Join Seabourn's ultra-luxury purpose-built Seabourn Venture on on a 14-day expedition of Iceland and Greenland . On this voyage you will explore the spectacular natural landscapes of some of the northernmost regions on earth, on one of the newest ships in the expedition world.
Visit Reykjavik, Iceland's intriguing capital. Marvel at mesmerising icebergs. Hike across beautiful tundra and wild terrain. And be on the lookout for an extraordinary array of wildlife, before returning back to Reykjavik for your return journey.
The Arctic's largest pinnipeds, the Walrus, are in abundance here
Enjoy Zodiac landings, giving opportunities for many wilderness hikes
Explore the picturesque icy scenery of Svalbard and try to spot the elusive polar bear
Cruise on a brand-new expedition vessel
Reykjavik is the northernmost capital in the world, and also one of the cleanest, greenest, and safest cities on earth. Colourful rooftops and the elegent spire of Hallgrimskirkja Church dominate the city's skyline, dwarfed by Iceland's dramatic landscape. You will embark Seabourn Venture here to bein an in-depth discovery of Iceland and Greenland's splendours.
The charming small fishing village of Grundarfjordur is renonwed for Kirkjufell, one of Iceland's most photographed waterfalls. The town is located in the Snaefellsnes Peninsula and provides easy access to Stykkisholmur, Snaefellsnesbaer and Snaesfellsnes National Park. During the summer, residents build a Viking Village in the centre of town to re-enact Viking-era life. The surrounding sea is rich with bird and marine life.
The remote Westfjord peninsula region in northwest Iceland is a steep, wild landscape, sparsely populated due to lack of flat farmland. Its second-largest island, Vigur, is a renowned site for viewing nesting birds. Sea cliffs offer a wealth of nesting sites, and Vigur's people long ago constructed unique stone walls to attract eiders, which line their nests with famously soft and durable down. After the birds depart, people collect the down to sell on the global market.
At the entry to vast Scoresby Sound, the colourful houses of the little Ittoqqortoormiit are clustered beside the fjord in an imposing landscape. The town reveals a lot about traditional Greenlandic culture. Sled dogs await winter leashed in yards as wooden sleds lean against the houses. Purchase Greenlandic stamps and mail postcards in the post office, or visit the quaint church, its gabled interior painted in white and sky-blue.
Hekla Hvan in east Greenland's Scoresby Sound was named for Carl Ryder's 1891-92 expedition ship. Stone cairns and remnants of this building still lie between tall, stratified ridges encircling the island's glaciated domes. Striking patterns in the rocks and Inuit tent circles dot the surrounding tundra, dressed in the brilliant reds and yellows of Arctic autumn. Rodefjord's cliffs of 300 million-year-old red sandstone stand out against the sky and an ink-blue fjord filled with shining white, stranded icebergs. On monolithic Rode Island is a small sea cave navigable by Zodiacs, and a picturesque columnar basalt intrusion called 'the pile of firewood'. You may land here to survey the colourful panorama or explore the shore in kayaks.
Warm currents attract walruses, seals, beluga and bowhead whales to the low, rocky Bear Islands in Scoresby Sound. Broad waterways filled with icebergs are ringed by distant snowcapped ranges. Glaciers have planed surfaces smooth to reveal twisted and rippled layers of differently coloured rocks. At the north end of the sound, Sydkap has a breathtaking backdrop of Staunung Alps. Colossal tabular icebergs parade majestivally in the fjord, and huge boulders stand solitary and balanced in the tundra, deposited by melting glaciers. The ruins of stone houses, whalebones and muskox skulls tell of a settlement of pre-historic whale hunters from the early Thlish culture.
King Oscar Fjord cuts deep into Greenland's eastern coast, forming the northern border of the Northeast Greenland National Park, the world's largest. It is up to 16 miles in width with breathtaking skylines of looming mountains cradling glaciers in their passes. Along with varied wildlife, scenic cruising of the fjord offers impressive geological panoramas. Entire islands are striped like candy canes in striations of colurful limestones and dolomite. Alpefjord, is a narrow, steep-walled tributary leading to a 30-mile long glacier. A long tongue of ice blocks half its length, depositing enormous icebergs. Muskoxen are frequently seen here.
Ella Island is wedged at the confluence of five fjords in one of Greenland's most stunning landscapes. Its sole summer occupants are 12 members of the Sirius Dog Sled Patrol. Two-man teams of the Danish troopers travel for months at a time in winter. Blomster Bugt (Flower Bay) is named for its colourful flowering tundra shores. The site rewards us with fantastical geological formations, Great Northern Divers - thought to be the oldest bird species on the planet, arctic foxes hunting quick-footed white arctic hares, frequent grazing muskoxen and an old trappers hut.
Kaiser Franz Joseph Fjord is one of Greenland's largest, renowned for its exceptionally tall, steep mountains. The Nordfjord branch ends in the great Waltershausen Glacier, the largest flowing from the Greenland Ice Sheet. The Devil's Castle is a looming, reddish mountain with striking lighter-coloured diagonal bands. The fjord boasts Greenlandic wildlife including four species of seals, walrus, beluga and narwhals in the sea; and caribou, muskoxen, polar bears, foxes and hares and other small mammals on land. The birds are likewise encyclopedia, from breeding populations of seabirds to gyrfalcons, geese and eider ducks, ptarmigans, snowy owls and ravens.
Day 9: Norwegian Sea
Your ship enters the Greenland Sea and cruises southeast towards Iceland. Once you leave the Continental Shelf the bottom rapidly drops to 5,000 feet. When next you meet the rising shelf, you will be in the Norwegian Sea off Iceland's east coast. An estimated 110,000 minke whales frequent these northern waters, as well as humpback and sie whales. Orcas and white-beaked dolphins patrol Iceland's coastal waters, and you will also likely see seabirds including puffins, kittiwakes and guillemots.
Nicknamed 'the Capital of the North', Akureyri sits at the southern head of Iceland's longest fjord, Eyjafjorour. Surrounded by snow-streaked mountains, in summer its hills flourish with a profusion of arctic wildflowers. In the city centre, the striking, twin-spired Lutheran Akureyrakirkja church has lovely, tall stained-glass windows and an impressive pipe organ. It is a cultured city, with a university, numerous galleries, museums, art exhibitions, a botanical garden and theatre performances.
Iceland's east coast was the first area settled, and your archaeologist will tell you about ancient Thorrarinstadr, the earliest community yet discovered. Pretty, multicoloured Seydisfjordur sits at the base of a jaw-dropping mountain wall beside a fjord with many photogenic waterfalls, a magnet for artists, musicians and other creative types. The early wooden Blue Church was moved three times. Other old buildings date back from the 1848 arrival of Norwegian herring fisherman. Nearby Vestdalseyri is a whaling ghost town, and a former farm at Skalanes is a nature and cultural centre.
The medieval 'Book of Settlements' mentions 'Vestmenn' inhabiting Papey Island and it it named for irish monks. Its windswept, grassy slopes culminate in a rock formation called the Castle. Sea clidds encircling the island provide nesting habitat for seabirds. Guillemots occupy them until mid-summer, while Atlantic puffins linger until mid-September. Seals and eider ducks also appear during their breading seasons. Today, the island holds a lighthouse, one dwelling, and Iceland's oldest, wooden church, built in 1902.
Heimaey in the Westman Islands is visually impressive, surrounded by vertical sea cliffs many hundreds of feet high. It is also home to millions of Atlantic puffins, more nest here than anywhere else on earth. In 1973 volcanic lava nearly engulfed the town. It was stopped from blocking the harbour by pumping immense quantities of cold seawater onto the flow. The Eldheimar Museum focuses on the eruption, while the Sagnheimar Folk Museum recalls events from as long ago as the 17th century.
Return to Reykjavik, the first permanent settlement in Iceland, established by the Viking's around 870 AD. By 1703 it consisted of a farm and a church and had 69 residents. Today you will disembark Seabourn Venture after your unforgettable Arctic expedition.
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