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Iceland, the “Land of Fire and Ice,” has caught fire in the imaginations of travelers discovering the bewitching wilderness and seascapes of an island-nation that is part of Europe, yet closer to the U.S. than continental Europe. More than half the population of the country resides in its capital city, Reykjavik, which you’ll explore in two visits that bookend your voyage. But the rest of the island remains spectacularly unspoiled, with green pastures where horses roam, magnificent fjords hiding tiny fishing villages on their banks, and glaciers beckoning explorers into their shocking blue ice caves. These are landscapes that have inspired epic literature and Viking lore — and we will explore it all on an astonishing adventure that reveals Iceland’s wild coastline from north to south.
And because we’ll be traveling in a small group, we’ll enjoy personalized attention and invaluable experience from a Vantage Adventure Leader and knowledgeable local guide, who will share their stories and insights with each new discovery. From a swim in the soothing milky waters of the famous Blue Lagoon amidst incredible mountain scenery to an excursion through the "Pompeii of the North," a town buried and preserved in the wake of a violent volcanic eruption, we’ll learn about the heritage and local culture of this unique island. What's more, we'll complement these discoveries with opportunities to walk or hike through incredible vistas every day. Without a doubt, the best way to tour Iceland is with Vantage, on a comprehensive voyage that lets you “see it all” — at the best value in deluxe travel!
Fly overnight to Reykjavík
Your Iceland adventure begins as you board an overnight flight to Reykjavík, the nation’s capital.
Settle into Reykjavík and explore its lively cultural scene
Upon arrival this morning, we'll begin the transfer to the hotel, stopping to enjoy breakfast along the way. After checking into your room this afternoon, the rest of your day is at leisure to discover the city of Reykjavik at your own pace. What the city lacks in size, it makes up for in culture. Art enthusiasts will find plenty to explore here, from galleries like the Reykjavik Art Museum to the various public art installations along the waterfront. Tonight, join your fellow travelers for a Welcome Drink and Reception back at the hotel.
Tour Iceland’s eclectic capital before exploring on your own
After enjoying breakfast at the hotel, you'll explore the city's highlights this morning during a sightseeing tour before enjoying the rest of the day at leisure. Surprising cosmopolitan, Reykjavik is rich with culinary options, from Icelandic fare to international dishes. Use your free time today to follow a historic trail through Old Reykjavik or visit the numerous galleries along the Old Harbor. If you’ve gotten your fill of city life, venture past the city limits to admire uninterrupted views of snow-topped mountains, raw fields, and shimmering seas. Active travelers will find plenty of trails perfect for hiking or biking along the dazzling scenery.
From bloody Marys to hot springs, get a true taste of Iceland today
Today we venture out along the Golden Circle to discover some of Iceland's most prized attractions. Cultural Discovery: Our tour begins with a visit an organic tomato farm, where you can savor a taste of Iceland’s “best bloody Mary” and admire prize-winning horses on a local farm. Unforgettable Moment: Our explorations continue in awe-inspiring Thingvellir National Park. Renowned for its extraordinary landscapes, this remarkable UNESCO World Heritage Site has a rich history that stretches back to the first settlers in Iceland. We’ll also stop to admire the spectacular Gullfoss Waterfall and the hot springs of the Geysir Geothermal Field during our Golden Circle exploration.
Embark your ship for the cruise portion of your tour
Following a breakfast at the hotel this morning, we'll check out and head towards our embarkation spot, stopping along the way to enjoy lunch at a local restaurant. This afternoon, we board the M/V Ocean Diamond, where you’ll have a chance to settle in before attending a complimentary Welcome Dinner onboard this evening.
A thrilling Snowcat excursion up Snaefellsjökull Glacier
Our Icelandic explorations begin in Stykkisholmur on the Snaefellnes Peninsula. Unforgettable Moment: Often called “Iceland in Miniature” because of its diverse landscapes, the area is home to Snaefellsjökull Glacier, which sits atop a 700,000-year-old dormant volcano that was featured in the Jules Verne novel Journey to the Center of the Earth. You'll thrill to incredible vistas as your guide takes you up to 4,600 feet (1,400 m) on a Snowcat excursion on this magnificent glacier; if the day is clear, you’ll also enjoy fantastic views of the quaint village of Hellissandur and bird-rich Breidafjördur Bay.
Please note: On selected departures, the Snaefellsjökull Glacier will be replaced by a tour of the Snaefellsnes Peninsula, which includes stunning views of lava fields, black lava beaches, and impressive glaciers.
The unforgettable vistas of Isafjördur, and a village visit to Thingeyri
Today‘s destination is Isafjördur, an idyllic town in the Westfjords region. Connected to the Icelandic mainland by only a narrow strip of land, the landscape of this secluded peninsula includes jaw-dropping views of dramatic fjords carved by ancient glaciers, sheer table mountains that plunge into the sea and pristine North Atlantic vegetation. Unforgettable Moment: As we continue through the mountains, we’ll stop to explore the historic village of Thingeyri. With a population of about 260 inhabitants, Thingeyri is both the area‘s first trading post and one of the oldest settlements. We’ll also stop at the thunderous Dynjandi, the highest and most impressive waterfall in the Westfjord region, before returning to the ship this evening.
Iceland’s herring era, and the birds of Grimsey Island
By morning, we reach the fjord town of Siglufjördur, once the hub of the global herring industry, which is now enjoying a rebirth in popularity. Our first stop is the award-winning Herring Era Museum, located on the town’s vibrant harborfront. Cultural Discovery: Here, you'll have time to wander the multiple exhibits illustrating the fascinating history of this important industry before watching a live herring salting demonstration! Later, we’ll head to Grimsey Island, a small island straddling the Arctic Circle. Located about 25 miles (40 km) off the mainland, the island harbors a variety of bird species, including puffins, guillemots and gulls. After returning to the ship this evening, we set sail for Akureyri, Iceland’s second-largest city.
A day of otherworldly landscapes, and a geothermal bath
Another day of remarkable scenery awaits us as we arrive in Akureyri this morning. Ranging inland, we’ll visit the fascinating Lake Myvatn region, an otherworldly national parkland with schizophrenic landscapes that look as if “heaven and hell” have clashed. One side of the lake features rugged volcanic remnants, while the other side is blessed with lush vegetation and varied birdlife. We’ll stop to marvel at Godafoss, meaning “waterfall of the gods” in local lore before exploring the small settlement of Skutustadagígar. Later, we’ll stop at the impressive lava formations of Dimmuborgir, said to resemble a collapsed citadel. In Icelandic folklore, Dimmuborgir is said to connect the earth to the infernal regions. We’ll also visit the Myvatn Nature Baths for a relaxing geothermal bath before heading back to the ship this evening.
Discovering Iceland’s whale-watch capital
In the early morning hours, we steam into Skjalfandi Bay and Húsavík. Often called the “whale-watching capital” of Iceland, this town’s offshore waters are home to 15 different whale species, as well as dolphins and 30 varieties of birds. Make sure your camera batteries are charged for today’s Iceland travel excursion as we set off to spot some of the world’s largest animals: whales. We’ll also pass the island of Lundey, where we’ll have the opportunity to spot thousands of northern seabirds from puffins and black guillemots to fulmars and arctic terns.
The outdoor splendor of Seydisfjördur and Stodvarfjordur
Today finds us in Seydisfjördur, a picturesque port in Iceland’s east fjords nestled between glistening sea and regal mountains. This scenic area is perfect for activities such as seal-spotting, horseback riding, kayaking, and hiking. We’ll travel past jagged mountain peaks and remote farmlands to Stodvarfjordur, where we'll visit the impressive “Stone and Mineral Collection” of Petra María and spend time in her remarkable garden. Then, we’ll head to Reydarfjordur for a visit to the Wartime Museum. Located by an old hospital barracks, this museum shows Icelandic life in the 1940s, the high point of the World War II from both the perspective of the soldiers and habitants of Reydarfjördur village.
Board a special boat to tour the Glacier Lagoon of Jokulsarlon
Our port of call today is Djupivogur, a fishing village in southeast Iceland and the starting point for our glacier excursion. We’ll set sail aboard a specially equipped boat to marvel at the picturesque scenery of the Glacier Lagoon of Jokulsarlon. Although not very wide, the lagoon is up to 750 feet deep which makes it the deepest lake in Iceland. Watch in awe as we maneuver smoothly between humongous glaciers, including the glistening Breidamerkurjokull, an outlet of Vatnajokull Glacier.
The Westman Islands and the “Pompeii of the North”
Located off Iceland’s south coast, the Westman Islands were formed by submarine volcanic eruptions 10,000 years ago. Surtsey Island, which emerged from the sea in 1963, is one the youngest land masses on earth. We’ll go ashore on Heimaey, the only inhabited island, where half-buried houses remain from a violent 1973 eruption. Known as the “Pompeii of the North”, the eruption of Eldfell engulfed over 400 buildings in 200 million tons of ash and lava. After exploring this unique landscape on a guided bus tour, we’ll visit the island’s Volcanic Center, where we’ll hear the story of the Heimaey volcanic eruption in 1973, learn about the recent arrival of Surtsey Island, and study the unique geology of the Vestmannaeyjar Islands.
Back in Reykjavik, visit its fabled Blue Lagoon
As our Iceland “saga” winds down, we find ourselves passing through the storied countryside leading back to Reykjavik, the last stop on our adventure. After breakfast, we’ll disembark the ship to enjoy one of the capital city’s top attractions: the Blue Lagoon. Unforgettable Moment: Take in your spectacular surroundings while basking in these famous warm, milky-blue waters, the perfect relaxing morning ritual. Your afternoon is at leisure. Tonight, share your favorite memories with fellow travelers during a Farewell Dinner back at the hotel.
Please note: For travelers on the 8/30 departures who are continuing onto the Greenland post extension, your flight will depart this afternoon before dinner.
Following breakfast at the hotel this morning, transfer to the Reykjavik airport for your flight home.
Important Notice: The above day-by-day itineraries are preliminary and therefore subject to change. If changes occur while on tour, you will be notified by your Vantage Adventure Leader or local representatives at the destination.
Please Note: The hotels listed are preliminary and subject to change. Although we contract our hotels a year in advance, unforeseen situations do occasionally occur. Should it be necessary to change a hotel, one of equal quality and value will be substituted. You will receive verified hotel information with your final itinerary. Hotel ratings are based on a leading travel industry authority on hotels throughout the world.