Magdalena Bay is one of the most beautiful places on earth. There are no cars, no shops, no houses and no roads in this pristine, glistening fjord.
The only trace of human life comes in the form of centuries-old whalers’ graves and the remains of whaling vats in this north-westerly region of Spitsbergen, the largest island in the Svalbard archipelago.
Saga Pearl II will dock in Magdalena Bay for the last time during its Arctic Explorer cruise, departing June 22, when passengers will wake up surrounded by snow-capped mountains and giant glaciers.
If the weather is fine the crew will set up ‘the world’s most northerly bar’, using a temporary landing stage for guests who wish to take a tender to the fjord’s isolated beach.
Watch out for a polar bear padding down the glacier or seals and walruses in the clear Arctic waters.
The ORCA charity team will be on board to help passengers watch for wildlife and record sightings. On the ship’s last visit to the region more than 400 mammals were seen, including blue whales and humpback whales.
Nearby Ny-Ålesund will also become a final port of call. This remote outpost was the starting base for Roald Amundsen's polar expeditions in mid-1920s. It is now an international research station for 200 scientists from across the globe who study glaciology, meteorology, botany and climate change.
Polar bear numbers equal people in Ny-Ålesund’s shimmering, icy landscape which is the world’s most northerly inhabited settlement. Wildflowers clothe the landscape as warmth from the midnight sun brings them to life after the long, dark polar winter nights.
Saga Pearl II will also call in at Longyearbyen, the largest and oldest settlement on Spitsbergen, where passengers can join a glacier hike or dog-sledding trips.
During the sailing to Spitsbergen there will be plenty of opportunities to explore Norway’s scenic paradise including the Lofoten Islands, where sea eagles make their home. In Tromso, swathes of blue Himalayan poppies will delight visitors to the world’s most northerly botanic garden.
Stavanger, Geiranger fjord and Bergen are also on the itinerary of this historic cruise which promises holiday memories that can never be repeated.
15 nights from £3099, departing Dover on June 22, includes VIP door-to-door travel service, all meals, 24-hour room service, all gratuities, porterage, travel insurance and cancellation cover.
For details call free on 0800 056 8986 or visit saga.co.uk/cruises
EDITORS: A heavy oil ban from January 1, 2015, will mean no ships can sail within the borders of Svalbard’s national parks on the east and west coast of the archipelago; this includes Magdalena Bay and Ny-Ålesund on the west coast.