Scotland The Faroe Islands and Iceland North Atlantic Saga

About the Experience

If you like a little of this and a little of that, this is exactly what you’re looking for! Navigating in the luxury of the Ocean Endeavour from historic Aberdeen, Scotland to jazzy Reykjavik, Iceland, this North Atlantic Saga adventure offers an intimate introduction to the 18 volcanic Faroe Islands scattered in the sea in between. This itinerary delivers a solid dose of seabirds, archaeology, art, stone henges, puffins, Faroese chain dancing and Icelandic hot dogs!

Photographers will go bonkers for the old-timey footbridges, futuristic sub-sea tunnels of the Western Faroes, the enigmatic Orkney Ring of Brodgar (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), the animated puffins and otherworldly Múlafossur waterfall that plunges into the North Atlantic in one powerful ribbon.

Art aficionados will want to make a beeline to the National Art Gallery to take in the daunting collection of 2,500 works at the Nordic House in Tórshavn. The island’s oxblood-red wooden buildings covered with emerald turf roofs are an open-air gallery in their own right–and you don’t have to whisper in their midst! Viking junkies will be pulled in several directions, imagining the battles, bloodshed and bargaining in the Norse settlements.

The landscape offers everything: volcanoes, dramatic waterfalls, Jenga-like sea stacks, spooky caves, lava fields, glacier-scraped fjords and white-washed cliffs peppered with seabirds. Only a coconut plantation is missing, really.

Arriving in Iceland, you’ll have a front row seat to a landscape unlike any other, one that is a never-ending geological timeline, defined by the rhythms of the sea at the edge of the Arctic Circle. This is where the hot dog fits in!

 

 

 

 

Click here to see the full itinerary!
Scotland The Faroe Islands and Iceland North Atlantic Saga

About the Experience

If you like a little of this and a little of that, this is exactly what you’re looking for! Navigating in the luxury of the Ocean Endeavour from historic Aberdeen, Scotland to jazzy Reykjavik, Iceland, this North Atlantic Saga adventure offers an intimate introduction to the 18 volcanic Faroe Islands scattered in the sea in between. This itinerary delivers a solid dose of seabirds, archaeology, art, stone henges, puffins, Faroese chain dancing and Icelandic hot dogs!

Photographers will go bonkers for the old-timey footbridges, futuristic sub-sea tunnels of the Western Faroes, the enigmatic Orkney Ring of Brodgar (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), the animated puffins and otherworldly Múlafossur waterfall that plunges into the North Atlantic in one powerful ribbon.

Art aficionados will want to make a beeline to the National Art Gallery to take in the daunting collection of 2,500 works at the Nordic House in Tórshavn. The island’s oxblood-red wooden buildings covered with emerald turf roofs are an open-air gallery in their own right–and you don’t have to whisper in their midst! Viking junkies will be pulled in several directions, imagining the battles, bloodshed and bargaining in the Norse settlements.

The landscape offers everything: volcanoes, dramatic waterfalls, Jenga-like sea stacks, spooky caves, lava fields, glacier-scraped fjords and white-washed cliffs peppered with seabirds. Only a coconut plantation is missing, really.

Arriving in Iceland, you’ll have a front row seat to a landscape unlike any other, one that is a never-ending geological timeline, defined by the rhythms of the sea at the edge of the Arctic Circle. This is where the hot dog fits in!

 

 

 

 

Day 1: Aberdeen, Scotland

Aberdeen is not just a city by the sea, it’s known as “a city of the sea.” Ships dock right up against the city-centre streets, casting shadows and grandeur. The classic historic stone buildings are made of locally quarried granite–the high mica content causes them to sparkle like silver. After spotting a few urban bottlenose dolphins in the harbour, you’ll really wonder if you are deep in a sparkly dream.

The city is famed for its green footprint and that footprint is well manicured! There are over 45 parks, gardens (the David Welsh Winter Gardens is one of the largest indoor gardens in Europe), and flowers blooming at every turn. After your own self-guided exploration of the cobbled and cosmopolitan streets of Aberdeen you will board the Ocean Endeavour for an evening departure.

 

 

Day 2: Kirkwall, Orkney

We’ll visit the Heart of Neolithic Orkney, a mystical UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Neolithic monuments (a tomb, two ceremonial stone circles with surrounding henges and settlement remains are a ghostly reminder of Scotland circa 5,000 years ago.

You’ll find the 4,000-year-old Ring of Brodgar, Stones of Stenness, Maeshowe and Skara Brae. Photographers will love playing with the surreal monuments, creating panoramas of the moody skies and ominous remains.

Bonus: Tour the Hall of Clestrain, the birthplace of celebrated Arctic explorer, John Rae, who discovered the missing link in the Northwest Passage (and the gloomy fate of the 1845 Franklin Expedition).

In the city of Kirkwall, the imposing St. Magnus Cathedral garners a lot of ooohs and ahhs (it dates back to 1137, so it should!). The city is small and compact and includes all the usual suspects: Viking ghosts, Highland cattle, a distillery, two museums and a gallery to keep everyone happy and snappy with their camera.

 

Day 3: Fair Isle

Halfway between Orkney and Shetland, the Fair Isle will ruffle the feathers of birders. More than 350 species have been checked off here and it’s not a stretch to learn that the bird population outnumbers the 70 islanders who have set up their love nest beside the birds in one of the most remote parts of the United Kingdom. Depending on the season, luck and a magic 8-ball, you might see Northern gannets, great skuas, puffins, storm petrels, black guillemots and Arctic terns. But birds will be birds, and we can’t promise anything that involves them!

The Fair Isle was once a Viking hub and has morphed into an idyllic island colony of artists and shepherds–the birds hog a lot of the attention but the handmade woolen jumpers are a fan favourite of visitors who are eager to cozy up in one.
Whether you’re feeling wooly or wobbly (the island’s celebrated Bird Observatory has a well-stocked ‘Good Shepherd bar’ with a range of Shetland and Orkney ales, wines and spirits), there’s also a local museum dedicated to preserving island heritage.

 

Day 4: Sumba, Suðuroy Island, Faroe Islands

Today is a complete immersion in Faroese culture and hiking that will knock your wool socks off. We’ll visit the village of Sumba on Suðuroy Island (population: 239), a stronghold of Faroese chain dancing. The chain dance (nothing like the dreaded wedding chicken dance!) was originally a medieval ring dance. The rhythm is 100% quirky and the dramatic ballads about kings and heroes often have several hundred verses. They can’t be memorized like a Sonny and Cher song.

After possibly witnessing some fancy footwork, the foothills of nearby Beinisvørð Mountain offer spectacular owl-vision views of the region. They are considered the second highest bird cliffs in the Faroe Islands so this perch definitely has a bird’s eye-view! Start counting those puffins and petrels!

 

 

Day 5: Tórshavn

Tórshavn or, ‘Thor’s Harbour’ (in Danish), is the largest city in the Faroes and the capital. With a population of 20,500, it’s one of the smallest capitals in the world. Boutique and indie shops tempt, as do the walking trails and treasured National Art Gallery at Nordic House.

The Nordic House is built in authentic Nordic tradition with Icelandic grass-roof construction–it’s the enchanting hill of elves afterall. They’re watching!

There are several sculptures and memorials around the city of Tórshavn dedicated to fishermen who were killed during the Second World War. The elf girl statue “Tarira” (close to the art gallery) is one of William Heinesen’s fantasy figures; the legendary and alluring young girl, half-dream and half-reality, dancing, free. She captures the spirit of the city, half-dream, half-reality and always enchanting.

Be sure to stretch your legs and taste buds with some local ‘wind-dried lamb’ or fermented lamb!

Fun facts: The University of Faroe Islands was founded in 1965 and is the only place in the world that offers classes in Faroese.

Public transportation in Tórshavn is free of charge and the city buses have free Wi-Fi. The twin goal of this initiative was to reduce traffic in the town’s center and lower fuel oil use and CO2 emissions.

 

 

Day 6–7: Western Faroe Islands

We’ll travel to the northwestern shores of Eysturoy (East Island) and Streymoy islands (the largest of the Faroe Islands), which provide a trifecta of hiking, birding and photography.

You’ll love these charming villages connected by high-tech James Bond-ish tunnels that splice through the mountains and beneath the ocean floor. The Jetsons-like infrastructure is quite a feat of engineering–someone had serious tunnel vision! Move over Chunnel! Streymoy is connected by roads to two neighbouring islands and to Vágar and Eysturoy Island by a 5km sub-sea tunnel and 250-metre bridge, respectively. It’s always good to have options. “Shall we go sub-sea or above sea, kiddos?”

The Eysturoyartunnilin underwater tunnel connects Streymoy to Eysturoy. The tunnel is a 11.2km underwater tunnel network with the world’s first under-sea roundabout in case you tunneled in the wrong direction and need to pull a U-ee.
Make sure your camera batteries are juiced for the Múlafossur waterfall in Gásadalur–it tumbles over cliffs and cascades directly into the ocean. It’s the stuff of inspirational posters and screensavers!

A small village (population: 20) can be reached via the tunnel system—but look for the old switchback trail over the mountain. It was once used by the local, devout postman when this village was only accessible by foot.

 

Day 8: Mykines Island

We will stop at Mykines so the birders on board don’t throw a fit. This island is the westernmost outpost of the Faroe Islands and home to 10 sturdy year-round residents whose village is adored for its turf-roofed houses.

Mykines is a geological marvel as great columns of basalt tower 30 metres above the ocean–it’s something an imaginative and fearless child would draw with crayons. Insert grassy slopes, steep cliffs and “clowns of the sea” (puffins). A 40-metre footbridge connects Mykinesholmur with the main island while the hike from the village to the lighthouse (est. 1909) at the end of the islet Mykinesholmur cuts through the large Atlantic Puffin colony.

Have your binoculars around your neck–European shag breed on the rocks at the water’s edge while the kittiwakes are partial to the cliffs next to the footbridge. The main cliff real estate is dominated by breeding common guillemot, razorbills and Northern fulmars. Fun bird nerd fact: Mykinesholmur is the only place on the Faroe Islands that you’ll find the Northern gannet.

The island has been identified as an Important Bird Area by BirdLife International and will probably be identified as your Big Day (a birding event in which a birder tries to see as many species of birds as possible within a calendar day.) *Not to be confused with your birthday which is also a big day and big deal!

 

 

DAY 9: At Sea

As the Ocean Endeavour powers across the North Atlantic towards land, ho! (Iceland), it’s the perfect opportunity to do a deep dive into the dynamic culture and history of the region. Grab a punchy coffee or a glass of wine because it’s grown-up school! The Endeavour is often referred to as a “floating university” and with a juicy slate of presentations, workshops and documentary screenings, you won’t want to cut class. Or, take advantage of the ship’s amenities. Or, take a cat nap–they’re encouraged!

 

 

DAY 10: Heimaey, Vestmannaeyjar (Westman Islands), Iceland

Icelanders are accustomed to the rumbles below. In March 2021, The Fagradalsfjall volcano erupted after lying dormant for 800 years. There’s been endless glacier carving and volcanic activity in the belly of the island. In 2010, eruptions of Eyjafjallajökull grounded European flights for six days due to the cloak of ash cloud that was emitted.

Witness geology in action at Vestmannaeyjar, the 14 islands and skerries scattered like snooker balls off the turbulent south coast of Iceland.

In 1963, the island of Surtsey was magically, seismically formed. Ten years later, the Eldfell eruption destroyed much of Heimaey, the largest of the Vestmannaeyjars. Yes, for Icelandic cartographers, islands must be erased or pencilled in here and there over time.

Today we will go “with the flow” on a Zodiac cruise (not lava!) in search of the countless seabird species that nest on the sheer rock faces and storm-beaten ocean cliffs. Between April and August, the puffins are omnipresent. Other frequent fliers include storm petrels, razorbills, skuas and several gull species.

 

 

DAY 11: Reykjavík, Iceland

We complete our journey in Reykjavík, Iceland’s groovy capital. After disembarking the Ocean Endeavour in the morning, you will have the opportunity to hug your dear Wild Women friends close, or drag them along to see what the slick city has up its sleeve.

Think: the healing waters of the famed Blue Lagoon, hot dogs (an Icelandic soul food–really! And you’ll see why after a few bites!) and Yoko Ono’s white stone Imagine Peace Tower (her arty tribute to John Lennon on Viðey Island in Kollafjörður Bay).

Laugavegur is the main, buzzy street to see and be seen. There are endless cafes, museums, galleries, vintage and vinyl shops to poke around in. You’ll also find the National Culture House (with original Norse Sagas manuscripts), the best Icelandic cod and several bars eager to pour you a shot of Brennivín. Svarti dauði, or “Black Death,” is a distilled brand of schnapps that is considered Iceland’s signature liquor made from fermented potato mash and caraway seed. Raise a glass, say “skál,” and revel in your spiritual days at sea.

 

 

OCEAN ENDEAVOUR

 

The Ocean Endeavour is a spacious, ice-strengthened vessel featuring twenty Zodiacs, advanced navigation equipment, and stabilizers. A doctor, paramedic, medical clinic, and enhanced health regime offer peace of mind. Roomy facilities offer comfortable travel with plenty of breathing room for all.

 

MAP

Click here to see upcoming trip dates to book your spot!
Cabin Category 10, Suite, Deck 7 Forward-Facing

  • Forward-facing picture windows, unobstructed view
  • Matrimonial bed (bigger than US double but smaller than a Queen)
  • Private bath with full tub
  • Refrigerator
  • Approximately 310 square feet

Cabin Category 9, Junior Suite, Deck 5

  • Picture windows, unobstructed view
  • Matrimonial bed (bigger than US double but smaller than a Queen)
  • Private bath
  • Sitting area
  • Approximately 270 square feet

Cabin Category 9, Junior Suite, Deck 7 Forward-Facing

  • Forward-facing picture windows, unobstructed view
  • Matrimonial bed (bigger than US double but smaller than a Queen)
  • Private bath with full tub
  • Sitting area
  • Refrigerator
  • Approximately 290 square feet

Cabin Category 8, Superior Twin, Deck 5 $9795USD

  • Two picture windows, unobstructed view
  • Two lower berths
  • Private bath
  • Sitting area
  • Approximately 210 square feet

Cabin Category 8, Superior Twin, Deck 7 Forward-Facing

  • Forward-facing picture windows, unobstructed view
  • Matrimonial bed (bigger than US double but smaller than a Queen)
  • Private bath with full tub
  • Approximately 180 square feet

Cabin Category 8, Superior Twin, Deck 7

  • Picture windows, partial obstruction
  • Matrimonial bed (bigger than US double but smaller than a Queen)
  • Private bath
  • Refrigerator
  • Approximately 190 square feet

Cabin Category 7, Select Twin, Deck 5 $9395USD

  • Picture windows, unobstructed view
  • Two lower berths
  • Private bath
  • Approximately 190 square feet
  • $10695USD

Cabin Category 7, Select Twin, Deck 8

  • Oversize windows, partial obstruction
  • Matrimonial bed (bigger than US double but smaller than a Queen)
  • Private bath
  • Refrigerator
  • Approximately 145 square feet

Cabin Category 6, Comfort Twin, Deck 4

  • Two porthole windows, unobstructed view
  • Two lower berths
  • Private bath
  • Approximately 175 square feet
  • $9595USD

Cabin Category 6, Comfort Twin, Deck 7

  • Picture windows, partial obstruction
  • Two lower berths
  • Private bath
  • Refrigerator
  • Approximately 135 square feet

Cabin Category 6, Comfort Twin, Deck 8

  • Picture windows, obstructed view
  • Matrimonial bed (bigger than US double but smaller than a Queen)
  • Private bath
  • Refrigerator
  • Approximately 160 square feet

Cabin Category 5, Main Twin, Deck 5 $7695USD

  • Picture windows, unobstructed view
  • Two lower berths
  • Private bath
  • Approximately 115 square feet

Cabin Category 4, Exterior Twin, Deck 4

  • Porthole window, unobstructed view
  • Two lower berths
  • Private bath
  • Approximately 100 square feet

Cabin Category 3, Interior Twin, Deck 5 $5695USD

  • Interior cabin
  • Two lower berths
  • Private bath
  • Approximately 120 square feet

Cabin Category 2, Triple, Deck 4

  • Interior cabin
  • Three lower berths
  • Two private baths
  • Approximately 200 square feet

Cabin Category 1, Quad, Deck 4

  • Interior cabin
  • Four lower berths
  • Private bath
  • Approximately 240 square feet