Day 1 — Reykjavik
Arrive in the Icelandic capital this morning and transfer to the Grand Hotel Reykjavik. You will have the day on your own to explore the city. Join us at the hotel in the evening for a welcome reception and orientation.
Day 2 — Golden Circle and Embarkation
After breakfast, we will venture south from Reykjavik along Iceland’s famous Golden Circle route, starting with Thingvellir National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here we’ll enter a dramatic landscape of wild contrasts, with lava plains, clear lakes and wildflowers in the shadow of soaring mountains. This was also the site of Iceland’s parliament from 930 until 1798. We will also visit Iceland’s most famous waterfall, Gullfoss, at the height of its flow. We complete the Golden Circle with Haukadalur, where we’ll see the Strokkur geyser erupt every 5-10 minutes as well as plenty of other evidence of the intense geological processes beneath our feet.
After lunch, we’ll make our way to the Ocean Nova and set sail.
Day 3 — Grundarfjörður
Today we will reach the photogenic Snaefellsnes peninsula and visit our first small Icelandic town. We will sail into the small harbor and have a chance to walk around this picturesque fishing village. In the afternoon, we will sail to the westernmost point of Iceland. If we can stop at the seabird colony, we will spot Atlantic puffins, thick-billed murres and black-legged kittiwakes.
Day 4 — Ísafjörður
We awake to the sight of the Westfjords area, with its high rock walls carved by intense glacier action. Here we’ll find the colorful town of Ísafjörður, home to a charming museum dedicated to Iceland’s rich maritime history. We may also have a chance to sample some local Icelandic delicacies and take in some local entertainment. In the afternoon we will explore the dramatic fjords that make this area famous.
Day 5 — Grindavík and the Blue Lagoon
Today we’ll visit one of Iceland’s most popular attractions, the Blue Lagoon. You’ll be able to soak in the geothermally-heated seawater, rumored to be good for both the body and soul. For those who don’t crave the comforts of the spa, an optional round of golf is also available at the Continental Drift Club, where the American and Eurasian plates meet.
Day 6 — Heimay and Surtsey Islands
Lying off the southern coast of Iceland, these islands are an example of the constant geological battle being waged underground. In 1973 a volcanic eruption destroyed many buildings on the islands and today a project dubbed the “Pompeii of the North” aims to excavate those ruins. Not to be out-named, the entire archipelago has been called the “Capri of the North” because of all the sea caves created by frequent volcanic activity. Sea birds, including puffins, call this place home.
Day 7 — Jökulsárlón and Höfn
This morning we visit one of the most impressive wonders of Iceland: Vatnajökull Glacier. At over 300m (1,000 ft) tall, we can't appreciate the full scale of the ice until we get out on Jökulsárlón Lake and sail among the icebergs that frequently calve from the ice face. In the afternoon we arrive at Höfn, a small and traditional fishing community.
Day 8 — Seydisfjordur
We’ll call into Seydisfjordur, a small, friendly town with a thriving art scene. We can visit the power plant museum, shop for locally-produced handicrafts in the town, and join a tour conducted by the locals. The area also boasts over 90 archaeological sites, some dating back 1,000 years.
Days 9 and 10 — Húsavík and Grimsey Island
Húsavík is an excellent example of the geological processes that have made Iceland famous. We will spend the day crossing through the highland lava desert, past lava formations, mud pools and sulfur pits en route to the impressive canyons and waterfalls that lie beyond. Returning back to town, we’ll have a chance to wander around and visit the Whale and Exploration Museums before boarding the Ocean Nova. This area is the center of the whale-watching industry in Iceland, so we’ll be on the lookout for whales as the ship pulls away from this pretty town.
In the late afternoon we should cross the Arctic Circle and reach Grimsey Island. The abundant bird life far outnumbers the fewer than one hundred residents of this small village.
Day 11 — Westfjords: Hornvik and Area
Today we reach the very top of Iceland as we venture north into the peaceful bay of Hornvik. Grand landscapes and exploration will be the order of the day, with a chance to stretch our legs and marvel at the geology and bird life that dominate the area.
Day 12 — Disembarkation in Akureyri
On our last day we arrive in Akureyri, where we board our charter flight back to Reykjavík.
Important reminder: Embracing the unexpected is part of the legacy – and excitement – of expedition travel. When travelling in extremely remote regions, your expedition staff must allow the sea, the ice and the weather to guide route and itinerary details. The above is a tentative outline of what you’ll experience on this voyage; please be aware that no specific itinerary can be guaranteed.