Ride a train over 100 years old, kayak in the UNESCO World Heritage site of Geirangerfjord, and visit an eider duck museum. Enjoy a picturesque fjordland farm with free-ranging goats, cows, sheep and blond fjord ponies where you can sample the local goat cheese. Find yourself 250 meters under the ocean in the Atlantic Ocean Tunnel. Cruise around outcroppings, islands and icebergs around Svalbard while keeping an eye out for Beluga whales, walrus and polar bears; be overwhelmed by swirling mas
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DAY 1: Bergen, Norway, Embarkation
Board the M/V Silver Explorer and tour the ship; meet fellow adventurers and acquaint yourself with the luxurious amenities. After setting sail and settling in you will be introduced to your Expedition Team.
DAY 2: Olden, Norway
Enjoy a nature trek from Olden, set in one of the most charming locations with steep mountains on both sides of lovely Nordfjord. By coach pass a 1759 church, picturesque Floen and Olden Lakes, and colorful Rustoen farms. Waterfalls flow from ice fields down both sides of the valley, and you can see the Melkevoll Glacier tongue. The trek of about 45 minutes takes you to the foot of the Briksdal Glacier where you can also view the Jostedals Glacier. Coffee or tea and cakes follow at the Briksdal Inn.
Day 3: Geiranger, Norway
Described as “the world's most beautiful fjord,” Geirangerfjord (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) offers stunning views for kayakers (weather permitting). Numerous waterfalls and steep mountains as high as 1500m provide a magnificent setting for being on the water or, if not kayaking, for visiting the surrounding countryside. By land visit Herdalssetra, a summer farm with 30 small wooden houses with turfed roofs. There you can sample goat cheeses made from the local animals; and in addition to cows and sheep, get to see the blond fjord ponies native to the west coast.
Day 4: Kristiansund, Norway
Whether island-hopping or taking a trek, included today is a drive 250 meters under the sea in the 5km-long Atlantic Ocean Tunnel. One option is a drive and shuttle-boat to Haholmen Island, one of many rocky islands connected by bridges. Learn about adventurer Ragnar Thorseth and his voyages in replicas of Viking ships. Enjoy refreshments before returning by boat.
The second option is to take a scenic trail hike for 8km roundtrip climbing to 390m above sea level. Mount Gulltanna (Mount Golden Tooth) on Averoya Island rises to 590m, and the hike offers grand views of the Atlantic Ocean Road and the inland fjords.
Day 5: Vega Archipelago, Norway
Over 6000 islands make up this UNESCO World Heritage site where 59 were once inhabited by residents who fished and collected eider down. With no year-round citizens, each summer people return to care for the eider ducks—a 1,500 year old tradition. Learn the history of Lanan, the largest egg and eiderdown farm in Helgeland, and visit the Eider Duck museum in the fishing village of Nes. Other stops include the Coastal Museum with a motor collection, and the wooden Vega Church (1864) in Gladstad.
Day 6: Narvik, Norway
Take a train ride on what was the northernmost, coldest and harshest railway project ever constructed. Linking Kiruna in Sweden to Narvik's ice-free harbor, the Ofoten Railway (opened in 1902) brought iron ore across the border and down through the stunning Rombak Valley. At the border hamlet of Katterat Station, you will follow a winding hiking trail down through alpine and arctic forest to sea level. Explore ruins of Rombak, devastated by floods in the 1960s. Feel free to brave the clear icy waters at the head of the fjord, then warm up with a light lunch and coffee or tea around a bonfire. To return to the drive to Narvik, enjoy a brief trip by inflatable boat.
Day 7: At Sea
Enjoy lectures and seminars, take a photography workshop, have a spa treatment, go for a workout, experience wonderful dining—and take binoculars out on deck to look for seabirds and marine mammals. Listen to tales of adventure in The Theater, or learn about the area's nature and wildlife.
Day 8: Bear Island, Norway
There are large numbers of whales near Bear Island, as well as thousands of seabirds that dive in and out of the island's steep cliffs. Explore the rugged coastline in Zodiacs and make a landing if weather permits. This barren island is now a nature reserve, and the Expedition Team members will explain the terrain and wildlife of this extreme habitat.
Days 9-12: Cruise and Explore Svalbard
Svalbard, home to about 3000 polar bears, is an expansive archipelago between Norway and the North Pole. We will attempt to explore the west coast of dramatic Spitsbergen Island and spend as much time as possible hiking on the tundra. One of Europe's last, vast wilderness areas, Svalbard is made of pristine mountains and deep fjords surrounded by massive ice sheets and sculpted icebergs. Following routes of famous explorers such as Amundsen, we will hike on beaches with walrus, see local reindeer, and hopefully spot an arctic fox or beaded seal. Minke and Beluga whales might be seen, and many seabirds will be swirling around including puffins, ivory gulls and auks.
Itineraries are at the mercy of weather and ice conditions, as well as looking for wildlife, and will need to be flexible. Options include visiting Hornsund where ringed seals breed; as the favorite food of polar bears, hopefully they will be spotted as well. There is the possibility of visiting a Polish research station and the remains of trappers' huts and whaling stations. Prins Karls Forland is a national park island with walrus at Poolypnten where we plan to go ashore. Enjoy a day ice-cruising to search for walrus and polar bears from the ship or from zodiacs.
Day 13: Longyearbyen, Svalbard
After an early morning arrival at Longyearbyen, you will be served breakfast, disembark, and fly by charter to Oslo.
PLEASE NOTE: Due to the nature of expedition cruising, itineraries are subject to change due to weather, ice conditions, natural and cultural events, wildlife viewing opportunities and other logistical considerations. In general, a ship's crew will endeavor to complete the itinerary provided, but the ultimate decision lies with the ship's captain and expedition leaders.