hiker godafoss rainbow waterfall

Passage from Ireland to Iceland

Aboard the Vega

Overview

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, remote Seydisfjordur, with its multicolored wooden houses and snow-capped peaks, and Akureyri, Iceland’s northern “capital.” Cruise by Zodiac to the major seabird sanctuary on the island of Vigur 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.

Itinerary

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 late afternoon, transfer to the pier to embark Vega, and set sail for Northern Ireland.

Day 3
Portrush, Northern Ireland / Islay Island, Scotland

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. About 40 miles north of Portrush lies Islay Island, the southernmost of the Hebrides, which is famous for its large populations of sea birds—and even more famous for its numerous whisky distilleries!

Day 4
Portree, Isle of Skye, Scotland

Portree is your base for exploring the castles of the Isle of Skye. Eilean Donan Castle is perhaps the most recognizable in Scotland, having been featured in no fewer than ten films, including James Bond's The World is Not Enough. And massive Dunvegan Castle, said to be the oldest continuously inhabited castle in the country, sits in the midst of a 42,000-acre estate, the historic seat of Clan MacLeod. There will also be time to explore the charming town of Portree.

Day 5
Ullapool

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
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 7
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 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
Höfn, Iceland

Höfn in southeastern Iceland is a small town perched on a narrow neck of land with awe-inspiring views of Vatnajökull National Park to its north. The town itself is renowned for its lobster catch and hosts an annual Lobster Festival in celebration of its reputation as Iceland’s lobster capital. Vatnajökull National Park is Europe’s largest and covers 14% of Iceland, encompassing ice caps, waterfalls, glaciers, canyons, craters, and volcanoes. The park’s Jökulsárlón Lagoon is within easy reach of Höfn and is Iceland’s deepest lake, where icebergs float on the surface of the water all year long, offering resting spots for passing seals.

Day 10
Seydisfjordur

Seydisfjordur is regarded by many as one of Iceland’s most picturesque towns, not only due to its impressive suroundings, but also because nowhere in Iceland has a community of old wooden buildings been preserved as well as here. Enjoy an easy walk around the old town with a local guide, including a visit to the beautiful Blue Church, an arts and crafts market, Skaftfell cultural center, and the Technical Museum that houses the oldest mechanic shop and the first telegraph station in Iceland.

Day 11
Akureyri

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 12
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 13
Isafjordur and Vigur

Arrive in the morning at the tiny fishing village of Isafjordur, built at the foot of a high volcanic plateau in the center of Westfjords Peninsula. After a visit to the Westfjord Heritage Museum, board the ship’s Zodiacs and motor to the small island of Vigur, known as the “Pearl of the Western Fjords.” Vigur is a significant seabird sanctuary that includes colonies of arctic terns, puffins, black guillemots, and eider ducks. You will also visit the only farm on the island, which has been in the same family for generations.

Day 14
Reykjavik / Disembark

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

Highlights

Highlights

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

Details

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