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Iceland Overnight vs More Ports

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I am starting to look at cruises going to Iceland in 2022.  It will be our first cruise to Iceland which is on my wife’s list of places she would love to visit.

In evaluating the cruises will you see more if you have a couple of overnights at the 2 main ports or would I be better with a cruise that goes to 4 ports in Iceland spending 8-12 hours at each port?

Are there certain excursions/places to visit in Iceland you would recommend for first timers?  Any other considerations we should be aware of?





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I have not visited Iceland by ship but been in Iceland several times. 
Iceland is primarily nature experiences - a diverse and distinctive nature.  It often requires long driving distances.

Golden Circle with Thingvellir, Geysir and Gullfoss is a must - and then there is the thermal bath the Blue Lagoon. In addition many other beautiful places.
Personally, I would choose a Scandinavian Cruise - Norwegian fjords or Baltic Sea with St Petersburg from, for example, Copenhagen or Southampton.
Fly Icelandair via Keflavik to either Copenhagen or Southampton and make a stop over in Reykjavik on the way out or the return trip - rent a car and arrange a round trip - a trip along the coast of Iceland will require 6 to 8 days but it is possible to see most of the important sights in Iceland with 4 nights.

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4 hours ago, JBCall said:

In evaluating the cruises will you see more if you have a couple of overnights at the 2 main ports or would I be better with a cruise that goes to 4 ports in Iceland spending 8-12 hours at each port?


As @hallasm noted above, Iceland is about getting out of town, which means driving, sometimes long distances.  Cruises frequently overnight in Reykjavik because of the two well-known, full day "tours" out of the city: the Golden Circle, and the South Coast.   They are both wonderful days (we particularly enjoyed the spectacular South Coast), so there is a very good reason for that overnight in Reykjavik.


By the other "main port," I assume you are talking about Akureyri?   With a day there, you can take a tour that tour operators usually call something like the "Lake Myvatn Tour," which will typically include Godafoss (waterfall), Dimmuborgir, Lake Myvatn, and more.    It's another beautiful day (but not as long as the Golden Circle or South Coast tours).   I suppose a ship might overnight there so folks don't have the time pressure on that tour, but it can be done without an overnight, and in fact that's what our itinerary called for.  (Our ship actually wound up spending two nights in Akureyri because of a storm.  I was happy to be able to spend some time walking around Akureyri itself but it was certainly not as interesting as getting "out of town," and by the time our ship was able to leave, I think it's safe to say people were relieved.  😊)



Edited by Turtles06
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In 2019 we did the 35 day round trip Voyage of the Vikings on Holland America.  On the Boston-Rotterdam leg we did one day stops in Isafjordur and Akureyri.    We were traveling with another couple so we made arrangements for private tours.  On the way back we stopped in Djupivogur for a day and an overnight in Reykjavik.  In Reykjavik on the first day we explored the city on our own.  Took the Hop-On Hop-Off bus tour, explored the city center and went to a concert in the evening.  On the second day we arranged for a private Golden Circle tour ending with the mineral baths  at Laugervatn.  A perfect way to end a long day without the crowds of the Blue Lagoon.


We are planning to return to Iceland in June, 2022 on an 8 day Hurtigruten cruise around the island.  We want to spend more time in and around Reykjavik including renting a car and driving out to Borgarnes.  We think we will do the land touring after the Hurtigruten cruise.  I think an extended stay in Reykjavik combined with the Hurtigruten might be an answer to your questions.

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Great advice above.  We've been in Iceland 5 times (4 planned land trips, 1 2 day stopover en route to a cruise), and have considered a return this fall, but expect that won't happen until 2022.


Which to chose depends on what those other ports are.  You can certainly do a Golden Circle or partial South Coast tour out of Reykjavik in one day, but you won't get to Jokulsarlon (look it up) on a one day tour.  Akureyri tours have been well covered by Turtle.  We LOVE the West Fjords, so much to see there that we spent a week just there and saw about 70% of the attractions.


If you can possibly plan just a land trip to Iceland you won't regret it, but if the 4 ports are Reykjavik, Akureyri, Isafjordur and ?? you'll get a great overview of the country

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I am currently booked on NCL Star in 2022.  It is doing 4 stops in Iceland.  The cruise starts at Reykjavik, then stops at Isafjordur, Akureyri and Seydisfjordur.   This cruise also stops in Belfast, Liverpool, Dublin, Cobh, Portland UK and ends in Southampton.   This cruise starts on a Thursday, so my plan right now is fly from the U.S. to KEF Friday night, arriving on Saturday morning.  This gives us 4 full days plus a light day on Saturday and Thursday.  I plan to either rent a campervan or car and explore the South coast, spending Wednesday night in Reykjavik.  I also looked at the cruise that calls on Reykjavik and Akureyi for a day and half each, but this cruise checked off more of my bucket list stops.

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Agree with all above.  Iceland is best seen as a land trip.  Even if it's just a few days, which allows you to range a bit more out of the city.  Most of the sights are far apart, so even doing a "there and back" 1-2 day trip limits you.


If you really want to cruise, do several days on land pre- or post-, and that should cover all your bases well.

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Thanks all for the interesting advice.  


The first cruise we were looking at went to: Akureyri, Isafjordur, Reyjkavik (overnight), and Djupivogur.  The second cruise did overnights at: Akureyri, and Reyjkavik.


I hadn't really thought to do a land portion for our visit but thinking about it it may allow us to see more and do a cruise to ports we are not as likely to go to on our own.


Lots to think about.

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