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Set your sights on Iceland in 2021 and prepare to be amazed. The Land of Fire and Ice is truly like none other. Formed from seismic activity, the country is a scenic tour de force of waterfalls, glaciers, volcanos, and scenery so cinematic it’s been featured in franchises as diverse as James Bond and Star Wars.
On this unique Iceland adventure, you’ll cross the Arctic Circle and circumnavigate the Nordic island country by small ship, discovering the pleasures of its landscapes as well as cultural surprises, too. Uncover wonders along the famed Golden Circle, including UNESCO-listed Thingvellir National Park. Take a soak in the Blue Lagoon and absorb its restorative properties. Go whale-watching by rigid inflatable boat in Húsavík.
With 16 included features and Cultural Discoveries, plus 3 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, you’ll enjoy an enriching lecture series; tour Iceland’s quaint capital, Reykjavík; and visit a local greenhouse where the promise of “Iceland’s best Blood Mary” awaits. Not to mention, enjoy ample opportunity to connect with locals and pursue adventures of your own, including horseback riding, kayaking, hiking and more — your Adventure Leader will provide suggestions and point you in the right direction.
Solo travelers will enjoy limited low-cost Single Supplements aboard the m/v Ocean Diamond, a nimble small ship featuring just 198 other travelers, so you can enjoy maximum discovery and the most elbow room. See why no visit to Iceland will be the last — discover this captivating nation with Vantage!
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
If you purchased airfare with Vantage, you'll arrive early this morning and begin the transfer to the hotel, stopping to enjoy breakfast along the way. After checking into your room this afternoon, you'll have some free time to discover the city of Reykjavík at your own pace. What the city lacks in size, it makes up for in culture. Surprisingly cosmopolitan, you'll find that Reykjavík is rich with culinary options, from Icelandic fare to international dishes; it also boasts an impressive spread of museums and art galleries. Tonight, join your fellow travelers for a Welcome Drink and Dinner at a local restaurant.
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 natural attractions. First, we'll explore awe-inspiring Thingvellir National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Renowned for its extraordinary landscapes, this remarkable 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 discoveries. Finally, we'll pay a visit to a tomato farm and greenhouse, where you'll savor a taste of "Iceland's best Bloody Mary."
Embark on a sightseeing tour of Reykjavík, enjoy lunch, then board the m/v Ocean Diamond
Explore the highlights of this fascinating city during a sightseeing tour today, from the striking architecture that peppers its streets to the various public art installations that adorn the waterfront. You'll also enjoy a delectable included lunch after your tour. Then, it's off to one of the region's top attractions: the Blue Lagoon. Take in your spectacular surroundings while basking in these famous warm, milky-blue waters — the perfect rejuvenating ritual. Early this evening, we'll transfer to the city's harbor and embark the m/v Ocean Diamond.
A thrilling snowcat excursion up Snæfellsjökull Glacier
Our Icelandic explorations today find us in Stykkishólmur on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula. Often called “Iceland in Miniature” because of its diverse landscapes, the area is home to Snæfellsjökull 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. Your guide will take you up to 4,600 feet (1,400 m) on an open-air snowcat excursion on this magnificent glacier; if the day is clear, you’ll enjoy fantastic views of the quaint village of Hellissandur and bird-rich Breiðafjörður Bay.
Please note: On the August 26 departure, your Glacier Tour will be replaced by a tour of Snæfellsnes Peninsula, a beautiful area often called “Iceland in Miniature.” This excursion includes a drive through the area’s striking scenery, including lava fields, black lava beaches, and the Lóndrangar rock pinnacles, which are remnants of a massive volcanic crater. You will also stop by the charming fishing village of Arnarstapi, as well as the Shark Museum in Bjarnarhöfn.
The unforgettable vistas of Ísafjörður, and a village visit to Thingeyri
Today's destination is Ísafjörður, 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. 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. Along the way, enjoy an expedition-style lunch at a local community house with a performance by a local band.
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. Be on the lookout for the uninhabited Hornstrandir Nature Reserve. During northerly winter storms, ships once sought shelter below the mountains here. You’ll also pass Hornbjarg, the most magnificent bird cliff in Iceland.
Learn about Iceland's herring era in Siglufjördur, and visit locals in Hrisey
By morning, we reach the fjord town of Siglufjörður, 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 harbor front. 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! This offers a unique insight into a practice that helped define this region and its inhabitants — it is yet another view of the multifaceted culture of the region. We will also check out Hrísey, the second largest island of Iceland that is also sparsely inhabited — and meet some of the 153 people that call the island home when we pay a visit to a local family. Keep your eyes peeled for whales today as you sail toward Akureyri.
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 Mývatn region, a national parkland with otherworldly 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 Goðafoss, 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 have an included lunch here and visit the Mývatn Nature Baths for a relaxing geothermal bath before heading back to the ship this evening. Enjoy local entertainment onboard tonight.
Discovering Iceland’s whale-watch capital
This morning we visit the village of Flateyri, a fishing village that served as a hub for shark hunting and whaling in the 19th century. Today, it’s an icon of small-town Iceland and you’ll have time to explore its quirky museums, including the Nonsense Museum. You’ll have free time to explore here, with tips and suggestions provided by your Adventure Leader.
After, we continue on to Skjálfandi 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 excursion as we set off on rigid inflatable boats (RIBs) 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 Seyðisfjörður and the Skálanes Nature Reserve
After a morning of sailing between glistening sea and regal mountains, we arrive in Seyðisfjörður, a picturesque port in Iceland’s east fjords. 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, exploring this rugged landscape off-road. We’ll stop for refreshments at the charming lakeside Skálanes House, which offers a welcoming atmosphere and peerless views. Travelers can then embark on a moderate walk through the landscape here, or simply relax at Skálanes House and enjoy the scenery. We’ll transfer back to the ship, where you’ll enjoy an afternoon at leisure. Dinner is on board.
Board a special boat to tour the glacier lagoon of Jökulsárlón
Our port of call today is Djúpivogur, 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 Jökulsárlón. Although not very wide, the lagoon is up to 750 feet deep which makes it the deepest lake in Iceland. We’ll maneuver between humongous glaciers, including the glistening Breiðamerkurjökull, an outlet of Vatnajökull Glacier (part of the UNESCO-listed Vatnajökull National Park). We’ll enjoy a lite lunch and ice cream at a local restaurant.
The Westman Islands and the “Pompeii of the North”
Located off Iceland’s south coast, the Westman (Vestmannaeyjar) 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.
One last afternoon to explore electric Reykjavík
As our Iceland adventure winds down, we'll transfer through the storied countryside leading back to Reykjavík, the last stop on our adventure. After checking into our hotel, your day is at leisure. Shuttle service will be available between your hotel and city center. For those who still have some energy left for exploration, a hiking excursion with local guide can be arranged. Tonight, share your favorite memories with fellow travelers during a Farewell Reception. Dinner is on your own; your Adventure Leader can provide you with many fantastic recommendations!
Following breakfast at the hotel this morning, transfer to the Reykjavík 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.
Please Note: Ocean cruising is not the same experience as river cruising; as such, you may experience fluctuating tides and weather patterns that may involve some rocking of your vessel. Itineraries will include all activities as planned except in extreme cases that can’t be controlled by your shipboard crew.