Icelandic Saga Aboard the M/S Panorama (Akureyri to Reykjavik)
From active volcanic landscapes, erupting geysers, and geothermal hot springs to thundering waterfalls, massive glaciers and black-sand beaches, venture into diverse and unique Iceland, “The Land of Fire and Ice.”
Forged millions of years ago in volcanic eruptions, Iceland is the youngest land mass in Europe. Its isolated location and harsh environment lent to the distinctive country we know today. One of the most sparsely populated countries on earth, with around only 320,000 residents, much of Iceland’s population resides near the capital city. Icelanders take pride in the natural beauty of their country and strive to both preserve their fragile environment and harness the benefits of the natural resources. In fact, almost all electricity in Iceland is produced by renewable resources, such as geothermal energy.
This voyage will take you on an adventure through a one of a kind landscape. Visit some of the country’s most famous landmarks and attractions. Discover a land almost completely unaltered by human presence. Interact with the locals, sample Icelandic cuisine and be immersed in the history of this beautiful nation.
Icelandic Saga Aboard the M/S Panorama (Akureyri to Reykjavik)
Day by Day Itinerary
DAY 1 - Arrival KEF Airport / Domestic Flight to Akureyri
Land in Keflavík International Airport in the early morning and transfer to Akureyri on a domestic flight. Akureyri is undeniably one of the most attractive of Icelandic towns, where influences of its Danish trade past prevail. Whilst enjoying a short sightseeing tour of this picturesque town, visitors will be sure to notice the many contrasts in the interesting and varied architecture. Our first stop will be at a local restaurant where we will enjoy lunch. Next up, discover a colorful floral oasis at the Akureyri Botanical Garden, home to over 2,000 exotic and Icelandic species, which bloom outside thanks to Akureyri's warm microclimate. Enjoy a short visit to the Akureyri Art Museum, one of the youngest museums in the country, featuring both foreign and domestic exhibits. Transfer to the dock to board the ship in the late afternoon. Overnight in Akureyri.
DAY 2 – Akureyri (Morning) / Husavik (Afternoon)
This morning, disembark in Akureyri for a scenic drive along the Ring Road. Our first stop is at Godafoss falls, Waterfall of the Gods, one of the most spectacular waterfalls in Iceland. Hear we will hear about the Kristni saga, recounting the arrival of Christianity as the official religion of Iceland and the end of paganism. Legend has it that Thorgeir of Ljosavatn, a pagan priest and chieftain, took the statues of the pagan gods he used to worship and threw them into the waterfall as a symbolic gesture of abandoning his pagan religion. Drive along the shores of Lake Myvatn, the Namaskard Geothermal Field, and the Dimmuborgir lava formations, all fine examples of the volcanic world, with boiling purple and yellow sulphur cauldrons, towering rock formations, steam vents and lava fields. We will meet the ship in Husavik, the whale watching capital of Iceland, with time to participate in a 3-hour optional whale watching excursion aboard a renovated traditional oak fishing boat in Skjalfandi Bay. There is perhaps no better place in the world to see the friendly minke whale, normally quite timid creatures, who have been known to approach the boats and surface right alongside. Whales are often encountered within 20 minutes of leaving the harbor and appear to take as much interest in humans as we do in them. Boisterous white beaked dolphins and harbor porpoises frequently join the party, and sometimes humpback and other large whales are spotted. Return to the ship for an overnight sailing to Siglufjordur.
DAY 3 - Siglufjörður
This morning we disembark in the small, once bustling herring town of Siglufjörður. In the winter, the ample snowfall and mountainous landscape provide the perfect conditions for snow sports such as skiing, skating, or riding snowmobiles. In the summer, visitors can enjoy the black sand beaches and the surrounding walking and hiking trails. Siglufjörður is also home to the largest marine and industrial museum in Europe, the award-winning Herring Era Museum. Here, we will attend a presentation that discusses the invaluable role that herring fishing played in Iceland's history. We will also attend an outdoor salting show in a salting station dating back to 1907, where guests can watch how “herring girls” used to work. After our visit to the museum, you may enjoy leisure time to explore on your own. Get caught up in lively accordion music and ring dancing. Sample a traditional rye bread with local herring and Icelandic schnapps. Learn about the local history and culture of this wonderful northern town. Return to the ship for an afternoon sailing to Ísafjörður, with a late afternoon arrival.
DAY 4 - Ísafjörður
After breakfast onboard, disembark in Ísafjörður, the largest town on the Westfjords peninsula and one of the first areas of the country to be settled by Vikings. We will drive to the old Viking village of Thingeyri to learn about the Viking ways and how they lived off the land. We will walk through a recreated Viking settlement, take a short hike to the ruins of the Thing, or “parliament,” and visit the interactive Viking museum. Here, we will be able to dress in Viking clothing, take photographs, drink Icelandic Viking beer, bake our own Viking bread, and explore the museum. After our Viking experience, we return to Ísafjörður to visit the Heritage Museum, located inside one of the oldest houses in the town. Return to the ship for embarkation for a late afternoon sailing to Bíldudalur, with a stop at the Arnarfjörður Fjord to view the Dynjandi Waterfall, sometimes referred to as the jewel of the Westfjords.
DAY 5 - Bíldudalur
Disembark in the quaint village of Bíldudalur and head to the pristine Látrabjarg Cliff, one of the most visited attractions in the Westfjords. Over 8 miles in length and peaking at over 1,000 feet high, Látrabjarg Cliff is home to an untold number of seabirds. Some of the species include razorbills, white-tailed eagles, red-throated loons, arctic terns, redshanks, snipes, and Iceland’s iconic puffins. Safe from natural predators, the birds residing on the cliff are fearless, which provides ample photo opportunities. As we descend from the cliff, we will take a quick photo stop with Iceland’s oldest steel ship, Garðar BA. Built in Norway in 1912, it was originally used as a whaling ship and then later for herring. It was deemed ruined and inoperable in 1981 and was stranded on land in Skapadalur valley. Continue to the Rauðisandur Beach, or “Red Sand” Beach. Unlike most other beaches in Iceland, which have black sand from the volcanic rock, the sand on this beach is unique in its golden pink hue. Ride on a tractor carriage with our expert guide and local farmer along the sandy beach to a seal colony, where we can see the seals up close. Return to Bíldudalur in the afternoon for embarkation and an overnight sailing to Akranes.
DAY 6 – Akranes
Early morning arrival in Arkanes. After breakfast, our adventure begins as we disembark and drive to the isolated community of Husafell. From there, we will transfer to Base Camp Klaki near the Langjökull Glacier, the second largest in Europe, rising between 1,200 and 1,300m above sea level. All guests are required to wear necessary safety equipment; crampons are provided, as well as additional insulated clothing. Ascend to the mouth of the tunnel leading to the ice cave. Located about 30 meters below the glacier's surface, the awe-inspiring cave has been carved into hundreds of meters of tunnels and chambers. One such chamber even resembles a chapel, complete with ice benches and an ice pulpit. Crevasses that pull the glacier apart, along with sunlight penetrating the packed ice, are among the natural wonders to be witnessed. As we descend into the depths of the glacier, we will see the newer, white ice blend into the older, rarely glimpsed deep blue ice. Lit from behind with LED lights, the ice gives off an ethereal glow that lends to this surreal experience. We will return to Husafell for lunch at the Husafell Bistro, followed by a drive to Hraunfoss and Barnafoss, two of Iceland's most picturesque waterfalls. Return to Arkanes for embarkation and a late afternoon sailing to Reykjavik, arriving that night. Enjoy the evening at leisure.
DAY 7 – Reykjavik
Today, we will explore three of the country's most famous landmarks – Þingvellir National Park, Gullfoss Waterfall, and Geysir Hot Spring Area– together known as the Golden Circle. We make our way across the Mosfellsheidi Heath to Þingvellir National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that ranks at the top of Iceland's attractions. The area is surrounded by mountains and encompasses a vast lava plane of green moss and wild flowers. Walk through the geological fault known as Almannagja, part of the Mid- Atlantic Ridge, which separates the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates. Not only is Þingvellir of tremendous geological interest, it is also held sacred by Icelanders as the site where the legislative parliament, the Althing, was founded in the year 930 AD. Symbolically, it is considered the place where the settlers of Iceland became a unified nation and where some of the nation's most important historical events unfolded. After Þingvellir, the tour continues over fertile farmlands to the Gullfoss Waterfall, or the “Golden Waterfall,” the most famous and beautiful in the country. The last of the “big three” is Geysir Hot Spring Area, from where the word “geyser” originates. The most active geyser in the area, Strokkur, erupts in a towering fountain every few minutes. On our return to Reykjavik, we will stop at the Hellisheiði Geothermal Power Plant. The exhibition provides an opportunity to learn about the harnessing and usage of clean, green geothermal energy in Iceland. Return to Reykjavik for an overnight in port.
DAY 8 – Reykjavik/Keflavik International Airport
After breakfast, we disembark for a drive to the Krýsuvík Geothermal area, an expanse of steaming vents, boiling hot springs, and multi-colored volcanic craters. A sturdy boardwalk, bearing informative and educational signs, allows visitors to traverse the bubbling mud pools and sulphur pits. Ascend the massive steam vent for spectacular views of the surrounding area and visit Kleifarvatn Lake, one of the largest and deepest lakes in the country. We then journey to the nearby fishing town of Grindavik for a visit to the Kvikan Museum and the Blue Lagoon Geothermal Spa. Bathe in the mineral rich waters of the milky blue lagoon, heated by geothermal energy and famous for their rejuvenating and beneficial qualities. A visit to the spa promotes harmony between body, mind and spirit, and enables one to soak away the stresses of modern life. Depart the lagoon for Keflavik International Airport in the afternoon with an approximate 3pm arrival.
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Ports of Call
Discover a 3 masted Motorsailer which can accommodate up to 49 passengers in 24 cabins. The "Panorama" was launched in 1993 and has been rebuilt in 2001, followed by a latest renovation in 2014. In 2014, the Upper Deck cabins and Lounge, as well as the Main Deck cabin en suite bathrooms and Lounge have been refitted. This state of the art Motorsailer has performed several Atlantic Ocean crossings and has sailed from the Seychelles to Monte Carlo and from the Black Sea to Tunis and offers the highest standard of accommodation and comfort safety.
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