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Crater Lake Viti on Krafla Volcano

Circumnavigating Iceland

2021 - Example 9 Day Cruise aboard MS Fridtjof Nansen
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Embark on a 9-day epic expedition to the majestic volcanoes, cascading waterfalls, and bubbling springs of Iceland, the land of ice and fire aboard MS Fridtjof Nansen. Start your expedition cruise in Reykjavik, then journey north to Stykkishólmur, doorway to the breath-taking Snæfellsnes Peninsula National Park. Nicknamed ‘Little Iceland’, this region is like an Icelandic Greatest Hits album, filled with sheer cliffs, silent fjords and volcanic peaks. After that, dive into Iceland’s maritime history in the tranquil fishing village of Patreksfjördur. Sail on to Grimsey, best known for its proximity to the Arctic Circle which cuts across the island - the only part of Iceland to do so. Discover Heimaey island's fascinating backstory before ending your journey where it all started in Reykjavik.
Arctic puffinsStreet view of old town ReykjavikWild Icelandic Horse grazingWhale Watching off the coast of Reykjavik in IcelandThe breathtaking scenery of IcelandThe blue lagoon in IcelandCrater Lake Viti on Krafla Volcano
Highlights
  • Visit Snæfellsnes Peninsula National Park
  • See fascinating landscapes of waterfalls, volcanoes and glaciers side by side
  • Experience a bird and whale watching paradise
  • Step across the Arctic Circle on Grimsey island
  • Take in the enchanting beauty of Bakkagerdi, the land of elves
Places Visited
Trip Type:
  • Small Ship
Activity Level: Relaxed
0

Full Itinerary

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Day 1: Reykjavik, Iceland | Embark

Many visitors find landing at Keflavik airport enchanting. The hub seems carved out of an arctic desert, with moss-covered lava rock and haunting mountains nearby. But just 45 minutes away is Reykjavík, a charming, vibrant and modern city, offering top restaurants, interesting museums, and quaint narrow streets. Explore the city before boarding your ship and setting off on your journey. Estimated time of departure is 8:00 PM.

At Reykjavik harbour, MS Fridtjof Nansen awaits you. After you collect your complimentary expedition jacket and check-in, have time to settle in your cabin. There is a mandatory safety drill just before departure after which you can walk around to explore the ship. The welcome dinner in the evening ends with a toast by the Captain, wishing everyone an enjoyable expedition. After meeting your expedition team, be ready to start your grand Icelandic adventure.

Day 2: Stykkishólmur, Iceland

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
First stop is Stykkisholmur, pronounced ‘Stikkish – holmur’, a small fishing town surrounded by views of innumerable islets in the picturesque Breiðafjörður Bay. With a population of roughly a thousand people, no traffic, and a laid-back, slow pace, it gives the impression of a place where time has stood still. It's most defining feature is the well-preserved houses found in its old city center. Bursting with color, they stand out in contrast to the distant mountain ranges. Ingeniously repurposed, the former library is now an art installation, the old recreation center now harbors a volcano museum, and the fish processing plant is now a restaurant that serves a delicious fish soup.

Another highlight of the town is Norwegian House, named for the Norwegian imported wood used to build it in 1832. The Regional Museum of Snæfellsnes is based here, with rotating exhibitions and handicraft on sale. For a lovely view over the town, hike to the top of the cliff with the little orange lighthouse. Most people, however, come here to see the fantastic Snæfellsnes Peninsula National Park. It’s nicknamed ‘Little Iceland’ as everything the country has to offer can be found here, including fjords, mountains, waterfalls, volcanoes, lava fields and more.

An optional excursion to Snæfellsnes will take you to some of its most iconic sights, such as the black-sand beach at Djúpalónssandur, where – if you’re feeling energetic – you can try your hand at lifting ‘strength testing’ rocks placed there by Vikings. A word of warning though: the heaviest rock weighs 154kg! Another stop is at the Lóndrangar basalt cliffs where huge stacks of jagged rock jut photogenically out of the sea. Interesting fact: the massive Snæfellsjökull volcano, which looms over the landscape, is the setting of the classic sci-fi novel Journey to the Centre of the Earth, by Jules Verne.

Day 3: Patreksfjörður Village, Iceland

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Discover the peace and silence of a tranquil fishing village. Serving as a fishing port as far back as the 16th century, this is a town shaped by a rich maritime history. Patreksfjördur served as a base for English, French and German fishermen, merchants and naval mariners in olden times. As you explore the lively harbour, learn about the towns local fishing tradition and the different kinds of fish found in its waters. You can also choose to take a dip in the outdoor pool, a new addition to the town with wonderful views over the fjord.

The sheer beauty of this region makes hiking through it such a rewarding activity if conditions allow. Nearby is Latrabjarg, Europe’s largest bird cliff and most western point. It’s home to millions of birds including Puffins, Northern Gannets, Guillemots and Razorbills. The bird watching here is spectacular. Safe from arctic foxes, the birds bravely cling to the high cliffs, and offer excellent photo opportunities.

The dream beach of Raudsandur is also close by. In contrast to other beaches in Iceland which are black with volcanic sands, the colors of Raudsandur are rose–coloured with golden hues. The Dynjandi series of waterfalls are also one of the big draws of this area, and it’s easy to see why. Six different waterfalls combine to make the largest waterfall in the Westfjords with a cumulative height of 100m. In a country famed for its waterfalls, this is one of the most impressive.

Day 4: Northwest Iceland

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
One of the best things about Expedition cruising is the feeling that anything can happen on any given day. The elements and conditions mean nothing is ever quite set in stone. That’s why one day was carved on your expedition to fully take advantage of that novelty - an exploration day, with no pre-arranged plan for the day.

Initial plan is to be in Iceland’s Northwestern Region, but the rest will be up to the Captain and the Expedition Team to decide, depending on conditions and opportunities that may come up. Activities might include using small boats to come ashore for hiking, participating in a beach clean-up or launching our kayaks. If a pod of whales breaches the surfaces as you sail, decide to linger and enjoy the sight. Being adaptable to whatever nature presents to you is what expedition cruising is all about.

Day 5: Akureyri, Iceland

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Nicknamed ‘Iceland’s Northern Capital’, Akureyri is a lively university town. With a population of almost 20,000 it’s the largest metropolitan area outside the populated southwest region, meaning there’s plenty to delve into here including some top-notch eateries and museums. Check out the Akureyri Museum, which gives you an insight into how Icelanders used to live here. The Nordurslod Museum of natural history also combines exhibitions about the local environment and the history of settlers.

Be astonished by the array of flowers and foliage at the Arctic Botanical Gardens. It's serene atmosphere is like an oasis of lush green in the most unlikely of settings. And while you’re exploring the town, check out the striking architecture of Akureyri Church, designed by the famous architect Gudjon Samuelsson.   

On an optional excursion outside town, you can explore natural treasures often considered some of the must-see sights in Iceland. At Goðafoss waterfall, nicknamed ‘waterfall of the gods,’ you’ll have the chance to see translucent turquoise water pounding against immense black rocks. Located within a highly active volcanic area, Lake Mývatn has unique and beautiful geology, including shimmering waters and otherworldly colors. It’s also a great place for birds; Eider and Harlequinn Ducks in particular. Watchers of hit series Game of Thrones may recognize it.

Day 6: Grímsey Island, Iceland

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Use tender boats to reach this small, green and grassy island. With roughly 60 people, the only settlements are located on the southern and western parts - mostly around the little harbor. Grimsey is serene, beautiful, and steeped in folklore and legend. The hardiness of the local fishermen is attributed to Grimsey’s first settler Grímur. Legend has it he slew the giants and trolls who inhabited the island and took one of their daughters as his bride. It's sheer cliffs are home to vast colonies of sea birds – outnumbering humans 17,000 to 1 – and in summer, the intrepid islanders will abseil down them to collect the eggs that are considered a local delicacy. The chance to see Atlantic Puffins, the iconic seabird species of Grimsey, is a major attraction for bird lovers.

It is probably best known for its proximity to the Arctic Circle, which cuts across the island - the only part of Iceland to do so. You’ll have the chance to step across that line, North to South. You can explore the island on foot and hike to the ‘Orbis et Globus’ a nine-ton concrete sphere that marks the edge of the Arctic Circle. The walk to the monument will allow you to take in the windswept scenery and observe birds. The three-metre globe is moved a bit each year by the locals as the Arctic Circle creeps slowly northwards at a rate of about 48 feet a year.

By 2050, Grimsey Island will lie outside the Arctic – more reason to visit now. In the afternoon, sail towards Husavik, arrive in the evening and stay overnight.

Day 7: Bakkagerdi

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
With stunning rhyolite peaks on one side and the majestic Dyrfjöll Mountain range on the other, the coastal village of Bakkagerdi could not have a more scenic location. According to regional folklore, this tiny hamlet on the coast of Borgarfjörður Eystri inhabits a large population of elves. As a matter of fact, the hamlet derives its name from the rocky hill Alfaborg, the supposed home of the elf queen herself. A settlement of around 100 people, it is well off the typical tourist track and offers peace, quiet and lovely views. A short walk is all it takes to explore the town. You can sample freshly caught fish in one of the cafes; the tasty fish soup is a local favourite.

This area’s natural beauty, however, is the main draw and allows for fantastic hiking. Shades of pink, blue, and yellow rhyolite rocks give way to lush green valleys in multiple hiking trails. In any direction, be rewarded by a pristine wilderness and the sights and sounds of the prominent wildlife to be found here - birds. The coastal cliffs are home to a wide variety of birds, including Fulmar and Kittiwake. This is also a good place to see Eider farming, which has been done for hundreds of years in Iceland. The end product is the very exclusive eiderdown, the most prized variety of down in the world.

The stars of the show, however, are Puffins. If conditions allow, attempt to visit Hafnarhólmi, a fishing harbour home to a large Puffin colony, and some of the best bird watching in Iceland. A boardwalk and several platforms allow you to get really close to the Puffins safely. For nature and bird lovers, this region is an absolute gem.

Day 8: Heimaey Island, Iceland

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Our next stop is Heimaey, the only inhabited island in the Vestmannaeyjar archipelago, off the south coast of Iceland.  Everything here has been touched in some way by the volcanic eruption that occurred unexpectedly one morning in January 1973. The narrow harbor, the tephra -made airport runway and the curl of cooled lava in the town center all point to the volcanic cone that casts a figure over the island. It means “Home Island,” and certainly feel welcome here. It’s near 4000 inhabitants that are friendly and the vegetated landscape is pleasing to the eye. Learn all about the town’s history at the Museum of Eldheimar. It has a fascinatingly dark past, complete with runaway slaves, murder, revenge and pirates. And that’s before you get to the volcano that almost destroyed the island. 

The Sea Life Trust Beluga Whale Sanctuary is also one of the town’s highlights. Home to two resident belugas, the sanctuary also inhabits a local species aquarium and a Puffin rescue center. In keeping with the rest of the Westmann Islands, Heimaey provides a habitat for countless birds. Around 8 million Puffins nest here every summer. A hike to Stórhöfði, south of the island, provides you with excellent opportunities to observe them nesting. Claimed to be the windiest spot in Europe, be grateful for viewing facilities that allow you to quietly observe these delightful birds in their natural habitat.

A visit to Heimaey would not be complete without checking out its most prominent feature, Eldfell, or “Mt Fire.” By the end of its eruption, it stood at 220 metres. It’s worth the effort to hike to the top. Have incredible views of the town below and the winning feeling of conquering the volcano that almost wiped out the island.

Day 9: Reykjavik, Iceland | Disembark

  • 1 Breakfast
Estimated time of arrival is 6:00 AM. Say a fond farewell as you end where you started in the fabulous city of Reykjavik. You now have an opportunity to see all the places you missed out on when you arrived. If you want to conclude your expedition on a high, you’re in the right place to do it. Reykjavik's galleries, restaurants and spas are internationally recognized.

If you want to recharge your batteries, you can do so at Iceland’s most famous heitur pottur, Blue Lagoon. Situated in a vast 800-year-old lava field, the waters blend of silica, algae and minerals have helped this magical location earn its place on National Geographic’s 25 wonders of the world. As a way of signing off your Icelandic adventure, few things would top soaking yourself in relaxing volcanic water, with a beverage of your choice surrounded by beauty. We recommend you to explore the city and beyond further. Whatever’s next for you, we wish you a safe onward journey and look forward to seeing you on your next adventure!

Ship/Hotel

MS Fridtjof Nansen

MS Fridtjof Nansen

Dates & Prices

My Preferred Start Date

Per person starting at
$5,495
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Outside cabin on lower/middle deck(RS)
183 sq ft, Cabins on middle decks with queen bed
MS Fridtjof Nansen outside cabin
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Outside Cabin on Lower/Middle Decks (RR)
205–248 sq ft, Larger cabins on middle decks with flexible sleeping arrangements, some with sofa bed. Most are 215 sq ft.
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Outside cabin on upper deck
High deck cabins with balcony. Spacious cabins, different sizes, flexible sleeping arrangements, some with sofabed, TV, kettle, tea and coffee. Please note: This cabin is automatically made with a double bed. To order twin beds, please notify us at time of booking.
MS Fridtjof Nansen outside cabin
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Outside Cabin on Lower/Middle Decks (TY)(TT)
258–291 sq ft, Large cabins without balcony. On middle decks, with flexible sleeping arrangements, sofa bed, amenity kit, kettle, tea and coffee.
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Outside Cabin with Balcony (XT)(XTD)(XY)
161–205 sq ft, Spacious high-deck cabins with a balcony, flexible sleeping arrangements, some with sofa bed, amenity kit, kettle, tea and coffee
MS Fridtjof Nansen corner suite
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Corner Suite (MF)
237 sq ft, Corner suite with large windows, without a balcony, with flexible sleeping arrangements, mini-bar, amenity kit, bathrobe, kettle, tea and coffee, espresso maker.
MS Fridtjof Nansen suite w/ balcony
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Suite with Balcony (ME)
215–301 sq ft, Suites with a private balcony on high decks, with flexible sleeping arrangements, some with sofa bed, mini-bar, amenity kit, bathrobe, kettle, tea and coffee, espresso maker
MS Fridtjof Nansen large suite w/ balcony
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Large Suite with Balcony (MD)
377 sq ft, Large corner suite with a private balcony, flexible sleeping arrangements, sofa bed, mini-bar, amenity kit, bathrobe, kettle, espresso maker. Accessible to guests with limited mobility.
MS Fridtjof Nansen corner suite w/ balcony
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Corner Suite with Balcony (MC)
215–323 sq ft, Aft corner suites with a private balcony and hot tub, large windows, flexible sleeping arrangements, some with sofa bed, mini-bar, amenity kit, bathrobe, kettle, tea and coffee, espresso maker.
MS Fridtjof Nansen XL suite w/o balcony
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XL Suite (MB)
474 sq ft, Extra-large corner suites without a balcony. Aft corner suites with sofa bed, flexible sleeping arrangements, large windows, mini-bar, amenity kit, bathrobe, kettle, tea and coffee, espresso maker.
MS Fridtjof Nansen XL suite w/ balcony
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XL Suite with Balcony (MA)
495–517 sq ft, Extra-large corner suites with a private balcony. The ship’s most spacious cabins, with large windows, flexible sleeping arrangements, sofa bed, mini-bar, amenity kit, bathrobe, kettle, tea and coffee, espresso maker.

Notes

Included in Your Expedition:
  • Expedition cruise in the cabin grade of your choice  
  • A rich program of included activities on all voyages designed to immerse you in the destinations you visit, including onshore exploration with the expedition team  
  • Professional English-speaking expedition team - an international, handpicked team of highly educated experts in various academic fields with profound knowledge of the region we sail in  
  • Complimentary wind- and water-resistant jacket   
  • Loan of boots, trekking poles, and equipment needed for optional and included activities  
  • In-depth lectures on science, history, biology, geography, geology or culture that provide context to your voyage and help you understand the destinations you will experience  
  • Explorer Science program, with educational and Citizen Science activities that let you learn about the sights you’ll see while contributing to research
  • Introductory photo lecture, including camera adjustments and tips and tricks
  • Photos and film/video footage from the voyage shared in the Expedition Logbook
  • Casual opportunities to engage with the expedition team and other guests, including a welcome event, daily gatherings to recap the day and prepare for the day to come
  • Opportunities to dine and interact with the expedition team and officers  
  • Destination-focused onboard library  ​
  • Port presentations providing destination insight
  • A farewell event  ​
  • All meals including beverages (beer and wine, sodas and mineral water in all ship restaurants)
  • Coffee and tea included throughout the day
  • Early riser and afternoon treat offered in addition to breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • A la carte restaurant (only for suite guests) 
  • Gym, outdoor hot tubs and sauna with windows
  • Free Wi-fi onboard for all guests. Be aware that we sail in remote areas with limited connection. Streaming is not supported.
  • No gratuities expected   

Not included in Your Expedition:
  • International flights 
  • Optional shore excursions with our local partners   
  • Optional small-group adventures with our expedition team such as kayaking, long hikes (availability pending weather conditions and safety)  
  • Travel protection plan   
  • Luggage handling
NOTE: Prices are in $USD per person. All planned landings are subject to weather and ice conditions. All itineraries are
subject to change.

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Our guide and driver were very good with their knowledge and were very helpful with our questions. It was a very pleasant visit that would have been impossible to do on our own. Hotels and restaurants were fantastic. The special places we got to go to, like the kitchens, were great. Enjoyed the entire trip!
Meyer Smolen

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