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We arrive on the first day of the cruise in Aberdeen, popularly known as the Granite City. Aberdeen has been a winner of the Britain in Bloom competition (a horticultural competition held in the United Kingdom that may be entered in settlements of towns, villages and cities) many times. We embark on our trip from this beautiful city. For the next ten days our stay will be aboard the M/v "Plancius", a vessel with 53 passenger cabins and a capacity to accommodate114 passengers.
We reach the lighthouse on Girdle Ness which lies to the south, of the approach, of the North Sea. This lighthouse was designed by Robert Louis Stevenson’s grandfather. The Scottish waters offer excellent possibilities to spot Minke Whales, White-beaked Dolphins and Harbour Porpoises. Several other Cetaceans, including Orcas (Killer Whales), are also native to these waters.
The Faroe Islands are situated about 350 kilometers to the north of Scotland. The archipelago consists of 18 islands and the topography is mainly hilly with its highest point (Slættaratindur) being 882 meters above sea level. The coastline is mostly bordered by cliffs that are often adorned by huge seabird colonies. The Faroe Islands are peppered with fishing villages and have a rich Norse Heritage.
At Fair Isle, in the Shetlands, you will be welcomed by the 70 or so inhabitants followed by a walk to the bird observatory. Later, on Mousa, one of the smaller Shetland Islands, visit one of the best preserved brochs in Scotland. Brochs are circular stone towers probably built by the Picts. During a night excursion you will watch thousands of Storm Petrel return to their burrows or crevices.
Spot Grey Seal, Black Guillemot, Red-throated Diver, Arctic Skua and a wonderful spring flora.
On days three and four, we sail north to the Norwegian island of Jan Mayen, situated 300 nautical miles north-east of Iceland. During our two days at sea, look out for the blow of a Minke, Fin or Blue Whale, which could herald a rewarding encounter with these gentle giants! If we are lucky, we might also run into a pod of Orcas (Killer Whales), who can often be quite curious about boats similar to the M/v “Plancius.” We can only hope their curiosity is aroused by our boat so that we may get a chance to view this spectacular animal!
Day five will be spent exploring Jan Mayen, which is a volcanic island of breathtaking beauty and mystique, dominated by Mt Beerenberg. From the slopes of the 2300 meter volcano, impressive glaciers spill into the sea. Until recently, the island was off-limits as it is a military base, and was rarely visited by tourists. However, with the permission of the Norwegian authorities, we hope to visit the weather station here.
We will also walk across the island to Kvalrossbukta to look at the remains of a 17th century Dutch whaling station and a substantial colony of Fulmars. In addition, we plan to sail by Koksletta where thousands of Little Auks and Brünnich's Guillemots breed close to a glacier, watched over by Glaucous Gulls.
With the midnight sun above us, we will sail north along the edge of the sea-ice, looking out for different species of Whales, Dolphins, Seals and a variety of seabirds. When the sea-ice stops us, we will change our direction and sail to North Spitsbergen.
On day eight, our course of sail is determined by the position of the sea-ice. We will either sail into Raudfjord or one of the other fjords in Northwest Spitsbergen. Here we get a chance to see Polar Bears at the heads of the fjords and seals sunbathing on the fjord-ice. At Fuglesangen, we get to see thousands of Little Auks in then areas where they breed.
Today we will explore Fuglehuken. Fuglehuken, the northern tip of Prince Karls Forland, is probably the place where Willem Barentsz made the first landing in Spitsbergen. It is an area with beautiful seabird-colonies and remains of the Polar Bear hunting period of a century ago. Later, we will look for Walruses at Sarstangen, Engelskmansbukta or Poole-Pynten. In the evening, we may land at Alkhornet, another seabird colony, where at the slopes we can find Reindeer and Arctic Foxes.
On the last day of the cruise, we disembark at Longyearbyen, the administrative centre of Spitsbergen, for flights south to Norway, from where we will catch our flights home. Your Arctic Adventure Tour comes to an end.
Longyearbyen has approximately 2000 inhabitants and happens to be one of the world's northernmost villages. It is a modern village with a wide range of facilities such as a supermarket, tourist shops, several pubs and hotels, a cinema, a swimming pool, a sports hall and a church. Longyearbyen even has its own university, the UNIS, that offers Arctic studies.
Fitness is vital for this level of activity, as the environment traversed may be remote and challenging. These rugged experiences include long walks, trekking, cycling or rafting in isolated areas through variable weather conditions for up to eight to ten hours a day. These trips are usually 13 to 19 days in duration. Maximum altitude reached will be 4000m and you need to be very fit in order to withstand the weather conditions. Good physical condition is essential and previous hill-walking experience or preparation is advisable.
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