Experiencing Authentic Iceland in Style – An Iceland ProCruises Review

Iceland ProCruises review - sailing on the Seaventrue expedition ship

Last Updated on 01/04/24 by Rose Palmer

Iceland has become one of my favorite destinations. With its diverse and stunning scenery, warm and friendly people, and a foodie culture focused on fresh and local ingredients, what’s not to love. On my recent Iceland ProCruises circumnavigation cruise, I had the chance to travel around Iceland in complete comfort and ease while local guides showed off all the best experiences their country had to offer.

My Iceland ProCruises review

Iceland is not a big country and it is easy enough to tour on your own by car as I did last year. But it is even easier to let someone else do the “driving”, in this case, an expedition ship captain.

In recent years, cruises to, from, and around Iceland have become very popular. More and more of the big ship cruise lines are offering itineraries that include stops in Iceland. But in my opinion, the best Iceland cruise option is with a company that specializes in Iceland travel: Iceland ProCruises and its parent company, Iceland Pro Travel are just that.

The Seaventure docked near the small harbor of Anarstapi
Anarstapi harbor with the MS Seaventure in the background

Iceland Pro Travel is owned and was founded in 2003 by Iceland native Gudmundur Kjartansson and Ann-Catherin Bröcker who hails from Luxembourg. The company provides specialized tours and programs in Iceland, Greenland and Scandinavia.

The company markets to both English and German speaking audiences which means that my cruise ship mates were quite an international mix  – an added bonus I think. Of the approximately 100 guests on board, about half spoke English (most were part of a Road Scholar tour), and half spoke German.

Seaventure stops on the island of Flatey
Only Iceland ProCruises and the MS Seaventure stop on the island of Flatey with its abundant puffin population

From early June through the end of August, Iceland ProCruises offers 9 day/8 night circumnavigation cruises that stop at some of the most popular destinations in Iceland along with small hidden gems that only they offer.

I liked the convenience of unpacking my bag once and coming back to my comfy cabin at the end of the day as we circled the island and explored a different destination daily.

Cruising with Iceland ProCruises

Iceland ProCruises chartered the small expedition ship MS Seaventure from current owners Scylla AG for their summer itineraries to Iceland and Greenland. (In the winter months, the MS Seaventure is chartered by Polar Latitudes for cruises in Antarctica).

The beautiful Seaventure glows at night in the Husavik harbor
The beautiful Seaventure glows at night in the Husavik harbor in Iceland

The MS Seaventure has a long and reliable history as an expedition ship. Built in Japan in 1990, she was recently renovated in 2021. While her interiors may have been given a beautiful, modern facelift, the ship’s hull maintained its A-1 Super ice class rating. This is the highest possible ice class rating given to passenger ships.

She may have been built for ice explorations, but when it’s not Antarctica cruising season, the Seaventure ventures into other waters. During the summer months, Iceland ProCruises sails the ship for soft adventure cruises around Iceland and Greenland.

The MS Seaventure docked in Sglufjordur, Iceland
The MS Seaventure docked in Siglufjordur, Iceland

The MS Seaventure expedition ship experience

The MS Seaventure
Love that the MS Seaventure is not very large

For a small expedition style ship, I was surprised at the many bright and roomy public spaces on board. With a baby grand piano, a bar, and walls of large picture windows on both sides, the main indoor hangout spot was the spacious Seabreeze lounge on deck 5.

The lounge was the go to spot for afternoon tea, tasting the daily cocktail creations, or enjoying some evening entertainment. This was also the best spot to connect to the ship’s free WIFI (along with the library next door).

The Seabreeze lounge on the Seaventure
The Seabreeze lounge on the Seaventure
Afternoon tea in the Seabreeze Lounge
Afternoon tea in the Seabreeze Lounge

Just off the Seabreeze lounge was the intimate and cozy library. The bookcases offered a wide selection of reading material that could be borrowed along with board games.

The library on the Seaventure
The library on the MS Seabreeze

Outside the Seabreeze lounge was the Seabreeze deck with tables and chairs. This was a protected outdoor spot to look at the scenery or the sunset. This was also the dedicated spot on the ship for smokers.

Watching the sun set from the Seaventure
Watching the sun set in Iceland from the Seabreeze deck

The Oceanview Restaurant on deck 4 (the ship’s main dining room) was also huge and airy and surprisingly elegant. Table size options ranged from an intimate setting for two to seating for groups of four, six, or larger round tables that could comfortably hold a group of eight new friends.

The dining room on the Seaventure
The Oceanview dining room on the Seaventure
Each night's disher were presented in the dining room
Each night’s dishes were presented in the dining room

On the highest deck (deck 7), the Expedition Lounge provided theater style seating which was an ideal spot for the many lectures and information sessions presented by our expert Icelandic guides.

Expedition lounge on the Seaventure
Expedition lounge on the Seaventure

Deck 7 also had a sauna and a small gym with big ocean views where I could work off some of the afternoon tea cakes and cookies.

Outside on deck 7, the wind protected sundeck provided a heated saltwater pool with lounge chairs.

The saltwater pool on the Seaventure
The saltwater pool on the Seaventure

The forward section of deck 6 is where the bridge was located while the aft section held the zodiacs (because it’s not an expedition ship if it doesn’t have zodiacs). Many of our stops were tender ports and we were transported by zodiac from the ship to shore.

Getting on and off the zodiacs was not hard and was well managed. A platform with stairs and railings made it easy to get into and out of the zodiac. In addition, there were always three staff members present to assist while climbing into and out of the zodiac. Even the more senior guests in their 80’s had no trouble doing this.

Getting off the zodiac on the Seaventure
Getting off the zodiac on the Seaventure

Detailed deck plans of the Seaventure can be found here.

My cabin on the Seaventure

The beauty of sailing on the Seaventure is that there were no inside cabins. All 82 cabins have outside views via portholes, panoramic windows, or balconies.

All the cabins on the Seaventure are the same size (except the suites) with the difference being the type of window and which deck level they are on.

Window cabin on the Seaventure
Window cabin on the Seaventure

At 194 square feet (or 18 square meters), my cabin was quite large and very comfortable. I had one of the balcony cabins on deck 6 and loved how bright and airy the room was. It was a little too chilly for me to sit out on the balcony often, but I did appreciate the views through the big glass door.

Views of the balcony and suite cabins on the Seaventure
Views of the porthole cabins on deck 4, the window cabins on deck 5, the balcony cabins on deck 6, and the two suite cabins on deck 7
View of Harpa Hall and Reykjavik from my balcony on the Seaventure
View of Harpa Hall and Reykjavik from my balcony on the Seaventure

With all its fawn colored wood cabinetry, the ambiance in my room was very warm and comfortable. The cabin was efficiently laid out with one wall holding a large closet, a desk with a TV above it, a small room fridge, and more built in storage cabinets.  I have never had so much storage on a ship before. There was a lot of room to hang my clothes and also lots of shelf space.

My cabin on the Seaventure
My cabin on the Seaventure
Inside view of the spacious closet in my cabin on the Seaventure
Inside view of the spacious closet in my cabin on the Seaventure

Besides a safe, one shelf in the closet also had and ice bucket, drinking glasses, wine glasses, cork screw, and an ice bucket – all the necessities for enjoying a cool glass of bubbly on the balcony while taking in the views. There were also two bathrobes in the closet along with slippers for guests’ use, and a hairdryer.

As with many cruise ships, I found that I did not have enough outlets to charge all my electronic “stuff”. There was one US style outlet and one European style outlet, both near the TV. Fortunately I had a universal adapter with me and I was able to make use of both outlets, which really helped.

My room was set up with two twin beds, but they can also be configured together into a queen. My bathroom was also surprisingly roomy, bigger than what I am used to on larger cruise ships.

The twin bed configuration in my cabin on the Seaventure
The twin bed configuration in my cabin on the Seaventure
My bathroom on the Seaventre
My bathroom on the Seaventre

There were also two suites available on deck 7 that are 258 square feet which have a larger balcony as well as a larger bathroom. These would be a great option for families travelling with children.

One of the two suites on the Seaventure
One of the two suites on the Seaventure
Suite bathroom
Suite bathroom

My Iceland Circumnavigation itinerary

As I compared Iceland cruise itineraries, it appeared to me that Iceland ProCruises offered a trip with more port stops and also more unique experiences and excursion options.

Iceland ProCruises Iceland circumnavigation
Iceland circumnavigation itinerary map by Iceland ProCruises

Excursions at each port stop were not included in the overall cost of the cruise. This meant I was free to choose which of the many options I wanted to do at each stop. In the interest of keeping this post a reasonable length, I will do a separate story with a lot of detail about each excursion that I took: Shore Excursions in Iceland – How I Spent a Day in Iceland’s Most Popular Ports

This was my 10 day Iceland circumnavigation itinerary:

Day 1 – board in Reykjavik

Day 2 – Anarstapi and the Snaefellsnes Peninsula

Views of Anarstapi harbor
Views of Anarstapi harbor

Day 3 – Isafjordur

Day 4 – Siglufjordur and Grimsey

Demonstration by the Herring Girls in Siglufjordur
Demonstration by the Herring Girls in Siglufjordur

Day 5 – Flatey and Husavik

Seeing puffins on the island of Flatey
Seeing puffins on the island of Flatey

Day 6 – Husavik

Day 7 – Seydisfjordur

Day 8 – Djupivogur

Looking down on the Oxi road
Looking down on the Oxi road

Day 9 – Vestmannaeyjar (Westman Islands)

Day 10 – Disembark in Reykjavik

The special Iceland ProCruises touches

Throughout my 10 days on this Iceland ProCruises itinerary, I was highly impressed with all the special touches that helped me get a much more authentic Icelandic experience.

It started with all the little welcome gifts that greeted me in my cabin. We all received an Iceland ProCruises rain jacket which came in handy during the cruise. There was also a water bottle, a small dry bag for my phone, a plate of fruit, and a bottle of bubbly.

Welcome gifts from Iceland ProCruises
Welcome gifts from Iceland ProCruises

Special moments in the unique ProCruises itinerary

While the itinerary had excursions to the many beautiful “must see” spots in Iceland, these tours also incorporated unique elements. My tour from Isafjordur included an Icelandic fish soup lunch in a local home in Pingeyr. Similarly, the location of our picnic lunch at the beautiful Beljandi waterfall was unforgettable.

When we crossed the Arctic Circle, the staff put on a special crossing celebration on the sun deck that included the ultimate Icelandic snack: fermented shark washed down with their version of firewater, Brennivin.

My favorite experience though was seeing the puffin colonies up close on the island of Flatey.

A puffin holds on to his dinner on the island of Flatey
A puffin holds on to his dinner on the island of Flatey

I think Iceland ProCruises was very good about offering a variety of excursions for all activity levels and age groups. On my cruise we had single travelers in their 80’s, a family touring with two young girls, and all ages in between.

For travelers looking for more active experiences, hiking and kayaking opportunities were also available. The itinerary also offered two different options for trying out local geothermal baths, a unique Icelandic experience that everyone should try at least once before they leave the country (and these were much more authentic than the famous Blue Lagoon).

Swimming at the Vok baths
Swimming at the Vok baths

When the weather permitted it, we also had zodiac excursions which took us closer to the landscape and gave us a totally different perspective on the environment. This would only be possible with a small expedition ship such as the MS Seaventure.

Getting closer to the landscapes in zodiacs
Getting closer to the landscapes in zodiacs

Food on the Seaventure with Iceland ProCruises

The food during the whole cruise was fantastic and truly added to the cultural experience. Breakfast and lunch were a buffet filled with a large variety of dishes.

Plenty of hot food dishes at the lunch buffet on the Seaventure
Plenty of hot food dishes at the lunch buffet on the Seaventure
Plenty of hot food dishes at the lunch buffet on the Seaventure
Salads and soups at the buffet as well
cold cuts at the buffet
A variety of cold cuts also available
fruits and dessert at the lunch buffet on the Seaventure
Fruits and dessert at the lunch buffet on the Seaventure

Dinner was an a la carte menu that also offered choices for 4 individual courses. For these cruises, Iceland ProCruises brought on board an Icelandic executive chef, whose dishes let us experience the country through its local flavors. At breakfast, lunch or dinner, there were always Icelandic dishes presented.

Icelandic lobster soup
Icelandic lobster soup
Baked garlic crusted lobster
Baked garlic crusted lobster

Whenever I could, I had the seafood option. Each night we had a different type of Icelandic fish on the menu, all locally caught and freshly prepared. Iceland also has a lot of sheep so it was no surprise that lamb also played a major role at our meals.

Pan fried fresh Icelandic ping fish
Pan fried fresh Icelandic ping fish
Pan seared fillet of Arctic salmon
Pan seared fillet of Arctic salmon

And desserts were outstanding – visually and taste wise.

Pavlova on the Seaventure
Pavlova and fruit at lunch
Chilled yoghurt peach creme pie
Chilled yoghurt peach creme pie
Chocolate dessert on the Seaventure
Chocolate and cherries are always a great combination

I was also very impressed at the kitchen’s attention to allergies and dietary requirements. Whether it was the buffet or the dinner menu, all dishes were clearly identified as to their dietary categories.

The wonderful Iceland ProCruises staff

I have learned from experience that the tour guides can make or break a successful tour. In this case, all of our Icelandic expedition staff were exceptional.

First of all, all the guides were from Iceland which meant that we got real, honest, perspectives and answers to our questions. They were all also very experienced guides so I always felt safe and well looked after, especially on the zodiacs.

always felt safe in the zodiacs with our Icelandic guides
Aways felt safe in the zodiacs with our Icelandic guides

The guides’ extensive knowledge was also far reaching. From history to geology to the names of the local flora and fauna, they seemed to know it all. I don’t think there was a single question that stumped them.

Each day we also  had lectures and presentations about our destinations which added immensely to the sightseeing experience. I thought the talks on the Icelandic language and the folklore were especially interesting.

Along with their encyclopedic knowledge of Iceland, our guides were also multi talented and entertaining. Evening activities included Icelandic beer tasting with a side of humorous repartee and a musical performance by guide Arndis who had a previous professional musical career on the stage.

tastin Icelandic beer
Tasting Icelandic beer

Most impressive though was all our guides’ multilingual abilities. Since the ship had a mixed group of German and English speaking guests, all the information and commentary was provided in both languages. I grew up speaking German and still understand it quite well, along with English. Our guides were delivering the commentary with the appropriate idiomatic syntax in both languages and were not just translating from one language to another. I don’t speak German very well anymore, so I was particularly envious at how easily they all switched from one language to another, and then just as easily spoke Icelandic to each other.

All the crew of the Seaventure that took care of the ship and the guests were also wonderfully attentive and hard working. My room steward did a fantastic job taking care of my room, even when I didn’t think it needed anything. And the dining staff never let a water glass or early morning cup of coffee go empty.

I am never too old for a towel animal on my bed on the Seaventure
I am never too old for a towel animal made by my room steward on the Seaventure

Final thoughts

On my firsts trip to Iceland I drove the ring road around the whole country. While I saw great scenery and had fantastic food, I did not get much of that personal cultural connection. And I was in a different hotel room every night.

Iceland view from my balcony on the Seaventure
View from my balcony on the first morning of the cruise

On my Iceland ProCruises circumnavigation cruise, I got to see the major scenic highlights as well as some hidden gems. Our Icelandic expedition team added an additional level of authenticity and connection to the local culture that was difficult to get when visiting Iceland on my own. And because this was a small ship, we cruised into ports where the larger ships could not easily go. And all this without having to pack and unpack numerous time.

As their name implies, Iceland ProCruises does Iceland, and based on my experiences on this cruise, I think they do it quite well indeed.

 

Please note that my trip was hosted by Iceland ProCruises. All content and opinions are my own.

 

Other related Iceland stories:

Information about the shore excursions I took in Iceland: Shore Excursions in Iceland – How I Spent a Day in Iceland’s Most Popular Ports

50 favorite photos from my Iceland trips: In the Land of Fire and Ice – My Favorite Iceland Photos and Photography Spots

 

I’ve also written stories about My Iceland ProCruises cruise in other publications:

How I learned to Eat Fermented Shark with Iceland ProCruises – fwtmagazine.com

Unique Small Ship Adventures With Iceland ProCruises – Travel World International Magazine

 

Thanks for visiting.

Rose

 

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