The wilds of Greenland and Iceland await you on this fantastic small ship expedition cruise of the northern seas. On The Majestic North: Greenland and Iceland, you'll have the chance to explore some of the more remote and beautiful destinations that make Greenland one of the wildest landscapes in the world. Sparsely populated and with few roads, you'll discover a simpler way of life that's relaxing and fascinating all at once. Soak in the natural hot pools of Uunartoq, sail past sparkling glaciers in Prince Christian Sound, and witness ancient ruins boasting centuries-old Norse tradition in Qassiarsuk. Along with a whole day in the colorful capital of Nuuk and a visit to the traditional mining town of Ivittuut, your adventure will be an immersion into Viking and modern Greenlandic culture.
Besides three nights in downtown Reykjavík in a first-class hotel, most of your expedition will take place on the 5-star Ocean Explorer. This intimate vessel juxtaposes rugged exploration with ultimate luxury, featuring gym facilities, an onboard spa, and a small passenger-to-crew ratio to ensure premium service. Throughout your journey, your discoveries will be informed by an 8-person expedition team of naturalists, ornithologists, wildlife experts, equipment masters, and more. Enjoy enlightening lectures onboard and the intangible greetings of the wild onshore. Land on breathtaking northern landscapes during Zodiac craft excursions. Plus, a small ship experience allows you to reach the more remote locations where larger ships cannot reach.
Altogether, you'll experience 23 included features and Cultural Discoveries on this unforgettable adventure, plus two UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Join Vantage in 2022 and discover the variety of Arctic wonders found throughout Greenland and Iceland!
Iceland’s tidy and small city is a wonder to explore on its own, though it’s often (and rightly!) the gateway for the country’s hot springs, breathtaking fjords, and unspoiled scenery. Get to know the world’s northernmost capital on this exciting and compact extension, where we’ve included a tour of the city’s highlights and an excursion to the luxuriant and milky-blue waters of the famed Blue Lagoon. You’ll have plenty of opportunities for free time to shop along the Laugavegur promenade and to try Iceland’s intriguing cuisine. Most adventurers who visit Iceland vow to return, and do. Here’s your chance to see why Reykjavík is a city you must know — in true Vantage style.
Fly overnight to Iceland
Today, you’ll board an overnight flight bound for Reykjavík, arriving on Day 2. Or, depart earlier for your pre-trip extension to Reykjavík!
Welcome to Reykjavík, Iceland’s capital and cultural epicenter
Just landing in Iceland’s airport gives you an astonishing aerial preview of what you’ll soon discover while cruising this country’s otherworldly landscapes. If you purchased your airfare from Vantage, you’ll be met at the airport upon arrival and assisted with your hotel transfer. We’ve given you the afternoon free to rest or get a head start and join us for an orientation walk and free shuttle service into the Reykjavík city center. You’ll meet your fellow travelers tonight at a Welcome Reception and Dinner. Tomorrow holds a half day of Reykjavík discoveries.
Get a true taste of Iceland, from Bloody Marys to hot springs
Venture out along the Golden Circle to discover some of Iceland’s most unforgettable natural attractions today. First, we’ll pay a visit to a tomato farm and greenhouse where you’ll see how Iceland’s geothermal activity helps produce some of the juiciest and most flavorful tomatoes in the world. Taste for yourself when you’re poured a fresh Bloody Mary — but this is no Sunday standard. This version has been called the “best Bloody Mary in the world” by The Guardian! Our explorations continue in UNESCO-listed Thingvellir National Park, which is renowned for its extraordinary landscapes and boasts a rich history that stretches back to the first settlers in Iceland. We’ll also stop to admire the spectacular Gullfoss Waterfall and the hot springs of the Geysir geothermal field during our Golden Circle discoveries.
You’ll have free time during your tour for lunch on your own, and dinner tonight is also on your own.
Discover more of Iceland’s capital city, fly to Greenland, and embark the Ocean Explorer
Check out from your hotel this morning and look forward to a half-day Reykjavík city tour, kicking off after breakfast. Highlights include a visit to the Perlan viewpoint, an interactive natural history museum housed inside an immense glass dome that sits atop six hot water tanks, each carrying 4 million liters of geothermal hot water. Other highlights include the Hallgrímskirkja Church — Iceland’s tallest church — and the Reykjavík city center, to name a few tour stops. You'll have time for lunch on your own.
Tonight, you’ll embark the Ocean Explorer and begin your small ship expedition cruise! From the service of an onboard Expedition Team to a Deluxe Concierge ready to help with whatever you may need, you’ll soon discover how Vantage seamlessly combines 5-star luxury cruising with intrepid discovery. The small size of our ship will allow us to berth in some port cities and walk right ashore, where other destinations will involve the use of tenders or Zodiac crafts. These crafts will also help you discover the breathtaking natural wonders of these regions when they bring you to some of the world’s most untouched landscapes.
Get settled in and familiarize yourself with the shipboard amenities, before joining fellow travelers for a Welcome Briefing and Dinner.
View the unforgettable vistas of Ísafjörður, and a village visit to Thingeyri
Today's destination is Ísafjörður, an idyllic town in the Westfjords region. Connected to the Icelandic mainland by only a narrow strip of land, the landscape of this secluded peninsula includes jaw-dropping views of dramatic fjords carved by ancient glaciers, sheer table mountains that plunge into the sea, and pristine North Atlantic vegetation. As our Expedition Team leads us through the mountains, we’ll stop to explore the historic village of Thingeyri. With a population of about 260 inhabitants, Thingeyri is both the area’s first trading post and one of the oldest settlements. Along the way, enjoy lunch at a local community house with a performance by a local band.
We’ll also stop at the thunderous Dynjandi, the highest and most impressive waterfall in the Westfjords region, before returning to the ship this evening. Be on the lookout for the uninhabited Hornstrandir Nature Reserve. During northerly winter storms, ships once sought shelter below the mountains here. You’ll also pass Hornbjarg, the most magnificent bird cliff in Iceland.
This small group excursion is one you will remember for a lifetime! Explore the soul-stirring polar environment of the Arctic on a world-class kayaking adventure! Led by knowledgeable and experienced Expedition Leaders, you will go to places that Zodiac boats can’t reach. These unique excursions let you experience the jaw-dropping landscapes and encounter wildlife up-close, in a responsible way. Tours take place in calm and protected waters, with only two individuals per kayak. This optional tour is available on all expedition cruises and perfect for adventurous adults. Participants must possess the appropriate fitness level and previous kayaking experience is a plus. You must read the Kayaking Preparation Notes and the Kayaking Terms and Conditions, and complete the Kayaking Participation Statement in order to confirm your spot on the tour. Download the Kayaking Participation Statement form here.
A medical declaration for this journey must be completed and submitted to the ship’s doctor upon embarkation. Download the Medical Form here.
*Optional kayak excursions are offered in place of regular excursions. The number of available excursions will depend on itinerary and weather conditions.
Please note: This optional tour is available for pre-booking only. All guests must complete a medical declaration and submit it to the ship's doctor upon embarkation. Reservations will close 30 days prior to departure. All prices are per person and subject to change. All optional tours are offered by Vantage Deluxe World Travel. Descriptions and scheduling are subject to change. Minimum tour participation is required to operate optional tours. Optional tours cancelled by passengers within 48 hours of the excursion are non-refundable.
Enjoy a day at sea on the Ocean Explorer
Today is your day to fully relax on board your 5-star ship. Throughout the day, your Expedition Team will be conducting different presentations on topics relevant to your destinations, and you’ll also have a moment to take advantage of your ship’s other amenities to refresh and restore yourself, perhaps visiting the sauna or enjoying a soothing massage in the spa.
Exploring Greenland's remote Kulusuk island
If you are an early bird, you might wander up on deck as your ship cruises into the harbor of Kulusuk, ringed by brightly painted houses set against green hills and dark mountains that rise above the iceberg-flecked blue water. Only about 250 permanent residents call Kulusuk home. The island was originally settled by the Paleo-Eskimo cultures. Next came the Thule people who are descendants of today’s Inuits. Some Danes ran aground here in 1909, built a church, and stayed. As a result, today Kulusuk blends European and Inuit cultures. Most people earn their livings hunting and fishing, and some are skilled tupilaq carvers. Tupilaq means “soul of the ancestor,” and these carved figurines are said to offer protection against evil. Perhaps you’ll pick one up as you explore the town.
Your Expedition Team will determine where and how our activities will take shape based on the weather and local conditions, and you will have options for how active you want to be. You might hike from the shore of Kulusuk to the top of the 984-foot-high hill known as Isikajia Mountain for jaw-dropping views of the village, the icebergs, and the stunning fjords that chisel the coast. As you explore, keep your eye out for sea birds. You might also be lucky enough to spot ravens, white-tailed eagles, or even the occasional rare gyrfalcon.
Visit one of the most remote places on Earth: Isortoq, Greenland
Isortoq means “Foggy Sea,” and it sits less than 3 miles from the edge of the polar ice cap. Today you will set foot on pristine land that may just well be the most remote place you’ve ever been in your life (so far!).
Experience Inuit traditions in Greenland’s smallest village, where fewer than 100 or so residents eke out a life by hunting and fishing. In summertime, they are also sustained by boat shipments of fresh produce and other supplies, but for most of the rest of year, Isortoq is largely inaccessible — surrounded by pack ice and battered by the powerful polar winds called piteraqs. Based on local conditions, your Expedition Team will coordinate a visit to the settlement, where you can see observe the native Inuit lifestyle firsthand.
As you leave Isortoq today, you'll be rewarded with awesome views of Greenland's coastline.
Enjoy a day of activities led by your Expedition Team
Today's experience will be led and coordinated by our Expedition Team, dependent on weather and sea conditions. You will have the chance to hop aboard our Zodiac boats to reach rugged and beautiful shores in Greenland.
Cruising the Prince Christian Sound along the coast of Greenland
Enjoy another relaxing day at sea while passing through the 60-mile-long Prince Christian Sound. This narrow passageway lined by glaciers and icebergs offers a remote landscape with few settlements. Keep an eye out for plenty of marine life, including several breeds of whales and seals. While you admire the views, perhaps indulge in a spa treatment, enjoy cocktails in the lounge, and attend onboard workshops presented by your expedition crew. As you take in the scenery from the decks, you might notice that the icebergs have a uniquely blue color. That is because the icebergs in southern Greenland are older and denser, with less air.
Soak in the natural hot springs of Uunartoq
Welcome to the island of Uunartoq, which is famous for its flourishing hot springs that are ready for you to take a dip! After breakfast, feel free to opt in for a morning hike on the island. Then, you'll venture to the nearby hot spring pools from the ship, which are usually at about 100°F. Join in on the 1,000-year-old tradition of soaking in the natural pools, which was originally discovered by Norsemen. Get ready to revel in crystal-clear waters!
Go back in time at Qassiarsuk
Today you will experience Qassiarsuk, the most important of all the Norsemen landmarks in South Greenland because the ruins are still very much part of the present-day landscape. In the morning, you'll have a choice of two tours — a walking tour of the Qassiarsuk village including a visit to the Brattahlid open-air museum. This interesting place has replicas of Tjodhildes Church and a Norse longhouse, which you'll learn more about from expert guides who also sport traditional Norse-style garb. Or, enjoy a natural hike through the rolling landscape with your Expedition Team leading the way.
After lunch onboard, you'll have the rest of the afternoon and evening at leisure to luxuriate in the amenities of the ship, including the boutique shop, and observation lounge.
Hike through Igaliku and Hvalsey
Revel in the modern landscape of Greenland and tap into its ancient past with another excursion to the mainland. In the morning, you'll enjoy hiking on “Kings Road” to one of the most beautiful sheep farming villages of Greenland, called Igaliku, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The village is right in the opposite side of the iconic Illerfissalik mountain and is surrounded by mountains. On the hike, you’ll find special Norse ruins, where Norse bishop resided and one of the biggest farms in the country.
After lunch onboard, you'll enjoy a short hike the Hvalsey church ruin, which is the most well-preserved Norse church in Greenland, set in a beautiful, natural landscape. Hvalsey is called Qaqortukulooq in Greenlandic, which means “the big white” or “the very white one,” because the church was painted white when it was in use.
Visit the Ivittuut mining town
This morning, near the southern tip of Greenland, you'll experience an old mining town called Ivittuut, where you'll take a walking tour around town with your Expedition Team. Ivittuut was once the world’s largest source of cryolite, an extremely rare mineral that was historically used in the extraction of aluminum from bauxite ore. Although cryolite has been found at other places on Earth, Ivittuut was the only place where this mineral was extracted commercially. This afternoon, you'll be regaled with an interesting lecture on board, followed by lunch. The rest of the day can be spent relaxing on the ship to indulge in the amenities and the spectacular views from the observation decks.
Enjoy Nuuk, Greenland's capital city
Let the colorful costal houses greet you as you arrive in Nuuk, the capital city of Greenland. This morning, you'll take a panoramic tour through town, complete with a visit to National Museum to learn more about local history, industry, and tradition.
After lunch on board, you'll have the afternoon to explore Nuuk on your own. Some highlights you'll want to explore are the Nuuk Art Museum and the Kayak Museum. The Art Museum holds a body of 300 paintings primarily featuring the work of traveling European artists, while the Kayak Museum houses a very impressive collection of sealskin kayaks and traditional hunting artifacts. Keep an eye out for the modest wooden frame of the Nuuk Cathedral, built in 1849, and a recognizable landmark on Nuuk’s skyline.
See the Kapisillit settlement up close
The early morning will bring a scenic sailing opportunity through the Nuuk fjord. You'll have the possibility to see whales, seals and icebergs as you glide past the impressive mountains that separate the different channels of the fjord.
After the sailing we'll arrive in Kapisillit, a settlement in the Nuuk Fjord. The name means "the place with salmon," as the Kapisillit River is the only known place in Greenland with a spawning salmon population. In fact, scientific studies have shown that the Kapisillit salmon are unique, having been completely isolated from other North Atlantic salmon populations. Today, Kapisillit has a population of fewer than 60 people who subsist mostly on hunting, fishing and tourism. During our visit, you'll have the chance to catch a glimpse of a more traditional way of life in Greenland, and the surrounding plains are a great place to search for Arctic hare, birds, and local herbs.
See Maniitsoq, the "Venice of Greenland"
We'll land in Maniitsoq today and you'll explore the picturesque area with your Expedition Team. This town is situated in an archipelago, intersected by small natural canals, giving it the nickname the “Venice of Greenland” by the locals. You will have the chance to visit the exhibitions at Maniitsoq Museum, which provide a good introduction to the local culture and history.
Disembark the Ocean Explorer and fly back to Reykjavík
Following breakfast and an early lunch on board, you'll bid farewell to the Ocean Explorer and head out for a tour of the Ice Cap and Reindeer Glacier, a world-class spectacle so named for the frequent sightings of reindeer in the area.
Following your tour, you’ll enjoy a buffet barbecue dinner before transferring to the airport where you will board a flight back to Reykjavík and check in to your overnight hotel.
Depart Reykjavík and fly back to the U.S.
We bid you farewell as you depart back home on an overnight flight to the U.S.
Please note: Ocean-cruising is not the same experience as river cruising; as such, you may experience fluctuating tides and weather patterns that may involve some rocking of your vessel. Itineraries will include all activities as planned except in extreme cases that can’t be controlled by your shipboard crew. Day-by-day itineraries are preliminary and therefore subject to change. If changes occur while on tour, you will be notified by your Cruise Director or regional expert.