by Chris Hutchinson

FROM school lessons I was fascinated by the Arctic, which my teacher described as ‘Islands at the top of the world’.

I couldn’t wait to board Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines’ Black Watch, visiting Iceland and Greenland, and from the knowledgeable shore destination staff, I selected tours from an impressive programme.

Sailing into Reykjavik, Iceland, our tour, The Golden Circle, took us to Geysir, an area of hot springs. The Stokkur Geyser erupts every few minutes, its white spray rising around 25 metres to a blue sky. We stood closer but didn’t anticipate the ‘big one’, upwards of 40 metres, giving us a shower!

Then to Gullfoss and its mighty Golden Waterfall - the most famous in Iceland- two enormous cascades thunder into a canyon, the spray creates a rainbow over this spectacle.

Next Thingvellir National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site; walking in the footsteps of Vikings, we trekked through a rugged canyon to the first Viking settlement. It overlooks the entire park; a picturesque valley with lakes, islands, forests and pastures. Our next excursion promised ‘A Taste of Iceland’. A leisurely drive took us to Seltun, surrounded by Luna landscape, here is the geothermal area where jets of steam escape from multicoloured mud pots, bubbling continuously - a fascinating area. Then to a fishing village for lunch of freshly caught lobster was served.

Sailing to Greenland, we entered the scenic passageway of Prins Christiansund, where an azure coloured waterway met snow-capped mountains. Black Watch glided past waterfalls, icebergs and imposing glaciers. The dramatic landscapes were breathtaking. Black Watch lowered a rigid inflated boat, the crew retrieved a floating piece of iceberg, chiselled into segments and served in our drinks.

On board in the evening a five-star cuisine is followed by great shows.

On to Qaqortoq, Greenland, a quaint town with multicoloured houses. On a walking tour we saw stone sculptures called ‘Stone and Man’ depicting the culture of Greenland. Our next visit, Narsarsuaq, is home to a world of green mountainsides, a kingfisher-coloured fjord and ancient Norse ruins. The first Viking to land here in 982 AD was the infamous Erik the Red; banished from Iceland, he named the place Greenland.

The village of Qassiarsuk is where Erik founded his settlement; we saw ruined stables, Viking houses and the first church.

We enjoyed life on board, indulging in afternoon tea, a wine and cheese evening, and a Martini Experience.

Sailing into Nanortalik, our last day in Greenland, I was excited exploring this area by RIB. We skimmed across the fjord to a small town with Colonial houses from 1840. We hugged the shoreline passing islands, inlets and villages and circumnavigated icebergs shimmering in sunlight a few feet away. It is one thing to see icebergs, another to have it in your drinks, but to touch this natural wonder is intoxicating.

Later we were captivated by a school of whales cruising by. As they passed the last one raised its tail - a fond farewell?

I marvelled at Iceland and Greenland, their majestic characteristics are nature’s gifts to treasure, and we must protect.

Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines’ Black Watch realised a schoolboy dream, creating indelible memories of ‘islands at the top of the world’.

* Black Watch returns to the Greenland Fjords on a 14-night departure from Liverpool on August 13, 2020. Prices start from £2,299 pp, (twin room), and includes food and entertainment on board. Visit or call 0800 0355242.