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The Orkneys, Shetlands and Norway's Fjords Across the Arctic Circle

Day 1 — Aberdeen, Scotland

We will join the Ocean Nova in Aberdeen in the afternoon, and sail north towards the Scottish Isles. Consider arriving a few days early to explore all that the “Granite City” has to offer. Characterised by its grand and ornate architecture, Aberdeen is a prosperous and cosmopolitan city.

Day 2 — Kirkwall

The morning finds us in Orkney, an archipelago of almost 70 islands, with a history dating back 8,500 years to the first Mesolithic tribe that inhabited the area. We will travel back in time here, with visits planned to the Standing Stones of Stenness, the Ring of Brodgar, Skara Brae, Skaill House and the Italian Chapel. We will also have a chance to pay our respects to polar explorer John Rae, who rests in the shadow of the impressive St. Magnus Cathedral in Kirkwall. We may even have a chance to experience the vibrant and lively culture of today at a local pub.

Day 3 — Fair Isle, Orkney Islands

We plan to visit Fair Isle, the most remote inhabited island in the United Kingdom. It is also the best place to find rare birds in Britain with 27 first records. Many of the 70 people who live on the island are artists, painters, writers, musicians and weavers, who are particularly famous for their intricately-knitted sweaters. Here we will also be introduced to the crofting culture. In the afternoon, we will visit the Broch of Mousa, the finest preserved example of Iron Age towers in Scotland

Day 4 — Lerwick, Shetland Islands

The Shetland Islands are known for their archaeological sites, and we will have a chance to visit a few of the most impressive. We visit Jarlshof, the prehistoric Norse settlement which dates back 2,500 years. Here we’ll see the progression of human civilization through the late Bronze and Iron Ages, as well as the Pictish and Norse eras and the Middle Ages. We’ll return back to modern times as we visit Lerwick, the capital and main port of the Shetlands. We return to the Ocean Nova for lunch and set sail for Norway.

Day 5 — Bergen, Norway

We arrive at Norway’s second-largest city, Bergen, after crossing the North Sea. Here we’ll have our first taste of Norwegian Culture, with a rich history dating back over 1,000 years. We will have a tour of the city, complete with world heritage sites, medieval houses, and some of the best street art in Norway.

Day 6 — Alesund

In the morning we should arrive in Alesund at the mouth of the Geiranger Fjord. We'll have time today to explore this beautiful city and its Art Nouveau architecture. We’ll also travel up to the top of Mount Aksla for a spectacular view of the town.

Day 7 — Geiranger Fjord

Geiranger Fjord is considered to be one of the most beautiful in all of Norway and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. As we enter the fjord system, we’ll want to spend our time on deck, taking in the amazing views en route to the town of Geiranger, including the famous Seven Sisters waterfall. Here we’ll have a chance to visit the quaint town and hike in the nearby hills for spectacular views.

 

Day 8 — Trondheim

In the morning we will call into Trondheim, the historic capital of Norway. We will walk through the quaint historic district, characterised by wooden architecture, where you can visit small, specialist shops and enjoy a coffee at one of the pleasant cafés. We will also visit the cathedral of the national sanctuary of Norway, Nidaris Cathedral, built over the grave of St. Olav. Work began in 1070, but the oldest parts still in existence date from the middle of the 12th century.

In the afternoon we will have a chance to visit tiny Munkholmen Island, just off the coast of Trondheim, and learn about its fascinating history. During the Viking age this was the main place for executions for enemies of the state, whose heads would be placed on stakes for all to see. The islet went on to become a monastery and prison, but today is a park with sandy beaches facing the city.

Day 9 — Vega Island

Vega is an ornithologist’s dream. Chief among the bird population are eider ducks, raised for their feathers - the houses built for them to nest in can still be seen alongside lighthouses, fishing villages and dramatic landscapes. The archipelago reflects the way fishermen and farmers have, over the past 1,500 years, maintained a sustainable living from eiderdown harvesting.

Day 10 — Alstahaug

In the morning we arrive at Alstahaug, in the shadow of the Seven Sisters Mountain range. We’ll find a wonderfully preserved medieval church and some small communities scattered throughout the island.

 

Day 11 — Svartisen and Vikingen

Today we will walk to the Svartisen glacier, which is actually two glaciers that meet in Holandfjord. This is the second largest glacier in Norway and really reinforces how far north we are. The name “Svartisen” comes from “svartis”, an old word which denotes the deep color of blue in this ice and the contrast to the white snow and newer ice on the ice plateau itself.

In the afternoon, we cross the Arctic Circle and arrive at Vikingen, a tiny island with a monument marking the Arctic Circle.

Day 12 — Lofoten Islands

We will navigate some of Norway’s northern fjords and take advantage of great hiking opportunities in this unspoiled region. The waters approaching the Lofoten Islands are well known for whale sightings, so your Expedition Team will be at watch on deck. We’re also likely to see sea eagles, cormorants and puffins. We may also visit the Refsvikhula Cave, whose cave paintings found in the 1980s date back 3,000 years. If time allows, we will also stop into Reine on Moskenesøy Island, one of the most beautiful villages in Norway.

Day 13 — Bleiksøya and Nyksund

Arriving at Bleiksøya in the morning, we will have a Zodiac cruise around one of the most prolific bird populations in Norway. Here we should find large numbers of puffins, razorbills, sea eagles, cormorants and others in thousands. In the afternoon, we will visit the tiny village of Nyksund which has become a colony for artists.

Day 14 — Tromsø

Arriving in Tromsø in the morning, we will enjoy breakfast on the ship before you embark on your flights home. There is also an option to stay on the next voyage which journeys from Tromsø to Spitsbergen.

Important reminder: Embracing the unexpected is part of the legacy – and excitement – of expedition travel. When travelling in extremely remote regions, your expedition staff must allow the sea, the ice and the weather to guide route and itinerary details. The above is a tentative outline of what you’ll experience on this voyage; please be aware that no specific itinerary can be guaranteed.