Regent Cruise to Iceland, Part 4: En Route to Iceland
It’s the final leg of my cruise on Regent's Seven Seas Navigator, and we are sailing northeast from L’anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland, to Iceland, in seas once ruled by Vikings.
From A.D. 793-1066, the Vikings were the most feared warriors on earth. The literature of the time refers to them as “giants from the north”, “heathen” and “barbarians”. In a span of 250 years, they conquered London and Normandy in France, burned Hamburg and Santiago and countless other cities and towns, and laid siege to Lisbon and Mallorca and Seville. They took European slaves home with them and sold others in North Africa. The Vikings terrorized Paris on numerous occasions and became the subject of a common prayer in French churches during the ninth century:
“A furore normannorum libera nos domine,
Skona oss herre från nordmännens raseri.”
Rough translation: “Oh Lord, save us from the rage of the Nordic people”.
When they were not destroying the rest of civilization, the Vikings proved to be formidable traders and explorers. They founded states in Ireland, Britain and Russia, and populated Iceland, Greenland, the Shetland Islands, Orkney and the Isle of Man.
It’s been a thousand years since the most famous Viking explorer of them all, Leif Ericson, passed this way en route to his historic rendezvous with the New World. He beat Columbus by 500 years, the first European to step foot on North America. What I wouldn’t give to see his Viking longboat on the horizon right now.
There’s a lot of ocean between Newfoundland and Iceland, but our sea days on the Seven Seas Navigator will be fondly remembered. Between the meals, the lectures, the spa, the meals, the shows, the movies and the meals, there was hardly enough time in the day.
And speaking of meals, I can’t say enough about the quality of the food and service in the ship’s dining venues. A typical exchange with one of our favorite waiters:
“Lucius, I’m torn between the lobster and the quail,” I explain. “Which do you recommend?”
“Why not have both?” he suggests, in such a reassuring way that it suddenly seems quite logical. Have you noticed how all those tedious rules from home are suspended on a cruise?
It’s been three days since we left Canada, and seas have been relatively calm throughout. This afternoon, passengers were alerted by the Captain to a pod of humpback whales off the port side, and we raced to the open decks to watch whales spouting and breaching. After a while, one whale began slapping its tail hard against the water, which is called lobtailing. No one is certain of the purpose of lobtailing, but some believe it may be a warning to the pod. In this case, perhaps it was a warning that our ship was near.
Today is our last day at sea, and tomorrow we dock in the Land of Fire and Ice. I’ll tell you about Iceland next week, but I’d like to close my comments about the cruise itself with a word of recognition for Captain Alfredo Romeo, Master of the Seven Seas Navigator, and Martin van der Laan, Hotel Director, for the outstanding service and operation of this vessel. Cruising just does not get any better. Also, thanks to Tour Manager Katja Bross, for her assistance above and beyond the call of duty in helping to customize an Icelandic excursion for my family. It promises to be quite chilling (more on that next time).
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Regent Cruise to Iceland, Part 1: The Adventure Begins
Regent Cruise to Iceland, Part 2: Highlights of Bermuda
Regent Cruise to Iceland, Part 3: New England and Canada
Regent Cruise to Iceland, Part 5: The Land of Fire and Ice
Regent Cruise to Iceland, Part 6: Glacier Trekking