Jewels of the Arctic-Spitsbergen, Greenland, Iceland

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

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.


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: Embark Longyearbyen

Today you will be met at the airport in Longyearbyen and taken on a sightseeing tour to explore the remote outskirts and village of Longyearbyen, ‘capital’ of Spitsbergen. Your luggage will be taken directly from the airport to our ship, Polar Pioneer. After your tour you will be transferred to the port in the later afternoon to board Polar Pioneer. Your Jewels of the Arctic voyage commences, cruising out of the beautiful Isfjorden, escorted by gliding fulmars and perhaps the occasional puffin.

Polar Pioneer is not a luxury ship, she is homely and strong, built to be a working vessel and refitted to a comfortable passenger standard. The mood on board is definitely casual. At sea we are totally self-sufficient. The days flow by while we travel snugly in our cocoon. A favourite pastime on board is to stand on deck or on the bridge, watching for seabirds and absorbing the dramatic scenery.

Days 2 - 3: Northwest coast of Spitsbergen

Depending on conditions, we may cruise either north or south along the west coast of Spitsbergen, stopping at intriguing places in search of the mighty polar bear.

Along Spitsbergen’s north west coast we may explore places such as Woodfjorden and Leifdefjorden, where from our Zodiacs we enjoy magnificent views of glaciers sweeping and tumbling into the sea. We may walk on smooth raised beach terraces to magnificent viewpoints, hike on flowering tundra where reindeer graze, & may visit trappers’ huts of yesteryear - all the while remaining alert for wandering polar bears.

We may enter the spectacular Hornsund Fjord in the south where we may take an early morning Zodiac cruise to admire the beautiful ice walls of the Samarin Glacier or take a stroll beneath the towering seabird cliffs at Sofiebogen. In Bellsund Fjord we are always on the lookout for beluga whales. We may visit the remnants of a Norwegian Beluga whaling station from the 1930’s. Across the fjord at Våraolbukta is a lush and stunning landscape where reindeer roam, Arctic flowers bloom in abundance and Arctic fox may be seen patrolling the little auk colony, where several thousand birds nest here amongst the boulders, coming and going in huge swarms. This is a beautiful place where we can stretch our legs before heading on a south-westerly course towards the East Greenland pack ice belt and the world’s largest Island.

Day 4: At Sea

As we cruise southwest across the Greenland Sea - the main outlet of the Arctic Ocean - we may encounter pack ice. The strong icy 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.

Day 5: Approaching East Greenland

As we approach East Greenland we may encounter more pack ice where we may see seals and a variety of seabirds, including northern fulmar and migratory Brunnichs guillemots. Conditions permitting, there will be a good chance to launch our sea kayaks today. We may also land on the Greenland coast. This stretch of coastline is ripe for exploration, with its many secrets locked in place by drift ice for up to eight months each year. Home to polar bear, walrus, snowy owl and musk ox, it's the world's largest national park.

Days 6 - 10: Kaiser Franz Josef, King Oskar Fjords and Scoresby Sund

We will attempt to enter Kaiser Franz Josef Fjord, a remote and rarely visited fjord system with countless opportunities for exploration that lies within the Northeast Greenland National Park. Cruising through Kong Oskar Fjord we will marvel at the geological beauty of the mountains. We will then head south along the coast of Liverpool Land, with our passage dependent on ice conditions. 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, the birthplace of the famous big Greenland icebergs.

We hope to visit the remote Inuit community of Ittoqqortoormiit (Scoresby Town) and to hike across the tundra in search of ancient graveyards and summer villages occupied 3000 years ago by Eskimos. This area provides excellent opportunities for sea kayaking in its maze of calm, interconnecting waterways. If we are lucky we may see musk oxen, Arctic hare and seals, and maybe if we are extremely lucky even a polar bear or narwhal, although due to the relentless pursuit of the local hunters, these sightings are very rare.

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

Cape Humboldt – Ymer Island:
One of the many possibilities on Ymer Island is Cape 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 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. Clumps of Arctic flora in autumn glory are visible as we cruise through the still water.

Ittoqqortoormiit – Scorseby Sound:
A colourful Inuit community of about 500 residents, some of them still hunt local game for a living. Explore the village, visit the fascinating museum and meet parents pushing latest model prams with cute round faced babies peeping out from Arctic fox fur jackets. Avoid speedy 4-wheel motorcycles that hurtle along rough dirt roads, listen to the crescendo of howling emerging from lines of huskies secured to chains. Visit the supermarket or sit spellbound in the beautiful Lutheran Church serenaded by the local organist.

Sydkap – Scorseby Sund:
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 ancient 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 “Zodiacers” alike. Some other possible landing places are: Rypefjord, O Fjord, Fonfjord, Bjorn Oya, Milne Land, Hekla Havn, Danmark Island.

Days 11 - 12: Volquart Boon Coast

We explore the east Greenland coast, along the flanks of Knud Rasmussen Land. We may sail south along the Volquart Boon Coast where our explorations will depend on the weather and timing. There are virtually no charts for these bays and fjords along this stretch of coast. So who knows where our adventures will take us and what we will discover? In the afternoon of Day 12 we head into the Denmark Strait.

Day 13: At Sea

We will be at sea all day, cruising across Denmark Strait towards Iceland, constantly on the lookout for whale blows and the many seabirds that trail our ship on the up lifting thermals.

Day 14: Isafjordur - Reykjavik

During the early morning we will arrive at Isafjordur, in the north west of Iceland. You and your luggage will be transferred to the airport to board your flight back to Reykjavik Domestic Airport. (PLEASE NOTE: This flight is included in the trip price.)

You will have the opportunity to farewell your fellow passengers as you continue on with your own travel arrangements.  

* 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