hiker godafoss rainbow waterfall

Passage from Ireland to Iceland

In the Wake of Celts and Vikings aboard the Vega


Sail the wild North Atlantic from Dublin to Iceland by way of Northern Ireland’s spectacular Antrim Coast, Scotland’s fabled Isle of Skye, and onward to the far-flung Shetlands and Orkneys to explore their mystical stone circles. Further north, call at the wonderfully remote Faroes, with a visit to the quaint port of Torshavn, founded in the 9th century. The last week of your voyage explores Iceland’s realm of glaciers and hot springs. Visit iceberg-dotted Jökulsárlón Lagoon in Vatnajökull National Park, set foot in the Arctic Circle at Grimsey Island, and tour Akureyri, Iceland’s northern “capital.” Cruise to the bustling fishing town of Ísafjördur before disembarking at Reykjavik.

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
Dublin, Ireland

Arrive in Dublin and transfer to a deluxe hotel for the night.

Day 2
Dublin / Embarkation

After breakfast at the hotel, tour Dublin’s city center with its famed Georgian architecture. Visit the beautifully decorated State Apartments of Dublin Castle and its undercroft, where small boats once brought provisions via an underground river. A tour of Trinity College focuses on its famed library, housing the Book of Kells and other treasures. In the late afternoon, transfer to the pier to embark Vega, and set sail for Northern Ireland.

Day 3
Portrush, Northern Ireland

The ship calls at Portrush, a small resort town on Northern Ireland's spectacularly scenic Antrim Coast. Your excursion takes you to the nearby famed Giant’s Causeway, a UNESCO World Heritage Site of over 40,000 interlocking, hexagonal basalt columns formed by the cooling of molten lava some 6 million years ago.

Day 4
Dunvegan, Skye Island, Scotland

Located on the west coast of the Isle of Skye, Dunvegan and Dunvegan Castle have historically been the seat of the Clan MacLeod. The castle sprawls out on top of a beautiful rocky outcrop and is home to some fascinating artefacts. These include the Fairy Flag (a silk banner sacred to the clan that dates back to the 4th century), Bonnie Prince Charlie’s waistcoat, and a lock of his hair. The oldest parts of the castle date back to the 14th century, with most of it constructed in the 15th and 16th centuries.

Day 5

Set out on a scenic drive through the Scottish Highlands, pausing at the spectacular mile-long Corrieshalloch Gorge, before continuing to Inverewe Gardens on the shores of Loch Ewe. Designed by Osgood MacKenzie, the gardens were opened to the public soon after the end of WWII and became part of the National Trust in 1953. The warm currents of the North Atlantic Drift create a welcoming climate where exotic plants from around the world flourish at a latitude more northerly than Moscow. Himalayan rhododendrons, Tasmanian eucalyptus, and many Chilean and South African plants are featured here, together with a large collection of flora from New Zealand.

Day 6
Lerwick, Shetland Islands

The 100 islands of the Shetland Archipelago were first inhabited during the Stone Age and later ruled by Norsemen for hundreds of years, before being annexed by Scotland in 1472. Vega will dock at the lively harbor of Lerwick, capital of the island and Britain’s northernmost town. You'll begin with an excursion to Jarlshof, beautifully situated on a promontory facing the sea and an extraordinary archaeological site with layers of ruins dating back 5,000 years. On the drive back to Lerwick, watch for small native Shetland ponies, and once in the town, visit the Shetland Museum, and perhaps shop for some world-famous Shetland knitwear.

Day 7
Stromness, Orkney Islands

Stromness is the gateway to Neolithic Orkney, an extensive area on the island of Mainland designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of its wealth of prehistoric ruins. Discover the Standing Stones of Stennes, the henge and stone circle of the Ring of Brodgar, and Skara Brae, the best-preserved Neolithic village in Northern Europe. Explore this fascinating site and the beautifully curated exhibits at the modern visitor center that illustrate what life was like here in the distant past. The cliffs of the island are home to thousands of seabirds, and bird watchers will want to keep a keen eye out for the guillemots, kittiwakes, and white-tailed eagles that abound here.

Day 8
Torshavn, Faroe Islands

The Faroe Islands are set in the middle of the North Atlantic, seldom visited because they are so remote. Disembark in Torshavn, the small port town that has been the capital of the islands since the 9th century, when the Vikings founded a settlement here. Explorations include the quaint old quarter of Tinganes, where small wooden houses are roofed with turf; 16th-century Fort Skansin; the Historical Museum in Hoyvik; and the Museum of Natural History. The Faroes are also a magnet for birds migrating over the North Atlantic, and for those interested, there will be an opportunity to view by local boat the cliffs near Vestmanna that are home to  thousands of puffins, fulmars, and guillemots.

Day 9

Home to fewer than 500 residents, the quiet fishing village of Djupivogur dates back to the Viking era. Despite its formidable origins, the village is better known these days for its unhurried pace of life. Djupivogur’s most famous artistic offering may be the first thing you notice as you disembark. The 34 large granite eggs that line the road along the bay are not easy to miss. The art installation, named “The Eggs at Merry Bay” (Eggin í Gleðivík in Icelandic), represents the 34 species of birds that nest locally. Immerse yourself further into the wild on a trip to nearby Vatnajökull National Park. Covering 14% of Iceland’s land mass, this vast area is home to giant ice caps, thundering glacial rivers, grumbling active volcanoes, and a host of other geological wonders. Take a guided tour out onto Vatnajökull Glacier, Europe’s largest ice cap, and experience the glory of true Icelandic wilderness for yourself.

Day 10

Experience life in a small fishing settlement as it has been for centuries in Eskifjordur. The port town is home to just over 1,000 people, and fishing is as central to the economy here as it was back in the 1700s. Overlooking the town's red and white wooden houses is the 985-metre Hólmatindur Mountain—a popular skiing spot in winter. Dive into the region's history at the local maritime museum or explore the striking landscapes at the Borgarfjörður estuary and Hengifoss waterfall.

Day 11
Grimsey Island

Grimsey is the northernmost island of Iceland, jutting out of the ocean with the Arctic Circle running through its center. Grímseyjarhreppur, the only town, is home to some 100 people, most of them intrepid fishermen who work the rich banks that surround the island. Grímsey is one of the best places in Iceland for watching cliff-nesting birds like black-legged kittiwake, northern fulmar, Atlantic puffin, razorbill, black guillemot, and murre. The island also has one of Iceland’s largest tern nesting sites and one of the largest puffin colonies in Iceland.

Day 12

Akureyri, the cultural and commercial center of northern Iceland and "the capital of the north," came to prominence in the 19th century as its excellent port began to export the produce of the surrounding agricultural region. Tour the city's old town of brightly painted wooden houses and cobbled streets; the towering Akureyri Church; Lystigardurinn, the world’s most northerly botanical garden; and the Akureyri Art Museum, exhibiting contemporary Icelandic art. There will also be time at leisure to explore Akureyri on your own.

Day 13

Surrounded by fjords in the Westfjords region, Ísafjördur is a bustling fishing town in northwest Iceland with colorful wooden 18th- and 19th-century houses in the old town of Neskaupstadur. Ísafjördur was one of the largest fisheries in Iceland, but tourism has now taken over. Nearby is Sudavik, home to the Arctic Fox Centre. Iceland’s only mammal, the arctic fox, lives on the lush tundra of Hornstrandir Nature Reserve, the northernmost peninsula in the Westfjords with two of Europe’s largest bird cliffs.

Day 14
Reykjavik / Disembark

After breakfast aboard, disembark Vega and transfer to the airport for flights homeward.



Visit Ireland's famed Giant's Causeway, a World Heritage Site
Explore haunting castles on Scotland's Isle of Skye
Find a wealth of prehistoric ruins on Orkney Island and archaeological sites in the Shetland Islands
Call at Torshavn, capital of the Faroe Islands
Visit Iceland's Vatnajökull National Park, iceberg-dotted Jökulsárlón Lagoon, Grimsey Island


Length: 14 days
Cost From: $12,890  
Arrive: Dublin, Ireland
Depart: Reykjavik, Iceland
Lodging: 12 nights aboard a 152-passenger vessel, 1 night hotel
Meals: All meals aboard ship, including wine, beer, and soft drinks with lunch and dinner
Activity: Cultural Adventures, Walking, Wildlife and Natural History, Small Ship Cruising
Trip Level:

12-day cruise, cultural explorations and walking tours