Reykjavík, Iceland

Ode to Iceland

Kevin Clement|September 22, 2011|Blog Post

Our recently completed Circumnavigation of Iceland expedition left quite the impression on some, including Zegrahm renaissance man, Kevin Clement. Enjoy his poem below, and water colors above.


Ode to Iceland
(with apologies to Robert Service)

There are strange things done in the Midnight sun
And one of those was our trip
Through Iceland wild, but in highest style
On the Clipper Odyssey ship.

To Iceland we came on various planes,
In a stupor induced by jet lag,
And made prayers to Odin, with a certain forebodin’,
That we’d arrive with all of our bags.

We took a big lick of old Reykjavik
And found it much to our liking,
This far northern home of trolls and of gnomes,
And sometime or other, some Vikings.

It made our hearts sing to see the old Thing
We were growing amazed and amazed-er.
A huge waterfall, and that wasn’t all:
We saw geezers—sorry, that’s “gay-sir”.

We found Odyssey, and with due modesty,
We can say she’s the perfect small size.
She was awaiting, and without hesitating,
We set sail. Our direction: clockwise.

Flatey was flat; no doubt about that,
And the terns keep their little beaks honed
It made you wanna throw rocks at the whole goddamn flock,
If you did…you’d leave no tern un-stoned.

The puffin’s a creature whose colorful features
Made it one we all wanted to see.
It lives in a burrow, or crevice, or furrow…
Since when did birds not nest in trees?

At Latrabjarg, the cliffs loomed up large
And so did the waves crashing round them.
But we found a beach, within easy reach,
Went searching for puffins, and found them.

Isafjordur’s museums   are great—you should see ‘em;
But what left an indelible mark
On our memory’s slate was the moment we ate
That hideous putrefied shark.

On the island of Vigur, the terns were most eager:
They came at you from farther and wider.
If someone yelled “Duck!” you might be out of luck…
Unless they were talking ‘bout eider.

Our next hike’s destination, the old radar station
At Adalvik, lay up a steep trail.
But I sure was beat after just 700 feet…
That is, on the Mike Messick scale.

Hornvik had horns, in dozens of forms,
And zillions of seabirds to boot.
We got to know pronto the fragrance of guano—
But still, those damn puffins are cute.

We sailed ever north, and in due course
Reached the half-Arctic island of Grimsey.
We couldn’t agree where the Circle should be;
Where they put up the sign was pure whimsy.

And in a short time, we sailed to the Line
Where the Arctic Sea truly does start
With water so frigid, the swimmers went rigid
Well, except for certain parts.

Siglufjordur has a show made to order
For those who like herring and history.
The museum’s displays explain the old ways,
But that movie shall remain a mystery.

At Lake Myvatn, you might wonder what in
The heck those weird formations are.
The short explanation is that, in this nation,
Trolls are as real as you are.

In Seydisfjordur, you might say the order
Of the day was waterfalls on high.
But a bigger surprise, quite hard on the eyes,
Was this strange bright ball in the sky.

On Vatnajokull we met with some locals
Who taught us to drive snowmobiles.
And then let us go to live or die in the snow…
Now we know how a young puffin feels.

It’s always a fine day out there on Heimaey,
A town that a volcano threatened.
The locals fought back and stopped the attack,
By keeping the lava flow wettened.

For those who are jaded; the luster has faded
From the old, the familiar, the cutesy--
We offer a view that is guaranteed new:
The brand spanking-new island of Surtsey.

And so back to the outset, and we just cannot let
Ourselves give in to temptation
To pause or retreat, or we mightn’t complete
Our Icelandic circumnavigation.

Through the Icelandic best, with hardly a rest
We’ve come with our trusty small ship.
Our story must end, but there’s a moral, my friends,
And it’s not to let protections slip.

There are strange things done in the midnight sun
And Iceland’s a wild destination.
I think you can see, when you get home you’ll need
A vacation from your vacation.


Beyond the Destination

  • Kugluktuk, Nunavut, Canada
    Field Report

    Northwest Passage 2015 Field Report

    November 3, 2015 | Field Report

    Saturday, September 5, 2015 - Edmonton, Canada / Kugluktuk, Nunavut / Embark Sea Adventurer: Full of excited chatter, we boarded our charter flight this morning as we left Edmonton for Kugluktuk.

    Read More

    Little Auks, Northwest Spitsbergen

    Little Auks in the Arctic

    October 28, 2015 | Video

    Our recent expedition to the Arctic yielded spectacular wildlife results, including a visit to a little auk nesting site! Watch ornithologist, Mark Brazil, describe the incredible scene of thousands of birds.

    Read More

    Complimentary Kayaking

    Kayaking with Orcas

    September 30, 2015 | Video

    Our recent expedition to the Arctic yielded spectacular wildlife results - some lucky guests even got to kayak among a pod of orcas! Watch kayak guide and naturalist, Kevin Clement, explain the good luck we came across. 

    Read More

  • Denali
    Blog Post

    What's In a Name?

    September 23, 2015 | Blog Post

    I confess, I did not see it coming. When news broke that Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell had officially restored the name of North America’s highest peak to Denali, my first reaction was, “Really?” Followed quickly by, “It’s about time.”

    Read More

    Bergen, Norway
    Field Report

    Wild Norway & Svalbard 2015 Field Report

    August 13, 2015 | Field Report

    Monday, June 1, 2015 - Bergen, Norway / Embark Sea Adventurer: A gray, rainy morning failed to dampen our spirits as we gathered for our tour of Norway’s attractive and historic second city.

    Read More

    Complimentary Kayaking
    Blog Post

    Kayaking in the Arctic

    July 9, 2015 | Blog Post

    “It’s not that kayakers see anything different than the rest of the participants; it’s that they see it in a different way.”

    I always say this to my small groups who have signed up for one of our onboard kayaking programs. But it’s not always true. Sometimes we do see things that others don’t.

    Read More

  • Dall Sheep
    Photo Gallery

    Alaska Slideshow

    June 15, 2015 | Photo Gallery

    With soaring, white-capped peaks and abundant wildlife, Alaska truly beckons those seeking adventure. Enjoy some of our favorite images from the 49th state.

    Read More

    Antarctica, South Georgia & the Falkland Islands
    Blog Post

    To the Polar Extremes in 2015

    June 12, 2015 | Blog Post

    For 25 years, we have taken inquisitive travelers to the ends of the Earth and 2015 is no different. We’re thrilled to be returning to both the Far North and the Far South this year, exploring two true polar extremes.

    Read More

    Facts About Polar Bears—Their Plight and Prospects
    Blog Post

    Facts About Polar Bears—Their Plight and Prospects

    June 8, 2015 | Blog Post

    Found only within the Arctic Circle, polar bears show amazing prowess in adaptability. The world’s largest land carnivore weighing upwards of 1,300 pounds, the polar bear evolved from its brethren, the grizzly, around 200,000 years ago—the blink of an eye in Darwin time. Yet science shows it didn’t take long for these amazing creatures to adapt to the Arctic’s open sea-ice environment.

    Read More

  • Qeqertarsuaq
    Blog Post

    The ABCs of the Greenlandic Language

    June 3, 2015 | Blog Post

    Sisimiut. Ilulissat. Kangerlussuaq. Qeqertarsuaq

    Their names don’t exactly roll off the tongue; yet these coastal towns in western Greenland share a traditional Inuit culture that reaches back nearly 5,000 years, as well one of the main Eskaleut or Eskimo-Aleut languages.

    Read More

    Cruising the Northwest Passage
    Blog Post

    Across the Arctic

    June 1, 2015 | Blog Post

    At the end of Mary Shelley’s 1818 novel Frankenstein, the monster drifts away on an ice flow near the North Pole. In the real world, only a few people have the opportunity to visit one of the last frontiers of our planet.

    Read More

    Baffin Island
    Blog Post

    The Triumphs and Tragedies of Northwest Passage Explorers

    June 1, 2015 | Blog Post

    Mariner John Cabot was living in Spain at the time Columbus returned from his first voyage, unsuccessful in his quest to find a new route to the Far East. In an effort to one-up his fellow Italian, Cabot proposed a radical idea—instead of a second voyage to what would be the future Americas, he would sail a northerly route to Asia, where the longitudes were closer.

    Read More