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Fjallsarlon Ice Lagoon zodiac excursion

When we started looking into cruises to Iceland, it didn’t take long for us to realise that this was the kind of trip where we needed to be prepared. It was also going to be important for us to choose the right Iceland cruise itinerary and the best Iceland cruise line to get the kind of trip we were after.

Our plan was to see as many of the country’s coastal towns, cascading waterfalls, pristine fjords, and wildlife as possible in a week. This came down to looking at a lot of itineraries, packing smart before we left and having the right mindset for our seven-night round-trip Viking Ocean Iceland cruise.

Whether you’re seeking the ultimate adventure in Iceland’s remote glaciers or are dreaming of combining your Iceland cruise with a few ports in Norway or Greenland’s icy allure, the perfect voyage awaits. Here are some of our top tips for getting the most out of your cruise to Iceland.

Choosing the best Iceland cruise itinerary

Selecting the ideal Iceland cruise itinerary for you is the first step in planning your Iceland cruise adventure. Opt for a circumnavigation cruise, spanning seven to ten days, to delve deep into Iceland’s treasures. Alternatively, embark on a journey that includes ports in Iceland en route to other enchanting destinations like Norway or Greenland. Tailor your choice based on your preferred duration, travel availability, and desired destinations – and how much money you’ve got to spend.

How to choose the perfect Iceland cruise line

In general, smaller ships will allow for greater accessibility to Iceland’s intimate ports, ensuring a more immersive Iceland cruise experience. Choose a line that suits your holiday budget and also offers extensive options for excursions in each port. Viking Ocean Cruises and Iceland ProCruises are known for their diverse schedules during Iceland’s peak cruise season. Larger ships will be cheaper but you’ll be sharing your cruise experience with a lot of other travellers.

Viking Star in Iceland
Viking Star in Iceland

How to explore Iceland in just one week

We decided to opt for a seven-night ‘Iceland’s Natural Beauty’ round-trip cruise from Reykjavik with Viking Ocean Cruises for an immersive Iceland cruise experience. Departing from Reykjavik, we ventured beyond the tourist hotspots to discover Heimaey’s thriving puffin colonies and surround ourselves with Iceland’s untouched landscapes and many natural wonders. This itinerary was busy with some long days, but we didn’t mind as it helped us get the best out of our short Iceland visit.

Spend a night in Reykjavik before your Iceland cruise

Enhance your Iceland cruise experience by arriving in Reykjavik a few days before embarkation (but don’t stay too long unless you’ve got cash to spare as it’s an expensive destination!). Indulge in a soak in the thermal waters at the Sky Lagoon or embark on a Golden Circle day tour to see Thingvellir National Park, Gullfoss Waterfall, and the gushing Strokkur geyser. Our cruise included an overnight stay in Reykjavik, allowing us to explore further afield without the added accommodation expense.

Gullfoss Waterfall
Gullfoss Waterfall in Iceland

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Getting the best value from your Iceland adventure

Iceland is great but it’s also expensive to visit so visit during the extended daylight hours of summer to make the most of your time ashore. Other cost-saving measures include the Reykjavik City Card for discounted museum entry and public transport and cruises with included excursions to offset your overall expenses. Sure, these cruises may be more expensive, but you’ll get your money’s worth!

Exploring downtown Reykjavik
Exploring downtown Reykjavik

Choose different types of activities

Make sure you’ve got some variety in your shore excursions to help you fully appreciate Iceland’s allure. It’s best to balance iconic attractions like Gullfoss Waterfall with unique experiences such as ATV adventures or cultural walking tours. This way, each day offers new and exciting explorations.

Don’t leave Iceland excursions to chance

Lock in your excursions in advance to avoid disappointment, especially during peak cruise periods as they book out months in advance. While independent tours may offer cost savings, cruise line excursions are more reliable and guarantee a timely return so the ship doesn’t leave without you.

Fjallsarlon Ice Lagoon zodiac excursion
Fjallsarlon Ice Lagoon zodiac excursion

Prepare for Iceland’s varied climate

Pack strategically for Iceland’s ever-changing weather conditions, with layering options and weather-resistant gear. Opt for versatile clothing suitable for both sunny skies and sudden downpours, including hats, gloves, and a reliable rain jacket. Onboard laundry facilities are a bonus when it comes to minimising packing and swiftly drying wet garments.

Godafoss Waterfall
We needed our rainproof jackets and pants at Godafoss Waterfall

Disclosure: The writer travelled as a guest of Viking Ocean Cruises.

Want more great cruise advice? Check out our tips for choosing the perfect cruise, cruising with grandchildren, cruising with tweens and cruising with kids of all ages, solo cruising, the best activities on Ovation of the Seas, doing a Transatlantic cruise with kids, cruising in Australia or Papua New Guinea, Iceland cruise tips, cruising on a megaship, scoring a bargain cruise fare, cruising the Mediterranean, making the most of a cruise ship kids club, luxury cruising with kids, and the Byron Beach Club onboard P&O Cruises. We have also reviewed Disney Wonder, Pacific Adventure, Celebrity Edge, Quantum of the Seas and Ovation of the Seas, Pacific Encounter, Carnival Splendor, Voyager of the Seas, Nieuw Statendam, Viking Helgrim, Pride of America, Coral Expeditions in Tasmania and the Great Barrier Reef, Celebrity Solstice, and Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth.

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Trevor Templeman is a photographer and writer who travels the world capturing the essence of locations through their landscape, architecture and people. His words and photographs are published in magazines, newspapers and online around the world.