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This cruise crosses the Arctic Circle, then continues far beyond. First visit the world of the reindeer, then enter the realm of the polar bear. Glaciers, sea cliffs and fjords – this is nature at its northern wildest and most spectacular

These cruises cross the Arctic Circle, then continue far beyond. First visit the world of the reindeer, then enter the realm of the polar bear. Glaciers, sea cliffs and fjords – this is nature at its northern wildest and most spectacular.


 Harstad - A little-visited port north of the Arctic Circle towards the northern end of the Lofoten Islands. It lies just a stone’s throw from open countryside of low bushes, hills in their full summer glory and mountain lakes.

 Honningsvåg - We venture into the hills behind this remote town, just short of North Cape, to experience true Arctic wilderness, normally spotting reindeer as we go.

 Pyramiden - Possibly the wildest place we will ever visit, a remote outpost on the island of Svalbard, just 800 miles from the North Pole. A local guide takes us across streams and open tundra to a lake. We hope to see reindeer and polar foxes as well as arctic flora. The guide carries a gun just in case we come across a polar bear.

 Longyearbyen - After visiting the local husky colony, we cross the arctic tundra with a local guide to see the short-lived summer flowers and spot birds, reindeer and maybe even a polar fox.

 Kristiansund - A town built on four islands. Our walk up the hill of Kvernberget with a local guide rewards us with views over sea, islands and mountains.

Tromsø - An island city famed as the gateway to the Arctic. We visit the Polar Museum, the Arctic Cathedral and take the cable car up Mount Storsteinen from where a spectacular panoramic walk is possible.

 Leknes - The Lofoten Islands rise like Skye’s Cuillins out of the Arctic waters. From the port we travel with a local guide to climb to the summit of Holandsmelen which offers a splendid 360º panorama of sea and mountains.

 Bodø - New for 2020, we spend the day hiking in the Hidden Valley with a local guide, a pristine enclave of mountains, glacier-carved rock and crystal-clear running water.


Holiday Highlights

  • Arctic Svalbard, just 800 miles from the North Pole
  • Our walk in the Hidden Valley near Bodø with local guide Ivar Sandland who runs his own adventure company
  • Experience eight days when the sun doesn’t set
The holiday inclusions and exclusions at a glance
What's included in this holiday Items that are covered in the cost of holiday price.

    A shore visit programme organised by us and led by your tour leader. Almost all transport costs for our walking and sightseeing programmes from the ports visited. Occasionally there may be an optional museum entrance or cable car fare to pay for locally. Details are in our Holiday Information Sheets.

    Walking tours with local guides around many of the cities we visit.

    Tips to the restaurant staff on the ship – we ask you to tip your cabin staff, however.

    A full on board entertainment programme including stage shows, ship’s band and musicians, comedy and guest speakers. You can enjoy as much or as little as you choose.
Whats not included in this holiday Items that are not covered in the cost of holiday price.

  • Entrance fees to some museums and historic buildings (unless otherwise specified)
  • Personal expenses (such as your bar bill)
  • Discretionary tips
  • Optional excursions
  • Insurance
Please select Departure Date to view:

Please see Holiday Information Sheet for this holidays individual departures itinerary (located under View Departures & Book tab)

Whilst every effort will be made to adhere to the outlined itinerary and advertised programme, local conditions can change due to weather or other unforeseen circumstances. This may mean that routes and timings need to be amended or the order of days may change, sometimes at short notice.

This departure: Grade 4/SS

  1. Day 1

    Today we board Black Watch in Liverpool and set sail for Norway. Check in for the cruise begins one hour prior to embarkation. Embarkation at the cruise terminal usually begins three hours before departure and closes one hour prior to sailing. At Liverpool you will be greeted by Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines' staff, including porters who will arrange for your luggage to be delivered to your cabin. There will be a letter from your Ramblers Cruise & Walk Holidays’ leader in your cabin informing you of the place and time for you to meet the rest of the group. Sailing time is usually from mid afternoon to early evening and will be confirmed on your travel documents.

  2. Day 2 to 3

    On these two days at sea we can relax and enjoy the facilities of the ship. There is usually a range of activities available on board – you may choose to join a fitness class or visit the onboard gym, attend one of the on-board lectures, treat yourself to a treatment in the spa or just simply relax in one of the lounges with a coffee and a book from the library. Each evening a Daily Times newsletter will be placed in your cabin, detailing events and timings for the following day. On these days at sea our tour leader often arranges informal get togethers.

  3. Day 4

    Ålesund, where we spend the day, is famous for its spectacular waterside situation, in between the sea and the mountains, and its beautiful Art Nouveau buildings. We take a short, easy loop of the old, cobbled streets and dockside areas. There should also be time for a walk on well maintained paths around and along the top of the Novøya Peninsula to a high café/viewpoint looking out over the town.

  4. Day 5 to 6

    We have some spectacular coastal scenery in store over the next two days at sea. Late Monday morning we cruise past Torghatten, a mountain near Brønnøysund with a remarkable hole in it. We then pass close to the sheer rock walls of the Seven Sisters and cruise by the Svartisen or Black Glacier. 10 metres of snow can fall here in the winter, creating this massive 375 square kilometre sheet of ice. Around 18.30 we enter the realm of the Midnight Sun as we cross the Arctic Circle. Beyond 66º33’ north the sun does not set for at least one day a year. On Tuesday we continue north. Scenic highlights include the foreboding jagged outline of the Devil’s Jaw mountain group.

  5. Day 7

    In Honningsvåg, on the island of Magerøya, we are deep in the Journey to Spitsberger, the land of reindeer and the Sami people. This is a remote wilderness with a beauty all of its own. (It lays claim to being the most northerly point in mainland Europe… but as it is an island we are not sure how it can be.) We walk north from the port up onto the tundra with lovely views to the south over the village of Nordvågen and the Barents Sea. We normally spot small herds of reindeer and there are wild flowers, creeping birch and willow. 7km (4 miles); 300m ascent & descent; 4 hours

  6. Day 8

    We have a day at sea as Black Watch continues its journey north.

  7. Day 9

    This morning we arrive in Longyearbyen, the outdoor pursuits capital of Svalbard. Our walk takes us up the Plateau Mountain (Platåfjellet) directly from the port, steep at times, but the higher you climb, the better the views get. As there is the option to return the same way, anyone who wants to take it easy can stop or turn back at any time. 10km, 450m ascent & descent, 3 ½ to 4 hours Whilst in Longyearbyen, there is also the chance to visit the Seed Vault, built to protect millions of food crops from climate change. This evening we cruise into the Temple Fjord to see the Tuna glacier, a wall of ice which plunges into the sea. Close by is the Von Post glacier – where this meets the water is frequented by ring seals, and thus is a place where there is a chance of seeing polar bears.

  8. Day 10

    Pyramiden is a former Russian mining colony, the most northerly point of our cruise. The landscape is bleak, but a few plants manage to find a foothold on the tundra. The bare mountains rise up one side; on the other are desolate beaches. On going ashore we should have time to walk around the village and enter a couple of the buildings. We then meet the local guide (armed with a rifle to ward off polar bears) and walk southwest on the old industrial road. At times the track may be affected by the snow-melt, and you may have to cross some streams if the weather has caused these to swell. As this can change overnight, it is difficult to know how it will be on a given date, and we will take it as it comes on the day. After around 1 ½ miles you swing to the west, and following this route for another mile or so will bring you to a little lake. The landscape is a combination of rivers and open tundra, and you may see the endemic Svalbard reindeer, curious polar foxes as well as seals and walruses by the shoreline. The guide will stop and point out any interesting flora or fauna. If the weather and water allow, you will return to Pyramiden along a different path.

    7 – 9km, 230m ascent & descent; 3 to 4 hours

  9. Day 11

    We have a day at sea as Black Watch heads south once more.

  10. Day 12

    Tromsø is seen as the gateway to the Arctic, the place where most expeditions to the frozen north start. Weather permitting we plan to start our day here with a cable car ride up Storsteinen mountain, high above the city. Returning down the mountain we look around the Arctic Cathedral, then visit the Polar Museum which is a fascinating place to learn about Polar exploration. It may also be possible to visit the Botanical Gardens, depending on where the Black Watch docks.

  11. Day 13

    It’s a shame that we do not visit Bodø more often as it has excellent hiking opportunities. We meet up with local guide Ivar who takes us into the Åsali valley, also known as the Hidden Valley. The valley was carved by glaciers hundreds of thousands of years ago. Today we’ll walk amidst crystal clear mountain lakes and waterfalls surrounded by peaks.

    8-12 km (5 – 8 miles), 200m ascent & descent, up to 5 hours

  12. Day 14

    We leave Norway behind and have a day at sea to enjoy the comforts of life on board Black Watch.

  13. Day 15

    Today we come ashore in the Shetland Islands, the most northerly outpost of the British Isles. A forty five minute drive brings us to St Ninian’s Isle on the South Mainland of Shetland. The island is joined to the ‘mainland’ by a sand causeway ‘tombolo’ and is famous for St Ninian’s Isle Treasure, a hoard of silver discovered during anarchaeologicaldig in 1958 underneath the floor of an early Church. The island boasts marvellouscoastal scenery and lots of birds. A local guide takes us around the island telling lots of old stories aboutshipwrecksand smugglers.

    5km (3 miles); 100m ascent & descent; 2 ½ hours

    After the walk there should be time to explore Lerwick.

  14. Day 16

    We have a final day to enjoy the facilities and food on board Black Watch as well as remembering Norway’s amazing scenery. Make sure you spend plenty of time out on deck as we sail past Scottish coast and islands.

  15. Day 17

    We arrive in Liverpool at around 07:00 for disembarkation after breakfast.

Travel Details

For our holidays which sail from the UK, departure ports vary

Trip Map

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Our Accommodation on this holiday

Below is the accommodation featured on this holiday. If you are on a multi-centre holiday, these are highlights of the places where we stay. Please refer to your Holiday Information sheet (which can be found under View Departures & Book), for your departure date and for all your accommodation details.

Black Watch

Black Watch is sleek, intimate and harks back to the days when cruise ships were revered for their style and charm. The ultimate home-from-home at sea; Black Watch is spacious with a friendly and familiar feel, and provides guests with a traditional cruise experience.  Having undergone a thorough refurbishment in late 2016, Black Watch features a selection of stylish suites and rooms, restaurants and spacious public rooms that provide up to 804 guests with everything needed for a comfortable, enjoyable and stress-free stay on board, while retaining the elegant style of a traditional cruise ship. 

View the deck plan for Black Watch

Black Watch has several restaurants; welcoming bars and lounges offering an array of music, dance, comedy and entertainment. There are inviting open deck spaces; and a teak-lined promenade.  You can soak-up the sunshine at the Marquee Bar; or enjoy the sophistication of a Traditional Afternoon Tea, accompanied by breathtaking views, in the Observatory. To satisfy your caffeine cravings, visit The Bookmark Café for luxurious coffees and indulgent chocolates. In the evening, settle-in amongst the familiar surroundings of the Morning Light Pub; then take in the after-dinner show in the Neptune Lounge. In the Lido Lounge you can simply sit back with a drink in hand, or hit the dance floor!  Black Watch also has an upgraded 4K, 3D cinema if you fancy a ‘movie night’.

On board facilities also include two swimming pools, a fitness centre including a sauna, steam room and beauty salon, two sun decks, Jacuzzis, several lounges and bars, a card room, small casino, library, coffee shop, internet room and restaurants. The ship has a medical centre, a boutique, a shop where you can buy essentials such as sun cream or toiletries, and there is also a self service laundrette and ironing room on board.

All guest cabins are are equipped with climate control, an interactive smart TV, hairdryer, desk, phone, fridge (which can be stocked as a mini-bar) and tea and coffee making facilities as standard.  Allocated cabins will be an inside cabin unless you have paid a supplement to upgrade. 

Your cabin steward will keep your cabin in immaculate condition, replacing any linen or towels as or when required. Separate towels are provided for poolside use. Black Watch operates a satellite telephone system, with telephones in each cabin, and personal mobile phones enabled for international roaming should work on board. The voltage on board the Black Watch is supplied at 220 volts (requiring a continental style 2-pin plug).

Payment on board is in Sterling, and a credit account system is operated on board allowing purchases to be charged to your account which must be settled at the end of your cruise.