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From Scotland to Spitsbergen
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Travelers should be in good health and comfortable walking or standing for extended periods of time. Daily activities may include walking tours, visits to sites, safari drives, and easy hikes; and some days will have more physical activities such as longer hikes, kayaking, snorkeling, or biking.

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Premium expeditions are led by a National Geographic expert, an expedition team, or top guides, and tap into National Geographic's worldwide resources to allow for in-depth exploration and special access to sites and experts in the field. Itineraries are fully planned, with some free time. Accommodations are high-end or best available. Ground transportation and most meals and activities are included in the trip price.

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Expedition Overview

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In partnership with National Geographic Expeditions.With PONANT, board L'Austral for an all new expedition cruise that will take you from Dublin to Longyearbyen. During this exceptional 12-day trip, you will discover the most beautiful of the Scottish Isles and cross the Arctic Circle to reach the frozen lands of Spitsbergen Island.From the Irish capital, you will set a course northward and have the chance to stop at several of the British Isles.First you will discover the Hebrides archipelago: Iona, the cradle of Scottish Christianity, Mull and the charming colourful town of Tobermory, and finally the Isle of Skye, a bastion of Gaelic culture, its famous bridge, and its stunning scenery.You will then call atKirkwall, capital of theOrkney Islands, where numerous seabirds, such as gannets and European shags, have taken up residence.Further north, you will marvel at the mysterious charm of theLofotenarchipelago. These islands have landscapes ofsurreal beautyalternating between sea, spectacular fjords, mountain slopes, fine sand beaches and huts on stilts.To round off your trip, Spitsbergen, an island that is emblematic of the Arctic lands, will reveal itself to you. There you will be able to explore Hornsund, one of the island's most beautiful fjords, boasting an impressive glacier front.We are privileged guests in these remote lands where we are at the mercy of weather, ice, tidal and current conditions. Landings on certain sites and the observation of certain wildlife cannot be guaranteed. They vary from day to day, making each PONANT cruise a unique experience. The Captain and the Expedition Leader will make every effort to ensure that your experience is as rich as possible, while complying with the safety rules and instructions imposed by the AECO.

Trip highlights

Head to shore or explore the sea in Zodiac® inflatables where you’ll be joined by a team of experienced naturalist guides, and the possibility of hikes.

Witness incredible landscapes that include small lakes, basalt grottos, fjords, vertiginous cliffs, ice floes steep-sided valleys and huge glaciers.

Visit five archipelagos during one expedition including the Hebrides, Orkney Islands, Shetland Islands, Lofoten Islands and Svalbard, and crossing the Arctic Circle.

Enjoy wildlife sceneries, multiple species of birds, whales, dolphins, Svalbard reindeer, ...

Experience Scotland and Spitsbergen alongside a National Geographic Photographer and Expert, who are specialised in the destination.

David Scott Silverberg
Conservationist, Geologist & Geographer

Geologist and geographer David Scott Silverberg works on conservation projects spanning six continents. His mix of exploration, research, and storytelling has been popular with National Geographic travellers for many years. A fellow of both the Royal Geographical Society and the Royal Asia Society, David was the executive science director at Earthwatch Institute, set up and managed Boston University environmental field research programs in British Columbia and eastern Africa, and was a founding White House staff member for AmeriCorps. With a home in Norway and frequent travels in the far north, David will share his expertise in the geography, history, cultures, and wildlife of the North Atlantic and the Arctic on this expedition.

Sisse Brimberg

Award-winning Danish photographer Sisse Brimberg has produced more than 50 stories for National Geographic and National Geographic Traveler magazines over the past 40 years. Most recently, Brimberg has resided in Glasgow, Scotland for five years, and she has made over 20 trips to Svalbard since 2005. Her stories have covered a wide range of subjects, from northern Europe’s Viking culture and the influence of the Hanseatic League around Lofoten to the global flower trade and the prehistoric cave art of southwestern France. For National Geographic (Scandinavia), Sisse also photographed the Russian colony in Barentsburg, Svalbard. Brimberg enjoys teaching photography and has joined National Geographic Expeditions for the past two decades.

Itinerary - 12Days

1 Dublin, Ireland

The capital of Ireland is a remarkably diverse city that makes an ideal starting point for your Scotland to Spitsbergen expedition. The cobbled streets which line the streets of Dublin are filled with art shops, tea houses and pubs as well as iconic architecture that can be found around every corner.

2 Iona In Hebrides and Tobermory In Isle of Mull

Head up to the Scottish Isles and find Iona, a small island off the southwest coal of Mill in the Inner Hebrides. With just 130 inhabitants, Iona is famed for Iona Abbey, which was once the centre of Gaelic monasticism. The tranquil lands are typical of Hebridean beauty and the approach is particularly spectacular when the weather is sunny.
Tobermory, located on the northernmost tip of the Isle of Mull, is a natural seaport famed for its fishing.
Explore the hillside and its quaint houses that light the harbour, giving a warm welcome to incoming ships and visitors.

3 Sailing Along Skye Bridge and Portree, Isle of Skye

Portree is the capital and largest town on Skye in the Inner Hebrides of Scotland.
Created as a fishing village 200 years ago, Portree has developed into a popular harbour popular with locals and visitors alike who enjoy the many cafes, shops and restaurants that can be found.
For hikers, Portree is an ideal destination as the wilderness is bursting with incredible hikes that will give you magnificent views.

4 Kirkwall, Scotland

Kirkwall is the main settlement of the Northern Isles and capital of the archipelago of Orkney.
The vibrant city is the perfect stopover before continuing to the Northern Isles, with a host of independent shops, bars and restaurants in the centre. Tankerness House, the oldest homestead in the town, is a must-see landmark. But the true architectural treasure of the aptly named Kirkwall is none other than its remarkable red and gold stone cathedral.

5 Lerwick, Shetland Islands

Lerwick is capital of the Shetland Islands and is Britain's most northerly town. Situated off the north coast of mainland Scotland, the popular seaport is centred by the old waterfront which is lined with shops, cafes, lively bars and clubs. The sandstone buildings are reminiscent of the 18th century with many of the warehouses still stand with their foundations in the sea.

6 At Sea

During your day on the L’Austral, make the most of your surroundings and enjoy the onboard amenities and services. Relax in the spa, head to the fitness center for a workout or take a dip in the swimming pool. If you’re interested in wildlife, head to the upper deck where you’ll get the best view to observe marine species, should you be lucky enough to pass any.

7 Reine and Leknes, Lofoten

Lofoten Islands are considered to be in “another world” and for good reason. The archipelago with its jagged coastline is a majestic setting of high alpine summits, sandy beaches, green prairies and spectacular fjords. Many of the fjords are UNESCO listed, so whichever you manage to see will be a treat.
Reine is a picture-perfect village surrounded by blue waters, lush greenery and speckled colour from the fishermen’s cottages. Enjoy hiking, whale-watching and birdwatching from this idyllic setting.
Leknes sits in the centre of the Lofoten Islands on the northwest coast. The dramatic landscapes of gigantic fjords, peaks and white sandy beaches, protect the town from the elements in Norway.

8 Tromso

Tromsø is a secluded town situated in the country of Troms. Known locally as the “Paris of the north” it is the largest city of Northern Norway and is a specular location to see to the Northern Lights. The diverse town is ideal for eating and drinking as well as being surrounded by untouched wilderness, which offers many opportunities for outdoor activities.

9 Sailing by Bjornoya (Bear Island)

Situated halfway between Norway and Spitsbergen, Bjørnøya is the most southern island of Svalbard. Also known as Bear Island, it was discovered by Dutch explorers in 1596 and was aptly named after the explorers got into a ‘fight’ with a polar bear. From the cruise, you may be lucky enough to see the diverse wildlife that resides on and around the island.

10 Isbukta, Spitsbergen

Isbukta is a bay in Sørkapp Land on the south-east point of the island Spitsbergen. The relatively small bay protects the immense glacier, Vasil’evbreen which is bigger than 20km in length. This stop is the perfect opportunity for a unique Zodiac® outing if the weather permits and get the chance to approach Stellingfjellet.

11 Horn Glacier, Spitsbergen

Hornsund fjord is considered to be the most spectacular of them all. Never seeing the night, Hornsund fjord is considered to be Svalbard’s southernmost fjord as it sits as the end of bay. Gently float past the great glaciers slowly making their way down to the sea before giving way to the many icebergs elegantly drifting along its cold and mysterious waters.

12 Longyearbyen, Spitsbergen

Longyearbyen is the capital of the Norwegian Svalbard archipelago and is situated on Svalbard’s main island. By many, Longyearbyen may seem like an extreme environment to reside with winter temperatures plummeting to around 40°C but these conditions make the experience during the expedition even more spectacular.