Thursday 20 September 2018

From on board: Meet the Vikings

#expeditioncruising .

From on board Silversea Silver Cloud

Location: St. Anthony, Newfoundland
Date: Wednesday 19 September 2018

MAP: click to enlarge

Meet the Vikings

We've all heard tales of the rampaging Vikings or seen the graphic TV series of the same name, but who knew these ambitious Scandinavians were the first Europeans to settle in North America?

'Vikings' greet Silversea guests at the Port of St Anthony

True story. The great sagas have long told of great feats of exploration and conquest, but these sometimes fanciful tales have lacked hard evidence. But in 1960, two Norwegians conducted a thorough survey of the area, finding archaeological evidence and locating the settlement now known as L'Anse aux Meadows. The site was later inscribed by UNESCO on the World Heritage list.

Authentically recreated Norse structures at Norstead Viking Village (RE)

Despite many years of excavation, there's not a lot to see of the original settlement. The digs have been re-interred by Canada's Parks Authority and replica structures built adjacent the site. Here we meet enthusiastic reenactors 'living' in the sod-covered timber-framed buildings carrying on life much as how these first settlers world have done 1000 years ago. (pics below)

What is particularly significant about the meeting of the Norse people and the local indigenous tribes is that event marks the first time (probably) that the journeying human race completed an encirclement of the Earth that took some 100,000 years from the time the first wanderers left Africa. How about that?

Even though Silver Cloud is close to 100 per cent capacity, just 250 guests ensure that when ashore, we do not overwhelm our destination. We're split into small manageable groups, so there are no queues for the museums or bathrooms and everyone gets small group attention when guided through the sites.

Rebuilt Silver Cloud (with new blue hull) at anchor at St Anthony NL (RE)

You'll recall Silver Cloud was converted to a Polar Class vessel after an intensive three-month rebuild in 2017, so I'm curious just how this process was conducted. Regardless, the result is nothing short of staggering. The 156m vessel was originally built in 1994 as Silverseas' first ever cruise ship, so to have her 'reborn' in this fashion and ready for a whole new life of adventure is quite something.

I'll detail more of Silver Cloud over the next week as we explore the historically rich waters around Newfoundland and Labrador in Canada's eastern territory.

Expedition Cruising editor, Roderick Eime, is travelling as a guest of Silversea with assistance from  Tourism Canada.

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