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Iceland - pre/post Viking cruise extensions


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I am looking for comments, reviews, useful info from anyone that has been on a Viking sponsored Iceland extension.  For example, additional details of included excursions, what did you do in your free time (assuming staying at the Hilton), etc.  Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.

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Doing my due diligence, I spent an hour or more reading all threads from a search of "Iceland" prior to starting this thread.  The threads are either very vague with "we really enjoyed it" or they are very old.  I would like some info on the extensions from someone that has been recently and could possibly identify the actual stops on the excursions rather than a "fly by" along with local experiences, etc.

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We took an Iceland extension the summer of 2016 and enjoyed it very much.  Our group was large and split between two hotels ... the Hilton and the Grand.  They were both nice but pretty basic.  N0 AC (really didn't need it) and the water was a bit peculiar.  The hot water has geothermic origins and smells of sulphur at times (think rotten eggs).  It is great for showering but not for drinking.  The cold water is fresh and crisp and clean and tastes very good! 

 

Remember that Icelandic tourism is still in its infancy and they have a way to go before they catch up with their European cousins.  On one of our cruises a woman was complaining that he hotels in Iceland were awful and simply "not acceptable" by Viking standards.  We had done the extension and couldn't figure out why she was so unhappy ... but figured it out when she compared her experience in Iceland with her experience with Viking in China.  The hotels there were over the top luxurious and, yes, the Iceland hotels would pale by comparison.  Best not to compare ... embrace the differences and enjoy!  Iceland is a fascinating country!

 

The included excursions were quite nice.  The first full day we visited the sights in (on?) the Golden Circle, including Thingveller National Park, Geysir Area and Strokkur, Gullfoss Falls and Kerio Crater.  The excursion included lunch but honestly don't remember it.  The next day we had a tour of Reyjkjvik in the morning and after a  break for lunch on our own we went to the Blue Lagoon (great fun!). 

 

We didn't have a lot of free time but we did walk into town the second evening and had dinner at a lovely little restaurant there ... nothing remarkable but food was good.  The walk was a long one ( 30 - 45 minutes) but we enjoyed seeing the non-tourist areas along the way.  There supposedly was a shuttle from the Hilton into the main part of town but we were told it was not reliable and we generally prefer walking if it is do-able. 

 

I would definitely recommend the extension specifically, and Iceland in general. 

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Hello ropomo. We board Sky 27 May 2019 in Bergen - disembark in Reykjavic on 8 June and staying for Iceland extension 8 and 9 June. We then fly to Italy to do Empires of the Med on Star a week later. My DW retires next Friday and 2019 will be her retirement extravaganza - as we are also doing Auckland - Sydney on Orion in 16 days time. Happy days.

Edited by Little Monty
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  • 6 months later...

Ropomo and Little Monty...could you let me know what you thought of the post Iceland excursion, the good bad and ugly. I see a couple of people who have stated on FB that they were very disappointed but weren't very specific. We are doing Iceland post in 2020 and wondering if we should do a different post excursion especially as this is even more $s, almost $2000 a person. THX!

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We just got home on Sunday this week and had a fantastic time.  Here is a breakdown:

  • Arrival in Iceland, a little unorganized by Viking but manageable.  The primary road that they would normally use to access the Hilton Canopy is currently a gaping hole in the ground and instead of a 45' coach they divided us into a few groups in smaller vans with trailers to access the hotel by smaller streets (not a big issue, but the process of putting people on vans was poor, they actually loaded one group of people on a van that was not a Viking van).  Bottom line 10 minutes of confusion and we were on our way and arrived at the hotel without incident.  None of this will probably be an issue in 2020.  Plenty of daylight and time to explore afternoon/evening of arrival.
  • Day 1 morning, NIce orientation bus tour of the Reykjavik area with several stops for photos, etc. (the Pearl, an outdoor museum showcasing early settlers homes/farming, the house where the Reykjavik summit between Reagan/Gorbachev took place) .  This along with narrative to give background of Iceland and the city.  Back to hotel for lunch on our own.
  • Day 1 afternoon, trip to Blue Lagoon,  we did not partake in the waters, but had a good time walking around the several trails there.  Voucher for free beverage of choice.  Those with us that went in the water, said it was a great experience.
  • Day 2 all day, Golden Circle tour.  Fantastic day with all the hot spots visited.  Ample time to explore, not rushed and not bored because of too much time.  Restroom facilities properly spaced and clean. Lunch at the geyser area in an new resort was a very good buffet with traditional Icelandic fare.
  • Evening meals and lunch day 1 was on our own.  Lots of great restaurants within less than 5 minute walk from hotel.  Hotel (Hilton Canopy) is in a great location.  The originally advertised Hilton when we booked is not in such a great location if they revert to it (not walking distance to town based on observations and passing it several times).
  • Small van transfers back to airport tailored to flight times with good timing and no excessive sitting at airport.

We had a very good guide.  The weather was fantastic.  There were a total of 46 Viking pax participating in the extension that they divided into two 45' bus groups for days 1 and 2.  We had 22 people on our 45' bus so everyone could have a window if they wanted it.  After first day, we talked to guide requesting a special stop on day two (the lupine were in full bloom and covered all the hillsides) and she and the driver found an especially nice spot to pull over and  let us off the bus to photograph (pic below).  All in all, we had a great time and the convenience of letting Viking take care of everything for us was great.  For us, it was a good value, YMMV.  If I think of anything else or if you have specific questions, I will post.

DSC_1033.thumb.JPG.a7c3b58033e2ff5126aa42b37cdeae2e.JPG

Richard

Edited by ropomo
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Ropomo, thank you for the very detailed description of your Iceland extension. I feel so much better now about going next year. Have been thinking of going on a South Coast tour instead of the Viking provided day in the city and Blue Lagoon. Again, thank you for your in site.

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We did our own extension for three days last summer.  We enjoyed the Blue Lagoon despite the crowds but we did the Golden Circle the next day and the South Coast the third day and both were much better.  The South Coast was our favorite.  We had a rental car but saw many tours along the way on the South Coast.  Eating in Iceland is expensive but there are many dining choices all very good.

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$US and they were happy to take them.  Never got any local currency for the Homelands Cruise or Iceland.  Didn't need it.  Plastic accepted everywhere, rest stops practically all free or taken care of by guide

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thanks for the info ropomo! We are doing the Iceland excursion pre cruise in August and your post was reassuring. I did check and unfortunately we are staying at Hilton Nordica glad to know it is some distance away so I can plan for it.

 

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10 hours ago, Houli said:

Thanks for the info ropomo! We are doing the Iceland excursion pre cruise in August and your post was reassuring. I did check and unfortunately we are staying at Hilton Nordica glad to know it is some distance away so I can plan for it.

 

You are more than welcome!  One other thing I didn't mention.  As I am sure you are aware from your research, Iceland is very expensive relative to what you are probably used to.  Happy hour is very prevalent in Iceland with nearly every place having 2 for 1 or drastically reduced drink prices, but it typically ends at 6:00pm.  If you are returning from your day's outings closing in on that time, you might consider stopping at the bar and taking some drinks to the room as you "freshen up" for the evening.  We returned to the hotel around 5-5:30 each day.  Also, keep in mind that it stays light very late there and the locals are lured out by the happy hour and things are still going strong well into the wee hours (at least on the weekends when we were there).

 

Another note:  my wife is a confessed chocoholic.  The "Icelandic Chocolate" (brand name in 200 gram bars in very plain wrappers) for sale in the duty free when you leave Iceland has been given her thumbs up and quite reasonably priced.  Additionally, she is a knitter and there is a "Handknitting Association of Iceland" store in the main business district (there is another location as well, www.handknitted.is ) that had a fabulous selection of high quality Icelandic wools at well below 50% what she pays for the same brand here in the US and yarn is light, compresses easily and easy to pack.  If you are not a knitter, their store had a vast array of sweaters and apparel available for purchase, again at reasonable prices. 

 

Best wishes for a fabulous experience!

Richard

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We stayed at the Grand Hotel with the Viking pre-cruise extension and were very satisfied.   Check-in upon early arrival, comfortable room, nice buffet breakfast.  We liked the walk to the city center, but the hotel also has a shuttle to the city center (you are on your own for the return).  The Grand Hotel also had a nice happy hour.  In addition, I picked up a coupon book at the hotel which included restaurant discounts, as well as two for one cocktails at a few local establishments.  We enjoyed a couple of beers at an outside table with mostly locals on a beautiful, sunny day.

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Lotusgirl22....I hope you had a great trip.  We are doing the same pre-cruise extension in Aug.  How did the embarkation day work?  Did Viking pick up your luggage early in the day and then you transferred to the ship separately?  I am trying to decide if we can do a private tour on embarkation day, but I am not sure about the logistics.  I don’t want to be worrying about our luggage making it to the ship and I don’t want to drag them along on a tour.  Any thoughts?  Thank you.

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On ‎6‎/‎15‎/‎2019 at 2:51 PM, Peregrina651 said:

Re car rentals: are automatic transmissions available or just manual?

Both types of transmission are available.  Depending on what time you visit, the tyres will have studs on them - it sounds strange at first, but one soon gets used to the noise.

 

 

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I learned at an early stage that wherever I go in the world I do try and avoid the typical tourist bar, café or restaurant, and much prefer to use the facilities which the locals use.  We've been to various parts of Iceland on several trips - and we don't find it particularly expensive.

 

The drive from Reykjavik to the airport at Keflavik is quite a distance, but on the other hand, the port is right in town.

 

 

 

 

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2 hours ago, AGG3 said:

Lotusgirl22....I hope you had a great trip.  We are doing the same pre-cruise extension in Aug.  How did the embarkation day work?  Did Viking pick up your luggage early in the day and then you transferred to the ship separately?  I am trying to decide if we can do a private tour on embarkation day, but I am not sure about the logistics.  I don’t want to be worrying about our luggage making it to the ship and I don’t want to drag them along on a tour.  Any thoughts?  Thank you.

 

Embarkation day from the Grand Hotel went very well.  They had staggered times from about 11:45 - 12:30ish (maybe later) to leave on buses.  The times were posted on the Viking table in the lobby and the table was often manned for questions, and I think to help with tours (although we did not talk to them about that).  Pay attention to the messages at the table and ask questions, as the personnel, like many of the locals, were very laid back - but very helpful when you spoke to them.  (The same goes for the Blue Lagoon arrangements.  One woman complained about not knowing about the departure time, but it had been posted at the Viking desk since the previous evening and I also specifically inquired  - it was not on the generic summary itinerary that we were given upon arrival).

We simply brought our luggage downstairs to the lobby at around 11:00, when we settled our bill at the front desk, and then went back up to our room for awhile.  There was a lot of luggage already sitting there.  They just loaded it on the buses that transported guests to the ship - you did not wait for your luggage - it just went on the various buses.  If you choose to do a tour that day, I am sure that you can leave your luggage in the lobby to be transported to the ship without worry.  I would just speak to the Viking reps about the logistics.

We went on a bus that left around 12:15.  The drive to the ship is very short.  We had to wait about 5 minutes at the port because the authorities allow only one bus to pull into the fenced area.  Check-in for boarding was very fast.

 

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3 hours ago, Parsley Cruises said:

Both types of transmission are available.  Depending on what time you visit, the tyres will have studs on them - it sounds strange at first, but one soon gets used to the noise.

 

 

 

Thank you. Studded tires, wow, I don't think I have driven with them in 50 years, although there have been some days when I wished I had had them. But, I don't expect it to be a worry in June.

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1 minute ago, Peregrina651 said:

 

Thank you. Studded tires, wow, I don't think I have driven with them in 50 years, although there have been some days when I wished I had had them. But, I don't expect it to be a worry in June.

I don’t think we’d like it in June.  We prefer the start of the year, no later than March, or April at the latest.

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