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Why is summer the perfect time to cruise to Iceland and the North Cape?

The best time to cruise to Iceland is surely between June and September, when the days of summer daylight are extended, wildlife emerges from its wintery slumber and purple Lupines carpet the landscape.

The following Q&A with destination expert Simon Giles goes into more detail about our Arctic Summer: Iceland and the North Cape cruise departing in July 2024…

Why is the summer such a great time of year to visit this region, and what can you expect to see and experience that is unique to this season?

Summer inside the Arctic Circle is a magical time as the land thaws and wildlife re-emerges. Long days of sunshine are perfect for cramming as much into your visit as possible, and temperatures are often higher than one might expect for an ‘Arctic adventure’.

Look forward to views of snow-capped mountains surrounded by blue summer skies on the Lofoten Islands and an included trip to the ‘top of Europe’ from Honningsvag. A cruise is the perfect way to experience Iceland and our An Arctic Summer: Iceland and the North Cape cruise includes visits to three special destinations – Akureyri in the north, Isafjordur in the remote west and the capital Reykjavik.

The view from Isafjördur

What wildlife might you see during the summer months?

The summer months in Norway and Iceland provide a wealth of wonderful wildlife opportunities. From Honningsvag, a bird safari by boat searches for cormorants, razorbills and the mighty sea-eagle.

Whilst in Iceland you will likely spot the brightly coloured beaked puffins. Summertime in Iceland is the perfect time to spot whales, and whilst there will be plenty of opportunities from on board Spirit of Adventure, you may also choose to join an excursion on a small boat for a closer look. Sightings of Humpback and Minke whales are common in the waters surrounding Akureyri and Reykjavik.

On land, the Troms region of Norway is home to thousands of Reindeer, and you can learn about the traditions of reindeer herding from the native Sámi people. Arctic Foxes are the only native mammal in Iceland, and you can take the opportunity to see them whilst visiting Isafjordur.

Arctic fox

ORCA will be on board An Arctic Summer: Iceland and the North Cape cruise

On board Spirit of Adventure, you’ll be joined by wildlife experts from ORCA, the foremost European whale and dolphin conservation charity, who are devoted to studying marine wildlife and protecting it for future generations. Enjoy the opportunity to spot whales, dolphins, seabirds and an array of other wildlife out on deck throughout your voyage, the perfect vantage point to view and learn more about wildlife in their natural habitat.

What can you expect from the weather?

Summer in Iceland and Northern Norway is often warmer than one would expect, and t-shirt weather is not uncommon. On first view of the beautiful sandy beaches of the Lofoten Islands, you will need to remind yourself that you are inside the Arctic Circle and not in the Mediterranean!

Cruise to the remote Lofoten Islands

Do you have any top tips on what to pack for a summer cruise to the Arctic?

Layered clothing is always a good idea, so you’re prepared for every eventuality, but you can certainly leave your thick winter coat at home. There are plenty of active opportunities throughout this cruise, so I would definitely pack a pair of walking shoes.

What are your top three must-do excursions or experiences on a cruise to the Arctic?

The iconic Golden Circle is a must from Reykjavik. There’s no better opportunity to experience the natural beauty of Iceland than on a tour to three incredible sites: Thingvellir National Park, where tectonic plates meet; the spouting Geysir Strokkur; and dramatic Gullfoss Falls.

The Forest Lagoon is Iceland’s newest geothermal spa, located beside a fjord and surrounded by nature. A visit here will provide a memorable day of relaxation during your time in Akureyri.

Stokkur Geyser, Reykjavik

What scenery can you look forward to seeing on a cruise to the Arctic?

Cruises to the Arctic often include a visit to the Lofoten Islands, which are truly spectacular in summer, with snow-covered mountain peaks and dramatic coastlines dotted with colourful fishing huts.

On our Arctic Summer: Iceland and North Cape cruise in July 2024, Spirit of Adventure’s arrival into Iceland begins with a scenic sail-in along the Eyjafjörður Fjord – the longest fjord in Iceland. For a special start to the day, you can order breakfast to your room and enjoy the view from your balcony.

The Lofoten Islands in summer

What kind of excursions are available in this region?

We aim for our excursion programs to be as varied as possible in every destination. Whether you prefer to head off on foot for an active exploration, indulge a specialist area of interest as part of a small group or simply see the sights from the comfort of a tour vehicle, our excursions offer something for everyone.

For anyone who prefers to explore independently, we provide a complimentary shuttle service into the heart of the destination when the cruise dock is not centrally located, making it as easy as possible.

Are there any included excursions?

Our Arctic Summer cruise includes some special excursion experiences at no additional cost. From Honningsvag, a trip to the North Cape is a must, with its iconic globe monument at the ‘top of Europe’.

From Akureyri, an included excursion visits the spectacular Godafoss Waterfall. This horse-shoe shaped falls is one of Iceland’s finest and is cloaked in myths and legends.

Views over Godafoss

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.