European Arctic - Across the Artic Circle

Across the Arctic Circle

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, including cheeky puffins. 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 walrus, reindeer, millions of birds and polar bear.

Day 1 – Aberdeen
Day 2 – 3 – Among Orkney’s archipelago
Day 4 – Gulf Stream
Day 5 – Norway
Day 6 – 9 – Torghatten / Lofoten Islands,
Day 10 -13 – Barets Sea/ Spitspbergen’s South Cape
Day 14 – Longyearbyen

Polar Pioneer Ship – Polar Pioneer is a small and sturdy expedition ship. A regular in polar waters having initially been built in 1982 as an icestrengthened research vessel, she was refurbished in 2000 to provide a comfortable range of triple, twin and suite cabin options for a maximum of 54 expeditioners. Her excellent reputation for polar expedition cruising is due to her strength, maneuverability and size, allowing her to access areas where larger vessels simply can’t reach.

Day 1 – Welcomed aboard Polar Pioneer mid-afternoon in Aberdeen, we set sail north.

Days 2 – 3 – 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 Heritage-listed, 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 fascinating coastlines. At Fair Isle we visit traditional crofts to admire local knitwear and nearby colonies of fulmars, kittiwakes, guillemots, gannets, shags and puffins.

Day 4 – 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.

Day 5 – As we sail towards Norway, our historian and naturalist delight us with fascinating talks and inspire our bird-watching.

Days 6 – 9 -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.

Days 10 -13 – We cross the Barents Sea, past often fog-shrouded Bear Island, favourite nesting ground for fulmars, kittiwakes, guillemots and gulls. Beyond Spitspbergen’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. We learn of human history dating back 400 years and if lucky, we’ll encounter the elusive beluga whale.

Day 14 -We disembark in Longyearbyen, bid goodbye to expedition staff and are transferred to the airport.

Orkney Islands
Stone Age villages
Coastal sea caves
Distillery visit
Shetland Islands
Iron Age brochs
Crofting hamlets
Puffins and guillemots
Norwegian Coast
Migrating whales
Arctic Circle crossing
Spectacular fjords
Glacier fronts, icebergs
Polar desert and tundra
Bearded and ringed seals
Polar bears

Shetland Isles – Shetland also called the Shetland Islands, is a subarctic archipelago of Scotland that lies north-east of mainland Britain.

Orkney archipelago – is an archipelago in northern Scotland, 16 kilometres north of the coast of Caithness.

Aberdeen – Aberdeen is Scotland’s third most populous city, one of Scotland’s 32 local government council areas and the United Kingdom’s 37th most populous built-up area.

Torghatten – Torghatten is a mountain on Torget island in Brønnøy municipality in Nordland county, Norway. It is known for its characteristic hole, or natural tunnel, through its center. It is possible to walk up to the tunnel on a well-prepared path, and through it on a natural path.

Barents Sea – The Barents Sea is a marginal sea of the Arctic Ocean, located north of Norway and Russia. Known in the Middle Ages as the Murman Sea, the sea takes its current name from the Dutch navigator Willem Barents.

Longyearbyen – Longyearbyen is the largest settlement and the administrative center of Svalbard, Norway. Longyearbyen is located in the valley of Longyeardalen and on the shore of Adventfjorden, a bay of Isfjorden located on the west coast of Spitsbergen.


30 June to 13 July