Cool Cruises with Quark Expeditions

For people who enjoy cruising, but who loathe the sun and the heat or who are not infatuated with tropical islands then Quark Expeditions may have the perfect antidote, a cruise of the Polar Regions, where rugging up instead of stripping down is par for the course.

One of their cruises is called `Three Arctic Islands’, which visits Greenland, Spitsbergen and Iceland. Fortunately, this is a summer cruise, for to attempt it in winter would not only guarantee very rough seas, but also a fair amount of time being stuck in ice with not much else to see.

This is a small ship cruise aboard the Sea Spirit, and all-suite ship which has a maximum passenger capacity of just 114. The ship also carries zodiacs that are used for onshore excursions and exploring features, such as icebergs, up very close.

‘Three Arctic Islands’ is a 14-day cruise where the emphasis is on admiring the wildlife, and with such a small passenger complement, you will never sense being crowded on during a land expedition as you would on a much bigger ship.

Departure is from the port of Longyearbyen, which is located on the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen, which is the world’s most northerly large town. Here it is possible to view wildlife, such as polar bears, and visit spectacular glaciers and fjords.

After sailing across the Greenland Sea, the ship reaches Greenland’s remote eastern shore where passengers board zodiacs to visit the remains of ancient Thule settlements and to view the rare Musk Oxen which live in the area. The ship also visits the spectacularly attractive fjord system of Scoresbysund.

From Greenland the ship steams across the Denmark Strait to the Vestmannaejyar Archipelago off Iceland. There is a visit to the Heimaey, the biggest island in the group, where there is a sizable town, and an even bigger population of puffins, about eight million of them, in fact.

The final destination is Reykjavik, capital of Iceland, unless you are doing the trip in reverse, in which case Reykjavik is the departure point.

Because this is a cruise that has a strong emphasis on the wildlife and geography of the region, much of the onboard activities involve talks by experts to prepare and inform passengers about the sights and adventures they will encounter.

Atmosphere on board the ship is casual and relaxed. Apart from the Polar Bears, Musk Oxen and Puffins it is almost guaranteed that passengers will be able to see walrus, whales and a huge variety of seabirds up close.

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