A trio of waterfalls and a rocky landscape with tall volcanic peak at Dimmuborgir Iceland
The vibrant blue Myvatn Lake seen with patches of snow around it in Iceland
Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon in Iceland seen with travelers walking along the shoreline with the water filled with icebergs
A traveler stands in a perfect circle cave in the rocks at Dimmuborgir Iceland
Two puffins seen up close in Iceland
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Polar Regions Arctic Cruise

Iceland Circumnavigation Cruise

On this Iceland Circumnavigation cruise, explore the entire coastline of the “Land of Ice and Fire,” going to remote shores where cars cannot reach, yet hitting many of the inland hotspots on full-day, land-based excursions. An added bonus for active travelers is the opportunity to add on kayaking and scuba diving to see this island country like no other expedition.

Itinerary highlights include witnessing the spectacular Goðafoss waterfall; whale watching in Húsavík, Iceland’s whale watching capital that’s home to up to 24 different whale species.; exploring the Látrabjarg bird cliffs, the largest seabird cliffs in Europe; visiting Vatnajökull National Park, featuring Europe’s largest glacier, iceberg-speckled glacial lakes, black-sand beaches, reindeer and rich birdlife; and discovering Mjóifjördur, a hidden gem of a fjord cherished by locals.

See snow-capped peaks that rise above glaciers and hear active volcanoes rumble. Walk along black-sand beaches strewn with glittering bergy bits and discover geysers and fumaroles and bubbling mud pools. Explore markets, art sculptures and charming fishing towns. In one of the most geologically active places on earth, enjoy the flexibility that a small ship expedition provides. Your captain will set the course some days to take advantage of weather and wildlife. And expert naturalists and historians will reveal the Iceland below the surface, a land rich in wildlife, culture and fascinating human history.

Home base is the 132-guest Sylvia Earle, but note that in order to experience some of Iceland’s incredible scenery, a number of the shore excursions on this itinerary use overland coach to travel away from the coast for the best of both worlds.

Read on for details about this Iceland circumnavigation, or learn more about AdventureSmith’s Iceland cruises, Arctic cruises and Arctic trips.



Itinerary

Iceland Circumnavigation Itinerary

This 11-day itinerary circumnavigates Iceland, sailing round-trip from Reykjavik, going to remote shores where cars cannot reach, yet hitting many of the inland hotspots on full-day, land-based excursions.

A map showing the entirely of Iceland with the path of the Iceland circumnavigation cruise shown sailing along the coastline
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Day 1
Arrive Reykjavik, Iceland

Having made your way to Reykjavik, you will be met by a ship representative and transferred to the group hotel. Upon arrival at the included hotel, request cabin tags from the hotel check-in staff, and label the tags with your name and ship cabin number. Enjoy free time, and in the evening dine at your leisure (dinner not included).

Accommodations

Fosshotel Reykjavik Hotel (or similar)

Meals

n/a

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Day 2
Embark Reykjavik

This morning, ensure any cabin luggage is fitted with cabin tags and take it down to hotel reception. Luggage will be collected from the hotel and transferred directly to port for clearance and delivered to your cabin ahead of embarkation. Keep any valuables or personal items with you throughout the day.

Explore the main sights of Reykjavik on a half-day city tour before transferring to the pier for embarkation. Settle into your cabin before attending important safety briefings and enjoy the thrill of departure as the crew “throws the lines” and sets sail with spectacular views of Reykjavik. This evening, get to know your fellow expeditioners and the friendly expedition team and crew at the captain’s welcome dinner to celebrate the start of a thrilling adventure.

Accommodations

Sylvia Earle

Meals

breakfast, dinner

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Day 3
Stykkisholmur, Snaefellsnes Peninsula & Látrabjarg Cliffs

Stykkisholmur is the starting point of your adventures on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula, gateway to Snæfellsjökull National Park. Stykkishólmur is located by Breiðafjörður Bay on the north of Snæfellsnes peninsula and is surrounded by wonderful views of the innumerable islands. One of the defining landmarks in Stykkishólmur are the old houses in the old city center, some of which were owned by Danish traders. Every year in August there is a Danish town festival in Stykkishólmur called Danskir dagar or Danish days. The oldest house in Stykkishólmur is the Norwegian house, which dates back to 1832. The inhabitants take great pride in preserving the old houses and walking in the center of town is like walking in another era.

Snaefellsnes Peninsula is an area of diverse landscapes that is characterized by lava fields and glistening fjords and home to bird-rich Breidafjordur Bay. The area is crowned by the magnificent, ice-capped Snæfellsjökull volcano, a 700,000-year-old dormant subglacial volcano, visible from Reykjavik on a clear day and immortalized in Jules Verne’s Journey to the Centre of the Earth.

Disembark the ship at approximately 8:30am to commence today’s full day excursion visiting the following areas:

Arnarstapi was an important trading post in the past and had a much bigger population than it has now. Columnar basalt, ravines and grottoes surround the Arnarstapi pier. There is a large arctic tern colony in the village itself, and a walk along the coastline is a great way to see birds such as kittiwake, arctic tern and fulmar. You will also pass magnificent lava formations. The seaside and the cliffs between Arnastapi and Hellnar were made a Natural Reserve in 1979. A sculpture of Bardur Snaefellsas by Ragnar Kjartansson stands by the beach at Arnarstapi.

At Bjarnarhöfn enjoy a guided tour of the shark museum and have the opportunity to taste the famed cured shark.

Though Grundarfjörður is not the most well-known town in Snæfellsnes, Mount Kirkjufell is certainly one of the most famous mountains in Iceland, if not the world. It is not unusual for photographers from all over the world to make their way to Grundarfjörður for the sole purpose of photographing this unique landmark which has even starred in a number of films. However, there is a lot more on offer in Grundarfjörður than just Mount Kirkjufell. Nature abounds, with vibrant birdlife and spectacular waterfalls.

This evening, in route to Isafjordur, sail past the immense Látrabjarg cliffs, Iceland’s westernmost point and home to a huge population of razorbills and puffins.

Accommodations

Sylvia Earle

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

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Days 4 - 5
Westfjords

Over the next two days, explore the Westfjords region featuring outstanding landscapes with jaw-dropping views of dramatic fjords carved by ancient glaciers, sheer table mountains that plunge into the sea and pristine North Atlantic vegetation. The region features attractive towns such as Isafjordur, the famous birdcliffs at Latrabjarg, and spectacular fjords where you can kayak, hike and birdwatch.

In genuine expeditionary style, the captain and guides keep your itinerary flexible to allow for spontaneity to discover one of Iceland’s most remote and pristine regions, filled with many deep and dramatic fjords, towering bird cliffs, stunning natural beauty and opportunities for wildlife encounters. Enjoy the bountiful silence and magnificent landscapes seen by the few adventurers that make their way here.

Accommodations

Sylvia Earle

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

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Day 6
Akureyri & Mývatn

Picturesque Akureyri is Iceland’s second largest city outside the capital area with a superb snowcapped mountain backdrop. Explore the old town, with its beautifully maintained period houses before heading inland to nearby Mývatn region, an area said to be the most geologically active area in Iceland.

Shore excursions here include the Akureyri Public Park and Botanic Garden. The garden is one of the northern most botanical gardens in the world. The Public Park was opened in 1912 but the botanic gardens section was opened in 1957. There are about 6,600 different species of plants grown in the garden, of which 430 species are native to Iceland.

The Goðafoss waterfall is one of the most spectacular waterfalls in Iceland. In the year 1,000 the Lawspeaker Þorgeir Ljósvetningagoði made Christianity the official religion of Iceland. After his conversion, Þorgeir threw his statues of the Norse gods into the waterfall earning the waterfall its name: waterfall of the gods.

Námaskarð is well known for its sulphurous mud springs called solfataras and steam springs called fumaroles. Even though you won’t find any pure spring water in this wonderful geothermal site of Iceland, the beauty of the colorful minerals is impressive and the gigantic mud craters are truly impressive.

Another stop is to Mývatn Nature Baths. Drawing on a centuries-old tradition, the tastefully designed complex offers bathers a completely natural experience that begins with a relaxing dip amidst clouds of steam rising up from a fissure deep in the Earth’s surface, and ends with a luxurious swim in a pool of geothermal water drawn from depths of up to 8,200 feet.

Later, transfer to Húsavik, where you can explore the small town at your own leisure before re-boarding the ship to sail to Grímsey Island.

Accommodations

Sylvia Earle

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

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Day 7
Grímsey Island & Húsavik

Located approximately 25 miles off the mainland, Grímsey is a verdant grassy island, probably best known for its proximity to the Arctic Circle, which cuts across the island. Many people travel to Grímsey just to say they have stepped across the imaginary line. With a tiny population of approximately 100 inhabitants, it’s a fantastic place for Zodiac cruising, kayaking and photographing seabirds such as guillemots, gulls and puffins.

Leaving Grímsey to return closer to the mainland, spend time scanning the waters of Skjálfandi Bay around Húsavik, a town known as the Iceland’s whale watching capital, home to up to 24 different whale species, as well as dolphins and 30 varieties of birds. The largest animal on earth, the blue whale, has also been spotted in Skjálfandi Bay, and if you are lucky, you might catch a glimpse of this magnificent creature as well as others, such as orcas, fin whales and pilot whales.

Accommodations

Sylvia Earle

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

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Day 8
Seydisfjordur

Explore the east coast of Iceland today, starting by enjoying a sail along a long, scenic, calm and deep fjord that snakes for 10.5 miles from its mouth to the head of the fjord to the town of Seydisfjordur, nestled beneath Mounts Strandartindur and Bjolfur.

Seydisfjordur is a picturesque fishing village that is renowned for its charming collection of colorful wooden buildings located around the lagoon. Take a stroll around town and discover the timber houses that are remnants from when the Norwegians settled here and established the herring fishing facilities from 1870-1900. From the valley above the town, the river Fjardara tumbles down in beautiful cascades to the lagoon.

There are a number of delightful hiking trails to explore, or alternatively, you can discover a flourishing cultural scene with an arts center, the Technical Museum of East Iceland, the famous blue church that stages music concerts, and the only two cinemas in the east of Iceland. Located on a mountainside above the town find Tvisongur, a unique sound sculpture by German artist Lukas Kühne. To reach the sculpture, hike for 20 minutes on a gravel road that starts from the Brimberg Fish Factory. Back in town, browse the stores where you will discover handicrafts by local artists and artisans, perfect as a souvenir or gift.

Accommodations

Sylvia Earle

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

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Day 9
Höfn & Vatnajökull National Park

Höfn is a lively fishing town with a healthy population of 1,800, and gateway to Vatnajökull National Park, one of the most spectacular and special parts of Iceland. It’s home to Europe’s largest glacier, Vatnajökull, your shore excursion for the day.

You’ll also hike in Skaftafell National Park, which was established in 1967, but from 2008 it became part of the larger Vatnajökull National Park, Europe’s second largest after Yugyd Va in Russia. The park also boasts colorful mountains and deep valleys, as well as rich birdlife, reindeers and seals.

Inside the national park find glacier tongues resting on the green fields of the lowland, Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon, a glacial lagoon filled with floating icebergs that wash up on shore and stand gleaming on the nearby black-sand beach, dubbed Diamond Beach. Enjoy an amphibian boat excursion on the lagoon to photograph the icebergs.

Accommodations

Sylvia Earle

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

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Day 10
Westman Islands

Located off Iceland’s south coast, the Westman Islands were formed by volcanic eruptions around 10,000 years ago. Sail past Surtsey Island, a UNESCO World Heritage site that emerged from the sea in 1963 and is one of the youngest land masses on earth. Westman Islands are surrounded by 15 other uninhabited islands and around 30 rocks and skerries offering refuge for a rich array of seabirds. Westman Islands are considered to have the largest Atlantic puffin colony in the world, and when sailing around the islands it is not uncommon to see puffins but also whales and seals.

Heimaey is the main island in the archipelago, and it has a population of around 4,200. Ashore on Heimaey, the only inhabited island in the archipelago, see half-buried houses that remain from a violent 1973 eruption of Eldfell volcano, which you can hike up if you wish. A visit to the weather station offers bird-watching opportunities and splendid views of the surrounding islands.

Eruptions are a big part of the history of the Westman Island, where there are two volcanoes – one that erupted some 6,000 years ago, and Mount Eldfell that erupted in 1973, forcing all of the island’s inhabitants to evacuate for the mainland. Serendipitously, due to bad weather the day prior to the eruption, all the fishing boats remained in the harbor and were able to help transport the inhabitants of Heimaey to the mainland. You can learn more about the story of the eruption and the aftermath at the fascinating Eldheimar museum, which includes a display of a house that was buried in ash during the eruption.

Accommodations

Sylvia Earle

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

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Day 11
Disembark Reykjavik, Iceland

After breakfast, bid farewell to the expedition team, crew and newfound friends as you disembark in Reykjavik, where the voyage ends. A transfer is included to your hotel or to Keflavik airport.

Accommodations

n/a

Meals

breakfast

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Details
Inclusions, Terms & Notes

Included

All airport transfers mentioned in itinerary; one night’s hotel accommodation in Reykjavik on Day 1 (including breakfast on Day 2); half-day tour of Reykjavik, prior to embarkation on Day 2; onboard accommodation during voyage including daily cabin service; all meals, snacks, tea and coffee during voyage; beer, house wine and soft drinks with dinner; Captain’s Welcome and Farewell receptions including four-course dinner, house cocktails, house beer and wine, non-alcoholic beverages; all shore excursions & Zodiac cruises; educational lectures and guiding services from expedition team; complimentary access to onboard expedition doctor and medical clinic (initial consult); a 3-in-1 waterproof polar expedition jacket; complimentary use of muck boots during the voyage; comprehensive pre-departure information; port surcharges, permits and landing fees; gratuities for ship’s crew & local guides.

Exclusions

International or domestic flights, unless specified in the itinerary; transfers not mentioned in the itinerary; airport arrival or departure taxes; passport, visa and vaccination charges; travel insurance, emergency evacuation charges or personal insurance (required); hotels and meals not included in itinerary; optional excursions not included in the itinerary; optional activity surcharges; all items of a personal nature including but not limited to: alcoholic beverages and soft drinks (outside of dinner service), laundry services, personal clothing, medical expenses, WiFi, email or phone charges, discretionary expedition team gratuities (USD cash only).

Payment & Cancellation

In order to confirm this trip, a nonrefundable deposit of $2,500 is required per person at time of booking (additional nonrefundable $250 deposit is required for optional activities). The balance of the trip price is due 90 days before the departure date. Special holiday payment and cancellation terms apply. Guests who must cancel their trip for any reason must do so in writing. Standard cancellations are subject to the following per-person penalties, based on number of days prior to departure:
91 days or more – 100% of deposit
90 to 0 days – 100% of total trip cost

Terms & Conditions

This trip is subject to AdventureSmith Explorations Terms and Conditions. Please read this information carefully and call us if you have any questions. A Traveler Information Form, which includes a release of liability, must be completed and signed by all travelers. Your Adventure Specialist will send you a unique link to complete this form along with a packing list and extensive pre-departure and travel insurance information upon booking confirmation.

Vaccination Requirement
To join this trip, all eligible guests must provide proof of being fully vaccinated (at least 14 days after your final COVID-19 vaccine shot), including a booster shot for those eligible. There may also be COVID-19 testing or other requirements to participate; your Adventure Specialist will provide details of current policies upon booking.

Arrival & Departure

The Iceland Circumnavigation cruise begins and ends in Reykjavik, Iceland. Plan flights to arrive to Reykjavik’s Keflavik International Airport (KEF) anytime on Day 1, but we highly recommend arriving one day prior to your trip start date in case of any flight delay, cancellation or lost luggage issues. An arrival transfer to the group hotel is included on Day 1. Plan flights to depart Reykjavik no earlier than 12:00pm noon on disembarkation day. A group transfer to the airport is included following disembarkation. If you would like assistance with international flights, please visit our Booking Flights resource page.

Activities

Birdwatching, walking, Zodiac cruising, photography tips, lectures, a polar plunge & all trips ashore are included in the rate. Various optional activities may be available, with per-person 2023 prices starting at: kayaking $620; paddling $580; scuba diving $940. To participate in polar diving, you must be a trained, certified scuba diver with proof of certification beyond entry level, i.e. Advanced Diver certification or equivalent rating as well as experience in dry-suit diving at a minimum of 30 dives. Please contact AdventureSmith for details on which activities are available on your specific departure date and to reserve space with your booking.

Room Configuration

Single travelers wishing to book a double-occupancy cabin may do so at a 50% supplement of the per-person listed rate in select cabins upon availability. Solo travelers willing to share may be matched with a person of the same gender, and if the other cabin berth goes unsold, will only pay the standard double-occupancy rate. 

Families & Children

Kids 8 years and older are welcomed aboard all departure dates. Children between 8-17 years of age must pay the adult price of the expedition.

Travel Insurance

A medical form for all travelers, signed by their doctor, is required for every departure. Comprehensive travel insurance is mandatory for this trip, with a minimum required coverage of $250,000 USD per person, covering medical, accident and repatriation/emergency evacuation, as well as baggage loss and cancellation or curtailment of holiday. In addition, we highly recommend our travelers protect their investment with travel insurance that includes trip cancellation and other benefits. Our partners at Travelex Insurance offer a variety of plans and policies to fit every trip and budget. Coverage for a pre-existing medical condition is also available if you purchase the Travel Select plan within 15 days of the initial trip payment; refer to plan details. Learn more about travel insurance or get a free quote.

Itinerary Notes

Read this itinerary as a guide only; the exact route and program varies according to ice, weather conditions, wildlife encountered and the captain’s discretion. Flexibility is the key to the success of any Arctic expedition.

Rates & Dates

Cruise Rates & Dates

Jun 04 - Jun 14, 2023
Sylvia Earle • 11 days
brown diver icon depicting diving activity brown kayaking icon depicting offered kayaking activity A brown kayak paddle icon depicting a one-time paddle activity option
From $10195USD
Per Person
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brown diver icon depicting diving activity Diving
brown kayaking icon depicting offered kayaking activity Kayaking
A brown kayak paddle icon depicting a one-time paddle activity option One-Time Paddling
Accommodation

Learn About the Small Ship on Your Itinerary

Expedition Ship
Sylvia Earle

Due to sail in December 2022, Sylvia Earle offers a robust menu of adventure activities from kayaking and polar diving to mountaineering and backcountry skiing and snowboarding. Cruise responsibly knowing this brand new icebreaker polar expedition ship was built with cutting edge nautical technology including one of the lowest polluting marine engines in the world.

Expert Review

Reviews From Our Experts So You Know What To Expect

Todd Smith • January 19th, 2021
Expert Aboard: Sylvia Earle & Greg Mortimer Ship Review

Read a detailed ship review about the identical polar sister ships Greg Mortimer & Sylvia Earle and what they offer travelers. Our expert has been aboard and writes this from his firsthand experience.

Book with the confidence that comes from experience.

100+ combined years of experience, 7 continents explored, decades of expedition cruising around the world & here to help you find & book your dream trip.

Extend Your Trip

Additional Travel Options Before or After Your Cruise

Several hotel-based trip extensions are available in conjunction with this Iceland Circumnavigation cruise. Book the 3-day Taste of Reykjavik pre- or post-cruise extension tour to make the most of your time in Reykjavik, with included hotels, tours and private transfers. A local guide will join you to explore the classic Golden Circle, including the sacred site of Þingvellir National Park and the thrilling force of nature at the Geysir geothermal area and thundering Gullfoss Falls. Then treat yourself to a relaxing soak at the famous Blue Lagoon.

Or, opt for longer journeys like: The 9-day Iceland Complete to discover the world’s largest lava mass in Cross Eldhruan and later continue to the birthplace of icebergs: Jokulsarlon Glacial Lagoon and Skaftafell National Park. On the 9-day Land of Fire & Ice Trek, hike over the famous geothermal area of Landmannalaugar to Skógar. On the 10-day Iceland Self Drive itinerary, your route, car rental and hotels are covered, but you can set the pace, taking in breathtaking fjords, lakes, glaciers, waterfalls and icebergs while staying in typical Icelandic villages.

 

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