Board Silversea’s purpose-built, luxury expedition ship Silver Explorer to journey to the unspoiled northern reaches of Norway and the Svalbard archipelago, then visit the rarely-explored eastern shores of Greenland in search of the King of the Arctic, the indomitable Polar bear. From your base in Tromso, board the impressive ice-class vessel, with its strengthened hull, to take in the wildlife and wild landscapes of first Bear Island and then Svalbard, with the chance to enjoy a close encounter with reindeer, arctic foxes, humpback whales and seals. Scan the horizon from one of the ship’s dozen Zodiac boats or during unique small-group shore experiences and tundra hikes led by expert guides and lecturers. If you do spot a polar bear, your bragging rights will be assured.
Following a complimentary chauffeur-driven trip to the airport and VIP airport lounge access to ease you into your adventure, you’ll fly to the Norwegian capital, Oslo. Here, well south of the Arctic Circle, we’ll arrange a private transfer to take you to The Thief, a hip hotel in the heart of the city where new Nordic accommodation is showcased at its best. Having settled in, admire the superb views of the surrounding fjords before a culinary tour of the country in the course of the hotel’s renowned tasting menu.
The following morning, awake to explore the city at your leisure. Drop in to the nearby Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art, amble along the area’s pretty waterways and browse the designer boutiques at Aker Brygge. Back at The Thief, slip into the spa for a tailored treatment or to float in the candlelit indoor pool’s heated waters. Pampered, kick back in the bar with a masterfully mixed cocktail and imagine the adventures ahead.
Stay: The Thief
A private transfer will return you to the airport, from where you will board a flight to Tromso, nicknamed the Paris of the North, which looks a lot like the way you might imagine a polar town should. There’s little time to explore the city though as you’ll be swept to the port where you’ll catch your first glimpse of Silversea Silver Explorer.
As the excitement builds, board the expedition vessel and take in the stylish interiors, stunning pool deck and luxurious features. Settle into your cabin and watch the lights of Tromso fade as you weigh anchor and embark. Move through to the delightful Panorama lounge for a perfectly prepared drink then take your place at The Restaurant for a culinary journey.
Your first day at sea is the ideal opportunity to become acclimatised to the ship. Spend the day relaxing in your cabin or take a stroll around what will be your humble abode for the next two weeks. Take time out to watch the horizon from Tor’s Observatory Library or the Panorama Lounge and keep a weather eye out for whales breaching as you sail north.
Revel in these blue-sky sea days and use the downtime as the perfect complement to the busy days spent exploring shore side.
Almost half way between Tromso and the remote outpost of Svalbard, you will first explore the seemingly stark wilds of Bear Island, considered to be the archipelago’s southernmost point. Explore this spectacular unglaciated wildlife reserve, taking in the steep high cliffs dotted with nesting seabirds such as Guillemots, Razorbills and Auks and home to puffins.
Perhaps you’ll spot some of the island’s eponymous inhabitants as well, although polar bears only arrive here with the winter ice and stay until the spring months bring warmer weather.
From Bear Island, sail north to explore the southern reaches of Svalbard. Here, polar bears outnumber people and the harsh landscapes hide dramatic fjords and icy glaciers. The Gulf Stream ensures that this region and specifically the western coast of Spitsbergen less ice-clogged than elsewhere in Svalbard, making exploration more straightforward. Join an excursion on the ships inflatable Zodiacs, in the company of an expert guide, and land on the ice. Look out for walrus, seals, polar bears and seabirds as you search out small settlements and trappers’ huts as well as the remains of mines and active scientific outposts.
Depending on the season, perhaps you’ll visit a glacier on foot or by sea as well. Head back to the ship to swap stories with fellow explorers and tick off the animals spotted in the guidebooks on the shelves of the library. Treat yourself to a sumptuous dinner and a digestif from a vantage point where you’ll be able to spot the Northern Lights if they make an appearance in the clear skies.
Heading even further north, you’ll encounter dramatic scenery and spectacular landforms. The ship will cruise past imposing red sandstone mountains and deep glacial fjords. We suggest that you join an expedition aboard a Zodiac to cruise to the bird habitats of the Andoyane Islets or get close to the striking Monaco and Siliger Glaciers, where you’ll nose through the waves to be encounter seals, walrus and possibly a roaming polar bear while gulls and seabirds call overhead. Silver Explorer's specially designed hull means that the ice floes are no barrier to progressing ever northward until you arrive at the furthest reaches of Svalbard.
Here, bear witness to one of the widest glacier fronts in the northern hemisphere. Head out on excursions to explore glacial islets, spot flocks of seabirds and discover walrus haul-outs. Join thrilling walks and adventurous hikes along the spectacular shoreline and explore the Arctic Desert as well. Each evening, retire to the ship for fine dining, cognac tastings and the opportunity to discuss your discoveries with your fellow passengers.
Take the opportunity to relax onboard Silver Explorer as the ship steams towards Greenland. Catch up with your reading, immerse yourself in the bird and wildlife books in the library and make sure to complete your diary entries in between opportunities to learn more about the geology, wildlife, botany and history of the region from lecture presentations held in the Explorer Lounge by the knowledgeable Expedition Team.
Spoil yourself with a range of soothing therapies in the Zagara Spa as well.
Arriving on the eastern shores of Greenland, you will come to Scoresbysund, named for the Arctic explorer and whaler William Scoresby, and held to the longest, largest and deepest fjord system in the world. The massive fjord deserves several days to explore, especially as you nose between giant icebergs that drift silently through the waters of the Greenland Sea.
Excursions in the company of a guide or naturalist will bring you to remote bays and smaller fjords, while a landing at Danmarkso where you will uncover old Inuit settlements, abandoned some 200 years ago to nature, and now being subsumed by dwarf birch and Arctic willow.
Stood on the northern side of the Scoresbysund fjord system is Ittoqqortoormiit, the only permanent settlement in the region, home to around 500 people.
Come ashore from Silver Explorer to explore the brightly coloured, quaint houses and dogsled enclosures in order to gain an insight into the lifestyle of these hardy subsistence settlers who make their living hunting seals, narwhals, musk oxen and polar bears; learn about their hunting and dog sledding traditions.
Enjoy your final days at sea and reflect on what you’ve experienced as you sail south towards Iceland. Make the most of the ship’s facilities, from the pool deck and spa to the lounges and bar as you look forward to arriving at the Land of Fire and Ice.
Upon arriving in Iceland, debark in Reykjavik. Coming from the harsh, wild spaces of Svalbard, the vibrant streets of the Icelandic capital can be a striking contrast. Acclimatise yourself by taking a private transfer to your luxurious Art Deco hotel. Hotel Borg fuses top-end elegance and extravagant amenities to spectacular effect. Spend two days discovering Reykjavik from this stylish, central base, strolling through the atmospheric streets, stopping in secret corners and taking in must-see sights such as the parliament building and cathedral.
After exploring, make your way back to the hotel to indulge yourself in the hot tub and sauna or with a signature massage before considering an evening expedition to uncover the city’s spirited nightlife.
After a relaxed beginning to the day, check out of the hotel and enjoy a private transfer to the airport where you’ll connect with an onward flight to London.
"An Arctic adventure like no other, this itinerary is truly unmatched when it comes to experiencing all that Scandinavia has to offer from it's wild, seldom ventured landscapes to its chic, cosmopolitan cities. And, all of it can be experienced from the height of luxury with Silversea whose expedition ships make all others pale in comparison. This truly is a once in a lifetime trip so I recommend upgrading to a suite with good views, you are there for the scenery after all."