Scottish Isles and Norwegian Fjords
Uncover the ancient and tumultuous Viking legacy of remote seafaring destinations as you sail from the northern Scottish Isles to their Norwegian homelands.
- Insights from the West of Ireland
- Fabulous shots from Smithsonian Journeys Expert Kirt Kempter
- Visiting Mount Fuji, by way of rural Japan
- Saturday in Pamplona
Discover the world of the Vikings on this unique cruise that features Scotland’s rarely visited Orkney and Shetland Islands and Norway’s breathtaking coastal fjords, home to these ancient mariners. First, travel the Scottish Highlands via the historic Jacobite Train, passing Glenfinnan Monument, and visit the Isle of Skye and Eilean Donan Castle. Then sail to remote seafaring destinations forever linked by their Viking heritage and experience fascinating World Heritage sites. Highlights include the Neolithic Ring of Brodgar, Skara Brae, Kirkwall (the Orkney Islands), and Jarlshof (the Shetland Islands). From here, cruise to Norway and explore dramatic fjords and Bergen’s World Heritage site of Bryggen before concluding your voyage in Copenhagen. Optional extensions to Edinburgh and Copenhagen are also offered.
May 28-29 — U.S., Glasgow, Scotland
Depart the U.S. Arrive in Glasgow, a dynamic Scottish city where the indelible mark of Viking conquest still permeates the art and culture.
Transfer to the Five-Star m.s. Le Boréal and depart to the dulcet sounds of a traditional bagpiper. (D)
May 30 — Oban, Fort William, Scottish Highlands, The Jacobite steam train
Travel through the heart of the Highlands and see the picturesque Pass of Brander, Loch Awe—with views of the striking Kilchurn Castle—and Rannoch Moor, one of the last remaining wildernesses in Europe. Enjoy the splendor of majestic Glencoe and ride along the shores of Loch Linnhe en route to Fort William. After lunch, board The Jacobite steam train—immortalized as Hogwarts Express in the Harry Potter film series—for “one of the great railway journeys of the world” through awe-inspiring natural landscapes. Commencing in the shadow of Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in Great Britain, travel past Loch and River Morar to Mallaig near Loch Nevis, the deepest seawater loch in Europe. Along the way, visit Glenfinnan, where Bonnie Prince Charles rallied Jacobite Highlanders against King George II in 1745.
Join the Captain for a Welcome Reception on board this evening. (B,L,R,D)
May 31 — Isle of Skye, Kyle of Lochalsh
Cruise the coastline of romantic and ethereal Isle of Skye, from where Bonnie Prince Charlie, against the odds and with the help of Flora MacDonald, was able to escape to France. Skye is home to some of Scotland’s most phenomenal geography, and the mist, shafts of sunlight, and vivid rainbows congregate here in a dazzling array of colors that seem to make the glens greener and the sea bluer. Visit Armadale Castle’s spectacular 17th‑century gardens and learn about the powerful reign of Clan Donald, Lords of the Isles until 1493. Then cross the Skye Bridge to Kyle of Lochalsh and visit Eilean Donan Castle, named for a sixth‑century Irish saint; constructed in the 13th century, it now stands as one of the most iconic and recognizable castles in the world. (B,L,D)
June 1 — Kirkwall, Orkney Islands
Experience the mystique of Orkney, a remote cluster of islands ringed with red sandstone cliffs shimmering in the sea mist. Kirkwall, founded around 1035, is noted for the towering St. Magnus Cathedral, built by the Vikings during the 12th century. Enjoy the gentle rolling landscape of the Neolithic heartland of Orkney, designated a UNESCO World Heritage site for its wealth of prehistoric archaeology. Pass the standing stones of Stenness and stop at the Ring of Brodgar, a ceremonial semicircle of stones dating back to 3,000 B.C. Continue to the 5,000-year-old village of Skara Brae, a settlement built of stone that was only rediscovered in 1850 when a great storm wiped away its veil of sand. See Scapa Flow, one of the world’s largest natural harbors, first used by the Vikings and later made famous for its role in both world wars.
Enjoy a tasting of authentic Scotch whisky during a tour of the award-winning Highland Park Distillery, believed to be founded in 1798 by the notorious smuggler Magnus Eunson.
On board the ship later today, listen as a seanachaí weaves the traditional stories that have been handed down for generations by word of mouth at fireside hearths over the centuries in these remote isles. (B,L,D)
June 2 — Lerwick, Shetland Islands
Explore the majestic Shetland Islands, declared a Global Geopark by UNESCO for their geologically diverse landscapes and seascapes carved and shaped by ice. Admire nature’s endlessly changing colors and textures and listen for the clamor of gannets and puffins crowding the extraordinary cliffs. Though remote, these islands have a unique 6,000-year-old culture, where Scotland meets Scandinavia at this North Atlantic crossroads and legacies linger in the archaeology, dialect, and traditional music. From Lerwick, the capital of Shetland, journey to the southernmost point of the island to visit Jarlshof, a pending UNESCO World Heritage site and an extraordinary settlement revealing 5,000 years of human history, including late Neolithic stone houses, a Bronze-Age village, an Iron-Age broch and wheelhouse, Norse longhouses, a medieval farmstead, and a 16th‑century laird’s house. (B,L,D)
June 3 — Bergen, Norway
The city of Bergen was founded on an old Viking settlement in 1070 and has a proud history as an important part of the Hanseatic League’s trading empire from the 14th to mid‑16th centuries. Today, Bergen’s Bryggen (the old wharf), a UNESCO World Heritage site, still flaunts its colorfully characteristic wooden houses. Tour Troldhaugen, the summer home of Edvard Grieg, Norway’s most famous composer, and walk the grounds of his estate, where he conceived many of his finest works. The afternoon is at leisure. (B,L,D)
June 4 — The Norwegian Fjords and North Sea
Norway’s fjords and islands offer some of the most stunning coastal scenery in Europe. Watch the sunlight play off granite cliffs and pristine cobalt blue waters while cruising by the inland waterways once plied by Viking longships, passing traditional Norwegian farms and villages. Attend the Captain’s Farewell Reception this evening. (B,L,R,D)
June 5 — Copenhagen, Denmark, U.S.
Arrive in Denmark, the spiritual and historic home of the Vikings and from whence sailed their intrepid predecessors—Angles, Saxons and Jutes. Disembark in Copenhagen and transfer to the airport for your return flight to the U.S. (B)
All program features are contingent upon final brochure pricing.