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Island Holidays
Established 1987

Northern Norway

7-night sailing cruises in the Arctic Circle — whale-watching and northern lights

Orca dorsal fins protuding above the water with a backdrop of snow-capped mountainous coast

This tour includes: Tromsø • Senja & Andfjorden (Skrolsvik, Andenes, Gryllefjorden or Sommarøy) • Tromsø

The coasts and fjords of Norway are renowned for their beauty. In the far north of the country, about 350 km (217 miles) north of the Arctic Circle, lie the islands of Kvaløya and Senja. Enormous schools of herring gather in the fjords around these islands to live out the winter. This abundance of food creates one of the largest concentrations of biomass on Earth, which in turn attracts large numbers of whales. It is these giants of the sea that this voyage is dedicated to finding.

During winter the daylight is limited, but the night time hours are far from wasted: North Norway is one of the best areas in the world to see the northern lights, a magical phenomenon that can only be fully appreciated when the sky is clear and dark, with minimal light pollution. This voyage offers ample opportunities to admire the auroras from the remote bays and fishing villages where you�ll spend the night (on board the ship but in sheltered locations).

Because of the seasonal occurrence of herring and whales in these fjords, the whale safari cruises take place in winter, when the northern Norway days are short and the nights long. In January and February, the herring migrate southward (and so too do the whales), often to the northwest coast of Senja and Andfjord. For this reason, the expedition leader will adapt the sailing plan to maximize your chances of seeing whales. But please note: Whale watching (orca and humpback) is dependent on the variable herring stocks in the area, and this is ultimately unpredictable. Other whales (i.e. sperm whales) are not dependent on herring, which is why there are good chances to see them in specific areas.

Our 7-night voyages on board s/v Rembrandt van Rijn start and end in Tromsø and we are happy to arrange your flights, usually via Oslo. If you would like to extend your holiday, just ask us.

Route map

Northern Norway Route

Key facts

  • Northern Norway: Arctic Circle, Whale-watching & Aurora Borealis
  • Expedition cruise with specialist expedition leaders
  • 2019 departures:
    05 January (RVR01)
    19 January (RVR03)
    16 February (RVR07)
    23 February (RVR08)
    30 November (RVR41)
    07 December (RVR42)
    14 December (RVR43)
    21 December (RVR44)
    28 December (RVR45)
  • Nights: 7
  • Cabin price from: £1,830* (triple private porthole)
  • Deposit: 20%
  • Vessel: S/v Rembrandt van Rijn
  • Tour leader: Oceanwide Expeditions
  • * Please note that the prices quoted are for cruise only and do not include flights or hotel accommodation. We will arrange your flights and any accommodation but as fares and rates are subject to change, prices are quoted on request.
  • Northern Norway 2019 detailed itinerary & cabin prices

The ship

S/v Rembrandt van Rijn was built as a herring lugger early last century. She was rebuilt as a three-mast passenger sailing schooner in 1994. The vessel underwent a complete rebuilding and refurbishment program and the communication and navigation equipment has been completely renewed according to the latest SOLAS regulations.

S/v Rembrandt van Rijn

The Rembrandt is well suited for expedition cruising among small islands and offers excellent open deck viewing areas, even when under sail. The two inflatable rubber crafts (zodiacs) enable landing and wildlife viewing opportunities in otherwise inaccessible areas. Read more about the Rembrandt van Rijn

Your itinerary

Day 1
Your adventure begins in Tromsø, nicknamed the “Paris of the North,” located in an area rich with Norse and Sámi history. Enjoy exploring this sub-Arctic Norwegian town, said to have been inhabited since the last ice age.

Day 2
Early in the morning, you depart from Tromsø. The itinerary depends largely on the weather conditions, the amount of daylight during the voyage, and the expected location of the whales. You might sail clockwise or counterclockwise around the island of Senja.

Days 3 – 6
You spend the next several days along the north coasts of Senja and Andfjorden, areas where many whales have been spotted in recent years. Keep a look out for sperm whales and other whale species here. Near Andenes, along the edge of the continental shelf, whales dive particularly deep to feed on giant squid. You may also see whitetailed eagles, one of the largest birds of prey in Europe, vying for their share of the herring. In the afternoon, you find a place for the night in one of the scenic fishing villages nearby, such as Skrolsvik, Andenes, Gryllefjorden, or Sommarøy. Once the sun has set, you can make small hikes along the coast — and maybe even catch sight of the aurora.

Days 7 – 8
Continuing your circumnavigation of Senja, you sail to the small island of Sommarøy. Here there are good opportunities to see the northern lights as well as embark on pleasant hikes. You spend the last morning of the cruise exploring the island�s small bays and white beaches. You can even climb the 211-meter-high (692 feet) Mount Hillesøya, the summit of which affords panoramic views of the rugged coastline. That afternoon you sail back to Tromsø. After spending the night on board, you disembark the following day with memories that will accompany you wherever your next adventure lies.

Disclaimer: This itinerary is dependent on sea and ice conditions. The final itinerary will be decided by the ship's captain and your Expedition Leader to maximize opportunities.