Four Arctic Islands: Spitsbergen, Jan Mayen, Greenland and Iceland Trip Notes

Ways to Travel:
Guided Group
Destinations:
Arctic, Iceland, Greenland, Spitsbergen
Programmes:
Polar Expeditions
Trip Code:
POT
Activity Level: Leisurely
Leisurely

You are healthy, enjoy the outdoors and want a relaxing trip. No experience is required.

18 Days Land only
Min age: 18

Trip Overview

This voyage is ideal for first time visitors who want a taste of everything the Arctic has to offer. Beginning in Norway, this adventure takes you to Spitsbergen, renowned for its stunning scenery and abundant, varied wildlife such as Polar bears and walrus. From there, sail south to the mysterious, volcanic Jan Mayen, a nature reserve so remote that few before have been fortunate to explore it. Then, venture to Greenland’s east coast, cruising deep into Scoresbysund to discover the world’s largest fjord system and icebergs larger than you could ever imagine. Finally, to cap off this epic expedition, sail under the midnight sun to Reykjivik.

At a Glance

  • 16 nights on the ship, 1 night hotel in Oslo
  • Expedition cruising in comfortable conditions

Trip Highlights

  • Search for iconic Arctic wildlife, such as Polar bears, walrus and reindeer
  • Explore the wildlife haven of Spitsbergen, the volcanic Jan Mayen and the breath-taking Greenlandic fjord system all in one trip
  • Visit a remote Inuit community
  • Cruise in a Zodiac to explore glaciers, icebergs and more
  • Travel in a small expedition vessel
  • Accompanied by extremely qualified Expedition Staff

 

Is This Trip for You?

Travelling Conditions

The voyages are designed to be as flexible as possible, taking advantage of circumstances and events as they occur, as well as passengers' wishes and particular interests wherever possible. The atmosphere on board is relaxed and friendly with expedition staff, including naturalists and Polar experts, on hand and the opportunity to mingle with people from all over the world. The ship is kept warm, clean and comfortable with a wet/mud room in which to hang gear and store boots ready for the next adventure.

On the Zodiac cruises you are sitting still for most of the time with the potential for some sea spray and a cold headwind - if you are not dressed appropriately you will get cold. On the shore excursions, the majority of landings are wet which means that the Zodiacs beach and you are helped to slide into the ankle deep shore break before walking up onto dry land (wellington boots are issued to all passengers). There are, of course, no paths, so be prepared for slippery, rough terrain and sometimes fairly deep snow. Back on board the cosy ship after each adventure, you can have a sauna and/or a hot shower and then relax with a tea, coffee, hot chocolate or something stronger from the bar.

Optional activities

Sea kayaking option:

Kayaking in the Arctic is probably one of the most intimate and inspiring ways you can explore the rugged coastlines and calm bays of the regions we visit.

Kayaking in the Polar Regions is highly weather-dependent, however we guarantee at least one outing throughout your voyage, but your kayak guides will take you out as many times as possible throughout your voyage.

Offered on most Arctic voyages, spaces are limited and require some kayaking experience. All equipment, guides and instructions are provided by Quark.

Paddling Excursion: 

Explore the ocean from a more intimate vantage point on a sit-on-top kayak. No experience is required to manoeuvre these very stable kayaks, allowing you to enjoy an unforgettable experience on the water, taking in breathtaking landscapes and wildlife. Whether it’s your first time in a kayak or you want greater flexibility to try other Adventure options, this shorter excursion is for you.  
 
Paddling in the Polar Regions is highly weather-dependent and a one-time experience. Your kayak guides will attempt to take you out on the water for 1-1.5 hours of paddling. Offered on most voyages, spaces are limited. All equipment, guides and instructions are provided by Quark. 

Polar Itineraries

All Polar itineraries should be treated as a guide only - it is possible that, amongst other things, the capricious nature of wind, visibility and ice, intelligence from previous sailings, changes in local landing regulations or the expert opinion of the crew onboard may lead to adjustments to the route published.

Booking Conditions

Please note that the booking conditions for this trip differ from our standard conditions. 

As with all Polar holidays and voyages, the required deposit is 20% per person of your selected travel arrangements (minimum £1000 per person or equivalent) and the balance of the price of your travel arrangements must be paid at least 133 days before your departure date. The deposit is non-refundable, and at 133 days before departure date, our cancellation penalties are 100% of the holiday cost.

Following a review of all our trips we have categorised this trip as generally not suitable for persons of reduced mobility. However if you are a regular traveller on such trips, please contact customer services to discuss the trip and your personal condition.

Group

The Exodus group forms part of the ship’s complement (max of approx. 100), enjoying the relaxed, intimate and informal atmosphere, which breaks into smaller groups to facilitate the frequent excursions. We offer these cruises in conjunction with our partner, Quark Expeditions, and Exodus participants will join an international group, not all of whom have booked through Exodus. Occasionally some of these may be younger than 12 years old, the Exodus' stated minimum age for this trip. We work with many fine Expedition Leaders and Polar Experts, bringing a diversity of interests including zoology, Polar history, geology, ornithology and ocean sciences. The ship’s operating crew is Russian and have many years of experience in Polar Regions and are committed to ensuring a safe and memorable journey. Each day your cabin will be serviced by the housekeeping crew, and your meals served by the friendly and attentive restaurant staff. There is also a resident medical officer.

Adult min age:
18
Max group size:
132

Itinerary

Land Only Itinerary

  • Day 1

    Arrive in Oslo, Norway

    Our Arctic adventure begins in Oslo, where you may arrive at any time during Day 1 of the itinerary. Upon arriving in this splendid capital city, known for its green spaces and museums, you will check into your included airport hotel.

  • Day 2

    Embarkation Day in Longyearbyen, Svalbard

    This morning, the group will transfer to the airport and board our private charter flight to Longyearbyen, Spitsbergen’s largest settlement. As you embark this afternoon, enjoy great views of the mountainous landscape that serves as a backdrop for this seaside town.

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Dinner
  • Days 3-6

    Exploring Spitsbergen

    Exploring Spitsbergen, the largest island in the Norwegian Svalbard archipelago, rewards you with abundant wildlife and austere beauty. Here, you’ll visit spectacular glacier fronts and steep-walled fjords, with walrus, Polar bears and Svalbard reindeer amongst your possible wildlife sightings. Birders will be thrilled to see Arctic terns, skuas, Long-tailed ducks, kittiwakes and Ivory gulls. If conditions permit, we could sail within 10 degrees of the North Pole!

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch,
    Dinner
  • Days 7-8

    At Sea

    While sailing south through the historic Greenland Sea toward Jan Mayen, the Expedition Team will keep you informed with presentations about the storied history and politics of the Arctic, its fascinating wildlife, geology, ecology and climate, and the incredible sights you will soon explore. On deck, you’ll learn to identify seabirds “on the wing.” The team will also keep a lookout for the whales that frequent the waters here.

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch,
    Dinner
  • Days 9-10

    Exploring Jan Mayen

    North of the Arctic Circle, about 280 miles (450 km) east of Greenland and 340 miles (550 km) north of Iceland, is 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.

    Landing here will be dictated by the weather and sea. If conditions allow, as we approach, keep watch on deck as the spoon-shaped island’s highest summit emerges. At 7,470 feet (2,277 metres) high, the breathtaking Beerenberg volcano features a symmetrical cone shape and impressive glaciers that spill into the sea.

    If we’re fortunate, we may get a close-up view of the volcano and the stratified cliffs of the spectacular north coast as we Zodiac cruise around the island, searching for wildlife. Designated an Important Bird Area by BirdLife International for the large numbers of breeding seabirds, Jan Mayen supports colonies of Northern fulmars, Little auks, Glaucous gulls, kittiwakes, and Black and Brünnich’s guillemots (Thick-billed murres).

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch,
    Dinner
  • Days 11-15

    Exploring Scoresbysund, Greenland

    Our tour of Scoresbysund—the largest, deepest and, some say, most beautiful multi-armed fjord system in the world—will offer plenty of opportunities to explore ashore or by Zodiac cruise.

    At one moment you’ll be stepping back in time, exploring the remains of ancient Thule settlements with views of icebergs and towering mountains rising straight out of the sea, and the next you’ll be immersed in contemporary culture, meeting the locals and gaining an appreciation for their way of life in Ittoqqortoormiit, Greenland’s most remote community. At the mouth of the sound, this remote settlement boasts a blend of traditional and modern lifestyles and is actually closer to Iceland than it is to its nearest Greenlandic neighbors to the southwest. Here, you’ll have the chance to support local Inuit artisans by purchasing unique handicrafts.

    In terms of wildlife, grazing Musk ox are a possible sight, as 40 percent of the world’s Musk ox population lives in this region. Polar bear sightings are also a remote possibility, as are encounters with more elusive Arctic wildlife, such as the Arctic hare. Seabirds to watch out for nesting atop the steep cliffs of the sound include Little auks, fulmars and guillemots.

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch,
    Dinner
  • Days 16-17

    At Sea

    As we cruise south, the Denmark Strait is your pathway toward Iceland. Take in a lecture, share your photos, sip an icy cocktail in the bar or watch a movie—there are many things to do during your time at sea. The Expedition Team will also be on hand to answer any questions and point out wildlife.

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch,
    Dinner
  • Day 18

    Disembark Reykjavik, Iceland

    You’ll disembark in Reykjavik, Iceland’s capital, at the end of your journey. If you have booked post-expedition accommodation, we provide a transfer to a central downtown location.

    Meals included:
    Breakfast

Accommodation

Ocean Adventurer

The Four Arctic Islands: Spitsbergen, Jan Mayen, Greenland and Iceland voyage is offered on the Ocean Adventurer which is a Polar Adventure Ship. One night in a standard hotel in Oslo is included. Full board accommodation on the ship, generally on a twin share basis in a variety of cabin types, all with en suite facilities. Please visit the Polar Fleet page for Ship Information and Deck Plans.

Polar Adventure Ships

These are small ice rated vessels well qualified for Polar waters. Intimate adventures are always more enjoyable with like-minded passengers and staff, so these voyages are for people who like flexible itineraries and plenty to keep them busy. Activities include frequent Zodiac excursions, trekking, kayaking and many hours on deck in areas that other ships only dream about accessing. Food and staff are superb and every guest benefits from the technical advances of this superb fleet. Rest assured our Polar Adventure Ships enable any traveller to maximize their experience sensitively in the Poles.

Where a single supplement is available, paying for a single will only guarantee a room for single use. It does not necessarily mean a twin or double room will be provided for sole occupancy.

Please note that a member of the group may be allocated a single room by default if the make-up of the group means there isn’t anyone for them to share with. Paying the supplement in advance is the only way to guarantee a single room.

Single supplements cannot be refunded retrospectively.

Food & Transport

Eating & Drinking

All meals while on the ship included.

Typical Meals

The ships galley offers good quality service and cuisine throughout, with excellent chefs preparing international menus including vegetarian dishes, accompanied by a wide variety of drinks from around the world on sale.

Breakfast: Buffet style – unlimited tea and coffee, a selection of fruit juices, hot options including bacon and eggs or omelettes, a selection of bread and toast and jam/honey/marmalade, fruit and cereal.

Lunch: Three course set meal, or the occasional buffet or BBQ.

Dinner: Three courses with a starter of soup, salad or anti-pasto, a choice of three mains with at least one vegetarian and one seafood option and a dessert of sweet pudding or ice cream or fruit, tea and coffee.

Transportation

During the expedition, you will visit remote and isolated sites that are accessible only by Zodiac landing craft. Designed for expedition work, these large and heavy-duty inflatable vessels are extremely safe.

Weather & Seasonality

Weather Information

Spitsbergen has a short season from mid June to mid August; and there is 24 hour daylight in all three months. There may be more sea ice in the earlier months and some more flowers, but in reality with the capricious nature of the weather and wildlife there is not much to choose between different dates.

Greenland has an Arctic climate with average temperatures that do not exceed 10° C in the warmest summer months.  However, the conditions in the coastal regions of the Arctic during the northern summer are both mild and changeable. Enjoyable sunny days can swiftly change to cold, windy storms with snow flurries and rolling seas. Average daily temperatures in mid-season are between -4 and +2 Celsius; however, wind conditions can make it seem colder. It is common that you will experience daytime temperatures below freezing.

Joining Instructions

Travelling land only: 18 days starting in Oslo and ending in Reykjavik

Your trip normally starts at our hotel in Oslo in the afternoon of Day 1 of the itinerary. Details of how to reach the start point are provided in the Final Joining Instructions - sent approximately two weeks before departure.

Full joining instructions including local emergency numbers will be sent to you as part of our Final Joining Instructions. If you do not receive these at least a week before departure, or require them earlier please contact our office or your travel agent.

Location start:
Oslo
Location end:
Reykjavik

What to Take

Essential Equipment

Boots – Rubber boots are essential for a Polar expedition, but to eliminate these from your packing list we will loan you a pair for the duration of the voyage.
Parkas – A complementary Quark parka will be provided on the ship.
Trousers – Waterproof trousers are essential for Zodiac travel as well as activities on shore.
Gloves – To keep your hands warm and dry, pack a minimum of two pairs of gloves: a pair of thin polypropylene gloves to be worn underneath warm outer gloves.
Hat and Scarf – Pack a warm, woollen hat or cap that covers your ears, as well as a scarf, neck gaiter or other face protection.
Socks – For maximum warmth, we suggest that you wear two pairs of socks to wear inside the rubber boots.
Outer Clothing – Pack woollen or fleece jumpers and tops, plus several turtlenecks for layering.
Underclothing – Pack silk or polypropylene underwear since it will keep you warm without adding bulk.
Knapsack or Backpack – To keep your hands free for shooting photograph, bring a water resistant or waterproof knapsack or backpack.
Shoes – Non-slip shoes for walking around the vessel.

Optional Equipment

Swimsuit
Sunglasses
Binoculars
Camera, extra batteries, film or memory cards
Protective sunscreen
Electric converter with adapter plug set
Small medical kit containing prescription medicines and over-the-counter medication for basic ailments such as stomach upsets, allergies, headaches and seasickness
Snow poles or trekking poles

Practical Information

Passport

Iceland

All nationalities require a full passport that must be valid beyond the intended length of stay. It is your responsibility to have the correct personal documents and to obtain your own visa, if one is necessary, in accordance with the regulations of the country you are to visit. The information below is primarily for UK passport holders, and other nationalities should check with their travel agent or the relevant embassies. We are not responsible for the actions of local immigration and customs officials, whether at points of entry or otherwise, and any subsequent effects.

Visa

Arctic

No visa required for British passport holders.

Iceland

No visa required for British passport holders.

Greenland

No visa required for British passport holders.

Visa regulations can change without notice: please check the current regulations in good time to obtain a visa if one is required.

There are no specific health risks on this trip.

Vaccination

Arctic

There are no specific health risks.

Iceland

There are no specific health risks.

Greenland

There are no specific health risks.

Travel health can often be something people forget about before going away, but a little preparation and knowledge can go a long way to help you stay fit and healthy while abroad.

The above information can change at short notice; as we are not qualified to answer all your questions about travel health we strongly recommend you contact your Medical Professional or a Travel Health Clinic at least 8 weeks prior to departure for up-to-date information. Please note: vaccinations that are routinely recommended to residents of the UK, North America or Australasia are not considered to form part of the travel health advice, and you should ensure these are kept up to date where necessary.

For additional information please visit: https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/countries

Insurance - are you adequately covered?

It is a condition of joining any of our holidays that you must be fully insured against medical and personal accident risks (to include repatriation costs and air ambulance or helicopter rescue services where appropriate). On arrival in destination for your trip, you will be asked to present details to your leader or local representative of your policy.

If you are resident in the UK we strongly recommend the Exodus travel insurance policy, this is specifically designed to cover all activities on your trip. If arranging your own policy please ensure that you are covered for all activities that are part of the trip, optional activities that you intend to take part in and/or on high altitude itineraries, that you are covered up to the maximum altitude of the trip.

Local Time

Iceland's Timezone:
Atlantic/Reykjavik GMT (GMT +00:00)

Electricity

Arctic's Electricity:

The electrical supply on board most of the Polar vessels is 220v/50Hz.

The electrical outlets found in the cabins and around the ships on most Polar vessels accept standard European two round pin plugs, so you may need to bring your own travel adapter.

Iceland's Electricity:

230 Volts. Plug types C & F; establishments often take two round pin plugs.

Greenland's Electricity:

Standard European adapter required. 220 Volts.

Money

Arctic's Currency

On board all Polar vessels USD are accepted as the primary currency.

Iceland's Currency

The national currency of Iceland is the Iceland Krona (ISK), with an exchange rate at the time of publication (January 2019) of approximately 156 to the GBP,  121 to the USD, 91 to the CAD, 138 to the EUR, 87 to the AUD and 82 to the NZD.

Greenland's Currency

The national currency of Greenland is the Danish Krone (DKK) with an exchange rate at the time of publication (July 2018) of 8.4 to the GBP, 6.4 to the USD,  4.85 to the CAD, 7.5 to the EUR,, 4.3 to the NZD and 4.7 to the AUD.

Extra Expenses & Spending Money

On board the ships all transactions are in US dollars. 
At the conclusion of your voyage, you will be presented with an account. This will include any drinks from the bar, laundry or ship’s shop purchases for which you have signed. You may pay for this in US Dollars cash, credit card (Visa or MasterCard ONLY) or US dollars Traveller’s Cheques.
Please note: on the last evening, once your ship account has been settled, credit card payments are no longer accepted. It is therefore advisable to bring at least some US$ cash if you wish to purchase drinks from the bar or any items from the on board shop at this time.

Tipping

The appropriate amount to tip the staff and crew is a personal matter but it is customary to provide an end-of-cruise gratuity (as a rough guide approximately US$13-15 per day per passenger would be appreciated)

Responsible Tourism

At Exodus we believe in the power of Responsible Travel.

Every time we travel, we are part of a global movement that creates jobs, builds more sustainable societies, encourages cultural understanding and safeguards common natural and cultural heritage. Learn more about what Responsible Travel means to Exodus.

Exodus Community

Join the Exodus online community

Don't forget to visit the Community area on our website. You can view the range of Exodus videos and podcasts, read trip write-ups which have featured in the national media and take advantage of some special deals on travel gear and equipment.

In the Community Travel Forum you'll find the Departure Lounge where you can discuss your trip with fellow travellers before you depart. When you get back from your holiday remember to upload your images to the relevant trip page on our website. This helps other people see what our holidays are really like and you'll be entered automatically into our monthly photo competition.

To make full use of the Community you'll need to join My Exodus. It's free, registration is simple and easy, so what are you waiting for?

Important Information

On all guided trips

Although our leaders are well trained to deal with different capabilities, if they have any concerns about someone’s ability to safely partake in an activity, or their impact on other people’s enjoyment, we authorise them to take necessary action which, in some circumstances, may involve asking someone to miss that activity.

Although rarely enforced, by booking this trip you agree to section 14 of our Booking Conditions which clearly states that our leaders have the authority to do this. In these circumstances we will ensure anyone sitting out is safely provided for and offered alternative options where possible. Refunds will not be provided for activities missed and customers may be liable for additional costs incurred.

On all trips

In booking this trip you should be confident in your ability to participate in all activities described in these Trip Notes. If you have any doubt about your suitability you should call the Exodus office and ask to speak to one of the experts on this itinerary.

In an emergency, please contact our 24 hour out of hours service on +44 (0) 844 326 7041.

Every time that you travel abroad you should take the time to read the warnings in the essential information in the brochure.

Full joining instructions including local emergency numbers, and details of how to reach the start point, will be sent to you approximately 2 to 3 weeks prior to departure. If you do not receive these at least a week before departure, or require them earlier please contact our office or your travel agent.

The information in these Trip Notes is given in good faith. Where differences exist between the Trip Notes and our current brochure or website, the Trip Notes supersede the brochure and website. All holidays can be subject to unexpected changes; in order to enjoy them you should be prepared to be flexible where necessary. Occasionally, as stated in our brochure, it may not be possible to follow the itinerary as planned. This may be for a variety of reasons - climatic, political, physical or other. In these circumstances we will make the best possible alternative arrangements that maintain the integrity of the original itinerary.

As fuel prices, airport taxes and exchange rates fluctuate, and airlines manage their rates to match demand, it is proving harder than ever to guarantee our Flight Inclusive prices. Although we endeavour to keep our website as accurate as possible, daily fluctuations mean that our Flight Inclusive price may be out of date. For accurate prices we recommend that you contact one of our Travel Experts, or your Travel Agent.

TRAVEL AWARE – STAY SAFE & HEALTHY ABROAD

 

The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office and the NHS have up-to-date advice on staying safe and healthy abroad. For more on security, local laws, plus passport and visa information, see https://travelaware.campaign.gov.uk/

Keep informed of current travel health news by visiting https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/

Advice can change so check regularly for updates.

For all latest travel information about your holiday, please visit our Travel Safety Advice page.

How to Book

1. Check availability

Go online to check availability, or contact us by phone or email.

2. Secure your place

You can provisionally hold a place on this trip, usually for between three and seven days.

3. Complete your booking and payment

When you're ready to book, go to our website for online bookings, book over the phone or you can complete a booking form (available online or on request by calling us). We accept all major credit and debit cards, or you can pay be cheque. Book with confidence: Exodus is fully licensed and bonded as a tour operator. We hold Air Traffic Organisers Licence (ATOL) number 2582 issued and bonded with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). We are also bonded to the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and we are members of the Federation of Tour Operators (FTO) and ABTA ‐ The Travel Association. This means you can book your Exodus holiday with confidence, as all monies paid to us for your trip are fully protected.

TRIP NOTE VALIDITY

These Trip Notes are valid from the "Current as" date on page one. They will occasionally be updated post booking and pre-departure; if there are any updates that significantly impact the inclusions or itinerary bookers will be written to separately. All customers will also receive a link to the most up-to-date version of the Trip Notes with their Final Joining Instructions pre-travel.