How heroic were the earlier transatlantic voyages by Columbus’ predecessors: the Viking explorers? We follow in the wake of these fearless explorers and colonists to discover the dramatic landscapes and rich traditions of Greenland and Iceland––in particular, Iceland’s untrammeled western coast––and visit Greenland's fascinating Viking sites and settlements, each set against edenic backdrops.
The history of Greenland is the history of life under extreme arctic conditions: an ice cap currently covers about 80 percent of the island, largely restricting human activity to the coasts. And, the fact that there is a human history makes this polar region extra-fascinating from an expedition perspective. And then, of course, there is the extraordinary beauty of the landscape.
Human history against the dramatic grandeur of the ice
Who are the people that thrive in the extreme conditions of the Arctic? Descended from Eric the Red and the Vikings who settled the southwestern coast, and the original Inuit who descended into Greenland from the northwest, modern Greenland’s culture is a mix of Scandinavian influences and ancestral traditions. We’ll visit remarkable sites on the Viking trail, meet the friendly and welcoming people of the north, and experience the spectacular beauty of the ice.
The incredible northern icescape & its creatures
We’ll see seals, which have played such a key role in the life of the Inuit. And we might spot arctic foxes, and white-tailed eagles, among the 60 species of birds that breed in Greenland. Based on our past expedition experience in the region, we search for humpback whales, plus fulmars, kittiwakes, and terns.
Every day is active and engaging
You’ll get out on adventures every day––to Zodiac cruise, hike and walk, or kayak in spectacular fjords. You’ll have a choice of activities, plus your choice of naturalists to join––for a moveable feast of personalities, insights, and interests. Choice also includes opting to relax too. Enjoy the view from behind Explorer’s panoramic glass windows. Or visit the fitness center with its generous views of the ice vistas, or ease into the sauna or a massage in the wellness center.
Travel in excellent company
Explore under the sure guidance of an expedition leader, an assistant expedition leader, eight veteran naturalists, a National Geographic photographer, plus a National Geographic certified photo instructor, an undersea specialist, Global Perspectives guest speaker, a wellness specialist and a video chronicler. Their knowledge and passion for this fascinating region is the key to your extraordinary experience.
Arrive in Reykjavík, which lies only a fraction below the Arctic Circle and receives just four hours of sunlight in winter and 22 in summer. Have a guided overview of the Old Town, including Hallgrimskirkja Cathedral with its 210-foot tower, and shed some light on Nordic culture at the National Museum, with its Viking treasures and artifacts. Embark National Geographic Explorer. (L,D)
National Geographic Explorer navigates Iceland’s wild western frontier, sailing past the immense Latrabjarg cliffs, the westernmost point of Iceland and home to a huge population of razorbills. The cliffs are an area once famous for egg collecting; the men were tied to ropes and lowered like spiders down onto the ledges. Continue to Flatey Island, a trading post for many centuries, for walks around the charming little hamlet that grew here. (B,L,D)
We cross the Denmark Strait and arrive at the mouth of Scoresbysund (the planet’s largest fjord system) in the afternoon. This area is marked by mountains that rise straight out of the sea, glistening tidewater glaciers and is also a major area to capture the ice calving off from the east side of the Greenland ice cap and depending on ice conditions we’ll explore the area by hiking, Zodiac and will keep an eye out for whales and other marine life. (B,L,D)
We explore north over the next two days using our tools for exploration to the fullest, taking Zodiac or kayak forays among the icebergs, deploying our ROV and setting out on foot to hike. Our ace spotters will help us search for polar bears. If ice conditions are unrelenting, we will explore a bit further south, where there are spectacular fjords that are generally ice-free at this time of year. (B,L,D)
National Geographic Explorer heads south to follow in the wake of Eric the Red and Brendan the Navigator. Watch for whales and bird life. (B,L,D)
The Greenland Ice Sheet is the second largest ice body in the world, after the Antarctic ice sheet, roughly 80% of the surface of Greenland. The high arctic-like climate is dominated by ice floes. Among the options for exploration are landings at Skoldungen fjord. (B,L,D)
Prins Christian Sund is a major fjord on the southern coast of Greenland. Surrounded by mountain pinnacles and glaciers, the decks are perfect for viewing this landscape. Anchor off Nanortalik, Greenland’s most southerly town. Go ashore to the picturesque little town by the water’s edge. (B,L,D)
Today you’ll explore a remarkable site on the Viking Trail. Qaqortukulooq was settled by one of Erik the Red’s cousins in 986 AD. A UNESCO World Heritage site, it is the most extensive Norse site in Greenland. The ship then continues to Qaqortoq. Inhabited since Norse times, the Scandinavian influence is still apparent in the colorful wooden buildings and town museum, displaying Greenlandic kayaks, hunting equipment, art, and crafts. (B,L,D)
Eriksfjord is the area that Erik the Red chose for his farm when he settled here in 982 AD. You’ll explore Brattahlid, site of the first Christian church in the western hemisphere, built by Erik’s wife, Tjodhilde. This region is also the starting point of the first voyages to North America by his son, Leif Eriksson, 500 years before Columbus. (B,L,D)
Nuuk is the world’s smallest capital city with 15,000 inhabitants. Visit the National Museum with its famous 15th-century Qilakitsoq mummies, found near Uummannaq, and the subject of a NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC cover story. (B,L,D)
Today is left open for exploration of this rugged coastline. We may take a Zodiac cruise, kayak, or hike across the tundra. Our Undersea Specialist may launch the Remotely Operated Vehicle to see the marine life inhabiting the fjord floor. (B,L,D)
Disembark in Kangerlussuaq and after a guided overview of the city, fly to Reykjavík via privately chartered aircraft. Overnight at either the Natura Hotel or the Hilton Nordica. The next day have a guided overview of Reykjanes Peninsula and transfer to Keflavik Airport for flights home. (Day 15: B,L,D; Day 16: B,L)
Flexibility is a hallmark of our expeditions, and often the day-by-day itinerary will change as we take advantage of rare wildlife sightings or photographers linger ashore through the golden hour of light. Extraordinary adventure is a guarantee.
Main Deck with one or two Portholes #301-308
Main Deck with Window #317-320, 335-336
Main Deck with Window #313-316, 321-328, 337-340, 342, 344, 346, 348, 350 Triples: Main Deck with WIndow #341, 343
Upper and Veranda Decks with Window #103-104, 107-108, 201-202, 204-207, 210, 212, 217, 226, 228
Solo A Main Deck with Window #309-312, 329-334
Upper Deck with Balcony #209, 211, 214, 216, 218, 220-222, 224
Solo B Upper and Veranda Decks with Window #105-106, 203, 208
Veranda Deck–Suite #101-102; Upper Deck-Suite with Balcony #213 Triples: #101-102
Upper Deck–Suite with Balcony #215, 219, 230 All cabins are available as triples.
National Geographic Explorer
Vessel Type: Luxury Expedition
Length: 108 meters
Passenger Capacity: 148 (single & twin cabins)
Built / Refurbished: 1982 / 2008
National Geographic Explorer is a state-of-the-art expedition ship. It is a fully stabilized, ice-class vessel, enabling it to navigate polar passages while providing exceptional comfort. It carries kayaks and a fleet of Zodiac landing craft. An Undersea Specialist operates a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) and sophisticated video equipment, extending access to the underwater world.
Public areas: Bistro Bar; Chart Room; Restaurant; Global Gallery; Library, Lounge with full service bar and state-of-the-art facilities for films, slideshows and presentations; Mud Room with lockers for expedition gear, and Observation Lounge. Our “Open Bridge” provides guests an opportunity to meet our Officers and Captain and learn about navigation.
Meals: Served in single seatings with unassigned tables for an informal atmosphere and easy mingling. Menu is international with local flair.
Cabins: All cabins face outside with windows or portholes, private facilities and climate controls.
Expedition Equipment: Zodiac landing craft, kayaks, Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV), hydrophone, SplashCam, underwater video camera, Crow’s Nest remote controlled camera, video microscope, snorkeling gear.
Special Features: A full-time doctor, Undersea Specialist, LEX Photo Specialist and Video Chronicler, Internet Cafe and laundry.
Wellness: The vessel is staffed by two Wellness Specialists and features a glass enclosed Fitness Center, outdoor stretching area, two LEXspa treatment rooms and Sauna.
Free Bar and Crew Tips Included on Voyages aboard National Geographic Explorer
Expeditions aboard National Geographic Explorer - Arctic, Antarctica, South America West Coast, British and Irish Isles and Canada.
Select Voyages 2017 - 2018.
Voyage Rates: AU$6 240 - AU$62 050
Special Offer: FREE BAR AND CREW TIPS INCLUDED
Beginning in April 2017, we will cover your bar tab and all tips for the crew on all National Geographic Explorer voyages. Promotion subject to availability, contact us for further details.