We just returned for an amazing adventure sailing from Iceland to Ireland on NCL’s newest ship, the Norwegian Prima! Our itinerary gave us an overnight in Reykjavik for the first night of the cruise and we were determined to see as much of the Icelandic scenery as we could.
We landed at Iceland’s Keflavik airport in the morning after a red eye flight and enjoyed a mini tour while enroute to the ship, which was docked in the heart of Reykjavik, approximately 45 minutes away. We passed the Fagradalsfjall volcano on Reykjanes peninsula, which had recently erupted followed by several minor earthquakes in the region. It was dormant while we were there.
After getting checked in at our ship, we grabbed our swimsuits and headed over to Sky Lagoon to experience the healing warm waters of their geothermal lagoon. There were taxis waiting right outside our ship, but taxi’s in general are very difficult to use in Iceland and normally must be ordered by phone in advance. You can’t flag them down on the street. We were lucky on the way back from Sky Lagoon because two other people waiting in front of us were returning to the ship, so we shared a taxi. It had been almost half an hour since the staff at Sky Lagoon said they had called for their taxi, so plan your time accordingly.
Sky Lagoon is much closer to where our ship docked than the famous Blue Lagoon. We were also told it is newer and less crowded. We had a limited amount of time, so we just purchased the Pure Lite Pass upon arrival which allowed access to the public changing rooms and lagoon. They also offer a Pure Pass which includes the 7 step ritual. It features the lagoon, cold plunge, sauna, cold mist, salt scrub, steam room and then finishes in the lagoon. You do not need to make reservations in advance, but can do so via their website.
Once we paid for our package, we received rubber bracelets that could be used for charging drinks to our credit card and for locking the lockers. We used the public men’s and women’s changing rooms and you are required to shower before entering the lagoon. They had a variety of Icelandic beers and wines (including champagne) available for purchase at the lagoon bar. They advised us that there was a maximum limit of 3 drinks per person. Towels to use were also included in all of the packages. They provide plastic bags to put your bathing suit in after your experience. They also rent bathing suits if you did not bring yours along. There is a gift shop and café in the main building that you can enjoy before or after your lagoon experience.
The water temps were around 100 degrees Fahrenheit and air temps were in the upper 50’s, but with a biting wind.
It was a wonderful relaxing introduction to this Icelandic ritual that we thoroughly enjoyed. For more information, visit their website at https://www.skylagoon.com/
Golden Circle Tour from Reykjavik, Iceland
We took off early the next morning on a 6 ½ hour tour called The Golden Circle. It featured some of the most popular natural attractions in Iceland.
Thingvellir National Park
Our first stop was at Thingvellir National Park, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is the only place in the world where you can actually stand in between the American and Eurasian tectonic plates. The ground is full of cracks from the surrounding volcanic activity. It is what I would imagine walking on the moon would look like.
The next stop was Geysir, where we were able to view the steaming explosions every 4-5 minutes.
Our last stop was at Gullfoss, which is one of the largest waterfalls in Iceland. It was breathtakingly beautiful. Our guide told us the story about the family that owned the land. They were a farming family that were approached about harnessing the power of the falls to generate electricity. The farmer refused, saying “I will not sell my friend!” . They continued to pressure the family to allow the river to be dammed, but the farmer’s daughter fought relentlessly to keep the falls intact. In 1975, the government of Iceland bought the land and made the falls a national monument. There is a plaque honoring the farmer’s daughter as the first “environmentalist” in Iceland at the base of the falls.
There is a lovely restaurant at Gullfoss with Icelandic beer and wine for purchase along with a very nice gift shop. One of the don’t miss purchases in Iceland is the flavored salts and this is an excellent place to pick up a variety pack. Note that cash is rarely used in Iceland.
We covered a lot of terrain during our 6 ½ hour sightseeing excursion. We felt like the Golden Circle Tour gave us an excellent overview of the diversity and beauty of Iceland.