Shorter days in the high latitudes means darkening evening skies, so on this voyage we stay close to the coastlines of the Arctic Circle, skirting around the Norwegian and Greenland seas, and exploring remote islands and villages of the region. As night falls, we look skywards hoping to catch the magic of the northern lights. This spectacular natural phenomenon offers a surreal light display as vibrant hues of blue, green, pink and violet dance across the night sky. Places located near the Arctic Circle such as northern Norway, Iceland and Greenland, are some of the best places in the world to witness this stunning light show.
• Sail in a region renowned for its dazzling display of Aurora borealis
• Just south of the Arctic Circle, explore Vega Island, an important centre for the production of eider duck down and a UNESCO World Heritage Site
• Attempt to land on Jan Mayen, home to Mount Beerenberg, the northernmost active volcanic in the world
• Discover the world’s largest fjord system at Greenland’s Scoresbysund, an unbeatable place to photograph dazzling icebergs
• Iceland’s remote Westfjords offer hikes among splendid scenery where you will barely see another soul
In true expedition style we encourage exploration and adventure, offering flexibility in challenging environments in a way that puts you among the action to see and do as much as possible. This itinerary is only a guide and subject to change due to ice and weather conditions.
Day 1 Arrive in Kirkenes
Having made your way to Kirkenes, you will be met by a representative of Aurora Expeditions and transferred to our group hotel. Upon arrival at your included hotel, please visit the Aurora Expeditions hospitality desk to collect your luggage cabin tags and to speak with our ground operations team, who may have information to share with you about pre-embarkation or to provide you with information about where to dine, withdraw cash or purchase last minute items from a local pharmacy or supermarket.
The remainder of your time is at leisure. All meals today are at your own expense.
Accommodation: Thon Hotel Kirkenes (or similar)
Day 2 Embarkation Day
This morning, please ensure your cabin luggage is fitted with cabin tags clearly labelled with your name and cabin number. Your luggage will be collected from your hotel and transferred directly to the port for clearance and delivered to your cabin ahead of your arrival on board. Please keep any valuables or personal items with you throughout the day.
After a leisurely breakfast, check-out of your room before commencing an excursion of Kirkenes and surrounds. Transfer to the pier for embarkation in the late afternoon, when you will have time to settle into your cabin before attending our mandatory safety briefings, and enjoy the thrill of departure as we ‘throw the lines’ and set sail.
This evening, get to know your fellow expeditioners, friendly expedition team and crew at the Welcome Dinner to celebrate the start of a thrilling adventure.
Day 3–6 Norwegian Coast
Over the next few days we explore parts of Norway’s remarkable 1,000-kilometre (600-mile) coastline. Starting in North Cape, in the very north of the country, we make our way south, stopping in the Lofoten Islands and visiting mesmerising Mount Torghatten, famous for the hole through its centre.
The spectacular northern lights is a natural phenomenon that is most commonly seen in the sky above the Arctic Circle, between late autumn and early spring. As we are near North Cape in northern Norway, keep a close watch in hope of witnessing this dazzling spectacle in the night sky. The North Cape is located at a latitude of 71° 10´ 21 and is Europe’s northernmost point. Here we enjoy a short walk, visit the North Cape Hall and perhaps sample some local treats.
Enjoy a Zodiac cruise through spectacular Trollfjord, a gorge flanked by steep mountains and so narrow that it can only be accessed by small ships. In the Lofoten Islands, voted by National Geographic as one the of the most beautiful destinations in the world, we stroll through picturesque villages dotted with red and white fishers’ huts, surrounded by soaring granite peaks. Visit the Lofoten Seafood Center and learn about the impressive cod fisheries and perhaps sample some local seafood.
Crossing south of the Arctic Circle, we visit the Vega archipelago, which became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2014. Vega Island is fantastic for birdwatching and here eider ducks are the main attraction, where they are raised for their down, which at one point accounted for one third of the islanders’ income. The islanders still make houses for the birds to nest in and in return, the ducks provide valuable down when they and their chicks leave the nests to continue their lives at sea. The archipelago reflects a traditional way of life that has not changed for more than 1,500 years. On nearby Torget Island, we plan to land and hike to Torghatten, a fascinating rock formation with an equally interesting legend describing the hole in the mountain as having been created by a troll’s arrow.
Day 7 At Sea
Enjoy the crossing to Jan Mayen, accompanied by seabirds as we search for whales. Enjoy informative talks from our team of experts, get to know your fellow expeditioners, stay active in the gym or treat yourself to a massage in the wellness centre. Remember to look to the skies at night and hope for sightings of the northern lights.
Day 8 Jan Mayen
The approach to Jan Mayen is spectacular. The huge Beerenberg volcano is the world’s northernmost active volcano, last erupting in 1985. The northern part of the island is a great place to look for whales and dolphins, and contains impressive glaciers, some of which reach the sea. If the weather is friendly, we will try to land at Kvalrossbukta, a relatively sheltered bay on the island’s west coast. This is one of the landings used to supply the Norwegian weather station at Olonkinbyen, a settlement situated on the eastern side of the island. We hope to land in front of the station at Olonkinbyen, so as to visit before embarking on a three-hour hike (weather permitting) back across the island to where the Greg Mortimer will be waiting for us in Kvalrossbukta, and our trusty Zodiacs will transport us back to the ship.
Day 9 At Sea
Our series of onboard lectures continue as sail towards the wild coast of East Greenland. You will learn about sea ice, glaciers, the unique geology found in East Greenland and daring tales of European exploration. We are also in the prime zone to view the northern lights, so glance up to the skies and you might just see more than shimmering stars.
Days 10–13 East Greenland
In the coming days, a host of choices are available to us, and depending on ice and weather conditions, the east coast of Greenland is ours to explore. The members of our experienced Expedition Team, who have made countless journeys to this area, will use their expertise to tailor our voyage to suit the day-to-day conditions. This allows us to make best use of the prevailing weather, ice conditions and any opportunities for wildlife encounters. We generally attempt up to two landings or Zodiac excursions per day, including cruising along spectacular ice cliffs, following whales feeding near the surface.
Be prepared to experience ice – and lots of it! East Greenland contains some of the Arctic’s most impressive scenery. Deep fjords and narrow channels, flanked by sharp ice-clad peaks soaring up to 2,000 metres (6,562 feet), and glaciers birthing gigantic icebergs that drift throughout the fjord system, combine to create breathtaking scenes.
The tundra landscape is home to musk oxen, arctic hares and reindeer. Throughout the area there are ancient Thule archaeological sites, historical trappers’ huts, and the cabins of present-day Inuit hunters. A highlight is a visit to the Inuit village of Ittoqqortoormiit, the most isolated and northernmost permanent settlement in the region, with approximately 450 inhabitants. The community has an excellent museum, gift shop, an abundance of Greenlandic sled dogs and provides the opportunity to meet the friendly locals.
Explore Scoresbysund, the world’s largest fjord system and a favourite hunting ground of the local Inuit. Massive glaciers flow into this fjord, the birthplace of hundreds of majestic Greenland icebergs. It is a spectacular place that simply needs to be seen to be believed. North of Scoresbysund lie Kong Oskar and Kaiser Franz Josef fjords, two of the most significant fjord systems in Greenland, each one encompassing several smaller fjords and sounds. Thanks to the fertile volcanic soil and the surrounding mountains offering protection from strong winds, the area is rich in wildlife. You may spot everything from musk oxen and arctic foxes to mountain hares, and even reindeer, near the fjord. Look skyward and you could catch a glimpse of birds, including the glaucous gull, black-legged kittiwake, northern fulmar, common raven and common eider.
We will attempt to enter Kaiser Franz Josef Fjord, a remote and rarely visited fjord system with countless opportunities for exploration, located within the Northeast Greenland National Park. Cruising through Kong Oskar Fjord, we marvel at the geological beauty of the mountains. We will then head south along the coast of Liverpool Land, with our passage dependent on ice conditions.
We stretch our legs on hikes across tundra in search of ancient graveyards and summer villages occupied 3,000 years ago by Inuit. We may see musk oxen, arctic hares and reindeer grazing. The maze of calm, interconnecting waterways in this area provides excellent opportunities for sea kayaking. We will see ring seals, perhaps catch a glimpse of the elusive narwhal, and maybe even a polar bear hunting on pack ice.
Day 14 At Sea
Crossing the Denmark Strait to Iceland, search for whale blows and photograph the many seabirds that trail our ship in the ever-present arctic winds. The dark night skies promise more opportunities to experience the northern lights.
Days 15–18 Iceland
Over the coming days, we explore the Westfjords region, which features outstanding landscapes with jaw-dropping views of dramatic fjords carved by ancient glaciers, sheer, table-top mountains that plunge into the sea, and pristine north Atlantic vegetation. The region features attractive towns such as as Isafjordur, the famous Dynjandi waterfall, and spectacular fjords that are ideal for kayaking, hiking and birdwatching.
In genuine expeditionary style, we keep our itinerary flexible to allow for spontaneity. We plan to visit Hornstrandir peninsula, one of Iceland’s remotest and most pristine regions, which is filled with deep and dramatic fjords, towering bird cliffs, stunning natural beauty and opportunities for wildlife encounters. Enjoy the bountiful silence and magnificent landscapes seen by the few adventurers that make their way here. In Húsavik, we hope to have magical encounters with the many whales that visit this part of Iceland, known as the country’s whale-watching capital.
Day 19 Disembark in Reykjavik
During the early morning, we cruise into Reykjavik and disembark at approximately 8.00 am. Farewell your expedition team and fellow passengers as you continue your onward journey. Transfer to Keflavik airport or to your centrally located hotel.
Note: We do not recommend booking flights departing prior to 12.00 pm on the day of disembarkation, as we may experience delays at the conclusion of the voyage.
- Transfer from airport to hotel on arrival Day 1
- One night’s hotel accommodation including breakfast, on Day 1
- Tour of Kirkenes and transfer to ship Day 2
- Transfer from pier to airport or hotel on Day 22
- On-board accommodation during voyage including daily cabin service
- All meals, snacks, tea and coffee during voyage
- Beer, house wine and soft drinks with dinner
- Captain’s Farewell reception including four-course dinner, house cocktails, house beer and wine, non-alcoholic beverages
- All shore excursions and Zodiac cruises
- Educational lectures and guiding services provided by Expedition Team
- Complimentary access to onboard expedition doctor and medical clinic (initial consultation)
- One 3-in-1 waterproof polar expedition jacket
- Complimentary use of Muck Boots during the voyage
- Comprehensive pre-departure information
- Port surcharges, permits and landing fees
- International or domestic flights – unless specified in itinerary
- Transfers – unless specified in itinerary
- Airport arrival or departure taxes
- Passport, visa, reciprocity and vaccination fees and charges
- Travel insurance or emergency evacuation charges
- Hotels and meals – unless specified in the itinerary
- Optional excursions and optional activity surcharges
- All items of a personal nature, including but not limited to alcoholic beverages and soft drinks (outside of dinner service), gratuities, laundry services, personal clothing, medical expenses, wi-fi, email or phone charges
Lectures on wildlife, our environment, history and destinations
Near shore cruises
Whale and mammal spotting
From USD $1,190.00/pp
Sea Kayaking One of the most exhilarating ways to experience Antarctica, the Arctic and beyond. Sea kayaking holidays in the …
One of the most exhilarating ways to experience Antarctica, the Arctic and beyond.
Sea kayaking holidays in the humbling wilderness of Antarctica, the Arctic, and some of the world’s most biodiverse regions, are guaranteed to stir your soul. Paddle between brash ice and icebergs of all shapes and sizes, absorbing the majestic scenery as it unfolds before you.
In Antarctica, keep your camera on-hand for unforgettable encounters with penguins, seals and whales, and occasionally leopard seals or orcas. In the Arctic, prepare to paddle under nesting bird colonies, past massive glaciers and around large iceberg.
Led by experienced guides, you and your small group of like-minded adventurers will paddle between ice floes, brash ice and icebergs of all shapes and sizes. Paddling is one of the best ways to access and intimately explore the beautiful coastlines we visit and therefore make the most of your time in the wild and remote destinations we visit.
‘Getting out amongst it’ is our philosophy, and that is exactly what we do. Weather permitting, the sea kayaking activity is normally available anytime the other expeditioners go out. Rather than travelling large distances, our aim is to ensure you see as much as possible. We paddle between 5 to 15 kilometres (2 to 4 hours) per outing, often taking a snack and a flask of hot chocolate to enjoy on our excursion.
Each small group of kayakers (up to 10 per guide) will have their own intimate exploration of the small hidden bays and coasts that are inaccessible to Zodiacs. Of course, we also make time for your own shore excursions and wildlife encounters.
The elements play an important role in our sea kayaking program. It is important that you have an adventurous attitude and understand that the weather can impact our kayaking time.
What about beginners up to the challenge?Our guides do not offer instructional classes for beginners. Therefore, the sea kayaking option is unsuitable for complete novices. However, there is often ample time to gain the required experience before you depart. We may be able to recommend a reputable sea kayak operator in your area for some tuition prior to the trip. Your guide will assess your ability on the initial paddle, and if you have insufficient experience, he or she reserves the right to restrict your participation in rougher conditions.
You should be fit enough to paddle for up to three hours and climb between moving Zodiacs on the water. Regular exercise is recommended, because the fitter you are the more you will enjoy the experience. The more paddles you can do before the trip, the better. We recommend at least three outings prior to your voyage.
During summer the air temperature in the Antarctic Peninsula, Greenland and Spitsbergen are generally above freezing but can range from -4°C to +5°C / 24.8°F to 41°F. The water temperature in the polar regions is close to freezing and winds sweep off the glaciers, making paddling a chilling experience. In South Georgia, there are stronger winds and swells than in Antarctica. Scotland, Iceland, Norwegian coasts are warmer with water temperatures of around 12 °C/ 53.6°F.
The northern waters are warmer than the polar regions but water temperatures of around 12 °C/ 53.6°F mean you may opt to wear your paddle jacket on a warm, sunny day or our dry suits on a cool day. Surf landings are not likely, but you must be capable of paddling in a small swell or wind chop, with winds up to 20 knots. With that being said, we will not paddle if wind conditions are too strong and there is no sheltered area for paddling.
In Costa Rica and Panama, April is the end of the dry season. The shoulder season begins in May, bringing increased humidity. Afternoon rain showers are possible in May with temperatures ranging from 26-36 °C (80- 96 °F). Winds are generally light at this time of year. The water temperature ranges from 27 -29 °C. Surf landings are not likely, but be prepared to paddle in a small swell or wind chop, with winds up to 15 knots. Again, we will not paddle if wind conditions are too strong and there is no sheltered area for paddling.
The Sea Kayaking activity is available for an additional surcharge and includes guided excursions and kayaking equipment. Fares for this activity start from US$900, AU$1,250, £460 or €550.
Prices are indicative only and are variable. They are calculated based on the days of voyage, ability to carry out the activity and exchange rates.
Top reasons to choose a Sea Kayaking holiday
See wildlife unobtrusively
Kayaking is one of the best ways to spot rare wildlife, from penguins to puffins.
Access intimate bays and coves that bigger crafts can't reach.
Our experienced sea kayak guides will help bring your chosen destination to life.
Become an expert
Hone your kayaking skills and gain a hobby for life!
Become lifelong friends with your small group of like-minded adventurers.
Stay fit on your holiday
Being active every day on your holiday means you don't have to feel guilty about being spoilt by our expert chefs!
Enhance your experience
Add another layer to your once-in-a-lifetime holiday and make the most out of your time in some of the most remote places on earth.
Have the time of your life exploring some of the wildest places on earth from the water.
Our guide to paddler ratio is 1:10 and we provide an accompanying safety Zodiac. There are 26 places available in Antarctica and tropical voyages, 20 in temperate regions, South Georgia and all Arctic trips except in Franz Josef Land where the maximum is 16 kayakers.
Kayakers must be 14 or over.
Sea kayaking is offered in place of regular shore excursions. We aim to paddle as often as possible. Depending on the voyage, we generally aim to paddle twice per day.
We will give you a drybag for extra clothing, binoculars and anything that needs to be kept dry. You should also carry a water bottle. We recommend bringing a waterproof camera or phone, or ensuring you have a good quality waterproof case.
If the weather changes during our outing we will head back to the ship and perhaps join a shore excursion. The ship’s captain, expedition leader and kayak guide always maintain close contact to ensure a safe paddling experience. We do not attempt to paddle too far away from the ship. The emphasis is on experiencing the destination rather than travelling long distances.
The kayaks are made with a hard plastic and are easily paddled in swell and conducting shore landings, and through small patches of brash ice. We manoeuvre around the larger ice chunks and floes.
Kayaking in the poles offers a unique wildlife viewing experience. In Antarctica, we have many opportunities to encounter penguins, seals and whales, and occasionally we may even spot leopard seals or orcas. In the Arctic, we’ll paddle under nesting bird colonies, past massive glaciers and around large icebergs, however we maintain a safe distance from polar bears and walruses. Our guides carry rifles and flare guns in the Arctic to ensure your safety against polar bears.
Kayakers in wild temperate regions will have a unique wildlife experience, with possible encounters with seals and basking sharks. You will have the opportunity to view some of the largest sea bird colonies in the northern hemisphere.
The superb wildlife-viewing opportunities are endless in the astonishingly biodiverse nature reserves we visit. Kayaks offer a unique opportunity to view marine and land mammals, coral reefs, tropical fish, sea birds and an astonishing range of rainforest birds. We will bring our snorkelling gear with us during our paddles and take advantage of any opportunities to view marine life up close.
In the unlikely event of a capsize, your experienced guide will assist by righting the kayak, stabilising it then pumping it out. Paddlers will re-enter with the guide’s help, or with a support Zodiac. With drysuits and warm clothing underneath you will be comfortable in cold water for up to half an hour. Note that the kayaks have separate compartments with bulkheads, which means they will float after a capsize.
No. Each kayaking place is for one person only. Passengers are unable to share a kayaking place as we customise the kayaks and dry suits for each individual kayaker at the beginning of each voyage.
Cabins & Prices
Around Iceland Self Drive
From: Keflavik, Iceland To: Keflavik, Iceland Discover Iceland on a self-drive journey, taking in breathtaking fjords, lakes, glaciers, waterfalls and icebergs while
10 DAYS / 9 NIGHTS
Daily from May to September
From: Reykjavik, Iceland To: Reykjavik, Iceland Discover the world’s largest lava mass in Cross Eldhruan and later continue to the birthplace of
10 DAYS / 9 NIGHTS
Selected dates May-Sep
Norway in a Nutshell
Start: Oslo End: Bergen Enjoy one of the world’s most scenic rail journeys and then explore picturesque Bergen at your own pace.
6 DAYS / 5 NIGHTS
Taste of Reykjavik (Post-Voyage)
You won’t regret spending time exploring Reykjavik and its surrounds. Discover cosmopolitan Reykjavik on a walking tour, and treat yourself
3 DAYS / 2 NIGHTS
Taste of Reykjavik (Pre-Voyage)
You won’t regret spending time exploring Reykjavik and its surrounds. Discover cosmopolitan Reykjavik on a walking tour, and treat yourself
3 DAYS / 2 NIGHTS
Request a customised booking
Want to book flights and accommodation with us or simply want some additional information? Click the button below and fill out the form, our expedition experts are more than happy to help.
*Terms & Conditions apply. Valid on select ship voyages only. Offer is valid on new bookings only aboard the Greg Mortimer or Sylvia Earle which must be booked and deposited by May 31, 2023. Promotion is subject to availability at the time of booking and capacity controlled. The promotion is only available in conjunction with the back to back voyage discount or the loyalty program offer, and not available with any other offer. The promotion can be withdrawn at any time and is not redeemable for cash. Normal booking terms and conditions apply. To confirm your booking, a completed booking form and non-refundable deposit of $2,500 pp in the booking currency is required within 7 days of reserved berth/s. Additional terms and conditions may apply. Please see full terms and conditions.
^Terms & Conditions apply. Additional 5% discount valid on both voyages but two voyages must connect back to back in terms of dates to be eligible. Offer is valid on new bookings only aboard the Greg Mortimer or Sylvia Earle. Promotions are subject to availability at the time of booking and capacity controlled. The promotion is only available in conjunction with early bird voyage discount or the loyalty program offer, and not available with any other offer. The offer can be withdrawn at any time and are not redeemable for cash. Normal booking terms and conditions apply. Please see full terms and conditions.