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Europe / Northern Europe Cruises / Iceland

Cruises to Reykjavik

Cruises timetable and data for this port of call

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Reykjavik main data and map

On first encounter, Reykjavik, the world's most northerly capital, feels more like a provincial town than a capital city. When viewed from a high vantage point, the city, with its low buildings and brightly painted houses, stretches out like a toytown. Despite this impression, the city and its six surrounding municipalities, known collectively as Greater Reykjavik, is home to three out of five Icelanders. It is the focal point for Icelandic life, and politically, socially, economically and culturally dominates the country. Reykjavik was founded by Iceland's first settler, Ingólfur Arnarson. According to ancient sagas, he followed the Nordic tradition of letting the gods decide the location of his new home. As he sailed towards the land he threw two pillars overboard and sent his slaves to find out where they had come ashore. After traversing the fertile south of Iceland they expressed their disappointment on locating the pillars: «For no good did we cross fine districts in order to settle on this remote cape». Arnarson named the place Reykjavik or «Smokey Bay» after the steam rising from the hot springs. Although the city attracted other settlers, it comprised only a handful of farmhouses until the middle of the eighteenth century, when a small trading community began to grow up. It was granted a municipal charter and over the following decades underwent futher development as an urban centre. At the end of World War II, when Iceland gained full autonomy from Denmark, Reykjavik became the capital city. Contrary to the meaning of its name, Reykjavik is now known as the «smoke-less» city. The numerous geothermal springs running beneath the city have provided heating and water since the 1930s. By the 1970s, most houses were heated in this way, leading to some of the lowest water and electricity bills in Europe. The additional benefit, a drastically reduced level of fuel emissions, has made it a very clean city, demonstrated by the deep, cobalt blue of the sky. A by-product of this natural central heating system is the faint odour of hydrogen sulphide that hangs over the city. Situated in the country's southwest corner on Faxaflói Bay, the city has a very wet climate and, with winds and rain blowing in from the sea, kagoules and waterproofs are the mainstays of the city-dweller's wardrobe. Although the climate can be harsh, the Gulf Air Stream prevents it from becoming as cold as its northerly location might suggest. Winters are long and bleak, with just four hours of daylight on some days. Summer, by contrast, brings the famous midnight sun with the city's inhabitants at their most colourful and the streets by night taking on a carnival atmosphere. However, the harsh winters have helped create the rich cultural and artistic life the city enjoys and its wealth of art galleries, theatres, ballet and opera means that there's plenty to do and see on even the wettest and coldest days.

Schedule for the upcoming cruises to Reykjavik

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