Day 1-2 | Reykjavík
Reykjavik, or “steamy bay” is a cosmopolitan capital city and as much a part of the Icelandic experience as volcanoes, glaciers, and the midnight sun. Entirely powered by geothermal energy harnessed from the Earth, the city boast crisp, clean, and pollution free air, as well as thermally heated streets and sidewalks. It is among the cleanest, greenest, and safest cities in the world, and is believed to be the location of the first permanent settlement in Iceland, established in AD 874. The Culture House, which opened in 1909, was originally built to house the National Library and National Archives of Iceland; in 2000, it was remodeled to promote Icelandic national heritage, including treasures like the Poetic Edda, and the Norse Sagas in their original manuscripts. Here, we embark the Ocean Endeavour for our Iceland Circumnavigation cruise. We depart Reykjavik in the evening.
Day 3 | Stykkishólmur
This area is often called "Iceland in Miniature" because of its diverse landscapes. These include bird-rich Breidafjördur Bay and the Snaefellsjökull glacier, sitting atop the dormant volcano that was featured in Jules Verne’s Journey to the Center of the Earth. Stykkishólmur is the region’s namesake community, home to a natural harbour ideal for fishing. The first trading post here was established in the late sixteenth century. The nearby mountain of Helgafell is the burial place of Guðrún Ósvífursdóttir, heroine of the Icelandic saga. The area was featured in the 2013 film The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.
Day 4 | Isafjördur
Isafjördur (meaning “ice fjord or fjord of ice”) is an idyllic town in the Westfjords region. Connected to the Icelandic mainland only by a narrow strip of land, this secluded peninsula includes many roadless areas. The landscape includes jaw-dropping views of dramatic fjords carved by ancient glaciers, and sheer table mountains that plunge into the sea. Thousands of puffins inhabit tiny Vigur Island, and the splendid Dynjandi waterfall is renowned for its beauty. Fishing has always been Isafjördur’smain industry. It has one of the largest fisheries in Iceland, and is home to the University Centre of the Westfjords, which offers two master’s degree programs: one in Coastal & Marine Management, and the other in Marine Innovation. The local folk museum contains the oldest house in Iceland, built in 1734.
Day 5 | Siglufjördur & Grimsey
The fjord town of Siglufjördur was once the hub of the global herring industry and is now enjoying a rebirth in popularity. The award-winning Herring Era Museum, located on the vibrant harbourfront, celebrates the golden age of the herring fishery. The town remains dependent on fishing, although the herring population has been depleted. The old mountain road to Siglufjördur—the only connection to the rest of the country before the construction of a tunnel system—is open during the summer. The highest-elevated road in Iceland, it is used today for hiking, horseback riding, and driving.
About forty kilometres off the mainland, Grimsey Island lies on the Arctic Circle, which means that it experiences midnight sun in the summer. With a stunning population of nearly a million seabirds, including puffins, guillemots, and gulls, the island experiences a cacophony of bird calls around the clock as well. Grimsey’s hundred or so inhabitants are served by a ferry three times a week.
Day 6 | Akureyri
Iceland’s second-largest urban area, Akureyri is nicknamed the Capital of North Iceland. The relatively mild climate and ice-free harbour have played a significant role in the town’s history since its settlement in the ninth century—including offering a base for Allied units during the Second World War. The town is surrounded by mountains, which shield it from strong winds. Nearby Lake Myvatn offers stunning contrasts: one side of the lake features rugged volcanic remnants, while the other side is blessed with lush vegetation and varied bird life.
Day 7 | Húsavík
On the shores of Skjalfandi Bay lies the town of Húsavík. Often called the "Whale Capital" of Iceland, the local waters are home to fifteen different whale species, as well as dolphins and thirty varieties of birds. The Húsavík Museum is located by the harbour. There are numerous other museums, including the Exploration Museum, which includes artifacts from Apollo astronaut training in the area, as well as a transportation museum, and a turf house museum.
Day 8 | Seydisfjördur
The picturesque port of Seydisfjördur is nestled between the sea and steep mountains at the tip of its namesake fjord. The town of seven hundred or so is known among other things for its flourishing art scene. Connected to the Icelandic Ring Road, Seydisfjördur welcomes car ferries from Denmark and the Faroes. The fjord itself is quite remote, and is home to a booming puffin colony and ruins of a former church at nearby Vestdallseyri. Local activities include seal-spotting, horseback riding, kayaking, and guided hikes of the Vestadalur area, which features numerous waterfalls.
Day 9 | Djupivogur
By the early-nineteenth century, Djúpivogur fishing village in southeast Iceland was a tiny port with a Danish colonial trading base. Hans Jonatan, who had been a slave in Copenhagen, escaped there and became one of Iceland's first people of colour. The village is the starting point for an optional excursion to Vatnajökull glacier. The nearby coastline is defined by three fjords— Berufjörður, Hamarsfjörður, and Álftafjörður. Approximately a kilometre west of the town is a work of art named "Eggin í Gleðivík" (The Eggs of Merry Bay) by Sigurður Guðmundsson, a series of thirty-four large stone replicas of the eggs of local birds.
Day 10 | Vestmannaeyjar (Westman Islands)
Vestmannaeyjar lies off the south coast of Iceland and comprises fourteen islands in addition to a number of rocks and skerries. Only the archipelago’s largest island, Heimaey, is inhabited, though several of the outlying islands have small cabins used during bird-hunting season. Since the early days of Heimaey’s occupation, fishing has been the principal way of life for its inhabitants. Today, the island is home to two large processing plants and a robust freezing and shipping industry, which supplies fish to European markets. Numerous species of seabirds nest in the steep rock faces along the ocean cliffs and high on the bluffs surrounding the island. Highly volcanically active, the area has seen two major eruptions in recent times: the formation of the island of Surtsey in 1963, and the Eldfell eruption ten years later that destroyed much of Heimaey and nearly choked off the harbour with lava.
Day 11 | Reykjavík
After breakfast, we bid farewell to the Ocean Endeavour as we sail back into Reykjavík. This dynamic city with its invigorating outdoor activities, great food, and world-class entertainment is the perfect place to cap our journey and reflect on an unforgettable ten days at sea during our Iceland Circumnavigation cruise!