LAST CHANCE TO BOOK - A Cruise In the Wake of the Vikings: The History, Landscapes and Wildlife of Iceland

17 - 26 Apr 2024
  • Cultural Tours

About the tour


Led by popular tour leading team, Professor John Richardson and Susi Richardson, this Fred Olsen cruise takes you from Newcastle to the stunning landscapes of Iceland.

Iceland is a magical island humming with energy and natural phenomena. Its beauty comes from a vast volcanic landscape where mighty forces shape the earth: geysers and glooping mudflats, rumbling volcanoes swathed in ice and glaciers grinding their way through mountains. Its rich cultural life encompasses a literary legacy that stretches from medieval sagas to contemporary thrillers by way of Nobel Prize winners, as well as life, music and Nordic style.

This cruise will include a number of shore excursions and talks by dedicated JBT speakers, Irene García Losquiño and Declan Taggart (details below), as well as by the ship's speakers and the tour leaders on subjects ranging from whales (which you will almost certainly see), to the unique natural history and geology of Iceland and the North Atlantic, Viking and Norse culture and history, and an epic journey by sea.


Speakers for Jon Baines Tours

Irene García Losquiño is a María Zambrano Research Fellow at the University of Santiago de Compostela. She received her PhD on runology from University of Aberdeen in 2013 and, since then, she has worked in institutions in Sweden, Scotland and Spain, including a postdoctoral Bernadotte Fellowship at the Onomastics Department at the University of Uppsala. She has written an award-winning book The Early Runic Inscriptions: Their Western Features and many academic articles on the viking southern diaspora. She has also featured in the documentary series Real Vikings, has been interviewed in many podcasts, has written for magazines like History National Geographic and is an experienced international public speaker and writer.

Declan Taggart is a researcher at the University of Iceland working on morality, religion and social structure in early Iceland and Scandinavia. He has published an award-winning book on the god Thor called How Thor Lost His Thunder, many articles related to Old Norse religion and literature, and been invited to lecture to academic audiences across Europe about his work. Beyond academia, Declan has contributed extensively to popular discussions of the Viking Age. He has given talks for schools on the early North and created artistic performances about its literature. He recently published a choose-your-own-adventure game about the settlement of Iceland called Choice of the Viking.


MS Balmoral

The lovely Fred Olsen cruise ship, Balmoral, is small enough to navigate the most picturesque waterways and offers a warm, refined atmosphere with comfortable accommodation, stylish restaurants and plenty of open-deck space. Guests can relax in elegant and comfortable lounges, bars and public areas, including two Speciality Dining restaurants, the Marquee Bar with comfortable rattan sofas, a beautiful open promenade and two separate swimming pool decks.

Your tour leader

Picture of JBT tour leader, John and Susi Richardson

John and Susi Richardson

Dr John Richardson is an Emeritus Professor of Primary Care and General Practice. He has led study tours worldwide and was a medical escort to parties of war widows and veterans on journeys of remembrance for the Royal British Legion. He has also run many history of medicine battlefield tours. He has visited more than 80 countries and worked in 41 of them as a doctor. John has previously led tours for Jon Baines to China, Central Asia, India, Turkey, Central America, Ecuador and the Galapagos, Namibia, Ethiopia, Indo-China and Burma. He has also given lectures on cruises. John has also acted as doctor to six sailing expeditions with service personnel and students in the Caribbean.

Susi Richardson has travelled widely across the world with John either as an expedition nurse, or as a nurse on war grave pilgrimages for the Royal British Legion, or as co-tour leader for Jon Baines Tours, or accompanying her husband on his British Army medical officer postings.

John and Susi Richardson were the doctor and nurse respectively on The British Trans Americas Expedition 1971-2; the first ever drive from Alaska to Cape Horn and the first crossing of the Darian Gap in Panama. Together, they have co-led Jon Baines Tours tours to Panama, Costa Rica and Nicaragua, to India, to Vietnam, to Malaysia and on cruises.

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  • Mon-Fri: 9am-5pm
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Itinerary at a glance

  • Day 1: Newcastle (Wed, 17 April) Board the ship and depart late afternoon. Welcome dinner with the group.
  • Day 2: At Sea (Thurs, 18 April) Hear lectures onboard: The Viking Age – A general introduction to the Vikings, who they were, where they came from and how they influenced history – DT. Folklore, Belief Systems and Old Norse Religion – Understanding morality, religion and social structure in early Iceland and Scandinavia – DT. At leisure in the afternoon to relax and enjoy the programme of events on the ship. Captain's Welcome Drinks in the evening.
  • Day 3: At Sea (Fri, 19 April) Hear lectures onboard: The Brendan Voyage – JR. The Settlement of Iceland and the Viking Age in Iceland – JR. Afternoon at leisure followed by private drinks and canapes with the group late afternoon.
  • Day 4: Reykjavik (Sat, 20 April) Explore Reykjavik, the world's most northerly capital city, on a private shore excursion. Drive through the Laugardalur Valley past geothermal pools and cross the Elliðaá River to the Álftanes Peninsula. Visit Perlan for a panoramic view of the city and then see Hallgrimskirkja, the church that dominates the city skyline. Explore the old quarter including Laugavegur, the oldest road in the country, trendy Hlemmur and the old harbour front. Return to the ship for lunch or at leisure to visit one of the excellent museums in the city.
  • Day 5: Ísafjörður (Sun, 21 April) Located on the peninsula of the Westfjords, with a backdrop of steep mountains, Ísafjörður has been one of Iceland's most important fishing and trading centres for over two centuries. Take part in an excursion offering an insight into the life and culture of the remote Westfjords. Drive out to Bolungarvik and visit the Ósvör Maritime Museum, a museum housed in a series of stone and turf buildings chronicling the local history, and visit the local church. Continue on to the lovely Tungudalur Valley to see the waterfall and on to Isafjörður and the maritime museum. Enjoy a snack of dried fish or shark with schnapps. Cruise past Hornbjarg, renowned for its spectacular natural beauty combining vast tundra, sheer cliffs and flowering fields. Cruise past Drangaskörð's pinnacles jutting out of the sea, often referred to as the 'mountain of teeth'. Some believe that the unusual natural phenomena look like the points on a dragon's tail.
  • Day 6: Akureyri (Mon, 22 April) Arrive in Akureyri and take part in a shore excursion. Drive along the coastline of Eyjafjörður to the breath-taking 'Waterfall of the Gods', Goðafoss Waterfall. Continue Akureyri across farmland to Lake Mývatn, home to thousands of birds. Continue to Námaskarð a geothermal field full of mud pots, steam vents, boiling springs, sulphur deposits and fumaroles. Return to Akureyri. Cruise past magnificent Eyjafjörður, the longest fjord in Iceland, which lies on the migratory routes of many species of whales and birds. Puffins are often seen here and the waters of Eyjafjörður attract blue whales, dolphins and porpoises. Cruise past Hrísey Island, Iceland’s second largest island, with just 200 people living alongside more than 40 bird species. Cruise past Grímsey Island, Iceland’s northernmost inhabited territory, home to over a hundred people, over a million seabirds of varying species – including the largest colony of puffins in the world - which perch themselves on the island’s stunning cliff faces.
  • Day 7: Borgarfjörður Eystri (Tues, 23 April) Early morning arrival at Borgarfjörður Eystri, believed by many locals to be the home of the Elf Queen, due to a boulder known as an Álfaborg (Elf Rock or Elf Castle), and one of the best places to see puffins. Continue to Seyðisfjörður, in the Eastfjords of Iceland, regarded as one of Iceland’s most picturesque towns. Skálanes Nature Reserve is situated on the south side of the town and many seabirds, such as puffins or the black tailed godwit, and cetaceans – including seal and porpoise, can be found here. At leisure in the small, easily walkable town. Optional Excursion: Drive over the mountain pass to Fjarðarheiði and drive along a deep, glacier-filled valley to Snaefellsstofa, an impressive building and the former home of Gunnar Gunnarsson, one of Iceland’s greatest writers. Pass the 13th century estate of Fljótsdalur. Pass through the forest of Hallormsstaðaskógur and visit the village of Egilsstaðir.
  • Day 8: At Sea (Wed, 24 April) Hear lectures onboard: Viking Culture, Law and Society – Connecting the historic Vikings with Iceland today – IL. The Warriors - Campaigning, death, afterlife, runes and archaeology of the Norse – IL. Day at leisure with an Open Forum discussion led by John Richardson. Enjoy a sumptuous afternoon tea.
  • Day 9: At Sea (Thurs, 25 April) Hear lectures onboard: The Viking Diaspora and Their Maritime History – IL. Captain’s Farewell Party in the evening.
  • Day 10: Newcastle (Fri, April 26) Arrive Newcastle early morning.

Tour cost

The cost of the cruise sharing a cabin is from USD $3,192 per person. The cost of the cruise with a cabin to yourself is from USD $4,508.

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