North Atlantic Odyssey
Scotland to Spitsbergen – In search of Polar Bears, Arctic birds and other wildlife
AT A GLANCE
Bird & Wildlife Cruise:
Birds, whales & dolphins, seals, Arctic ice-pack, scenery & photography.
Aberdeen (Scotland) – Fair Isle – Jan Mayen Land – Ice Pack - northwest Spitsbergen – Longyearbyen (Svalbard).
very good chance of Polar Bear, Walrus, Harp and other seals, breeding seabirds, Ivory Gull, Northern Bottlenose, Beluga and many other whales.
spring Temperate to Polar.
170+ passenger expedition cruise ship, all cabins with private facilities. Maiden Voyage!
The wild, spectacular and seabird-filled islands of the North Atlantic are ideal for visiting by expedition cruise ship and also offer an affordable introduction to this wonderful type of travel for those yet to experience it. This is a genuine taste of the Arctic – sailing directly from the UK!
The inaugural voyage in 2011 enjoyed two Polar Bears, Walrus, Bearded, Ringed & Hooded Seals plus 12 species of cetacean including Fin, Humpback and a fantastic Blue Whale encounter! The expected birds were seen including Ivory Gull and King Eider. The second voyage did almost as well, no bears but a similar fantastic Blue Whale encounter amongst many other highlights. The 2013 voyage highlights included approx 20,000 Harp Seals on sea-ice near Jan Mayen Land, three Polar Bears and two Walrus. 2014 yielded another Polar Bear, Walrus, several thousand Harp Seals plus Belugas, Ivory Gulls and Grey Phalarope. 2016 enjoyed a mother and cub Polar Bear, Walrus, other seals, 100+ Ivory Gulls in the sea ice and King Eiders in Spitsbergen. (A male Steller’s Eider was also seen in 2016!)
Our 2017 group enjoyed close views of a mother Polar Bear with her two cubs on the sea-ice, two fantastic groups of Orcas around the ship, Blue & Fin Whales (the two largest species), countless seabirds, Ivory Gulls, King Eider (and another Steller’s present too!) plus a lucky few saw a pink Ross’s Gull fly past the bows at one point!
This is an upgraded itinerary which now deserves the title ‘Odyssey’, timed when the seabird colonies are at their busiest. Fair Isle has breeding populations of Gannets, the always popular and comical Puffins, Guillemots, Black Guillemots and Razorbills, Kittiwakes and Fulmars. Add Great and Arctic Skuas, a variety of terns including Arctic which will later in the year migrate all the way down to Antarctica, waders, duck and gulls. Atlantic Grey Seals can also be found in these waters. This spring voyage could also find a surprise or two, including overshot migrants or even vagrants. A Western Subalpine Warbler was seen on Fair Isle during our 2013 visit, (a River Warbler present in 2012), a male Caspian Stonechat in 2014, Red-backed Shrike and a female Collared Flycatcher were the highlights in 2016! We may also stop at the tiny island of Mousa, to witness the Storm-petrel colony at dusk. Cetacean possibilities include Orca, Northern Minke Whale, Bottlenose, White-beaked and Atlantic White-sided Dolphins plus Harbour Porpoise. Enjoy and photograph the rugged yet beautiful scenery and skies as the ship takes you on your northern islands adventure.
We continue on from Scotland crossing the Arctic Circle via Jan Mayen, and will now plan to spend one or two days exploring the edge of the Arctic ice-pack, finishing in western Spitsbergen with a day for zodiac cruises and/or landings before disembarkation in Longyearbyen. Little Auk and Brunnich’s Guillemot can be added to the list of breeding seabirds above, plus true northern delights such as Long-tailed and Pomarine Skuas, Ivory and Sabine’s Gulls, Grey Phalarope and King Eider. Additional potential seal species include Harp, Ringed and Bearded plus Svalbard Reindeer and possibly Arctic Fox ashore. Cetacean prospects on this voyage continue to be very good too with Blue, Fin, Sperm and Humpback Whales, Orca, Beluga, Long-finned Pilot and Northern Bottlenose Whales all being recorded previously. Four Bowhead Whales were seen around Jan Mayen Land just two days before our visit in 2013. This has the real potential to be a very exciting voyage indeed!
The opportunity to do all this is thanks to the annual repositioning of the expedition vesselOrtelius (120 passengers). In the spring 2019 however she is out of service for some major upgrades and her new sister ship,Hondius * (174 passengers) will operate the voyage instead as her maiden voyage! She travels back north from her expedition cruising grounds in the Antarctic to her summer cruising areas in the Arctic. TheOrteliusis a true expedition ship and all her cabins now have private facilities with a porthole or window. She has one of highest ice-classes with lots of open deck space at all levels, perfect for wildlife and scenery viewing plus photography. She features a very large bridge (usually open to passengers), a restaurant, bar/lounge and lecture room. Nigel Goodgame will be joining you for this voyage to give you WildWings world-class leadership to maximize your experience.
* This voyage will see the brand new M/V Hondius enter service, purpose-built, she will be modern, hotel comfortable and boast the highest ice-class rating for true expedition travel. Her observation lounge and lecture theatre will occupy an entire deck, with lots of open deck space outside too of course. All cabins are with portholes or windows and have private facilities. Suites are also available.
Please note whilst the chance of seeing Polar Bear is higher than 75%, if this is your main priority you should consider our week long Polar Bear Special Spitsbergen Voyages. You may also add such a voyage aboard Hondius, 14th – 21st June 2019, after this voyage, a 5% discount will apply to any passengers that elect to stay on board for another week, exploring Spitsbergen itself. Prices from £2725 per person sharing a multi-berth cabin and from £3795 per person sharing a twin cabin, all with private facilities. More information can be found below (in prices and dates).
Day 1: Embark Aberdeen late afternoon and sail.
Day 2: Fair Isle (an extended bird walk or just explore the island).
Days 3-4: At sea.
Day 5: Jan Mayen (we plan to land by the base and seabird cliffs and offer an optional cross island walk.)
Days 6 - 8: We sail on northwards in search of the pack ice and sail along the edge east, looking for Polar Bears, Bowhead Whales, Harp Seals and much more.
Day 9: Today we look for Walrus and plan to visit seabird colonies. Potential landing sites include Fuglehuken and Alkhornet and we may also encounter Reindeer and Arctic Fox ashore.
Day 10: Disembark Longyearbyen after breakfast. Optional morning bird walk.
NB Exact itinerary subject to weather, ice and local conditions on the day.
Please note: All itineraries are subject to weather, local conditions and final approval by the relevant authorities.
Dates: 5th – 14th June 2019
Leader: Steve Holloway & the ship’s expedition staff. AboardHondius
£1599 Quad berths (upper and lower) porthole & private facilities
£1999 Triple berths (upper and lower) porthole & private facilities
£2215 Twin share (lower berths) porthole & private facilities
£2435 Twin share (lower berths) window & private facilities
£2599 Twin deluxe, windows & private facilities
£2955 Twin Superior window & private facilities
£3175 Suites from
Single cabins x 1.7 of twin share price
All prices per person.
£1 = Euros 1.1
Price includes: Voyage with accommodation as booked, including all meals, tea, coffee and hot chocolate, Zodiac cruises and landings, port taxes and landing fees, use of ship’s rubber boots, services of WildWings leader, lectures and services of the ship’s expedition team, daily sea watching sessions and evening recap, pre-voyage information pack and day by day bird and mammal checklist.
Price excludes: Flights (Longyearbyen – London Heathrow from £199, arriving 2130, same date as voyage finishes), fuel surcharges if levied (if the price of Brent Crude exceeds US$120 a barrel, 90 days prior to departure), gratuities (suggested Euros10-15 a day on board ship), travel insurance, other drinks and items of a personal nature
Add-on Spitsbergen voyage (5% discount for continuing passengers applied)
Day 1: Disembark vessel after breakfast, a full day in Longyearbyen. Optional morning bird walk. Afternoon at leisure, museum, shops, more birding!
Day 2: Krossfjorden for seabirds colonies and seals, afternoon Ny Alesund.
Day 3: Liefdeforden, Andoya and the Monaco Glacier.
Day 4: Hinlopenstretet and Alkefjellet, Brunnich’s Guillemot colony, a good sea area for whales and if sea ice present, a good chance of bears.
Day 5: Phippsoya, our most northerly planned point, only 540 nautical miles from the North Pole, a good area for bears again.
Day 6: Raudfjord and Ytre Norskoya.
Day 7: Prins Karls Forland or St John’s Fjord. Afternoon cruise through Borebukta.
Day 8: Disembark at Longyearbyen early morning. Morning at leisure in town or visit the dog kennels again. Lunchtime transfer back to the airport. (Fly Longyearbyen via Oslo back to London Heathrow arriving late evening or back to other UK airports from Oslo, subject to airline schedules.)
Exact sea itinerary subject to ice and local conditions on the day.
Dates: 14th – 21s June 2019
£2725. Quad berths (upper and lower) portholes & private facilities
£3385. Triple berths (upper and lower) portholes & private facilities
£3795. Twin share (lower berths) portholes & private facilities
£4125. Twin share (lower berths) window/s & private facilities
£4365. Twin deluxe (lower berths) windows, private facilities
£4939. Superior (double & single sofa bed) windows, private facilities
£5315. Suites from
Previous voyage bird & wildlife highlights (2011-2018):
Pinked-footed & Barnacle Geese
King, Steller's and Common Eider
Fulmar including ‘blue phase’
Pomarine, Arctic, Long-tailed & Great Skuas
Glaucous, Ivory, Ross's and Sabine’s Gulls
Sandwich and Arctic Terns
Common, Brunnich’s & Black Guillemots, Razorbill, Puffin, Little Auk.
Fair Isles ‘rarities’: Kumlein’s Gull, Western Subalpine Warbler, Caspian Stonechat, Collared Flycatcher.
Harbour, Grey, Harp, Hooded, Ringed and Bearded Seals
Bottlenose, White-beaked & Atlantic White-sided Dolphins
Northern Minke, Humpback, Long-finned Pilot, Northern Bottlenose, Fin, Sei, Blue and Sperm Whales
5th – 14th June 2019
Russian, former research vessel carrying up to 106 passengers, built in 1989, refurbished in 2004 with further improvements carried out early in 2012. Officers and crew professional and friendly. Western expedition staff. Comfortable with good food. A real expedition feel. All cabins with portholes or windows. Stable, fast and has one of the highest ice-class ratings plus lots of open deck space.