This ten to twelve day voyage from the Netherlands to Spitsbergen offers the chance to observe a wide and amazing variety of wildlife. Along with the many different species of whales, you may also see dolphin, seals and a variety of seabirds. You are also given the opportunity to experience the breathtaking beauty and mystique of the volcanic island of Jan Mayen. Depending on the position of the sea-ice, we sail into Raudfjord or one of the other majestic fjords in Northwest Spitsbergen, where we have chances of seeing Polar Bears as well as seals who can be caught sunbathing on the fjord-ice. Visiting Fuglehuken, the northern tip of Prince Karls Forland, rounds out this trip offering more beautiful seabird-colonies and wildlife including Reindeer and the Arctic Foxs.
North Atlantic Odyssey Whale Safari itinerary:
In Hansweert passengers will board the ship at mid-day.
We cross the North Sea
Arrive in Aberdeen, famed as the Granite City and many times a winner of the Britain in Bloom competition, and embark on our trip. The lighthouse on Girdle Ness to the south as the North Sea is reached, was designed by the grandfather of Robert Louis Stevenson.
More passengers will board the ship in Aberdeen.
The Scottish waters offer excellent possibilities to spot Minke Whales, White-beaked Dolphins and Harbour Porpoises. Several other cetaceans, including Orcas (Killer Whales), are also native to these waters.
At Fair Isle, in the Shetlands, we are welcomed by the 70 or so inhabitants (famed for their knitwear, examples of which we will see) to be followed by a walk to the bird observatory. Later, on Mousa, one of the smaller Shetland Islands, we visit one of the best preserved brochs in Scotland. Brochs are circular stone towers probably built by the Picts. During a night excursion we will watch thousands of Storm Petrels return to their burrows or crevices.
By day we view Grey Seals, Black Guillemots, Red-throated Divers, Arctic Skuas and a wonderful Spring Flora.
Day 5 and 6
We sail north to the Norwegian island of Jan Mayen, situated 300 nautical miles north-east of Iceland. During our two days at sea there will be plenty of time to watch for the blow of a Minke, Fin or Blue Whale, which could herald a rewarding encounter with these gentle giants. Perhaps we might run into a pod of Orcas, who can often be quite curious about boats such as ours.
Jan Mayen is a volcanic island of breathtaking beauty and mystique, dominated by Mt Beerenberg. From the slopes of the 2300m volcano, impressive glaciers spill into the sea. Until recently, the island was off-limits as it is a military base, and was rarely visited by tourists, but with permission from the Norwegian authorities we hope to visit the weather station. We will also walk across the island to Kvalrossbukta to look at the remains of a 17th century Dutch whaling station and a substantial colony of Fulmars. We also plan to sail by Koksletta where thousands of Little Auks and Brünnich's Guillemots breed close to a glacier, watched over by Glaucous Gulls.
Days 8 and 9
In the midnight sun we sail north along the edge of the sea-ice, looking out for different species of whales, dolphins, seals and a variety of seabirds, until the sea-ice stops us, then we will sail to North Spitsbergen.
Depending on the position of the sea-ice, we sail into Raudfjord or one of the other fjords in Northwest Spitsbergen, where we have chances of seeing Polar Bears at the heads of the fjords, where seals are sunbathing on the fjord-ice. At Fuglesangen we have an opportunity to see thousands of Little Auks on their breeding grounds.
Fuglehuken the northern tip of Prince Karls Forland is probably the place where Willem Barentsz made the first landing in Spitsbergen. It is an area with beautiful seabird-colonies and many remains of the Polar Bear hunting period of a century ago. Later we will look for Walruses at Sarstangen, Engelskmansbukta or Poole-Pynten. In the evening we could land at Alkhornet another seabird colony where at the slopes we can find Reindeer and Arctic Foxes.
We disembark in Longyearbyen, the administrative centre of Spitsbergen, for flights south to Oslo and onward home.
M/v "Plancius" was built in 1976 as an oceanographic research vessel for the Royal Dutch Navy and was named "Hr. Ms. Tydeman". The ship sailed for the Dutch Navy until June 2004 and was eventually purchased by Oceanwide Expeditions.
The vessel was completely rebuilt as a 114-passenger vessel in 2009 and complies with the latest SOLAS-regulations (Safety Of Life At Sea). M/v "Plancius" is classed by Lloyd's Register in London and flies the Dutch flag.
M/v "Plancius" accommodates 114 passengers in 53 passenger cabins with private toilet and shower in 4 quadruple private cabins, 39 twin private cabins (ca. 15 square meters) and 10 twin superior cabins (ca. 21 square meters).
All cabins offer lower berths (either two single beds or one queen-size bed), except for the 4 quadruple cabins (for 4 persons in 2x upper and lower beds).
The vessel offers a restaurant/lecture room on deck 3 and a spacious observation lounge (with bar) on deck 5 with large windows, offering full panorama view. M/v "Plancius" has large open deck spaces (with full walk-around possibilities on deck 3), giving excellent opportunities to enjoy the scenery and wildlife. She is furthermore equipped with 10 Mark V zodiacs, including 40 HP 4-stroke outboard engines and 2 gangways on the starboard side, guaranteeing a swift zodiac operation.
M/v "Plancius" is comfortable and nicely decorated, but is not a luxury vessel. Our voyages in the Arctic and Antarctic regions are and will still be primarily defined by an exploratory educational travel programme, spending as much time ashore as possible. This vessel will fully meet our demands to achieve this.
The vessel is equipped with a diesel-electric propulsion system which reduces the noise and vibration of the engines considerably. The 3 diesel engines generate 1.230 horse-power each, giving the vessel a speed of 10 - 12 knots. The vessel is ice-strengthened and was specially built for oceanographic voyages.
M/v "Plancius" is manned by 17 nautical crew, 19 hotel staff (6 chefs, 1 hotel manager, 1 steward-barman and 11 stewards / cabin cleaners), 8 expedition staff (1 expedition leader and 7 guides-lecturers) and 1 doctor.
Ice class: Plancius was built for Ice conditions. To reach these ice-conditions she has a strengthened bow and stern. The hull is thicker and the whole construction on the waterline of the vessel is reinforced by using extra frames. Where the normal frame spacing is 65cm, we have on the bow-line and stern also frames in between so there the frame spacing is approx 30cm. Because Plancius was built to do surveys she has a special six blade bronze propeller, the shape of the propeller makes Plancius a very silent ship. Plancius has a Lloyds class notation 100A1 Passenger ship, Ice Class 1D at a draught of 5 meters (which is our waterline).
- Length:89 meters (293 feet)
- Breadth:14,5 meters (47 feet)
- Draft:5 meters (16 feet)
- Ice class:1D
- Displacement:3175 tonnes
- Engines:3x Diesel-Electric
- Speed:10 - 12 knots