Experience an enchanting land of geological extremes on a satisfying circumnavigation of this land of fire and ice. Encounter vast volcanic landscapes on one of the world’s youngest islands, walk on lava fields and ice sheets, and feel the power of gushing hot springs and cascading waterfalls. Cruise into the beautiful, remote Westfjords and spend time on the Arctic Circle spotting nesting seabirds. Zodiac cruise into fjords and serene bays and go hiking on magnificent and remote stretches of the coast. Cap off the adventure with a soak in the famous Blue Lagoon. Along the voyage, Icelandic experts and musicians will add local insight and energy to the expedition.
Experience all of Iceland’s geological manifestations: glaciers, geysers, thundering waterfalls, immense cliffs, geothermal springs, boiling mud pots, and lava-scapes of unearthly beauty
Meet Iceland’s people and learn about their unique cultural heritage and contemporary character
Explore Iceland’s wild western coast; Siglufjörður in the north; the rarely visited rugged east coast; and the Westman islands in the south, among the planet’s youngest archipelagos
Actively explore by taking Zodiacs into fjords and serene bays
Customize your experience by choosing from four expedition extensions
Get out to hike and Zodiac cruise. Meet welcoming Icelanders and learn about their unique history and contemporary character. Explore havens for wildlife. Options abound to make the expedition as active as you choose, and each day join a different naturalist for more viewpoints. Plus, get top shots with the help of a National Geographic photographer.
Today was spent transiting the Chukchi Sea between Wrangel
Island and the Bering Strait. After several busy and eventful days spent
exploring the island, many people welcomed the opportunity to relax for a day
and spent the time in a variety of ways.
There was a full slate of fascinating and well-attended
lectures in the lounge, National Geographic photographer Chris Rainier leading
off with “Cultures on the Edge: Photographing for National Geographic in the 21st Century”, a collection of images and stories from his world travels on
assignment for the magazine. Paul North, undersea specialist for
, followed with “Plankton: The Importance of Small Things”,
an introduction to plankton and critical issues involving our planet’s oceans.
And author and seabird expert Peter Harrison presented “Ocean Nomads”, a
beautiful and passionate tribute in words and images to his 50 years studying
albatrosses around the world.
For some guests, however, today was all about health and
wellness. Allison, Lindblad wellness specialist, reported that she had ten
attendees for morning stretching and nearly six hour’s worth of massages
scheduled as of 11 a.m.!
Meanwhile up on the bridge, veteran Lindblad guest Bob Haulter
was at his post with binoculars keeping watch for marine mammals. It’s clearly
Bob’s favorite pastime with
National Geographic Orion
spending by his own estimation between eight and nine hours at the bridge on
day’s at sea. And it paid off late in the day, when we were surrounded by
perhaps dozens of North Pacific humpback whales! Several breeches and pectoral
fin-slapping were seen.
In the dining room, the galley staff once again delivered a
full slate of irresistible meals and surprised everyone with a collection of
delicious “Russian Style” hors d’oeuvres at recap, while naturalist and
photographic instructor Eric Guth finished off the Recap with a preview of
tomorrow’s visit to Lorino Village.
Unquestionably, however, the highlight of our day at sea was
the presentation of music, song, and dance by the ship crew. The festive
atmosphere was contagious enough that eventually many in the audience joined in
the dancing and clapping. Guests marveled at the depth of talent that was on
display by all departments, and most stayed up well past any decent sleeping
hour to watch the ship band the Stowaways close the show in their first-ever
Our last day circumnavigating Iceland found us in the Westman Islands, where we headed toward the largest of 15 islands that make up the archipelago and the southernmost town in Iceland, Heimaey. In windy conditions, our captain and the local pilot skillfully navigated one of Iceland’s narrowest harbors, re-sculptured by a major volcanic eruption in 1973.
During this eruption, the whole population of around 5,000 had to be evacuated and 65% of their homes were lost. Once docked, our guests disembarked for either the panoramic tour of the island’s interesting landscape or for the volcano hike that brought them to the top of the crater Eldfell (Fire Mountain). Local guides brought the history of the island to life and our tours ended with a visit to the Eldheimar (World of Fire) Museum that tells the story of how the locals dealt with the 1973 eruption. Afterward, guests were able to enjoy a cultural tour of Brothers’ Brewery, where they brew a wide selection of beer since Iceland relaxed its total ban of beer in 1989.
Next up was the island of Sulnasker. Our onboard ornithologist described what we were observing: Iceland’s biggest colony of northern gannets, which covered the island with a white carpet of nesting seabirds and accompanying guano!
The weather didn’t fail us and our guests spent the final hours of the day enjoying a cruise to one of the newest islands on Earth, Surtsey, which was formed during a four-year, continuous volcanic eruption that lasted from 1963 to 1967. We sailed around Surtsey, listening to our geologist. We were treated to a beautiful showcase of wildlife around the island—a pod of killer whales fished for shoals of herring. Northern gannets were accomplices to the carnage and soon this feast became one of the most memorable wildlife sightings of our circumnavigation.
Our fantastic voyage ended with the captain’s farewell cocktails and a final sumptuous dinner before we finished our packing and prepared for an early departure.
We awoke to blue skies and sunshine! After a windy, rocky sail from Grimsey, everyone was excited for a day of land-based adventure as we split up into a few different groups.
Some adventurers opted for the long day explorations, which went to the famous Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon; others chose the Superjeep ride, which went off-roading into the mountains to see impressive landscapes and waterfalls.
Those of us on the coastal walk were treated to amazing views of Djupivogur and the island of Papey from a lookout point. Then we walked down to the gorgeous black-sand beaches that the south coast of Iceland is famous for. Flowers were still in bloom—Alaskan lupine, bluebells, thrift, arctic thyme, and Iceland’s national flower, mountain avens. After a walk among the dunes, we made our way past a freshwater marsh to a sweet spot, protected from the wind, where we were snacked on crowberry juice and traditional Icelandic donuts called kleinur.
After a delicious lunch in the ship’s dining room, many of us joined the cultural tour which included a visit to an amazing rock collector’s workshop that was transformed into a small museum. The exhibit included an incredible sample of local rocks, each one cut and polished to expose a cross section of the beautiful patterning hidden under the surface. The grand finale of the tour was an a cappella concert by a singer who invited us to sit in an old oil drum, lit by candlelight, and listen to her Icelandic folk songs bouncing around the space with the most amazing acoustics.
After a rocky transit in the early hours of this morning, we were treated to a beautifully calm anchorage for our morning landing at Grimsey Island, located 25 miles off the north coast of Iceland and straddling the Arctic Circle.
Via the single little yellow bus on the island or simply walking, we visited the eight-ton stone sphere monument that marks the current location of the Arctic Circle, an impressive structure that needs to be repositioned 14.5 meters each year to keep up with the northward movement of this iconic line of latitude.
During our morning on this fascinating island we were treated to sightings of arctic terns, fulmars, and puffins, even though the majority of the summer breeding activity was coming to an end.
After a beautiful morning on Grimsey Island, we returned to the ship for 22 hardy souls to take part in the polar plunge—an exciting opportunity to be fully immersed in this incredible part of Iceland. How many people can say that they have taken a dip in the ocean right on the Arctic Circle?
After a calm night at the dock in Akureyri, we set out for full-day excursions in the volcanic wonderland of Mývatn, located at the edge of Iceland’s interior highlands. Everyone received excellent firsthand glimpses into the island’s geologic story, while also focusing on the unique opportunities of the region.
Our first stop was the powerful, semicircular Goðafoss waterfall, which carves a narrow gorge in local columnar basalts providing dramatic views of both the cascade and the downstream river itself. With a magma reservoir only two miles below the Earth’s surface, the Krafla hotspot shapes this landscape, creating hot springs, bubbling mudpots, steaming fumaroles, bold-colored sediments, and other volcanic structures. All tours walked among the lava pillars of Dimmuborgir, followed by a visit to the geothermal features. Those interested in a more vigorous hike also went to Hverfjall, a tephra crater more than 1km across that formed over 200 years of explosive eruptions.
Lake Mývatn, a nesting and feeding site for many bird species, is a flooded, very flat lava field; the lake takes its name from the abundance of midges that feed on the nutrient-rich freshwater algae, in turn providing food source for the birds. One tour emphasized observing and learning about avian residents and migrants; an additional group of guests spent the afternoon relaxing at the hot spring-fed spa in Húsavík.
The northern coast of Iceland is home to many species of marine mammals—indeed, we saw several humpback whales in the fjord today—and our evening was dedicated to learning about the ongoing research and conservation efforts of Tom Grove, a local biologist.