Follow Norway’s fjord-carved coast, from the charming town of Bergen, past the North Cape to the ice and wildness of the Svalbard archipelago, for a perfect balance between the charmingly scenic and the spectacularly wild. Explore Tromso and Bear Island on the way to Svalbard in the high arctic, where polar bears prowl and walruses haul out on rocky shores.
“The land divides us, the sea unites” Norwegians have said for centuries. The sea here carves a 1,100-mile-long coastline (longer than the U.S. west coast) and on this expedition we’ll explore almost the full-length of its varied contours––from the jaw-droppingly lovely Norwegian fjordlands to the heart-pounding icescapes of Svalbard.
Incomparable natural beauty plus wildlife
The Norwegian fjords are on the bucket list of many travelers, and this itinerary delivers the heart-stopping beauty and grandeur of the nature-carved fjords, and all the charm of the picturesque villages set like jewels amid the stone. And, it adds the opportunity to discover the polar bear capital of the planet. We’ll see polar bears in their natural habitat, and are likely to observe natural behaviors, from hunting for seals amid the floes to frolicking cubs––all viewable from the proximity and safety of our ship’s deck rail.
In addition to the bears, we’ll have the opportunity to see and observe walrus, fascinating creatures and wonderful photo subjects. Reindeer and elusive arctic foxes. Fur seals. And a glory of birds––we’ll nose up to rock wall rookeries teeming with thousands of birds, see pelagic birds from the ship’s rail when we’re underway, and may even Zodiac cruise near a cloud of feeding arctic terns.
Every day is active and engaging
You’ll get out on adventures every day, both along Norway’s coast and in Svalbard, weather permitting. The towns and hills above the fjords are ideal for walking. The protected inlets of stunning fjords are perfect for kayaking and personal experiences of these majestic locales. In Svalbard too, we’ll get out for hiking, Zodiac cruising through the ice, or even kayaking along the face of massive glaciers. You’ll have a choice of activities, plus your choice of naturalists to join––for a moveable feast of personalities, insights, and interests. Choice also includes opting to relax, too. Enjoy the view from behind Explorer’spanoramic glass windows. Or visit the fitness center with its generous views of the ice vistas, or ease into the sauna or a massage in the wellness center.
Travel in excellent company
Explore under the sure guidance of an expedition leader, an assistant expedition leader, eight veteran naturalists, a National Geographic photographer, plus a National Geographic certified photo instructor, a Global Perspectives guest speaker, an undersea specialist, a wellness specialist and a video chronicler. Their knowledge and passion for the fascinating Arctic region is the key to your extraordinary experience.
Arrive in the Hanseatic town of Bergen, the gateway to the fjordlands. Stroll historic Bryggens Wharf, a UNESCO World Heritage site, before embarkation. (L,D)
Today we enter lovely Nordfjord, included on our itinerary since it is less touristed. We spend the morning at the end of the fjord, where we are transported up the Loen Valley via coach through some incredibly beautiful scenes: a turquoise-colored lake on one side and breathtaking mountains all around. A number of relatively flat trails lead along valleys shaped by massive glaciers (more strenuous hikes are also an option). And, we walk to a tongue of the large Jostedalsl Glacier. This afternoon be on deck as our ship sails back out of the fjord amid high peaks. (B,L,D)
Visit the scenic little island of Smola, where we have been specially invited by the locals to make the first-ever ship call. (B, L, D)
The coast of Central Norway is rugged with mountainous islands and steep-walled fjords. The Expedition Leader and Captain will discuss with the local Norwegian pilots the many landing possibilities where options are many: Zodiac along vertical rock faces, paddle serenely in a deep fjord surrounded by cascading waterfalls, or venture ashore for a hike with our naturalist staff. Over the years, we’ve discovered a number of special places, including Melfjord. This narrow channel is surrounded by high granite cliffs polished smooth by massive glaciers, and is one of the most spectacular spots on our voyage. (B,L,D)
The Lofoten Archipelago is an enchanting area of picturesque villages by the sea backed with jagged peaks. By Zodiac, we view nesting seabirds: Atlantic puffins, razorbills and guillemots. Later, we go ashore on the island of Aa, where cod fishing is still a major part of the economy. Be on deck as we cruise into one of the most famous fjords in Norway, the short yet dramatic Trollfjord, and search the cliffs for Norway's mythical beings: trolls. (B,L,D)
There’s no denying that the Norwegian fjords are beautiful, and on the days to come we explore places along the Norwegian coastline that raise the standard of landscape-pulchritude to new heights. National Geographic Explorer enters Tysfjorden, where mile after mile of vertical walls surround us and only a few small villages cling to the rocky shores. Zodiac and kayak along steep-walled fjords, and find inspiration in the birch forests and tumbling waterfalls. The unspoiled Hellemobotn cuts nearly to Sweden and has a trail to hike almost to the border. (B,L,D)
Tromso is known as the “gateway to the Arctic” because so many Arctic expeditions originated here. Visit the Polar Museum and the Arctic Cathedral, where the unique architecture evokes snow and icebergs. (B,L,D)
Zodiac around mist-shrouded Bear Island, populated by thousands of fulmars, kittiwakes, guillemots and gulls. This is a birdwatcher's paradise. (B,L,D)
Svalbard lies north of the Arctic Circle, where the summer midnight sun never sets. In true expedition style, we let nature dictate our day-to-day movements here and this, by the way, is one of the great attractions of this expedition. Our flexible itinerary and years of experience here allow us to take the best advantage of ice and weather conditions. With our fully stabilized, ice-class expedition ship, we are able to probe deep into the ice where polar bears hunt. Join our spotters on the Bridge, scanning the ice and islands for huge walrus, bearded and ringed seals, arctic foxes, reindeer, some of the largest whales on Earth — and polar bears. A sighting brings everyone rushing in excitement to the ship’s bow! Our expert staff gets you out daily. Depending on conditions, we may land on Edgeøya to hike the tundra, abloom with summer wildflowers. We often sail deep into Hornsund, where even first-time kayakers can paddle in a quiet cove surrounded by sparkling bergs. We may venture to the stunning Monacobreen glacier, or get close-up views of the iconic creatures of the ice by Zodiac. Back aboard, view underwater video from our ROV taken 1,000 feet below the surface, or spend time on deck with a National Geographic Photographer getting tips in an inspiring landscape. Every day is different, every day an adventure. (B,L,D)
Disembark in Longyearbyen and visit the Svalbard Art Gallery and Museum. Then, proceed to the airport for our charter flight (additional charge) to Oslo. Check in to the SAS Radisson Blu Airport Hotel. (B,L)
After breakfast you are free to continue on with your onward plans (B)
All day-by-day breakdowns are a sampling of the places we intend to visit, conditions permitting.
Solo A Main Deck with Window #309-312, 329-334
Main Deck with Window #317-320, 335-336
Veranda Deck–Suite #101-102; Upper Deck-Suite with Balcony #213 Triples: #101-102
Upper and Veranda Decks with Window #103-104, 107-108, 201-202, 204-207, 210, 212, 217, 226, 228
Solo B Upper and Veranda Decks with Window #105-106, 203, 208
Upper Deck with Balcony #209, 211, 214, 216, 218, 220-222, 224
Upper Deck–Suite with Balcony #215, 219, 230 All cabins are available as triples.
Main Deck with one or two Portholes #301-308
Main Deck with Window #313-316, 321-328, 337-340, 342, 344, 346, 348, 350 Triples: Main Deck with WIndow #341, 343
National Geographic Explorer
Vessel Type: Luxury Expedition
Length: 108 meters
Passenger Capacity: 148 (single & twin cabins)
Built / Refurbished: 1982 / 2008
National Geographic Explorer is a state-of-the-art expedition ship. It is a fully stabilized, ice-class vessel, enabling it to navigate polar passages while providing exceptional comfort. It carries kayaks and a fleet of Zodiac landing craft. An Undersea Specialist operates a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) and sophisticated video equipment, extending access to the underwater world.
Public areas: Bistro Bar; Chart Room; Restaurant; Global Gallery; Library, Lounge with full service bar and state-of-the-art facilities for films, slideshows and presentations; Mud Room with lockers for expedition gear, and Observation Lounge. Our “Open Bridge” provides guests an opportunity to meet our Officers and Captain and learn about navigation.
Meals: Served in single seatings with unassigned tables for an informal atmosphere and easy mingling. Menu is international with local flair.
Cabins: All cabins face outside with windows or portholes, private facilities and climate controls.
Expedition Equipment: Zodiac landing craft, kayaks, Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV), hydrophone, SplashCam, underwater video camera, Crow’s Nest remote controlled camera, video microscope, snorkeling gear.
Special Features: A full-time doctor, Undersea Specialist, LEX Photo Specialist and Video Chronicler, Internet Cafe and laundry.
Wellness: The vessel is staffed by two Wellness Specialists and features a glass enclosed Fitness Center, outdoor stretching area, two LEXspa treatment rooms and Sauna.