Iceland’s tourism has seen such a boom in the last five years and deservedly so. There are so many fun ways to explore this stunning Nordic island nation, and most choose to rent a car and road trip. However, if you want more of a relaxing, convenient, and luxurious experience, I highly recommend taking a cruise! On my recent trip to the Land of Fire and Ice in August, I chose Beyond Cruises by Group IST for my once in a lifetime adventure.
Why Choose Beyond Cruises?
Beyond Cruises works with the best of the best. For our Iceland adventure, they partnered with Variety Cruises which provided the wonderful ship and a stellar crew. Variety Cruises has been welcoming guests on board for 50 years so their experience is unparalleled. Their goals match Beyond Cruises; they both aim to enrich, educate, and explore the true identity of a destination, and that’s exactly what I experienced on my cruise through Iceland. They currently operate a fleet of 11 fully owned vessels which offer travelers the ultimate Yacht Cruise experience. The M/S Panorama was my home-away-from-home for a week and I found it to be the perfect size with just 49 passengers in 24 cabins. Every day we had the pleasure of visiting both much-loved and unfrequented ports of call in a private, intimate, and relaxed environment.
If you’re looking for exclusive access, that is exactly what Beyond Cruises provides while on board any Variety ship! All of their boutique-size yachts dock right in the heart of destinations that large ships cannot reach. And having less than 50 passengers on board means quality, personalized service and small group excursions where you can fully immerse in the destination.
Onboard The M/S Panorama
Our Category B twin-room on the Lower Deck was perfectly cozy for my friend and I. The rooms are not large but they are very comfortable and had everything we could possibly need like a mini-fridge, central music, TV, telephone, and a hairdryer. The fully equipped bathrooms are finished with a nice marble. Best of all, I enjoyed gazing out of the small window porthole where breathtaking views of Iceland were on display every day.
The indoor public areas consisted of the Lounge and Dining Room. I really enjoyed the library in the Lounge where I could choose to settle in with a good book or gaze out through the floor to ceiling windows if it was too cold or rainy outside.
The Dining Room is a classy and spacious area on the Main Deck, surrounded by more large windows and can accommodate all guests. We’d have all of our meals on board here which consisted of quality local ingredients and deliciously fresh seafood.
I loved the outdoor public spaces on board, especially the Sundeck. During the day while we were at sea, I spent most of my time here admiring the dramatic landscapes of Iceland. From volcanos to glaciers, we saw it all.
I highly recommend taking a cruise through Iceland in the summer months if you want a great chance of spotting humpback whales, orcas, and dolphins!
THE PERFECT 8-DAY ITINERARY
Our itinerary started off in the colorful capital of Reykjavik where we had time to explore the city. I couldn’t get enough of all the wonderful street art! No matter if you visit on a cloudy or sunny day, the vibrant streets always brighten up the entire city.
We drove across the volcanic Reykjanes Peninsula to Iceland’s most famous and popular geothermal spa, the Blue Lagoon. We had time to relax in the warm milky blue seawater and enjoy the mineral rich waters for a long afternoon. My skin felt so smooth and even younger! It is certainly a touristy spot, but it’s on everyone’s bucket list for good reason. It’s a beautiful and unique place that is so expansive, you never feel that it is over crowded. I enjoyed every minute at the Blue Lagoon!
After feeling relaxed and rejuvenated from our spa treatment at the Blue Lagoon, we visited the Krysuvik Geothermal area, with boiling hot springs, and multi-colored volcanic craters. They have a sturdy boardwalk that allows visitors to traverse the bubbling mud pools and sulphur pits. Before traveling back to the ship in Reykjavik, we drove across mossy lava fields to beautiful Kleifarvatn, one of the largest and deepest lakes in the country!
The next day, we explored Iceland’s famous Golden Circle which covers 300 kilometers of beautiful landmarks. Gulfoss, Iceland most beautiful waterfall, was an absolute highlight. I also enjoyed seeing Geysir, a geothermal area with a multitude of hot spring. The most active one is called Strokkur and it spouts every few minutes! In Pingvellir National Park, we walked through the geological fault known as Almannagja, part of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, which separates the Eurasian and North America tectonic plates.
On our third day, we sailed to Akranes where we disembarked for one of the most unique and adventurous excursions I’ve ever experienced! The Langjökull Glacier is Iceland’s second largest glacier that’s over 4,000 feet long and we got to actually walk inside of it. There is a series of man-made caves and tunnels carved throughout the solid glacier ice. Inside, there is also a fun ice chapel and ice bar to enjoy. Our guide taught us all about glaciology and how climate change is sadly affecting the glaciers.
To end the day, we visited two of Iceland’s most picturesque waterfalls called Hraunfossar and Barnafoss which translate into Children’s Falls in English. Legend says two kids wandered off away from home and disappeared near these falls.
After disembarkment, we visited the pristine Latrabjarg Cliff which is 8 miles in length and peaking at over 1,000 feet high. It’s home to an untold number of seabirds, including the Iceland’s iconic puffins. Unfortunately, we missed seeing the puffins because they had already left, however, the views were incredible to admire. As we descended from the dramatic cliffs, we had a quick photo stop with Iceland’s oldest steel ship: Garoar BA. This magnificent ship was built in Norway in 1912 and was originally used for a whaling ship, then later for herring. It was deemed ruined and inoperable in 1981 and was left stranded on land in Skapadalur Valley.
Our adventures continued to Rauðasandur or “Red Sand” beach where the sand is uniquely beautiful with its golden and pink colors. We rode on a tractor carriage with an expert guide and a local farmer along the Red Beach to a seal colony where we got to see the seals from a distance!
As we sailed to Isafjorour, we stopped at the Dynjandi Waterfalls. Isafjorour is the largest town in the Westfjords peninsula and the first areas of the country to be settled by Vikings. We visited an old Viking village of Thingeyri, and learned about the Viking ways and how they lived off the land. At the Viking Museum, we were able to dress in Viking clothing, drink Icelandic Viking beer, and thoroughly explore the museum.
Another memorable day was spent visiting Siglufjordur, Iceland’s northernmost city known for having the most picturesque port in the country. This was once known as the capital of Herring fishing. Here we had fun visiting the Herring Museum, the Folk Music center, and seeing the Herring Ladies demonstrate how they cooked the herring. They even performed a few fun songs for us!
We continued on to Husavik, Europe’s capital of whale watching. We had plenty of time to stroll this charming fishing village and visit the famous Wooden Church – the best preserved church in Iceland!
On our final day, we started early in the morning with a whale watching excursion near the Arctic Circle. I couldn’t get enough of the magnificent wildlife and stunning scenery. We were onboard a RIB speedboat and had the opportunity to see three humpback whales, many white beaked dolphins, and harbor porpoises up close.
From Husavik, we visited Lake Myvatn, The Namaskard Geothermal Fields, and the Dimmuborgir lava formations, with boiling purple and yellow sulphur cauldrons, towering rock formations, steam vents and lava fields.
Last, but certainly not least, was another magnificent waterfall called Godafoss. Also known as the Waterfall of the Gods, we listed to stories here about the Kristni saga, recounting the arrival of Christianity and the end of paganism. They truly saved the best for last with this magnificent sight.
Traveling on this beautiful yacht was the perfect way to fully enjoy Iceland and our jam-packed itinerary. It’s no wonder why Variety Cruises is one of the leading yacht cruises line in the world! I loved not having to pack and re-pack every day which I would have to do if I was road tripping. This saved us an incredible amount of time and I felt so relaxed and taken care of. Thanks to their expert service and well thought out itineraries with unique shore excursions, Beyond Cruises by Group IST blew me away from start to finish! I went home with so many memories of Iceland that will last me a lifetime.