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 - Keflavik International Airport/ Domestic Flight to Akureyri
Land in Keflavík International Airport and transfer to Akureyri on a domestic flight. Transfer to the pier in Akureyri to board the vessel. After a welcome cocktail and safety drill, enjoy the remainder of the day at leisure.
DAY 2 – Akureyri / Siglufjörður
This morning we 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. Legend has it that in the year 1000, at the Thingvellir legislative assembly, Thorgeir of Ljósavatn, a pagan priest and chieftain, was given the authority to decide which religion was to be practiced by Icelanders. After profound thought, he decided that pagans could still practice their religion in private, but Christianity would be the official religion of Iceland. Upon his return home, and after converting to Christianity, he 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. Continue to Skútustaðir to see a remarkable assortment of volcanic craters, before exploring the Dimmuborgir area, a labyrinth of towering lava castles, natural arches and countless unexplored grottos. Drive along the Namaskard Geothermal Field, where the gurgling purple and yellow sulphur cauldrons are so hot that they actually boil. Our tour will end in the small, once bustling herring town of Siglufjörður. Visit the award-winning Herring Era Museum, the largest marine and industrial museum in Europe, and 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. Get caught up in lively accordion music and ring dancing and sample a traditional rye bread with local herring and Icelandic schnapps. Return to the ship this evening for our sailing to Hólmavík.
DAY 3 – Hólmavík
This morning, we arrive in the small village of Hólmavík. Located on the east coast of the Westfjords, Hólmavík is one of the least visited parts of Iceland. Despite having only around 400 inhabitants, Hólmavík is the largest town in the Strandir region. The small town's main attraction, The Museum of Sorcery and Witchcraft, reveals its enticing and tragic past. We will learn about old Viking traditions, local superstitions, occult practices, and the history of the witch hunts. A particularly gruesome exhibit is nábrók, also known as “necropants.” After the museum, we will stop for lunch at a local restaurant, built from the town's oldest house. Images of the former structure are on display inside. Following lunch, we travel to Húsavíkurkleif, located just outside of Hólmavík and known for its plant fossils. Then we will drive to bird viewing area for some birdwatching, followed by a visit to a local church and the rock pillars rumored to be trolls. Finally, we will visit Sheep Farming Museum to learn more about Icelandic sheep and sheep farming. One of the main attractions of the museum is the opportunity to bottle feed lambs. We will return to the ship this evening for embarkation and departure for Ísafjörður.
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 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 in the late afternoon. Stop at the Arnarfjörður Fjord to view the Dynjandi Waterfall, sometimes referred to as the jewel of the Westfjords. Arrive in Patreksfjörður late in the evening.
DAY 5 - Patreksfjörður
Disembark in the quaint village of Patreksfjörður 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 Patreksfjörður for embarkation and a late afternoon sailing to Grundarfjörður.
DAY 6 – Grundarfjörður
This morning we arrive in Grundarfjörður, a quintessential Icelandic town, for our excursion across the Snaefellsnes Peninsula. Our first stop is at Djúpalónssandur, where we will explore the beach and see the large boulders that were formerly used to test the strength of fishermen. Malarrif is our next stop, an old farm and an old lighthouse. The lighthouse, which once served as a beacon for Icelandic fishermen, now serves as the main center for the Snæfellsnes National Park. Next, we move on to Hellnar which, for centuries, was among the largest fishing villages beneath the Snæfellsjökull ice cap. Observe spectacular rock formations on the beach, one of which is a protruding cliff called Valasnös, which reaches across the ocean front and into the sea. Tunneling into this cliff there is a cave known for colorful natural light that changes in tune with the sea. Onwards to the tiny fishing community of Arnarstapi, passing the conspicuous Lóndrangar rocks on the way. Upon arrival, take a refreshing walk along a pathway boasting many interesting geological phenomena and rich bird-life. Continuing to “The Old Hag's Pass,” or Kerlingarskard, we head towards Stykkishólmur, where we will make a short spiritual stop at Helgafell - The Holy Mount. A lot of local history and charm is attached to this stop. Even those not up to the climb will be sure to enjoy listening to the guide about the history and the combination of spiritual forces connected to this holistic site. Enjoy a short visit to the small town of Stykkishólmur before returning to Grundarfjörður for embarkation. Overnight sailing to Reykjavik.
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. As we return through the Grimsnes region, we will pass Hveragerdi village, where geothermal water has been used to build up an extensive greenhouse industry. Our last stop is at Hellisheiði Geothermal Power Plant, which combines a high-tech exhibition, experienced guides, and a look into the extraordinary aspect of daily life in Iceland. The use of green geothermal energy in Iceland has long since surpassed that of any nation in the world, with more than 90% of all households in Iceland being heated by geothermal energy. Return to the pier for embarkation and an overnight in Reykjavik.
DAY 8 – Reykjavik
Disembark this morning for your transfer to the airport.
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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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