7 Amazing Iceland Cruises for Seeing the Remote Wonders of the Country

What better way to see this Nordic island nation than to sail all the way—or partly—around it. These captivating Iceland cruises will bring you to areas that are difficult (or impossible) to reach by land.

Small white ship near green island with snowy mountain range in background, Iceland

See Iceland from the vantage point of its dramatic shorelines.

Photo by Ursula Drake/Unsplash

With its active volcanoes, glacier-topped mountains, rugged coastline, and more than 100 fjords, Iceland is best explored by sea, experiencing the “land of fire and ice” in the same way that the Vikings and other explorers did hundreds of years ago. Fortunately, cruise lines have caught on to Iceland’s seafaring allure and have developed enticing itineraries that allow travelers to see and experience colorful, picture-postcard villages, powerful waterfalls, and otherworldly rock formations. Here’s what to know about cruises that sail Iceland and our top picks for Iceland cruises.

Where Iceland cruises sail

Cruising from Reykjavík, most of our choices circumnavigate the main island, with a stop on Heimaey island off Iceland’s southwest coast to see the effects of the 1973 volcanic eruption, sailing past Surtsey island, which rose out of the sea in the 1960s and is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Popular port calls include Akureyri, a major fishing port and university town, with access to inland attractions such as the legendary Godafoss, known as the “waterfall of the gods,” and steaming geothermal fields with impressive lava formations.

Another fun port is Seydisfjordur, an artsy village in the Eastfjords, with pretty chalet-style wooden homes at the end of an 11-mile fjord—a breathtaking scene backed by snow-packed peaks and a waterfall. From the quaint port of Djupivogur, you can do an excursion to the Fjallsarlon ice lagoon, where Zodiac tours will have you dodging icebergs to see the face of a glacial ice wall.

Isafjordur, in the Westfjords, is known for its music scene and the nearby attraction of Vigur Island, a privately owned bird sanctuary inhabited by eider ducks and puffins. Also in the west, the fishing village of Grundarfjordur has an impressive and much-photographed cone-shaped mountain, Kirkjufell, and affords access to glacier sights in Snaefellsjokull National Park, where adventurous travelers can hike an underground lava cave.

The Iceland cruise season runs roughly from May to September, with most sailings in June, July, and August. While there may be some limited space still available on 2023 cruises, the cruises listed below are predominantly for the 2024 spring/summer season.

The best Iceland cruises

Empty beige lounge chairs lined up along a wall of windows on a Viking ocean cruise ship

What better way to view the passing Icelandic scenery than from the main pool deck on a Viking ocean ship?

Photo by Eric Laignel/Viking

Viking Cruises’ Iceland’s Natural Beauty

Best for value
Price: 7-night sailings in July and August from $4,299

Viking Cruises’ well-planned circumnavigation of Iceland is a perfect one-week sampling that bring passengers to pristine shores and friendly towns and villages at the head of fjords and offers access to such attractions as cascading waterfalls, glaciers, puffin colonies, and moonlike volcanic landscapes. Passengers start with an overnight in Reykjavík, which allows quality time to visit the surprisingly hip city’s waterfront and art museums or head off on a whale-watching tour. The 930-passenger Viking Mars, which will sail this itinerary in 2024, is, like all the similar ships in the Viking Ocean fleet, an absolute delight, done up in modern Scandinavian decor and with an impressive assortment of complimentary specialty dining venues, including a Norwegian café. One shore excursion each day is included in the fare.

Kirkjufell Mountain in the background with waterfalls in the foreground near the Icelandic port town of Grundarfjörður

Everyone in the family will delight in the port town of Grundarfjordur with its famous Kirkjufell Mountain and adjacent waterfalls.

Frugal Flyer/Unsplash

Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ Golden Circle Expedition

Best for families
Price: 10-night cruises in July, including a side trip to Torshavn in the Faroe Islands, from $10,299 per adult; from $1,299 per child under age 18

If you are traveling with kids and willing to spring for a truly luxurious sailing, the 750-passenger all-suite, all-inclusive Seven Seas Splendor, one of the world’s most high-end ships, is done up with yards of marble floors, more than 500 crystal chandeliers, an expensive art collection, and fancy top suites. So how does this fit in with kids? For one, they can come onboard two Iceland cruises next year at highly reduced fares. And perhaps more importantly, during those cruises, families will have access to the Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ Club Mariner Youth Program for ages 5 to 17, with a range of activities such as movie nights, mini-putt tournaments, and dance lessons, overseen by professional youth counselors.

a small fishing boat out in the water with the colorful village of Seydisfjordur, Iceland in the background to the backdrop of rocky and grassy cliffs

Spend a little more time in the village of Seydisfjordur, Iceland, on a Windstar sailing.

Andrew Mayovskyy/Shutterstock

Around Iceland with Windstar Cruises

Best for cultural immersion
Price: 7-night Around Iceland cruise, June through August, from $3,799

What we love best about the Windstar Cruises weeklong Iceland circumnavigation itinerary is that the 312-passenger, all-suite Star Pride spends full days in the ports and an overnight in Seydisfjordur, with its lively arts scene. You get to hang out with locals, enjoy a craft beer, sample seafood and other Icelandic cuisine, hear a concert, or otherwise immerse yourself in Icelandic culture. A good conversation starter is to ask locals if they have written a book, since a fun fact is that one in 10 people in Iceland have published a book (those Icelandic winters are long). Onboard the ship, enjoy impressive cuisine such as fresh fish bought locally (including Arctic char, halibut, cod, and haddock), local cheeses and charcuterie, and Icelandic beers, schnapps, and vodka on the official cruise line of the James Beard Foundation.

Exterior of the "National Geographic Resolution" ship seen from water level

Take a sailing expedition with the National Geographic Resolution team of experts.

Courtesy of Lindblad Expeditions

Lindblad Expeditions’ Wild Iceland Escape

Best short cruise
Price: 4-night cruise embarking July 5, 2024, from $7,206 per person, $500 discount for kids

While Lindblad Expeditions does impressively in-depth circumnavigation itineraries, the soft-adventure line also offers this four-night gem, focusing on western Iceland and perfect for those who also want to drive the Ring Road. Passengers sail to remote fjords, complete with hikes and Zodiac rides that will bring you to scenes such as the spectacular Dynjandi Waterfall, the largest waterfall in the Westfjords at 328 feet tall. Keep your eyes open along the coastline for nesting terns. A NatGeo-trained photographer onboard will help you get the perfect shot to prove you saw nesting puffins off Heimaey and elsewhere en route. The ship is the 138-passenger, polar-class National Geographic Resolution—with the fun option of catching views while camping in the lush bed of a glass igloo on deck.

view of the bed, sitting area and balcony in a veranda suite on Silversea's luxury 'Silver Spirit' cruise ship

Do Iceland in luxury by booking a veranda suite on Silversea’s Silver Spirit.

Andrea Cappello/Silversea

Silversea’s Reykjavík to Reykjavík

Best for luxury
Price: 9- and 10-night sailings in July and August, fares from $4,650 per person

For travelers who like their nature and cultural exploration with a distinctive touch of class—including staying in a suite with a tuxedo-clad butler bringing you complimentary champagne and caviar, the 608-passenger Silver Spirit presents Iceland in high style. Done up in elegant Italian decor, it’s a floating oasis of good taste, including with top-class specialty dining experiences such as a sushi restaurant and a supper club with live jazz. Enjoy sea views and dine alfresco at the Grill, where you have your choice of protein cooked on lava rocks, after spending a day viewing lava rocks. The itinerary does an impressive seven stops in Iceland, plus a sail over to Torshavn, the Faroe Islands’ capital city, with its colorful grass-roofed buildings in the quaint Old Town and nature-filled sights nearby, including stunning fjord views and seabirds.

Ponant’s Iceland Mosaic

Best for underwater views
Price: 7-night cruises, June to August, from $6,920 per person. Note: June 15 is a Smithsonian Journeys Cruise with special lecturers onboard, from $7,910 per person

French line Ponant’s 184-passenger Le Bellot offers a unique perspective on Iceland, with an underwater Blue Eye lounge equipped with whale-eye shaped portals, large screens showing live images, and hydrophones capturing underwater sounds—all viewable as you relax in a “body listening” sofa, which vibrates in sync with the maritime acoustics and sip a perfectly made martini. Another bonus of this small ship is that the western-focused itineraries include a stop in the tiny village of Grimseyjarhreppur, the one inhabited place on Grimsey island, Iceland’s northernmost inhabited island, bisected by the Arctic Circle. Grimsey is a key destination in Iceland for spotting nesting puffins as well as auks.

Puffin on a coastal cliff in Iceland

Sail with Hurtigruten for a chance to have upclose encounters with adorable puffins.

Photo by Nicholas Kampouris/Unsplash

Hurtigruten’s Circumnavigating Iceland: The Land of Elves, Sagas, and Volcanoes

Best for eco-friendly, off-the-beaten-path exploration
Price: 8-night sailings in May and June, from $4,016 per person (with a 50 percent discount for kids)

Norwegian expedition line Hurtigruten’s electric hybrid, 530-passenger MS Fridtjof Nansen can run on sustainable battery power for short periods of time. On an eight-night Iceland circumnavigation, the ship stops in popular places such as Akureyri but also goes deeper, stopping on Grimsey island as well as in remote Bakkagerdi in the west, known for its natural beauty and, according to folklore, as the land of the huldufólk, meaning “hidden people.” Bird-spotting opportunities include Latrabjarg, one of Europe’s biggest seabird cliffs, populated by puffins, northern gannets, guillemots, and razorbills. Excursions by kayaks, inflatable RIBs, and on foot are led by the knowledgeable expedition team.

Fran Golden is an award-winning travel writer who has sailed on some 170 ships to destinations around the world.
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