Beneath the ethereal glow of the Northern Lights, cruises around Iceland will give you the opportunity to experience one of the more offbeat cruising destinations before mainstream popularity catches up with it. Whether you’re experienced in Caribbean and Mediterranean cruises and are looking for something different, or are simply seeking the more remote corners of the cruising world, Iceland has tons to offer.
Sample this northern retreat over spoonfuls of skyr yoghurt, or step out to sample art galleries and fashion boutiques before reclining in the natural thermal baths of the Blue Lagoon. Iceland is as versatile as it is intriguing, and you can guarantee that a cruise here will stir up plenty of memories.
Popular ports in Iceland
The Icelandic capital is a city that simply everyone should visit at least once in their lifetime. There’s plenty of Nordic chic to indulge in here, with a breezy modern laid-back feel to the city that sets it apart from other capitals.
That said, you’ll find plenty of history and culture to indulge in here as well. With more than 50 art galleries and museums collectively woven through Reykjavik’s streets, the city has much to offer, from sculpture and paintings to a tiny replica wooden village. And when it’s time to relax, head to the Blue Lagoon in the suburbs for a mineral bath in natural thermal springs that let natural heat from the ground rejuvenate you.
While many of the most vibrant communities in Iceland are found in the country’s south, northernmost Akureyri proves one of the exceptions to the rule. Nestled in the depths of a fjord, the town is actually the second-largest urban sprawl in the country. The Akureyri Church at the town’s heart may be comparatively recent, stemming from the 1940s, but its compelling architecture and beautiful stained-glass windows make it a must-see.
Akureyri also houses some fantastic botanical gardens, giving a vibrant and colourful touch to your journey through an already diverse region.
When it comes to Northern Lights and almost mythically pretty wintry landscapes, Isafjord is difficult to top. Fishermen ply their trade along the Denmark Strait, with a museum close at hand for those of you looking to peek into the maritime past of Isafjord and wider Iceland.
Meanwhile, beyond the quaint town’s confines sprawl reams of wilderness aching for your discovery. Vigur Island with all its greenery await in the midst of the fjord, where birdwatching is a popular pastime. Picnics and puffins are guaranteed here.
What are the best cruise ships for an Iceland cruise?
As Iceland grows ever-more popular, you’ll find that ever-more cruise ships are featuring it in their itineraries. Voyages through the northern seas are becoming ever more appealing, thanks to mild temperatures and the ever-magical Northern Lights. As such, some of the finest cruise ships around can be found winding their ways through these fjords and waterways.
It may have only first entered the scene in 2016, but Marella Discovery has already become a big favourite among cruising fans. With show cooking, massive buffets, huge variety in cuisine and incredible variety in nightlife onboard, Marella Discovery also benefits from a jogging circuit, a climbing wall and a massively decked-out gymnasium. Cabins and suites here lean towards the spacious, with the most exclusive Royal Suite even housing its own baby grand piano.
Shore excursion ideas
Iceland is teeming with things to do, although if it’s all too active you can just as easily kick back after dark and watch the Northern Lights swoop across the starry sky. Birdwatching, pub tours, cycling Reykjavik’s winding streets or heading out to the Blue Lagoon for enriching hot natural mineral baths all call to a different kind of cruiser. Here are a few ideas:
The Blue Lagoon
Reykjavik’s famous neighbour, the Blue Lagoon warms its cooler landscapes surrounding it with geothermal energy from deep in the earth. Bathing here soaks you in glorious minerals and rejuvenating goodness, all in clear and hot water that invites visitors from all walks of life to sink in and relax. To make things even better, the views here include sweeping mountains and dramatic volcanic landscapes.
Meet the puffins on Akurey Island
Take an hour out of your schedule to take a jaunt offshore on a specialist boat trip around Akurey Island. The reason this location is so popular is thanks to the colonies of puffins who call the island home. These cute and characterful birds are cute and intelligent, not to mention photogenic. The tours around here often cut their engines to let visitors photograph puffins and other wildlife, and to ensure the birds do not become scared and fly away.
Catch the Northern Lights
The Northern Lights are a beautiful phenomenon, but for many cruisers they’re understandably difficult to predict. Largely available between September and March, it’s rural settings where they shine brightest, and that’s why specialist shore excursions to see them often give you the best chance of catching this incredible view. Every visitor to Iceland deserves to witness the Aurora Borealis in all its splendour.