Day 1 Edinburgh, Scotland
Dominated by a medieval castle on a towering crag, Edinburgh is the celebrated capital of Scotland and boasts more than a thousand years of vibrant historical heritage. The Exchange building, the famous Royal Mile featuring St. Giles Cathedral and John Knox House, as well as Palace of Holyroodhouse, the Queens official residence in Scotland, are only a few of the architectural masterpieces found in this delightful Scottish city.
Day 2 Crusing the North Sea
Day 3 Flam, Norway
Boasting dramatic nature and a serene atmosphere, the tiny village of Flåm is situated in the innermost part of the Sognefjord and surrounded by breathtaking mountains. From this tranquil area, one of the world's most remarkably engineered railway lines originates and winds its way far above the sea, providing views of some of Norway's wildest and most magnificent scenery. At the foot of the mountains, you can enjoy the natural beauty of the Flåm Valley and admire the majestic Aurlandfjord.
Day 3 Gudvangen, Norway
Gudvangen, also known as the Place of the Gods, sits at the end of Norway's spectacular Nærøyfjord, a UNESCO World Heritage site. In this glacier-carved wonderland, Gudvangen's waterfall-draped mountains, mystical white caves, and wooden stave churches beckon to be explored. The former Viking village of Njardarheimr showcases how Vikings lived 1,000 years ago, and offers visitors the chance to mingle with modern-day Vikings who have adopted the ancient Viking era as a lifestyle.
Day 4 Runde, Normay
Set amid the striking natural beauty of coastal Norway, the small island of Runde hosts about 100 human inhabitants, a research station and a mountain range that reaches 1,093 feet at its highest point. Runde is also called Treasure Island owing to a cache of gold coins salvaged from a Dutch ship by divers in 1972. Yet the island's crowning glory is its rich birdlife. More than 500,000 birds flock to its steep cliffs to nest each year, from puffins and razorbills to gannets and great skuas.
Day 4 Ålesund, Norway
Charmingly eccentric and steeped in its own very unique architecture, Ålesund boasts an outrageous collection of pastel-colored buildings, with towers and turrets, alongside (surprise!) pharaohs and dragons that peer down upon fascinated passersby. Its architecture is a surprising result and a testament to its citizens coming together to rebuild their city after a devastating fire in 1904. It took three years of construction, fueled by the Jugenstil movement, embodying a style that most closely resembles Art Nouveau. The result: uncommonly wonderful.
Day 5 Brønnøysund, Norway
A true coastal city affectionately known as the heart of Norway, tiny Brønnøysund has a big personality. Vibrant and picturesque, it is a snapshot of the whole country: rich with fjords and mountains, waterfalls and islands. It’s also home to the iconic Torghatten, a towering mountain isle with a dramatic hole pierced through its center – the work of Ice Age erosion with its own legend of lost love. The nearby Vega Archipelago captivates with its UNESCO-designated 6,500 islands and wildlife.
Day 5 Vega Island, Norway
UNESCO-protected and boasting more than 6,500 islands, islets and reefs, the Vega Archipelago is considered one of the world’s top undiscovered island gems. Just south of the Arctic Circle, here you’ll find natural wildlands home to more than 230 species of birds. And while the pace of life is leisurely, these islands are prime locales for all manner of adventure. Vega Island is the largest of the group, which has sustained a thriving fishing culture for more than 1,500 years.
Day 6 Røst, Norway
Røst is a cluster of islands and skerries situated at the far southwest edge of Norway's Lofoten archipelago. Every June the island of Røst hosts a puffin festival, or Lundefestivalen, to honor the archipelago's most renowned feathered friend. Years ago, Røst attracted well over a million puffins during the summer nesting season. Though their numbers have since declined, the archipelago remains a hot spot for puffins and other seabirds, including kittiwakes, cormorants and shags.
Day 6 Reine, Norway
It’s been called the most beautiful place in the world, perhaps best observed from the summit of Reinebergen Mountain overlooking the village on the island of Moskenesøya. It is one of the best hubs for hiking, biking, kayaking and skiing in the Lofoten Archipelago, lying north of the Arctic Circle. And while its natural grandeur is immeasurable, Reine’s population of permanent residents is measured at just over 300 individuals, operating the thriving fishing village and welcoming visitors.
Day 7 Scenic Cruising Trollfjord / Reine, Norway / Leknes(Lofoten), Norway
Leknes possesses is some of the most spectacular scenery in Norway, and perhaps the world. The surrounding mountains and cliffs are awe-inspiring and the perfect setting for hiking, climbing or cycling. Visit the old schoolhouse in the Fygle neighborhood, which offers a taste of the area's history and culture. Local shops offer an array of unique goods and souvenirs that capture the spirit of this beautiful port.
Day 8 Tromsø, Norway
Long renowned as an important center of science and exploration, Tromsø lies on a forest-covered island in a narrow waterway, hemmed in by steep mountains and connected to the mainland by a bridge. The imaginative Arctic Cathedral, the Polaria Centre and a scenic cable car ride are among its varied attractions.
Day 9 Gjesværstappan, Norway
Located in Norway's Nordkapp Municipality, north of the island village of Gjesvær and southwest of the iconic North Cape, is the picturesque nature reserve of Gjesværstappan. This cluster of steep, grass-blanketed islands, which includes Storstappen, Kjerkestappen, Bukkstappen and other smaller islands, is a magnet for cliff-breeding seabirds from April through September. The abundant birdlife includes puffins, gannets, guillemots, white-tailed eagles, cormorants, skuas, and more.
Day 9 Skarsvag, Norway
Bearing the distinction as the world’s northernmost fishing village, Skarsvag is located on the island of Magerøya just eight miles from the North Cape. The geological wonder of Kirkeporten here is a marvel that magnifies the midnight sun, which shines through the several meters-long fissure in the rocky cliff, creating breathtaking views and reflections.
Day 10 Bear Island
This southernmost island of Norway's Svalbard archipelago lies in the western region of the Barents Sea, midway between the North Cape and Spitsbergen. Now a nature reserve, remnants of its whaling and mining history remain on Bear Island. Despite its name, coined by 16th-century explorer Willem Barentsz, polar bears are not a common sight. Instead, the island's steep cliffs and sea stacks provide a habitat for an array of nesting seabirds, including guillemots, fulmars, puffins, and more.
Day 11 Svalbard
Day 12 South Spitsbergen National Park
Svalbard’s largest national park includes majestic mountains, glaciers and four separate bird sanctuaries located off the southern and western coasts: Sørkapp, Dunøyene, Isøyene, and Olsholmen. Eider ducks and barnacle geese breed and nest here, both on bird cliffs and on islands and islets. Look for Svalbard reindeer and Arctic fox, too.
Day 13 Svalbard
Day 14 North Isfjorden National Park
Exploring Svalbard’s second longest fjord is a dream come true for both nature and birding enthusiasts. Witness the dramatic wonder of glaciers calving into fjords where ringed seals are known to swim and play. And look to the steep cliffs to see all kinds of birds, from Brünnich’s guillemots, little aukss and Atlantic puffins to black-legged kittiwakes and pink-footed geese.
Day 14 Longyearbyen
Norway's Longyearbyen is nestled in the majestic Adventfjord on the west coast of Spitsbergen, a mountainous island in the Svalbard archipelago, north of the Arctic Circle. The town, which is the administrative hub of the area, claims about 2,100 residents, and is the gateway for most adventures in Svalbard. There is an airport as well as a variety of lodgings, shops, restaurants, bars, and museums. Polar bears often roam its outskirts, while reindeer sometimes walk right through the town center.
Day 15 Longyearbyen Disembarkation