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Fair Isle, Faroes, and Spitsbergen: Birds and Bears

11 days

Remote means remarkable on this Arctic adventure during the region’s spring awakening. Weave through towering fjords and secluded cliffs blanketed in Atlantic puffins. Visit polar islands accessible only by ship, including the world’s most northern volcano, breeding site of hundreds of thousands of northern birds. Large masses of pack ice still intact provide ample opportunity to spot roaming polar bears and possibly a bear cub, or two. Defined by endless moments of bird and bear sightings, this trip delivers a polar experience teeming with wildlife.

Day-by-Day Expedition in Brief

  • Encounter iconic Arctic wildlife, such as whales, reindeer, seals, seabirds and the iconic polar bear
  • Explore the volcanic and glacier-covered Jan Mayen island, in the heart of the North Atlantic Ocean
  • Visit abandoned whaling stations, a bird observatory and other significant sites, and learn about the storied history of the region
  • Cruise in a Zodiac to get up close to wildlife and diverse landscapes

Day 1 — Embark in Aberdeen, United Kingdom

A bustling cultural hub, Aberdeen also offers a range of museums, galleries, theatres, shops, cafés and restaurants to explore. Be sure to be out on deck, camera in hand, as your ship sets sail this afternoon. The area’s coastal waters offer excellent possibilities for spotting bottlenose and white-beaked dolphins, harbor porpoises and minke whales.

Day 2 — Fair Isle

The U.K.’s most remote inhabited island, the extraordinary Fair Isle is located halfway between the Shetland and Orkney Islands. Boasting a rugged beauty, Fair Isle’s landscape is diverse, with fields and moors dominated by seaside cliffs and an astounding amount of sea stacks, natural arches and caves.

Day 3 — Torshavn, Faroe Islands

Known for its beautiful, unspoiled landscape, with verdant pastures giving way to rugged, steep cliffs, the Faroe Islands have a storied past, though the details of the archipelago’s early history are a bit hazy. The first settlers may have been seventh-century Irish monks seeking solitude on these islands far removed from any continent. Their isolation ended in 800 AD, with the arrival of Norse farmers, and Norwegian colonization continued throughout the Viking Age. Today, many of the inhabitants of the Faroe Islands, now a self-governing country within the Kingdom of Denmark, are descendants of Norwegian Vikings.

Day 4 — At Sea

Say goodbye to the Faroes as we cruise toward the world’s most northerly volcanic island, Jan Mayen. There are several activities to keep you engaged while at sea. Learn to identify seabirds gliding alongside your ship, attend dynamic presentations by your Expedition Team, relax in our polar library or simply spend some time on deck, admiring the sea. With your binoculars and camera at the ready, keep your eyes peeled for the blow of a humpback, blue or fin whale. Encounters with minke whales or orcas are also possible, since their curiosity often brings them near the ship. If you’re lucky, you may even see harp seals.

Days 5 and 6 — Jan Mayen

North of the Arctic Circle, about 280 miles (450 km) east of Greenland and 340 miles (550 km) north of Iceland, lies the mysterious Jan Mayen, deep in the North Atlantic Ocean. Often shrouded in thick fog, the small mountainous island was declared a nature reserve in 2010 and is rarely visited, save for the 18 rotating personnel of the Norwegian military and Norwegian Meteorological Institute, who are the only inhabitants.

Day 7 — At Sea

As our ship sails farther north, spend some time with your shipmates in the lounge, swapping stories and photos, or pause for a moment on the bridge, joining in as your Expedition Team looks out for whales, dolphins, seals and a variety of seabirds.

Days 8 to 10 — Spitsbergen, Svalbard

Rugged, wild, unspoiled and situated entirely within the Arctic Circle, the largest island of the Svalbard archipelago is utterly unforgettable. From immense glaciers to polar deserts, the landscape here is as varied as the wildlife.

Day 11 — Disembark Longyearbyen

The time has come to say farewell to your newfound friends and Expedition Team. After disembarking, spend the day exploring the frontier-style settlement of Longyearbyen or catch your homeward flights.

View complete itinerary »

Adventure Options Add an Extra Rush of Adrenaline to Your Expedition

Every Quark Arctic voyage includes great daily outdoor activities including Zodiac cruises, hiking and some also offer snowshoeing. The more discerning adrenaline junkie can also choose from a range of optional adventure activities, with varying exertion levels, to experience the polar regions in a more personal way. Contact a Quark Polar Travel Adviser to learn more about adventure options, including physical requirements.

Hiking is a great way to appreciate the immense windswept landscapes of the Arctic.

The tundra comes alive during the brief Arctic summer, with bursts of color from shrubs and plants that eke out a living in this Polar environment.

You’ll find each hike is different — exploring communities, shorelines or glaciated landscapes, often on the lookout for wildlife. Hiking participation is optional and your Expedition Team will advise you of what you can expect prior to each excursion.

Complimentary

  • Optional on most Arctic voyages
  • All guides and instructions are provided by Quark
  • No experience is required; optional lengths and levels of hiking offered