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Explore The Best Of Iceland With Beyond Cruises by Group IST

Explore The Best Of Iceland With Beyond Cruises by Group IST

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.

M/S Panorama Ship
Variety Cruises – M/S Panorama Ship

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.

 Category B Twin-Rom - M/S Panorama Ship
Category B Twin-Room – M/S Panorama Ship
 Category B Bathroom - M/S Panorama Ship
Category B Bathroom – M/S Panorama Ship

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.

Upper Deck Bar Lounge Area onboard the M/S Panorama
Upper Deck Bar Lounge Area onboard the M/S Panorama
Main Deck Lounge and Library Area - M/S Panorama
Main Deck Lounge and Library Area – M/S Panorama

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.

The Main Deck - Dining Room Seating Area - M/S Panorama
The Main Deck – Dining Room Seating Area – M/S Panorama
Dining Room Area and Dinner Selections - M/S Panorama
Dining Room Area and Dinner Selections – M/S Panorama

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.

Sundeck Area onboard the M/S Panorama and the view of Iceland
Sundeck Area onboard the M/S Panorama and the view of Iceland

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  

Reykjavik

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.

The city of Reykjavik, Iceland
The city of Reykjavik, Iceland

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!

Blue Lagoon, Iceland
Blue Lagoon, Iceland

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!

Krysuvik Geothermal Area, Iceland
Krysuvik Geothermal Area, Iceland
Kleifarvatn Lake, Iceland
Kleifarvatn Lake, Iceland

Golden Circle

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.

Iceland's Golden Circle - Gullfoss Waterfall, Geysir Hot Springs Area, Almannagja, and the Strokkur
Iceland’s Golden Circle – Gullfoss Waterfall, Geysir Hot Springs Area, Almannagja, and the Strokkur

Akranes

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.

Base Camp Klaki and the Langjokull Glacier, Iceland
Base Camp Klaki and the Langjokull Glacier, Iceland
Inside Langjokull Glacier, Iceland
Inside Langjokull Glacier, Iceland

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.

Hraunfossar Waterfalls, Iceland
Hraunfossar Waterfalls, Iceland
Barnafoss Waterfalls, Iceland
Barnafoss Waterfalls, Iceland

Patreksfjorour

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.

Latrabjarg Cliff, Oldest Steel Ship, Garoar BA, and Dynjandi Waterfalls in Westfjords
Latrabjarg Cliff, Oldest Steel Ship, Garoar BA, and Dynjandi Waterfalls in Westfjords

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!

Rauðasandur or "Red Sand" beach
Rauðasandur or “Red Sand” beach, Iceland
Tractor Ride on Rauðasandur "Red Sand" beach, Iceland
Tractor Ride on Rauðasandur “Red Sand” beach, Iceland

Isafjorour

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.

Viking village of Thingeyri, Isafjorour, Iceland
Viking village of Thingeyri, Isafjorour, Iceland

Siglufjordur

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!

Siglufjordur Herring Museum, Iceland
Siglufjordur Herring Museum, Iceland

Husavik

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!

The Town of Husavik, Iceland
The Town of Husavik, 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.

Our Whale Watching Adventure and the Humpback Whales we saw
Our Whale Watching Adventure and the Humpback Whales we saw

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.

Lake Myvatn, The Namaskard Geothermal Fields, and the Dimmuborgir Lava Formations
Lake Myvatn, The Namaskard Geothermal Fields, and the Dimmuborgir Lava Formations

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.

Godafoss Waterfall, Iceland
Godafoss Waterfall, Iceland

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.

About the author

Carmen Edelson is the Founder of Carmen's Luxury Travel. Carmen has been traveling the world for over a decade. Our travels allows her the opportunity to pursuit her itch to travel to the best luxury destinations, and experience those first class tastes from around the world.

45 Comments

  1. What a stunning place to visit. When would you say is the best time of the year to take a cruise like this in Iceland? I don’t mind being a little cold and wet, but not excessive. I did an Alaskan cruise at the end of May at that was just about the perfect time. Great photography. You gave me plenty of places to add to my more specific bucket list.

    • Carmen Edelson

      In terms of weather, you’ll get the luckiest in August, maybe even September 🙂

  2. Anja
    Reply

    Your 8 days on Iceland sound just wonderful, and you made some great photos. As Iceland has long been on my travel wish list, I read quite a lot about it lately, but didn’t know until know about Reykjavik’s street art (that rainbow house look lovely!). Hraunfossar and Barnafoss waterfalls look very fairy-taley, however I don’t fancy the story connected to them. Also, whale watching is one of my long term wishes as well, you are so lucky you spotted them!

    • Carmen Edelson

      Thank you so much! And yes the whale watching was very memorable.

  3. it’s been a long time since i’ve been on a cruise, but i would love to go to iceland.. especially after looking at your photos and reading about your trip!
    xo, easilyinspired-blog.com

    • Carmen Edelson

      I’m glad to hear it, Mary! I hope you visit 🙂

  4. What a brilliant way to experience a special country Carmen. Love it. Rocking post here.

  5. Iceland is a place that the more of it I see, the more I want to see it in person. It looks like you had a lovely time and saw so many great things!

    • Carmen Edelson

      Iceland is even more stunning in person! I was blown away.

  6. What a fun way to see Iceland! My family was looking into taking a trip there this year. Trying to figure out a road trip itinerary, booking a rental car, and finding lodging along the way, it was becoming stressful to plan. We ended up putting the trip off since nobody had the time to coordinate all of those details. If only we had realized a cruise was the stress-free option! It looks like the cruise still hits all the major sights I would hope to see and experiences I’d want to have as well. Thanks for sharing your experience, Carmen!

    • Carmen Edelson

      Yes you hit all the major sights and then some. It’s totally worth it – 100% stress free 🙂

  7. This would be a wonderful way to explore Iceland. It’s been on my bucket list for awhile now. Not sure when I’ll go, but I’ll certainly consider taking a tour like this. I love, most of all, that you sailed on a small ship with a much more intimate and casual atmosphere. Sounds like my style!

    • Carmen Edelson

      Yes it was so intimate. The perfect size for getting around Iceland!

  8. Marie
    Reply

    What an incredible cruise, and a great way to see Iceland.

    • Carmen Edelson

      Yes, indeed! I enjoyed every minute of it 🙂

  9. I would love to visit Iceland, it’s one of the highest places on my Bucket list😊😍🙋‍♀️❄️✈️❤️ The tour with Beyond cruises looks like such an incredible experience.. Thank you for all the detailed informations about Iceland, it will be so helpful when I will visit this amazing country😋

    • Carmen Edelson

      You’re very welcome! It really is such a great way to see Iceland.

  10. Ive never really considered Iceland before (not a fan of cold weather). But this blog post may change my mind!

    • Carmen Edelson

      I’ve experienced colder weather on the East Coast of the U.S.!

  11. Thijs Holtmaat
    Reply

    This place looks amazing! Great blog post!

    • Carmen Edelson

      Thank you, I’m happy to share!

  12. I was NOT aware that there was a cruise that takes you to Iceland. I need to let my fiance know!

    • Carmen Edelson

      Yes, it’s amazing! Definitely let him know 🙂

  13. This is so gorgeous! I’m headed to Iceland in less than two-weeks, so this is right on time!

  14. mark wyld
    Reply

    What a novel way to see Iceland. I have never read an article about cruising around Iceland before. What an amazing country it is with something special around every corner. The ship looks accommodation and comfortable for the traveller.

    • Carmen Edelson

      I’m glad I could share our cruising adventure, Mark!

  15. I had no idea you could cruise Iceland. I think the size of the boat and the number of passengers is so perfect, small is good. I am so impressed by all you saw. the grandeur of nature is just stunning. And love you dressed like a Viking 🙂

    • Carmen Edelson

      Yes, it was small but quaint and had everything we needed 🙂

  16. Iceland is definitely on my travel bucket list! This cruise line looks like a great way to see Iceland. 🙂

    • Carmen Edelson

      I hope you get to go, Carrie 🙂

  17. Lance
    Reply

    What a special way to visit the Land of Fire and Ice. I love the atmosphere of the small cruise ship. It provides such a special opportunity to tour in luxury. Definitely putting Beyond Cruises by Group IST on our bucket list for a day when my wife and I can go without the kids. I am impressed with the shore excursions provided. From the stunning waterfalls, to the herring women, to walking inside a glacier, you were able to do it all. I am impressed with the smaller villages you were able to visit. Such a memorable trip.

    • Carmen Edelson

      Yes it was such a great atmosphere and the excursions were so fun and well planned!

  18. We usually don’t do tours and haven’t been on a cruise before, but this seems like the ideal way to maximise your time in Iceland and also have opportunities to experience more of the Icelandic culture that might otherwise be difficult to see.

    • Carmen Edelson

      I know what you mean! But I really loved how it maximized our time, that was so valuable to us 🙂

  19. Yukti
    Reply

    Cruising around Iceland which is a land of fire and ice must be exciting. Rooms of the cruise looks comfy and with full of amenities. I would look IST cruises tour when I plan for Iceland.

    • Carmen Edelson

      Glad to hear it, Yukti! Thanks for reading.

  20. I would have never thought of doing a cruise around Iceland but what a great idea. Definitely something I would love to try and the sailboat you stayed on sounds and looks great. I am super envious that you got to see the whales in the wild too.

    • Carmen Edelson

      I loved seeing the whales! So many great experiences.

  21. I’ve seen a lot of Iceland guide but love how you travelled by yacht instead of the typical road trip. And those adventures with whales sound heavenly!

    • Carmen Edelson

      Yes, it’s such a beautiful and unique way to see the country!

  22. I loved Iceland, but had never thought about doing a cruise there! What a great idea. The ship looks beautiful and comfortable. I think I’d like to do it in the summer months so I could spot all the amazing marine mammals! How cool to see the whales!

    • Carmen Edelson

      Yes, in the summer its fabulous!

  23. Nice post! Thanks for sharing!

    • Carmen Edelson

      You’re very welcome, thanks for reading 🙂

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