Crossing the North Sea, you stand an excellent chance of spotting minke whales, white-beaked dolphins, and harbour porpoises. Several other cetaceans, including orcas (killer whales), are also native to these seas.
You arrive in Aberdeen, the Granite City, frequent winner of the Britain in Bloom competition. This is the true start of your trip. Several cetaceans, including orcas (killer whales), are native to these seas. To the south you see the lighthouse on Girdle Ness that was designed by the grandfather of Robert Louis Stevenson, the famed Scottish writer who gave us such classics as Treasure Island and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. More passengers join you in Aberdeen.More passengers will board the ship in Aberdeen.
At Fair Isle, in the Shetlands, the roughly seventy inhabitants (renowned for their knitwear) welcome you for a walk to the local bird observatory. This location is a haven for sea birds, though you may also spot grey seals.
You sail north to the Norwegian island of Jan Mayen, 300 nautical miles northeast of Iceland. Your two days at sea do not pass idly, however. Keep a close lookout for any spouts of water from the surrounding seas, heralding the arrival of a minke, fin, orca, or blue whale.
Jan Mayen is a stark volcanic island crowned by the snow-capped summit of Mt. Beerenberg. From the slopes of this imposing 2,300-meter-high (7,545 feet) volcano, broken glaciers grasp out into the frigid sea. With permission from the Norwegian authorities, you can now visit the weather station. You can also walk to the remains of a 17th-century Dutch whaling station amid the thick moss beds of this stark volcanic landscape.
Basking in the midnight sun, you sail north along the edge of the sea ice in search of bowhead whales, harp seals, polar bears, and a variety of seabirds. You then change direction after about 79° north, cutting west to the rocky edges of the continental shelf of west Spitsbergen. Here you have a good chance of seeing fin whales and – near the glacial mouths of the gaping Spitsbergen fjords – surfacing minke whales.
Forlandsundet, between the main island of Spitsbergen and the narrow Prins Karls Forland, is a place of great beauty and fascinating wildlife. Walruses sometimes haul out here. Alternatively, you might sail into St. Johns Fjord or head south to the mouth of Isfjorden, landing at Alkhornet. Seabirds nest on these cliffs, Arctic foxes search below for fallen eggs and chicks, and reindeer graze the sparse vegetation.