Allow Cunard to take you on a fjords cruise to visit some of the most majestic sites in the natural world – from the famous Norwegian fjords to the spectacular glaciers of New Zealand, South America and beyond.
Tilt your head back and take in the wild beauty of the Aurlandsfjord, as you glide along this arm of the world’s second-longest fjord – the Sognefjord – in western Norway.
The Aurlandsfjord is barely two kilometers wide, with granite rock sides adorned with grabs of dense evergreen pine forest that rise 1,800 meters into the sky and curve into gentle summits daubed with snow. Look closely and you’ll see fine silvery waterfalls draped on the rock face like missing strands from a shimmering spider’s web.
A particularly majestic mountain, the Beitelen, divides the Aurlandsfjord from the UNESCO World Heritage site surrounding Nærøyfjord. It juts out into the fjord’s glassy waters, standing proud, as if two steps ahead of its rocky peers.
The small village of Flåm is tucked into the innermost nook of the Aurlandsfjord and the only other sign of human life is a light scattering of toy-like wooden houses along flashes of grass at the water’s edges.
Retired Cunard Captain Peter Philpott offers his reactions. "A Norwegian cruise offers the most wonderful perspective," he reflects. "We sail up the middle of the fjords to see them in all their glory, whether we’re amid the mist of the mountains or the sun is blazing down on a bright, clear day. From the water’s vantage point, it’s possible to see the casts from both sides at once, and it’s truly stunning – the light changes dramatically as you go."
The splendor of Ísafjörður, a town in the Westfjords region of north-west Iceland, lies in its natural serenity and unique positioning.
A trading post since the 16th century and later one of Iceland’s largest fisheries, it sits on an arcing gravel spit that juts into brooding icy waters, circled by soaring mountains and curves of black sand.
The climate is tundra, bordering on sub-arctic, with summer temperatures reaching 10 degrees centigrade. These are prime whale-watching waters and a convenient location to spot local wildlife such as puffins, seals and Arctic foxes.
The centre of Ísafjörður is a charming grid of modest timber-framed houses and the oldest collection of wooden houses in the country, which date back to the mid-18th century. The Westfjords Heritage Museum is housed in a warehouse dating from 1784 and exhibits ancient fishing tools and relics. Today, the town boasts a flourishing arts scene, with creatives living locally and art exhibitions on throughout the year – a very special Cunard destination.
Tracy Arm Fjord, Alaska
Set off on a wilderness adventure with Cunard along the 27-mile long Tracy Arm Fjord.
When you reach the end of Tracy Arm, you’ll face the extraordinary blue-tinged beauty of South Sawyer Glacier. Watch chunks calving off this colossal body of glowing ice into serene waters with loud, thundery rumbles.
"Calving is when chunks of ice – anything from the size of a car to a huge ship – fall from the face of the glacier with a roar of sound", says James Bonfield, Cunard's Senior Cruise Program Development Manager. "It’s a spectacular sight. Tracy Arm Fjord is almost 600 feet deep at the end, so sometimes a calving can occur under the water. When this happens, the ice remains intact, which results in huge icebergs – some of the biggest to be seen in Alaska."
Playful seals belly-flop on these bobbing ice islands and humpback whales weave through the frozen debris, feasting on herring – a manic activity they pursue for up to 21 hours a day during summer when the sun sinks for just two hours a night.
Bring a pair of binoculars to spot bears stretching their legs after a long hibernation and 280 species of wild birds.
The fjord is 45 miles south of Juneau, the capital city of Alaska, but with just 740,000 people living within 580,000 square miles across this magnificent state, you will be immersed in the pure wilderness and sublime solitude.
Fiordland, New Zealand
The extraordinary untouched landscape of Fiordland National Park is breathtaking beauty on a mesmeric scale.
This 1.2m hectare wilderness has plenty of claims to fame – not only was it the spectacular backdrop to The Lord of the Rings movies, but the largest and most remote fiord here, Doubtful Sound, was first named Doubtful Harbour by Captain Cook in 1770. He sailed past it, after deciding not to enter for fear of it not being navigable.
Doubtful Sound is also home to one of the largest southernmost populations of bottlenose dolphins – about 60 of them in total – who are likely to make regular cameo appearances on your Cunard voyage and also pop up in Milford Sound, another grand fiord with sheer cliffs rising like jagged snow-brushed pyramids.
A Maori legend has it that demigod Tu Te Raki Whanoa sculpted this rugged landscape from formless rock into art.
"The peacefulness and majesty of the Milford Sound left me in awe the first time I took Queen Victoria there. Dark shadows surrounded us, with mist falling from the surrounding mountain ridges. As we slowly turned, a massive waterfall crashed around our bow – it was spectacular."
- Captain Simon Love, Cunard Queen Victoria
Amalia Glacier, Chile
The Amalia Glacier is a tidewater glacier, also known as Skua Glacier, located in Bernardo O’Higgins National Park and stands like a thunderous wave frozen in time.
What’s really astonishing is that Amalia Glacier is constantly moving, bending, arching, stretching and advancing – depending on the weather conditions – carving new shapes in the landscape as it goes.
In front of it, curious dolphins frolic and otters dip and dive, while the Andean condor (part of the vulture family, with an impressive wingspan of 10 feet) helicopters high above, looking for prey. Get close enough to the Amalia Glacier, which flanks the dormant Reclus volcano, and you’ll hear a grumbling from its movements within, like a huge blue beast napping in the sunshine.
Pio XI Glacier, Chile
The biggest glacier in South America, the largest western outflow from the Southern Patagonian Icefield, and the only glacier in the world that is actually growing – the Pio XI Glacier is all these things.
The fact the glacier grows 50 meters in height, length and density every day means it is unlike any other glacier in Patagonia or, in fact, most of the world, including the Arctic. The sheer weight of this glacial mass squeezes out bubbles of air from the ice, which creates its otherworldly blue hue.
The glacier is at the end of the soaring Eyre Fjord, with two side fjords to the east, named Falcon and Exmouth. The word fjord actually originates from a Nordic term meaning a narrow inlet of sea with steep sides created by a glacier, and seeing this magnificent wall of ice will make you feel as if you’ve been pulled back in time thousands of years – before the term was even coined.
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