• Kayaking in pristine Norway
    Kayaking in pristine Norway
  • Basaltic cliffs in Scotland
    Basaltic cliffs in Scotland
  • Puffins, Shetland Islands
    Puffins, Shetland Islands
  • Mousa Broch, Scotland
    Mousa Broch, Scotland
  • Polar Pioneer in Norway
    Polar Pioneer in Norway
  • Approaching Svalbard
    Approaching Svalbard
  • Spitsbergen scenery
    Spitsbergen scenery
  • Look for Arctic fox
    Look for Arctic fox
  • If we are lucky we may see polar bears
    If we are lucky we may see polar bears

Across the Arctic Circle: Polar Pioneer

Follow the Vikings’ way from northeast Scotland to the land of the midnight sun. Historians and naturalists reveal the Orkney and Shetland islands, from Stone Age villages and Viking relics, to distilleries and spectacular birdlife, including puffins. Follow migrating whales along Norway’s dramatic coast, visit picturesque fishing villages and toast our Arctic Circle crossing. In Spitsbergen, enter a polar wonderland, where delicate wildflowers adorn tundra and the summer sun never sets. This spectacular wilderness is the breeding ground of walrus, reindeer, millions of birds and polar bear.

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  • Stone Age villages and Coastal sea caves of the Orkney Islands
  • Shetland Islands, with ancient brochs, Crofting hamlets and puffins
  • Spectacular Norwegian fjords
  • Arctic Circle crossing
  • Arctic Spitsbergen with Glacier fronts, icebergs
  • Widlife such as Bearded and ringed seals, Polar bears

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Day 1 - Aberdeen Welcomed aboard Polar Pioneer mid-afternoon in Aberdeen, we set sail north. Days 2-3 - Orkney and Shetland Islands Among Orkney’s archipelago of 70 windswept islands, a treasure trove of archaeology, history and wildlife awaits. We follow the passage of time – from 5000-year-old, World Heritagelisted, Neolithic sites to Viking relics, from reminders of World War II occupation to present-day crofting communities. Imposing sea cliffs teem with seabirds, inviting our Zodiacs and kayakers to explore coastlines. At Fair Isle we visit traditional crofts to admire local knitwear and nearby colonies of fulmars, kittiwakes, guillemots, gannets, shags and puffins. Day 4 - Shetland Warmed by Gulf Stream currents and near 24-hours’ daylight, the Shetland’s 100 islands are peppered with nature reserves and archaeological sites. These include the complex Stone, Bronze and Iron Age settlement of Jarlshof, the world’s best preserved broch (fortified Iron Age tower) on Mousa, and remnants of Viking conquest along the coast. Day 5 - Norwegian Sea As we sail towards Norway, our historian and naturalist delight us with fascinating talks and inspire our birdwatching. Days 6-9 - Norway’s coastline An intricate maze of islands protects Norway’s coastline. We celebrate crossing the Arctic Circle and visit special places, like Sør Gjaeslingan, once home to a busy cod-fishing fleet. Today it provides fantastic birdlife, including kittiwakes, terns and skuas that migrate here each summer. Continuing north, we pass by Torghatten, a mountain with a distinctive hole through it, and learn the fable of lost love and a troll’s arrow. Majestic scenery delights in Lofoten Islands, from romantic beaches to narrow fjords hemmed by granite walls. Share the water with orcas, the skies with puffins. Days 10-13 - Barents Sea, Bear Island & Southern Spitsbergen We cross the Barents Sea, past often fog-shrouded Bear Island, favourite nesting ground for fulmars, kittiwakes, guillemots and gulls. Beyond Spitsbergen’s South Cape, we explore South Spitsbergen National Park, a sanctuary for barnacle geese and eider ducks, before entering the iceberg-laden waters of Hornsund. Surrounded by polar desert on a grand scale, we search for reindeer, ringed and bearded seals and the mighty polar bear. Learn of human history dating back 400 years and if lucky, we’ll encounter the elusive beluga whale. Day 14 - Longyearbyen We disembark in Longyearbyen, bid goodbye to expedition staff and are transferred to the airport for our onward journey.

Expedition Vessel: Polar Pioneer

Polar Pioneer is a small and sturdy expedition ship and a regular in polar waters. Built in Finland in 1985 as an ice- strengthened research vessel, she was refurbished in 2001 to provide a comfortable range of triple, twin and suite cabin options for a maximum of 54 expeditioners. Her excellent reputation for polar expedition cruising is due to her strength, maneuverability and size, allowing her to access areas where larger vessels simply can’t reach.

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