23772
Scotland/Faroe Islands/Iceland

Islands of the North Atlantic: Orkney Islands & the Faroes

Ancient settlements, Viking legacies and medieval churches are spread across the Orkney Islands and the Faroes. Discover their connection on an epic voyage from Edinburgh to Reykjavik.
Program No. 23772RJ
Length
12 days
Starts at
4,499
Flights start at
725
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12 days
11 nights
29 meals
10 B 9 L 10 D
DAY
1
In Transit to Program
In flight
DAY
2
Arrive Edinburgh, Check-in, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
Edinburgh
D
Novotel Edinburgh Centre Hotel

Activity note: Hotel check-in from 2:00 p.m.

Afternoon: Orientation. The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date programs schedule and any changes, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer any questions. Expedition ships — more rugged than traditional sailing vessels — are designed to venture into remote landscapes, enabling us to seek opportunities for getting up close to nature and wildlife. These educational adventures have flexible schedules. The itinerary may change daily based on weather, sailing conditions, and potential wildlife sightings. There may also be serendipitous occasions to experience something unexpected. While on board, rotating members of the ship's resource staff will offer educational presentations on a variety of topics. Many are active researchers with expertise in areas such as history, paleontology, geology, and biology. Due to the remote location of some ports, embarkation and disembarkation may be done via zodiac boats. Staff will be available for assistance. Should you require medication during the day please ensure you keep this with you. At each expedition port of call, you will have a choice of field trips that will vary by location such as nature activities (minimal walking), short walks (about 0.5 – 1 5 miles), longer walks (2 – 3 miles), and photography sessions led by resource staff. Periods in the daily schedule designated as “Free time” and “At leisure” offer opportunities to do what you like and make your experience even more meaningful and memorable according to your personal preferences. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local circumstances/conditions. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Updates will be provided aboard ship. Thank you for your understanding.

Dinner: At the hotel, we will have a 3-course buffet dinner with coffee, tea, water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure. Continue getting to know your fellow participants, settle in, and get a good night’s rest for the day ahead.

DAY
3
City Field Trip, Edinburgh Castle, St. Giles Cathedral
Edinburgh
B,L,D
Novotel Edinburgh Centre Hotel

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 4 miles. Walking up to three miles, paved city streets, occasional steep sections.

Breakfast: At the hotel, we will have what we like from the breakfast buffet with hot and cold choices.

Morning: We will board a motorcoach and ride to Edinburgh Castle, where our local expert will provide an introduction to start our field trip. Its history has been as turbulent as it is long. The rock upon which the castle is built was fortified in the Iron Age. The oldest remaining section, St. Margaret’s Chapel, dates from the 12th century and is the oldest building in the city. Among the castle’s treasures are the Scottish regalia (crown jewels), also known as the Honours of Scotland, and the Stone of Scone, also known as the Stone of Destiny used in royal coronations. Castle specialists are available to provide additional information. We’ll then board the motorcoach again and set out on a panoramic field trip led by our local expert to encounter highlights of the Georgian New Town. The “old” and “new” towns have been designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. From the UNESCO inscription: “Edinburgh has been the Scottish capital since the 15th century. It has two distinct areas: the Old Town, dominated by a medieval fortress; and the neoclassical New Town, whose development from the 18th century onwards had a far-reaching influence on European urban planning. The harmonious juxtaposition of these two contrasting historic areas, each with many important buildings, is what gives the city its unique character.”

Lunch: At a local restaurant, we will have a 2-course plated meal with coffee, tea, water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: We’ll begin the afternoon with a walking field trip through the medieval Old Town led by our Study Leader. Continuing our exploration of Edinburgh, we will visit St. Giles Cathedral on the Royal Mile. Founded c. 1124, it is also known as the High Kirk of Edinburgh and is considered the “mother” church of Presbyterianism. Unlike the Church of England, the supreme authority of the Church of Scotland is not the monarch but its own General Assembly. Over the centuries, St. Giles has on occasion become a focal point for religious and political tensions between Scotland and England. Our local expert will illuminate significant events as we consider the fascinating architecture of this distinctive cathedral.

Dinner: Hotel buffet.

Evening: At leisure. Prepare for check-out and transfer to the ship tomorrow.

DAY
4
Transfer to Aberdeen, Embark Ship
At Sea
B,L,D
Ocean Atlantic

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 130 miles, approximately 3 hours. The ship is scheduled to depart Aberdeen at 6:00 p.m. sailing overnight to Kirkwall.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We will check out of the hotel and transfer to Aberdeen where we will embark the ship.

Lunch: At a local restaurant in Aberdeen, we will have a 2-course plated meal with coffee, tea, water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: We will embark the ship, an expedition vessel with a 1-B ice class rating. After completing embarkation procedures and getting our cabins, we will gather with everyone on board for the mandatory passenger briefing and safety drill before weighing anchor. Then we’ll take some time to start becoming familiar with the ship. A combination of expedition landings and coastal towns awaits us. Our expedition team will make the most of our opportunities — whether hiking, photography, or birding — in addition to town visits.

Dinner: Aboard ship, we will have a chef-prepared, 3-course a la carte meal with meat, seafood, and vegetarian choices, incorporating local foods when possible, plus coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase. We will be joined at dinner by the resource staff.

Evening: At leisure. With lively talks, presentations, trivia nights, concerts, and movie nights, there’s certainly no shortage of things to do.

DAY
5
Orkney Islands, Historic Kirkwall, Skara Brae, Free Time
At Sea
B,L,D
Ocean Atlantic

Activity note: Possibility of rough seas. Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 20 miles to Skara Brae, approximately 1/2 hour; about 20 miles to distillery, approximately 1/2 hour; about 2 miles to ship, approximately 1/4 hour. Walking up to 2 miles; uneven, hilly terrain. Stone and grass paths at Skara Brae, steps with handrails leading to some areas; low, narrow entrance to replica house. All areas visited at distillery wheelchair accessible.

Breakfast: Aboard ship, we will have what we like from the breakfast buffet with hot and cold choices plus coffee, tea, water.

Morning: After sailing through the night, we’ll awaken this morning near Kirkwall, capital of the Orkney islands and a town with a rich Norse heritage. The first extant reference to Kirkwall is in a saga recording the life of Rögnvald Brusason, who served as Earl of Orkney with Thorfinn Sigurdsson for nearly a decade in the 11th century until his betrayal by Thorfinn in 1046. We’ll begin our time ashore with a walk around the area near Kirkwall’s port led by members of the expedition team, to familiarize ourselves with the town. We’ll then travel farther afield by motorcoach, on a field trip through Mainland — the largest island in the Orkneys — and Lamb Holm. We’ll follow the road across the historic Churchill Barriers, sea defenses constructed by Italian prisoners of war in the 1940s, to reach Lamb Holm. We’ll explore this small island’s beautiful Italian Chapel, built by the prisoners of war using scavenged materials, then return over Churchill Barriers to Mainland and make our way westward. The culmination of our field trip will be an exploration of Skara Brae, which has been called the “Scottish Pompeii” for its preserved Stone Age dwellings — older than Stonehenge, older than the Pyramids — the remains of a settlement of 10 homes. Skara Brae was hidden for almost 5,000 years until a giant storm revealed this remnant of an ancient civilization. Returning to Kirkwall, we’ll stop for an expert-led visit to the northernmost whisky distillery in Scotland, Highland Park. Here we’ll learn from the distillers how the landscape of the islands shapes the flavors of their award-winning whiskies.

Lunch: Aboard ship, we will choose from hot and cold buffet offerings with coffee, tea, water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: Free time in Kirkwall. This block of time has been set aside for your personal independent exploration to see and do what interests you most. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Dinner: Aboard ship.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
6
Shetland Islands, Village of Lerwick, Free time.
At Sea
B,L,D
Ocean Atlantic

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 30 miles, approximately 2 hours. Walking up to 2 miles; uneven and hilly terrain.

Breakfast: Aboard ship.

Morning: We will arrive near the 'Main Land' of the Shetland Islands. The island of Shetland consists of 100 islands and shores of which only 15 people are inhabited year-round. We will disembark and make our way through Lerwick towards Salloway for a short, scenic ride. We will stop for an opportunity to take photos and continue eastwards towards the "Black Gates", known for where peat is still used as fuel. We will continue to reach our main destination of Clickimin Broch, where we will have an opportunity to learn about life in the Iron Age.

Lunch: Aboard ship.

Afternoon: Free time. Enjoy the activities of your choice aboard ship.

Dinner: Aboard ship.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
7
Streymoy-Faroe Islands, Kirkjubøur, Tórshavn, Free Time
At Sea
B,L,D
Ocean Atlantic

Activity note: The ship is scheduled to arrive Tórshavn at 9:00 a.m. Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 8 miles to Kirkjubøur, approximately 1/2 hour; driving about 8 miles to Tórshavn, approximately 1/2 hour. The ship is scheduled to depart Tórshavn at 4:00 p.m., sailing overnight towards Jan Mayen.

Breakfast: Aboard ship.

Morning: The ship will dock at Tórshavn, capital of the Faroe Islands. Tórshavn translates to “Thor’s Harbour,” and the historic grass-roofed parliament buildings on the rocky promontory known as Tinganes are built on the site of Viking “Thing” meetings, making this one of the world’s oldest parliamentary meeting places. We’ll set out from the ship on a walk into Tórshavn’s center with members of the expedition team to learn about the historical significance of Tórshavn and the Faroes to the North Atlantic. We’ll then board a motorcoach and travel through the mountains to the south of the capital for a field trip to Kirkjubøur, the medieval episcopal center of the Faroes, where a large wooden farmhouse has been home to 17 generations of the same family. Here we’ll investigate the ruins of the ambitious Magnus Cathedral, and the medieval St. Olav’s church that is still in use, while the expedition team members lead us in considering the complex history of Christianity in the Norse regions. We’ll return by motorcoach to Tórshavn.

Lunch: Aboard ship.

Afternoon: Free time. On your own to see and do what interests you most. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. The ship is scheduled to depart from port at 4.00 p.m.

Dinner: Aboard ship.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
8
Faroe Islands, Klaksvik, Free time.
At Sea
B,L,D
Ocean Atlantic

Activity note: Walking up to 2 miles; some uneven terrain.

Breakfast: Aboard ship.

Morning: We will arrive to the port of Klaksvik located on the eastern sice of the island of Bordoy. Klaksvik is the second largest in the Faroes with 4800 inhabitants. Our morning is spent exploring the area, where history dates back to Viking times and we will learn about the fishing industry that has made it's mark on the island.

Lunch: Aboard ship.

Afternoon: Free time. Enjoy the activities of your choice aboard ship.

Dinner: Aboard ship.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
9
At Sea
At Sea
B,L,D
Ocean Atlantic

Activity note: Full day at sea.

Breakfast: Aboard ship.

Morning: This will be a day at sea as we sail towards the Vestmannaeyjar. In addition to a lecture by members of the expedition staff, there will be films about Arctic nature available for viewing. There will also be time on the observation deck to look out for avian and marine life.

Lunch: Aboard ship.

Afternoon: Free time. Enjoy the activities of your choice aboard ship. Later in the afternoon, we will gather for a Road Scholar exclusive cocktail party aboard the ship.

Dinner: Aboard ship.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
10
Vestmannaeyjar
At Sea
B,L,D
Ocean Atlantic

Activity note: Zodiac excursions are dependent on favorable weather conditions. Getting on/off a motorcoach, walking up to 1 mile.

Breakfast: Aboard ship.

Morning: In the Westman Islands this morning, we’ll set out on a journey around the volcanic island of Heimaey. We’ll be on the lookout for caves, birdlife, and hopefully whales.

Lunch: Aboard ship.

Afternoon: We’ll take Zodiacs to shore at Heimaey and board a motorcoach for a panoramic exploration of this unique and fascinating landscape. The effects of the volcanic eruption of 1973 are still visible, with half-buried houses and a dramatic crater. Heimaey is also known for its diversity of birdlife.

Dinner: Aboard ship.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
11
Disembarkation, Reykjavik, Free Time
Reykjavik
B,L,D
Icelandair Hotel Reykjavik Marina

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach.

Breakfast: Aboard ship.

Morning: We conclude our sailing this morning as we dock in Iceland’s capital, Reykjavik. We’ll explore the city with an expert-led panoramic bus exploration and have a field trip to the National Museum of Iceland before checking into our hotel.

Lunch: On your own to enjoy what you like.

Afternoon: Free time to explore Reykjavik and prepare for tomorrow’s departure, followed by a farewell meeting in the hotel.

Dinner: In the hotel.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
12
Program Concludes
In flight
B

Activity note: Hotel check-out by 11:00 a.m.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet depending on flight times. This concludes our program.

Morning: If you are returning home, safe travels. If you are staying on independently, have a wonderful time. If you are transferring to another Road Scholar program, detailed instructions are included in your Information Packet for that program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on another rewarding program in the future. Don’t forget to join our Facebook page and follow us on Instagram. Best wishes for all your journeys!






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