On board the National Geographic Endurance, sail across the North Sea in the wake of legendary explorers and seafarers, traveling from Norway’s breathtaking fjords and snow-dusted mountains to Scotland’s rolling green hills and ancient ruins. Glide beneath the dramatic cliffs of the second largest fjord in Norway, explore the rich traditions and evocative seascapes of the Shetland Islands, and travel back in time amid the Stone Age sites of the Orkney Islands. With the knowledgeable expedition team, encounter an interwoven tapestry of histories and cultures as you explore on foot, by kayak, and by Zodiac.
Discover Bergen’s maritime history on a tour of Bryggen—the colourful old wharf and a designated UNESCO World Heritage site. Later in the day, embark on your ship for an unforgettable journey through the Norwegian Fjords and Scottish Isles.
Norway’s glacier-carved western coast boasts some of the most dramatic landscapes in the world. Launch kayaks and Zodiacs to explore the sublime Hardangerfjorden, the second longest fjord in the country and the fourth longest in the world. Cruise beneath staggering cliffs and rushing waterfalls. Then venture ashore to hike or bike against a backdrop of snow-dusted mountains, emerald valleys, and fruit orchards.
Drop anchor at the island of Hidra, which boasts a rich history dating from the Viking era through World War II. Explore the picturesque village of Kirkehamn by Zodiac or kayak, gliding along shores dotted with quaint, red-roofed buildings. Or venture to the town of Flekkefjord, located at the head of a vast fjord. Stroll amid the white wooden houses of the Dutch Quarter, a trading hub during the 16th and 17th centuries. Then visit the local museum which dates from around 1720 and houses a variety of exhibitions featuring traditional Norwegian interiors and textiles.
The voyage takes you across the North Sea to the Shetland Islands, where Norse and Gaelic culture intermingle in fascinating ways. Cruise below the towering cliffs of Noss, a nature reserve which harbors thousands of seabirds including puffins, guillemots, and kittiwakes. Later, in the bustling seaport of Lerwick, choose from several different options. Explore the town, strolling amid 18th-century sandstone warehouses; delve into local culture and history at the Shetland Museum & Archives; or embark on a birdwatching or a geology-focused excursion. Alternatively, discover the prehistoric settlement of Jarlshof—which reveals 4,000 years of near-continuous settlement—and examine Bronze Age ruins and Viking longhouses.
Arrive at Unst, the northernmost island of the Shetlands which harbors sheltered inlets, golden beaches, and a large nature reserve. Take to the trails onshore to skirt towering cliffs and heathercovered hills. Weather permitting, paddle the scenic coastline by kayak or cruise in a Zodiac to the farthest northern lighthouse in the U.K. Or visit the Unst Heritage Centre, which features local artifacts including handspun knit and lace, fishing tools, and wooden boats. There is an abundance of wildlife on Unst including but not limited too; otters, seals, whales, puffins, Kittiwakes, Shetland sheep and ponies with many more.
The Vikings held a strategic foothold in the Orkney Islands for centuries, and their Norse heritage is still evident. Explore fascinating Stone Age sites, including the megaliths of the Ring of Brodgar and the 5,000-year-old stone-slab village of Skara Brae. Visit the medieval St. Magnus Cathedral in Kirkwall, which was founded in 1137 by the Viking Earl Rognvald.
The Lofoten Archipelago is an enchanting area of picturesque villages by the sea backed with jagged peaks. By Zodiac, view nesting seabirds: Atlantic puffins, razorbills and guillemots. Later, go ashore on the island of Vaeroy, where cod fishing is still a major part of the economy. Be on deck as you cruise into one of the most famous fjords in Norway, the short yet dramatic Trollfjord, and search the cliffs for Norway’s mythical beings: trolls.