faroe Islands have an Arctic climate with average temperatures that do not exceed 10° C in the warmest summer months.  However, the conditions in the coastal regions of the Arctic during the northern summer are both mild and changeable. Enjoyable sunny days can swiftly change to cold, windy storms with snow flurries and rolling seas. Average daily temperatures in mid-season are between -4 and +2 Celsius; however, wind conditions can make it seem colder. It is common that you will experience daytime temperatures below freezing.

Is this trip for you?

Travelling Conditions

The voyages are designed to be as flexible as possible, taking advantage of circumstances and events as they occur, as well as passengers' wishes and particular interests wherever possible. The atmosphere on board is relaxed and friendly with expedition staff, including naturalists and Polar experts, on hand and the opportunity to mingle with people from all over the world. The ship is kept warm, clean and comfortable with a wet/mud room in which to hang gear and store boots ready for the next adventure.

On the Zodiac cruises you are sitting still for most of the time with the potential for some sea spray and a cold headwind - if you are not dressed appropriately you will get cold. On the shore excursions, the majority of landings are wet which means that the Zodiacs beach and you are helped to slide into the ankle deep shore break before walking up onto dry land (wellington boots are issued to all passengers). There are, of course, no paths, so be prepared for slippery, rough terrain and sometimes fairly deep snow. Back on board the cosy ship after each adventure, you can have a sauna and/or a hot shower and then relax with a tea, coffee, hot chocolate or something stronger from the bar.

Optional activities

Sea kayaking option:

Kayaking in the Arctic is probably one of the most intimate and inspiring ways you can explore the rugged coastlines and calm bays of the regions we visit.

Kayaking in the Polar Regions is highly weather-dependent, however we guarantee at least one outing throughout your voyage, but your kayak guides will take you out as many times as possible throughout your voyage.

Offered on most Arctic voyages, spaces are limited and require some kayaking experience. All equipment, guides and instructions are provided by Quark.

Polar Itineraries

All Polar itineraries should be treated as a guide only - it is possible that, amongst other things, the capricious nature of wind, visibility and ice, intelligence from previous sailings, changes in local landing regulations or the expert opinion of the crew onboard may lead to adjustments to the route published.

Following a review of all our trips we have categorised this trip as generally not suitable for persons of reduced mobility. However if you are a regular traveller on such trips, please contact customer services to discuss the trip and your personal condition.

Call for general departures:
00 97150 5550 445
Call for tailor made trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Accommodation

Ocean Adventurer

The Arctic Saga: Exploring Spitsbergen via the Faroes and Jan Mayen voyage is offered on the Ocean Adventurer which is a Polar Adventure Ship. One night in a standard hotel in Oslo is included. Full board accommodation on the ship, generally on a twin share basis in a variety of cabin types, all with en suite facilities. Please visit the Polar Fleet page (www.exodus.co.uk/polar-holidays/polar-fleet) for Ship Information and Deck Plans.

Polar Adventure Ships

These are small ice rated vessels well qualified for Polar waters. Intimate adventures are always more enjoyable with like-minded passengers and staff, so these voyages are for people who like flexible itineraries and plenty to keep them busy. Activities include frequent Zodiac excursions, trekking, kayaking and many hours on deck in areas that other ships only dream about accessing. Food and staff are superb and every guest benefits from the technical advances of this superb fleet. Rest assured our Polar Adventure Ships enable any traveller to maximize their experience sensitively in the Poles.

Call for general departures:
00 97150 5550 445
Call for tailor made trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Expert Blog Entries

Be the first to post your review! If you have recently returned from an Exodus adventure and want to help other travellers with your feedback then simply use the link below to post your holiday review.

Dates & Prices

An overview of flight options

Exodus is committed to making joining our tours as easy as possible, wherever you live. We generally only block book seats from London, but this certainly does not mean that you need to fly from there. Depending on the route and airlines available, there will usually be various options available for those who want to fly from their local airport.

This page aims to provide a useful overview of the options available to our clients. However, the best flight arrangements should be tailored to your personal requirements, so please contact our Sales team for expert advice.

 

What kind of options do I have ?

1. We can book for you: Flights from anywhere in the world - not via London  

Depending on the route, this may be direct or via an overseas hub like Amsterdam, the Middle East or elsewhere. On short haul routes there may be direct flights with low cost airlines, charter flights or scheduled airlines. Exodus can book most, but not all, of these for you. The most appropriate airline may be different to that which we use for the group flight from London, but many people now travel on different airlines and meet up with their fellow passengers at the destination.

Pros Cons
  • May be the most direct route
  • Often the extra fare compared to the London flight is minimal.
  • As you will be in the hands a single airline for your entire journey, the airline will be responsible for your bags and your connections.
  • You may not be able to join the group transfers. However, we can usually arrange private transfers, or book your flights to try and coincide with the group transfers. See notes on transfer arrangements below.

 

2. We can book for you: Connecting flights from your local airport to London

Exodus can book connecting flights to London so you can join the group flight there. Connecting times will be followed according to airline advice, or as requested by clients. There are two types of fares we can use for this option: a 'through-fare' or a 'published fare'.
 
a) A 'through-fare' is where you will be in the main airline's care throughout. You change planes, but your bags are checked all the way through to your final destination. 

b) A 'published fare' ticket is completely seperate from your onward ticket from London. It is usually cheaper than a through-fare but will need to be paid for and issued as soon as it is booked. This can be a problem if your tour has not yet reached minimum numbers. On 'published fares' neither airline is aware that you have connecting flights, so Exodus is responsible for timing your connection, not the airlines involved. The tickets are also usually non changeable and non refundable.

Pros Cons
  • Depending on the fare type, Exodus or the airline is responsible for flight connections.
  • Through fare tickets can be expensive.
  • On a published fare, tickets must be issued immediately; tickets on published fares can be very difficult to change if onward flight times change; bags are not checked though to your final destination.
  • Published fares are non-refundable.

 

3. Booking some or all of the flights yourself

You can also book connecting air travel yourself, either to London, or all the way to the start point. There may be certain airlines or routes we don't have access to, so this is always an option. However, if you make your own travel arrangements you become liable for any delays, cancellations or missed connections, and Exodus is not required to offer refunds if you have trouble reaching the start of your trip.

Pros Cons
  • You might find cheaper fares, or routes not available to Exodus.
  • You are responsible for any delays or missed connections, and the cost of the tour is not protected should you miss your flight be cancelled.

 

 Notes on transfer arrangements

Sometimes it is possible to travel on a different airline to the group flight from London. Where this is the case, we need to think about ensuring you meet up with the group with minimum extra cost and hassle.

  • On certain trips, it is easy to arrive on a different flight and still meet the group at the hotel with time in hand. We can usually arrange private transfers (at extra cost) or offer advice on taking a taxi to the start hotel.
  • On other trips (especially in Europe), the transfer meets the group flight and then travels some distance to the first night's accommodation. Where this is the case, our Sales team will try to arrange flights that arrive before (and depart after) the group. However, we do have to make it clear in your final documentation that if your flights are delayed, the transfer cannot wait for you. While Exodus or our local operators will do what we can to help you reach the start point of the tour, any additional costs must be paid by the client. 

 

Next steps? 

Call our Sales team on: 0203 733 0698

Email your query: [email protected]

 

Please contact our specialist Polar sales team on 020 8003 9957 or at [email protected] for further dates and prices

Polar Ships: For information regarding ship specifications, visit the Polar Fleet page.

 

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Call us on 00 97150 5550 445