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Join us aboard the National Geographic Orion for an unforgettable voyage from the windswept isles of Scotland to the fjord-carved coast of western Norway. Encounter the stunning seascapes, ancient ruins, and rich marine life of Scotland’s evocative islands. Follow the Viking trail from the Shetlands to the Orkney Islands, and discover the unique heritage of the Inner Hebrides on our way to cosmopolitan Glasgow. Then kayak below emerald mountains in the dramatic Sognefjorden, and step ashore at Undredal to explore its stave church and traditional Nordic culture.
Kayak the mirror-like waters of Norway’s Sognefjorden, and discover hidden inlets by Zodiac.
Spot puffins, guillemots, and razorbills along the cliffs of Noss, and visit a renowned seabird research station on Fair Isle—located on the migration flyway.
Hike to the lighthouse at Sumburgh Head, explore splendid gardens at Loch Ewe, and dive the historic wrecks of Scapa Flow.
Discover an archaeological treasure trove: Viking longhouses in the Shetlands, Stone Age megaliths in the Orkney Islands, and the sacred Christian sites of Iona.
Itinerary - 8 Days
Day 1 — Bergen, Norway
Arrive in Bergen, Norway. Embark the National Geographic Orion in time for lunch and set sail into the heart of Norway’s fjord country. (L,D)
Day 2 — Sognefjorden
Norway’s glacier-carved western coast boasts some of the most dramatic landscapes in the world. Cruise deep into the sublime Sognefjorden, and launch kayaks and Zodiacs to explore its serene waterways. In the picturesque village of Undredal, see the town’s 12th-century stave church and sample its famous brown goat cheese, or gjetost. (B,L,D)
Day 3 — Isle of Noss, Shetland Islands, Scotland/Lerwick/Sumburgh Head
Sail across the North Sea to Scotland’s Shetland Islands, a rugged archipelago of about 100 islands and islets. Glide past the cliffs of Noss to view nesting seabirds before docking at Lerwick. Explore this town where Norse and Gaelic cultures intermingle, and visit a Shetland pony farm. Then discover the extraordinary prehistoric settlement of Jarlshof, examining Bronze Age ruins and Viking longhouses. Later, take in a cacophony of puffins, guillemots, and razorbills as we walk to the lighthouse at Sumburgh Head. (B,L,D)
Day 4 — Mousa/Fair Isle
On the uninhabited isle of Mousa, hike to an Iron Age broch, or stone tower, looking for storm petrels along the way. Our next landing is tiny and remote Fair Isle, situated between the Shetland and Orkney Islands. Visit the island’s bird research station, and spot some of the roughly 250 species of flowering plants that grow here. Peruse local handicrafts including intricately-patterned Fair Isle knitwear, which is renowned worldwide. (B,L,D)
Day 5 — Orkney Islands
The Vikings held a strategic foothold in the Orkney Islands for hundreds of years, and their Norse heritage is apparent in local legends and traditions that endure today. Explore a treasure trove of Stone Age sites, including the megaliths of the Ring of Brodgar and the 5,000-year-old stone-slab village of Skara Brae. Step inside the medieval St. Magnus Cathedral in Kirkwall, which took nearly 300 years to complete. For scuba enthusiasts, we have planned a fantastic dive in Scapa Flow. Please note: Diving in Scapa Flow is an additional cost. Please call for details. (B,L,D)
Day 6 — Isle of Lewis
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)
Day 7 — Iona and Staffa, Inner Hebrides
Sail through the Sea of the Hebrides to the isle of Iona, 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. Sail through the Sea of the Hebrides to Staffa, famed for its geometric basalt columns and deep-sea caves. Continue on to the awe-inspiring Fingal’s Cave, where Felix Mendelssohn was inspired to write his "Hebrides Overture." (B,L,D)
Day 8 — Dublin, Ireland
Arrive in Dublin and disembark after breakfast. (B)
Book by March 31, 2017 and receive complimentary round-trip international airfare from New York, or choose to apply the savings as a credit to your expedition cost. We'll also cover your bar tab on board and all tips for the crew.
Book More and Save
Book two or more European expeditions aboard the National Geographic Orion and save 10% off the expedition cost.
Over two-plus decades as National Geographic contributing photographers, Diane Cook and Len Jenshel have shot more than ten feature articles for National Geographic magazine and many more for National Geographic Traveler. Their work spans nature and beauty, culture, the environment, and science, and is represented in more than 100 major museum collections worldwide. Diane and Len will join a diverse team of experts on this voyage.