Embark the National Geographic Explorer and cruise from Norway to the remote islands and archipelagos of the wild North Atlantic. Step back into the Stone Age in the Orkney and Shetland Islands, and come face-to-face with the legacy of the Vikings amid the turf-roofed cottages and ancient sites of the Faroes. Then trace nearly the entire coast of Iceland, witnessing immense seabird colonies and geological wonders, from glacial lagoons to thundering waterfalls.
This trip is offered in partnership with Lindblad Expeditions.
Fly overnight to Bergen. Wander among the medieval wooden homes of Bryggen, a UNESCO World Heritage site, before embarking our ship.
National Geographic Explorer for the entire voyage
The Vikings held a strategic foothold in the Orkney Islands for centuries, and their Norse heritage is still evident. After a morning at sea, encounter the Stone Age megaliths of the Ring of Brodgar and the 5,000-year-old stone-slab village of Skara Brae. Visit the red sandstone cathedral of St. Magnus in Kirkwall, built by the Vikings in 1137.
Arrive in Shetland, where Norse and Gaelic culture intermingle in fascinating ways. Glide beneath the towering cliffs of Noss, a nature reserve harboring thousands of sea birds including puffins, guillemots, and kittiwakes. Go ashore to see Shetland ponies and the prehistoric settlement of Jarlshof, which reveals 4,000 years of near-continuous settlement.
Today we arrive in the Faroe Islands, an autonomous archipelago within the Kingdom of Denmark. The legacy of the Vikings persists here, reflected in the language of the Faroese and their love of the sea. The archipelago is made up of several islands gouged by dramatic fjords and almost completely covered in turf and peat. We will explore this stunning scenery on a variety of hikes, and encounter Faroese art, culture, music, and food during conversations with locals. In the capital city of Tórshavn, visit the National Museum of the Faroe Islands and the Kirkjubøur archaeological site, a medieval farming and religious center. See the soaring cliffs and crowded seabird colonies of the southern island of Suðuroy. Go ashore at one of the small settlements scattered around this archipelago and chat with friendly locals.
Dock in Djúpivogur, and opt to travel overland to the immense Vatnajökull icecap. Take small boats into the Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon, and get up close to icebergs of all shapes and sizes. Alternatively, set out in a 4x4 vehicle to visit some of the secluded valleys and remote waterfalls in the countryside around Djúpivogur, or visit a local farm to get a glimpse of rural life in Iceland. The next day, hear talks by our expedition team as we sail to Grimsey, an island on the Arctic Circle. Go ashore here to see the resident nesting seabirds.
Watch for whales on our approach to Húsavík, where we’ll disembark for the drive to Mývatn, Iceland’s most geologically active area. See boiling mud pools at Hverarönd and continue through the Krafla geothermal area to the volcanic Viti crater. Witness Goðafoss, the waterfall of the gods, and meet the ship in Akureyri.
Located in the remote Westfjords region, Ísafjördur as a glacier-sculpted landscape of soaring fjords and bright blue seas. Ride a bike along the coast of the fjord or discover Icelandic cuisine. Explore this stunning landscape by Zodiac and on foot, keeping a camera ready to photograph delicate flowering plants. The next day, sail past the soaring Látrabjarg cliffs, the westernmost point of Iceland and home to teeming populations of bird species, including razorbills and puffins. Visit Flatey, a historic island trading post and fishing town. Navigate the coast by Zodiac to see where Erik the Red is believed to have set sail around the year 982, bound for Greenland.
Spend a day discovering 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 from that eruption, and take in views over landscapes engulfed in lava rock. We’ll also spy the World Heritage-listed Surtsey, one of the world’s youngest islands, which was formed by volcanic eruptions between 1963 and 1967.
Disembark in Reykjavík and choose to soak in the geothermal waters of the famed Blue Lagoon; or visit hot springs, a geothermal power plant, and an Icelandic horse farm. Transfer to the airport for your flight home.
- Bergen Extension1 days from $980
- Reykjavík and Golden Circle Extension1 days from $1,290
Overlooking the blue waters of Norway’s southwestern fjords, Bergen was once an important center of the bustling maritime economy ruled by the powerful Hanseatic League. Step into the city’s historic corners as you explore a medieval stave church and the colorful Bryggen wharf, and take in spectacular views from the top of Mount Fløyen.
Depart the U.S on an overnight flight and arrive in Bergen the following morning. Settle into our hotel, then set out to explore Norway’s second-largest city. This colorful seaside community was once a Viking stronghold, and later an important trading center of the Hanseatic League, which dominated commercial activity in northern Europe in the late Middle Ages. Step inside the intricate wooden Fantoft Stave Church, originally constructed in the Middle Ages and painstakingly rebuilt following a suspicious 1992 fire. Board a funicular and soar up to the summit of Mount Fløyen, offering breathtaking panoramic views of the city and the sparkling sea.
After breakfast, explore the city’s maritime history, beginning with a tour of Bryggen. This colorful wharf is composed of Hanseatic buildings that have been destroyed and then rebuilt in their original style over the years. Designated a UNESCO World Heritage site, it is one of Norway’s most iconic urban areas from the Middle Ages. At the historic Maritime Museum, view artifacts of Norway’s seafaring past from an elegant Viking longship to artful scale models of various boats. This afternoon, embark our ship to begin your expedition.