Arrive in the Hanseatic town of Bergen, the gateway to the fjordlands. Stroll historic Bryggens Wharf, a UNESCO World Heritage site, before embarking your ship, the National Geographic Explorer.
Today enter lovely Nordfjord, included on your itinerary since it is less touristed. Spend the morning at the end of the fjord, where you 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). Walk to a tongue of the large Jostedalsl Glacier. This afternoon be sure to get up on deck as your ship sails back out of the fjord amid high peaks.
Visit the scenic little island of Smola, where the National Geographic Explorer has been specially invited by the locals to make the first-ever ship call.
The coast of Central Norway is rugged with mountainous islands and steep-walled fjords. The Expedition Leader and Captain 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 your naturalist staff. There are a number of special places to discover, 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 your voyage.
The Lofoten Archipelago is an enchanting area of picturesque villages by the sea backed with jagged peaks. By Zodiac, view nesting seabirds: Atlantic puffins, razorbills and guillemots. Later, go ashore on the island of Aa, where cod fishing is still a major part of the economy. Be on deck as your expedition ship cruises into one of the most famous fjords in Norway, the short yet dramatic Trollfjord, and search the cliffs for Norway's mythical beings: trolls.
There’s no denying that the Norwegian fjords are beautiful, and on the days to come 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 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.
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.
Zodiac around mist-shrouded Bear Island, populated by thousands of fulmars, kittiwakes, guillemots and gulls. This is a birdwatcher's paradise.
Svalbard lies north of the Arctic Circle, where the summer midnight sun never sets. In true expedition style, let nature dictate your day-to-day movements here and this, by the way, is one of the great attractions of this expedition. A flexible itinerary and years of experience here allow your expert crew to take the best advantage of ice and weather conditions. With your fully stabilized, ice-class expedition ship, be able to probe deep into the ice where polar bears hunt. Join 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!
Your expert staff gets you out daily. Depending on conditions, you may land on Edgeøya to hike the tundra, abloom with summer wildflowers. You may sail deep into Hornsund, where even first-time kayakers can paddle in a quiet cove surrounded by sparkling bergs. 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 a 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.
Disembark in Longyearbyen and visit the Svalbard Art Gallery and Museum. Then, proceed to the airport for your charter flight (not included in cruise fare) to Oslo. Check in to the SAS Radisson Blu Airport Hotel for an overnight in Oslo.
Following breakfast, check out of your Oslo hotel and connect to your return flights home.