VETS Polar Adventure
June 13 - June 23, 2019
This was an 11 Day Adventure to Norway-- including Oslo, Longyearbyen & Svalbard/Spitsbergen. We sailed on The Ocean Nova, a ship built for traveling in the ice, and explored the Svalbard archipelago. Located about halfway between the northern coast of Norway and the North Pole. The Svalbard islands border the Arctic Ocean, the Norwegian Sea and the Greenland Sea. We saw glaciers, mountains, fjords and an abundance of wildlife.
On this trip, we saw Walruses, Polar Bears, Puffins, Reindeer, Arctic Foxes, and lots of other native arctic wildlife and plantlike.
Day 1: Thursday June 13, 2019 — Arrival Day-- Oslo, Norway
Arrival to Oslo Gardemoen Airport. Meet and greet by English speaking guide and transfer to the hotel. Please note: transfers will be provided for all guests arriving on June 13, 2019. If you plan to arrive earlier transfers will be on your own.
Check in at Grand Hotel Oslo.
The Grand Hotel Oslo is located at the center of Karl Johan, the main parade street in Oslo, and is the most famous and classical hotel in Norway. The hotel was inaugurated in 1874 and has gone through a number of renovations and modernizations since then. The hotel is the annual venue of the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.
In the city center around the main street Karl Johans Gate you find night clubs, bars, jazz clubs and cafés in between stores, shopping centres and hotels. Downtown Oslo has a little bit of everything.
There will be a Group Welcome Dinner included within walking distance from the Grand Hotel Oslo serving traditional Norwegian cuisine.
Day 2: Friday June 14 — Oslo Tour Day
Breakfast at your Leisure at the hotel.
Panorama Tour of Oslo with a walk in Vigeland Sculpture Park (Duration 3 hours)
The tour passes by the 13th-century Akershus Fortress, once used as the main defense for the city of Oslo. It is now used mostly as a museum with a small part remaining for military use. Proceed towards the city center, with a photo stop at the brand new Opera House, inaugurated in 2008. We then proceed on to visit to the Viking ship museum. The Viking Ship Museum shows discoveries from the Gokstad, Oseberg and Tune ships, plus small boats, sledges, a beautiful cart, tools, textiles and household utensils.
The tour then continues onto the two main streets of Oslo, Stortingsgate and Karl Johan. Pass the Parliament Building and the oldest part of the university dating back to 1813, famous for its interior decoration by painter Edvard Munch. Drive by the Royal Palace, current residence of the Royal Family, before strolling through the Vigeland Sculpture Park, the largest sculpture park in the world created by one single artist. The park covers eighty acres and was designed by renowned Norwegian sculptor Gustav Vigeland who created the over 200 iron and bronze statues. The sculptures artistically depict a complete human lifecycle from birth to death and are displayed in five different areas throughout the park. Our tour will end with a group lunch at local restaurent.
After lunch we will proceed back to the hotel where you can enjoy some free time in the afternoon before our evening program.
Evening exclusive reception and dinner at Fram Museum
Fram Museum, showcasing Nordic exploration and the world famous polar ship built in 1892. The vessel Fram has traveled further north and south than any other surface vessel. Roald Amundsend and Fritjof Nansen made several Artic and Antarctic expeditions on the vessel in the late 19th and early 20th century and the museum is a testament to their spirit and courage. The interactive facility houses their historical vessel, displayed in its original condition. The interior contains original artifacts and visitors are welcomed to go below to experience the living conditions. Additional displays feature the animals of the Polar region.
Day 3: Saturday June 15 — Oslo to Longyearbyen, Norway -- The World's Northern Most City!
Scandinavian buffet breakfast at hotel. Morning at Leisure. Later transfer to Airport for flight to Longyearbyen, Spitsbergen.
Select one of our Two Optional Tours to morning at leisure. Noonish transfer to airport to catch our flight to Longyearbyen, Spitsbergen.
1) Walking City tour – 2.30 hrs
Explore the best of Oslo, Norway on this sightseeing adventure. Our English-speaking guide will meet the group at the hotel. Our walking tour includes areas of the City Center not seen in yesterday’s group tour. Visit the Nobel Peace Center in Oslo, The Center presents the Nobel Peace Prize laureates and their work, in addition to telling the story of Alfred Nobel and the other Nobel prizes. This is done using multimedia and interactive technology, exhibitions and regular guided tours. Later proceed to Oslo City Hall; a guided tour of the city hall is a unique opportunity to experience the building's history, art and architecture.
2) Holmenkollen Ski Museum – 3 hrs
English speaking guide will meet the group at the hotel together with the bus.
Bus departure to Holmenkollen, visit the National Ski Stadium and the Ski Museum.
The Holmenkollen National Ski Stadium, with the Holmenkollen ski jump, is one of Oslo’s most popular sights. The National Ski Stadium is known for the annual World Cup Holmenkollen Runs, in which the world’s top skiers participate. In summer, Holmenkollen is the venue for several major events.
At the Ski museum, a guide will welcome the group and give all unique experience in Holmenkollen, the tour includes the Jump Tower. The Ski Museum is shot into the mountain below the ski jump. The museum opened in 1923. It is the world's oldest museum specialized in skiing. Here you can experience 4,000 years of exciting ski history through various exhibitions.
Evening arrival at Longyearbyen airport and transfer to Hotel.
Group Dinner at Huset. Huset was built in 1951 as a village hall, and because of the great class divide in Longyearbyen it had to be built on "neutral ground". The house is therefore placed outside the city center. Huset is known for its wonderful cuisine, where the use of exclusive, arctic ingredients is the focus. The wine cellar has been built up over twenty years by the former chairman, Hroar Holm, and is now one of Northern Europe’s largest and most impressive. The wine list has since 2006 been winning "Best of Award of Excellence" from Wine Spectator.
Day 4: Sunday June 16 — Longyearbyen, Norway
Breakfast at your Leisure at the hotel.
Today you can choose from three optional tours or explore the town of Longyearbyen on your own. For those of you exploring on your own the main points of interest are the Svalbard Museum and Galleri Svalbard.
Optional Tours (preregistration required)(select only one of the three)
(1) ATV safari to Adventdalen – 3.5 hrs
Drive Can-Am Outlander ATVs in a summery Svalbard Landscape. Summer in the Arctic is short and hectic with a rich animal and bird life, and it is not uncommon to see both deer and foxes. In the summer months from May to almost the end of August, you can experience daylight around the clock.
Our trip runs out into Adventdalen, a tundra environment loaded with Arctic history and wildlife. We stick to the roads so that we might better preserve this fragile ecosystem. We stop at several points; such as the old airport, one of the mines, and up on one of the local mountaintops to catch the view over the valley and the fjord. We also stop at the Basecamp trapper’s station and dogyard, where we talk about the hunting and trapping culture in the North. Coffee and biscuits are served.
The ATV safari is a great way to learn just a fraction of what makes Svalbard such a fantastic place to live, and we guarantee you will leave feeling enriched from the experience.
(2) A visit to the Coal mine – 3 hrs
Are you ready to enter an old mine full of memories from coal-dusted miners?
20 years ago the coalminers went into the mountain to look for "black gold". What was it like to work in the Svalbard mines? You can now get the answer by joining the tour about the miner’s life on Svalbard. We equip you with working suit and lead you through a culture historic walk deep into the mountain. You will get to know about the miner’s life in Longyear City, how they lived and about the community back in the old days. Mine number 3 is located on a mountainside adjacent to the airport. You’ll pass a global seed vault (preserving seeds from a wide variety of plants so their genomes will not be lost). We will arrive the coal mine and enjoy a wonderful view over the Adventfjord. A lot of the mine area is untouched and old. We put on our overalls, helmets and headlamps before our journey in the mine begins.
We end it with the walk into the tunnel and bathe in total darkness. You’re headlamps will provide you with light, in addition to the light that is always at the end of every tunnel!
(3) Dog sledding – 3 hrs
Join us and drive your own dog team! Our steady carts with comfortable suspension and 4-6 hardworking dogs will take you and several riders on this exiting ride. You’ll take turns mushing the dogs through beautiful scenery and abundant wildlife, as well as many industrial sites of cultural heritage. Weather and snow cover depending; this tour will be on an actual Dog Sled or a Dog Sled with wheels.
This trip is suitable for all with normal good health.
We’ll return to the hotel after the optional excursions and in the late afternoon transfer from hotel to the dock to board our Ship, the Ocean Nova.
4 PM Departure on The Ocean Nova.
Days 5 (June 17) to 11 (June 23) — Exploring Spitsbergen
Your Spitsbergen adventure begins when you board your ship in Longyearbyen, the island’s largest settlement. As you embark, you’ll enjoy great views of the mountainous landscape that serves as a backdrop for this seaside village.
You’ll cruise around this magical island on a constant search for wildlife. Your expedition will cover western Spitsbergen as well as stunning fjords and outlying islands to the north. From polar flora (over 90 flowing plant species) to immense glaciers, the natural landscape here is just as varied as the wildlife, including whales, seals, polar bears, walrus, reindeer, wolf, musk ox, hare & lemming.
Each expedition presents new opportunities and different weather and ice, so there is no fixed itinerary; however, we do have some favorite destinations, including the 14th of July Glacier, Smeerenburg, Alkefjellet and the Hinlopen Strait. The destinations visited will be selected for optimum wildlife viewing and appreciation of the history and geology of Spitsbergen. Polar bear viewing is almost guaranteed, with Hornsund being one of their preferred hunting areas, and the towering cliffs of Alkefjellet providing many free bird egg meals for both them and the arctic fox.
Poolepynton is a great venue for walrus viewing and photography. Coming across a walrus haul-out is a moment you won’t forget. These lumbering giants of the Arctic create quite a noisy scene as each walrus vies for a choice spot of coastline.
Smeerenburg is a great place for an optional snowshoeing excursion, if conditions permit. You can visit a memorial erected in 1906. This historical site honors the whalers who lost their lives in the 17th and 18th centuries while working in extreme arctic conditions.
Ready for a little adventure beyond your ship? Each Quark Expeditions® voyage o ers a variety of fun recreational activities to enhance your polar experience.
Led by experienced sta , exploring on foot is the best way to appreciate the landscape, communities and shorelines.
Daily chats with on-board experts—
our guides, scientists and other special guests—let passengers rub shoulders with historians, botanists, ornithologists, zoologists, geologists and more.
This rite of passage, experienced just once per expedition, sees you safely jumping into icy ocean waters under the watchful eye of our sta —and just about every single camera lens on board!
Zodiacs are the workhorses of polar expeditions, safely transporting guests to remote shorelines and shallow inlets— places the ships can’t reach. Hopping in and out of them is super-easy.
Documenting your voyage so you
can take the memories home is both rewarding and constructive. Plus, it is next to impossible to take a bad picture of the Polar Regions.
OTHER EQUIPMENT ON BOARD
Walking poles are provided at each landing for your convenience. This equipment is available at no cost.
There is no shortage of natural beauty in Spitsbergen. The tundra can be surprisingly colorful in summer, with wildflowers bursting for a taste of sunshine. Each day, you’ll see something new, whether it is a rare bird species, a polar bear on the hunt, or a century-old abandoned hut.
Important reminder: Embracing the unexpected is part of the legacy – and excitement – of expedition travel. There are no guarantees that we can achieve everything we set out to accomplish. A measure of flexibility is something all of us must bring to a voyage. There are nearly 200 recognized sites in the Antarctic Peninsula and South Shetlands and the places mentioned above may be changed to others equally as interesting.
Day 12: Sunday June 23 — Depart Longyearbyen-- Flight to Oslo
The time to say goodbye has come. Your adventure ends as it began, in the frontier settlement of Longyearbyen. From here, we’ll transfer you to Oslo and your connections home.
Early Morning Transfer for 8 am flight to Oslo. Arrive in Oslo at 10:55 AM.