Follow the Viking trail aboard the new National Geographic Endurance on a voyage from Norway to the far-flung islands and archipelagos of the Arctic. Cruise the famed Norwegian fjords and the magical Lofoten islands, explore Bronze Age sites in Scotland’s Shetland Islands, and delve into the legacy of the Vikings amid the turf-roofed cottages of the Faroes. Then trace Iceland’s most remote shorelines, witnessing geological wonders from volcanoes to thundering waterfalls.
This trip is offered in partnership with Lindblad Expeditions.
Fly overnight to Oslo, and check into our hotel in the heart of the city. On an afternoon tour, stroll amid the city’s famed Vigeland sculptures—hundreds of life-size human figures set in terraced parkland. Visit the Fram Museum, showcasing the polar ship Fram and dedicated to the explorers and wooden vessels that navigated the Arctic Sea in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The evening is free to explore Oslo on your own.
Take a charter flight to 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. Embark our ship this afternoon.
National Geographic Endurance for the entire voyage
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.
Start your day on deck as we glide into Trollfjorden, one of Norway’s most dramatic fjords. The Lofoten archipelago boasts an enchanting landscape of picturesque villages framed by jagged, granite peaks that rise straight from the sea. Explore the many islets, and go ashore at Værøy to hike and kayak. Seek out Atlantic puffins, razorbills, and guillemots on a Zodiac cruise.
Carved by glaciers over millions of years, Norway’s northern coast is laced with steep-walled fjords, mountainous islands, and chiseled peaks. Cruise in a Zodiac along vertical rock faces, kayak through serene fjords, or go ashore on a secluded sandy beach to hike amid verdant valleys and birch forests.
Spend a relaxing morning at sea as we sail toward the Shetland Islands, an archipelago of about one hundred islands and islets located north of the Scottish mainland. Glide past the towering cliffs of Noss to view murres, puffins, kittiwakes, and other seabirds.
Dock in Lerwick, a town where Norse and Gaelic cultures intermingle. Explore the town, delve into local culture and history at the Shetland Museum & Archives, or embark on a bird-watching or geology walk. Alternatively, venture to the prehistoric settlement of Jarlshof to examine its Bronze Age ruins and Viking longhouses. In the afternoon, continue to Foula, a stark but spectacular island edged with towering cliffs and blanketed with peat bogs, where people are drastically outnumbered by puffins.
This morning, 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. Browse Viking artifacts at the historical museum in Tórshavn, the capital of the Faroe Islands; wander through 12th-century St. Olav’s Church; and discover the archaeological site of Kirkjubøur, a medieval farming and religious village.
Zodiacs take us ashore on Mykines island, known for its breathtaking views and for the hundreds of puffins that make their home here. Stroll through the tiny village along unpaved streets, passing whimsical turf-roofed houses and a turf-roofed church; and see the islands tiny lighthouse, tethered down with guy wires.
After a day at sea, we awake along Iceland’s rugged eastern coast, an unspoiled stretch of rocky outcrops, hidden coves, and hills that beckon hikers. We may visit one of several locations in this region. Depending on the weather and tides, go for a Zodiac cruise to view the sea stacks near Rauđanes peninsula or hike along a stretch of the Langanes peninsula. Continue to Grímsey on the Arctic Circle and celebrate our official arrival in the Arctic.
Located in the Westfjords region, the town of Ísafjörđur lies on a tiny spit jutting out into the water against a backdrop of steep hills. Spend time hiking and watching for nesting seabirds in this remote setting. The next day, visit Flatey island, a fishing and trading post for centuries. 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.
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 from that eruption, 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.
Disembark in Reykjavík and choose to either soak in the geothermal waters of the famed Blue Lagoon; or visit hot springs, a geothermal power plant, and a horse farm. Transfer to the airport for your flight home.