Join us for our circumnavigation of Iceland aboard the ideally suited Ocean Diamond which we have chartered for our exploration. There is nowhere better to see nature in the raw than Iceland, the ‘Land of Ice & Fire’ and during our expedition we will witness huge ice-caps and glaciers, active volcanoes, gurgling mud pools, steaming hot springs and lava fields. If this were not enough, the immense scale of the landscape is dominated by towering snow-capped mountains, thundering waterfalls and spontaneous erupting geysers.
Europe’s least populated country offers the visitor an unparalleled experience of elemental forces at work and whilst we sail its waters, we will look out for humpback whales, orcas and white-beaked dolphins taking advantage of weather conditions and possible sightings to achieve the maximum with our time. Early June is the optimum time for our expedition, the skies and rocks will be filled with the sights and sounds of puffins, guillemots and gannets, the wildflowers will be prevalent and the seas will hopefully be rich with whales and marine life.
In addition to the wildlife, the island also provides a unique historical, cultural and geological experience. Under the surface, Iceland simmers with the sparks that are the tell-tale signs of its youthfulness as Europe’s most recent geological addition, only 16-20 million years old. Iceland is continuously being created; some of its newest land is a mere 40 years old.
A journey by small ship is the ideal way to get up close to nature and explore areas inaccessible to larger vessels and an expedition such as this can only be undertaken by a special vessel with the selfsufficient qualities of the Ocean Diamond. With her expert expedition team and fleet of Zodiacs we will be able to land on remote beaches and cruise close to shorelines and cliffs crowded with birdlife. Join us on our summer expedition as we explore the magnificent landscapes and learn more of the centuries old legacies of a Viking and Norse heritage. Whether your passion lies in the natural world or discovering lesser visited sites this itinerary will have something for you.
Make your way to Reykjavik and to the Ocean Diamond where you will sail this evening.
This morning we see the advantages of our small ship as we start to explore the fjords north of Reykjavik. We will start in Breidafjordur enjoying expedition cruising in the small islets where we will see thousands of birds. We will also keep an eye out for whales and if time permits try and land on one of the islands for a nature walk. In the afternoon we hope to visit the Latrabjarg cliffs, the westernmost point of Europe and home to millions of birds including puffins, northern gannets, guillemots and razorbills.
Awake this morning in the Western Fjords, an isolated but spectacular area of Iceland. We will also use our Zodiacs to explore Isafjordur and Jokulfjordur and, whilst the itinerary will be dependent on local weather conditions, we hope to land on Vigur, a serene little island with only five residents but home to thousands of puffins, eider ducks and arctic terns. We can also visit Iceland’s only extant windmill dating from the 19th century. Alternatively visit the villages of Thingeyri, one of the oldest settlements in the Westfjords and the location of the area’s first trading post and Hrafnseyri which boasts an old Viking farm and is also the birthplace of nationalist leader Jón Sigurðsson who was instrumental in Iceland gaining its independence from Denmark. Before returning to the ship we will see the thunderous Dynjandi, the highest waterfall in the Westfjords. Ensure you are on deck this afternoon as we cruise round the north coast of Iceland at the Hornbjarg Cliffs. These stunning cliffs rise 534 metres from the sea and this is one of the largest centres for puffins in Iceland.
Siglufjordur is a picturesque town that enjoys an idyllic setting in a small fjord backed by mountains. Here in the early 1900s, a booming economy due to the herring industry resulted in a prosperous town with some marvellous Icelandic architecture. Stroll through the town and visit the Herring Era Museum. Alternatively take a Zodiac cruise in Hedinsfjordur a dramatic and unspoiled landscape located between Olafsfjordur and Siglufjordur. This uninhabited fjord is surrounded by the majestic mountains of the Trollaskagi Peninsula and we will enjoy the scenery as we watch for wildlife. In the afternoon we head to Grimsey Island. The Arctic Circle bisects this Island which is known for its tiny community, basalt cliffs and large variety of birdlife. Here we enjoy free time to enjoy a nature walk on the island.
From Akuyeri we travel by bus to the Lake Myvatn- Krafla area, a fine example of the volcanic world with lava fields, boiling and steaming mud pools and steam vents of sulphur and craters. The area illustrates the sheer magnitude of Iceland’s forces at work. The lake itself, with beautiful natural rock formations and hot springs, is also a unique ecosystem and the largest migratory bird sanctuary in Europe. Our route will then take us by Godafoss (falls of the Gods), an imposing sight. Alternatively join a tour to the 3500 year old Lofthellir lava and on the way pass the unique Hverfell Volcano, the crater row of Ludentarborgir and to the base of Mount Hvannfell. From there it’s a 20-minute walk across lava fields to the cavern. Within the 1200-foot-long cave you can observe what are considered to be the most impressive natural ice sculptures in Iceland.
Husavik is the whale watching capital of Iceland. On this trip, the ship’s Zodiacs take you into Skjalfandi Bay to enjoy the stunning views on the snow-capped Vik Mountains while looking for wildlife. In this sheltered bay you can find up to 15 different species of whales as well as dolphins and many different kind of birds. For those that prefer to stay ashore you can explore the town and the excellent Husavik whale museum.
Today we arrive at the natural harbour at Seydisfjordur which has preserved its fishing heritage from the early 19th century and its architectural style. On a walking tour we will pass brightly painted and well preserved Norwegian style wooden buildings and visit the shops famous for their Icelandic patterned woollens. The keen walkers might prefer an energetic hike up the river trail through a verdant landscape of wildflowers.
Today we will see the shimmering white Vatnajokull Glacier, Europe’s largest glacier, sometimes called an icecap. The 600 metre thick ice surmounts active volcanoes, one of which erupted in 1996, creating a crater on the surface of the glacier, a most unusual phenomenon. We will venture out on a guided excursion and, after a local seafood lunch, watch the glacier which calves icebergs into the land-locked lagoon of Jokulsarlon.
Our last morning in Iceland is spent at the Vestmannaeyjar (Westmann Islands). Islanders here live with a dramatic volcanic history. In 1973 the island of Heimaey experienced an eruption which created a new mountain, Eldfell, known as Mount Fire. This morning, as part of our exploration of the Westmann Islands, we will circumnavigate Surtsey Island which was created volcanically in 1963 and is a closed nature reserve. Few places in the world illustrate more dramatically the powerful forces of nature. Later we will arrive at the only community, Heimaey, where half buried houses can be partially seen peeking out through the lava and ash. This afternoon if time permits we will use the Zodiacs to explore the cliffs and coves.
Disembark after breakfast and continue with your onward plans.
Category H Triple Cabin Lower Deck. Approximately 200 square feet (19 square meters) in size, this cabin has a two twin beds and an upper bed, and two portholes (Note: cabin 332 has three lower beds). Located on the Lower Deck, this cabin has a private bathroom with bathtub and shower.
Category G Twin Cabin with restricted Views Upper Deck. Approximately 200 square feet (19 square meters) in size, this cabin has one double bed or two twin beds, and a picture window (the view is obstructed). This cabin has a private bathroom with bathtub and shower. Amenities include: wardrobes, drawers, flat-screen TV, DVD player, individual temperature controls, in-room safe, refrigerator, satellite telephone access, and hair dryer.
Category F Twin Cabin with restricted views Captains Deck. Between 183 and 200 square feet (19 and 17 square meters) in size, this cabin has one double bed or two twin beds, and a picture window. This cabin has a private bathroom with bathtub and shower.
Category E Twin Cabin with portholes Lower Deck. Approximately 200 square feet (19 square meters) in size, this cabin has one double bed and two portholes. Located on the Lower Decks, this cabin has a private bathroom with shower. Amenities include: wardrobes, drawers, flat-screen TV, DVD player, individual temperature controls, in-room safe, refrigerator, satellite telephone access, and hair dryer.
Category D Twin Cabin with window Main Deck. Between 183 and 200 square feet (19 and 17 square meters) in size, this cabin has one double bed or two twin beds, and a picture window. Located on the Upper and Main Decks, this cabin has a private bathroom with bathtub and shower.
Category C Twin cabin with window Upper /Captains Deck. Between 183 and 200 square feet (19 and 17 square meters) in size, this cabin has one double bed or two twin beds, and a picture window. This cabin has a private bathroom with bathtub and shower.
Category B Suite with two windows Main Deck. Between 200 and 183 square feet (19 and 17 square meters) in size, this cabin has one double bed or two twin beds, and a picture window. Located on the Upper and Main Decks, this cabin has a private bathroom with bathtub and shower.
Category F For sole use Captains Deck. Between 183 and 200 square feet (19 and 17 square meters) in size, this cabin has one double bed or two twin beds, and a picture window. This cabin has a private bathroom with bathtub and shower.
Category E For sole use Lower Deck. Approximately 200 square feet (19 square meters) in size, this cabin has one double bed and two portholes. Located on the Lower Decks, this cabin has a private bathroom with shower. Amenities include: wardrobes, drawers, flat-screen TV, DVD player, individual temperature controls, in-room safe, refrigerator, satellite telephone access, and hair dryer.
Category A Balcony Suite Observation Deck. Approximately 325 square feet (30 square meters) in size, including the balcony, this suite has one double bed or two twin beds, and a full-size window with a sliding glass door that leads to a private deck with chairs. Located on the Observation Deck, this suite has a private bathroom with bathtub and shower.
Vessel Type: Expedition
Length: 124 metres
Passenger Capacity: 224
Built / refurbished: 1974 / 2012
The 224 passenger vessel was completely refurbished in Norway in 2012 and is perfect for our exploration being large enough to provide stability, speed, spacious cabins and ample public space, yet small enough to manoeuvre in remote areas. The vessel is outfitted with the most current navigational and communications technology as well as with retractable stabilisers for smooth sailing. The vessel is ice strengthened and features 18 Zodiacs for our forays ashore.
With a maximum of 224 passengers, the Ocean Diamond offers cabins across its five decks. There a range of cabins and suites available and all feature outside views (porthole, window or balcony), full private en-suite bathrooms featuring bathtub and shower, a writing desk, individual temperature control, in-room safe, refrigerator, satellite phone access, hairdryer and flat-screen television and DVD player. Cabins range in size from 17 square metres to 30 square metres.
The Ocean Diamond features spacious public areas and ample deck space from where you can admire the beautiful passing landscapes. Public areas and facilities include an observation lounge with bar, a fitness centre, pool with bar, sun deck, lecture threatre with state of the art audio visual equipment, library and lounge. The restaurant serves all passengers in one, open seating and cuisine onboard is international. There is also a gift shop, clinic and a spa onboard.
The single sitting restaurant is located on the Lower Deck and is both spacious and light. Breakfast and lunch are served buffet style and dinner is served to your table. All meals include a vegetarian option. Afternoon tea also served daily around the afternoon excursions and coffee, tea and water are available complimentary around the clock. Weather permitting, there will be the opportunity to dine outside on occasion.
The atmosphere onboard is focused on exploration and discovery with all the creature comforts you would expect from a vessel of this calibre. The onboard crew offer excellent service and in addition the expedition team will enrich your experience with their knowledge of the region. Through a lecture programme and shore expeditions, they will share their expertise and passion with you. After a day of exploration ashore, you will return to the comfort of a sophisticated ship with a friendly crew and informal atmosphere. A fleet of Zodiacs are used for landings and nature cruises, and during your voyage you will have the opportunity to visit the Captain and Officers on the Bridge to learn more about your journey, further fostering the expeditionary nature of our voyage.
Some Deck Plans may vary from what you see below.