Captained by Swede Björn Ahlander, the great dragon vessel – named after Harald Hårfagre, the king who unified Norway in the 10th century – dropped anchor in New York on Saturday.
“Sailing in past the Statue of Liberty and coming in among thousands of people in the harbour clapping their hands was an amazing feeling for the whole crew,” Ahlander described the moment.
An impressive 35 metres long, eight metres wide and with a mast height of 24 metres, Harald Hårfagre is the world's biggest longship built in modern times.
It is equipped with modern navigational tools, but also historical aids such as log lines and magnetic and solar compasses. Sponsored by Norwegian businessman Sigurd Aase, it was completed in 2012.
Following mostly in the historical tailwind of Leif Eriksson (who went ashore in Newfoundland) the Viking thought to have discovered America centuries before Christopher Columbus, the ship left Norway's Avaldsnes on April 26th, taking a route via the Shetland Islands, Faroe Islands, Iceland and Greenland.
The journey offered stark contrasts, with the crew battling winds, ice and rain – but also calm waters, sunshine and even the wedding of two of its crew members on Greenland.
It has since spent its summer navigating the waters around North America, making its way into the Great Lakes and visiting a long list of harbours in Canada and the United States.
“The voyage has been incredible, a modern Viking saga about exploring the world, just like the Vikings did a thousand years ago. It started in 2008 in Haugesund with a dream, an idea, about creating a seaworthy Viking ship the size of the ships that are described in the Norse sagas and to sail her to America,” read a statement published online by the crew.
New Yorkers will be able to climb on board the dragon ship and meet the crew at the North Cove Marina at Brookfield Place on Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. Visit Draken Expedition America for more information about tickets.
It is next set to sail onwards to Mystic Seaport in Connecticut, where it will remain over the winter.