Across the Arctic Circle - Scotland, Norway & Spitsbergen Dates & Rates
dates & prices
There are no trips scheduled for this expedition.
Day 1 Aberdeen, West Scotland
We board Polar Pioneer around mid-afternoon in Aberdeen, after settling in we will set sail in for the Orkney Islands, where Stone Age villages like Skara Brae, relics of Viking occupation and the wild sea stack Old Man of Hoy vie for our attention
Days 2 & 3 Orkney Islands
Among Orkney’s archipelago of 70 windswept islands, lying 6 miles north of the Scottish mainland, a rich tapestry of archaeology, history and wildlife awaits. We follow the passage of time – from 5000 year old World Heritage neolithic sites, past relics from wandering Vikings and reminders of World War 2 occupation, to present day crofting communities. Imposing sea cliffs teem with seabirds and cliff top paths and bleak moors beckon the keen hikers among us, while our kayakers use paddle-power to explore sections of Orkney’s fascinating coastline.
Mid-way between Orkney and Shetland, Fair Isle houses a major European ornithological research station, and is also famous for knitwear and historic shipwrecks. About 3 miles by 2 miles, it is surrounded by impressive cliffs. The 70 or so islanders mostly live in traditional crofts on the more fertile low-lying southern part of the island.
A bird watchers’ paradise, Fair Isle lies on the intersection of major flight-paths from Scandinavia, Iceland and Faroe. It attracts common species and also eastern rarities such as the lanceolated warbler. In summer, the cliffs teem with breeding fulmars, kittiwakes, guillemots, gannets, shags and puffins, and it is an excellent place to view seabirds at close range, especially puffins. The island also has over 250 species of flowering plants, including wetland flowers, rare orchids, alpine species and common wildflowers. We’ll be welcomed by the hospitable villagers and may take a hike or visit the museum.
Day 4 Shetland Islands
Britain’s most northerly islands lie almost 100 miles north of the Scottish mainland, at a similar latitude to the southern tip of Greenland, or Bergen in Norway. Kept relatively warm by the Gulf Stream, Shetland’s 100 islands experience almost 24 hours of daylight in summer. They abound with nature reserves and archaeological sites, and offer a taste of traditional island life.
We plan to visit some of Shetland's best-preserved and most complex archaeological sites, brochs - fortified Iron Age towers.
Day 5 At Sea
As we sail towards the Norwegian coastline, the warmth of the bridge or the outer decks offer an excellent vantage point for birdwatching. Our historian and naturalists will delight us with their informative talks.
Day 6 to 9 Norwegian Coastline
Our aim is to spend the three days exploring the superb Norwegian coastline, cruising the intricate maze of seldom-visited inlets and outer islands. The cod-fishing island of Sor Glaeslingan will welcome us with its delightful wooden houses and cheerful inhabitants, while we search for nesting kittiwakes and reclusive sea otters. Delight as we hunt for fabled trolls, as we pass by Torgatten, meaning mountain with a hole, said to be caused by a troll arrow.
Crossing the Arctic Circle, we make our way to the Lofoten Island’s, meaning puma’s foot, this is a land scoured by ice and legend, the towering crags with their sharp edges, standing in silent protection of the villages below.
As we travel north, the days are noticeably longer and we search for sperm whales, orcas, minke whales, pilot whales and dolphins in the deep squid rich ocean trenches off Andenes.
Days 10 to 13 Spitsbergen
We approach Spitsbergen at its most southerly point, South Cape or Sørkapp and explore the coastline entering a different world – that of the polar desert.
Enormous peaks and deeply gouged fjords make our visit to Hornsund a powerful experience. As the southern most fjord in Svalbard, we will be on keen lookout for polar bears, cruise in Zodiacs, along glacial fronts that are home to bearded and ring seal, kittiwakes and guillemots. Here we continue our exploration into human history dating back 400 years in Svalbard, encompassing trapping and hunting, whaling and mining. If the skies are clear we may catch a glimpse of dramatic Hornsundtind, peaking at 1430m.
Dramatic folds characterise the geological landscape of Bellsund and here we will enjoy magnificent vistas and steep bird cliffs creating lush vegetation; an open invitation to Arctic fox and polar bears. Little auks, guillemots, northern fulmar and pink footed geese all make this their breeding home. Reindeer graze the slopes peacefully and with two branches of the fjord, there are numerous places to explore. Polar bears pass through the area on their way to the west coast, and if we are lucky we may encounter of the elusive and alluring white beluga whale.
Day 14 Longyearbyen, Svalbard
On arrival Longyearbyen, we will disembark and bid farewell to new found friends.
How to Prepare
How to prepare for an Arctic Expedition
To ensure you have an enjoyable and safe expedition we have developed some import pre-departure information to help you prepare for your voyage. We strongly recommend you download the documents below and read carefully. Our reservation staff will be happy to answer any questions you may have. Before you depart for your expedition we will send you a detailed pack including your itinerary, travel documents and any other essential information relevant to your voyage.
To help get you started download our Expedition Essentials document here.
Is your passport valid?
Your passport will be required to have validity that will extend to six months after the date of your return.
Your visa arrangements are your responsibility. Please contact our reservations staff for assistance, or if you are unsure if you require a visa.
All passengers are required to provide travel insurance details including policy number and emergency contact number to Aurora Expeditions prior to departure. We strongly recommend insurance coverage that includes emergency medical evacuation from the vessel.
Emergency contact details
So that you can be contacted in the case of an emergency, remember to provide your family or friends with a copy of your travel documents as well as Aurora Expeditions’ and your Ship’s contact numbers.
Remember to pack any valuables or essential items such as medication in your hand luggage to avoid issues in the case of lost baggage.
How many people on the ship?
Polar Pioneer sleeps 54 passengers. We believe that small groups are the best way to experience our destinations.
Where do passengers come from?
The majority of our clients come from Australia, the UK/Europe and America, however we do often have a mix of other nationalities on board, including our expedition staff.
How much room is there for luggage?
There is ample storage space in your cabin on all our ships. Your empty baggage can be stored safely elsewhere on the ship if need be.
Does the crew speak English?
The crew on Polar Pioneer are all Russian. They are undoubtedly the ice-masters of the world. The Captain and most of the watch officers speak English. Whilst some of the crew speak only a little English, they do like to practice their English skills on our willing passengers.
Is the ship air-conditioned? What is the temperature?
All our ships are air-conditioned and the temperature ranges for 15°C to 25°C. On Polar Pioneer you can control the temperature of your cabin by adjusting the airflow through the roof vent and turning your heater on or off.
How do we dry wet clothing?
Clothing dries very quickly inside your cabin. There are no passenger laundry facilities for you to do your own washing, but there is a laundry service on board all our vessels. Prices are listed in your cabin. All cabins have a sink.
What clothes do I take to wear on the ship?
Shipboard clothing is informal and casual. Depending on your destination; jeans, jumpers, long sleeve shirt and enclosed shoes are ideal in our polar regions. However be sure to keep your jacket close for unexpected sightings!
Some people like to take a nice outfit or something a bit special for the Captain’s welcome and farewell drinks, but formal clothing is not necessary.
What type of jacket should I take?
You can get away without a padded ski jacket or down parka, if you don’t have one; however a wind and waterproof jacket is a must!
Do you provide parkers or jackets?
From November 2014 each passenger travelling on our Antarctic or Arctic voyages will receive a complimentary polar expedition jacket to wear during your expedition and take home after your trip.
What kind of footwear do I need for our shore visits?
It is most important that you bring a good pair of walking shoes. Gumboots will be provided on board in our polar destinations.
How often do we get off the ship?
We aim to get off the ship as much as possible, usually two, sometimes three times a day depending on weather and itinerary. Weather permitting we spend between one to four hours at each location. We come back to the ship for meals.
What is not included in the price of the voyage?
In general items that are not included in the cost of your voyage are flights to and from your voyage, pre and post accommodation, transfers, drinks from the bar (alcohol and soft drinks), gratuities, ship-shop items, laundry costs and other items of a personal nature (unless stated in your voyage inclusions).
Do I need travel insurance?
Travel insurance, including medical evacuation cover, is mandatory for all Aurora Expeditions’ voyages. We advise you have insurance for voyage cancellation to ensure you will be covered financially if you are forced to cancel your voyage due to circumstances beyond your control. It is in your best interest to read carefully the General Terms & Conditions on your booking form or on our website here. http://www.auroraexpeditions.com.au/terms-and-conditions
How much should I tip?
People often ask us what they should do about tipping. Tipping is a very personal matter, however if pressed we recommend $US10-12 per passenger, per day that you are on the ship. It is better for our Russian crew if you can give them US dollars cash. Our Russian crews work extremely hard to ensure you have the best possible experience. They are paid by the Russian ship owners and do not receive large wages. We are continually lobbying on their behalf for better pay.
Should I bring along my own walking poles?
Yes, it’s a good idea, especially if you have trouble walking over uneven ground. Some of our landings can be on slippery rocks or deep snow, and we may go for extended walks to see different parts of our landing point. We recommend the telescopic poles, with the optional snow-basket tips for polar voyages. You can purchase these poles in most outdoor stores.
Do you have facilities on board to download digital images from my camera?
No, we do not provide a computer to download your digital images. We recommended you bring a laptop computer or similar downloading device to download your images, either between landings, in the evenings or during sea crossings.
What is the electrical supply on board? Do I need a converter?
The electrical supply on board Polar Pioneer is 220 volts, 50 hertz. You will need a European round two-prong plug adapter (as pictured), available at duty free or electrical supply shops.
Is there Internet, email or telephone access on board?
There is no Internet access on board our ships, however you can pay to send and receive emails only (no attachments). On Polar Pioneer, the prices start from approximately 20 US cents per one kilobyte. WiFi access is available throughout the vessel. Note that while the ship has WiFi, it has no access to the internet. Passengers can establish a shipboard email account for US$5 and send and receive emails from their own laptops and devicesfor laptops, with the same download/sending fees.
A satellite telephone is available for use, and prices start from US$10 for 5 min.
Please Note: Due to the remote location of your voyage, making contact with the ship via telephone can be difficult and expensive. In case of emergency, it is recommended your family and friends contact the Aurora Expeditions’ office and we will do our best to get the message through to the ship.
Do you cater for special meal requests?
Yes. Our talented chefs will take your requirements into their meal planning and ensure you receive tasty, healthy meals. Please ensure you list any dietary requirements on your personal details form.
Do you provide gumboots?
Yes. All passengers going to Antarctica, the Arctic, and Scotland, will be provided with gumboots. If you have concerns regarding extra small or large sizing, or hard-to-fit feet, we recommend you bring your own pair.
What if I need to go to the toilet when ashore?
Our expedition staff will instruct you with these types of rules on board. Generally on our polar voyages we avoid going to the bathroom ashore, however in an emergency we ask you to find a discreet location near the shoreline to relieve yourself.
Do you provide toiletries on board?
We provide each passenger with a bar of soap on Polar Pioneer.
How fit do I need to be?
To make the most of our voyages, you should be in good general health and able to walk reasonable distances, sometimes over uneven terrain. However, if you have problems walking on rough ground, you can enjoy the scenery closer to shore. Should you have any physical limitations please notify us well in advance of your departure, but this should not discourage you participating.
How do we pay for our bar bill at the end of the voyage?
Our hotel manager will organise this on board. We accept all major credit cards, or if you are paying cash we except US or Australian dollars on Polar Pioneer.
Can I smoke on board?
There is a ‘No Smoking’ policy throughout the interior of our ships. Our expedition leader will advise you on designated smoking areas.
Are there hairdryers on board?
Hairdryers are provided in each cabin.
Will I get sea sick?
Many people ask us if they will get seasick. It is a very difficult question to answer because it depends so much on the individual. Our experience is that a small percentage of people are seasick on any trip and most of these people are fine after a day or so at sea. If you feel that you are particularly susceptible to seasickness then it is a good idea to talk to your doctor. Come with motion sickness tablets. There will be a doctor on board Polar Pioneer to assist with any bouts of sea sickness.
Will I see a polar bear?
As with all wild animals, we cannot guarantee you will see polar bears. However, the time of year we visit is when bear numbers are at their peak, and our experienced leaders and crew are aware of the bear’s habitats and are well trained to spot these marvellous creatures in the wild.
How much time do we have in Longyearbyen?
The time available to you in Longyearbyen very much depends on your personal itinerary. Aurora Expeditions offers a pre and post package to tie into our voyage departure and arrival dates, which includes flights to Longyearbyen, transfers, a town tour, and some free time in Longyearbyen. Many people like to extend their stay in Europe and Aurora Expeditions can assist you with all your travel arrangements including flights, accommodation, travel insurance and transfers as well as fascinating extra tours and activities. Contact our Expeditions Experts on +61 2 9252 1033.
What sort of money do I take and how much?
Australian dollars are difficult to exchange in Scandinavia. We recommend that you take US dollars for exchanging in Norway and Iceland. It is better to carry US dollars for tipping and payment of bar bills on board the ship. You can also pay with all major credit cards including Visa, Mastercard and American Express.
Polar Pioneer is now essentially a cashless vessel; no cash advances to passengers for incidentals or the tipping of Russian crew. Passengers can still pay tips in cash but cash advances are no longer available from the Hotel Manager.
Can I swim or snorkel in the Arctic?
Although you cannot swim or snorkel in the Arctic, most of our voyages stop for a ‘Polar Plunge’, where willing passengers can take the ultimate dip into the icy Arctic waters. Experienced scuba divers have the option to dive on selected voyages.
How to Book
If you are interested in an Aurora Expeditions voyage, please contact our sales team to check availability.
Either email an expert here or call our experienced consultants direct on + 61 2 9252 1033 or 1800 637 688 (Freecall within Australia).
Complete a booking form
Once availability is confirmed, please download, print and complete the booking form. Please return it to us, along with your deposit to secure your berth. Please ensure you read the Terms and Conditions of contract before sending us your signed booking form.
Terms & Conditions
Click here to view the terms and conditions.
Preparation for your voyage
On receipt of the booking form, we will contact you to confirm your booking and our reservations staff will send you a comprehensive pre-departure kit. This kit will contain all necessary pre-departure information including visa information, insurance information, a medical and personal details form, comprehensive gear list and information tailored to your voyage.
Aurora Expeditions - Your Personal Travel Agent
Aurora Expeditions is a licensed travel agent. Our experienced reservations consultants all have specialised expertise on the destinations we travel to. Each voyage has a dedicated travel expert solely working on developing dynamic itineraries for our passengers. Contact our reservations team and allow us to create a personal itinerary to compliment your voyage, including airfares, accommodation, travel insurance and pre and post voyage travel options.
We look forward to assisting you with your journey of a lifetime.
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