More than twelve centuries ago, the Vikings crossed the North Sea to the British Isles. This was the dawn of the Viking Age, and its 250-year span left an indelible mark on the cultures of Scotland, England, and beyond. We invite you to sail in the wake of these brave explorers aboard the elegant Sea Cloud II, navigating channels and firths as did the great Viking ships.
Under midsummer skies, sail to Scandinavian and Scottish cities, with their marvelous mix of medieval and modern. Embarking in Copenhagen, call at Oslo and Stavanger, and view masterpieces at the Bergen Art Museum. Navigate the picturesque Shetland Islands, and step ashore at Kirkwall to visit a Neolithic tomb and fishing village. Spend a day in the lively university city of Aberdeen, to visit 16th-century Crathes Castle, with its remarkable gardens, and the fascinating Maritime Museum. Disembark in Edinburgh. An optional prelude in Copenhagen and an optional postlude in Edinburgh are offered.
Frequent study leader and historian, John Meffert is a long-time proponent of preservation. As former director of the National Trust’s Southern Office, John now serves as a consultant on heritage conservation services in his hometown of Charleston, South Carolina, where he has also served as the director of the Preservation Society of Charleston preserving the historic resources of the city.
MONDAY, JULY 16: BERGEN, NORWAY
Discover Bryggen, Bergen’s UNESCO-listed old wharf, with its meticulously preserved 14th-century warehouses. At the Bergen Art Museum, view works including Edvard Munch masterpieces. In the afternoon visit Troldhaugen, the charming Swiss-style summer villa of Edvard Grieg, and attend a private piano recital. Conclude with a director’s tour of the Arboretum at Milde, whose rose gardens will be near their peak. B, L, D
TUESDAY, JULY 17: AT SEA
Spend a leisurely day at sea as Sea Cloud II wends her way to Scotland’s Shetland Islands. Enjoy the amenities of your fine ship as you sail under the bright northern light of summer. B, L, D
WEDNESDAY, JULY 18: LERWICK, SHETLAND ISLANDS, SCOTLAND
Arrive this morning in Lerwick, capital of the Shetland Islands, and travel to the end of the main island where the farms meet a rocky and beautiful coast. Be on the lookout for puffins and seals, as well as the famous ponies and sheep. In this remote setting, discover the Bronze and Stone Age settlement of Jarlshof, which was in continuous use until the 17th century. See the well-preserved wheelhouses built around a Neolithic broch and the Norse longhouses. B, L, D
THURSDAY, JULY 19: KIRKWALL, ORKNEY ISLANDS, SCOTLAND
Early risers will be rewarded with the first views of the rocky and verdant Orkney Islands. Step ashore in the town of Kirkwall and visit the Stones of Stenness and Europe’s most impressive Neolithic chambered tomb, Maeshowe, dating from 3,000 B.C. Then continue to Skara Brae, a small fishing and farming village from the same period, complete with stone furniture. Return to Sea Cloud II for an afternoon departure. B, L, D
FRIDAY, JULY 20: ABERDEEN, SCOTLAND
In the lively university city of Aberdeen, visit Crathes Castle, renowned for its turrets, dormers, and gargoyles as well as exquisite painted ceilings. The extensive gardens are a series of interconnected “rooms” with yew hedges, some dating back 200 years. Continue to the Maritime Museum and the unique Tolbooth Museum. Alternatively, you may wish to explore Dunnottar Castle, a dramatic cliff-top fortress overlooking the sea. Join the captain this evening for a farewell dinner as you sail toward Cromarty Firth. B, L, D
SATURDAY, JULY 21: EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND
Disembark Sea Cloud II in the port of Leith this morning and transfer to the Edinburgh Airport for flights home, or remain in the city for the optional postlude program. B