SEATTLE -- A thousand years have passed since Leif Eriksson and his
Vikings ruled the seas, performing great feats of seamanship and
In celebration of those intrepid explorers and their many North
Atlantic discoveries (including North America), Seattle-based
Zegrahm Expeditions is marketing two Passage of the Vikings
itineraries, following their route from the Scottish Isles to
Slated for June 2000, the two 15-day trips offer something for
everyone: history and culture, geysers and glaciers, fjords,
farmlands and plenty of spouting whales, chattering puffins and
wheeling clouds of seabirds.
Sailing aboard the 238-foot M/S Explorer, the first expedition,
Voyage from the Scottish Isles to Iceland, departs from Edinburgh,
Scotland, and continues on to the Orkney and Shetland Islands, home
to significant archaeological sites.
From the Shetland's Isle of Noss, the ship will sail to the
Faroe Islands, where passengers will have two days to explore the
Viking ruins, small villages and scenery before sailing on to
Passengers will spend six days discovering the extinct volcano
featured in Jules Verne's "Journey to the Center of the Earth,"
Reykjavik's Geysir area and towering seaside pillars of basalt.
Here, too, are countless seabird colonies of puffins (King
Arthur hoped to come back as this colorful bird), guillemots and
The second voyage, Circumnavigation of Iceland with the Faroe
Islands, begins and ends in Reykjavik, Iceland's capital, and
offers customers 15 days to explore the fjords, glaciers, volcanoes
and seabird colonies of this island country.
In addition to Zodiac excursions to remote beaches, fjords and
cliffs dotted with birds, passengers can opt for a snowmobile trek
across Europe's largest glacier, found in Iceland's southeast
This voyage also includes two days in the historically and
culturally significant villages of the Faroes, where sod-roofed
farmhouses, Viking longhouses and an ancient Runic stone can be
Both voyages are timed for optimum wildlife viewing. Some 20
species of whales can be found in these nutrient-rich waters, where
sleek seals lounge along the beaches of small islands and
Birds here number in the hundreds of thousands, most caught up
in a seasonal frenzy of courting and breeding.
Early summer also brings a profusion of wildflowers to the
fields and hillsides, providing a beautiful backdrop to the many
The Orkney, Shetlands and Faroes, colonized by Vikings in the
late eighth century, are known for their archaeological
Passengers will visit the chambered cairn of Maes Howe, which
contains tombs dating from approximately 1800 B.C., as well as the
4,500-year-old Neolithic village of Skara Brae and the Standing
Stones of Stennes.
Jarlshof, in the Shetlands, is one of Europe's great
archaeological sites, which only came to light in 1905 after ruins
were revealed following a storm.
Dating back to the Stone Age, this site shows evidence of
habitation from the Bronze Age, Iron Age, Viking and Medieval
Iceland, too, has its own Viking ruins, particularly the tiny
hamlet of Sandvik, which was settled by an eccentric group of
Vikings with an obsession for playing chess.
As with all Zegrahm voyages, a number of naturalists and
lecturers will be on board the two expeditions. Among them will be
Icelandic specialist Ragnar Hauksson and world-renowned
ornithologist and Zegrahm cofounder Peter Harrison, author and
illustrator of more than a dozen books, including "Seabirds: An
According to Harrison, the scenery has not changed much in the
past thousand years. "It's astonishing how little has changed in
the waters since the days of the great Viking Age," he said.
"We'll see what the Vikings saw -- the gentle moorlands of the
offshore Scottish Isles with grazing sheep amid historic
archaeological sites, the Faroes' rugged seascapes packed with
nesting birds and Iceland's sizzling geysers and icy-blue
The M/S Explorer accommodates 98 passengers in outside cabins
and suites, all with private facilities. Amenities include public
social and lecture areas, a library, a fitness center and a
Zegrahm's Voyage from the Scottish Isles to Iceland runs from
June 5 to 19, and Circumnavigation of Iceland with the Faroes is
slated for June 15 to 29. Prices for each expedition start at
$5,490, per person, double. Air fare is extra.
Phone: (800) 628-8747 or (206) 285-4000
Fax: (206) 285-5037