Northern Europe cruise | Port 2 (Day 2) | Akureyri, Iceland

It’s Saturday, June 17, 2023 and our 10-hour port call was from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Akureyri, Iceland.

Until 4:00 pm: In port.

6:45 am – 2:00 pm: Tour of North Iceland excursion – Meet on the dock at 6:45 am, and look for our group. Excursion leaves promptly at 7 am and returns at 2 pm.

The Goðafoss Waterfall is one of the most spectacular waterfalls in Iceland. The water of the river Skjálfandafljót falls from a height of 12 meters over a width of 30 meters.

The most incredulous thing about this stop was that the souvenir shop was closed for a holiday, but it didn’t have a sign saying such, only its hours, opening at 8:30. Since it was about 8:15 when we got to it, we waited until 8:30 for it to open.

The sightseeing crowd grew, and grew impatient, waiting. Thing was, we could see in the windows that there wasn’t anyone in there, and the chairs were all still upside down on the tables. But since we didn’t know it was a holiday, and just couldn’t understand how—or believe that—they weren’t going to open, everyone just waited.

Well, as it turned out a lot of our group had to pee, and lucky for us all being guys, we found some dumpsters behind the building and turned them into a men’s room. How do you spell relief? D – U – M – P – S – T – E – R. I was glad I didn’t have to take a dump, because that would have been more ironic than a black fly in my chardonnay.

The Skútustaðagígar pseudo-craters are located in the Lake Mývatn area. The craters themselves are not magma-producing volcanic vents but were formed by gas explosions when boiling lava flowed over the cool, wet surfaces about 2,300 years ago.

Dimmuborgir, which loosely translated means ‘dark castles,’ are thought to have been created about 2,300 years ago in the violent throes of an extensive volcanic eruption. The heavy volcanic activity in the region surrounding Lake Myvatn over the last few thousand years accounts for extraordinary and sometimes eerily beautiful land formations and geology. Dimmuborgir, on the east side of the lake, are a badlands of lava pillars, caves, rugged crags and towering rocks. Some of the rocks reach 20 meters (65 ft) in height, forming almost unearthly and alien castles and towers.

The 16th photo (with the crevice) is where the North America & Eurasian tectonic plates (almost) meet. The little walkway over it, in the 17th photo, was billed as “the shortest bridge between North America and Europe.”

Námaskarð, a geothermal region with boiling sulfuric mud springs and steam vents, is located at a short distance from huge volcanic mountain Krafla. Námaskarð, Hverarönd is an expanse of fumaroles, hot springs, mud pools, and mud pots. In this stunning arctic dessert, you will find boiling water and lands. Due to the hot surface, there is no vegetation found at Námaskarð geothermal area. The constant emission of acids has made the surface completely sterile and acidic. The presence of colorful minerals at this site provides an amazing panoramic view. Natural black rivers and boiling pools emitting steam and smoke lay in this colorful landscape are breathtaking. Everything at this acidic land is permeated with Sulphur, even the air, making the area quite distinct.

This place was visually arresting and geologically fascinating, but it smelt like sumpin’s butt.

While all of that made for a great tour, the most interesting part of the trip to me was the story our tour guide, Ragland, told:

After about an hour of describing scenery as we were passing things on the way to our first stop, he said, “I’ve talked a lot about Iceland, but now I’m going to tell you a little bit about myself. He told us he’d lived in Iceland most of his life. When his father was 43, he went to Berlin, where he met his mother when she was 16, and he brought her to Iceland. She didn’t want children but he did, and he told her if she wouldn’t give him children, he’d divorce her. They were married for 8 years, during which time she had him and his brother.

Then one day she said she wanted to go back to Berlin. It was customary for the woman to get custody, and she wanted to take the boys with her, but he said, “You go back, get a job, and then send for the boys.” As soon as she left, he took the boys and went to Gran Canaria Island for 4 or 5 years. Eventually they moved back to Iceland and reconnected with their mother, and they went to be with her every summer for several years after that. He stopped the story there, as we’d reached our next stop on the tour.

When we got back on the road, he said, “There’s more to my story than I told you before, so I’m going to tell you a little more.” He then said, “My father was gay. And he didn’t come out until he was 90 years old.” There was a collective gasp and clutching of pearls by the 55 gay men on the bus.

He continued, “And I knew he was gay. He owned a store, and one time when I was minding it, I saw a magazine that was, you know… but when I asked him about it, he said that some customer had left it there, and he was going to throw it away. But I found it again about a year later, and it was, well, it was a well-worn magazine by then.” Lots of empathetic laughter on the bus.

“When he was 90, we were on a trip together and started talking about things that matter, and I said, ‘Dad, I know you’re gay.’ At first he said, ‘Oh no;’ that he was bisexual. But I told him that I’d never seen him with another woman since our mom left, and that it didn’t matter to me at all if he was. That he’s a great man, and he’s been a great father, and it didn’t change how much I loved him in any way.” Why aren’t there any tissue dispensers on this bus??? “And after my saying that, he admitted that he was gay. He died when he was 93.”

4:00 pm: Sail Away & Hot Tub Take-Over, Infinity Pool, Starboard Side, Deck 8, Oceanwalk.

Neither Bob nor I participated in the event today.

5:00 pm: Cocktail Hour, Whiskey Bar, Deck 8

It’s always a good time at happy hour at The Whiskey Bar. It’s a chance for those of us who did different things to catch each other up on our respective days.

6:00 pm: Dinner. Specialty Restaurant of the Day—Onda by Scarpetta, Deck 8

As part of our package, we got to choose 3 specialty restaurants to eat in, but the one designated for the group tonight, Onda by Scarpetta, wasn’t one of the ones Bob and I chose, so we had dinner with our friends Leo and Steve at one of the ship’s two main dining rooms, The Commodore.

10:00 pm – midnight: BearCruise Mad Hatter PartyObservation Lounge, Deck 17 Forward

This was a hugely fun event in the ship’s Observation Lounge. To no one’s surprise there were quite the creative and festive hats among the group members. Here are some of them:

Back in our cabin, we found this card and heeded its instructions.

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