Under the Northern Lights: Exploring Iceland & East Greenland

Explore two of the last unspoiled wilderness areas on the planet on this remarkable 14 day arctic expedition to the heart of Iceland and East Greenland. Cruising alongside Iceland’s mountainous Vestfjords and Greenland’s remote and mythical northeast coast - home to the largest fjord system in the world - you’ll discover diverse and dramatically rugged landscapes, with every turn offering unsurpassed natural splendour.

During your Iceland travel, you’ll find yourself transfixed by cinematic landscapes and the iconic wildlife that calls this region home, from great whales to graceful polar bears. On the cruise, you’ll be fully immersed in the untamed beauty of the Arctic - experiencing authentic Inuit culture firsthand at the remote community of Ittoqqortoormiit, visiting ancient Thule sites steeped in centuries of history, and marvelling at the majesty of immense icebergs and towering bird cliffs. If you’re lucky, you may have the chance to witness the magic that is Aurora Borealis (the Northern Lights) dancing across the sky in a shower of greens and purples.

Your vessel is specifically designed for Arctic conditions, meaning the cruise will take you to places ordinary cruise companies wouldn’t dream of exploring, and allow you to visit the farthest reaches of this incredible region. What’s more, you’ll do it all in first-class style - with numerous different decks for taking in the views, a heated outdoor swimming pool, and an onboard library and cocktail lounge.

The Arctic has been inspiring and intriguing explorers for centuries, and our Arctic expeditions offer you the chance to return home equally enthralled by some of nature’s finest craftsmanship. We can’t wait to guide you on this unforgettable adventure. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with our Destination Specialists for any questions or additional assistance.

Duration
14 days
Options
Group basis, Escorted
Start your journey

Trip highlights

  • Meet the Arctic’s most iconic and fascinating creatures, from polar bears and shaggy muskoxen, to great whales and cliff puffins
  • Visit a remote Inuit community, experiencing this fascinating culture first-hand; discover ancient Thule sites with old houses built from whalebone
  • Opportunity to possibly see one of the world’s greatest natural phenomenon, Aurora Borealis (the Northern Lights)
  • Dip into the icy Arctic waters for a once-in-a-lifetime polar plunge, hike the tundra or opt for a kayaking adventure

You’ll arrive in the Icelandic capital Reykjavik in the morning and make your way to your included hotel. The first day is free for you to explore the city at your own pace. Reykjavik is a hub of history and culture, music and art. Wander one of the prestigious museum exhibitions, try some Icelandic cuisine at a local restaurant or roam the graffiti-painted streets and art installations, including the striking Sun Voyager Viking ship sculpture, perched on the waterfront.

The following afternoon, you and your shipmates will meet in the hotel lobby and join the transfer to the ship. From there, you’ll board your vessel and the thrilling Arctic expedition begins. You’ll be introduced to the crew, captain and Expedition Team and shown around the vessel, learning about the safety procedures and what to expect on the cruise. Get ready for the trip of a lifetime!

Every region in Iceland has its own intrigue and appeal for nature, bird and history lovers, and the Vestfjords (Westfjords) are no exception. One of the least-visited areas of Iceland travel, the cruise will roam this rugged peninsula where the land meets the sea in a dramatic, awe-inspiring landscape of vast mountains, towering fjords and jagged cliffs. Conditions allowing, the ship will voyage alongside the Látrabjarg - Europe’s largest bird cliff - teeming with unfathomable numbers of puffins, razorbills, guillemots and more. Another possible destination is the quaint island of Flatey - so-called for its entirely flat landscape - where a replica of Iceland’s largest medieval manuscript, Flateyjarbók, can be viewed in the local library. Walk around the island to discover the wild birds and traditional, restored houses painted in bright colours. The church features murals symbolising life on the island, including one of Jesus wearing a classic Icelandic sweater.

As the ship cruises north across the Denmark Strait, the Expedition Team will prepare you for the adventures ahead, with experts leading presentations and discussions in the onboard lecture theatre. Learn about the storied history and politics of the Arctic, its fascinating wildlife, geology, ecology and climate, and the incredible sights that await your exploration. The team will help you spot and identify the seabirds soaring around the ship and the majestic whales that frequent these waters.

Remote and wild, during your tour of Greenland’s mystical northeast coast, you’ll enjoy Zodiac cruises and shore visits to several stunning locations. Wildlife is abundant in the Arctic, and as you roam the landscape, keep an eye out for grazing muskoxen - 40% of the world’s wooly muskoxen population live in Northeast Greenland National Park, an icy Arctic paradise and the largest in the world. Giant walruses and magnificent polar bears also call this region home.

Sailing through spectacular Scoresbysund - the birthplace of many icebergs - with steep snow-tipped cliffs and iceberg-littered waters, you’ll immediately understand why some say it’s the most beautiful fjord system on the planet. Sites such as Frederiksdal and Sydkap offer opportunities to hike through the colourful tundra landscape and explore the remains of ancient Thule settlements - remnants of homes made from whalebone only one of the points of interest here.

At the entrance of the great sound is East Greenland’s most northerly and remote community, the Ittoqqortoormiit. Here you’ll find a splatter of colourfully painted houses perched on the shoreside, set against a desolate, snow-covered mountainous landscape. You may spend time interacting with the Inuit people and learning about their way of life. If the skies are clear and luck provides, you’ll also have the opportunity to witness the magical Northern Lights.

Deeper in the sound, Røde Øya offers a picturesque spot for admiring the beauty of sky-blue icebergs, contrasted against the backdrop of striking red sandstone cliffs. Magnificent vistas are bountiful on this Arctic cruise, and incredible sights also await at Kong Oscar Fjord, with possible landings at Ella Øya, renowned for its rugged cliffs and ice-choked waters, and flower-rich Botanikerbugt, on Ymer Øya.

As your action-packed Arctic expedition begins to wind down - and the cruise heads back to port - you’ll have time to enjoy some of the onboard activities. Listen to a presentation by the Arctic experts; sip an icy cocktail at the bar; share photos of the trip with other passengers; or watch a movie at the onboard cinema. As always, the Expedition Team will be on-hand to answer any of your questions and to help you spot some of the region’s epic wildlife.

You’ll disembark in Reykjavik, Iceland’s capital, at the end of your journey. After a last breakfast, you’ll have time to bid farewell to your Expedition Team and shipmates, and take any final photos. If you have booked post-expedition accommodation, we’ll provide a transfer to a central downtown location.