Iceland gets a lot of tourism during the winter months because many visitors are hoping to see the spectacular celestial displays of the aurora borealis. Prices of flights can actually go down in the summer, but cruises in the North Sea are less common in winter.
Most cruises which visit Iceland, the Faroe Islands, the Shetlands and the Norwegian fjords all depart in May and June. The Vikings who inhabited these places 1000 years ago would only embark on long journeys in their long ships during the summer, because they feared the volatile weather of the icy Northern sea. Likewise, a summer cruise is much more enjoyable today, because although you won’t see snow covered peaks, you can see the rolling green hills of the Faroes and the long summer nights of the Northern world.
According to Forbes Life, Iceland is one of The 10 Coolest Places to visit in 2015 and the Faroe Islands are on the new National Geographic Traveller list of must-see places. You can embark on extensive cruise tours of the North Sea from ports in Harwich, Bristol, Dublin or Holland. A shorter tour is more likely to just visit the Northern British islands, such as the Orkneys or the Shetlands, then on to the Faroes, around Iceland and back home again. Longer tours can include Copenhagen, Oslo and the spectacular sights of the Norwegian fjords from which the Vikings originally set sail.
As you wallow in the luxury of the cruise ship, you can reflect on the hardships of the brave men who first crossed the ocean from Norway to Iceland. You might leisurely admire the puffins on the black cliff rocks with a glass of wine in hand, but the Vikings arrived weather beaten, dressed only in wool in their pine long ships, covered in tar. How might they have felt when they saw the majestic and magical horizon of Iceland, green and lush with grass fit for grazing?
The people of the Northern world are all descended from those first Vikings who left Scandinavia in search of new lands. In Reykjavik, Iceland’s capital you can see the Thingvellir, the oldest parliament in the world, while Torshavn in the Faroe Islands also has a very old parliamentary building. The Nordic countries offer cruise ship passengers a compelling combination of natural beauty and human history to admire. Most cruise ships will have knowledgeable guides onboard to educate you on the significance of everything you encounter on your journey.
The North Sea cruise is particularly interesting and convenient if you live in the UK. All the destinations are immediately adjacent to the British Isles, and the British people are historically related to the Nordic people, yet their countries still seem so exotic and exciting. There is something mystical about the cold North and the people who live there. A survey in 1998 revealed that 54.4 percent of Icelanders believe that elves inhabit the rocks and hills of their strange volcanic land. But despite being culturally fascinating and very different from British people, you needn’t worry about translation services while on your cruise, as most Icelanders, Norwegians and Faroese people all speak excellent English. You may need to brush up on your Elvish if you wish to communicate with the little people though!
You don’t have much chance of seeing the Northern lights during a summer trip to Iceland, but there’s so much more that you can see. There’s a chance you will encounter porpoises, pilot whales or even killer whales as well as a variety of sea birds. There are also the beautiful and hospitable Northern peoples themselves, not to mention their quaint turf roofed houses which can be admired during one of your adventurous shore excursions.