This combination of our popular Arctic itineraries (Spitsbergen Odyssey and Jewels of the Arctic) will allow you to experience the best of the European Arctic over 24-days. Starting on Spitsbergen, you’ll explore its coastline of calving glaciers, towering bird cliffs and pack ice and spot walruses, reindeer and even polar bears! After crossing the Greenland Sea, our ship will follow East Greenland’s coastline filled with the largest fjord system in the world, calving icebergs, friendly native communities and untouched tundra-covered valleys, before reaching its finishing point, Iceland.
• Explore Spitsbergen’s stunning northwest coast
• Aim for 80° North alert for polar bears!
• Zodiac cruise beneath buzzing seabird high cliffs
• Explore North East Greenland National Park
• Scoresby Sund, the world’s largest fjord system
• Inuit communities share their Arctic lifestyle
Enjoy a tour of Longyearbyen upon arrival, before boarding Polar Pioneer and setting sail along breathtaking Isfjorden, featuring dramatic bird cliffs, sweeping glaciers and gorgeous mountain ranges.
Awake as our ship sails along Spitsbergen’s west coast and its outstanding aqua-blue ice cliffs. The nutrient-rich Gulf Stream provides us with relatively mild temperatures, a delight for Atlantic puffins and Brünnich’s guillemots that have settled on these cliffs. Embark on a thrilling tundra hike, keep an eye out for reindeer and Arctic fox and gaze at the majestic glaciers from our Zodiacs. We also attempt to explore the remains of the 350-year-old Dutch whaling settlement.
As we continue our adventure along Spitsbergen’s northwest coast in to the Arctic Ocean, whales, pack ice and maybe even polar bears keep us on alert. As Polar Pioneer continues and turns south into Woodfjorden, we search for ringed, bearded and harp seals and keep an eye out for fascinating walrus haul outs on the beaches. With almost 24-hour daylight, enjoy tundra walks and take the time to observe at the microflora. Depending on ice conditions, we may cross latitude 80° North – a cause for celebration.
Air and sea temperatures start lowering due to the frigid Arctic currents around Spitsbergen’s northeast, creating a landscape eroded by severe frost. Even at summer time, there’s a chance pack ice could bar our way, but our Russian crew and expedition team ensure we reach the highlights of the European Arctic. We’ll attempt to sail through the narrow Hinlopen Strait, where we’ll Zodiac cruise along the busy bird cliffs of Alkefjellt as well as walk along the east coast's polar desert, filled with stunted glaciers and exposed fossil fields.
Ice conditions and weather changes dictate our expedition plans. We may be able to reach South Cape and head north toward Hornsund and Bellsund, two magnificent deep fjords boasting superb glaciers and wildlife. In case ice stops us, we’ll change our itinerary and spend more time exploring the jewels of Spitsbergen’s north and west coasts.
A midnight cruise of Isfjorden returns us to Longyearbyen, where you’ll enjoy a day dog sledding around Spitsbergen interior before setting off again this afternoon on the next leg of our Arctic adventure.
As we head back north, we enjoy the last moments in Spitsbergen. We cruise past calving glaciers and land ashore to learn about the area’s rich history and observe Spitsbergen’s fascinating wildlife.
Note: as this expedition is a combination of two itineraries, these days may stop at some places already visited on the voyage’s first leg.
As Polar Pioneer sails across the Greenland Sea, we search for fin whales, pack ice and sea birds. Our expert naturalists and guest lecturers provide us with great interpretation of the Arctic’s flora and fauna as well as early explorers’ epic adventures through illustrated talks.
When going to Greenland for the first time, seeing ice is often an awe-inspiring moment. Even in summer time, bays and inlets can still be frozen. However our experienced Captain and team of expedition experts know alternative options to keep us busy with exploration! In Kaiser Franz Josef Fjord, we enjoy walks across the tundra as we visit old trapper’s huts and observe musk ox, Arctic fox and eider ducks; we spend some time admiring the stunning hanging gardens of Kap Humboldt; Kong Oskar Fjord provides gorgeous glacier-carved mountains as a delightful backdrop.
We reach Scoresby Sund, the world’s largest fjord. The huge Greenland icecap continuously sweeps down gigantic glaciers, making it the birth place for some of the world’s largest icebergs! Our Zodiacs take us through an incredible maze of icebergs, as we head to the shores for some exciting tundra hikes, and a visit to Ittoqqortoormiit, one of the rare villages of the East Greenland coast.
Keep watch for musk ox and narwhals as we sail along the breathtaking mountains of the Blosseville Coast, before our attempt to cruise through Rømer Fjord.
We continue on with our Arctic adventure and cruise across Denmark Strait on our way to Iceland. We take time to reflect on our various experiences, gaze at northern fulmars and black-backed gulls, and spot dolphins and whales from the ship’s bow.
During the early morning we arrive in Keflavik. After breakfast you will be transferred to Reykjavik by coach. The coach will drop off clients at the airport & local hotels in Reykjavik.
Please remember that the above itinerary is merely a guide. All of our itineraries are at the mercy of weather conditions and not all landings are guaranteed. Our itineraries are flexible and will change voyage to voyage, allowing the best chance to make the most of surprising wildlife displays and unexpected opportunities.
Cabin Numbers: 300, 301 Deck: Deck 3 Cabin Features: Two lower bunk beds and one upper bunk bed Outside porthole Wash basin Lounge and desk Cupboard with hanging space Air-conditioning control Shared bathroom facilities on same deck Outside deck accessed via Deck 4 Cabin Size: 10.2 m2
Cabin Numbers: 302, 303, 304, 305, 306, 307, 308, 309, 310, 311, 312, 313 Deck: Deck 3 Cabin Features: Two lower bunk beds Outside porthole Wash basin Lounge and desk Cupboard with hanging space Air-conditioning control Shared bathroom facilities on same deck Outside decks accessible via Deck 3 and 4 Cabin Size: 9.8 m2
Cabin Numbers: 400, 401, 402, 403, 404, 405, 407, 408, 504, 505, 506, 507 Deck: Deck 4 & Deck 5 Cabin Features Private en-suite Two lower bunk beds (Note: #402 and #403 have an upper and lower bunk and a couch) Side-facing window Desk and chair Cupboard with hanging space Air-conditioning control Outside deck access to main deck (Deck 4 cabins only) Outside deck access to upper deck (Deck 5 cabins only) Cabin Size: 12 m2 Bathroom Size: 1.9 m2
Cabin Numbers: 502, 503 Deck: Deck 5 Cabin Features Private en suite Double bed in separate room Side-facing windows Separate lounge area Desk and chair Cupboard with hanging space TV, DVD player and mini fridge Air-conditioning control Outside deck access from Deck 5 Cabin Size: 16.8 m2 Bathroom Size: 1.92 m2
Cabin Number: 501 Deck: Deck 5 Cabin Features Private en-suite Double bed in separate room Forward- and side-facing windows Separate lounge area Desk and table area TV, DVD player and mini fridge Air-conditioning control Outside deck access from Deck 5 Cabin Size: 22.5 m2 Bathroom Size: 1.92 m2
Vessel Type: Expedition
Length: 71 metres
Passenger Capacity: 50
Built / refurbished: 1985 / 2000
Polar Pioneer was built in Finland in 1985 as an ice-strengthened research ship, and for many years she plied the treacherous waters of the USSR's northern coast. In 2000 she was refurbished in St Petersburg to provide comfortable accommodation for 54 passengers.
A combined bar/lounge/library area (stocked with a good collection of polar books) was also created by simple internal restructuring.
This class of vessel has a fine reputation for polar expedition cruising, due to its strength, manoeuvrability and small number of cabins. All cabins have outside portholes plus ample storage space. The Russian captain and crew are among the most experienced ice-navigators in the world and their enthusiasm is legendary.
The spacious bridge is always open to us and the decks are ideal for viewing. The chefs are European, and the dining room is attended by Russian stewardesses.
Polar Pioneer is not a luxury vessel as such, but this is a popular ship for travel to the Polar regions. The accommodation is simple yet comfortable, and the meals are wholesome and uncomplicated. A small fleet of inflatable Zodiacs with outboard motors enable us to travel from ship to shore.