Iceland is a 103,000 km2 (39,769 sq mi) geologically and volcanically active island located in the extreme north Atlantic. It is home to around 320,000 people, most of whom reside in the country’s colourful capital Reykjavik.
Conveniently located midway between Moscow and New York, Iceland is the second largest island in Europe and the third largest in the Atlantic. Despite its northerly climes and somewhat imposing name, Iceland enjoys a temperate climate and is conveniently warmed by the passing Gulf Stream.
Millions of years of volcanic activity, coupled with relentless arctic weathering, have resulted in Iceland boasting a truly stunning land and seascape.
Hundreds of volcanoes dot the landscape, although not all of them are active. The most famous ones include Hekla, (which was once believed to be the entrance to hell!) Katla, under the Myrdalsjökull glacier,
and Krafla in north Iceland. All of them have erupted at some point during the last century, some more than once. On average there is a volcanic eruption every five years in Iceland and as a result lava fields cover some 11% of the island.
The ideal location
Due to its prime location, Iceland lends itself as the perfect stop over for ships repositioning from the US to Europe (and vice versa). With Europe featuring so prominently on the agenda of many of today’s modern cruise fleet, Iceland is an attractive Northern Europe option worthy of serious consideration.
Sales are up!
Recent surveys indicate that Iceland continues to score very highly on passenger shore excursion ratings. Tours and shore side experiences are frequently referred to as being “excellent value for money” and appear to cover all aspects of what passengers want (and expect) to see and experience during their time ashore.
The destination is also reputed to deliver notably higher passenger participation numbers than is often considered normal.
Iceland offers a wealth of tour opportunities that encompass all of the natural and geological highlights for which the country is so justly renowned.
Each port adds its own special flavour to the mix and no two port experiences are alike.
Voluntourism options are available at several ports and naturally, there is always ample opportunity to tailor make programs that tastefully reflect a cruise line’s individual image and focus.
Other shore side services include Port to Port, Turn Around Operations, Pre and Post Tours and Overland tours.
The cruise season in Iceland runs typically from late May until the end of September.
During this time there are many festivals taking place both in the Capital and around the country, a few of which are listed below:
The fishing season in Iceland starts on April 1st on several sea trout & brown trout rivers as well as a few lakes.
The salmon season starts in June and extends into mid-September.
Whale watching season – Iceland is well known for being one of the best whale watching locations in the world and it is possible to spot over 20 different cetaceans.
Iceland is a bird watchers paradise and any visitor to Iceland in early summer cannot help but notice the sheer abundance of birds in the country. Iceland only has around 75 regularly breeding species but over 350 species have been recorded, many of which are very rare vagrants. The country is particularly rich in seabirds, waders, and wildfowl. One of the country’s most famous birds is the puffin. By late summer Iceland has over 10 million puffins and the Westman Islands are reported to house one of the world’s largest puffin populations.
The 2011 Reykjavík Arts Festival was held from May 20 to June 5.
For future events please visit www.artfest.is
The first Sunday in June
“Sjomannadagur” (Seafarer’s Day), is a celebratory event that traditionally honours fishing and fishermen. It is celebrated in with great enthusiasm in the numerous coastal towns that hug Iceland’s coast line. All sorts of activities take place, including rowing and swimming competitions, tug-o’-war, and sea rescue competitions.
Viking Festival in Hafnarfjördur. Hundreds of Vikings congregate from all over the world for a weekend of endless happenings and entertainment. The festival is traditionally held the weekend surrounding 17th June.
Iceland’s National Day and a holiday celebrating the formation of the Republic of Iceland in 1944. The date of 17 June was chosen as it is the birthday of Jón Sigurdsson, a major figure of Icelandic culture and the leader of the 19th century Icelandic independence movement. The day is celebrated with gusto and in style all over Iceland with street parties, open air markets and entertainment.
Summer solstice. Many gatherings take place around the country in celebration of the magical midnight sun. The Snaefellsness peninsula plays host to perhaps the most famous of all, where many visitors gather close to the Snaefellsjökull glacier in order to celebrate the longest day of the year. The glacier is thought to house one of the earth’s most potent energy centres.
June (as yet no confirmed dates for 2012)
The Arctic Open International Golf Tournament takes place in Akureyri just south of the Arctic Circle. Tee off is at midnight and offers a truly unique golfing experience in spectacular surroundings!
June–August (as yet no confirmed dates for 2012)
Marathon time. Offerings include: Mývatn Midnight Run (North Iceland) – Laugarvegur Ultra Marathon (South Highlands) and the Reykjavík Marathon.
For more information please see: www.reykjavikmarathon.is
Reykholt Festival is an international music festival held on the last week of July every year at Reykholt, the birth place of famed Icelandic Historian and saga writer Snorri Sturluson in Borgarfjördur (West Iceland). It´s repertoire mainly consists of classical music featuring both Icelandic musicians and well known foreign artists. Reykholt festival has earned a reputation as being one of the most interesting cultural events in Iceland.
First Monday in August – Commerce Day. The weekend before sees thousands of Icelanders heading out of town to camp at the various festivals held around the country. This includes anything from quiet family events to wild rock festivals and everything in between!
Flight of the Puffling. A sight not to be missed in the Westman Islands (Vestmannaeyjar) off the south coast, when millions of baby puffins leave their nests and take wing for the first time.
Gay Pride. The Gay Pride festivities in Reykjavík, organized by the board and pride committee of the organization, have been a marvellous success since 1999. A huge, merry and colourful Gay Parade through the centre of town and a grand outdoor concert attended by over seventy thousand people – lesbians and gay men, bisexuals and transgender people, friends, relatives, fellow citizens and numerous foreign visitors, all showing solidarity with the gay cause.
The Reykjavik Gay Pride always takes place around the second weekend of August.
August (third weekend)
Reykjavik Culture Night has become an essential part of cultural life in Iceland with thousands of people strolling the streets of the city on this exciting and eventful night. Culture Night offers the chance to enjoy a variety of activities ranging from traditional shows and exhibitions to more unusual happenings. This annual event in Iceland’s capital Reykjavik actually consists of two events: Culture Night in Reykjavik, and the Reykjavik Marathon. They take place on the same day on the third weekend in August and together they form the city’s most popular event.
Annual sheep round-up. Held at sheep sorting pens around the country. A time of high spirits and fun for young and old alike during which the sheep, that have been grazing wild all summer, are brought down from the highland pastures and sorted by their respective owners.
Additional general information
Thanks to the Gulf Stream, Iceland enjoys a cool temperate ocean climate: comfortably cool in summer and relatively mild in winter. The average July temperatures are around 11°C in Reykjavík, with the north and east are often enjoying the warmest weather in the summer. However, the weather is very changeable and visitors should be prepared for the unexpected.
Average temperatures in Reykjavik:
January 35F / 1,6 °C
April 42F / 5,5 °C
July 56 F / 13,3 °C
October 44F /6,7°C
Iceland is on Greenwich Mean Time all year round.
The National Church of Iceland is Evangelical Lutheran.
The Icelandic króna (ISK). All major currencies can be exchanged at most airports, banks and currency exchanges. Visa and MasterCard are widely accepted and ATMs/Cash dispensers are readily available at all ports and towns in Iceland.
Thanks to its northerly latitude, Iceland enjoys seemingly unlimited daylight hours from early May until Mid August. The summer solstice takes place on the 21st June and around this time the sun hardly dips from the horizon. The night time darkness creeps in around mid August when it once again becomes what many might refer to as “normal daylight hours” until September, when Iceland once more creeps into its winter mode of an average of four hours daylight.
Tax Free shopping
A refund of the local Value Added Tax is available to visitors to Iceland. The refund will result in a reduction of up to 15% of the retail price, provided departure from Iceland is within 30 days after the purchase is made. The purchased amount must be no less than ISK 4.000, – (VAT included) per sales receipt, and all goods (except woollens) must be packed in sealed bags or containers
Banks are open from 09:15 to 16:00. As general rule offices are open from 09:00 to 17:00, in some cases during the summer these hours are from 08:00 to 16:00. Shops are open from 09:00 to 18:00 on weekdays. Kringlan and Smáralind shopping malls (located in Reykjavik) as well as some souvenir and bookshops in the city centre, are open on weekends.
The 24 hour National Emergency telephone number in Iceland is 112
CSI strongly recommends that you visit our port information pages to ensure that along with being able to accommodate your vessel’s tonnage, the port also houses the potential to accommodate your passenger numbers on tours.