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Swan Hellenic announces Deep Arctic Northern Lights Specials

Swan Hellenic

Cultural expedition cruise pioneer releases details of four extraordinary voyages exploring Greenland, the Northwest Passage and Northern Canada from late August to early September 2024, when the Northern Lights are most visible.

Swan Hellenic continues to entice adventurous, curious minds with its expert-curated, cultural expedition cruises, this time announcing details of four exceptional “Northern Lights Voyages” across the Arctic aboard its luxurious ice-class vessel SH Vega.

  • The first is Iceland, East Greenland and the Northern Lights – 18 to 30 August 2024 – a 12-night circumnavigation of Iceland that ranges inland from 5 very different destinations. Departing from and returning to Reykjavik, guests will have diverse opportunities to enjoy the capital city’s varied attractions, including the neighboring Blue Lagoon, famous for its therapeutic geothermal waters. Ísafjörður is the first port of call, a bustling fishing town set in the heart of the dramatic Westfjords region. At this point, SH Vega sails north for an extensive foray into the wilds of East Greenland, from the remote town of Ittoqqortoormiit to the vast Scoresbysund fjord network and majestic Kong Oscar Fjord. Having returned south, the next port of call is Seyðisfjörður, East Iceland’s buzzing, cultural hub, surrounded by the rich, Skálanes nature reserve. The fishing village of Djupivogur then delivers quite a contrast, with its Viking origins and nearby Vatnajökull National Park, a wild expanse with Europe’s largest ice cap, Vatnajökull Glacier, thundering glacial rivers and active volcanoes. Finally, the “Puffin Island” of Heimaey immerses guests in thrilling birdlife experiences before their return to Reykjavik.

This unusual cultural expedition cruise, can be daisy-chained with SH Vega’s next voyage, Greenland in Depth, to bring further Northern Lights opportunities and extensive expeditions into the secrets of Greenland, the world’s largest island.

  • Greenland in Depth – 30 August to 9 September 2024 –departs Reykjavik, Iceland, on a 10-night voyage of Greenland, immersing guests in its thrilling wild landscapes and inspiring cultures and traditions. The expeditions start immediately with the uninhabited coastal island of Skjoldungen and the dramatic Prins Christian Sund fjord. Here breathtaking vistas await, complete with opportunities for sighting bearded seals and finback, blue and minke whales. The colorful Inuit fishing and hunting village of Aappilattoq follows, bringing cultural insights which find a dramatic contrast the day after in the deserted mining town of Ivittut. Nuuk, Greenland’s capital city, is next, combining a modern perspective with a buzzing arts scene, old Colonial Harbor and traditional wooden houses alongside avant-garde architecture. Sisimiut, just north of the Arctic Circle, continues the cultural deep dive, having been inhabited for over 4,500 years by the Inuit, Dorset and then Thule people. Days eight and nine are dedicated to the UNESCO World Heritage Sites Ilulissat Icefjord and Disko Bay, an Inuit home for millennia, before the cruise ends to explore Kangerlussuaq over two days. Once a WWII airbase at the head of the fjord, Kangerlussuaq is now a welcoming gateway to Inuit culture, with its dedicated museum and icy tundra, teeming with wildlife.

Not surprisingly, this exceptional cultural expedition cruise already has limited remaining availability, partly due to the spectacular opportunity it offers for daisy-chaining with Iceland, East Greenland and the Northern Lights which precedes it.

  • Canadian Northwest Passage and the Northern Lights – 9 to 25 September – is a 16-night cultural expedition cruise that sails from and returns to Kangerlussuaq in Greenland, making its way to and through much of the Northwest Passage, first calling at Sisimiut, the northernmost city in Greenland, Ilulissat and then Qeqertarsuaq, the largest town on Disko Island. Day six brings the magical mountain views of Pond Inlet on northern Baffin Island in the Canadian territory of Nunavut. A prime breeding ground for narwhals, it’s equally famous for traditional Inuit craft skills and the thousand-year-old qarmaq sod houses in nearby Qulalukat. Dundas Harbor, the eastern entrance to the Northwest Passage on Devon Island, is next, followed by Croker Bay and Radstock Bay, closely associated with the exploration of Canada’s High Arctic undertaken while searching for the missing crew of British explorer Sir John Franklin’s fateful Northwest Passage Expedition in 1845-46. SH Vega takes guests closer to his story the following day on Beechey Island, where the expedition wintered. Port Leopold, a place of wild beauty, is the next port of call before crossing the Lancaster Sound to Elwin Bay, rich in wildlife from thick-billed murres, black guillemots, northern fulmars and black-legged kittiwakes to Beluga whales and ringed seals. The ship then calls at Fort Ross on Somerset Island, the now abandoned northernmost fur trading post of the Hudson’s Bay Company, where Sir James Clark Ross located the Magnetic North Pole in 1829. Passing through the Bellot Strait and cruising Peel Sound, this unforgettable cruise reaches Coningham Bay on Prince of Wales Island in the heart of the Northwest Passage. It then completes the return leg to Kangerlussuaq via the breathtaking Sam Ford Fjord and remote, beautiful Baffin Island community of Qikiqtarjuaq, renowned for the warmth and hospitality of its people, who welcome visitors and share their rich history, culture and traditions with pride.

Further enriching the experience, this voyage is one of Swan Hellenic’s Maris Culinary Discovery at Sea Series in partnership with JRE-Jeunes Restaurateurs, the gourmet organization for chefs under 40 who have already won international acclaim. Michelin star chef Alexandra Müller from Switzerland will be accompanying guests throughout the cruise, serving a different signature dish every night in the lead-up to a sumptuous Gala Dinner created to showcase her creativity and skills.

In addition, this cruise is also one of Swan Hellenic’s Explore Space at Sea Series in partnership with the SETI Institute. Renowned Astronomer Dr. Uma Gorti, an Expert in Star and Planet Formation, will be accompanying guests aboard and ashore throughout their cruise, giving two talks during the voyage: “Star and Planet Formation” and “Astrochemistry”.

  • The fourth of these special Northern Lights cruises is Canadian Arctic and Northern Lights – 25 September to 10 October 2024 – which sails from Kangerlussuaq on an epic 15-night voyage of discovery from the grandeur of Greenland’s glaciers, fjords and icebergs to the spectacular wilds and Inuit cultures of the northern Canadian coast. Initially exploring from Qeqertarsuaq, Ilulissat, Disko Bay and Sisimiut, SH Vega then sails south to Nuuk before crossing the Labrador Sea to Iqaluit in the Everett Mountains of Baffin Island. The northernmost city in Canada and capital of Nunavut territory, Iqaluit has been a fishing location of the Inuit and their predecessors, the Paleo-Eskimo (Dorset culture) and Thule for thousands of years. The acquaintance with Baffin Island continues along the coast and up to the uninhabited Lady Franklin Island, best known for its huge vertical cliffs of Archean rock, among the oldest rock formations on the planet, but also a haven for black guillemots, ptarmigan and gulls, with walruses and beluga whales nearby. Continuing south to the Torngat Mountains National Park in Newfoundland, staffed completely by Inuit, guests can hear first-hand their people’s tales of spirits and traditions in their ancestral homeland. The remote Arctic outpost of Hebron brings further insights into Inuit life and history on day 11, followed by a day at sea sailing on to L’anse Aux Meadows with its 1,000-year-old Viking settlement, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, before this eye-opening cruise concludes in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Founded as a naval base in 1749, Halifax is now famed not only for its seafaring tradition but also its museum with artifacts rescued from the Titanic, as well as Fairview Lawn Cemetery, where many of the ship’s victims are buried.

As one of Swan Hellenic’s Explore Space at Sea Series in partnership with theSETI Institute, this cruise will also be privileged to host the institute’s CEO Bill Diamond, who will be accompanying guests throughout their cruise, both aboard and ashore. Bill will give two talks during the voyage: “The Search for Life Beyond Earth – How it Works, How it’s Going, and Why it Matters” and “Astrobiology, Field Expeditions and the Search for Life Beyond Earth”.

SH Vega is a 5-star Polar Code PC 5 expedition cruise ship with ice-strengthened hull, featuring elegant Scandi-design interiors, extensive outdoor spaces and dedicated expedition facilities. Accommodating 152 guests in 76 spacious suites and staterooms, the majority with large balconies, she features a swimming pool, state-of-the-art gym, spa, panoramic sauna and three dining venues – the Swan Restaurant, Club Lounge and Pool Bar & Grill.

Swan Hellenic Chief Commercial Officer Patrizia Iantorno comments: “We are very proud of these Arctic Northern Lights voyages with their exceptional onboard experiences. They not only offer rare access to the raw beauty, history and cultures of these remote, pristine regions, but also bring special opportunities to witness the Northern Lights from land and sea. We can’t wait to welcome guests aboard! “

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Theodore is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of TravelDailyNews Media Network; his responsibilities include business development and planning for TravelDailyNews long-term opportunities.