Cooler climes are some of today's hottest cruise destinations.
Add the warmth of Seabourn's ultra-luxury service, boutique-hotel inspired ships, world-class dining and insightful, intriguing shore excursions like Ventures' active explorations, and you've got the perfect formula for discovering gateway northern destinations like Alaska, as well as the uniquely northern-most destinations in Europe.
WATCH THE VIDEO ABOVE FOR A SHIP TOUR AND HIGLIGHTS OF OUR CRUISE.
And here are three essential experiences I discovered you won't want to miss on a cruise of Nordic and Scottish destinations on the Seabourn Ovation.
1. Follow in the Footsteps of the Vikings
Scandinavia's maritime warriors/traders/ marauders are legendary even today.
A thousand years ago, from their coastal bases in today's Denmark, Sweden, and Norway, Vikings launched expeditions in their wooden ships, eventually crossing the unpredictable North Sea to the British Isles, skirting the Arctic Circle and hop-scotching to landfalls in Iceland, Greenland, and eventually even making it to Newfoundland (preceding Columbus by centuries as the first Europeans to set foot in the Americas).
Our cruise evoked these epic Viking voyages.
We set sail from Denmark'
s capital and global lifestyle and culinary hotspot Copenhagen
, wound our way to Sweden, where we toured the rugged, rocky coastline, onwards to Norway's capital Oslo and coastal towns, then sailed across the North Sea to northern England and Scotland, calling in the cultural and architectural gem of Edinburgh, then at storied, remote Scottish isles that rarely see cruise ships, and never the larger ships at all.
Throughout the voyage and half a dozen countries, the land and sea-scape shared a common, North Atlantic / North Sea theme that reminds you – you're exploring Viking territory. Dark blue, cold North Atlantic seas lapping against craggy granite coasts and cliffs with hardy northern trees and plants, dotted here and there with hardy homes and farms and fishing villages.
Like a cruise of the countries along the Mediterranean Sea reveals shared landscapes and history, so too does a cruise of the North Sea portion of the North Atlantic.
In fact, an Australian couple standing next to me at the rail in one Nordic port said they'd sailed with Seabourn to Canada the previous summer – and the Nordic coastline to them looked identical to Atlantic Canada.
But unlike the brave Vikings crossing these chill waters in their wooden longships, on Seabourn, you're wrapped in the warmth of attentive service, cocktails and champagne and caviar service throughout the ship, top-shelf restaurants including one by a Michelin-starred chef, and peak 21st century hospitality.
2. Set your alarm to enjoy some of the world's most beautiful sail in arrivals.
On this cruise, sailing into Nordic ports like Oslo, Arendal, and Scotland's Highland port Inverness as well as the isles of Shetland and Orkney will be experiences you never forget.The sparsely populated shores approaching these North Sea ports are epic viewed from the ship.
And on Seabourn, where all suites (unlike a land-based hotel) are ocean view, the ships are small enough that even suites on the top deck are still close enough to the water you can hear the waves lapping and smell the sea air, and the exceptional service includes in-room dining in your living /dining room or on your veranda - from dawn until the ship is docked is an unparalleled experience of enjoying morning tea and breakfast while exceptional scenery sails past.
3. Experience the Great Outdoors, Seabourn-Style
A scenic morning sail-in isn't the only way to appreciate the outdoors in these essential outdoor North Sea destinations.
With multiple hot tubs in vantage points on forward and aft decks, there's always a hot tub with a view in these cool-weather ports.
Seabourn's Ventures shore excursions that immerse you in Nature, expedition-style.Expert guides take small groups of guests on hikes, treks, kayak or zodiak explorations that let you get up close to the sea, the land, and the wildlife in a magical and active experience.
Back on the ship, Seabourn's staff go to extraordinary lengths to charm guests with pop-up events – those famous 'Seabourn Moments' - on deck that allow you to enjoy Seabourn service along with the views.
You might return from shore to find a champagne/vodka and caviar party (in the tropics, they have 'Caviar in the Surf' parties served from surfboards at the beach!) or warming 'hot chocolate with a twist', all with live music and camaraderie with delighted fellow guests.
I love being outdoors, and Seabourn's new restaurant concept Earth and Ocean transforms the pool deck in the evenings with an alfresco dining experience that pairs rustic ceramics and textured linen with exquisite cuisine that taps into the elements with smoke boxes, sea scents and tagines.
It's all heightened by the sea air and the views you can still enjoy late into the evening with the Far North's summertime late sunsets.
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