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Norway's Arctic Fjords & Arctica SvalbardLe Ponant Cruise

Oslo (Norway) - Bergen (Norway) aboard the National Geographic Explorer

May 24 - June 9, 2013 (16 nights)

Follow the length of Norway's majestic fjord-carved coast from Bergen to the glaciers and polar bears of the Arctic Svalbard archipelago -- one of the few places remaining where Nature provides highlight after wild highlight.

Heading north among Norway's thousands of islets on this enchanting Arctic cruise, the scenery becomes overpoweringly dramatic. This is the fjordlands—a region that stretches 1,000 miles. Each fjord is different from its neighbor: roaring waterfalls, granite cliffs and tiny villages that cling to the steep sides of the fjord walls.

Then just 350 miles north of Norway's mainland, lies the Svalbard Archipelago, a wilderness region of massive icebergs, deep fjords, ice-capped mountains—and the masters of the Arctic, polar bears. Only 600 miles from the North Pole, Svalbard is the best place on earth to observe polar bears in their natural habitat--on the pack ice. And no one gives you a more immersive and respectful Arctic cruise experience there than we can.

 NOTE: The May 24, 2013 departure will operate as an 18-day itinerary, beginning in Copenhagen.


Day-by-Day Itinerary
Day 1 - Oslo
Arrive this morning in Oslo, the capital city where each year the Nobel Peace Prize is awarded in the presence of the King of Norway. Our introduction to Oslo begins with a stroll amid the famed Vigeland sculptures — hundreds of life-size human figures set in rolling parklands. Next we visit the Polarship Fram Museum, dedicated to the wooden ship sailed by Norwegian explorers Nansen and Amundsen. The evening is free to explore Oslo on your own. Overnight at the Continental Hotel, or similar.
Day 2 -Oslo/Longyearbyen, Svalbard/Embark
Depart Oslo on a private charter flight to Longyearbyen, one of the northernmost human settlements on Earth. Embark National Geographic Explorer and settle in to shipboard life. (B,L,D)
Day 3-6 - Exploring Svalbard
Svalbard lies north of the Arctic Circle, where the summer midnight sun never sets. In true expedition style, we let nature dictate our day-to-day movements here and this, by the way, is one of the great attractions of this expedition. Our flexible itinerary and years of experience here allow us to take the best advantage of ice and weather conditions. With our fully stabilized, ice-class expedition ship, we are able to probe deep into the ice where polar bears hunt. Join our spotters on the Bridge, scanning the ice and islands for huge walrus, bearded and ringed seals, arctic foxes, reindeer, some of the largest whales on Earth — and polar bears. A sighting brings everyone rushing in excitement to the ship’s bow! Our expert staff gets you out daily. Depending on conditions, we may land on Edgeøya to hike the tundra, abloom with summer wildflowers. We often sail deep into Hornsund, where even first-time kayakers can paddle in a quiet cove surrounded by sparkling bergs. We may venture to the stunning Monacobreen glacier, or get close-up views of the iconic creatures of the ice by Zodiac. Back aboard, view underwater video from our ROV taken 1,000 feet below the surface, or spend time on deck with a National Geographic Photographer getting tips in an inspiring landscape. Every day is different, every day an adventure. (B,L,D)
Day 7 - Bear Island
Zodiac around mist-shrouded Bear Island, populated by thousands of fulmars, kittiwakes, guillemots and gulls. This is a birdwatcher's paradise. (B,L,D)
Day 8 - At Sea
Having explored the High Arctic, we’ll now set our sights for coastal Norway. If weather conditions allow, we may search for marine mammals in areas we've found over the years they are likely to frequent. (B,L,D)
Day 9 - Tromso
Tromso, the capital of northern Norway, is known as the "Gateway to the Arctic" since so many arctic expeditions originated here. We visit the Arctic Cathedral, whose unique architecture is evocative of snow and icebergs. Its stained glass windows are among the largest in Europe. And we visit the Polar Museum, with excellent exhibits on arctic nature and environment. (B,L,D)
Day 10 - Tysfjorden
There’s no denying that the Norwegian fjords are beautiful, and on the days to come we explore places along the Norwegian coastline that raise the standard of landscape-pulchritude to new heights. National Geographic Explorer enters Tysfjorden, where mile after mile of vertical walls surround us and only a few small villages cling to the rocky shores. Zodiac and kayak along steep-walled fjords, and find inspiration in the birch forests and tumbling waterfalls. The unspoiled Hellemobotn cuts nearly to Sweden and has a trail to hike almost to the border. (B,L,D)
Day 11 - Lofoten Islands
The Lofoten Archipelago is an enchanting area of picturesque villages by the sea backed with jagged peaks. By Zodiac, we view nesting seabirds: Atlantic puffins, razorbills and guillemots. Later, we go ashore on the island of Aa, where cod fishing is still a major part of the economy. Be on deck as we cruise into one of the most famous fjords in Norway, the short yet dramatic Trollfjord, and search the cliffs for Norway's mythical beings: trolls. (B,L,D)
Day 12-13 - Exploring the Fjords of Norway
The coast of Central Norway is rugged with mountainous islands and steep-walled fjords. The Expedition Leader and Captain will discuss with the local Norwegian pilots the many landing possibilities where options are many: Zodiac along vertical rock faces, paddle serenely in a deep fjord surrounded by cascading waterfalls, or venture ashore for a hike with our naturalist staff. Over the years, we’ve discovered a number of special places, including Melfjord. This narrow channel is surrounded by high granite cliffs polished smooth by massive glaciers, and is one of the most spectacular spots on our voyage. (B,L,D)
Day 14 - Nordfjord
Today we enter lovely Nordfjord, included on our itinerary since it is less touristed. We spend the morning at the end of the fjord, where we are transported up the Loen Valley via coach through some incredibly beautiful scenes: a turquoise-colored lake on one side and breathtaking mountains all around. A number of relatively flat trails lead along valleys shaped by massive glaciers (more strenuous hikes are also an option). And, we walk to a tongue of the large Jostedalsl Glacier. This afternoon be on deck as our ship sails back out of the fjord amid high peaks. (B,L,D)
Day 15 - Bergen/Disembark
This morning our ship sails into beautiful Bergen. Once an important Hanseatic town, it is set on a fjord and known as the city of seven hills. We transfer to the airport for flights home



Terms and Conditions:

Basis of Rates:
All prices are based on two persons sharing a cabin, or a single where noted. Shared accommodations are available on certain ships and categories. For more information, please refer to our Share Guarantee Program section of our Terms and Conditions, or call us for details. All prices and fares are quoted in U.S. dollars.

Costs Include: 
All accommodations aboard ships or in hotels per itinerary or similar, all meals and nonalcoholic beverages aboard ship, meals on land as indicated, air transportation where indicated as included, shore excursions, sightseeing and entrance fees, special access permits, transfers to and from group flights, use of snorkeling equipment and wet suits, use of kayaks (where available), gratuities (except to ship’s crew), taxes and service charges, services of a ship physician on most voyages, and services of our expedition staff.

Not Included:
Air transportation (except where shown as included), extensions, passport, visa, immigration fees, scuba diving (where available), meals not indicated, travel protection plan, items of a personal nature, such as alcoholic beverages, internet access, and laundry. Gratuities to ship's crew are at your discretion.

For all programs, airfare is an additional cost unless otherwise indicated. Sample airfares are subject to change. We will gladly assist in making your air arrangements for a $50 per person service fee.

To reserve your place, an advance payment for the program is required at the time of reservation. The per person advance payment amount varies by program, and is outlined in our brochures, as well as on our website. Holiday departure dates and certain longer voyages may carry additional advance deposit requirements due to high demand for these voyages. Payment is accepted by Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover or check.

Receipt of your initial payment indicates your acceptance of our complete Terms and Conditions.

We require written notice at the time of reservation for any physical condition, diet, or treatment requiring special attention.

Smoking Policy:
Smoking is allowed only in designated outdoor areas.

Share Guarantee Program:

If you are a solo guest willing to share accommodations, we will be happy to make arrangements to match you with another solo guest, so you may travel at the double occupancy rate. If you are willing to share, and we are unable to make shared arrangements for you, we will guarantee you the per person double occupancy rate, and you will not incur the solo rate. This program is subject to availability, and limited to certain ships and categories.

Medical Information:
It is essential that guests with medical conditions and/or special dietary restrictions, make them known to us in sufficient time for us to accommodate their request.