Depart from the U.S.
Day 2-Reykjavik, Iceland
This morning, arrive in Reykjavik, the world’s northernmost capital, inhabited by one‑half of the country’s total population of 300,000. After breakfast, begin the city tour at the recreational sports area of Laugardalur, where geothermal water keeps an Olympic-sized swimming pool open year round. Continue to the Pearl, Reykjavik’s landmark glass dome built atop six 10-story hot water tanks, an architectural wonder as well as an amazing feat of engineering. Tour the National Museum for a comprehensive overview of Iceland’s history, culture and heritage. The museum holds nearly 3,000 objects and artifacts dating back from the A.D. 874 settlement to present day. Drive past the colorful houses of central Reykjavik while transferring to the M.S. Le Soléal. (B,D)
Day 3-Vigur Island/Isafjördur
Enjoy the morning cruise to the awe-inspiring West Fjords, docking in Isafjördur, a vibrant center of art and culture. See the ruggedly stunning mountains of the Djup, the dominant fjord of this extreme region. Stop at the open-air museum of Osvor to see a restored 19th-century “fishing outfit”—traditional fisherman’s huts and fishing equipment that depict a vivid picture of the lives of generations of coastal Icelanders. Then, tour Isafjördur’s West Fjords Maritime Museum for insight into the climatic and geographical challenges faced by residents of this remote outpost.
Enjoy a specially arranged, private tasting of traditional Icelandic refreshments including dried fish, shark and schnapps. Attend the Captain’s Welcome Reception this evening. (B,L,R,D)
Iceland’s northernmost town, picturesque Siglufjördur is a small, historic fishing town built from the herring industry boom. Here, visit the award-winning Herring Era Museum and enjoy watching a lively, music-filled performance of historical herring salting methods. Afterward, sample traditional rye bread, local herring and Icelandic schnapps. Tour the Folk Music Center to learn more about Iceland’s musical heritage and hear Icelandic musical instruments from centuries past, followed by lunch in a local restaurant in Siglufjördur. Spend the afternoon at leisure in Akureyri, a charming fishing port nestled beneath the mountains of Eyjafjördur, one of Iceland’s longest fjords. Explore the extensive collection of Icelandic flora in the Botanical Gardens. (B,L,D)
Day 5-Húsavík for Lake M´yvatn/Arctic Circle/Grimsey Island
Enjoy an excursion through northern Iceland’s unique landscapes, stopping at Namaskard, a steaming field of boiling, sulfurous mud pots, and the distinctive pseudo craters at Skútustadir, formed when hot lava flowed over the wetlands 2300 years ago. Walk among the surreal lava formations of Dimmuborgir, the rocky basin of a former lava lake, and drive along the shores of cerulean Lake M´yvatn, a haven for Iceland’s bountiful wild ducks. Look for the sleek harlequin duck and the black-and-white Barrow’s goldeneye, a species that nests nowhere else. Continue to Godafoss, “Waterfall of the Gods.” According to legend, this spectacular waterfall earned its name when an Icelandic chieftain threw wooden statues of his Norse gods into its crashing waters, signifying his conversion to Christianity.
This afternoon, cruise to Grimsey Island, bisected by the Arctic Circle and the northernmost inhabited territory in Iceland. Visit quaint Grimsey Church, built out of driftwood in 1867. Then, officially cross into the Arctic Circle, the top of the world, where the island is treeless but lush with grasses and mosses. Despite its remote Arctic latitude, its weather is mild year round. You will see thriving populations of seabirds, especially auks. Their black and white coloring is similar to a penguin’s, but auks have the distinct ability to fly above and dive into the Arctic waters. (B,L,D)
Day 6-Day at Sea
Today, delight in the passing scenery as you cruise along the east coast of Iceland and attend educational lectures on board. (B,L,D)
Day 7-Djúpivogur for Jökulsárlón
Enjoy a full-day scenic excursion along Iceland’s stunning east coast from Djúpivogur to the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon. Board a small boat for a private, specially arranged cruise amongst the breathtaking icebergs of this spectacular lagoon. An unforgettable experience, cruise in view of Europe’s largest glacier, Vatnajökull, and actually touch the ice that has calved into the lagoon off the outlet glacier, Breidamerkurjökull.
Enjoy lunch in a local restaurant near the lagoon before continuing on for a panoramic tour of scenic Hofn, a small fishing village known for its stunning mountain views. (B,L,D)
Day 8-Vestmannaeyjar (Heimaey Island)/Cruise around Surtsey Island
Arrive at fascinating Heimaey Island, also known as Vestmannaeyjar, where the tall cliffs are inhabited by puffin, fulmar and guillemot bird species. The island experienced a volcanic eruption in 1973, causing the formation of Mount Eldfell (“Fire Mountain”). See the lava fields which are still warm to the touch almost 40 years later. Stop at the precipitous headland of Storhofdi to observe Heimaey’s largest puffin colony and to take in magnificent views of the glaciers on the mainland.
This evening, cruise around Surtsey Island, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Created during volcanic eruptions between 1963 and 1968, it is the youngest island in the world and one of the most fragile; scientists are carefully monitoring the evolution of its flora and fauna.
This evening, join your traveling companions for the Captain’s Farewell Reception. (B,L,R,D)
Disembark and transfer to the airport for your return flight to the U.S. (B)
Associate Chair, Atmospheric, Oceanic and Space Sciences & Professor of Atmospheric, Oceanic and Space Sciences
College of Engineering
Mark Moldwin is a Professor of Space Physics at the University of Michigan in Atmospheric, Oceanic and Space Sciences within the College of Engineering. If space physics sounds intimidating for non-scientists, rest assured, Professor Moldwin has won numerous awards for the integration of his research with his teaching. He is the author of a textbook for non-science majors on the solar-terrestrial relationship and is a graduate of the University of Alaska-Fairbanks and conducts research in the polar regions.