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Iceland Circumnavigation

Aboard the Sylvia Earle


Explore the “Land of Fire and Ice,” a surreal realm where snow-capped peaks rise above glaciers and active volcanoes rumble. Walk along a black-sand beach strewn with glittering bergy bits and discover geysers and fumaroles and bubbling mud pools, or explore spectacular fjords and impressive waterfalls, in one of the most geologically active places on earth. Specialist naturalist and historian guides will reveal the Iceland below the surface—a land rich in wildlife, culture, and fascinating human history.

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, May 21, 2024
Reykjavik, Iceland

Arrive in Reykjavik, where you will be met and transferred to the group hotel. The remainder of the day is at leisure. All meals today are at your own expense. Overnight at Fosshotel Reykjavik Hotel (or similar).

Day 2, May 22, 2024

Explore the main sights of Reykjavik on a half-day city tour before transferring to the pier for embarkation. Settle into your cabin before attending mandatory safety briefings. As the ship pulls away from port, gather on the deck and enjoy the thrill of departure as the ship sets sail and the adventure begins with spectacular views over Reykjavik. This evening, get to know your fellow expeditioners, expedition team, and crew at the Captain’s Welcome Dinner to celebrate the start of a thrilling adventure.

Day 3, May 23, 2024
Stykkisholmur, Snaefellsnes Peninsula

Stykkisholmur is the starting point of your adventures on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula, gateway to Snæfellsjökull National Park. Stykkishólmur is located by Breiðafjörður Bay on the north of the peninsula and is surrounded by wonderful views of innumerable islands. One of the defining landmarks in Stykkishólmur are the old houses in the old city center, some of which were owned by Danish traders, and every year in August there is a Danish town festival in Stykkishólmur called Danskir dagar, or Danish days. The oldest house in Stykkishólmur is the Norwegian house, which dates back to 1832. The inhabitants take great pride in preserving the old houses and walking in the center of town is like walking in another era.

Snaefellsnes Peninsula is an area of diverse landscapes characterized by lava fields and glistening fjords and home to bird-rich Breidafjordur Bay. The area is crowned by the magnificent, ice-capped Snæfellsjökull volcano, a 700,000-year-old dormant subglacial volcano, visible from Reykjavik on a clear day and immortalized in Jules Verne’s Journey to the Center of the Earth. At Bjarnarhöfn you will enjoy a guided tour of the shark museum and have the opportunity to taste cured shark. Though Grundarfjörður is not the most well-known town in Snæfellsnes, Mount Kirkjufell is certainly one of the most famous mountains in Iceland, if not the world. It is not unusual for photographers from all over the world to make their way to Grundarfjörður for the sole purpose of photographing this unique landmark that has even starred in a number of films. However, there is a lot more on offer in Grundarfjörður than just Mount Kirkjufell. Nature abounds, with vibrant birdlife and spectacular waterfalls.

Days 4-6, May 24-26, 2024

Over the next three days, you will explore the Westfjords region featuring outstanding landscapes with jaw-dropping views of dramatic fjords carved by ancient glaciers, sheer table mountains that plunge into the sea, and pristine North Atlantic vegetation. In genuine expeditionary style, the itinerary is flexible to allow for spontaneity. There are countless fjords to explore in the region. Your experienced expedition team will determine the day-by-day itinerary based on the unpredictable weather conditions of the region.

Hornstrandir peninsula is located here and is one of Iceland’s remotest and most pristine regions filled with many deep and dramatic fjords, towering bird cliffs, stunning natural beauty, and opportunities for wildlife encounters. Enjoy the bountiful silence and magnificent landscapes while sailing past this stunning region seen by the few adventurers that make their way here. At Patreksfjordur, a shore excursion by coach takes you to Latrabjarg cliffs. As Europe’s largest bird cliff, Latrabjarg is home to millions of seabirds, such as puffin, razorbill, fulmar, and guillemot. Enjoy the impressive variety of natural wonders and unspoiled nature. Latrabjarg also happens to be the westernmost point in Europe, east coast of the North American continent on the other side of the Atlantic. You might visit places such as Isafjordur and Djupavik, where kayakers can paddle in the peaceful waters surrounded by towering mountains while others can enjoy walks and hikes of varying levels of difficulty, soaking in the stunning surrounds including impressive waterfalls and deep fjords. You might sample some local delicacies or perhaps visit an abandoned herring museum converted into an exhibition and gallery space.

Day 7, May 27, 2024
Grimsey Island

Located approximately 25 miles off the mainland, Grímsey is a verdant grassy island, probably best known for its proximity to the Arctic Circle, which cuts across the island. Many people travel to Grímsey just to say they have stepped across the imaginary line! With a tiny population of approximately 100 inhabitants, it’s a fantastic place for Zodiac cruising, kayaking, and photographing seabirds such as guillemots, gulls, and puffins.

Leaving Grímsey to return closer to the mainland, we spend time scanning the waters of Skjálfandi Bay around Húsavik, a town known as the Iceland’s “whale watching capital,” home to up to 24 different whale species, as well as dolphins and 30 variety of birds. The largest animal on earth, the blue whale, has also been spotted in Skjálfandi Bay, and if you are lucky, you might catch a glimpse of this magnificent creature as well as others, such as orcas, fin whales, and pilot whales.

Day 8, May 28, 2024

Located near Akureyri, Iceland’s second largest town, Hjalteyri is a small village on the western shores of Eyjafjörður. It was one of the main centers of the herring fishing industry, but these days, you’re more likely to find art than fish in the old herring factory buildings. Sheltered from big waves, Hjalteyri is an ideal place to enjoy activities such as kayaking, cold-water snorkeling, and diving, featuring famous geothermal struts located just offshore. Husavík might be internationally renowned as Iceland’s whale-watching capital, but locals believe that Hjalteyri is North Iceland’s hidden gem. Enjoy a fantastic day of adventure and exploration, but try not to tell too many people about this place or you could ruin its charm.

Day 9, May 29, 2024

Spend some time exploring Seydisfjordur, a picturesque fishing village renowned for its charming collection of colorful wooden buildings located around the lagoon. Take a stroll around town and discover the timber houses that are remnants from when the Norwegians settled here and established the herring fishing facilities from 1870-1900. From the valley above the town, the river Fjardara tumbles down in beautiful cascades to the lagoon. There are a number of delightful hiking trails to explore, or alternatively, you can discover a flourishing cultural scene with an arts center, the famous blue church that stages music concerts, and the only two cinemas in the east of Iceland. Back in town, browse the stores where you will discover handicrafts by local artists and artisans—perfect as a souvenir or gift.

Sailing out of the fjord, stop at Skalanes, a tiny town that features a research center hosting university students from around the world. Skalanes features stunning cliffs that are home to thousands of seabirds during the nesting season that you can see on walks or by Zodiac. The area has a large colony of nesting eider ducks and arctic tern. Seals, whales, and reindeer are also commonly seen here.

Day 10, May 30, 2024
Westman Islands

Located off Iceland’s south coast, the Westman Islands were formed by volcanic eruptions around 10,000 years ago. Sail past Surtsey Island, a UNESCO World Heritage site that emerged from the sea in 1963 and is one the youngest land masses on earth. Westman Islands are surrounded by 15 other uninhabited islands and around 30 rocks and skerries offering refuge for rich array of seabirds. Westman Islands are considered to have the largest Atlantic puffin colony in the world, and when sailing around the islands it is not uncommon to see puffins but also whales and seals.

Heimaey is the main island in the archipelago, and it has the population of around 4,200. Ashore on Heimaey, the only inhabited island in the archipelago, you will see half-buried houses that remain from a violent 1973 eruption of Eldfell volcano, which you can hike up if you wish. A visit to the weather station offers bird-watching opportunities and splendid views of the surrounding islands. Eruptions are a big part of the history of the Westman Islands, where there are two volcanoes—one that erupted some 6,000 years ago, and Mount Eldfell that erupted in 1973, forcing all of the island’s inhabitants to evacuate for the mainland. Serendipitously, due to bad weather the day prior to the eruption, all the fishing boats remained in the harbor and were able to help transport the inhabitants of Heimaey to the mainland. You can learn more about the story of the eruption and the aftermath at the fascinating Eldheimar museum, which includes a display of a house that was buried in ash during the eruption.

Day 11, May 31, 2024
Reykjavik / DIsembarkation

During the early morning, cruise into Reykjavik and disembark at approximately 8:00 am. Bid farewell to your expedition team and fellow passengers as you continue your onward journey. Transfer to Keflavik airport or to your centrally located hotel.



Keep watch for blows, breaching, and tail flukes while whale watching in Húsavík
Explore Látrabjarg bird cliffs, the largest seabird cliffs in Europe
Visit Vatnajökull National Park, featuring Europe’s largest glacier, iceberg-speckled glacial lakes, black-sand beaches, reindeer, and rich birdlife
Discover Mjóifjördur, a hidden gem of a fjord cherished by locals


Length: 11 days
Cost From: $10,195  
Arrive: Reykjavik, Iceland
Depart: Reykjavik, Iceland
Lodging: 9 nights aboard a 192-passenger vessel, 1 night hotel
Meals: All meals aboard ship, including wine, beer, and soft drinks with dinner
Activity: Sea Kayaking, Walking, Wildlife and Natural History, Photography, Diving, Birding
Trip Level:

9-day cruise, cultural explorations, Zodiac excursions, walking tours, optional sea kayaking