Greenland, Iceland. These are lands of fire and ice. Come explore them with Vantage in summertime, when their rugged terrains have turned lush in a full display of unfenced wilderness. Add in the primeval landscapes of Canada’s Newfoundland and Labrador, and this astonishing expedition just got even more intriguing — and remote. Cruising aboard the 5-star Ocean Explorer, you’ll step foot in some of the world’s most beautiful and desolate locales: Isortoq, where you’ll be greeted with mountains and floating icebergs; Kulusuk Island, home to just 250 year-round residents; and stunning Ísafjörður, the largest town in Iceland’s Westfjords peninsula at just 2,600 people.
Your journey begins in happening Montréal and ends in Iceland’s compact capital Reykjavík, two cosmopolitan counterpoints to an expedition filled with seafaring villages, wildlife enclaves, and settings carved by volcanic activity. Leading your discoveries will be our highly credentialed Expedition Team, who will guide everything from your Zodiac small craft landings to soft adventures like hiking, wildlife walks through Gros Morne National Park, kayaking, and more. The Ocean Explorer’s small size allows us to visit some of the world’s most remote areas, so it’s important to note that due to the nature of this itinerary — and the remoteness of the ports we will visit — we will be required to anchor offshore throughout the majority of the expedition. You will need to board a Zodiac boat or tender in order to reach the shore, which does require a certain level of physical agility.
Away from your expedition, you’ll find a haven on the 5-star Ocean Explorer, where world-class amenities, personalized service, and elegant staterooms will be the icing on the cake of your experience. Enjoy 17 included features and Cultural Discoveries, including a Viking band performance, a salted herring demonstration, and expeditions led by the Expedition Team to further illuminate your explorations. Then, savor gourmet cuisine inspired by your discoveries in these destinations. Your state-of-the-art ship is nimble enough to access remote and intriguing ports and is outfitted with dynamic ULSTEIN X-BOW® technology for a smoother ride across the sea. Join us for this stark, exhilarating, and strikingly beautiful journey.
Fly to Ottawa
Today, you’ll fly to Ottawa! If you purchased your airfare through Vantage, you'll be met upon arrival by a representative who will assist in your transfer to the hotel. Enjoy free time to get explore the city before a Welcome Reception and Dinner.
Explore Canada’s capital on a half-day tour of Ottawa
Following breakfast at the hotel, you’ll head out on a half-day tour of Ottawa, the cosmopolitan capital of Canada. Once a lumber town, the identity of this vibrant city is influenced by its many diverse cultures and deep roots. Start the day with a guided visit of the Canadian Museum of History, one of the country’s oldest public institutions. This incredible museum houses a number of outstanding exhibitions focused on Canadian history, including the incredible First Peoples Hall, which celebrates the history, diversity, and creativity of indigenous Canadians.
You’ll see the historic Rideau Canal, a UNESCO-listed waterway that weaves gracefully through the charming core of Ottawa’s downtown and becomes an almost 5-mile long skateway when it freezes over in the winter.
Your tour includes a visit to the historic ByWard Market, one of Canada’s oldest farmers’ markets. Dating back to 1826, the market is now home to food vendors, artisans, flower sellers. You’ll get to sample a selection of foods with an included tasting and have time to shop the market’s wares. The remainder of the day is yours to spend at your leisure, exploring more of this charismatic city and all it has to offer.
Explore UNESCO-listed Montréal, then embark the Ocean Explorer
After breakfast you’ll check out of your hotel and board a motorcoach to Montréal, where you’ll enjoy a full-day tour of this UNESCO-listed City of Design, discovering the cultural heritage and cosmopolitan blend of old and new found all throughout this city. Old Montréal’s rich architectural and historical legacy are on full display throughout this comprehensive tour through the core of downtown, Golden Square Mile, and more. You’ll enjoy panoramic views of the city from two locations — Mont-Royal Park and Parc Jean-Drapeau — before enjoying a visit to a sugar shack and for a hearty, traditional lunch afterward.
Following lunch, you’ll proceed to the port to embark your 5-star small ship, Ocean Explorer. Tonight, you’ll enjoy a welcome briefing on board the vessel, followed by a Welcome Dinner in the elegant shipboard dining room.
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. This evening, dinner is back on board.
Cruising the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the St. Lawrence River
Enjoy a day at sea to unwind and take advantage of the ship’s facilities. 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.
This small group excursion is one you will remember for a lifetime! Explore the soul-stirring polar environment of the Arctic on a world-class kayaking adventure! Led by knowledgeable and experienced Expedition Leaders, you will go to places that Zodiac boats can’t reach. These unique excursions let you experience the jaw-dropping landscapes and encounter wildlife up-close, in a responsible way. Tours take place in calm and protected waters, with only two individuals per kayak. This optional tour is available on all expedition cruises and perfect for adventurous adults. Participants must possess the appropriate fitness level and previous kayaking experience is a plus. You must read the Kayaking Preparation Notes and the Kayaking Terms and Conditions, and complete the Kayaking Participation Statement in order to confirm your spot on the tour. Download the Kayaking Participation Statement form here.
A medical declaration for this journey must be completed and submitted to the ship’s doctor upon embarkation. Download the Medical Form here.
*Optional kayak excursions are offered in place of regular excursions. The number of available excursions will depend on itinerary and weather conditions.
Please note: This optional tour is available for pre-booking only. All guests must complete a medical declaration and submit it to the ship's doctor upon embarkation. Reservations will close 30 days prior to departure. All prices are per person and subject to change. All optional tours are offered by Vantage Deluxe World Travel. Descriptions and scheduling are subject to change. Minimum tour participation is required to operate optional tours. Optional tours cancelled by passengers within 48 hours of the excursion are non-refundable.
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 Labrador Sea
Enjoy two days at sea as your ship makes its way toward Greenland. Your Expedition Team might offer a lecture today on this historic voyage; you might join a fitness class, do some dancing in the lounge, attend a cooking demonstration, or simply curl up with a book from the library.
Revel in the beauty and nature of Nanortalik, Greenland
South Greenland's southernmost town 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 lunch on board, your Expedition Team will coordinate some soft adventures for you to choose from, based on local conditions.
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 crew. 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.
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 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.
Head to remote Kulusuk and experience another day at sea
A sea day allows for more downtime as we sail north to remote Kulusuk. 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.
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.
Rest and relax with a day at sea
A final day at sea prepares you for the last leg of your expedition: Iceland. This is your final opportunity to indulge in a treatment at the onboard spa. Perhaps you want to plan something special in Iceland, in which case you can see your Concierge to make any arrangements!
Land in Iceland and 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.
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.
Disembark the Ocean Explorer and discover Iceland’s capital city
Disembark the Ocean Explorer today. 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
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.
Enjoy the rest of the afternoon at leisure, with lunch on your own. Perhaps you'll enjoy some rest at the hotel. Or, you can also explore the capital on your own. Tonight, gather with your fellow expeditioners for a joyous Farewell Dinner.
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 Reykjavík with an optional post-trip extension.
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. 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.