Arrive in the Icelandic capital this morning and transfer to the Grand Hotel Reykjavik. You have the day on your own to explore the city. Join your ship's crew at the hotel in the evening for a welcome reception and orientation.
After breakfast, venture south from Reykjavik along Iceland’s famous Golden Circle route, starting with Thingvellir National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here you 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. Also visit Iceland’s most famous waterfall, Gullfoss, at the height of its flow. We complete the Golden Circle with Haukadalur, where the Strokkur geyser erupts every 5-10 minutes and plenty of other evidence awaits of the intense geological processes beneath our feet.
After lunch, the ship makes its way to the Ocean Nova and sets sail.
Today you reach the photogenic Snaefellsnes Peninsula and visit your first small Icelandic town. Sail into the small harbor and walk around this picturesque fishing village. In the afternoon, sail to the westernmost point of Iceland. If the ship stops at the seabird colony, keep your eyes out for Atlantic puffins, thick-billed murres and black-legged kittiwakes.
Awake to the sight of the Westfjords area, with its high rock walls carved by intense glacier action. Here you can find the colorful town of Ísafjörður, home to a charming museum dedicated to Iceland’s rich maritime history. You may also have a chance to sample some local Icelandic delicacies and take in some local entertainment. In the afternoon explore the dramatic fjords that make this area famous.
Today visit one of Iceland’s most popular attractions, the Blue Lagoon. You have a chance 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.
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.
This morning visit one of the most impressive wonders of Iceland: Vatnajökull Glacier. At over 300m (1,000 ft) tall, you can't appreciate the full scale of the ice until you 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.
Call into Seydisfjordur, a small, friendly town with a thriving art scene. 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.
Húsavík is an excellent example of the geological processes that have made Iceland famous. 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, you 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 be on the lookout for whales as the ship pulls away from this pretty town.
In the late afternoon cross the Arctic Circle and reach Grimsey Island. The abundant bird life far outnumbers the fewer than one hundred residents of this small village.
Today we reach the very top of Iceland as we venture north into the peaceful bay of Hornvik. Grand landscapes and exploration are the order of the day, with a chance to stretch your legs and marvel at the geology and bird life that dominate the area.
On your last day we arrive in Akureyri, where we board our charter flight back to Reykjavík.