Iceland: Encircling the Land of Fire and Ice

Iceland
June
11 Nights

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Cruise Overview

Set out on an extraordinary journey around Iceland, the renowned 'land of fire and ice,' where majestic snow-capped peaks tower above vast glaciers and active volcanoes rumble beneath the surface. Our exploration takes us to the remote and pristine Westfjords, an ideal location for invigorating nature hikes and sea kayaking.

We wander along black sand beaches shaped by volcanic activity and make our way to Grimsey Island, crossing the Arctic Circle to enjoy scenic hikes and observe cliffs bustling with seabird life. With guidance from our team of experts, we uncover the wonders of this young and captivating country, celebrated for its breathtaking geology, diverse wildlife, rich culture, and intriguing human history.

Iceland Circumnavigation Map

Cruise Highlights

Cruise Highlights

  • Discover Seydisfjordur, a hidden gem nestled on Iceland’s east coast.
  • Several shore excursions on this itinerary will involve inland coach travel from the coast to fully immerse yourself in Iceland's breathtaking scenery.
  • Witness the astonishing variety of Icelandic landscapes, sculpted by powerful seismic forces that have shaped both the island's terrain and the lives of its people.
  • Visit the Eldheimar Museum on Heimaey Island to uncover the stories of the 1973 eruption that affected over 5,000 locals.
  • Journey to Grimsey Island, located above the Arctic Circle, to marvel at towering cliffs teeming with nesting seabirds, including the charismatic puffins.

Itinerary

Itinerary

Reykjavik Iceland
Day 1

Arrive in Reykjavik

Upon your arrival in Reykjavik, a representative will greet you and arrange your transfer to our group hotel. Once at the hotel, please stop by the hospitality area. If you arrive before 4pm, you can leave your luggage here and enjoy some refreshments. You can also pick up your cabin luggage tags and talk to our ground operations team, who can provide pre-embarkation details and offer advice on dining options, cash withdrawal locations, and where to find last-minute essentials at nearby pharmacies or supermarkets.

The rest of the day is yours to spend as you wish. All meals today are at your own expense.

Accommodation: The Grand Hotel Reykjavik

Greg Mortimer Observation Deck
Day 2

Embarkation

This morning, please ensure your cabin luggage is labeled with your name and cabin number. Your luggage will be picked up from the hotel, transported to the port for clearance, and delivered to your cabin before your arrival on board. Remember to keep any valuables or personal items with you throughout the day.

After breakfast and check-out, join us for an insightful tour of the Golden Circle and Iceland's geothermal energy sites. Iceland stands out with 85% of its electricity generated from renewable sources, showcasing exceptional sustainable energy practices.

Our excursion takes us to the renowned Golden Circle landmarks: the majestic Gullfoss waterfall, the erupting geysers at Geysir, and the historically significant Thingvellir National Park. Additionally, we'll explore sustainable energy production at the Geothermal Energy Exhibition and Ljósafossvirkjun Power Station, one of the world's largest geothermal power plants.

In the evening, mingle with your fellow travelers, expedition team, and crew at the Welcome Dinner, celebrating the start of our exciting adventure.

Isafjörður - Iceland, Pia Harboure
Day 3

Arnarstapi / Grundafjordur

Arnarstapi is renowned for its diverse landscapes, lava fields, fjords, and abundant birdlife. The highlight is the ice-capped Snæfellsjökull volcano, a 700,000-year-old dormant subglacial volcano visible from Reykjavik on clear days and immortalized in Jules Verne’s "Journey to the Center of the Earth."

Choose from three shore excursions to suit your interests and fitness levels:

Option 1 - Highlights of Snaefellsnes

  • Duration: 8 hours, including lunch
  • Difficulty: Easy-Moderate
  • Visit Djúpalónssandur beach, with its black sands and rock formations
  • Explore the picturesque hamlet of Búðir and Búðakirkja church
  • Enjoy lunch at Hotel Búðir, known for fresh, local cuisine
  • Tour Snæfellsjökull National Park and hike or drive through its stunning landscapes
  • Visit Mount Kirkjufell, a favorite among photographers and a filming location for "Game of Thrones"

Option 2 - Natural Wonders of Snaefellsnes

  • Duration: 8 hours, including lunch
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Hike the coastal trail between Arnarstapi and Hellnar, a National Reserve
  • Visit Vatnshellir Cave with its fascinating rock formations and colorful volcanic rocks
  • Receive a guided tour of the cave, complete with safety equipment and instructions
  • After lunch, visit Mount Kirkjufell and its nearby waterfall

Option 3 - Snaefellsnes Adventure

  • Duration: 8 hours, including lunch
  • Difficulty: Moderate-Difficult
  • Explore Pufubjarg bird cliff and the Londrangar basalt cliffs
  • Hike through moss-covered lava fields to Malarrif lighthouse and beach
  • After an early lunch, visit Eldborg crater and hike to its summit for stunning views
  • Conclude the day at the Gerðuberg Cliffs, known for their hexagonal basalt columns

Choose the excursion that best fits your interests and enjoy a day of exploration and adventure on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula.

Westfjords
Day 4

Patreksfjordur - Westfjords

Over the next three days, we'll immerse ourselves in the breathtaking beauty of the Westfjords, characterized by dramatic fjords sculpted by ancient glaciers, sheer table mountains descending into the sea, and lush North Atlantic vegetation.

In Patreksfjordur, we will join a coach excursion to the Latrabjarg cliffs, Europe's largest bird cliff. Here, millions of seabirds, including puffins, razorbills, fulmars, and guillemots, make their home. Experience the area's rich natural wonders and pristine environment. Latrabjarg is also Europe's westernmost point, facing the east coast of North America across the Atlantic.

In the afternoon, enjoy the serene landscapes and abundant wildlife as we travel north, keeping an eye out for whales and other marine life along the way.

Dynjandi Waterfall
Day 5

Dynjandi & Thingeyri - Westfjords

Thingeyri, a charming village nestled on a slender strip of land along Iceland's picturesque Dýrafjörður fjord, embodies a culture deeply intertwined with the sea. Surrounded by towering mountains, it's often likened to the "Alps of the Westfjords." This idyllic setting blends coastal simplicity with a dramatic backdrop, creating a captivating Icelandic portrait.

Explore the powerful Dynjandi waterfall, then choose from two shore excursion options:

Option 1 - That Viking Thing Experience

  • Duration: 2 hours + free time
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Step back in time to explore Viking life and visit a recreated Viking settlement.
  • Discover the ancient Viking meeting place, or "Thing," and engage with interactive exhibits in the Viking Museum.
  • Dress in Viking attire, sample Icelandic Viking beer, bake Viking bread, and delve into Viking history.

Option 2 - Sandafell Mountain Hike

  • Duration: 3 hours
  • Difficulty: Moderate-Difficult
  • Embark on a hike up Sandafell Mountain for stunning views of Thingeyri, surrounding peaks, and the fjord below.
  • Experience Iceland's rugged beauty with rocky peaks and deep valleys, ideal for enthusiastic hikers.

Choose your adventure and immerse yourself in the natural and cultural wonders of Thingeyri and its surroundings.

Day 6

Akureyri & Husavik

Nestled amidst a stunning snow-capped mountain backdrop, Akureyri is Iceland's second-largest city outside the capital area.

Choose from three shore excursions tailored to your interests and fitness level:

Option 1 - Góðafoss, Lake Myvatn & Baths

  • Duration: 8 hours including lunch
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Visit the impressive Góðafoss waterfall and enjoy a brief, easy walk to the main viewpoint.
  • Explore Lake Myvatn and its surroundings.
  • Relax at Mývatn Nature Baths, immersed in geothermal waters.
  • Conclude with a transfer to Húsavik, the renowned whale watching capital.

Option 2 - Góðafoss, Lake Myvatn & Dimmuborgir

  • Duration: 8 hours including lunch
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Begin with Góðafoss waterfall and a short, easy walk to its main viewpoint.
  • Discover Skútustaðagígar pseudo craters at Lake Myvatn.
  • Explore the lava formations of Dimmuborgir.
  • Enjoy lunch and continue exploring before heading to Húsavik.

Option 3 - Hverfjall Volcanic Crater Hike, Dimmuborgir & Dettifoss

  • Duration: 8 hours including lunch
  • Difficulty: Strenuous
  • Explore the lava formations of Dimmuborgir and hike up Hverfjall Crater's steep slopes.
  • Marvel at otherworldly views from the crater rim.
  • Visit Dettifoss, Europe's most powerful waterfall.
  • Conclude with a return to Husavik, the departure point for whale watching adventures.

Select your adventure and delve into the natural wonders surrounding Akureyri, capped off with an unforgettable return to Husavik in the late afternoon.

Isafjörður - Iceland, Pia Harboure
Day 7

Grímsey Island

About 40 km (25 miles) off the mainland lies Grímsey, a lush island famed for straddling the Arctic Circle. Many visitors come here just to step across this symbolic line. With a small population of around 100 people, Grímsey is a prime spot for Zodiac cruises, kayaking, and birdwatching, where you can capture the antics of guillemots, gulls, and the charming puffins.

As we head back towards the mainland, we’ll explore the waters of Skjálfandi Bay near Húsavik, hailed as Iceland’s ‘whale watching capital.’ This bay is home to up to 24 whale species, including the colossal blue whale, the largest animal on Earth. Keep an eye out for orcas, fin whales, pilot whales, and a variety of dolphins and seabirds, promising thrilling encounters with these magnificent marine creatures.

Puffins
Day 8

Skálanes Research Centre & Seyðisfjörður

Founded in 2005, Skálanes is an independent nature reserve nestled near Seyðisfjörður, boasting rich bird colonies, diverse plant life, and intriguing archaeology. Towering cliffs, reaching up to 640 meters, host thousands of seabirds including nesting eiders and Arctic terns, amidst a developing ecosystem of flora and fauna. Common sightings include seals, whales, and reindeer, adding to the area's natural allure. Remnants of ancient farms and turf structures offer a glimpse into Iceland's human-nature interaction since its settlement. You may opt for a Zodiac cruise to observe kittiwakes, fulmars, and guillemots in their cliffside habitats, or explore ashore with a leisurely walk.

Later in the afternoon, we explore Seyðisfjörður, a picturesque fishing village renowned for its vibrant collection of colorful wooden buildings encircling the tranquil lagoon. Wander through streets lined with historic timber houses dating back to the Norwegian settlement era, particularly during the herring fishing boom of 1870-1900. Above town, the Fjardara River cascades in picturesque waterfalls down to the lagoon, offering scenic hiking trails to explore. Alternatively, delve into the local cultural scene with an arts center, the iconic blue church hosting music concerts, and the region's sole cinemas or explore local stores featuring handicrafts by talented artisans.

National Park Iceland
Day 9

Djupivogur

Arriving in Djúpivogur on Iceland’s eastern coast, we embark on our journey into Vatnajökull National Park, renowned for Europe’s largest glacier.
Our route leads us to Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon, a mesmerizing expanse dotted with drifting icebergs that glisten against the nearby black-sand beach, aptly named Diamond Beach. At Jökulsárlón, you have the option to embark on a boat excursion amidst the icebergs, hike on the glacier itself, or explore nearby canyons and cascading waterfalls, offering diverse experiences amidst Iceland’s stunning landscapes.
Guest watching a lecture Greg Mortimer
Day 10

At Sea

During our voyage along Iceland's southern coast, indulge in a day at sea perfect for editing your photos and attending insightful lectures led by our knowledgeable expedition team.

AE Westman Islands Iceland
Day 11

Westman Islands

The Westman Islands were shaped by volcanic eruptions about 10,000 years ago. The archipelago includes 15 uninhabited islands and around 30 rocks and skerries, providing a sanctuary for a diverse range of seabirds. Notably, it hosts the world’s largest Atlantic puffin colony, and while sailing around, you may also spot whales and seals.

You have two shore excursion options tailored to your interests and fitness level:

Option 1 - Eldheimar Volcano Museum & Puffin Viewing Duration: 3 hours Difficulty: Easy

Visit a unique volcano museum that recounts this event, the formation of Surtsey Island in 1963, and the geology of the Westman Islands. Later, head to Stórhöfði cape for puffin watching and enjoy opportunities for capturing photos of these charming birds. If time permits, you can explore the island at your leisure.

Option 2 - Eldheimar Volcano Climb & Museum Duration: 3 hours Difficulty: Difficult

Embark on a rigorous two-hour volcano hike, gaining insights into Iceland’s geology and volcanology as you ascend. Experience the warmth emanating from the volcano's subterranean activity at the summit. Afterwards, visit the volcano museum to learn about Heimaey’s volcanic history, Surtsey Island’s emergence, and the geological makeup of the Westman Islands. Enjoy free time to explore the island further, time permitting.

As we sail past Surtsey Island, a UNESCO World Heritage site formed in 1963, marvel at one of the youngest land masses on Earth.

Reykjavik Iceland
Day 12

Disembarkation

In the early morning hours, we arrive in Reykjavik and begin disembarkation around 8:00 am.

Bid farewell to your expedition team and fellow travelers as you proceed with your onward journey.

We advise against booking flights departing before 12:00 pm on the day of disembarkation due to possible voyage conclusion delays. Transfer arrangements will be made to Keflavik airport.

Activities

Activities

Zodiac Cruising

Take advantage of zodiac cruises included in your voyage enabling us to visit secluded shorelines, navigate shallow inlets, and discover rare wildlife.

Your Ship

Your Ship

Greg Mortimer

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