Vikings of the North Sea
Next DepartureMay. 7, 2024
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, Bus Excursion, Lectures, Photography, Tastings, Trekking
Adventure voyage following in the wake of the Vikings from Denmark to Scotland.
Join us on this adventure cruise across the North Sea, embarking from a pier in central Copenhagen. We will visit the small scenic town of Skagen, at the pointed ‘top’ of Denmark, where many famous Danish artists once resided together in an artists’ colony. Continuing into the open sea, we make a call to the west coast of Norway, a stronghold for fierce Viking warlords over a thousand years ago. The Viking Sagas tell us that Haugesund was the burial place of Harald, the first Viking king. We will make a visit to his monument in this quaint seaside town. We continue in the footsteps of Vikings across the sea towards the British Isles whilst imagining how these brilliant skippers braved and navigated these same waters towards the unknown.
The Shetland Islands, like neighbouring Orkney, were once ruled by Vikings. They came across the North Sea with a reputation as fearsome warriors, but surprisingly they settled down and became farmers for the next 500-600 years, leaving a lasting imprint of Norse placenames, daily expressions, and traditions.
Our new expedition vessel, Ocean Albatros, will be our home for this unique cruise. She is a revolutionary and stylish small ship that combines exquisite comfort with modern technology and outstanding stability in rough seas. The exquisite design, together with fantastic service from the staff, provides an intimate and comfortable atmosphere on board.
Facts about Vikings of the North Sea
COPENHAGEN, DENMARK, EMBARKATION AND DEPARTURE
The cruise begins in the heart of Copenhagen, where Ocean Albatros is moored. After embarkation and mandatory safety procedures, the lines are cast and the Captain sets a northbound course out of the Sound. You will be shown to your cabin, and the mandatory security procedures are carried out. While dinner is served in the elegant restaurant, we will pass the castle of Kronborg, immortalised as the castle of Shakespeare's Hamlet!
SKAGEN, DENMARK. NORTHERNMOST POINT OF JUTLAND
Ocean Albatros will moor in the important fishing port and artists' colony of beautiful Skagen. Skagen is known for its fantastic sunlight, vibrant city life, characteristic yellow houses and white sandy beaches.
We start the day with a coach tour to Grenen, the pointed peninsular marking the northernmost point of Denmark. Join the tractor-bus called ‘Sandormen’ and see where the waters of Skagerrak and Kattegat meet in crashing waves - always a popular excursion for Skagen visitors.
After this visit, guests can take a leisurely city walk which includes Skagen Art Museum, where visitors will see the permanent collection of works by the famous Danish painters, Anna Ancher, P.S. Krøyer, Holger Drachmann as well as others. In the 19th century, these world-renowned artists created works of art in the artists' colony, which primarily consisted of Scandinavians known as “the Skagen Painters”.
After experiencing the "top" of Denmark, we return to the port of Skagen to re-embark our vessel for a late lunch – and to continue into the North Sea onwards to Norway.
The early seafarers of this region, known today as Vikings, consisted of people from the Nordic countries of Denmark, Sweden and Norway. Their expeditions aboard their famed longships took them all over the known world, establishing Viking settlements which would profoundly alter the history of Western Europe. As we brave some of the routes the Vikings sailed, we delve into their history and heritage, and quite possibly debunk some romanticized views of these seafaring folk along the way.
HAUGESUND, NORWAY. HOME OF VIKINGS AND FISHERFOLK
Nestled among small islands and rolling hills between Bergen and Stavanger in southwestern Norway sits the sheltered strait of Karmsund; the wonderful old town of Haugesund, home of Harald Fairhair, the first Norwegian viking king, can be found at the northern entrance. While protecting passing ship traffic, the Strait itself was also the source of a massive herring fishery, which was the impetus behind the city's development. Legend has it that the god Thor wades through the straits of Karmsund every morning on his way to the Tree of Life
“Sildabyen” as the city is sometimes known (literally translated as “Herringtown”) also offers a distinctive pink town hall from 1931, situated in the manicured central square. The history of shipping and shipbuilding is clear throughout the city, which has been Norway's 4th largest port since 1913. The waterway also gave many of the inhabitants the opportunity to explore the world, and many captains and sailors have embarked from here on their long voyages around the globe. Norway is still a great seafaring nation, with thousands of Norwegians working on the oceans every day (marine industries account for around 70% of Norway’s export market).
Many Icelandic sagas tell us tales of the first Viking king, and the Orkneyinga and Heimskringla Sagas specifically recount the military voyage of Harald Fairhair to the West. Here the king fought to clear the region of dissident pirate Vikings, who were raiding the Norwegian coasts. The expedition later continued to Scotland, where many such dissidents had taken refuge, across the same seas as our route takes us.
SHETLAND ISLANDS, SCOTLAND. LERWICK: IRON AGE DWELLINGS, PEAT FUEL AND QUAINT FISHING VILLAGE. OPTIONAL EXCURSION TO CLICKIMIN BROCH. ISLE OF NOSS, BIRDWATCHING.
We are set to approach Lerwick, capital of Shetland in the morning. Shetland consists of more than 100 islands, of which only 15 are inhabited year-round. The islands form the northernmost part of the United Kingdom, located approximately 300 km north of the mainland of Scotland.
Once securely docked at the port, we depart through Lerwick towards Scalloway for a short scenic drive. From the elevated position we can enjoy the view of the charming village and the imposing Scalloway Castle. After a short photo stop, we continue eastwards through the area that is locally known as the “Black Gates” – an area where peat is still cut and used as fuel.
Following the road northwards, our main destination of Clickimin Broch is only a short drive. There will be free time to discover this well preserved and restored Broch and learn more about life in these mysterious Iron Age fortresses.
(Please note: The coach excursion is part of the excursion package and is not included in the price of the trip).
Afterwards, we will return to Lerwick and embark the vessel for the short reposition to the nearby Isle of Noss, home to some of Scotland's busiest seabird colonies. Depending on the weather we hope to offer a Zodiac cruise beneath the imposing sea cliffs thronging with gannets, guillemots and other seabirds.
From here we depart the Shetland Islands and set sail southwards across the Fair Isle Channel towards Orkney.
ORKNEY ISLANDS, SCOTLAND. HISTORIC KIRKWALL, GREEN ENERGY, DISTILLERIES AND NORSE HERITAGE. OPTIONAL EXCURSION: HIGHLIGHTS OF ORKNEY
During the night we will have sailed south on the waters between the Shetlands and the Orkneys, and in the early morning we’ll reach the town of Kirkwall on the windy Orkney isles off the mainland of Scotland. Orkney is old Norse for the "seal islands", and, like the other North Atlantic islands, the Orkneys has a rich Viking story.
Kirkwall is the capital of Orkney. Orkney has a fascinating history, and contains one of the highest concentrations of Stone-Age remains anywhere in the world, preserved in the islands' softly blowing sand. These sites range from the dramatic stone circle of Brodgar to the touchingly intimate Neolithic houses of Skara Brae, preserved so perfectly they could almost still be inhabited. Unlike the Scottish mainland, Orkney and nearby Shetland were colonised by Norse settlers, and were a part of the Kingdom of Norway until the late 1400s; the islands' language, culture and architecture is subsequently distinct to the rest of Scotland. Locals are proud of their Nordic heritage, which is evident almost everywhere you go in the city, from the magnificent St Magnus' Cathedral (the founding of which is detailed in bloody sagas; it is also one of the only churches in the world to have its own dungeon), to street names, to the world-renowned Highland Park distillery. More recently, the islands were of huge military importance to the British state, and an entire German fleet lies scuttled at the bottom of Scapa Flow, just outside the city. The barricades between several of the islands were conducted after a daring U-Boat raid in the Second World War; along with the magnificent Italian Chapel (built by prisoners of war) bear testament to the islands' intricate history.
Today, the islands have again reinvented themselves; visitors are warmly welcomed, and the bustling port is littered with equipment and parts devoted to tidal and wind energy, as Orkney seeks to capitalise on its abundant green energy.
For those who participate in the optional excursion: “Highlights of Orkney”:
We depart Kirkwall and head into the west of Mainland, Orkney’s largest island. Along the way we will pass through rolling gentle landscapes into the Neolithic Heartland of Orkney, an area designated as a World Heritage Site due to its wealth of pre-historic archaeology. Passing the Standing Stones of Stenness, we will stop at the 5000-year-old ceremonial circle: the Ring of Brodgar.
We continue to the pretty fishing village of Stromness. After a briefing and orientation enjoy free time to explore the picturesque harbour in Stromness and stroll along the quirky flag-stoned streets. Maybe visit the beautifully refurbished Pier Arts Centre with exhibitions by both local and international artists and relax with a hot beverage in a café or explore the craft shops selling local knitwear, pottery and art work.
Finally we return to the coach and continue our circular route following the coastline of Scapa Flow, a famous British Naval Base in both World Wars.
(The excursion is part of the optional excursion package and not included in the price of the trip).
For guests wishing to stay in Kirkwall, a short walking city tour will be arranged, passing by St. Magnus cathedral as well as the picturesque ruins from Bishop's and Earl's Palace.
In the afternoon we departure south to Aberdeen.
ABERDEEN, SCOTLAND. DISEMBARKATION AFTER A WONDERFUL VOYAGE
The Captain will lead the ship southwards along the east coast of Scotland, and we’ll arrive in Aberdeen, the Granite City, which is Scotland's third-largest city. At this point we’ll say farewell to crew and fellow travellers aboard Ocean Albatros before departing the ship.
- 6-day/5-night cruise on Ocean Albatros in a shared outside double stateroom with a private bathroom in the category chosen
- English-speaking expedition staff
- Near-port walks with the expedition team
- Information briefings and lectures by the expedition team
- Special photo workshop
- Full board on the ship
- Dinner drink package
- Free coffee, tea, and afternoon snacks on the ship
- Welcome and farewell cocktails
- Taxes, tariffs, and landing fees
- Digital visual journal link after the voyage, including voyage log, gallery, species list, and more
- International flights
- Extra excursions and activities not mentioned in the itinerary
- Single room supplement and cabin upgrades
- Meals not on board the ship
- Beverages (other than coffee and tea and dinner-drink package)
- Tips for the crew (we recommend USD 14 per person per day)
- Personal expenses
- Transfer to/from the ship
- Optional excursions as described in the itinerary (days 4+5)
- Travel, cancellation, and senior insurance
- Anything not mentioned under ’Inclusions’
Departing the Danish capital of Copenhagen, MV Ocean Albatros will set out across the North Sea, following the route established by Norse explorers over a thousand years ago.
Our activiteies in port will vary according to the location - each destination has something different and exciting to offer! No matter the day’s planned activities, the onboard Expedition Team and Expedition Leader will work as hard as possible in conjunction with the Captain and Crew to maximize exploration opportunities.
A “typical” expedition day in the North Sea may look like this (subject to weather and sea conditions and sailing schedule):
- 0645: Wake-up call
- 07.00-08.00: Breakfast
- 08.30-17.30: Exploration ashore
- 12.30-13.30: Lunch onboard
- 18.30-1930: Evening Recap with Expedition Team
- 19.30: Dinner
Activities onboard include our ship Gym, where you can burn some calories on our fitness bicycles or treadmills; most of our ships even have other cardio machines and strength/lifting options. Most voyages throughout the season also offer kayaking (booked and paid onboard – weather permitting), and we will often aim to offer hiking excursions onshore when possible. Our new purpose-built ships have a Spa, in which guests can enjoy massages, facials, and other relaxing treatments (additional cost applies). Our Library is a great place to rest between outings, with expansive views and a wide selection of Arctic-related reading material. During your voyage you will also be able to enjoy our tea time in the late afternoon, or indulge in some retail therapy in our onboard Boutique, which sells personal necessities as well as outdoor equipment and specially-selected Arctic souvenirs.
As a fully-equipped expedition ship, Ocean Albatros carries a fleet of Zodiac landing craft, which we can use to come ashore in towns, villages, or even deserted beaches. This flexibility is what sets this voyage apart from 'traditional' cruises, where the small number of our guests aboard and our skilled team of Zodiac drivers allows us to land in even the smallest ports.
Our skilled and knowledgeable Expedition Team will be oin hand every step of the journey, assisting guests to enter and exit the Zodiacs, guiding our guests ashore, and even assisting our guests to capture the perfect photo memories.
In between our landings and activities we offer three hearty daily main meals. Albatros Expeditions always have allergy flexible options, healthy selections as well as a variety of vegetarian and vegan options.
Our hardworking galley crew deliver multiple Breakfast options, served in a buffet style along with a cooking station where eggs are made to order. At Lunch we are also met with a smorgasbord of mouthwatering choices. Safe to say you will have the energy for your next outing!
When it is Dinner time, you can choose to eat at the main restaurant or book a table at the Specialty Restaurant. Your evening meal is served a la carte, with fresh new options daily and always a selection of fixed items. There is always a vegetarian and pescetarian option available. Albatros Expeditions are known for our delicious menus and a variety of exquisite wine pairings.
Onboard you will also have the option to join Afternoon Tea with sweets, cakes or snacks served each afternoon. Albatros Expeditions have tea and coffee freely available all day throughout the vessel, while specialty coffee, alcoholic beverages and hand-crafted cocktails are available at the ship’s bars.
Scandinavia and Scotland are regionsknown for their culture, history and spectacular natural beauty - the weather however is rarely as excellent!
As a heavily maritime area, the North Sea coasts experience great variation in their weather. While summer usually brings calm warm settled weather, this is by no means guaranteed! Sun, rain, wind and fog can all occur with little to no warning - often all within the same day! While temperatures in the region tend to be fairly moderate, with temperatures in late Spring and early Summer ranging from 15-25°C, we remind our guests to be ready for all weathers!
We advise dressing in layers, and to ensure that you have a waterproof outer layer, as well as an insulating mid-layer. Sturdy walking shoes or hiking boots are recommended.
Albatros Expedition strives to employ the very best Expedition Team in the whole industry. We travel in some of the planet’s most remote regions, where planning and on-location experience is key. Our routes and itineraries are subject to the prevailing sea, ice and wind conditions, which are closely monitored by the Bridge Team and Expedition Leader. Drawing on their vast experience, they find the best alternatives in the rare instances where our planned itinerary needs to be changed. Each cruise is a completely unique combination of locations, where the highlights can often be the totally unexpected. Most of our cruises provide the opportunity to spot a variety of unique wildlife, although this is subject to the whims of Mother Nature and can of course not be guaranteed. As you will no doubt experience, the joy from our Expedition Team when spotting different species on land or at sea is as genuine as your own.