How to cruise to Iceland

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With its dramatic glaciers, beautiful waterfalls and incredible volcanoes, Iceland is a country that deserves to be pretty high up on anyone’s bucket list. If you’re considering a cruise to Iceland, you’ll be pleased to know that taking a cruise is one of the best ways to visit this incredible country.

In this article, I’ll tell you everything you need to know to plan your cruise to Iceland. You’ll learn which cruise ships go to Iceland, which ports you can begin your cruise from and what there is to see and do in Iceland on a cruise.

Cruising to Iceland

Travelling by cruise ship is a popular way to take a holiday to Iceland, particularly for anyone who prefers not to fly. In 2019, 84 different cruise ships visited Iceland on 190 visits, carrying a total of 188,630 passengers.

Iceland is a popular cruise destination for people of all nationalities. In 2019, people from 121 different nations enjoyed cruises to Iceland. Of those passengers, 25% were German, 20% were American and 19% were British. [Source]

5 reasons to cruise to Iceland

Iceland offers so much to see and do. Here are five reasons why you have to visit Iceland at least once in your lifetime…

  1. See the Midnight Sun in summer or the Northern Lights in Winter
  2. Bathe in toasty geothermal pools and hot springs
  3. See whales, dolphins and puffins in the wild
  4. Experience harmless earthquakes and volcanic eruptions
  5. Meet the Icelandic people who are some of the friendliest in the world

Which cruise lines go to Iceland?

You can cruise to Iceland with most of the mainstream cruise lines including:

  • AIDA
  • Azamara
  • Carnival
  • Celebrity Cruises
  • Costa Cruises
  • Cunard
  • Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines
  • Hapag-Lloyd
  • MSC Cruises
  • P&O Cruises
  • Princess Cruises
  • Royal Caribbean
  • TUI

As well as the mainstream family-friendly cruise ships, Iceland is a popular port of call for ultra-luxury cruise lines like Crystal Cruises, Seabourn, Silversea and Viking and expedition cruise lines such as Hurtigruten, Aurora Expeditions and Lindblad.

Akureyri cruise ship
Cruise ship in Akureyri

Where to start your Iceland cruise

Located in the North Atlantic Ocean between The UK, Greenland and Norway, you can reach Iceland on cruises departing from various countries. Many Iceland cruise itineraries will also include stops in Norway, Ireland, Scotland as well as Iceland.

Let’s take a look at some of the best Iceland cruise itineraries for 2022…

Cruises to Iceland from the UK

Most Iceland cruises from the UK depart from Southampton, but you may also be able to find occasional regional departures from other UK ports such as Dover and Liverpool.

Cruises to Iceland from Southampton

There are several round-trip no-fly cruises from Southampton to Iceland each year. These last between 12 and 30 nights.

Round-trip cruises to Iceland from Southampton will be on the following ships in 2022:

  • Celebrity Cruises – Celebrity Silhouette
  • Cunard – Queen Victoria
  • P&O Cruises – Aurora & Arcadia (both adults only)
  • Princess Cruises – Sky Princess & Island Princess

Cruises to Iceland from Dover

If you’re aged over 50 you can take a 12-night round-trip cruise from Dover to Iceland with over-50s cruise line Saga. Another option is a cruise on the family-friendly Carnival Price, which is also 12 nights from Dover.

Cruises to Iceland from Liverpool

There is a just one cruise to Iceland from Liverpool scheduled for 2022. This round-trip cruise will be onboard Fred. Olsen’s ship, Borealis. The 17-night Whales, Waterfalls & Volcanic Islands’ cruise will visit the Azores as well as four ports in Iceland.

See cruise details

Cruises to Iceland from Newcastle

There are currently no cruises scheduled from Newcastle to Iceland for 2022. Fred. Olsen did have one scheduled in 2021, so we hope to see a return to cruising to Iceland from Newcastle in the future.

Cruises to Iceland from Hull

The cruise line Cruise & Maritime Voyages used to offer cruises from Hull to Iceland. However, since the company went out of business in 2020, there are no more cruises to Iceland from Hull scheduled at this moment.

Cruises to Iceland from the US

If you live in the United States, it’s possible cruise to Iceland without flying. However, most cruises to Iceland from the US are one-way trips. It may actually be easier to fly to Europe and cruise from there.

Cruises to Iceland from Boston

There is just one cruise to Iceland from Boston in 2022. This 24-night Canada, New England and Iceland cruise is a round-trip on Holland America Line’s ms Nieuw Statendam in August 2022.

See cruise details

Cruises to Iceland from New York

It’s not possible to take a round-trip cruise from New York to Iceland. However, you can cruise one-way from New York to Iceland as a segment of a world cruise, as part of a transatlantic crossing to Southampton or on a one-way cruise from New York to Reykjavik.

There are several cruise lines to choose from, including Norwegian Cruise Line, Princess Cruises, Celebrity Cruises, Regent Seven Seas, Silversea and Oceania Cruises all cruising one-way from New York to Iceland in 2022.

Cruises to Iceland from Europe

People travel from all over Europe to cruise to Iceland. When choosing a cruise ship that departs for Iceland from mainland Europe, you should take care to ensure that your language will be spoken on board. Although the German cruise lines welcome English speakers, you may struggle to get by if you can’t at least read signs and menus in German.

Cruises to Iceland from Germany

You can cruise to Iceland from the German ports of Hamburg, Kiel and Bremerhaven. These cruises are all with German cruise line AIDA so you may need to brush up on your understanding of the German language for this option.

Cruises to Iceland from Holland

There are several cruises to Iceland from Amsterdam in 2022. You can choose from Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises and Holland America Line and itineraries between 12 and 21 nights. If you don’t mind flying to Amsterdam to start your cruise, this could be a good option to consider.

Cruise ship in Reykjavik, Iceland
Cruise ship in Reykjavik

Where do cruise ships dock in Iceland?

Iceland has 17 ports but most of these aren’t big enough for cruise ships to dock. There are just three cruise ports in Iceland where medium and large cruise ships can dock. These are Akureyri, Reykjavik and Isafjord.

Some of the smaller ports in Iceland can be visited by small cruise ships, most of which offer an adults-only ultra-luxury or expedition cruising experience.

A list of the top Icelandic cruise ports and the number ships scheduled to call there in 2022:

  • Akureyri – 96 cruises
  • Reykjavik – 95 cruises
  • Isafjordur – 75 cruises
  • Seydisfjordur – 36 cruises
  • Heimaey – 22 cruises
  • Grundarfjordur – 20 cruises
  • Djupivogur – 11 cruises
  • Husavik – 11 cruises
  • Patreksfjordur – 7 cruises
  • Siglufjorour – 7 cruises
  • Eskifjordur – 4 cruises
  • Grimsey – 1 cruise

Things to see on an Iceland cruise

Here are some of the top sightseeing attractions to visit in the main ports of call in Iceland…

Top 5 things to do in Akureyri on a cruise

  1. Take an excursion to Lake Myvatn to visit the Nature Baths
  2. See the 12-meter tall Godafoss Waterfall
  3. Take a whale-watching cruise from Downtown Akureyri
  4. Take a horse riding tour of Akureyri
  5. Experience the festival of arts and culture in July and August

Book Akureyri cruise excursions

The Northern Lights over the Godafoss Waterfall
The Northern Lights over the Godafoss Waterfall

Top 5 things to do in Reykjavik on a cruise

  1. Ride on the hop-on-hop-off sightseeing bus
  2. Take a coach tour of Iceland’s Golden Circle sights
  3. See the ‘Game of Thrones’ filming locations
  4. Bathe in Iceland’s famous Blue Lagoon
  5. Visit the Thingvellir National Park for a close-up view of a glacier

Book Reykjavik cruise excursions

The Blue Lagoon
The Blue Lagoon

Top 5 things to do in Isafjordur on a cruise

  1. Take a boat tour to the island of Vigur to see puffins
  2. Take a thrilling 4X4 sightseeing tour of the Svalgovar Circle
  3. See the Duynjandi Waterfall and the stunning landscapes of the Westfjords
  4. Visit the Maritime Museum
  5. Take a whale-watching boat trip around Isafjardardjup Bay

Book Isafjordur cruise excursions

Puffins in Iceland
Puffins on the island of Vigur

What to pack for an Iceland cruise

Iceland enjoys a milder climate than its name might suggest with the weather in Iceland averaging 14°C (57°F) in July, although it can be as warm as 25°C (77°F). Almost all Iceland cruises take place between May and September so there’s really no need to pack snow boots and thermals for your cruise.

When you’re in Iceland you’ll probably hear the joke ‘if you don’t like the weather, just wait five minutes’. Iceland’s weather changes many times each day due to the combination of warm air coming in on the Gulf Stream from the Caribbean and cold Arctic air from the north.

Packing light layers is the key to staying comfortable on your Iceland cruise. You’ll also want to make sure that you have a waterproof jacket, comfortable walking shoes and an umbrella. Celebrity Cruises has a good packing list for Iceland.

To conclude

Iceland is a wonderfully scenic destination to visit on a cruise, so you’ll probably want to upgrade to a balcony cabin if you can afford to. Most cruises to Iceland include two, three or four ports of call in Iceland as well as some other destinations like Norway or the British Isles.

With so much to see and do in Iceland, it’s a good idea to plan your trip in detail before you go, booking guided excursions either with your cruise line or with a trusted company such as Viator.

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Instructions

  1. Know which is the best cruise line for you
  2. Pick a ship with facilities you'll actually use
  3. Don't assume that you need a balcony
  4. Consider a cruise from your nearest port
  5. Look out for free or cheap kids places
  6. Book over a year in advance
  7. Get a great travel agent

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