At a glance
11 Day Cruise on Greg Mortimer, Aurora Expeditions - Call for price
Departure 12 June 2020 | Iceland, Jan Mayen and Svalbard
- At Sea
- Jan Mayen
- At Sea
- Northwest Corner of Spitsbergen
Iceland, Jan Mayen and Svalbard
Discover the staggering beauty of Iceland’s Westfjords, remote and seldom-visited Jan Mayen island – the world’s northernmost active volcanic island, and Svalbard’s northwest coast. See dramatic bird cliffs and puffins nesting on ledges, marvel at volcanic geology, Zodiac cruise through impressive glacier-filled fjords, strike out on tundra hikes, search for polar bears hunting and walrus hauled out on pack ice.
- Kayak through pack ice, keeping an eye out for breaching whales and enigmatic walrus
- Zodiac cruise under dramatic bird cliffs in Iceland’s staggeringly beautiful Westfjords
- Be one of few people in the world to visit remote Jan Mayen Island
- Sail within 965 kilometres (600 miles) of the North Pole
- Search for the polar bear in Svalbard, the Arctic’s apex predator and most beguiling creature
Day by day itinerary
Fly direct to Reykjavik, and make your way to Reykjavik pier. Embark the Greg Mortimer in the late afternoon from 4.00 pm. You’ll have time to settle into your cabin before our important safety briefings.
One third of Iceland’s coastline is in the Westfjords, and the entire peninsula is carved and cut by long fjords. The Westfjords region is home to Látrabjarg; the westernmost point in Europe, and one of the continent’s most remarkable seabird breeding cliffs, a delight for birdlovers. It is one of the best places in Iceland to photograph puffins, an opportunity you’ll have on a Zodiac cruise, weather permitting.
The small town of Ísafjörður is the largest town in the Westfjords peninsula, with some 2,600 inhabitants. It is an ancient church site and has been trading post since the 16th century. The growth of the town was triggered by salt fish production and fishing industry still remains the town’s main activity, along with tourism which has grown significantly in recent years.
Nearby Hornstrandir nature reserve is a peninsula accessible only by boat or by foot and inhabited by Arctic foxes, seals, birds and the occasional hiker. We plan to Zodiac cruise along the shoreline of Hornstrandir nature reserve and attempt a landing, subject to approval by the park ranger.
The approach to Jan Mayen is spectacular. The huge Beerenberg volcano (2,277 metres/ 7,470 feet altitude) is the world’s northernmost active volcano, and last erupted in 1985. The northern part of the island is a great place to look for whales and dolphins, and contains impressive glaciers, some of which reach the sea. If the weather is friendly, we will try to land at Kvalrossbukta, a relatively sheltered bay on the island’s west coast. This is one of the landings used to supply the weather station Olonkinbyen, situated on the eastern side of the island. We hope to land on front of the Norwegian station at Olonkinbyen, stop to visit the weather station before embarking on a three-hour hike (weather permitting) to the other side of the Island where the Greg Mortimer will be waiting for us in Kvalrossbukta, and our trusty Zodiacs will transport us back to the ship.
We plan to cross 80° North, always on the lookout for polar bears on the pack ice, to reach Moffen Island, famous for its large walrus colony.
In the coming days, depending on the weather and sea ice conditions, we may explore sites including the incredibly scenic Kongsfjorden (Kings Bay), a fjord headed by two giant glaciers. Perhaps spend time ashore to hike on the lush tundra amongst the early summer flowers and observing the remarkable bird cliffs near the 14th July Glacier, where puffins nest between the cracks in the cliffs. Keep watch for polar bears and Arctic fox and feel a sense of history at the 350-year-old remains of a Dutch whaling settlement, Smeerenberg on Amsterdamøya. We may visit Raudfjord which features fascinating geology, glaciers and bird cliffs. A possible hike on Ytre Norskya offers splendid views to the north coast of Spitsbergen and maybe even to the North Pole in clear weather!
During the early morning we cruise into Longyearbyen. Farewell your expedition team and fellow expeditioners as we all continue our onward journeys. Enjoy a town tour of Longyearbyen before an onward transfer to the airport in the afternoon for your flight to the UK.
Important Note: due to the unpredictable nature of expedition cruising, please use this itinerary as a guide only and is subject to change due to ice and weather conditions.
Sailing on Greg Mortimer
The Greg Mortimer, named after Aurora Expeditions’ co-founder, utilises some of the latest advancements in naval design & technology to revolutionise the small ship expedition cruising experience.