Cruise from charming Bergen, Norway, to dynamic Glasgow, Scotland; call on the most seldom-visited islands of the North Atlantic; and experience two incredible, specially arranged rail journeys—through the Scottish Highlands aboard The Jacobite steam train, better recognized as Harry Potter’s Hogwarts™ Express, and along Norway’s spectacular mountain landscape on the Flåm Railway. Traverse the ancient shipping lanes of the Vikings as you cross the North Sea from Bergen, where rows of colorful, gabled houses on the historic Bryggen waterfront evoke the city’s past as a center of Hanseatic League trade. Cruise into majestic fjords and admire the natural beauty of the Shetland Islands with their remarkable links to the distant past. Learn more about Viking history on the tradition-steeped Orkney Islands and enjoy opportunities to visit up to five UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Complementary alcoholic & nonalcoholic beverages are included throughout the cruise!
John Meffert, consultant on Heritage Conservation Services, has a long tradition with the National Trust. He has served as the Director for our Southern Office from and was the director of the Preservation Society of Charleston, the oldest nonprofit organization in the United States, responsible for preserving the historic resources of Charleston, S.C. John has delighted many study tour groups with his lectures and insights on preservation, and receives rave reviews as study leader.
Thursday, May 17 – Depart the U.S.
Bergen, Norway – Friday, May 18
Arrive in Bergen, founded on an old Viking settlement in 1070 and the Norwegian capital during the 12th and 13th centuries. Transfer to the Five-Star LE BORÉAL. (D)
Cruising the Norwegian Fjords/Flåm Railway
Saturday, May 19
Norway’s fjords and islands offer some of Europe’s most phenomenal coastal scenery, where sea mist, shafts of sunlight and vivid rainbows congregate in a dazzling array of colors that seem to make the landscape greener and the fjords bluer. Be on deck early this morning while cruising the majestic Sognefjord and UNESCO World Heritage-designated Nærøyfjord (time and weather permitting), passing traditional farmsteads and villages flanked by soaring mountains. Later this morning, board the Flåm Railway, named one of the world’s most scenic train rides by the readers of Travel + Leisure magazine. This masterpiece of Norwegian engineering—the steepest standard-gauge railway track in Europe with an impressive elevation difference of 2835 feet—opened to the public in 1940 and travels 13 dramatic miles through 20 tunnels to the mountaintop train stop of Myrdal. Enjoy stunning views of snowcapped mountains, cascading waterfalls—including the awe-inspiring Kjofossen—and picturesque hamlets along this alpine branch of the world-renowned Bergen Line. Attend the Captain’s Welcome Reception on board the ship this evening. (B,L,R,D)
Sunday, May 20
The city of Bergen has a proud history as an important part of the Hanseatic League’s trading empire from the 14th to mid-16th centuries. Enjoy a walking tour of Bergen’s Bryggen (the old wharf), a UNESCO World Heritage Site that proudly displays its characteristically colorful wooden houses. See Troldhaugen, the summer home of Edvard Grieg, Norway’s most famous composer, and walk the grounds of his estate. Then, visit the reconstructed Fantoft Stavkirke, a traditional 12th-century wooden stave church, named for its post and lintel construction. Enjoy the afternoon at leisure in Bergen. (B,L,D)
Kirkwall, Orkney Islands, Scotland
Monday, May 21
This morning, the director and head archaeologist of the Ness of Brodgar site will introduce and provide insights about this impressive ancient compound that lies outside of Kirkwall. Nearly 1000 years before the pharaohs built Giza’s pyramids and over 500 years before Neolithic man raised Stonehenge, ancient inhabitants of this archipelago employed technological prowess centuries ahead of their time to erect Ness of Brodgar, a mysterious compound rivaling the scale of the Athenian Acropolis. Nearby, walk around the stone monoliths of the Ring of Brodgar, which were raised more than 4000 years ago to chart the seasons. See the ceremonial Stones of Stenness en route to the UNESCO World Heritage-designated settlement of Skara Brae. Archaeologists suggest these sites, along with the Ness of Brodgar, were inhabited by an early Orcadian culture known for decorative arts and sophisticated craftsmanship. Thousands of years later, the Vikings established the port town of Kirkwall on Orkney’s main island, leaving behind the towering 12th-century St. Magnus Cathedral, known as the “Light of the North.” Hear the classically haunting sounds of a traditional Scottish bagpiper as you reboard the ship. This evening, listen as a Scottish storyteller weaves the traditional tales that have been handed down by word of mouth for generations in these remote isles. (B,L,D)
Lerwick, Shetland Islands
Tuesday, May 22
Dock in Lerwick and explore the majestic Shetland Islands, declared a Global Geopark by UNESCO for their geologically diverse landscapes and seascapes carved and shaped by ice. Admire nature’s endlessly changing colors and textures, and listen for the clamor of gannets and puffi ns crowding the dramatic sheer rock cliffs. From Lerwick, the capital of Shetland, journey to the island’s southernmost point, scanning the verdant landscape for Shetland’s famous ponies grazing on the rolling, grass-covered knolls. Visit Jarlshof, a pending UNESCO World Heritage Site and an extraordinary settlement revealing 5000 years of human history, including late Neolithic stone houses, a Bronze Age village, an Iron Age broch and wheelhouse, Norse longhouses, a medieval farmstead and a 16th-century laird’s house. (B,L,D)
Portree, Isle of Skye/Kyle of Lochalsh
Wednesday, May 23
Cruise the coastline of ethereal Isle of Skye, home to some of Scotland’s most phenomenal geography. Visit Dunvegan Castle, the seat of the powerful Clan MacLeod since 1270 and built atop a rocky promontory overlooking the sea. Tour its richly appointed public rooms and view the castle’s lush gardens, ablaze with azaleas and rhododendrons. From the port village of Kyle of Lochalsh travel across a starkly beautiful landscape of rolling green moors to visit the 13th-century Eilean Donan Castle, named for a sixth-century Irish saint and one of the most iconic castles in the world. (B,L,D)
Scottish Highlands/Oban/Fort William/The Jacobite Steam Train/Mallaig
Thursday, May 24
Enjoy a full day’s journey experiencing the rich, resplendent beauty of the legendary Scottish Highlands. This morning, board The Jacobite steam train for one of the great railway journeys in the world through awe-inspiring natural landscapes. Immortalized as the Hogwarts™ Express in the Harry Potter fi lm series, this vintage locomotive with its classic British Railway cars travels from Mallaig near Loch Nevis, the deepest seawater loch in Europe, past River and Loch Morar to the traditional port town of Fort William. Along the way, pause at the bucolic village of Glenfi nnan, where Bonnie Prince Charlie rallied Jacobite Highlanders against King George II in 1745. After lunch, travel along the picturesque, castle-dotted shores of Loch Linnhe to the splendor of majestic Glencoe—Scotland’s most scenic glen, much of which is owned and preserved by the National Trust for Scotland. Attend the Captain’s Farewell Reception this evening. (B,L,R,D)
Friday, May 25
Disembark in Glasgow, a dynamic city where the indelible mark of Viking conquest still permeates the culture, and continue on the Glasgow and Edinburgh Post-Cruise Option or transfer to the airport for your return flight to the U.S. (B)