This morning, we woke up to find National Geographic Explorer cruising the Westman Islands off the southeast coast of Iceland proper. These islands rise straight out of the ocean with towering, vertical cliffs that offer amazing views. With thousands of birds and interesting geology, this archipelago was fun for everyone to explore and photograph.
In the afternoon, we went ashore for hiking and panoramic tours of Heimaey. This fishing community was the site of an intense volcanic rift eruption in 1973 that forced residents onto boats, not knowing if their homes would be there when they returned. After five months, residents returned to what was left of the village and began to rebuild. Guests were able to explore this dynamic place by hiking up the volcanic rim or viewing the surroundings via private coach, all affording excellent views and photographic opportunities.
Our evening was spent cruising the newest island in the area, Surtsey. This island rose out of the ocean in 1963 and is now a UNESCO World Heritage site. As the sun slowly made its way toward the horizon, we all began to reflect on an amazing expedition around Iceland. Sharing stories with new friends was a great way to spend our last night on board.