See the graves of their Viking ancestors and explore their tiny towns of turf-roofed homes. On Scotland’s outlying isles you’ll discover a 5,000-year-old village and see the mysterious standing stones of the Ring of Brodgar. And in the west, on a near circumnavigation of Iceland, see this geologically roiling land just as the Vikings must have, from thundering waterfalls and boiling springs, to islands so young the earth still steams.

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Why We Love It

See Iceland’s vast Vatnajökull icecap, third largest in the world.

Sail under the towering bird cliffs of Noss that teem with murres and kittiwakes, and visit a colony of thousands of charismatic puffins in the Faroes

See the dramatic cliffs and sea stacks and stunning Viking relics

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Day by day Itinerary

Nordic Passages: Shetlands, Orkney, Faroes & Iceland

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Day 1

Bergen

Arrive in Bergen, one of the major cities of the powerful Hanseatic League. The Hansa merchants operated in the historic Bryggens Wharf area, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We explore its wooden buildings from the Middle Ages before embarking National Geographic Orion. (L,D)

Day 2

Orkney

Have a relaxing morning at sea. Hear talks from our staff, browse in the Library, head to the Wellness Deck for a sauna and massage or wake up with a cappuccino in the Chart Room. This afternoon the Stone Age sites of Orkney await us. See the standing stones at the Ring of Brodgar and the excavated stone-slab village of Skara Brae—5,000 years old! Next, step into the world of the Vikings at the red sandstone cathedral of St. Magnus, built by the Vikings in 1137. (B,L,D)

Day 3

Shetland

This morning our ship glides past the towering bird cliffs of Noss for views of murres and kittiwakes. We pause to photograph Shetland ponies on our way to the Jarlshof archaeological site—with the ruins of 4,000 years of settlement. Weather permitting, at nearby Mousa Island, see a fine example of an Iron Age broch (fortified stone tower). (B,L,D)

Day 4

Vestmanna, Faroe Islands

Today we arrive in the easternmost of the Faroe Islands. Though citizens of Denmark, the rugged Faroese are proud of their Viking ancestry, reflected in their ancient language and love of the sea. Our intrepid ship navigates between the towering coasts of Streymoy and Vágar to Vestmanna. Explore northern Streymoy, with its historic settlements and Viking graves. This evening, see a traditional Faroese chain dance. (B,L,D)

Day 5

Tórshavn, Faroe Islands

Our ship ties up alongside the tiny capital of Tórshavn. Beautiful wooden boats bob at anchor in the harbor, their curling stems and sterns proudly proclaiming their Viking ancestry. We explore the town, mingling with the modern-day Vikings. Visit the surprising natural history museum, 12th-century St. Olav’s Church and the Kirkjubøur archaeological site, a medieval farming and religious center. (B,L,D)

Day 6

Mykines, Faroe Islands

Zodiacs take us ashore to tranquil Mykines, known for its overwhelming number of puffins. Take a walk to the nesting grounds, where thousands of puffins take off, land and sit in their burrows—seemingly waiting for us to take their photos. Continue to the tiny lighthouse, tethered down with steel cords, an indicator of winter storms. Then stroll through the tiny village with its turf-roofed houses and turf-roofed church. (B,L,D)

Day 7

Djúpivogur, Iceland

Today we arrive in Iceland and see firsthand how the country got its chilly name. From Djúpivogur, explore the vast Vatnajökull icecap, third largest in the world, by snowmobile or super jeep. For a closer look at the ice, we take a boat ride through Jökulsárlón, a lagoon strewn with large, sculpted icebergs. (B,L,D)

Day 8

Grimsey Island

Today we have a relaxing day at sea to browse the library, hit the gym or the bridge, and to hear presentations preparing us for exciting days ahead. We sail northward to the land of the midnight sun, taking Zodiacs ashore to the tiny island of Grimsey, which lies exactly on the Arctic Circle. Here we celebrate being officially in the Arctic, in the company of nesting arctic terns and puffins. (B,L,D)

Day 9

Húsavík And Lake Mývatn

Watch for whales on our approach to Húsavík, famous for its whale museum. Drive to striking Mývatn, the most geologically active area in Iceland. This is world-class field geology! See the bizarre mud pools at Hverarönd—so hot they actually bubble. Continue through the Krafla geothermal area to the explosion crater at Viti. Meet the ship in Akureyri, ending with an unforgettable sight: Goðafoss, the waterfall of the gods. (B,L,D)

Day 10

Ísafjördur

Located in the Western Fjords, Ísafjördur is surrounded by water on three sides and is a great place for hiking. We visit a working eiderdown farm, where the farmer shows us how the feathers are collected from the incredible numbers of nesting eider ducks here and gives us insight into life on this isolated peninsula. (B,L,D)

Day 11

Explore the West Coast of Iceland

National Geographic Orion sails past the immense Látrabjarg cliffs, the westernmost point of Iceland and home to a huge population of razorbills. The cliffs are an area 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 hamlet that grew here, and take a Zodiac cruise along the coast. (B,L,D)

Day 12

Surtsey & Heimaey, Westman Islands

The Westman Islands were formed by undersea volcanoes between 5,000 and 10,000 years ago and are among the youngest of the world’s archipelagos. In 1963, the world witnessed on film the birth of its newest island, Surtsey—a newly designated UNESCO World Heritage Site—which we see as we cruise past the coast. In 1973, Heimaey was threatened by lava flows that nearly closed off its harbor. We visit the crater, where the earth is still hot, and have amazing views of areas that had been engulfed by lava. (B,L,D)

Day 13

Reykjavik

Today we complete a near circumnavigation of Iceland, disembarking in Reykjavík, the world’s northernmost capital. Join a guided overview of the old town and visit the famous Blue Lagoon thermal baths, prior to our flight home. Whether you choose to enjoy the surreal bath and spa facilities or just stroll around the fascinating environs, the Blue Lagoon is unforgettable! (B,L)

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