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Iceland to Greenland: Voyage to the Arctic Circle Aboard M.S. L'Austral
August 2-14, 2014
Join the Iceland to Greenland: Voyage to the Arctic Circle Aboard M.S. L'Austral expedition, operated by National Trust Tours, and visit the remote villages and towns along the coastlines of the Arctic to uncover the culture and heritage of the native Inuit people, the first Norse settlers, and the intricate ecosystems and marvelous nuances of wildlife found ashore.
The highly acclaimed M.S. L’Austral, launched in 2011, represents the newest generation of five-star small ships, featuring only 120 suites and staterooms and distinctive French sophistication.
Accommodations: Spacious 100% ocean-view Suites and Staterooms, 95% with private balconies, all furnished with a private bathroom with shower and luxurious five-star hotel amenities, including individual climate control, satellite flat-screen television, wireless Internet access, safe, minibar, full-length closet, writing desk/dressing table, plush robes, and slippers. Most accommodations feature two twin beds that convert to one queen bed.
Dining: International and regional cuisine are served in the stylish, spacious Le Coromandel dining room in single, unassigned seatings; alfresco in the casual indoor-outdoor Le Rodrigues Restaurant; or from 24-hour room service. Continental and buffet breakfast, buffet lunch, afternoon tea and a four-course dinner are served daily. Complimentary wine and beer are served with lunch and dinner.
Services and Facilities: Inviting and spacious public areas accommodate all passengers comfortably. Enjoy views from the Panoramic Lounge, nightly entertainment in the Main Lounge, and lectures, cultural performances, and film screenings in the state-of-the-art theater. The ship also features a library, Internet salon, sun deck, swimming pool, beauty salon, spa, Turkish bath-style steam room, full range of fitness equipment, and two elevators. The infirmary is staffed with a doctor and nurse. The highly trained and personable, English-speaking, international crew provides attentive service.
- Ten-night cruise from Reykjavik, Iceland, to Kangerlussuaq, Greenland, with port calls at Narsaq, Nuuk, Eqi Glacier and Ilulissat, Greenland, and excursions by Zodiac landing craft, weather and ice conditions permitting
- Spacious, five-star, ocean-view suite and stateroom accommodations, each with a private bathroom aboard M.S. L'Austral
- Tour of Reykjavik, Iceland, featuring the National Museum and the old city.
- Excursion to Thingvellir National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, to view the rift valley, stunning Gullfoss waterfall and the spouting geysers of Strokkur and Geysir
- Scenic cruise through magnificent Prins Christian Sund
- Visit to Narsaq, founded in A.D. 985 by the Vikings and steeped in Inuit and Norse history
- Visit to Nuuk, “the Cape,” located at the mouth of the spectacular Godthaab Fjord
- Rare opportunity to cross the Arctic Circle and cruise beyond the 66°33’N latitude
- Marvel at the ice calving from glaciers at Eqi
- Visit to Ilulissat, “Town of Icebergs” and home to the UNESCO World Heritage Site Ilulissat Icefjord
- Cruise in striking Disko Bay, to see towering icebergs and look for minke and fin whales
- Visit to Kangerlussuaq, “the Big Fjord,” Greenland’s air hub and a former U.S. military base
Study Leader Information
From Harvard University, Dr. James J. McCarthy, Agassiz Professor of Oceanography. He was one of three U.S. Scientists who had held leadership roles in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change when it shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize, and he was appointed by President Obama to the U.S. Arctic Research Commission.
From the Smithsonian Institution, Dr. James R. Zimbelman, geologist with the Center for Earth and Planetary Studies, National Air and Space Museum. He has visited Iceland many times for research purposes (studying lava flows and sand deposits) and as a Study Leader.
August 2 - Saturday - U.S.
Depart from the U.S. for Iceland.
August 3 - Sunday - Reykjavik, Iceland
Explore Reykjavik, the world’s northernmost capital, inhabited by one-half of the country’s total population of 300,000. After breakfast, see the Olympic-sized geothermal pool and, on a guided tour of the National Museum, learn more about Iceland’s cultural heritage from its pioneering settlement in A.D. 874 to the present. Continue to the charming old city before transferring to the M.S. L'Austral.
August 4 - Monday - Reykjavik, Iceland
Visit the three most remarkable landmarks of south Iceland’s “Golden Circle.” Thingvellir National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is where settlers founded arguably the world’s oldest parliament in A.D. 930. Then, observe the sheer force of Gullfoss, “the Golden Falls,” and listen to the din of the magnificent 105-foot double cascade of crystal-clear glacial waters. Stroll through the dramatic rift valley where the Eurasian and North American continental plates are pulling apart and view the vast lava plain blooming with flowers. Visit the famous geothermal waterspouts of Geysir and neighboring Strokkur, which erupts every few minutes. Stop at the Hellisheidi Geothermal Power Plant to learn more about this natural resource providing low-cost heat and hot water. In the evening, enjoy the Captain’s Welcome Reception.
August 5 - Tuesday - Cruising the Denmark Strait
Sail across the Denmark Strait, where the cold East Greenland Current carries icebergs out of the Arctic into the Atlantic Ocean, lowering the salinity of the water to sustain important fishing grounds. Watch for white-beaked dolphins, humpback and minke whales, and a fascinating array of sea birds from gannets, guillemots and fulmars, to kittiwakes and razorbills. Throughout the cruise, enjoy insightful lectures from the onboard expedition team to learn about Greenland’s heritage, wildlife and geography.
August 6 - Wednesday/August 12 - Tuesday | Cruising Greenland
Mysterious Greenland, the world’s largest island and one of the world’s last true wildernesses, is nearly covered by an ice cap that holds 10 percent of the world’s fresh water reserves. Crystal-blue glaciers wind down from the craggy slopes into the stunning ice-filled bays. The many forms of the giant tabular icebergs become living art, dazzling in the light and mysterious in the fog.
Western Greenland features some of the most pristine and gorgeous scenery on Earth, and its dramatic fjords and soaring peaks have been described as a dream landscape. It was here that the Inuit people, nomadic hunters of Siberian descent who settled here 5,000 years ago, scraped out an existence for themselves on the wild lands between the sea and the glaciers. The Inuits still form the largest part of Greenland’s population and live a very traditional way of life, including fishing by kayak and hunting by dogsled.
Cruise the waters of Cape Farewell, the southernmost extent of Greenland, flanked by the North Atlantic Ocean and the Labrador Sea. Viking explorers and Norse fisherman pursuing a better quality of life plied these waters centuries ago. Early Icelandic sagas describe how Vikings Leif Erikson, son of Erik the Red, and Bjarni Herjólfsson sailed west intending to reach Greenland but were blown off course at Cape Farewell and accidentally discovered what is now Newfoundland. Cruise through breathtaking Prins Christian Sund. Accessible only by small ship, this 55-mile passage from east to west is a wondrous landscape of steep fjords, gleaming glaciers, and cascading waterfalls.
Explore the western coast of Greenland and its seemingly endless inlets and floes and watch for its unique marine wildlife. Stop in the old Norse settlement of Narsaq, then visit Nuuk, Greenland’s capital and one of the largest towns in the Arctic region with a population of 13,500. Located at the mouth of one of the largest fjords in the world and accessible only by sea or air, Nuuk has been populated since it was settled at the end of the 10th century by Erik the Red, the exiled Norse Chief. It was inhabited by the Norse for nearly 500 years until their settlements gradually disappeared, perhaps due to decreasing trade opportunities, temperatures, and soil quality. Tour the National Museum, showcasing the lives of Inuit hunters and fishermen, and visit the old colonial town center.
Gain insight into the lives of French Polar Expeditions’ anthropological and geographic explorers of the 1950s at the Paul Emile Victor Base, Eqi Glacier. Admire the 300-foot-high glacier, which flows directly into the cold Arctic waters. On a mild hike above the bay, enjoy a panoramic view of one of the Arctic’s most spectacular sites, looking out toward Eqi Glacier and the immense polar ice cap. Here, the silence is broken only by the roaring and cracking of the ice as it moves.
Board small boats for an unforgettable coastal tour of Ilulissat. Enjoy the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to navigate around the towering icebergs that have calved from the glacier in the Ilulissat Icefjord, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that stretches from the Greenland ice sheet to Disko Bay. You can take an optional excursion on a helicopter to see the icefjord and ice cap from a spectacular aerial perspective.
On the last night, join other traveling companions for the Captain’s Farewell Reception.
August 13 - Wednesday - Kangerlussuaq/Reykjavik, Iceland
Disembark in Kangerlussuaq, a former American Air Force base during the Cold War, before flying to Reykjavik to overnight in a four-star hotel.
August 14 - Thursday - Reykjavik/Depart for U.S.
Following breakfast in the hotel, transfer to the airport and return to the U.S.
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