Summary : Sail through the heart of fjord country and experience the unforgettable beauty of western Norway’s stark cliffs and the windswept isles of Scotland. You’ll kayak below emerald mountains in the dramatic Sognefjorden, and step ashore at Undredal to explore its 12th Century stave church. You’ll cross the North Sea to encounter rich marine life, as well as the fascinating intermingling of Nordic and Celtic cultures. Visit the Fair Isle seabird research station, the marvelous Stone Age megaliths of the Orkneys, the sacred Christian sites of Iona. Perhaps you’ll dive the historic wrecks of Scapa Flow or hike to the lighthouse on Sumburgh Head, and you’ll discover the unique heritage of the Inner Hebrides archipelago.
Activities : Birding, Child-Friendly, Culture, Diving, Hiking, Kayaking, Photography, Dedicated Solo Cabins
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$7,990 to $16,610
Arrive in Bergen and enjoy lunch on board National Geographic Orion before you set sail. (L,D)
Cruise deep into the sublime Sognefjorden, the third longest fjord in the world, and launch kayaks and Zodiacs to explore its mirror-like waterways. In the picturesque Undredal, hike up the mountain for an amazing fjord view, see the town's 12th-century stave church and sample its famous brown goat cheese. (B,L,D)
Sail to Scotland's Shetland Islands, a rugged archipelago of about 100 islands and islets. Glide past to the cliffs of Noss to view nesting seabirds before arriving in Shetland. Explore Lerwick, a town where Norse and Gaelic cultures intermingle, and see the countryside dotted with Shetland ponies. Then examine Bronze Age ruins and Viking longhouses at the extraordinary prehistoric settlements of Jarlshof and nearby Old Scatness—UNESCO candidates which are part of "The Crucible of Iron Age Shetland." Later, take in a abundance of puffins, guillemots, and razorbills as you walk to the lighthouse at Sumburgh Head. (B,L,D)
Zodiac in to the uninhabited isle of Mousa, a UNESCO World Heritage candidate. Hike to an Iron Age broch, or stone tower, looking for storm petrels along the way. At tiny and remote Fair Isle, go birdwatching with an expert from the bird rescue station, and spot some of the roughly 250 species of flowering plants that grow here. Browse local handicrafts, including the world renowned Fair Isle knitwear. (B,L,D)
The Vikings once held a strategic foothold in Orkney, and their Norse heritage is apparent in enduring legends and traditions. Explore Stone Age sites: the megaliths of the Ring of Brodgar and the 5,000-year-old stone-slab village of Skara Brae. Step inside medieval St. Magnus Cathedral in Kirkwall. For experienced scuba divers, there is a fantastic dive in Scapa Flow (an added cost). (B,L,D)
Along the wild, western coast of Scotland lies the Isle of Lewis, steeped in history and legend. Marvel at the massive neolithic Standing Stones of Callanish, which rival Stonehenge in the majesty of their setting. (B,L,D)
The isle of Iona was the site of Scotland's first Christian settlement. Venture into an ancient nunnery and a 13th-century abbey Explore St. Oran's Chapel and its royal burial grounds, where Celtic high crosses mark the graves of generations of Scottish kings. Then anchor off Staffa, famed for its geometric basalt columns and deep-sea caves. A special treat will be a Zodiac ride to the awe-inspiring Fingal's Cave for a close-up look at the place that inspired Felix Mendelssohn's 'Hebrides Overture' (B,L,D)
Arrive in Dublin and disembark after breakfast. (B)
This itinerary is subject to change. ExpeditionTrips.com is not responsible for itinerary changes.
Pre- or Post- Trip Extension: Fjordlands via Flam Railway (2 Days)
Ride the famous Flam Railway and discover charming Bergen. Please contact ExpeditionTrips for details.
Travel with a National Geographic photographer and certified photo instructor—at your side and at your service to inspire and assist you. And, take advantage of talks, presentations, slideshows and “laptop gallery” sharing events. All skill and interest levels are welcome; the expert photographers and instructors can meet you wherever you are on your journey. All you need to participate is a camera— point-and-shoot, smartphone, DSLR, whatever—and a sense of adventure. And you’re sure to return home with amazing photos.
Accommodations aboard ship; meals aboard ship; alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages aboard ship; excursions; special access permits; transfers to and from group flights; use of kayaks; services of expedition leader, National Geographic photographer, naturalist staff and expert guide; services of a ship physician; gratuities; port charges and service taxes. Subject to change without notice.
Air transportation; extensions; passport and visa fees; immigration fees; travel protection plan; items of a personal nature including internet, laundry, etc; fuel surcharge may apply.
PHOTOS: © Ralph Lee Hopkins (Puffin); © Stewart Cohen (Abbey); © Stewart Aitchison (Houses); © Ralph Hammelbacher (Flower)