It’s the first boat of its kind built in the modern era.

By Christopher Tkaczyk
September 23, 2016

Thos Robinson/Getty Images for Draken Harald Harfagre

A Viking ship is nearing the final stop on its North American tour.

This past April, the dragon-headed Draken Harald Hårfagre made a historic ocean crossing as it sailed from Haugesund, Norway, across the North Atlantic Ocean, making stops at the Shetland Islands, Faroe Islands, Iceland, Greenland, and then Newfoundland before embarking down the Saint Lawrence Seaway toward the Great Lakes, where it spent the summer months.

By mid-September, the ship arrived in New York Harbor. We visited the ship at its dock in the North Cove Marina on a recent evening to meet captain Björn Ahlander and the 35-person crew, who hail from 13 countries.

On the journey over the Atlantic, the crew say they encountered violent squalls, sudden storms, freezing temperatures, icebergs, and waves that threatened to sink them as they worked round the clock to keep the ship’s 260-square meter sail above water. Every 12 hours, the sailors worked 4-hours on and 8-hours off, during which they found time to sleep and eat.

Those long days and nights were cold, wet, and exhausting, but also surprisingly energizing, said the ship’s riggmaster Woodrow Wiest.

“When we were on the ocean, I would think of the ship as a metaphor for life. All of the danger and risk also gave me a better understanding of myself,” Wiest told Travel + Leisure. “It brought me peace.”

In the scariest moments, the crew would don their survival suits: a wet suit that would help prevent them from freezing to death if they were ever thrown overboard. Wiest recalled one moment particularly frightening squall.

“I thought I was going to die,” he said.

Luckily, the ship and its crew made it safely overseas.

The 115-foot Draken Harald Hårfagre is a recreation of a traditional Viking ship from 1,000 years ago. It was constructed using ancient shipbuilding traditions. It is the largest Viking ship in the world sailing today.

The ship will be docked at the North Cove Marina in New York City until Monday, September 26, when it will head to Mystic Seaport in Connecticut for repairs and storage during the winter months.

You can follow the adventures aboard the Draken Harald Hårfagre on the ship’s Facebook page.

Christopher Tkaczyk is the Senior News Editor at Travel + Leisure. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @ctkaczyk.