Daily Expedition Reports

Daily reports from our days in the field

  • St. John’s, Newfoundland

    After a couple of days of strong winds and unsettled weather, the clouds parted and we were treated to stunning views of ocean swells battering the rusty red cliffs of the Newfoundland coastline. Seabirds, fin whales, and white-beaked dolphins swam around the ship as we made our final approach into St. John’s.

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  • L’Anse Aux Meadows, Newfoundland

    Everybody aboard National Geographic Explorer was eagerly waiting to visit L’Anse aux Meadows and meet a part of the fascinating history of Newfoundland or, more properly, Vinland, as the first Norsemen on the island called it. In the early morning, guests and naturalists disembarked and headed to the Norstead Viking Village and the UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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  • Exploring Gros Morne | Newfoundland

    Our day began with a Zodiac landing at the community of Woody Point, where we were greeted by locals and brought to visit the nearby discovery center. There, we learned about the amazing geology of Gros Morne National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The special feature of this park is the tablelands, where a piece of Earth’s mantle has been thrust upward and now appears at the surface. The tablelands are comprised of two main rock types: peridotite, a dark green rock that weathers to a rusty brown; and serpentinite, a metamorphosed version of peridotite with a distinctive scaly pattern. Very few plants grow on these nutrient-poor rocks, but one that does is the pitcher plant.

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  • Connoiere Bay & At Sea

    After a beautiful sunny and breezy day at Isles des Madelaine, celebrated at recap with nearly limitless local oysters on the half shell, National Geographic Explorer turned north, aiming for Connoiere Bay on the south coast of western Newfoundland. This departure from the ship’s original itinerary—made necessary by a shift to the north for right whale activity—prevented us from accessing our original destination of Havre St. Pierre, Labrador, in a timely manner.

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  • Iles de la Madeleine

    National Geographic Explorer arrived in Cap-aux-Meules harbor in the early morning. Some of our guests chose to go on a highlights bus tour that took them through a charming landscape with unique panoramic views. They visited a traditional smokehouse where three generations of the same family have maintained the practice of smoking fish. Afterward, they visited the Dune du Nord where they took a walk to appreciate the natural beauty of the red sandstone that dominates the landscape. A second group of guests opted to visit an orchard where the owner grows apples in bottles, and taste three of the four varieties of cider produced there. They later visited Le Site d’Autrefois, a model fishing village to learn about the history of fishing in the islands. Both groups met again at an old convent for lunch before returning to the ship. A third group of guests chose to go for a hike in the north of the islands. Everybody enjoyed the views of the lighthouse and the red sandstone that makes this landscape so unique. In the meantime, the underwater team went for a dive in the harbor. It was a challenging dive with very limited visibility but soon they encountered several young lobsters and crabs and captured exciting footage to share back on board. In the evening, we met in the lounge to share fresh, locally sourced oysters and had a fantastic time at recap with the expedition staff.

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  • Louisbourg & Baddeck, Nova Scotia

    During our early morning approach to Louisbourg, the sky above Cape Breton was colored a fulgent orange-peach as a fabulously beautiful sun rose above the horizon. Coaches boarded, we made our way to the erstwhile Fortress of Louisbourg, a National Historic Site of Canada. For the most part built by the French, at its height the settlement had a population of around 3,000. Its importance waxed and waned as the eighteenth century progressed, and the settlement was eventually taken by the British, who subsequently and systematically destroyed its formidable fortifications. Partly reconstructed in more recent times, we enjoyed the various onsite interpreters who, in contemporary costume, detailed day-to-day life in the French settlement. We were treated to a hot chocolate in the erstwhile home of the principle engineer, listened to the woes of a common soldier who also demonstrated firing his rifle, and were shown a small garden allotment that contained a range of plants cultivated by the inhabitants of Louisbourg over 200 years ago. Cobbled streets, warehouses stacked with freight, an armory stockpiled with cannon balls at the ready, and the bakery and private homes of the merchants and French army officers were a veritable window to the past.

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  • Saint-Pierre & Miquelon, France

    Yesterday we joined National Geographic Explorer in Saint John’s, Newfoundland, and this morning, we woke up in France and were greeted with lovely music, European Union flags, and gorgeous weather.

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  • Twillingate, Newfoundland

    We awoke to the sight of magnificant cliffs which marked the entrance to Twillingate. On approaching the harbor we passed areas with colourful names such as Devil’s Head, Hell’s Mouth Cove, Wild Cove, Moor’s Cove, and Paradise. This region was fished by the French in the 17th and 18th century but was not permanently settled until 1780 when people from the southwest of England moved into the area. Incidently, the name Twillingate was derived from the name of a coastal area in Brest, France.

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  • L’Anse Aux Meadows

    The National Geographic Explorer set anchor in one of the most important sites in human history this morning, and the superlative nature of the visit was echoed throughout the heavens by a glorious celestial salute in the form of a sunrise worthy of an early wake-up call. As the fire in the sky gave way to the luminous day glow, we boarded our Zodiacs and made landfall at the very sight where the first Europeans to set foot in the Americas landed. As far as history can tell us, this completed the circumnavigation of the human race, and finally closed the circle of global migration. We first visited the visitor center to learn about L’Anse Aux Meadows, then the archeological site itself, and finally a recreation to give us a sense of what the camp might have looked like. For lunch we sped off and were treated to either a Viking feast (complete with a show) or a seafood sampler. Last in our epic day of discovery we visited Grenfell and took in some local history. 

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  • Gros Morne, Newfoundland

    We arrived in Bonne Bay to a beautiful sunrise off the coast of Newfoundland. After breakfast we landed in Woody Point to begin our explorations of this magnificent national park. Some of us hiked up to the Big Lookout while others went to explore the Tablelands. The Tablelands represent a unique piece of the earth’s mantle that has been thrust up onto the North American continent by tectonic processes. The distinctive yellow-brown peridotite rocks dominate the landscape. The yellow-brown color is just a surface feature where the iron minerals in the rock have oxidized. The Tablelands are almost barren of plants due to toxic minerals and a lack of nutrients. In this harsh environment we found Newfoundland’s provincial flower, the pitcher plant. This plant captures and digests plants to supplement its diet! Because of its unique character, the Tablelands are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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