Spitsbergen - Northeast Greenland, Aurora Borealis 2020 (Plancius)
The Spitsbergen and Northeast Greenland cruise sails waters filled with breath-taking scenery. The expedition passes through areas that are home to seals, seabirds, whales, and polar bears, topped off with nighttime viewing of the Northern Lights.
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Spitsbergen - Northeast Greenland, Aurora Borealis 2020 (Plancius) itinerary:
You touch down in Longyearbyen, the administrative center of Spitsbergen, the largest island of the Svalbard archipelago. Enjoy strolling around this former mining town, whose parish church and Svalbard Museum make for fascinating attractions. Though the countryside appears stark, more than a hundred species of plant have been recorded in it. In the early evening the ship sails out of Isfjorden, where you might spot the first minke whale of your voyage.
Sailing to Raudfjorden, on the north coast of Spitsbergen, you take in an expansive fjord spilling with glaciers – and maybe even visited by ringed and bearded seals. The cliffs and shoreline of this fjord also support thriving seabird colonies, rich vegetation, and the possibility of polar bears.
You may eventually see the jagged edge of the east Greenland sea ice flashing into sight ahead, depending on the conditions. Keep watch for whales and migrating seabirds here.
As you approach Greenland, you may sail through the sea ice into Foster Bay and land at Myggebugten. Beyond the old hunters’ hut (where Norwegian trappers hunted for polar bear and Arctic fox in the first half of the 20th century), there is a sprawling tundra populated by musk oxen, with geese floating the small lakes. From here you sail through Kaiser Franz Josef Fjord, surrounded by towering mountains and bright interior icebergs. An alternate route is Sofia Sound, a narrower waterway.
You arrive at Teufelschloss (Devil’s Castle), a mountain with layered geology. On the other side of the fjord is Blomsterbugt and the intended landing site. In the afternoon you head into Antarctic Sound, where you find the islands of Ruth, Maria, and Ella. Maria is the most likely spot for a landing.
In the morning you enter Segelsällskapets Fjord, with the streaked slopes of the Berzelius Mountains bordering the north side. You land on the south shore, where ancient sedimentary formations lie right at your feet. A hike takes you near a small lake with good chances to see musk oxen, Arctic hares, and ptarmigans. In the afternoon the ship ventures into Alpefjord, aptly named for the spire-like peaks that thrust up around it. You may then embark on a Zodiac cruise around Gully Glacier, which once blocked access to the interior of these waters. Continuing deep into the fjord, you experience a definitive Greenland adventure.
The first half of the day you spend in Antarctic Havn, an extensive valley where you can spot groups of musk oxen. At this time of year, the sparse vegetation is dressed in the fiery colors of autumn.
Today you reach Scoresbysund, sailing along the glaciated Volquart Boons Kyst. You may also enjoy a Zodiac cruise past one of the glacier fronts, along with a visit to the basalt columns and ice formations of Vikingebugt. The afternoon goal is to visit Danmark Island, where you find the remains of an Inuit settlement abandoned around 200 years ago. The circular stone tent rings indicate the summer houses, while the winter houses can be seen closer to a small cape. The sites are well preserved, with easy identifiable entrances, bear-proof meat caches, and grave sites. In the evening, you continue sailing the berg-crowded fjords to the west.
The goal is a Zodiac cruise near Røde Ø, one of the world’s most cherished iceberg attractions: The austere blue-white of the icebergs sets sharp against the brooding red backdrop of the sediment slopes. The afternoon plan is to sail through the northern parts of Røde Fjord, with the chance to see musk oxen and warm autumnal foliage.
In the morning you encounter colossal icebergs, some over 100 meters (328 feet) high and more than a kilometer (.62 mile) long. Most of them are grounded, as the fjord is only about 400 meters deep (1,312 feet). You then land near Sydkap, with fine views of Hall Bredning and a good shot of seeing Arctic hares.
Today you make a tundra landing on Liverpool Land, in Hurry Inlet. The afternoon stop is Ittoqqortoormiit, the largest settlement in Scoresbysund at about five hundred inhabitants. At the post office you can buy stamps for your postcards, or just stroll around to see the sled dogs and drying skins of seals and musk oxen. In the afternoon you sail south, passing the picturesque landscapes of the Blosseville Coast.
A sea day grants you the opportunity to spot whales and seabirds – and at night, the magical northern lights.
Every adventure, no matter how grand, must eventually come to an end. You disembark in Akureyri, where on request you can transfer (T) by chartered bus (a six-hour drive that you must book in advance) to the Reykjavik city hall, taking home memories that will accompany you wherever your next adventure lies.
The probability of sailing into Scoresbysund is high (based on our experiences from 1993 – 2018), but there is still a chance (about 10%) that ice will obstruct passage into the fjord system. All itineraries are for guidance only. Programs may vary depending on ice, weather, and wildlife conditions. The onboard expedition leader determines the final itinerary.
Spitsbergen - Northeast Greenland, Aurora Borealis 2020 (Plancius) reverse itinerary:
Vessel Type: Expedition
Length: 89 metres
Passenger Capacity: 114
Built / refurbished: 1976 /2009
M/V "Plancius" was built in 1976 as an oceanographic research vessel for the Royal Dutch Navy and was named "Hr. Ms. Tydeman". The ship sailed for the Dutch Navy until June 2004 when she was converted into an expedition cruise ship..
The vessel was completely rebuilt as a 114-passenger vessel in 2009 and complies with the latest SOLAS-regulations (Safety Of Life At Sea). M/v "Plancius" is classed by Lloyd's Register in London and flies the Dutch flag.
M/v "Plancius" accommodates 114 passengers in 53 passenger cabins with private toilet and shower in 4 quadruple private cabins, 39 twin private cabins (ca. 15 square meters) and 10 twin superior cabins (ca. 21 square meters).
All cabins offer lower berths (either two single beds or one queen-size bed), except for the 4 quadruple cabins (for 4 persons in 2x upper and lower beds).
The vessel offers a restaurant/lecture room on deck 3 and a spacious observation lounge (with bar) on deck 5 with large windows, offering full panorama view. M/v "Plancius" has large open deck spaces (with full walk-around possibilities on deck 3), giving excellent opportunities to enjoy the scenery and wildlife. She is furthermore equipped with 10 Mark V zodiacs, including 40 HP 4-stroke outboard engines and 2 gangways on the starboard side, guaranteeing a swift zodiac operation.
M/v "Plancius" is comfortable and nicely decorated, but is not a luxury vessel. Our voyages in the Arctic and Antarctic regions are and will still be primarily defined by an exploratory educational travel programme, spending as much time ashore as possible. This vessel will fully meet our demands to achieve this.
The vessel is equipped with a diesel-electric propulsion system which reduces the noise and vibration of the engines considerably. The 3 diesel engines generate 1.230 horse-power each, giving the vessel a speed of 10 - 12 knots. The vessel is ice-strengthened and was specially built for oceanographic voyages.
M/v "Plancius" is manned by 17 nautical crew, 19 hotel staff (6 chefs, 1 hotel manager, 1 steward-barman and 11 stewards / cabin cleaners), 8 expedition staff (1 expedition leader and 7 guides-lecturers) and 1 doctor.
Ice class: Plancius was built for Ice conditions. To reach these ice-conditions she has a strengthened bow and stern. The hull is thicker and the whole construction on the waterline of the vessel is reinforced by using extra frames. Where the normal frame spacing is 65cm, we have on the bow-line and stern also frames in between so there the frame spacing is approx 30cm. Because Plancius was built to do surveys she has a special six blade bronze propeller, the shape of the propeller makes Plancius a very silent ship. Plancius has a Lloyds class notation 100A1 Passenger ship, Ice Class 1D at a draught of 5 meters (which is our waterline).
• Musk Ox
• Northern Lights
• Scoresby Sund
• Shore-Based Walking
• Zodiac Cruising & Shore program