This mystical expedition cruise of the northern Atlantic, offers rich culture and wildlife experiences, including some rare opportunities that will delight those interested in birding. We'll explore the medieval art and archeology of Britain's northernmost archipelagos of the Orkney and Shetland Islands, before continuing east to the picturesque port of Bergen. Continuing northwards into the Norwegian Sea, we'll discover the UNESCO-protected Vega Island, a veritable ornithologist's dream.
Our home for this voyage is the nimble small ship, Ocean Nova, which will afford us the opportunity to get up close and personal with much of the landscape. There will be plenty of time to venture into the fjords on our Zodiacs, allowing us to get even closer to cascading falls and make shore landings in otherwise inaccessible coves. We'll conclude the voyage in Tromsø, called the 'Gateway to the Arctic,' and the last major habitation before the Arctic Circle.
Expedition in Brief
- The ancient history of the Scottish Isles combined with the exceptional landscape of the Norwegian Fjords
- Enjoy amazing bird life, with thousands of North Atlantic seabirds
- Sail deeper into fjords and visit islands that larger ships cannotbirds
- An excellent mix of culture and natural history
- Sail north across the Arctic Circle
- Combine this voyage with Tromsø, Bear Island and Spitsbergen: Fjords and Bears
|Day 1||Aberdeen, Scotland|
|Day 3||Fair Isle, Orkney Islands|
|Day 4||Lerwick, Shetland Islands|
|Day 5||Bergen, Norway|
|Day 7||Geiranger Fjord|
|Day 9||Vega Island|
|Day 11||Svartisen and Vikingen|
|Day 12||Lofoten Islands|
|Day 13||Bleiksøya and Nyksund|
We will join the Ocean Nova in Aberdeen in the afternoon, and sail north towards the Scottish Isles. Consider arriving a few days early to explore all that the “Granite City” has to offer.
The morning finds us in Orkney, an archipelago of almost 70 islands, with a history dating back 8,500 years to the first Mesolithic tribe that inhabited the area. We will travel back in time here, with visits planned to the Standing Stones of Stenness, the Ring of Brodgar, Skara Brae, Skaill House and the Italian Chapel. We will also have a chance to pay our respects to polar explorer John Rae, who rests in the shadow of the impressive St. Magnus Cathedral in Kirkwall. We may even have a chance to experience the vibrant and lively culture of today at a local pub.
We plan to visit Fair Isle, the most remote inhabited island in the United Kingdom. It is also the best place to find rare birds in Britain with 27 first records. Many of the 70 people who live on the island are artists, painters, writers, musicians and weavers, who are particularly famous for their intricately-knitted sweaters. Here we will also be introduced to the crofting culture. In the afternoon, we will visit the Broch of Mousa, the finest preserved example of Iron Age towers in Scotland.
The Shetland Islands are known for their archaeological sites, and we will have a chance to visit a few of the most impressive. We visit Jarlshof, the prehistoric Norse settlement which dates back 2,500 years. Here we’ll see the progression of human civilization through the late Bronze and Iron Ages, as well as the Pictish and Norse eras and the Middle Ages. We’ll return back to modern times as we visit Lerwick, the capital and main port of the Shetlands. We return to the Ocean Nova for lunch and set sail for Norway.
We arrive at Norway’s second-largest city, Bergen, after crossing the North Sea. Here we’ll have our first taste of Norwegian Culture, with a rich history dating back over 1,000 years. We will have a tour of the city, complete with world heritage sites, medieval houses, and some of the best street art in Norway.
In the morning we should arrive in Alesund at the mouth of the Geiranger Fjord. We'll have time today to explore this beautiful city and its Art Nouveau architecture. We’ll also travel up to the top of Mount Aksla for a spectacular view of the town.
This fjord is considered to be one of the most beautiful in all of Norway and is a World Heritage Site. As we enter the fjord system, we’ll want to spend our time on deck, taking in the amazing views en route to the town of Geiranger, including the famous Seven Sisters waterfall.
Here we’ll have a chance to visit this quaint town and hike in the nearby hills for spectacular views.
In the morning we will call into Trondheim, the historic capital of Norway. We will walk through the quaint historic district, characterized by wooden architecture, where you can visit small, specialist shops and enjoy a coffee at one of the pleasant cafés. We will also visit the cathedral of the national sanctuary of Norway, Nidaris Cathedral, built over the grave of St. Olav. Work began in 1070, but the oldest parts still in existence date from the middle of the 12th century.
In the afternoon we will have a chance to visit tiny Munkholmen Island, just off the coast of Trondheim, and learn about its fascinating history. During the Viking age this was the main place for executions for enemies of the state, whose heads would be placed on stakes for all to see. The islet went on to become a monastery and prison, but today is a park with sandy beaches facing the city.
Today we visit the UNESCO-protected Vega Island archipelago as we head northward. Vega is an ornithologist’s dream. Chief among the bird population are eider ducks, raised for their feathers - the houses built for them to nest in can still be seen alongside lighthouses, fishing villages and dramatic landscapes. The archipelago reflects the way fishermen and farmers have, over the past 1,500 years, maintained a sustainable living from eiderdown harvesting.
In the morning we arrive at Alstahaug, in the shadow of the Seven Sisters Mountain range. We’ll find a wonderfully preserved medieval church and some small communities scattered throughout the island.
Today we will walk to the Svartisen glacier, which is actually two glaciers that meet in Holandfjord. This is the second largest glacier in Norway and really reinforces how far north we are. The name “Svartisen” comes from “svartis”, an old word which denotes the deep color of blue in this ice and the contrast to the white snow and newer ice on the ice plateau itself.
In the afternoon, we cross the Arctic Circle and arrive at Vikingen, a tiny island with a big globe on top marking the Arctic Circle.
We will navigate some of Norway’s northern fjords and take advantage of great hiking opportunities in this unspoiled region. The waters approaching the Lofoten Islands are well known for whale sightings, so your Expedition Team will be at watch on deck. We’re also likely to see sea eagles, cormorants and puffins. We may also visit the Refsvikhula Cave, whose cave paintings found in the 1980s date back 3,000 years. If time allows, we will also stop into Reine on Moskenesøy Island, one of the most beautiful villages in Norway.
Arriving at Bleiksøya in the morning, we will have a Zodiac cruise around one of the most prolific bird populations in Norway. Here we should find large numbers of puffins, razorbills, sea eagles, cormorants and others in thousands. In the afternoon, we will visit the tiny village of Nyksund which has become a colony for artists.
Arriving in Tromsø in the morning, we will enjoy breakfast on the ship before you embark on your flights home. There is also an option to stay on the next voyage which journeys from Tromsø to Spitsbergen.
Important reminder: Embracing the unexpected is part of the legacy – and excitement – of expedition travel. There are no guarantees that we can achieve everything we set out to accomplish. A measure of flexibility is something all of us must bring to a voyage. There are nearly 200 recognized sites in the Antarctic Peninsula and South Shetlands and the places mentioned above may be changed to others equally as interesting.
* Itinerary may be subject to change
|Per Person USD|
Rates Arctic 2015
Cruise Price does not include international airfare. Rates are per person based on double occupancy.
Single cabin prices are 1.7 times the cost of the appropriate twin-share prices listed above except for superior and above which are 2x the price listed above. If you are a solo traveler requesting to share a cabin note that Superior and above can not be shared.
Adventure Options: Kayaking - $595. Adventure options must be pre-booked and paid for prior to start of the trip. Space is subject to availability. Kayaking is limited to 10. Some activities require experience.
All trips subject to possible fuel surcharge.