In the Wake of the Vikings
A legendary voyage from Iceland to Greenland
Iceland became a Viking kingdom as more and more Norse ventured Northwest from the British Isles and the Faroes. The boldest adventurers went on to Greenland—and so will we!
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July 14 to July 25, 2019
- See the sparsely populated, seldom visited east coast of Greenland
- Search for whales while following the Viking route across Denmark Strait to Greenland
- Experience east Greenland’s pristine, stunning fjords
- Get close to glaciers, calving mighty icebergs
- Experience village life in tiny Greenlandic fishing hamlets
- Visit the Norse ruins at Hvalsey, abandoned in the 1400s
- Explore Greenland’s newest UNESCO World Heritage Site, the fertile farmlands of Kujataa
- Visit Erik the Red’s former estate at Brattelid
The Ocean Endeavour is the perfect vessel for expedition cruising. Outfitted with twenty Zodiacs, advanced navigation equipment, multiple lounges, and a top deck observation room, she is purpose-built for passenger experiences in remote environments. The Ocean Endeavour boasts a 1B ice class, enabling her to freely explore throughout the Arctic summer. Launched in 1982, she has had numerous upgrades, most recently in 2016. At 137 metres in length, the Ocean Endeavour has plenty of interior and exterior space. Ample deck space offers comfortable lounge chairs, a swimming pool, two saunas, and even a hot tub! The spacious interior allows for varied workshops and presentations to occur simultaneously. The three lounges aboard the Ocean Endeavour are optimal locations for seminars, events, parties, and conversation. The Ocean Endeavour’s crew is experienced and friendly. The ship’s shallow draft and manoeuvrability allow her to access isolated fjords, bays, and secluded communities. Enjoy the class and comfort of a boutique hotel while venturing to some of the world’s last great frontiers aboard the Ocean Endeavour!
Iceland’s cosmopolitan capital, Reykjavík (“steamy bay”) was established in 874 AD. Powered by geothermal energy, Reykjavík is widely considered one of the cleanest, greenest cities on Earth.
Despite centuries of relative isolation, today Reykjavík is a contemporary city with plenty to see and do. The National Culture House preserves treasures like the Poetic Edda, and the Norse Sagas in their original manuscripts. We depart Reykjavík in the evening aboard the Ocean Endeavour.
Vestmannaeyjar lies off the south coast of Iceland and comprises fourteen islands, numerous rocks and skerries. Only the largest island, Heimaey, is inhabited.
Numerous species of seabirds, including the famous puffin, nest in the steep rock faces along the ocean cliffs. The volcanically active area has seen two major eruptions in recent times: the formation of the island of Surtsey in 1963, and the Eldfell eruption ten years later that destroyed much of Heimaey and nearly blocked its harbour.
Sailing west from Iceland, we are in the wake of the Vikings. Norse explorers set out from Iceland a millennium ago in open longboats. Their destination: Greenland. Later they would also reach Baffin Island, Labrador, and Newfoundland.
We’ll be watching for marine mammals and bird life as we sail in these rich northern waters. Along the way, our expedition team will enrich your understanding of the archeology, history, culture, and wildlife that await us in Greenland!
An expedition day on Greenland’s east coast means that we’ll be cruising in the ice, looking for opportunities for Zodiac exploration. As ever, our expedition team will be on deck looking for bears, seals, and humpback whales as we navigate a coastline traced with innumerable fjords and dotted with pack ice.
We’ll be scouting for wildlife and vistas as we approach Ikerasassuaq through ice. This remote and stunning body of water joins the Irminger and Labrador seas. We are among the islands of the Cape Farewell Archipelago, near Greenland’s southernmost tip.
Craggy mountain peaks tower over narrow fjords. Glacial tongues plunge toward the water. Conditions are favourable for calving icebergs, while strong tidal currents limit the formation of sea ice.
South Greenland lives up to its namesake; here, the land is fertile and agriculture thrives. Farms and vegetable husbandry contrast with the barren ice that covers so much of the country. Jagged mountains rise from beyond green pastures, with sheep farms directly bordering icefjords. Here, Norse settlement history intersects with contemporary Greenland life.
Hvalsey Church is the best-preserved Norse ruin in Greenland. The last known official record from the original Norse colony is of a wedding held here in September 1408! Nearby Qaaqortoq is the largest town in South Greenland. The area has been inhabited for over 4,000 years, beginning with the Saqqaq culture.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Brattahlid—meaning “steep slope”, lies at the head of Tunulliarfik Fjord. In this location, the famous Viking explorer Erik the Red had his estate. His descendants made their homes here until the mid-1400s. This area features the best farming conditions in Greenland.
Here we will find a reconstruction of the first Norse church in Greenland, as well as a Viking longhouse. There are substantial archeological remnants here, preserving the legends of the Norse.
Greenland’s capital bridges old and new. The old harbour region of town includes many buildings dating from the Danish colonial days. The modern downtown core includes shopping, cafes and restaurants, and public institutions with a European flair.
The Greenland National Museum is one of Nuuk’s outstanding features; the worldfamous Greenland mummies are housed here. The museum’s exhibits also offer in-depth information about colonial, Norse, and Inuit presence in Greenland—a must-see.
The west Greenland coastline is a rich mixture of fishing communities, many islands and complex coastal waterways. The waters are relatively warm here, due to the West Greenland Current and the sub-Arctic location—making for more lush vegetation. We will be making an expedition stop here to explore the landscape of wild Greenland.
Sondre Stromfjord is one of the longest fjords in the world and boasts 168 kilometres of superb scenery. We end our adventure by sailing up this dramatic fjord as the sun rises to greet us.
Kangerlussuaq, the town at its eastern head, is a former US Air Force base and Greenland’s primary flight hub. Here we will disembark the Ocean Endeavour and transfer to the airport for our return charter flight.