A Circumnavigation of Iceland

National Geographic Explorer Cruise Ship
National Geographic Explorer
148 Passengers

Iceland’s geology in all its manifestations––glaciers, thundering waterfalls, immense cliffs, geothermal springs, boiling mud pots, and rock and lava-scapes of unearthly beauty––is world-class. It alone makes a circumnavigation a very compelling idea. And when you add in the other itinerary components––Iceland’s people, their unique cultural heritage and contemporary character, the island’s geography and birdlife––seeing it all in one 360º expedition is irresistible.

There’s one place on Earth where geology is so exciting, it’s downright sexy, even if you’re not a geologist: Iceland. Geologically young, Iceland is located on both the Iceland hotspot and the Mid-Atlantic Ridge––which means it is highly geologically active with many volcanoes––hundreds of them, in fact. Most famously, the volcano in Eyjafjallajökull erupted in 2010. On this unique 360º itinerary you will:

• Experience all of Iceland’s geological manifestations: glaciers, geysers, thundering waterfalls, immense cliffs, geothermal springs, boiling mud pots and rock- and lava-scapes of unearthly beauty
• Meet Iceland’s people, learn about their unique cultural heritage and contemporary character
• Actively explore Iceland’s wild western coast; Siglutjörout in the north; the rarely-visited rugged east coast; and the Westman islands, one of the planet’s youngest archipelagos
• Enjoy superlative photo ops and on-board photo assistance
• Travel with an expert team on a holistic, narrative voyage

Experience an enchanting land of geological extremes
View Europe’s largest ice cap. Feel the percussive cascade and the spray of Godafoss Waterfall. Walk along lava fields and ice sheets. Zodiac cruise among magnificent icebergs in Jökulsárlón. Kayak into fjords and serene bays, or take a snowmobile jaunt on a glacier. Go hiking on magnificent and remote stretches of the coast. And cap off the adventure with a soak in the famous Blue Lagoon.

Every day is active and engaging
You’ll get out on adventures every day—to Zodiac cruise, hike and walk, or kayak for personal encounters with beauty and wildness. You’ll have a choice of activities, plus your choice of naturalists to join—for a moveable feast of personalities, insights, and interests. Choice also includes opting to relax, too. Enjoy the view from behind Explorer’s panoramic glass windows. Or visit the fitness center with its generous views of the vistas, or ease into the sauna or a massage in the Wellness Center.

Travel in excellent company
Explore under the sure guidance of an expedition leader, an assistant expedition leader, eight veteran naturalists, a National Geographic photographer, plus a Lindblad-National Geographic certified photo instructor, a Global Perspective guest speaker, an undersea specialist, a wellness specialist and a video chronicler. Their knowledge and passion for the fascinating Arctic region is the key to your extraordinary experience.

Brief Itinerary

Day 1Home/Fly To Reykjavik, Iceland
Day 2Reykjavik/Embark
Day 3Explore the West Coast of Iceland
Day 4Ísafjördur
Day 5Exploring Northwestern Iceland
Day 6Siglufjordur and Akureyri
Day 7Lake Mývatn and Húsavík
Day 8Exploring Northeast Iceland
Day 9Djúpivogur, Iceland
Day 10Islands of Heimaey & Surtsey, Westman Islands
Day 11Reykjavik/Disembark/Home

Day 1 — U.S./Fly To Reykjavik, Iceland

Depart on an overnight flight to Reykjavik.

Day 2 — Reykjavik/Embark

Arrive in Reykjavik, the world’s northernmost capital, which lies only a fraction below the Arctic Circle and receives just four hours of sunlight in winter and 22 in summer. Have a guided overview of the Old Town, including Hallgrimskirkja Cathedral with its 210-foot tower, and perhaps shed some light on Nordic culture at the National Museum, with its Viking treasures and artifacts, and unusual whalebone carvings on display. Embark National Geographic Explorer.

Day 3 — Explore the West Coast of Iceland

National Geographic Explorer navigates Iceland’s wild western frontier, sailing past the immense Latrabjarg cliffs, the westernmost point of Iceland and home to a huge population of razorbills. The cliffs are an area once famous for egg collecting; the men were tied to ropes and lowered like spiders down onto the ledges. Continue to Flatey Island, a trading post for many centuries, for walks around the charming little hamlet that grew here, and take a Zodiac cruise along the coast.

Day 4 — Ísafjördur

Located in the Western Fjords, Ísafjördur is surrounded by water on three sides, sculpted by glaciers. Renowned for its traditional eider down production, it is a picture postcard of traditional Icelandic life and a great place for hiking, kayaking and for spotting eider ducks.

Day 5 — Exploring Northwestern Iceland

Hornstandir is Iceland’s northernmost peninsula, situated in the Westfjords region. Stunningly beautiful and peaceful, this remote corner of Iceland is uninhabited and can only be accessed on foot or by boat. Summertime is magical with 24 hours of daylight and many species of seabirds, including puffins, guillemots, razorbills, and kittiwakes.

Day 6 — Siglufjordur and Akureyri

Siglufjordur was the center of Iceland’s once-thriving herring industry. We stop by the Herring Museum for a talk and a tasting. Continue to picturesque Akureyri, backed by snow-capped mountains. Explore the old town, with its beautifully maintained period houses, or visit the botanical garden.

Day 7 — Lake Mývatn and Húsavík

Drive to Mývatn, the most geologically active area in Iceland. This is world-class field geology! See the bizarre mud pools at Hverarönd — so hot they actually bubble. At the Krafla geothermal area see the explosion crater at Viti and continue to an unforgettable sight: Godafoss, the waterfall of the gods. Meet the ship in Húsavík, and watch for whales as we sail north to the land of the midnight sun. Take Zodiacs ashore to the tiny island of Grimsey, which lies exactly on the Arctic Circle. Here we celebrate being officially in the Arctic, in the company of nesting arctic terns, fulmars, and puffins in burrows, all bathing, courting and fishing — another wonderful photo op.

Day 8 — Exploring Northeast Iceland

With plenty of rarely-visited coastline, this day is left open to explore Iceland’s rugged east coast. Join our naturalists for a hike or a Zodiac cruise to get a better view of the beautiful stacks at the end of the peninsula. Or, conditions permitting, we may have our first chance to kayak today under the steep cliffs.

Day 9 — Djúpivogur, Iceland

Dock in Djupivogur to explore the vast Vatnajokull ice cap. Via small boat, get up-close and personal with the deep blue icebergs of the large ice lagoon of Jökulsárlón. Photo lovers may set off together with the National Geographic photographer.

Day 10 — Islands of Heimaey and Surtsey, Westman Islands

The Westman Islands were formed by undersea volcanoes between 5,000 and 10,000 years ago and are among the youngest of the world’s archipelagos. In 1963, the world witnessed on film the birth of its newest island, Surtsey — a UNESCO World Heritage Site — which we see as we cruise past the coast. In 1973, Heimaey was threatened by lava flows that nearly closed off its harbor. We visit the crater, where the earth is still hot, and have amazing views of areas that had been engulfed by lava.

Day 11 — Reykjavik/Disembark/Home

Today we complete our circumnavigation of Iceland, disembarking in Reykjavík. Stop by the famous Blue Lagoon thermal baths, prior to our flight home. Whether you choose to enjoy the surreal bath and spa facilities or just stroll around the fascinating environs, the Blue Lagoon is unforgettable!

* Itinerary may be subject to change

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National Geographic Explorer Deck Plan