Day 1: Fly to Reykjavik, Iceland
Depart North America on an overnight flight to Reykjavik.
Day 2: Arrive Reykjavik / Embark Ship
Arrive in Reykjavik, the world’s northernmost capital, which lies less than two degrees below the Arctic Circle. Its northerly location provides 22 hours of sunlight
Day 3: Latrabjarg Bird Cliffs / Flatey Island
As our captain navigates Iceland’s wild west coast, we sail past the immense Latrabjarg sea cliff, the westernmost point of Iceland and Europe's largest bird cliffs. The near-vertical rock walls are home to millions of nesting seabirds, including the world's largest population of razorbills. Other species we're likely to see include puffins, gannets, guillemots, murres, kittiwakes, fulmars, white-tailed eagles, red-throated loons, arctic terns, redshanks, snipes, auks, snow buntings and ringed plovers. The cliffs are an area once famous for egg collecting; men were tied to ropes and lowered like spiders down onto the ledges to reach the nests. Continuing to Flatey Island, a centuries-old trading post, we'll go ashore to walk around the charming hamlet that remains here, with its photogenic colorful houses, and take a Zodiac cruise along the coastline.
Day 4: Isafjordur, Westfjords
Located in the far-flung Westfjords on Iceland's northwest flank, the town of Isafjordur is surrounded by water on three sides, its harbor sculpted by glaciers. Originally settled by Vikings in the 9th century, Isafjordur became a trading post for foreign merchants in the 16th century and today is the main town in the Westfjords. The sheer isolation of this region has kept it well off the traditional tourist circuit, and Isafjordur offers a picture postcard of traditional Icelandic life. The area is renowned for its traditional eider down production, and we keep an eye out for local eider ducks as we explore on foot and via kayak.
Day 5: Siglufjordur / Akureyri
Siglufjordur, a small town on Iceland's north coast, was the center of the country's once-thriving herring industry in the mid-20th century. We make a stop at the Herring Museum, which focuses on the wealth once provided by these small silver fish and how they were processed. Though the museum receives relatively few visitors in this remote location, it is the largest marine and industrial museum in Europe and has received the European Museum of the Year award. Though the herring are gone today, the town's economy is still fishing-based. We sail on to Akureyri, backed by
Day 6: Lake Myvatn / Husavik Whale Watching
Drive inland this morning to Myvatn, the most geologically active area in Iceland. Lake Myvatn fills the remnant of a crater formed during a massive eruption 2,300 years ago, and the area around it is an introduction to world-class field geology. The lake is also one of the premier birdwatching areas in the world, with marshes providing habitat for huge numbers of migratory birds during the summer, with more than 115 species on view. At Hverarond, witness boiling mud pools so hot they actually bubble, and see the Viti explosion crater in the Krafla Volcano geothermal area. The wonders continue at Godafoss, the "waterfall of the gods," which is one of the most dramatic in Iceland. The falls plunge 40 feet over an ancient lava cliff shaped like a horseshoe, stretching 100 feet across.
Continue to Husavik where we rejoin our ship. This is one of the best places in the world to see whales, and Husavik is widely known as the whale watching capital of Europe, so you'll want to be out on deck to look for them as we cruise! Icelandic waters are home to 24 different whale species, and in this area, we may see humpback, fin, minke, sei, blue, sperm, northern bottlenose and long-finned pilot whales, as well as orca, harbor
Day 7: Northeast Iceland—Langanes Peninsula
Making our way around to the second half of our Icelandic circuit, we reach the Langanes Peninsula. This long promontory that ends in a narrow tip is sometimes called "the end of the world," and it marks the start of Iceland's rugged east coast, which few visitors see. With plenty of rarely visited shoreline to examine, this day is left unscripted to explore the most appealing prospects among the rocky cliffs, sheltered coves and wild beaches that beckon. Join our naturalists for a hike or a Zodiac cruise to get a better view of the towering sea stacks at the end of the peninsula. Or, conditions permitting, we may have our first chance to kayak today beneath the steep cliffs that offer a haven for nesting kittiwakes and guillemots.
Day 8: Djupivogur—Vatnajokull Ice Cap / Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon
Djupivogur is our port of call to access two famous sights that contribute to Iceland's name: the enormous Vatnajokull Ice Cap and Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon. Vatnajokull is Europe's largest ice mass, covering over 3,000 square miles and averaging more than 1,400 feet thick. In 2008, Vatnajokull Glacier and its magnificent surroundings were declared Iceland's largest national park, covering 13 percent of the country's terrain. Few places in the world exhibit the effects of such a wide range of natural phenomena, where ice and fire compete to shape a landscape honed by the combined forces of rivers, glaciers, volcanoes and geothermal activity. Explore the snow-covered surface of the ice cap up close on your choice of a snowmobile or Super Jeep tour.
Day 9: Westman Islands—Surtsey & Heimaey
Overnight, our ship has rounded the southern side of Iceland to reach the Westman Islands. Formed by undersea volcanoes between 5,000 and 10,000 years ago, the islands comprise one of the planet's youngest archipelagos. We cruise past the newest island, Surtsey, which was formed by volcanic action from 1963 to 1967. The world witnessed its creation on film, and Surtsey
Day 10: Reykjavik—Disembark / Blue Lagoon / Depart
Our circumnavigation of Iceland is complete today, as we return to Reykjavik and disembark. En route to the airport, we'll make a stop at the famous Blue Lagoon thermal baths prior to boarding flights home. Originating 6,500 feet below ground, the mineral-rich water reaches the surface to emerge at 98°–104°F. Its milky blue color comes from the silica suspended in the water and the way it reflects sunlight. Time permitting, indulge in a spa treatment (a floating massage is the signature form of therapy) or just enjoy a languid soak in the healing waters. You'll be more than ready to sit back and relax on your homeward flight.