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Canada’s capital, stunning Ottawa is the nation’s most prosperous and educated city, a showcase of fine architecture, beautiful outdoor spaces, and a cultural hub that boasts seven national museums and a plethora of shops, restaurants, universities, theaters, and so much more. Set at the confluence of the Ottawa, Gatineau, and Rideau rivers, its setting is as gracious as its welcoming, easygoing vibe. The city invites outdoor exploration with its lovely parks and gardens, including the wildlife-rich Parc Omega, and the central Rideau Canal, which has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its unique design and cultural significance. Along the way to Ottawa, you’ll enjoy a delicious taste of Canada when you lunch at Fairmont Le Château Montebello for a true Quebecois feast.
Iceland’s tidy and small city is often (and rightly!) the gateway for the country’s breathtaking fjords and unspoiled scenery, but it’s a wonder to explore just on its own. Dive deeper into 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’s start on exploration with 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.
Discover Iceland’s capital city
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.
Lunch is on your own to seek out some classic Icelandic dishes — including seafood and, believe it or not, hot dogs (known as pylsa)! You’ll have the afternoon to utilize the free shuttle bus into town for shopping, dining, and more exploring. Dinner is on your own.
Get a true taste of Iceland, from Bloody Marys to hot springs, and embark the Ocean Explorer
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.
Tonight, you’ll embark the Ocean Explorer — welcome aboard! Get settled in, familiarize yourself with the amenities, and enjoy your first dinner onboard as the ship departs.
Take in the expansive vistas at Ísafjörður and visit Thingeyri village
As you’re enjoying breakfast this morning, the Ocean Explorer will arrive to Ísafjörður, an idyllic town in the Westfjords region. We’ll board motorcoaches for a tour, which allows us jaw-dropping views of dramatic fjords carved by ancient glaciers, sheer table mountains that plunge into the sea, and pristine North Atlantic vegetation. As we continue 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. We’ll have lunch in a local community house and enjoy Viking musical entertainment before continuing to the thunderous Dynjandi, the highest and most impressive waterfall in the Westfjord region.
Tour Siglufjörður’s Herring Museum
Discover the fjord town of Siglufjörður on a walking tour, once the hub of the global herring industry. This town, which is now enjoying a rebirth in popularity, is the focus of our explorations today. Our first stop is the award-winning Herring Era Museum, located on the town’s vibrant harbor front. Enjoy free time to wander exhibits illustrating the fascinating history of the herring industry before witnessing a live herring salting demonstration, which offers a unique insight into a practice that helped define this region and its inhabitants. Lunch is back onboard, followed by an afternoon at leisure as the ship starts its journey to Greenland.
Enjoy a day of leisure, utilizing the Ocean Explorer’s amenities
You’ll have a day at sea as the ship continues toward Greenland, following in the wake of Eric the Red and other Vikings who migrated here from Iceland more than 1,000 years ago. By this time, you’ve likely familiarized yourself with the onboard Concierge, who can help make spa appointments or plan activities on land. Head to the spa for a soothing treatment, get in a workout at the fitness center, or take in some sightseeing from the sun deck. You can also soak in the hot tub, check out a book from the library to read in the multistory lounge, and enjoy curated lectures we’ll be providing throughout your expedition.
Explore 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.
Head to remote Isortoq and experience another day at sea
A sea day allows for more downtime as we sail south to the coastal settlement of Isortoq. Today provides the perfect opportunity to savor the easy pace and camaraderie that small ship cruising affords. Our inviting lounge area and elegant common spaces offer ideal settings to relax, have a cocktail, and get to know your fellow adventurers. During your cruising, take advantage of your ship’s many amenities, and see how days on board can be just as exciting as days offshore. Perhaps enjoy a spa treatment, relax by the infinity pool, curl up with a book on deck, or pop into the boutique for any items you may need.
Explore Isortoq, one of the most remote places on Earth
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 a 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 observe the native Inuit lifestyle firsthand.
Cruising the Prince Christian Sound along the coast of Greenland
Enjoy another relaxing day at sea, perhaps indulging in a spa treatment, sipping cocktails in the lounge, and attending onboard workshops presented by your expedition team. 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.
Revel in the beauty and nature of Nanortalik, Greenland
Nanortalik means “the place with polar bears,” and though you won’t find too many within the city limits, if you scan the ice packs as they float by you might just spot one of these white ursine wonders lounging about. Otherwise, the southernmost town in South Greenland has plenty to attract your eye, as Nanortalik is carved by deep fjords and surmounted by jagged peaks. Nanortalik is South Greenland’s adventure capital, attracting mountaineers, climbers, kayakers, and extreme sport enthusiasts from around the world. After breakfast on board, your Expedition Team will coordinate some soft adventures for you to choose from, based on local conditions.
Cruising the Labrador Sea
Enjoy two days at sea as your ship makes its way toward Newfoundland and Labrador. This is the same route Leif Erikson would have taken when he set sail for the New World. Your Expedition Team might offer a lecture today on this historic voyage, or perhaps delve into the biodiversity that awaits you in Newfoundland and Labrador. You might also take in a movie, join a fitness class, do some dancing in the lounge, attend a cooking demonstration, or simply curl up with a book from the library.
Experience the beauty of Newfoundland in Gros Morne National Park
This morning we’ll make landfall on Woody Point, a scenic town on Bonne Bay on the island of Newfoundland (in Canada’s Newfoundland and Labrador province). You’ll enjoy a brief tour of Woody Point, which will be our jumping-off point for Gros Morne National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site where the effects of plate tectonics have created a breathtaking landscape. On our tour, you’ll walk on the Tablelands, which is the landform that gives the park its UNESCO designation. Gros Morne National Park’s interpreters will join us here to discuss this region’s unique geology. This is as close as you will ever get to the mantle of the Earth or the surface of Mars!
Your expedition team will coordinate today’s additional explorations, which focus on the park’s northern reaches. As you explore, you’ll learn about the fishing culture of Newfoundland and Labrador. At the Western Brook Pond, you’ll be amazed to find an inland fjord that was carved by the sea some 15,000 years ago, then cut off by glaciation. When the ice melted, the fjord was filled with fresh water. Today this water has been assigned the highest purity rating available for natural bodies of water. You’ll also see the park’s namesake Gros Morne Mountain, which at 2,644 feet is the island’s second highest peak.
Cruising the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the St. Lawrence River
A final day at sea to unwind and enjoy the ship’s facilities. Your expedition leaders will conduct some final enrichment sessions, and you will certainly want to spend some time on deck to admire the beautiful passing scenery.
Find a touch of the Old World in Québec City
In 2018, the Travel + Leisure “World’s Best” poll ranked Québec City as Canada’s #1 city, citing the romantic old-world atmosphere, friendly residents, and great dining, among other things. See if you agree with the poll during today’s discoveries!
Discover Québec City (the Upper and Lower Town) through its history, architecture, and culture. The Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and was one of New France’s most heavily fortified settlements. Today, its ramparts are the only remaining fortified city walls in North America north of Mexico. You will also visit the historic Lower Town, where Samuel de Champlain established the first French foothold in 1608. See also the imposing Château Frontenac, a luxury hotel that’s also a National Historic Site. Its grand fortress-tower design commands the skyline. You might also see the Terrasse Dufferin overlooking the St. Lawrence River, and City Hall, a former Jesuit college with lovely fountains and a garden. Continue via the shop-lined Grande-Allée to Montmorency Falls, a roaring and scenic cascade that feeds the St. Lawrence, for a photo stop.
Your tour concludes in time for you to enjoy lunch on board and some further exploration in town. Perhaps you’ll visit the Musée des Beaux Arts, explore the bohemian Saint-Jean-Baptiste district, or borrow one of the bikes on board to cycle along the St. Lawrence. This evening, dinner is back on board.
Disembark the Ocean Explorer and explore Montréal, a UNESCO-listed City of Design
This morning you’ll wake up in captivating Montréal. Its historic architecture sits side by side with striking modern buildings, and UNESCO has designated Montréal a “City of Design” (one of only a few in the world). You’ll disembark the Ocean Explorer before discovering Canada’s sophisticated arts capital on a comprehensive city tour.
Your city tour spotlights many of the city’s gems, including historic Old Montréal, with its Place d’Armes, Old Port, City Hall, and the bustling Bonsecours Market. Also featured are the Olympic Stadium, Saint Joseph’s Oratory, and Notre Dame Basilica, one of the crown jewels in Québec’s rich religious heritage. Then, a scenic drive takes us from Montréal’s downtown district to the top of Mont Royale for commanding views of the city and the St. Lawrence River. Afterward, visit one of the world’s largest and most important Botanical Gardens in downtown Montréal. You’ll also admire the innovative modern architecture of the new Quartier International, and get an introduction to RÉSO, Montréal’s famous Underground City.
You’ll have a special lunch at Montréal’s sugar shack, where the dishes typically feature one of Canada’s biggest exports: maple syrup. After, check into your hotel. The balance of the day is free for you to relax, explore, and dine as you wish.
Enjoy a day to spend as you please in Montréal
Enjoy a full day at leisure today. There are dozens of museums in Montréal, and the city is famous for its nonstop festival schedule — ask your Concierge for recommendations, and they may even help you secure a ticket to a concert or special exhibition!
In Montréal, you’ll have a vast array of places to shop and explore. Perhaps you’ll roam around the hip Mile End neighborhood, a warren of trendy galleries, shops, and cafés like the landmark St-Viateur bagel shop, whose doughy rings impressed even a die-hard New Yorker like Anthony Bourdain. In Rosemont, you’ll find wonderful Italian, Vietnamese, and Latino enclaves, as well as the lively Jean Talon open-air market. This evening, you’ll toast your adventure mates at a Farewell Dinner at your hotel.
After breakfast, you’ll transfer to the airport for your return flight home. Or, if you’ve selected our optional post-trip extension, continue to discover even more of Canada during an optional post-trip extension in Ottawa.
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.