Your upscale cruise clients won’t have to give up the good life to
take the adventure of a lifetime the remote outposts of Iceland and
I recently took the unusual cruise on Radisson Seven Seas
Cruises’ Navigator, which will offer a similar cruise next summer
between New York and Reykjavik, Iceland, via Greenland. RSSC is the
only luxury line that calls in Greenland, the huge, ice-capped
island misleadingly named by Viking explorer Erik the Red in 985
My 11-night cruise got off to an exciting start departing
Reykjavik in Iceland, another Nordic island mostly undiscovered by
Iceland is a destination in itself, and absolutely worth a
pre-cruise tour. RSSC books tour participants at the Radisson SAS
Saga Hotel in Reykjavik, which did not receive rave reviews from
passengers I spoke with. A better bet: Reykjavik’s Hotel Borg, a
renovated 1930s hotel on the town square.
For clients seeking adventurous outings, The Activity Group
(www.activity.is), a major Iceland operator, offers such popular
excursions as dog sledding, snowmobiling (on glaciers, year-round)
and riding on Icelandic horses (a pure breed that remains as they
were in the late 9th century). Icelandair (www.icelandair.com)
sells classic day tours of the Golden Circle and the Blue Lagoon
hot springs, as well as some more adventurous offerings.
Iceland is a rewarding but expensive destination. Pre-booking
may help ease the shock of sky-high prices. One uniquely Icelandic
experience that’s inexpensive: a skim milk mixture called skyr,
most aptly described as a cross between yogurt and cream cheese.
It’s delicious. After leaving Reykjavik, it’s time to really get
away from it all. The ship sails to Heimaey Island, a new RSSC port
of call off Iceland’s southern coast. This is a remote, romantic
spot, which like most of Iceland is a product of volcanic eruption.
Puffins abound, as do lava fields with lunar-like landscapes. The
starkly beautiful island is walkable. Shore excursions won’t be
announced until closer to sailing, but in remote outposts such as
Iceland and Greenland, options are limited to about one to four
excursions per town.
From Heimaey it’s on to Ammassalik Island, a new stop in
Greenland. The port town of Tasiilaq is the largest in East
Greenland, with a population of about 3,000. Located in a fjord and
surrounded by mountains, the region was first populated by
Europeans about 100 years ago and is still influenced by
traditional Inuit culture.
The ship then sails for two other ports in southwestern
Greenland. Qaqortoq is a tiny town with cheerful, brightly painted
homes. It has a church ruin nearby from the Viking era, as well as
a museum and walking trails. Visitors also can sample shark and
whale meat. Nearby is the town of Narsarsuaq, which means “the
great plain.” Home to South Greenland’s international airport, the
Narsarsuaq area is an expanse of green fields and what is called
the Flower Valley. A hike in the Flower Valley, one of the shore
excursions offered, is gorgeous with Arctic flora. In addition, the
Greenland ice cap is reachable from here by foot or boat. Upon
leaving Narsarsuaq, the ship gently sails past magnificent
icebergs, one of the most memorable parts of the trip.
In keeping with the Viking theme, the ship calls at L’Anse aux
Meadows in Newfoundland, settled by Viking explorers from Greenland
in 1000 A.D. and abandoned shortly thereafter. The L’Anse aux
Meadows site has excavated 2,400 Viking objects and today contains
reconstructed buildings of the original Norse settlement.
Then it’s back to civilization. Halifax is the largest city in
Nova Scotia, and a wide range of shore excursions is available. The
sea kayaking was particularly enjoyable. Next stop is Boston and
its historic American sites. Ending the trip by sailing into New
York harbor is spectacular. The Navigator is an attractive ship
with Internet access, a library, comfortable lounges, a spa
operated by the Parisian salon Carita and a small, usually
overcrowded fitness center. The spacious all-suite cabins have
Portofino Grill is the alternative restaurant serving Italian
and Mediterranean cuisine. The food both there and in the Compass
Rose main dining room is very good to excellent, particularly when
one considers that the ship’s fresh produce is not replenished
until docking in Halifax. All dining is open seating, and room
service is available 24 hours a day. Passengers on this cruise are
affluent, well-traveled and mostly over 60. Days aboard the ship
are low-key, with people reading, attending lectures, playing bingo
and participating in trivia quizzes.
The ship’s crew the waitstaff in particular is made up of
polished professionals, very attentive, helpful and amiable.
Other wonderful RSSC features are the no-tipping policy and the
lack of feeling nickeled and dimed over extras. Bottled water, soft
drinks, juices, cappuccinos and wine with dinner are all included.
The cabin minibar is stocked with complimentary liquor upon
The cruise experience plus the uncommon itinerary will keep your
clients returning to RSSC.
|JUST THE FACTS|
Ship: Seven Seas Navigator
Size: 33,000 tons
Capacity: 490 passengers
Year Built: 1999
Plugging In: 120- and 220-volt current in all
cabins. Hair dryers are supplied.
Hits: Likeable staff, great food, complimentary
self-service washers and dryers.
Misses: Ship vibrates more than most.
Itinerary: Reykjavik and Heimaey Island,
Iceland; Ammassalik Island, Qaqortoq and Narsarsuaq, Greenland;
L’Anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland; Halifax, Nova Scotia; Boston and
Departure Date for 2005: July 30. (Ten-night
sailing from New York to Reykjavik on June 15 includes all ports
except those in Greenland, plus Bar Harbor, Maine.)
Cost: Starting at $4,946 per person.