Spitsbergen, East Greenland and Iceland - Northbound
Nothing quite says adventure like approaching a shimmering glacier in a Zodiac or stopping in your tracks because you think you might have spotted a polar bear in the distance. But when you undertake an expedition in the Arctic, moments like these are the norm, not the exception. From the icy islands of Spitsbergen, the abandoned Arctic ghost towns of Greenland, to the creative and cosmopolitan Reykjavik, each day will be full of surprises. So, charge your camera and pack your warmest clothes – this is an adventure for the ages.
Ages: 8 - 99
Theme: Polar, Wildlife
Accommodation: Hotel (1night), Expedition cruise ship (13 nights)
Welcome to Iceland! Your Arctic voyage begins in Reykjavik Iceland’s artistic capital city. You can arrive in Reykjavik any time today and make your way to your included hotel. You will have the day to explore the city on your own so you may want to visit one of the many museums, cathedrals or galleries – or perhaps seek out one of Iceland’s famous hotdogs from a popular street stall.
After a free morning to continue exploring the city, you’ll make your way to your ship in the afternoon to board your vessel and begin your expedition. After you board the ship and set sail you’ll be able to enjoy a range of activities on board – but don’t forget to keep an eye out for Arctic animals in this wildlife-filled water.
Today you’ll cruise across the Denmark Strait, and you’ll have the opportunity to learn about the wildlife and storied history of Greenland, from your Expedition Team. Hear about the fascinating geology, ecology and climate of the area and get a taste of the incredible sights you will soon explore. Staff will also keep watch for the seabirds you’ll likely see soaring above your ship, as well as the whales that can be encountered here.
Your exploration in East Greenland begins with one of the least visited and most remote parts of the island. Your days sailing along the coast will be guided by weather and ice conditions, with each day and each excursion presenting new adventures. The region is a sight to behold, boasting a mesmerizing maze of vast glaciers, steep mountains and breathtaking fjords. One location you’ll hopefully visit if conditions allow is Skjoldungen, where you’ll cruise between the mountains to view glaciers deep within the fjords surrounding this island. The narrow part of the fjord provides an ideal place to put your Zodiac in the water for deeper exploration. If conditions allow, you may also visit the site of an abandoned Inuit settlement, whose inhabitants were relocated to larger, more accessible towns around 1961. Exploring ashore, you’ll experience a true Arctic ghost town, complete with abandoned buildings, furniture and even shoes. Take a hike across the rugged terrain for impressive views of snow-capped mountains, deep green waters and the surprisingly colourful Arctic tundra. If you’re feeling even more adventurous perhaps you’ll treat yourself to an optional paddling excursion, an unforgettable opportunity to glide past icebergs and glaciers and capture some photographs from a unique perspective. Another possible destination is Lindenow Fjord, a great spot for Zodiac cruising if conditions are right. This rarely visited deep fjord is fed by a number of glaciers and offers ample opportunities for your camera to get a workout. You’ll also want to keep watch for bearded seals, as they’re known to haul out on the ice floes.
As you continue to cruise north, the Greenland Sea is your pathway toward Svalbard. On deck, you’ll learn to identify seabirds and may want to take in a presentation, sip an icy cocktail in the bar or watch a movie—there are many ways to keep entertained during your time at sea.
The next few days will be spent exploring the island of Spitsbergen – the variety of incredible wildlife and geological formations found here is astounding. Every expedition will be different, depending on the weather and ice, but you’ll have the chance to visit a number of landing sites, all with their own unique appeal. For birders, the 14th of July Glacier is home to purple sandpipers, common eiders, barnacle geese and arctic terns, while Alkefjellet is home to nesting Brünnich’s guillemots (thick-billed murres). If you’re looking for confirmation that reindeer are real, then you’ll want to have your camera ready for visits to sites like Ny London, Sundneset and Alkhornet. As for the largest land carnivore in the world, searching for polar bears is a constant activity – Phippsøya and Isbukta are two of the bears’ preferred places for hunting. A big part of appreciating Spitsbergen comes from understanding the culture—not just how people live today, but also how this land was first explored. Whaling was a key industry, and you will see old blubber ovens from the 16th century, plus other evidence of whaling at landing sites such as Smeerenburg. Colourful tundra meadows are complemented by glaciers, and sometimes there is a rare chance to spot beluga whales.
Today your ship will dock in Longyearbyen, Spitsbergen’s largest settlement, marking the end of your Arctic expedition. If you have extra time, you may want to visit the Svalbard or North Pole museums to learn more about the local history, or perhaps grab a beer at the Svalbard Brewery. From here, we’ll transfer you to the airport for your return group charter flight to Oslo.
Your Reykjavic Hotel
Your Reykjavic Hotel
Although you don't need to be particularly fit to take part in an Arctic expedition, you do need to have a good level of mobility. You must be able to complete the on board safety drills and emergency evacuation procedures unaided. Rolling seas and windy conditions require you to be stable on your feet while negotiating the ship over potentially slippery decks and gangways. The zodiacs are accessed via a gangway or stairs which may be steep on some ships. Some of our ships have lifts, but these may not access all decks so some stair climbing on board will be necessary.
Arctic and Antarctic bookings have an increased deposit requirement of 20% of the full voyage cost (before any discount). The balance is due 120 days before departure.
If a booking is cancelled 120 days or more before departure - the cancellation fee is the full loss of the deposit paid.
If a booking is cancelled between 119 days and departure - the cancellation fee is 100% of the total price of the voyage.
Other fees may apply for air tickets and other arrangements booked in conjunction with a Polar voyage.
Kayaking is available to book on all Arctic voyages (except the North Pole). This must be booked prior to departure and incurs an additional cost. Spaces are limited so please enquire at time of booking. To participate in kayaking, previous, recent experience is essential. In addition, there are other included optional activities offered on some voyages such as snow shoeing and hiking. These activities do not need to be booked in advance and no additional cost applies.
Your voyage is operated by our sister company, Quark Expeditions. All accommodation and transfer arrangements as listed in the itinerary are also operated by Quark Expeditions or their local representatives.
Your voyage will be led by an experienced Expedition Leader. In addition, a number of experts will be on board to add knowledge of their field to your experience. This will include a Marine Biologist, Ornithologist, Glaciologist or Geologist, Polar Historian, Kayaking guide and Naturalist guides. Voyages offering other adventure activities will have additional specialist guides on board.
Safety is paramount on a your voyage. Due to new International Security Regulations, you will not be able to approach the ship on your own. You will have to arrive with the rest of the group, accompanied by a Quark representative. Full details of embarkation/disembarkation procedures will be supplied with your final documentation. On board you will be asked to participate in the obligatory lifeboat drill. We will also conduct important briefings on landing procedures and Zodiac operations.
Travelling in the Arctic, encounters with Polar Bears are not uncommon in some areas (and one of the best reasons to go there). You will be given a briefing on Polar Bear safety on board the ship before your first shore landing. Your guides will carry fire arms and bear deterrents on all excursions. Always follow the instructions of your guide while on shore.
All ships operating in Polar waters must comply with a variety of regulations, codes and industry standards. All our ships adhere to regulations set by IMO (International Maritime Organisation) including ISM Code (Safety Management System), ISPS Code (for ship and port security), SOLAS (Safety of Life at Sea) and MARPOL (Maritime Pollution Prevention). In addition, Quark Expeditions is a full member of IAATO (International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators) and a full member of AECO (Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators).
Quark Expeditions have also been externally audited for its' health and safety programme and have been awarded the British Standard BS8848, the only expedition cruise company to have this accreditation.
All of our ships have facilities to communicate with the outside world.
Satellite phone communications are available on all ships but be aware that on some ships, this connection is only available in certain locations and may not be possible from your cabin. Satellite communications can be intermittent and may not be available at all times or in all locations. Phone calls are charged per minute of usage.
Internet access is possible via wifi on your personal laptop or device in certain areas of each ship and is charged via a pre-paid card which can be purchased through the hotel manager. Each ship also has a computer for passengers to use for internet access and emails and the hotel manager can set you up with a temporary webmail address. Please be aware, accessing some websites from the ship will be very expensive as downloading picture heavy content will use up a large amount of data. Text only emails use up much less data and is a very affordable way to communicate with friends and family at home.
All communications from the ship are a bit intermittent as when travelling through mountainous areas or through narrow channels, signals can be disrupted and may not be transmitted until clearing this terrain or until satellites next pass overhead. Please make sure your loved ones have realistic expectations of your ability to communicate with them so they don’t worry about you.
Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. Entry requirements can change at any time, so it's important that you check for the latest information. Please visit the relevant consular website of the country or countries you’re visiting for detailed and up-to-date visa information specific to your nationality. Your consultant will also be happy to point you in the right direction with acquiring visas. Visas can take several weeks to process, so familiarise yourself with any requirements as soon as you have booked your trip to allow for processing time.
As a general rule most countries expect that your passport has a minimum of 6 months validity remaining. Please ensure the name on your passport matches the name on your booking and airline tickets. Your passport details are required to complete your booking. Your consultant will contact you when this is required.
Take a copy of the main passport pages and other important documents with you, and leave another copy at home with family or friends.
Visas are currently not required for Australian, New Zealand, US, Canadian or UK/EU passport holders wishing to visit Norway.
Some EU nationals may travel in Europe using only an identity card, however it is your responsibility to check with the relevant authorities if this applies to you.
Greenland is part of the Kingdom of Denmark but has it's own immigration and visa policies. Currently, a visa is not required for Australian, British, Canadia, EU and US passport holders provided you can show onward travel and sufficient funds for your stay. Other nationalities, please check with your local Danish consulate.
Visas are currently not required for Australian, New Zealand, US, Canadian or UK/EU passport holders wishing to visit Iceland. Some EU nationals may travel in Europe using only an identity card, however it is your responsibility to check with the relevant authorities if this applies to you.
Why we love it
Explore the museums and galleries of Reykjavik, Iceland’s artistic capital city.
Cruise between the mountains of Skjoldungen to view glaciers deep within the fjords surrounding Greenland’s icy island.
Keep an eye out for reindeer and polar bears at various landings in Spitsbergen.
Learn about the historic whaling industry in Smeerenburg, including seeing old blubber ovens from the 16th century.
Is this trip right for you
As you’d expect, temperatures in the Arctic are very cold. A warm parka will be provided along with waterproof boots and unlimited hot drinks, but you should also bring base layers and lots of warm clothing. Please see the Essential Trip Information for further important details about what to bring.
Weather depending, you will be making regular excursions in a Zodiac boat to explore the local area and look for wildlife. It can get very cold and wet on the Zodiac, so make sure you are dressed appropriately and that you keep your camera safe and dry. Sturdy sea legs are needed as you make wet and dry landings from the boat, and on steep terrain, snow and other uneven surfaces. Some ships also have a lot of stairs.
The weather plays a pivotal part in this adventure and although there’s an itinerary in place, there are no guarantees that you’ll be able to do everything that is planned for. A level of flexibility and openness to embracing the unexpected are important in expedition travel, especially to such a remote area.
This trip takes places during the time of year that Spitsbergen enjoys 24-hour daylight. Just one of the benefits of this is that incredible wildlife can be seen at any time of the day – be prepared to be woken at any time so as to not miss out on exciting animal sightings.
Polar bears are one of the most incredible and appealing animals on the planet, but they are also powerful predators with little fear of humans. Therefore, it’s necessary to be aware of the guidelines surrounding any contact with Polar bears. Follow your leader’s instructions and do not stray from your group.
Vaccination requirements do change, but generally you do not need vaccinations for this voyage but some may be required or recommended for countries you are visiting enroute to the Arctic.
It is your responsibility to ensure that you obtain any vaccinations or preventative medicines for the countries you are visiting – or any which may be required by your home country upon your return. To find out which, if any, vaccinations are mandatory or recommended for your destination contact your local doctor, immunisation centre or medical centre for up-to-date information. You should be issued with an International Certificate of Vaccination booklet that records each vaccination. Always carry this with you on your travels; it could provide essential information for doctors in the event that you fall ill whilst travelling.
Although our vessels are among the most stable ships in their class, we will still inevitably encounter motion. Unless you are certain you are impervious to the problem, you should take precautions against seasickness. Your doctor can advise you as to the best methods for avoiding this uncomfortable condition.
There will be a licensed English-speaking physician on board. Your vessel will have a medical clinic with a limited supply of prescription medicines and basic first aid equipment. The clinic will not be stocked with every drug or piece of equipment required for every medical problem. If you are under regular treatment for any ailment, you must bring a sufficient supply of medicines for yourself. We cannot accept responsibility for not having a specific brand or type of drug on board. It is wise to carry an extra week’s supply of prescription medications just in case of flight delays or other unforeseen circumstances. If you have particular health needs, please bring with you a signed and dated letter from your physician explaining your health problems and/or the dosage required for the prescribed medication. The letter will assist our doctor on board, and any emergency medical personnel to care for you should you become ill. Please hand the letter to the expedition doctor once you are on board.
Food and dietary requirements
Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served in the dining room. Hours of operation will be posted and are subject to change to accommodate the expedition. Coffee, tea and cocoa are available around the clock. The tap water on board is safe to drink.
We're able to meet most special dietary requests, as long as you have clearly indicated your requirements far in advance of your voyage. Kosher food cannot be prepared.
When it comes to money matters on the trip, every traveller is a little different. You know your spending habits better than we do, so please budget a sensible amount for things like meals not included, drinks, shopping, optional activities, tipping and laundry. It's always better to bring a little more than you think you'll need.
Also make sure you've read your trip details thoroughly so you know what's included in the trip price and what isn't. this shoud make budgeting a little easier. You'll find this info in the Inclusions section of your Essential Trip Information (that's this document).
MEALS NOT INCLUDED
We recommend you allow US$100 per person for meals not included in the itinerary
All services onboard your ship such as communication charges, laundry, and bar charges will be added to your onboard account and are charged in US dollars. Your account can be paid with US dollars cash, traveller’s cheques or by Visa or MasterCard.
Outside of the start or end point of your expedition, cash will be of most use in the Arctic. In Svalbard, Greenland and the Canadian Arctic, credit cards are not readily accepted and ATM’s are virtually non-existent. On voyages that visit local towns and villages, there is the opportunity to buy souvenirs and some villages have thriving art scenes with local artisans selling their wares. In addition, some museums and sites charge entry fees and in some locations, you may wish to buy food and drink (although the meals on the ship are very good and plentiful).
The voyage fare does not include the customary, optional gratuity which is divided between the ships' crew, and hospitality staff. We suggest US$13 - US$15 per day as a guide. Any tip for the Expedition Team is extra to this and is at your discretion. Gratuities can be added to your onboard account at the end of the voyage or paid in cash on board. Full details will be provided before you settle your onboard account.
Svalbard uses Norwegian Kroner as it's currency. Credit cards will be accepted in Longyearbyen but beyond the capital, cash in Norwegian Kroner will be required however, there are very few opportunities to spend money in Spitsbergen outside of Longyearbyen.
The currency in Greenland is the Danish Krone
The main bank, Grønlandsbanken readily exchange traveller's cheques for a commission of around US$5 and offer cash advances on Visa and MasterCard. Major credit cards are accepted in tourist resorts and restaurants and hotels. Larger towns in West Greenland now have ATMs that recognise all major foreign plastic. In small towns and remote communities, it will be essential to have cash as there will be no ATM's and credit cards are less likely to be accepted.
The currency of Iceland is the Icelandic krona
Banks around Austurstaeti and Bankastraeti in Reyjkavik offer the best exchange rates. Commission is higher in hotels. ATMs accept MasterCard, Cirrus, Visa and Electron and are plentiful in Reykjavik and larger towns.
What to take
The Arctic usually has - relatively - mild weather conditions in high summer. Temperatures below -5ºC are not common (although wind-chill factor can significantly add to the effect.) As a result, you should not need to make many expensive specialist gear purchases, although you do need good wet weather pants and you do need warm clothing. Wet weather jacket and boots are supplied on board the ship. On shore we do aim to provide hiking and walking opportunities whenever possible, so a reasonable pair of walking shoes or boots is suggested. The dress code on board is relaxed and casual; you will not need to dress formally for meals. The inside of the ship is well heated, so you will not require special clothing on board. Indeed, you could spend most of your time in light trousers and a t-shirt! However, it is not unusual for you to want to go out on deck suddenly - a whale sighting, or seals on a nearby ice-floe or hopefully a polar bear - nearly always produce a major exodus, so you need to keep warm clothing handy at all times, even when a shore excursion is not imminent. When you do go ashore you will require warm clothing - a few layers of light and medium-weight items which can be easily adjusted rather than one or two large and bulky items - and wet weather gear to protect you from the spray which can sometimes be encountered on the Zodiacs. Below is a list of equipment and documentation that we suggest you take with you. Please use this checklist as a guide when packing for your holiday. Laundry facilities are available on board the ship. Travel documents: passport, visa (if required), travel insurance, air tickets or e-ticket receipts, Trip Notes Photocopy of main passport pages, visa (if required), travel insurance and air tickets Spare passport photos Money: cash/credit card/EFTPOS card Money belt (for travelling en route) Small first-aid kit Ecologically friendly laundry soap Daypack (lightweight and waterproof) Watch/alarm clock and torch/flashlight (and spare batteries) Electrical adapter plug Toiletries/travel wipes Sunscreen, lip balm, moisturising cream, sunhat and sunglasses (with UV protection) Swimsuit (in case you wish to take the Polar Plunge) Earplugs and eye mask (for light sleepers) Extra pair of prescription glasses (if required) 2 strong plastic garbage bags (for laundry and in case of rain) Refillable water bottle Phrase book (if travelling en route to ship) Gloves (2 pairs minimum) Hat that covers ears Scarf or other face protection Wind and waterproof pants (a few sizes larger) Warm pants Comfortable shoes Long wool or cotton socks (for expeditions) Silk or polypropylene socks (for inside the ship) Jumpers/sweaters/fleeces Cotton turtlenecks and t-shirts Camera and spare film (or recharge for digital cameras) Plastic bags with zippers for carrying film, etc Binoculars Your prescritpion medication, seasickness medication and painkillers
LUGGAGE ALLOWANCES: Please note luggage allowances on the flights in conjunction with this voyage are restricted to 20 kilos checked baggage and 5 kilos hand luggage. This will be strictly enforced.
After your travels, we want to hear from you! We realise that our partner company may ask you to complete paper or online feedback following your trip, however we would also like to know what you thought and encourage you to submit your feedback to us too. We rely on your feedback. We read it carefully. Feedback helps us understand what we and our partners are doing well and what could be done better. It allows us to suggest improvements for future travellers.
For general enquiries or questions about your booking, please contact your agent or adventure specialist, or visit us at http://www.peregrineadventures.com/en-gb/contact-us
In the case of a genuine crisis or emergency please contact our local ground representative on the number below.
Quark: +1 647 449 5303
Travelling responsibly is all about making good choices. It's about ensuring you have an incredible trip while also having a positive impact on the local environment, community and economy you're travelling in . How can you be a Responsible Traveller? See our tips below:
* Choose to travel with a responsible travel company like us! We've already offset the main carbon emissions of your trip, so your footprint is already lighter.
* Consider offsetting your flights too.
* Bring a refillable water bottle and some water purification tablets (or a Steripen) to cut down on plastic bottle waste.
* Be an animal-friendly traveller. Only go to venues that respect animals by allowing them to live normally in their natural environment. Steer clear of venues that use animals for entertainment or abnormal activities and/or keep animals in poor and unnatural conditions.
* Eat at local restaurants, buy from regional artists and support social enterprises so you can contribute directly to locals and their economy.
* Always be respectful of local customs and ask permission if you want to take a photo of someone.
* Learn a few words of the local language and engage with the people around you.
* Carry a cloth or re-usable bag so you can avoid plastic bags.
* Give back by making a donation to a local project via The Intrepid Foundation.
Share your thoughts with us by completing your feedback form after your trip. This helps us to continue to improve our commitment to responsible travel.
As a member of the Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators (AECO), Quark Expeditions are supporters of responsible tourism that mitigates the impact of our shore landings on the landscape or wildlife. Quark was the first operator to offer inclusive Carbon Neutral voyages on the Ocean Diamond. By doing so we have enhanced our commitment to ecological sensitivity and to minimising our impact on the areas we visit including:
• Having our vessels burn Marine Gas Oil (MGO) a clean burning fuel with a low emission factor.
• Conforming to all international regulations/policies governing disposal of waste at sea.
• Serving only sustainable seafood.
• Using only eco-friendly laundry chemicals and room amenities.
• Removing disposable water bottles from the ships.
• Making all our voyages virtually paperless by 2014 and having any paper used be 100% recyclable.
AECO members also operate according to established rules of conduct, which, while you travel with us, we ask you to respect. A copy of the AECO guidelines will be provided prior to travel and staff will brief all passengers prior to the first landing.
Your voyage fare includes Emergency Evacuation Insurance to a maximum benefit of US$100,000 per person. However, it is essential that you have comprehensive personal travel insurance in addition to this to cover all other eventualities.
Your fellow travellers
On your voyage, you will be travelling with up to 137 other people (depending on which ship you are on). The ships are spacious with ample deck space and public areas so it is always possible to find a spot to yourself to enjoy the scenery and some solitude. On excursions, you will travel in a zodiac with up to 10 guests on each boat. Polar travel attracts travellers of all nationalities and meeting people from other countries is one of the pleasures of life on board. The voyages will be conducted in English and clients who do not speak English will need to travel with someone able to translate for safety reasons. Some voyages may have large non English speaking groups travelling with translators so you may find that announcements are translated for their benefit and presentations may be given separately in their own language or translated.
Single occupancy is available in most cabin categories for 1.7 or 2 times the twin berth price (dependent on which cabin category). Single travellers wishing to share will be matched with another solo traveller of the same sex. Please note that it is not possible to share with a stranger in all cabin types. Please speak to a consultant for full details.
For Arctic Express (Cruise North, Fly South, Fly North and South and Fly North, Cruise South) programmes, Quark Expeditions will make every effort to ensure the Arctic Express programs take place, but due to weather conditions, flying in this region can be difficult and is beyond the control of Quark Expeditions. We strongly recommend that all expedition guests purchase a travel insurance policy including trip delay, cancellation and interruption insurance.
On Fly North itineraries, in the unlikely event that the charter flight is unable to fly on Day 2 or Day 3 due to weather delays, Quark Expeditions will provide an additional night(s) hotel accommodation in Reykjavik. On Day 4 should the charter flight not be able to take off by 1159hrs, Quark Expeditions will officially cancel the voyage and provide letters for all clients to submit to their travel insurance providers under trip delay/Interruption and cancellation clause. QUARK AND PEREGRINE WILL NOT OFFER PASSENGERS A REFUND IN THE EVENT OF TRIP CANCELLATION. QUARK AND PEREGRINE WILL NOT OFFER PASSENGERS COMPENSATION IN THE EVENT OF A DELAY.
IF THE CHARTER FLIGHT IS NOT ABLE TO TAKE OFF BY 1159 HRS ON DAY 4, Quark Expeditions will make every effort to assist passengers with rebooking hotels or flights, but this will be at the cost of the passengers, and Quark Expeditions strongly recommends that all clients contact their insurance provider prior to changing any reservations. Passengers on board the ship during these delays will remain on board with no additional cost until the charter flight is able to operate. Quark Expeditions advises all clients to book changeable airlines tickets along with cancellation and interruption insurance to assist with additional airline change fees. We advise all passengers to have flexible travel arrangements upon disembarkation of the voyage if delays arise. Quark Expeditions will not be held responsible for any change/cancellations fees due to weather related delays or any other delays arising from force majeure.
Hotel (1night),Expedition cruise ship (13 nights)