Iceland Travel: By Land and Cruise
Iceland Travel: By Land and Cruise
Should travel to Iceland be by land or on a cruise ship?
Before I begin my thoughts on this topic, let me first say that if you have the time, money, and inclination, you must spend a few nights at The Retreat at Blue Lagoon.
When you fly into Iceland’s Keflavik International Airport, you will be tired, and a little pampering in the warm waters of the Blue Lagoon will be just what the doctor ordered.
No photography is allowed at The Retreat at Blue Lagoon, so I have nothing to share. However, we spent two nights before our journey around Iceland, and it was simply fantastic.
A journey to Iceland will be a different experience as compared to visiting other European countries.
Iceland has a population of 375,000 people, half living in Reykjavik. This means that vast areas of Iceland are uninhabited, allowing those with an adventurous spirit to explore one of the most otherworldly landscapes on the planet.
Goðafoss, or the “Waterfall of the Gods,” is a mesmerizing natural wonder in northern Iceland. Cascading over 30 feet in height, the falls present a breathtaking spectacle. Its name originates from the country’s conversion to Christianity in the year 1000 AD when idols of the Norse gods were cast into the falls, marking a significant historical event. The ethereal beauty of Goðafoss, set amidst Iceland’s rugged landscapes, makes it a must-see destination for nature enthusiasts and travelers.
Iceland’s landscape is a stunning tapestry of contrasts. Vast glaciers dominate the south, while fiery volcanoes simmer in the East. Lush valleys and geothermal springs punctuate the terrain. Rugged fjords line the coast, and cascading waterfalls adorn the interior—the Northern Lights dance across Arctic skies, making Iceland’s scenery genuinely otherworldly.
Iceland’s wildlife is relatively limited due to its isolation and harsh climate. Typical animals found in Iceland include:
- Icelandic Horses: A unique breed known for their small stature and friendly disposition.
- Sheep: Domestic sheep are numerous and vital to the country’s agriculture.
- Arctic Foxes: The only native land mammal in Iceland.
- Reindeer: Introduced in the 18th century and mainly found in the East.
- Puffins: Abundant seabirds inhabiting coastal cliffs.
- Seals: Both harbor and grey seals can be spotted along the coastline.
- Whales: Various whale species, such as humpback and minke whales, are seen in Icelandic waters.
- Birds: Iceland is a haven for birdwatching, with numerous seabirds and migratory species.
While the native wildlife is limited, Iceland’s diverse bird populations, marine life, and the occasional sight of wild reindeer or Arctic fox add to its unique ecological charm.
The Best Way to Explore Iceland: Land or Sea?
Iceland has become a trendy destination, and there is no shortage of options to circumnavigate the island.
- Viking: Iceland’s Natural Beauty – 8-day circumnavigation
- Silversea Cruises: Reykjavic to Reykjavic – 10-day circumnavigation, includes the Faroe Islands
- Regent Seven Seas Cruises: Golden Circle Expedition – 10-day circumnavigation, includes the Faroe Islands
- Oceania – Reykjavik to Reykjavik – 10-day circumnavigation, includes the Faroe Islands
- Windstar – Reykjavik to Reykjavik – 3-day land and a 7-day circumnavigation.
- Lindblad/National Geographic: A Circumnavigation of Iceland – 10-day
- Tauck: Iceland – 8-day expedition cruise of Iceland
- Silversea Expeditions: Reykjavik to Reykjavic – 14-day, including the Faroe Islands & Northern British Isles.
- Insight Vacations: Natural Wonders of Iceland – a 9-day circumnavigation of Iceland by land.
So, with all of those options, what is the best way to see Iceland?
Well, first and foremost, it depends on your preferred style of travel. The lion’s share of the people visiting Iceland from the U.S. are doing it aboard a cruise ship.
When Carol and I made our recent journey, we did it aboard the Regent Seven Seas Splendor. For our review of the Seven Seas Splendor, please CLICK HERE.
Our sailing with Regent Seven Seas Cruises was a special sailing for Virtuoso Cruise Icons (top-producing cruise sellers). And while we’re big fans of Regent Seven Seas Cruises, if I were planning a trip to Iceland from a blank slate, I’d probably want to sail aboard one of the new bred of expedition ships now available.
If you remember, we did our first sailing with Lindblad/National Geographic in the Arctic this summer and were amazed beyond belief.
As Iceland is a destination for predominantly exploring the mystical landscape, I would prefer to do it with a travel brand focused primarily on the flora and fauna.
Having now visited, I’d love to go back and explore with Lindblad/National Geographic, Tauck, or Silversea Expeditions.
While Carol and I prefer the comfort of today’s new breed of expedition ships, I would also consider exploring Iceland by land. To do this, you can rent a car and drive around the infamous Ring Road, or you can let Insight Vacations take you on the same journey in one of their spacious coaches (40 people max).
In any case, I must go back to Iceland, as I didn’t get the opportunity to sample Hákari, Iceland’s renowned “rotten shark.”
How to Book a Journey to Iceland
Iceland is a destination that requires a different thought process than visiting, say, Paris or any of the major cities of Europe.
The island’s infrastructure is struggling with the nearly 2,000,000 people that descend upon it each year, which is one of the reasons I lean towards an expedition cruise with fewer people aboard. They are working on the infrastructure, but it will take years to get all the hotels needed and to upgrade their airport to handle the crowds.
If you are a lover of nature, Iceland is a fabulous destination, and we’d be honored to help you sort out the particulars.
For more information or to book a fun journey to Iceland, please call Roaming Boomers Travel Services at (480) 550-1235 or use our convenient online information request (click here), and we’ll reach out to you.
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