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On this epic North Sea experience, dive deep into the rich, natural beauty of the U.K. and Scandinavia's lesser-known destinations, all while being awe-inspired by striking historic sites and a diverse, fascinating local culture along the way. Start in Edinburgh where you'll climb aboard the Royal Yacht Britannia, then set sail for adventure toward the legendary Scottish Highlands and the northern Orkney Islands. Explore more of Viking lore before reaching Norway and the colorful city of Bergen, moving onto charming Oslo and Swedish tradition in Gothenburg, then concluding your Scandinavian leg in modern Copenhagen, complete with a scenic canal ride.
All will unfold as you luxuriate in your stay aboard the 5-star Ocean Odyssey, our new seafaring small ship that navigates smaller ports of call while delivering the utmost comfort and style. You can also expect impeccable service, exquisite dining, and spacious, finely-appointed staterooms (most with private balconies). Take advantage of a host of amenities such as a spa, library, gift shop, theater, lounge, two-story observation deck, infinity pool, fitness center, and more. Plus, get in-depth insights into the cultures of your destinations with an onboard Resident Lecturer to guide talks and discussions.
Plus, 20 included features and Cultural Discoveries will delight you throughout your journey, highlighting all the wonders of colorful seaside villages, historic cities, and stately castles. Not to mention, you’ll explore three UNESCO Sites and have the opportunity to extend your trip in Edinburgh and Copenhagen for more enchanting thrills.
Edinburgh’s imposing profile of black rock hills and rugged medieval fortifications stands in stark contrast to its cultured, quirky, and playful spirit. Why not add extra time to delve deeper into the U.K.’s second-most popular destination after London? Revisit Scotland’s dramatic history at Edinburgh Castle. Wander the tangle of medieval Old Town, and the neoclassical district of New Town, which together form a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Dart into the quaint shops, inviting pubs, and fascinating museums that line the Royal Mile. A highlight will be your included excursion to the fabled fairways of St. Andrew’s, the home of golf. Our perfect mix of included touring and leisure time allows you to discover the best Edinburgh has to offer.
You'll already be in Europe, so why not add two extra nights in charming Copenhagen, a delightful city with so much to offer? Whether you’re sipping a steaming brew as part of the city’s intrinsic coffee culture, wandering the Norrebro neighborhood on your way toward the Nyhavn canal’s colorful row houses, or taking a dip in the outdoor canal pools at Islands Brygge, there’s plenty to do during ample free time. And you’ll gain insight into local culture during an excursion to a charming fishing village. There is no better way to see more of Denmark at the best value.
Please note: The day-to-day itinerary for this extension blends in some features that would otherwise occur during the Copenhagen land portion of your main cruise tour program. This is done merely to ensure the most logical, relaxed, and efficient pacing. By the time you embark ship on the main cruise tour itinerary, you will have experienced all the main tour inclusions as well as your two extra extension days.
Depart home and fly overnight to Edinburgh
Your adventure begins! Today you’ll fly overnight from the U.S. to Edinburgh, Scotland.
Land in bonnie Edinburgh
Today you'll arrive in Edinburgh, Scotland. If you purchased your airfare from Vantage, upon arrival a Vantage representative will meet you and arrange transfer to your centrally located hotel. Settle in and relax before joining your fellow travelers for a Welcome Reception and Dinner this evening.
Discover Edinburgh and come aboard the Royal Yacht Britannia
The unforgettable city of Edinburgh unfolds before you on a half-day city tour. Highlights of the Old Town include Edinburgh Castle, set high above the city on Castle Rock, and St. Margaret’s Chapel. Built around 1130, it is the oldest surviving building in town. Fast-forward to 18th-century as you explore the New Town, with its elegant neoclassical and Georgian architecture. Both districts are together listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
When Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip set sail to visit their far-flung dominion, they did it on board the Royal Yacht Britannia. You'll come aboard to inspect this elegant vessel, which often hosted a retinue of more than 45 guests. It still features the furnishings and décor favored by the Queen when the ship was launched in 1953.
The balance of your day is free to explore Edinburgh on your own — pop into some local pubs for whisky sampling, or head to the Leith neighborhood. Here you'll find a haven for music lovers and theater-goers, as well as trendy bars and restaurants.
Wind through the Scottish Highlands to Invergordon and embark the new Ocean Odyssey
After breakfast, you’ll check out of your hotel and enjoy a scenic transfer to Invergordon through the Scottish Highlands. This land of high mountain valleys, rushing trout streams, sparkling lochs, and sheep-dotted pastures was once the stronghold of Gaelic-speaking Scottish clans. Following the Highland Clearances of the 18th and 19th centuries, small farmers were largely driven from the land, so today this remote region is one of the least-populated areas in Europe.
Our route takes us through wildly scenic Cairngorms National Park, the largest in the U.K. We’ll stop for an included lunch in the town of Pitlochry, which blossomed as a tourist destination after Queen Victoria visited in 1842. Soon thereafter you’ll arrive in Invergordon and come aboard your ship, the 5-star Ocean Odyssey. Get settled into your room, then feel free to explore the ship, stopping by the Concierge desk to say hello or even make a spa appointment. Later this afternoon, there will be an informative port talk; after, gather with your fellow travelers for a Captain’s Welcome Dinner.
Delve into the World War II heritage of Kirkwall in the Orkneys
Rise and shine in beautiful Kirkwall, the capital of Scotland’s northern Orkney Islands. Kirkwall was mentioned in a Norse saga from 1046, but the islands were inhabited long before that, as is evident in the island’s various UNESCO-listed Neolithic sites.
Your touring today reveals what is one of the best-preserved ancient Norse towns in Scotland. Kirkwall sits on a calm harbor and is laced with mysterious wynds (lanes) that lead to the main edifice, the imposing St. Magnus Cathedral. It is named for a local noble son who refused to participate in the Viking’s violent raids, and was martyred for it. St. Magnus stands in sharp contrast to the charmingly quaint Italian Chapel at Lamb Holm. This fanciful white stucco church was built during WWII by Italian POWs, who wanted a place to worship. They had been sent to the Orkneys to help construct the causeways (called the Churchill Barriers) that served as defensive links between the islands. Today, they are still vital roads. You’ll see both of these landmarks during your tour.
After lunch on board, enjoy leisure time on the ship or continue to explore Kirkwall at your leisure. Perhaps tour one of the local gin or whisky distilleries, or visit the town’s many craft galleries and boutiques to find a handmade souvenir. Enjoy dinner on board this evening.
Enjoy your choice of tours: Exploring Scalloway & Lerwick, or Viking Lore
Floating between the Atlantic and the North Sea, the Shetlands are as far north as you can go and still be in Scotland. But at the same time, centuries of Norse rule make these spectacular green jewels a unique cultural hybrid. If you are on deck, perhaps a flock of northern fulmars or gannets will herald our arrival as our ship makes its way toward Mainland, the largest of the archipelago’s 16 inhabited islands. Your ship will drop anchor in Scalloway, and from here you will have two choices for exploration: An exploration of Scalloway and Lerwick, or a tour that brings you to important Viking sites.
Your first tour choice introduces Shetland’s past and present capitals on a Scalloway & Lerwick tour. The name Scalloway derives from an Old Norse phrase that means “bay with the large huts” and in this case, the huts were the ancient shelters built here for delegates to Tingwall, the parliament for Orkney and Shetland. In 1608, those huts were overshadowed by Scalloway Castle, the ruins of which still stand. You’ll visit the site, and also peek into the Scalloway Museum that chronicles important events, most notably the WWII era when Scalloway was the “depot” of the Shetland Bus. This clandestine operation ferried Norwegian refugees fleeing the Nazi occupation to safety in the Shetlands, and returned the boats to Norway with arms and munitions for the Resistance. You’ll also visit Clickimin Broch, a defensive Bronze Age round tower. Before returning to ship, enjoy a guided walk around Lerwick and stop at a local farm that breeds the island’s iconic stout Shetland ponies.
Your second and more active tour choice invites you to explore “In Viking Footsteps.” You’ll start with a motorcoach ride across the stunning countryside to Old Scatness on the southern tip of the island. It was here in the 1970s that an airport expansion project revealed the heretofore unknown presence of an ancient mound that was inhabited for nearly 2,000 years since the Iron Age. It includes a broch (round tower) and a village that was occupied by Iron Age, Pictish, and Viking people. Many of the Pictish houses were reused by the Vikings, who left many soapstone artifacts behind. From here you’ll head to Sumburgh and visit Jarlshof, which was occupied from about 2500 BC to AD 1500. It features rectangular Viking longhouses, and a 16th-century, fortified manor house.
Back on board, enjoy the afternoon’s presentations by your Resident Lecturer and some leisure time. If conditions permit, perhaps this evening one of our Expedition Team members will host a stargazing session.
Explore Europe's best kept secret: The Faroe Islands
Hit the deck as we approach the Faroe Islands, and perhaps you’ll spot some wildlife. The 18 Faroe Islands form an autonomous region within the Kingdom of Denmark. The islands’ main industry is fishing and the 50,000 or so inhabitants enjoy a high standard of living. Your ship will dock on the island of Streymoy in Tórshavn, which was founded in the 10th century and which many historians believe to be the oldest (albeit smallest) capital in Europe. The name means “Thor’s Harbor” and it’s fitting that the town be associated with the god of thunder, since the Faroes can be quite storm-tossed.
Your tour showcases the main attractions of Tórshavn, plus some of the surroundings. In Tinganes, the narrow neck of land that divides Tórshavn’s two harbors, you’ll see a cluster of modest, red wooden houses that were one of the oldest parliamentary gatherings in the world. Vikings would convene here for regular “Thing” meetings to resolve conflicts and establish laws. Contrast this with the contemporary Løgting or “Law Assembly” that serves as the Faroese Parliament. The office of the prime minister is also located here. At the National Museum of the Faroe Islands, you’ll see various displays celebrating the islands’ natural and cultural heritage. One of the most important is the Kikjubøstólarnirlso which are pew ends from the ancient St. Olav’s church. Dating from the 12th century, these national treasures feature elaborate carvings depicting the apostles and other biblical lore.
After lunch, your afternoon is at leisure. Perhaps you’ll stroll the side streets and admire the pastel-colored houses with their turf roofs. Or maybe you’ll amble down Tórshavn’s main shopping street, Niels Finsens gøta, in search of some stylish Faroese knitwear.
Cruise the North Atlantic
A full day to relax on board your 5-star ship on your journey to Norway. Throughout the day, your Resident Lecturer 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.
Discover Bergen’s heritage
We’ll set out to discover the colorful city of Bergen on a tour by coach. Built after the Great Fire of 1702, these traditional wooden houses and unusual street patterns inspired UNESCO to declare the city a World Heritage Site.
We’ll then learn about Norway’s musical legacy with a visit to Troldhaugen, Edvard Grieg’s summer home. As one of the most influential Romantic composers of the 19th century, his work helped launch the country into international musical prominence. During a tour of Grieg’s home — now a fascinating museum — we’ll delve further into his cultural contributions.
After lunch back on board, enjoy the remainder of your day in this historic port city at leisure. Tonight, enjoy predinner entertainment on board.
View Stavanger and its famed museums
Welcome to Stavanger, which was once an important market town and is now an international university city. In the morning, you'll begin with a tour by motorcoach to see major attractions in Stavanger with your local guide. Admire the monument Sverd i fjell (Swords in the Rock), which commemorates the battle in Hafrsfjord where the Viking King Harald Fairhair had gathered Norway into one kingdom in 872 AD. Continue to the center of Stavanger for a scenic walking tour, including one of Europe’s best-preserved wooden house city.
Afterward, you'll have a choice of two museums: Either the Norwegian Petroleum Museum, or the Norwegian Canning Museum. The Norwegian Petroleum Museum is one of the major attractions in Stavanger, which gives you an insight to Norway’s oil history that began in the mid-1960s. The museum provides a modern interactive setting for experiencing how oil and gas were created millions of years ago, how petroleum is found, and how it is used. Or, the Norwegian Canning Museum offers a look at an authentic cannery factory, which was in operation from 1916 to 1958. You can hear how canned sprats and fish balls were produced and get an impression of what the working environment is like at the factory.
Lunch is back on board and your afternoon is at leisure.
Head to Kristiansand for a tour and private concert
After breakfast on board, you'll reach the gateway to Norway's southern villages when you arrive in Kristiansand, known as "Norway's Floral Town.” Discover this beautiful town on a leisurely guided walking tour. During your walk, you will visit Posebyen, one of Northern Europe’s largest collections of charming, old, white wooden houses. Later, you'll have the pleasure of attending a private organ concert at the Gothic-style Kristiansand Cathedral, built in 1884.
Enjoy a lovely afternoon at leisure, either exploring more of Kristiansand or lounging back on the ship, with dinner on board later in the evening.
Take a city tour of Oslo
The day is yours to enjoy one of Europe’s most eco-friendly and innovative cities. You'll have the chance to truly immerse in local life with a day of sightseeing. Begin with a panoramic tour, passing by major attractions such as the stunning Oslo Opera House, where you can see its famed, sloped roof that visitors can walk along. Next is Aker Brygge along the water, the Nobel Peace Center, and Akershus Fortress, a medieval castle dating back to 1300 AD. You'll then visit Vigeland Sculpture Park, with more than 200 works of art depicting humans in many unusual forms. You'll conclude your tour with a walk through the historical center of Oslo, called Kvadraturen, and a visit to Oslo City Hall, where the annual Nobel Peace Prize ceremony is held.
Enjoy scenic Bygdøy and its museums
You'll have one more Norwegian adventure today during a half-day tour of the Bygdøy peninsula, a charming residential area of Oslo with pretty views and lovely museums. Speaking of, your tour will include a visit to two favorites. You can learn about lore and legend of mastering the Nordic seas at The Viking Ship Museum, and examine what makes the people and traditions of Norway so special at the Norwegian Museum of Cultural History, including a large outdoor exhibit of replica period homes.
Explore the city of Gothenburg
Further delve into Swedish tradition and fun with a morning city tour of Gothenburg. Your experience will include a visit to the popular indoor fish market, Feskekôrka, as well as the main indoor market called Store Saluhallen. You'll have the opportunity to try some savory and sweet samples at some of the stalls in the markets.
In addition to the market visit, you'll enjoy a guided sightseeing tour that takes you on a combined motorcoach and walking tour. Begin with a panoramic tour through some distinct neighborhoods, then past major attractions such as Maritiman, Gothenburg Opera, Feskekôrka, Liseberg Amusement Park, and many more. We'll take a closer look at the neighborhoods of Haga, full of wooden homes, and Vasastan, boasting neo-renaissance stone houses, on the walking portion.
In the afternoon after lunch back on the ship, you'll have a choice of two tours: Either a visit to the massive vehicle collection housed at the Volvo Museum, or the Botanical Garden, full of more than 16,000 species of local and exotic plants.
A delicious dinner will be offered in the evening on board the Ocean Odyssey.
Admire panoramic Copenhagen and disembark the Ocean Odyssey
Today, disembark the Ocean Odyssey and enjoy a panoramic tour of charming, friendly Copenhagen features the famed Little Mermaid statue on her watery perch, the Nyhavn canal district, towered and turreted Rosenborg Castle, and the dignified Amalienborg Castle where Denmark’s Queen Margrethe II resides today. Part of your tour includes a scenic canal boat ride, and you’ll see how Copenhagen’s residents make use of these historic channels.
From renowned Noma restaurant to an up-cropping of other Michelin-starred gems, food has become Copenhagen’s main attraction! On a visit to a local food market, you’ll see what the locals are cooking up. Lunch is on your own here, too, among more than 60 stalls selling everything from tacos to tapas and sushi to salad.
After, check into your hotel and enjoy the rest of the day at leisure, with dinner on your own in one of this city's numerous celebrated restaurants.
Enjoy a leisurely day in Copenhagen on your own
You have today to uncover the delights of Copenhagen on your own. Don't miss a stroll down the city’s famed Strøget, one of the longest pedestrian streets in the world, or rent a bicycle and join the many locals who use two wheels to get around. Later, celebrate your journey with your fellow travelers at a Farewell Drink and Dinner.
Fly home from Copenhagen, or spend more time here with a post-trip extension
After breakfast you’ll transfer to the airport for your return flight home. Or, if you’re joining the post-trip extension right here in Copenhagen, you’ll stay on for two more nights!
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.
Important: 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.