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All Around Iceland - NEW TRIP!

Circumnavigate the Land of Fire & Ice on a Norse Adventure Voyage
Day 1: Depart for Iceland

Day 2: Reykjavik, Iceland

Arrive in the Icelandic capital this morning and transfer to the Grand Hotel Reykjavik. Lunch and the remainder of the day are at leisure to enjoy this colorful city. Gather this evening for a welcome reception and dinner.

Day 3: Reykjavik / Embark Island Sky
After breakfast, set out on a guided tour of Iceland’s classic scenic wonders along the Golden Circle route. Thingvellir National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site surrounded by mountains and encompassing a vast lava plain of verdant moss and wildflowers. Continue to Gullfoss Waterfall where the Hvita River drops 96 feet in two effusive cascades. The Geysir Center is a huge geothermal field of both multi-hued hot springs and bubbling mud pools. After lunch among these striking surroundings, we proceed to the pier to board our ship, the Island Sky.

Day 4: Flatey Island / Látrabjarg
On a Zodiac excursion, trace the coastline of Flatey Island before going ashore for a walking tour of the village. View the uniquely painted island church and the restored houses of islanders who earn a living fishing for cod and lumpfish. This evening, our ship sails past Iceland’s westernmost cape, the Látrabjarg cliffs, Europe’s most prolific seabird breeding grounds. Millions of pairs nest on the cliffs, and we’re likely to see puffins, northern gannets, guillemots and razorbills. The location is especially vital to the razorbill’s survival, as it hosts up to 40 percent of the world’s population.

Day 5: Vigur Island / Ísafjördur
This morning we take a walking tour of the small community of Vigur, a settlement that dates back to the late 1800s and boasts Iceland’s only windmill. Vigur is also the summer home of vast numbers of puffins, black guillemots, Arctic terns and eiders. Return to the ship for lunch on board as we cruise northward to Ísafjördur, the trading and cultural center Iceland’s remote Westfjords. A cultural tour reveals the history and daily life of one of Iceland’s oldest fishing settlements and includes the area’s scenic highlights. The Westfjords is the most rugged region in Iceland, with a coastline heavily indented by dozens of fjords flanked by near-vertical mountains walls. This afternoon, enjoy free time in town to browse the local shops.

Day 6: Adalvik / Hornvik
Our focus today is the high-latitude wilderness of Hornstrandir Nature Reserve. This remote mountain peninsula is defined by deep fjords and snowy mountains, towering sea cliffs and Viking farms abandoned centuries ago, watched over now only by hildufolk, the ‘hidden people’ that still capture many Icelanders’ imaginations. Myriad sea birds nest on the cliffs above the fjords and bays; some of Europe’s largest colonies of eiders and puffins are found here. Ptarmigan live inland, and giant whooper swans claim the lowlands. Hornstrandir is also home to Iceland’s most dense Arctic fox population.

From beautiful Adalvik Bay, a five-mile-wide cove flanked by impressive mountains, we make a Zodiac landing to hike along the sandy beaches and flower-strewn tundra to view prolific birdlife and the derelict houses of Hesteyri, an isolated fishing village that was abandoned in 1952 after its residents, living without electricity or roads, made a common decision to move away. After lunch, we board the Zodiacs again for an afternoon cruise through Hornvik Cove, situated at the very top of Iceland. The stunning cliffs that flank the cove are home to myriad nesting birds.

Day 7: Grimsey Island
Though Grímsey Island sits astride the Arctic Circle, it enjoys a mild climate and is covered with rich vegetation. Weather permitting, we go ashore to visit the Viking hamlet of Sandvik, home to about 100 permanent residents who earn their living from fishing and fish processing. A Zodiac cruise along Grímsey’s basaltic cliffs provides an exhilarating view of the incredible birdlife including kittiwakes, razorbills, fulmars, and puffins.

Day 8: Siglufjördur / Akureyri
This morning we visit Siglufjördur, once the undisputed herring-fishing capital of the Atlantic. The Herring Era Museum vividly depicts this period, and a lively song and dance reenactment, accompanied by local delicacies, brings the herring boom era to life. During lunch on board, we cruise into the spectacular Eyjafjördur, a long, narrow fjord fed by numerous mountain rivers. We dock come in friendly Akureyri, Iceland’s second-largest city. Once a Viking settlement dating to the 9th century, Akureyri is an important port and fishing center today. The evening is at leisure to explore this northern cultural capital with the opportunity to dine ashore.

Day 9: Akureyri / Husavik
After an early breakfast, depart on a full-day inland tour of the Mývatn region. Thousands of years ago, volcanic eruptions created this dramatic landscape of labyrinthine lava formations, seething sulfur pits and boiling mud pools. Oasis-like Lake Mývatn sits on the edge of a vast highland lava desert; one of Europe’s richest waterfowl breeding areas, it supports enormous numbers of nesting ducks and whooper swans. Continue to Húsavík to reboard the Island Sky. Enjoy some open-air time on deck this evening to watch for humpback, minke, fin, orca, and sei whales, along with dolphins and harbor porpoises.

Day 10: Thistilfjord Bay
Enjoy a relaxing day of exploring our magnificent natural surroundings as we round the top of Iceland and begin our cruise toward the eastern coast. From stunning Thistilfjord Bay, we step ashore and set out on nature walks for glorious views from the cliff tops. Explore the coast further by Zodiac, cruising past chiseled headlands and dramatic sea stacks that rise from the bay. In the distance, undulating green mountains provide yet another striking backdrop. 

Day 11: Seydisfjördur
The 11-mile cruise along Seydisfjördur, one of the most imposing fjords in East Iceland, showcases a scenic wonderland of stunning geology, cascading waterfalls and soaring mountains. At the head of this long, calm inlet, a natural harbor shelters the fishing town of the same name, renowned for its brightly painted 19th-century wooden buildings. Two options exist for morning activities: the first is a visit to 3,000-acre Skalanes Nature Reserve to look for seals lounging on the black sand beach and up to 47 species of birds, including a large eider duck colony, famed for their fine down. There will also be an opportunity to visit one of the 90 archaeological sites within the reserve, which provide evidence of continuous habitation in this area since the settlement of Iceland more than 1,000 years ago. Alternately, choose a guided hike to magnificent Hengifoss Waterfall. The 387-foot waterfall, third-highest in Iceland, plummets over a cliff of basalt columns into a deep gorge below.

Day 12: Höfn
Situated on a large, enclosed bay, the fishing community of Höfn is also the gateway to Europe’s largest glacier. While most of Iceland is pastoral and green, its southeast corner is covered by the glittering white expanse of Vatnajökull Glacier, a 1,000-foot-thick icefield that blankets about eight percent of Iceland's total area. Some 30 tongues of ice, called outlet glaciers, pour from the deep frozen center of the ice cap where the ice measures more than 3,000 feet thick. And amazingly, several active volcanoes still simmer beneath the icefield’s surface! A spectacular drive brings us to a fleet of waiting snowmobiles for an exhilarating guided excursion over the glacier's surface. The thrills continue after lunch as we enjoy a boat ride on Jökulsárlón Lake, sailing among a flotilla of turquoise-blue icebergs calved from the outlet glaciers that lead into the meltwater lagoon from the main icefield. The sand and gravel dunes that surround the lake are the main breeding grounds of the great skua in the northern hemisphere, and we expect to see plenty of these prolific seabirds when we are near shore. 

Day 13: Heimaey Island / Surtsey Island
On Heimaey Island, off Iceland's south coast, we visit the Herjolfsdalur Valley to view ruins of ancient farmhouses dating back to 650 AD. From the preciptious headland at Storhofdi, the views over the island are simply breathtaking. The cliffs are also home to one of Iceland's largest puffin populations, with 700,000 birds. We will also pass between two volcanoes, one 5,000 years old, the other born in 1973, and drive right across the new volcano’s crater and into the town known as the “Pompeii of the North.” When the new Eldfell volcano erupted in 1973, flowing lava destroyed half of the town and threatened to close off its harbor, the island's main income source. An operation to cool the advancing lava with sea water was successful in preventing the loss of the harbor. Later this afternoon our ship circumnavigates Surtsey Island, the southernmost point in Iceland that was formed in 1963 as the fire-and-brimstone result of an undersea eruption. The island has provided a fascinating laboratory for the study of vascular plants that have colonized it since its tumultuous formation: in the summer of 1965 the first vascular plant was found growing on the northern shore; today, approximately 56 species have taken hold. Seals are frequently seen on the island's shores, and nearly 90 species of migrating birds use Surtsey Island as a rest stop.

Day 14: Reykjavik / Depart
Our circle around Iceland comes to a close this morning as we return to Reykjavik and disembark after breakfast this morning. Our sightseeing continues, however, with a fascinating tour of Krýsuvík and its geothermal wonderland where solfataras, fumaroles, mud pots and hot springs have formed. The soil around Krýsuvík's several geothermal fields is a rainbow of bright yellow, red and green hues, while nearby are several maars—craters created by the explosions of overheated groundwater. Continue to Grænavatn Lake, the famous Blue Lagoon that has formed in one of these maars, for lunch. This afternoon, it's time to depart for the airport for homeward flights. 

Click here to see all of our other European Arctic cruises and trips to Iceland!

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