Jewels of the Arctic-Iceland, Greenland, Spitsbergen

Polar Pioneer Cruise Ship
Polar Pioneer
56 Passengers
Adventure Options

Voyage Highlights

This voyage will have definite focus on climate change in the Arctic, and educate our guests on why these changes are occurring and how as individuals we can have effects on our environment.

- The largest island in the world (Greenland), and world’s largest National Park (NE Greenland)

- Historic sites & Inuit culture

- Wildlife opportunities - polar bears, walrus, seals, Arctic fox, reindeer, musk oxen, Arctic hare and sea birds

- Great variety of terrain over short distances & sea ice, active glaciers and icebergs

- 24 hours of sunlight (Spitsbergen)

- Above the Arctic Circle – only 600 miles from the North Pole

- Rumbling volcanoes, rugged lava fields, hot springs, cascading waterfalls – Iceland is unique

Itinerary Summary

Jewels of the Arctic combines the best of Spitsbergen and Greenland, with a taste of Iceland. Our ship-based adventure takes us from Spitsbergen’s rugged northwest coast comprising of mountains, tundra and fjords – and hopefully a polar bear or two! We cross the icy waters of the Greenland Sea making our way to Greenland’s remote east coast of icecaps, fantastic icebergs and fairytale landscapes of granite spires rising 1000 metres about exquisite fjords! We also have the opportunity to experience Greenland’s local Inuit culture, before making our way to Iceland. This voyage also offers wonderful opportunities for tundra walking, exploring fjords by ship & Zodiac, and viewing dramatic landscapes and wildlife.

(PLEASE NOTE:  This itinerary includes the flight from Reykjavik to Isafjordur)


This wondrous archipelago of Svalbard is the world’s most readily accessible bit of the polar north and one of the most spectacular places imaginable. Meaning ‘Island of the cold shores’, Svalbard is located between 74° - 81° N and 10° - 35° E and has a total land mass of 63,000 square kilometers.
Spitsbergen is the largest island is the Svalbard island archipelago. It was named by Dutchman, Willem Barents in 1596, when he was on his way to Novaya Zemlya, searching for a northern route to Asia. The island was first used as a whaling base in the 17th and 18th centuries, after which it was abandoned. Coal mining started at the beginning of the 20th century, and several permanent communities were established. The Svalbard Treaty of 1920 recognizes Norwegian sovereignty and established Svalbard as a free economic zone and a demilitarized zone. With a population of approximately 3000, Spitsbergen is still virtually an unspoilt wilderness.


Greenland is the world’s largest island, almost totally covered by the second largest icecap on earth, and boasts the world’s largest national park. Its east coast is sparsely settled by small communities of Inuit hunters who eke out a living in one of the harshest environments on earth. We will marvel at the complex geology of the oldest island in the world where we will see acres of gravel beaches, dumped by ice-age glaciers and intriguing flat-topped mesas striated with layers of ancient deposits rising dramatically between massive glaciers.


Iceland is one of the world’s youngest islands. Forged by fire and honed by ice, it is a geological treasure trove. Reykjavik, the capital, is a clean, sophisticated and progressive city. It’s worth venturing further afield prior to the voyage to get a glimpse of life in times gone by - quaint fishing villages, turf houses and sturdy Icelandic ponies.


Day 1: Rekjavik - Isafjordur

After making your own way to Reykjavik Domestic Airport (please note there are two airports in Reykjavik), this evening you will board your 40-minute flight to Isafjordur, where you will be transferred to Polar Pioneer to begin your voyage. Please note this flight does not include any refreshments.

We recommend you arrive into Reykjavik at least one day prior to your flight.

Day 2: At Sea

We spend the day cruising across the Denmark Strait. Strong icy Arctic currents have isolated East Greenland from the rest of the world for millennia. These currents carry nutrients from the Polar Basin, attracting large numbers of fish, seals and whales. Climatic conditions and the concentration of ice in the vicinity often create thick morning fog that vanishes with the onset of the midday sun.

Days 3 - 9: Scoresby Sund and Kaiser Franz Josef Fjord

We aim to reach Scoresby Sund, the world’s biggest fjord and a favourite hunting ground of the local Inuit. Massive glaciers dump into this fjord, and is the birthplace of the famous big Greenland icebergs. We hope to visit remote Inuit communities like the unpronounceable Ittooqqortoormiit (Scoresby Town) and to hike across the tundra in search of ancient graveyards or summer villages occupied 3000 years ago by Eskimos. This area provides excellent opportunities for sea kayaking in its maze of calm, interconnecting waterways. We will then head north along the coast of Liverpool Land, with our passage dependent on ice conditions. We will attempt to enter Kaiser Franz Josef Fjord, a remote and rarely visited fjord system that lies within the Northeast Greenland National Park and offers countless opportunities for exploration. If we are lucky we may see musk oxen and seals, and maybe even polar bears or narwhal, although due to the relentless pursuit of the local hunters, these sightings are very rare.

Places we may visit in Scoresby Sund and Kaiser Franz Josef Fjord include

Ittooqqortoormiit, Scorseby Sund
A colourful Inuit community of about 1500 residents, the majority of whom still depend largely on hunting. Explore the village and meet parents pushing latest model prams with cute round faced babies peeping out from Arctic fox fur jackets. Avoid speedy 4-wheel motor cycles that hurtle along rough dirt roads, listen to the crescendo of howling emerging from lines of huskies secured to chains. Visit the modern supermarket or sit spellbound in the beautiful Lutheran Church serenaded by the local organist.

Sydkap, Scorseby Sound
A small promontory jutting out from Scoresby Land which offers good walking and delightful views across the sound. There are great opportunities for kayaking past lonely beaches where 3000-year-old gravesites can be visited on shore. Nests of grounded giant bergs the size of 10 story buildings with green tunnels and aquamarine lakes offer hours of endless enjoyment for kayakers and Zodiac cruisers alike.

Cape Humboldt, Ymer Island
One of the many possibilities on Ymer Island is Cap Humboldt, where a lone trappers’ hut built on an ancient beach looks out across a magnificent bay dotted with huge icebergs. Water-worn birch logs washed up on pebbly beaches and a steep hillside behind the hut offer walking opportunities and the possibility of seeing Musk oxen grazing on the hardy foliage. Keep a lookout for Arctic fox, snowy owls and ptarmigan.

Sefstrom Glacier, Alpefjord
A narrow waterway between peaks of up to 2200 metres – serrated brown eroded mountains with hanging glaciers clinging like limpets to stony gullies. The snout of the Sefstrom Glacier juts out almost blocking Alpefjord, allowing Zodiac access and the opportunity to walk on the glacier.

Some other possible landing places are: Rypefjord, O Fjord, Fonfjord, Bjorn Oya, Milne Land, Hekla Havn, or Danmark Island.

Days 10 - 11: At Sea

We head out to sea enroute for Spitsbergen. As we cruise northeast across the Greenland Sea - the main outlet of the Arctic Ocean - we may encounter pack ice.

Days 12 - 13: Northwest coast of Spitsbergen

We cruise northwards along the west coast of Spitsbergen stopping at intriguing places like Kongsfjorden or Magdallenefjorden. We spend time ashore walking on the lush tundra. We feel a sense of history at the 350-year-old remains of the Dutch whaling settlement at Smeerenberg (blubber town) on Amsterdamoya and at the century-old relics from Swedish explorer Andree, who set out from Danskoya in an unsuccessful attempt to fly a balloon to the North Pole.

Along Spitsbergen’s north coast we may explore places such as Woodfjorden and Leifdefjorden, in search of the mighty polar bear. We may walk on smooth raised beach terraces to magnificent viewpoints, hike on flowering tundra where reindeer graze, and visit trappers’ huts of yesteryear - all the while remaining alert for wandering polar bears. We come face-to-face with the formidable Arctic pack ice and keep eyes peeled for walrus wallows.

Day 14: Longyearbyen

During the early morning we cruise into the port of remote village, Longyearbyen, the ‘capital’ of Spitsbergen. Enjoy your sightseeing tour of Longyearbyen and some time at leisure before being transferred to Longyearbyen airport for your onward journey. Please note luggage will be taken directly from Polar Pioneer to the airport.

Pre & Post Voyage Package

A pre & post voyage package is available at an additional charge. The package includes overnight in Reykjavik hotel with half board (B,D), transfer from hotel to Reykjavik domestic airport, flight from Longyearbyen to Oslo in economy class. $700 



* Itinerary may be subject to change

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Prices quoted are in US dollars, per person, twin share. Single occupancy is 1.7 times the twin share price. No single supplement applies if you are willing to share your cabin (tripe & twin cabins only). No refund for unused services.

Kayaking option $975/person on Explorer trips, $1095 per person on Jewels of the Arctic trips.

Adventure options must be pre-booked and paid for prior to start of the trip. Space is subject to availability. Some activities require experience.

Jewels of the Arctic includes a flight between Isafjordur to Reykavik (or vice versa).

Airfare is not included except as noted above. All trips subject to possible fuel surcharge.

Polar Pioneer Deck Plan