Explore Iceland’s fabled realm of soaring volcanoes, bubbling hot springs, and glittering glaciers. You’ll meet the residents of colorful fishing villages, stroll through archaeological sites that recall the heyday of Viking exploration, visit vast colonies of breeding seabirds, from kittiwakes to puffins, and set out on exciting Zodiac cruises to search for whales and other marine mammals that congregate here in the summer months.
Note: This cruise is not exclusive to, nor operated by, Wilderness Travel, who acts solely as agent in booking your reservation with the ship operator. The itinerary, lecturers, and all other arrangements are subject to change at the discretion of the cruise line.
Day 1, Jun 1, 2017
Board your independent overnight flight to Reykjavík.
Day 2, Jun 2, 2017
Arrive in the Icelandic capital this morning and transfer to your hotel. Lunch and the remainder of the day are at leisure to enjoy this fascinating and colorful city. Gather this evening for a welcome reception followed by dinner and overnight at the hotel.
Day 3, Jun 3, 2017
Reykjavík / Embark Ocean Diamond
After breakfast, set out to explore Iceland’s classic scenic wonders known as the Golden Circle. Begin with Thingvellir National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site surrounded by mountains and encompassing a vast lava plain of green moss and wildflowers. Continue to Gullfoss Waterfall where the Hvita River drops 96 feet in two voluminous cascades. The Geysir Center is a huge geothermal field of both boiling and tranquil multi-hued hot springs and bubbling mud pools. Then visit a traditional farm where Icelandic horses are raised. After lunch in these picturesque surroundings proceed to the pier, making a photo stop at a scenic viewpoint before boarding the Ocean Diamond.
Day 4, Jun 4, 2017
Flatey Island / Látrabjarg
By Zodiac, 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, sail past Iceland’s westernmost cape, the Látrabjarg cliff, a breeding ground for millions of seabirds.
Day 5, Jun 5, 2017
Vigur Island / Ísafjördur
After breakfast take a walking tour of small, verdant Vigur, the summer home to vast numbers of puffins, black guillemots, Arctic terns, and eiders. The tiny community dates back to the late 1800s and boasts Iceland’s only windmill. During lunch on board, cruise northward to Ísafjördur, the trading and cultural center of the West Fjords. A cultural tour reveals the history and daily life of one of Iceland’s oldest fishing settlements and visits the region’s scenic highlights. This afternoon, enjoy free time in town to browse the local shops.
Day 6, Jun 6, 2017
Grímsey Island / Siglufjördur
Though Grímsey Island sits astride the Arctic Circle, it enjoys a mild climate and is covered with rich vegetation. Weather permitting, 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. In the afternoon, 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.
Day 7, Jun 7, 2017
Akureyri / Húsavík
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 breeding ducks and whooper swans. Continue to Húsavík to reboard the Ocean Diamond. Be on deck this evening to watch for humpback, minke, fin, orca, and sei whales, along with dolphins and harbor porpoises.
Day 8, Jun 8, 2017
From stunning Thistilfjord Bay, set out on nature walks and take in the views from the cliff tops. Explore this area by Zodiac, cruising past chiseled headlands and dramatic sea stacks that rise from the bay.
Day 9, Jun 9, 2017
The 11-mile cruise along Seydisfjördur showcases a scenic wonderland of stunning geology, cascading waterfalls, and soaring mountains. At its head, a natural harbor shelters the fishing town of the same name, renowned for its brightly painted 19th-century wooden buildings. Options this morning include Skalanes Nature Reserve to view an important archaeological site and search for 47 species of birds, or a hike to the magnificent Hengifoss Waterfall.
Day 10, Jun 10, 2017
Djúpivogur is the gateway to Vatnajökull National Park, the largest national park in Europe. Choose from several full-day excursions highlighting the area’s natural wonders. Cruise among spectacular icebergs at Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon, take an exhilarating snowmobile ride across the Vatnajökull glacier, or join a guided hike through the supremely scenic Valley of the Waterfalls.
Day 11, Jun 11, 2017
Heimaey Island / Surtsey Island
On Heimaey Island, visit the Herjolfsdalur Valley to view ruins of farmhouses dating back to 650 AD, and from Storhofdi, the views over the island are simply breathtaking. You will also pass between two volcanoes, one 5,000 years old, the other born only in 1973, and drive right across the new volcano’s crater and into the town known as the “Pompeii of the North.” Later this afternoon, circumnavigate Surtsey Island, a fire-and-brimstone result of a 1963 undersea eruption. Today, approximately 56 species of vascular plants grow on the island and seals haul out to breed on its shores. Nearly 90 species of migrating birds use the island as a rest stop.
Day 12, Jun 12, 2017
Reykjavík / Disembark / USA
After breakfast, disembark for a fascinating tour of Hellishioi Geothermal Power Plant—learn about geosciences, geothermal technology and the environmental history of the area. Continue to the famous Blue Lagoon for lunch before departing for the airport and your independent flight homeward.