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
- Travel, cancellation, and senior insurance
- Anything not mentioned under ’Inclusions’
- Skagen, Denmark. Northernmost Point Of Jutland, Lively Fishing Town And Painters Colony
- Haugesund, Norway. A Town Of Herring And Vikings
- Shetland Islands, Scotland. Lerwick: Iron Age Dwellings, Peat Fuel And Quaint Fishing Village
- Orkney Islands, Scotland. Historic Kirkwall
Please keep in mind, the itinerary and outdoor activities during each voyage are solely dependent on weather and operational conditions to ensure the safety and quality of experience of our guests. The route and shore landings will be determined by the captain and expedition leader and communicated to guests through regularly scheduled briefings. Albatros Expeditions reserves the right to modify the landings and locations visited during a voyage based on weather and local conditions and climate to ensure a safe and delightful experience for all our guests and staff. Our trips are expeditionary in nature, and thus changes to timings are common place due to the environment we operate in as well as wildlife opportunities and locations.