A Cruise to Iceland... Hot, Hot, Hot
Posted by Katie Morell - freelance writer for Tauck
Posted in: Insider Connections
Tags: Iceland, Small Ship Cruising
Iceland is one of today's most popular vacation spots thanks to its ease of air accessibility (only a five hour flight from Boston) and breadth of geological diversity, with more than 10,000 waterfalls and 130 volcanoes (not to mention islands that resemble the surface of Mars with no trees in sight). According to the Icelandic Tourism Board, the number of visitors to the 300,000+ person country (about the size of Ohio) reached 600,000+ in 2012, up from 300,000 in 2000.
Iceland cruise ship traffic is one of its fastest growing segments, largely because of the country's lack of tourism infrastructure, leading visitors to seek the comforts of a ship and the ability to hop on and off as desired. Tauck began offering a collection of Iceland-specific cruises four years ago, aboard small ships with less than 300 passengers, and have seen each one sell out long before its scheduled departure date.
So how can you secure a spot on a coveted 2014 Iceland cruise?
"I highly recommend booking your spot by January or February," says Rebecca Sellet, Tauck's senior brand manager for small ship cruising and riverboats. "We have four trips in 2014, all of them in July, which is the best time to go because of the weather."
The weather in Iceland is variable during most of the year, except for July and August. It is during those summer months that most tourists like to visit the country because the sun is out most of the day (and into the night), precipitation is low and many museums are open (some are only open in the summer).
The 2014 Iceland cruise, dubbed Iceland: Land of Fire and Ice, will board July 6, 13, 20 and 27. Guests will fly into Iceland's capital of Reykjavik; from there, they will board the ship and enjoy an eight-day excursion to the sea around Iceland, including several stops on land.
Unlike large ship cruises that usually involve thousands of passengers, Iceland: Land of Fire and Ice trip keeps the number of travelers small to give each person individualized attention.
"People really enjoy small ship cruising because it is much more intimate," says Sellet. "It leads to a more seamless, less stressful experience when you go ashore with smaller lines for attractions, too. The trip includes extensive sightseeing and dining ashore to give travelers a taste of the local cuisine."
All on-shore excursions are included in the trip's fee, as are port charges, surcharges, gratuities to Tauck Director(s), ship staff and local guides, entertainment and bar and restaurant beverages throughout the day aboard ship, including house wines and spirits.
Iceland's geography is truly spectacular. On the second day of the trip, travelers will take in towering Gullfoss waterfall; Geysir Hot Springs, a colorful collection of geothermal pools; and Thingvellir National Park, which features waterfalls and sweeping vistas.
The Westman Islands are also on the itinerary of the Iceland cruise and consist of Heimaey and Surtsey islands. Cruise passengers will enjoy the islands' scenic beauty and wildlife—especially the seabird colonies, which are most active in the summer. They will learn of the 1973 eruption on Heimaey, which was the only populated island at the time and was destroyed because of the volcano.
On the fifth day of the cruise, passengers will get a chance to explore Grimsey Island, located off the northern part of the country on the Arctic Circle. The last few days of the trip will consist of learning about the Norse Vikings of the 9th century who first settled in Akureyri, the second largest city in Iceland; and a visit to Ísafjörður, an isolated fishing village.
"People absolutely love our Iceland cruise," says Sellet. "A lot of people love the thought of visiting Iceland, but they want to go in the luxury of a small ship. Tauck is one of the only companies that does that."