Embark the new, state-of-the-art National Geographic Endurance for an epic journey from the remote reaches of Iceland to the rugged, ice-sculpted shores of Greenland and the spectacular fjords of Norway. Go ashore in the volcanic Westman Islands, then trace the route of legendary Viking explorer Erik the Red to Greenland’s ice-etched eastern coast, home to the world’s largest fjord system. We’ll chart a course north, seeking out big ice and fascinating Arctic wildlife before cruising to Norway to explore the magical Lofoten islands and fjords that carve deeply into the country’s wild interior.
This trip is offered in partnership with Lindblad Expeditions.
Depart on an overnight flight to Reykjavík, the world’s northernmost capital. Set out to explore the Old Town, including Hallgrímskirkja church. Delve into Norse culture at the National Museum, which features an array of Viking treasures. Later, embark our ship.
National Geographic Endurance through Day 16
Spend the day in the Westman Islands, one of the world’s younger archipelagos, formed by undersea volcanos some 11,000 years ago. In 1973, the isle of Heimaey was threatened by lava flows that nearly closed off the harbor. We’ll visit the Eldfell volcanic crater, where the earth is still hot, and take in views over landscapes engulfed in lava rock. We’ll also spy Surtsey, one of the world’s youngest islands, which was formed by volcanic eruptions between 1963 and 1967.
Cruise to Flatey island, a fishing and trading post for centuries, and walk around this charming 18th-century hamlet. Navigate the coast by Zodiac to see where Erik the Red is believed to have set sail around the year 982, bound for Greenland. Sail past the soaring Látrabjarg cliffs, the westernmost point of Iceland and home to teeming populations of bird species, including razorbills and puffins.
Get immersed in the stunning scenery of the Westfjords region. Head out on a hike to a remote waterfall, or cruise a Zodiac beneath cliffs teeming with seabirds. Enter Ísafjarðardjúp and anchor at Vigur Island, where we’ll visit an eider farm and view how the down of these ducks is processed.
With roughly eighty percent of its surface covered in ice, Greenland is a living laboratory for geological forces. After a day at sea, we’ll reach the country’s fjord-laced eastern coast, where mountains rise straight from the sea and glistening glaciers calve massive chunks of off the Greenland ice cap. The region also harbors an array of wildlife, including polar bears, seals, whales, and rich birdlife.
In keeping with the nature of an expedition, we’ll chart our course based on the rhythms of our environment. Our state-of-the-art ship is equipped with the latest satellite imagery, and an ice-strengthened hull that enables us to navigate waters off-limits to other vessels. Set out by kayak or Zodiac to see spectacular iceberg-dotted seascapes from water level, and get a glimpse at the fascinating marine life and geology below the sea via the underwater cameras and remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) deployed by our undersea specialist.
Today we’ll have the extremely rare opportunity to visit Jan Mayen, a remote Norwegian island with a small military and weather station that holds the settlement’s only residents. The seldom visited isle is presided over by the ice-capped crater of Beerenberg, the world’s northernmost active above ground volcano. Spend the next day at sea, enjoying the ship’s amenities as we cruise toward the Norwegian mainland. Listen to talks given by our naturalists, head to the bridge to watch for whales, or relax in the sauna or library.
The Lofoten archipelago boasts an enchanting landscape of picturesque villages ringed by jagged, granite peaks. Head ashore at Værøy, where fishing is still a major part of the economy; and search for Atlantic puffins, razorbills, and guillemots on a Zodiac cruise. Later, be on deck as we glide through Trollfjorden, one of Norway’s most dramatic fjords, and search the cliffs for Norway’s mythical beings: trolls.
Svartisen National Park consists of a large ice field of the central Norwegian coast. We enter the park on a beautiful fjord called Nordfjord, we cruise past the sheer walls of the fjord tower above the ship. The Captain may anchor the ship near the mouth of a glacier fed river flowing down from a hanging glacier off the main ice field of Svartisen. Our morning will be taking walks ashore in the birch meadows and possibly kayaking in the protected waters. Zodiac cruising along the shores is always popular to view the numerous waterfalls cascading down the rock walls.
This morning, enter the long fjord of Tysfjorden, where only a few small villages cling to the rocky shores. Glide beneath the fjord’s steep walls on Zodiac and kayak excursions; and explore a U-shaped valley whose fjord reaches far inland, ending just a few miles from the border of Sweden.
Disembark in Tromsø, known as the “gateway to the Arctic” due to the large number of Arctic expeditions that originated here. Visit the Arctic Cathedral, where the unique architecture evokes icebergs; and peruse the Polar Museum, which showcases the ships, equipment, and seafaring traditions of early Arctic settlers. Later, fly by chartered air to Oslo and spend a night at a hotel near the airport, flying home the next morning.