Follow the Vikings’ way from northeast Scotland to the land of the midnight sun. Our enthusiastic historian and expert naturalist reveal the Orkney and Shetland islands, from Stone Age villages and Viking relics, to world class distilleries and spectacular birdlife. We follow migrating whales along Norway’s dramatic coast, visit picturesque fishing villages and toast our Arctic Circle crossing. In Spitsbergen, we enter a polar wonderland, where delicate wildflowers adorn tundra and the summer sun never sets. This spectacular wilderness is the breeding ground of walruses, reindeers, various birds and polar bears.
• Visit Stone Age villages in the Orkney Islands
• Follow humpbacks migration to Norwegian coast
• Lofoten Islands’s majestic fjords and soaring granite walls
• Spot puffins, guillemots, fulmars and eagles
• Toast your crossing of the Arctic Circle
• Reindeer and ringed seals in Spitsbergen
Our staff welcome you aboard Polar Pioneer mid-afternoon in Aberdeen, Scotland, before we start sailing north.
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.
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.
As we sail towards Norway, our historian and naturalist delight us with fascinating talks and inspire our birdwatching.
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.
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.
We disembark in Longyearbyen, bid goodbye to expedition staff and are transferred to the airport for our onward journey.
Please note that 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.
Total Cabin: 423cm x 241cm = 10.2 sqm
Two lower bunks and one upper bunk, a desk, a small washbasin, ample storage and hanging space and portholes. Showers and toilets are very close by and are shared with other Main Deck cabins.
Total Cabin: 400cm x 245cm = 9.8 sq m
Two lower bunks, a desk, small washbasin, ample storage and hanging space, a couch and a porthole. Showers and toilets are very close by and are shared with other Main Deck cabins.
Cabin Numbers: 402, 403 Deck: Deck 4 Cabin Features Private en-suite 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 Cabin Size: 12 m2 Bathroom Size: 1.9 m2
Cabin Numbers: 400, 401, 404, 405, 406, 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
Living Room/Bedroom/Bathroom – 453cm x 370cm = 16.8 sqm
Bathroom – 120cm x160cm = 1.92 sqm
Double bed in a separate room, foldout couch that can be used as a single bed, TV, video player, windows, desk, table area, fridge, and private bathroom with shower, toilet and washbasin.
Living Room/Bedroom – 450cm x 500cm = 22.5 sqm
Bathroom – 120cm x160cm = 1.92 sqm
Double bed in separate room, plus foldout couch that can be used as a single bed, forward and port windows, lounge and table area, fridge, TV, video player, and private bathroom with shower, toilet and washbasin.
Vessel Type: Expedition
Length: 71 metres
Passenger Capacity: 50
Built / refurbished: 1985 / 2000
Polar Pioneer is one of the most popular style of vessels currently used in Antarctica and the Arctic. Originally built as an ice-strengthened research vessel in Finland in 1982, she was refurbished in 2000 and converted into a passenger ship for expeditions to the polar regions. Polar Pioneer’s excellent reputation for polar expedition cruising is due to her strength, maneuverability and size. She is small and nimble, which means she can sail up close to landing sites and venture where other, larger ships can’t. Carrying just 54 passengers, she allows us to offer you a far more personal and intimate experience of the destination we are visiting.
Our professional chefs present three healthy, delicious meals daily, with morning and afternoon tea available in the dining rooms in between. All of our produce is sourced locally, with fresh fruit and vegetables, and freshly baked bread and pastries, served wherever possible. We are able to cater for a range of special meal requests, including vegetarian, vegan, gluten free, lactose free and other allergy specific requirements – please ensure you list this on your personal details form.
Our spacious observation decks provide a congenial place to watch for wildlife or follow the ship’s progress on nautical charts. Rug up for unparalleled scenery from the outer decks or flying bridge, where our naturalists help you identify wildlife.
Learning and Lectures
At sea, join our polar specialists as they entertain and inform us with illustrated talks, and prepare us for making shore visits with mandatory safety and environmental briefings.
Captain and Crew
Our highly experienced Russian captain and crew are among the best ice navigators in the world. Our efficient stewardesses attend to rooms and serve our meals, whilst the crew work mainly behind-the-scenes to help our expedition leader get the ship to where we want to go.
Polar Pioneer boasts a fleet of Zodiacs that transport us ashore to penguin rookeries, scientific stations and historic sites, and provide us with a platform for photography. Our small excursion crafts take us beyond the reach of giant cruisers, and our philosophy of “getting out amongst it” is put to practice.
A basic medical clinic is managed by our English-speaking Ship’s Doctor, who is available at all times to assist with bouts of sea sickness and other unexpected emergencies.
From socialising in our fully-stocked lounge bar to enjoying Captain’s drinks, trivia nights and charity auctions, or escaping to the sauna for some R&R; our small ship offers some fun entertainment options for when we’re not out and about.
Technology and Connectivity
Polar Pioneer has communication services that are available for an additional fee. These include satellite telephone, email and fax. Please note that these services are basic and not suitable for continuous use. Internet access is available on board for an additional cost. Please note that due to the remote nature of our expeditions, connection cannot always be guaranteed.