In the Wake of the Vikings
Explore Iceland's unparalleled geological riches and then take an 8-day cruise to the rugged west coast of Greenland, crossing into the Arctic Circle, to witness ice-filled fjords, calving glaciers, and spectacular icebergs.
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Journey to the very edge of civilization and experience the midnight sun during this rare opportunity to cruise from Iceland to Greenland and cross into the Arctic Circle. Discover Iceland’s unparalleled geological riches, then enjoy eight days cruising the rugged west coast of Greenland. Aboard the deluxe ice-class ship M.S. L'Austral, trace the sea-lanes traveled by Viking and Norse explorers and call on remote towns to learn about the first Norse settlers and native Inuits who have lived here for centuries. Crossing north into the Arctic Circle, witness ice-filled fjords, calving glaciers, and majestic icebergs. During your voyage, our expert naturalists lead Zodiac excursions to explore the intricate ecosystems and marvelous nuances of wildlife.
August 2 - 3 — U.S., Reykjavik, Iceland
Depart the U.S. for Reykjavik, Iceland. In the morning, arrive in Reykjavik, the world’s northernmost capital, where one-half of the country’s total population of 300,000 lives. See the Olympic-sized Geothermal pool and The Pearl, Reykjavik’s 10-story hot water storage tanks, an amazing feat of engineering. On a guided tour of the National Museum, learn more about Iceland’s cultural heritage from its pioneering settlement in A.D. 874 to the present. Continue to the charming old part of the city before transferring to the M.S. L'Austral. (B,D)
August 4 — Reykjavik
Visit the three most remarkable landmarks of south Iceland’s “Golden Circle.” Thingvellir National Park, a World Heritage site, is where, in A.D. 930, settlers founded arguably the world’s oldest parliament. Listen to the din and feel the sheer force of Gullfoss, where crystal clear glacial waters drop 96 feet, vanishing into the earth. Stroll through the dramatic rift valley where the Eurasian and North American continental plates are pulling apart and view the vast lava plain blooming with flowers. Visit the famous geothermal waterspouts of Geysir and Strokkur, which erupts every few minutes. Stop at the Hellisheidi Geothermal Power Plant to learn more about this natural resource providing low-cost heat and hot water. (B,L,R,D)
August 5 — Cruising the Denmark Strait
Sail across the Denmark Strait, where the cold East Greenland Current carries icebergs out of the Arctic into the Atlantic Ocean, lowering the salinity of the water to sustain important fishing grounds. Watch for white-beaked dolphins, humpback and minke whales and a fascinating array of sea birds from gannets, guillemots and fulmars to kittiwakes and razorbills. Throughout the cruise, your onboard Expedition Team will present insightful lectures about Greenland’s heritage, wildlife and geography. (B,L,R,D)
August 6 - 12 — Cruising Greenland
Mysterious Greenland, the world’s largest island and one of the world’s last true wildernesses, is nearly covered by an ice cap that holds 10 percent of the world’s fresh water reserves. Crystal-blue glaciers wind down from the craggy slopes into the stunning ice-filled bays. The many forms of the giant tabular icebergs become living art, dazzling in the light and mysterious in the fog—and suffused with an aura of unfathomable vastness. Western Greenland features some of the most pristine and gorgeous wilderness on Earth, and its dramatic fjords and soaring peaks have been described as a dream landscape. It was here that the Inuit people, nomadic hunters of Siberian descent who settled here 5,000 years ago, scraped out an existence for themselves on the wild lands between the sea and the glaciers. The Inuit still form the largest part of Greenland’s population and live a very traditional way of life, including fishing by kayak and hunting by dogsled.
Please note that the ship’s cruising pattern and destinations are dependent on weather, ice and sea conditions and are subject to change.
Cruise around Cape Farewell, the southernmost extent of Greenland, projecting into the North Atlantic Ocean and the Labrador Sea. These fascinating waters have seen Viking explorers, Norse fisherman and vessels following developing commercial trade routes for centuries. Early Icelandic sagas describe how Vikings Leif Erikson, son of Erik the Red, and Bjarni Herjólfsson sailed intending to reach Greenland but were blown off course at Cape Farewell and accidentally discovered what is now Newfoundland.
Explore the western coast of Greenland and its seemingly endless inlets and ice floes and watch for its unique marine wildlife. Stop in the old Norse settlement of Narsaq. Then visit Nuuk, Greenland’s capital and one of the largest towns in the Arctic region with a population of 13,500. Located at the mouth of one of the largest fjords in the world, accessible only by sea or air, Nuuk has been populated since it was settled by Erik the Red, the exiled Norse Chief, at the end of the 10th century. It was inhabited by the Norse for over 500 years until they gave way to the Inuit. Tour the National Museum, showcasing the lives of Inuit hunters and fishermen, and visit the old colonial town center.
Gain insight into the lives of French Polar Expeditions’ anthropological and geographic explorers of the 1950s at the Paul Emile Victor Base at Eqi Glacier. Walk up to a panoramic view of one of the Arctic’s most beautiful places overlooking the spectacular glacier and out towards the immense ice cap. Here, the silence is broken only by the roaring and cracking of the ice as it moves. At the heart of magnificent Disko Bay, a World Heritage site, board small boats for a coastal tour of Ilulissat. In the Ilulissat Icefjord, see the towering icebergs drifting out to the sea. For an unforgettable experience, join the optional* helicopter flight to see the ice fjord and ice cap from a most spectacular perspective. (8B,7L,1R,7D)
August 13 — Kangerlussuaq, Reykjavik, Iceland
Disembark in Kangerlussuaq, a former American Airforce base during the Cold War, before flying to Reykjavik to overnight in a deluxe hotel. (B)
August 14 — Reykjavik, Depart for U.S.
Following breakfast in the hotel, transfer to the airport and return to the U.S. (B)
*The Optional Excursion is available at additional cost.