We've put together 10 weird and wonderful facts we bet you didn’t know about The Arctic Circle.
The Arctic is home to a dizzying variety of wildlife, have a read to see some of its more unusual residents.
Packing for The Arctic can seem daunting so we here's a list of what we consider essentials.
Jan Mayen & Svalbard
Scotland, Orkneys. Faroe Islands, Jan Mayen & Svalbard
Best for: Spectacular scenery, Wildlife, Off the beaten track
Rarely visited and almost completely off the tourist track, the tiny island of Jan Mayen is a designated nature sanctuary and important breeding ground for hundreds of thousands of seabirds. What's more, the landscape is dominated by Beerenberg, the most northerly active volcano on the planet. Several cruises depart Scotland and stop at Jan Mayen, en route to Spitsbergen.
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This incredible 15-day trip is full of history, lesser-visited places and incredible scenery. Set sail from Aberdeen before dropping anchor in the Orkneys. These islands boast a rich and ancient history ripe for discovery. Your next stop are the Danish Faroe Islands, barely visible on world maps but home to breathtakingly beautiful scenery of high mountains covered in lush green grass and spectacular cliffs. Arriving off the coast of the Norwegian volcanic island Jan Mayen, keep your eyes on the water for whales coming to the surface to breathe, and spot the thousands of nesting sea birds that flock to the volcanic slopes to breed. Finally, cruise the icy waters of the deep fjords and icy coasts of western Svalbard and discover a myriad of spectacular Arctic wildlife. This is a true polar wilderness, home to whales, walruses, seals and thousands of nesting sea birds, along with the mighty polar bear – the monarch of the North.
Day 1 - 2 : Embarkation at Aberdeen
Stay at Greg Mortimer - Arctic Cruise for 1 night
Arrive at the pier in Aberdeen where expedition staff will greet you and welcome you aboard your home for the next 14 nights. Settle into your cabin, attend important briefings on the adventure ahead and set sail for the wild seas and Stone Age villages of the Orkney Islands.
Day 2 - 3 : Orkney Islands
Arrive today to Kirkwall, the capital of the Orkney Islands, and disembark. On your guided tour of this ancient archipelago, you’ll begin by visiting the Neolithic heartland of Mainland, Orkney’s largest island. Encounter the mysterious Standing Stones of Stenness and the 5,000-year-old Ring of Brodgar, before visiting the ancient village of Skara Brae and the Viking cathedral of St Magnus.
Days 3 - 6 : Faroe Islands
The stunning natural beauty of the Faroe Islands is a sight to behold after a night at sea. The undulating hills are peppered with colourful houses and traditional farms, cascading down to the wild waves of the North Atlantic. Take a guided tour of Kirkjubøur, home to 900-year-old farmhouse called Roykstovan, which is thought to be the oldest wooden house still in use today and has been inhabited by the same family for 17 generations. Also on this historic site are the remains of the medieval St Magnus Cathedral and the Faroe Islands’ main parish church, Ólavskirkja, built in 1111.
Days 6 - 8 : Sea crossing to Jan Mayen
Set sail, leaving the last remnants of civilisation behind you as you embark on the great expanse of the North Atlantic and head for the Arctic Circle. Days at sea should be spent scanning the seas from the ship’s observation deck, looking out for the many species of whales and cetaceans that frequent these waters. The ship’s expedition crew will lead presentations and lectures on the flora, fauna and history of the Arctic Circle as you chart a course for Jan Mayen.
Day 8 - 9 : Jan Mayen
The desolate and remote island of Jan Mayen is dominated by the northernmost subaerial active volcano on the planet, the Beerenberg, and is totally uninhabited by humans, save the few members of the Norwegian weather station. The steep volcanic cliffs and scree slopes are home to northern fulmars, kittiwakes and Brünich’s guillemots that flock to the island to nest and rear their young in this harsh Arctic climate. Approaching from the north of the island, a great place to spot whales and dolphins and admire impressive glaciers, the crew will attempt disembarkation. Weather permitting, you'll then enjoy a three-hour hike to the other side of the island where zodiacs will be waiting to transport you back to the ship.
Days 9 - 11 : Sea crossing to Svalbard
Sailing northeast of Jan Mayen, you’ll head deeper into the Arctic Circle bound for Spitsbergen. Spending the day at sea, listen to some fascinating lecturers lead by the ship’s resident experts. Look out for harp seal pups and as you approach Svalbard, set your sights on the pack ice, eyes peeled for the first sign of polar bears.
Days 11 - 15 : Svalbard
As your experienced captain and expedition leaders navigate the frigid waters of the High Arctic, paying close attention to the dynamic sea and weather conditions, they will steer a course for the stunning inky blue fjords and islands in north-western Svalbard. These rugged islands with their scree slopes, mighty glaciers and turquoise ice floes make up some of the most stark and remote landscapes to be found anywhere on earth. Your days will be spent taking advantage of the 24-hour sunlight, as you explore the rugged tundra slopes, looking out for Arctic foxes, herds of reindeer and thousands of migratory seabirds, before scanning the ice floes for polar bears on the hunt for seal and walrus that haul up on the ice. Alongside the unique and diverse wildlife, the High Arctic is rich with human history and these shores are peppered with ancient whaling and trapping stations and staging posts for expeditions bound for the North Pole, just waiting to be discovered on your ship-to-shore excursions.
Day 15 : Disembark in Longyearbyen
After your final breakfast on board, wave goodbye to your fellow passengers and crew as you disembark and head into Longyearbyen or to the airport for your onward journey.
Day 15 : Flight home
Fly home via Oslo
When to go
Cruises depart for Svalbard, Greenland and the Russian High Arctic during the northern hemisphere's summer, when explorers enjoy 24 hour days and favourable conditions. Travel in June and July and you'll admire spectacular frozen sculptures and seas of pack ice. From late July to August, the wildlife is most active and whale watching trips to the west coast of Greenland and voyages to the Russian High Arctic begin. In late August and September, sail through magnificent fjord scenery and catch the aurora borealis as the nights descend. Whether you travel early on in mid June or in September as the season draws to a close, you have good chances of spotting the iconic polar bear.
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From $10270 per person
Price is subject to seasons and availability and is based on an entry level cabin category.
Ask our specialists for prices excluding flights from the UK. This price is as a guide only. The actual price is influenced by fluctuations in exchange rate, time of year, travel class of flights and the use of private versus shared excursions. Single supplements are likely to apply.