Advantages of cruising around Iceland

While driving the Ring Road around Iceland is a flexible and economical way to explore Iceland,  cruising offers lots of benefits, too. Our seven-day cruise on Windstar, offered only in July, allowed us to wake up in the morning to scenes like this:

#baypilot, #windstar, #akureyri, #cruise, #morning, #iceland
Bay pilot helps the Windstar Legend navigate the fjord into Akureyri.

and say goodnight to the midnight sun  with views like this:

#windstar, #midnightsun, #arctic, #july, #nature, #landscape, #daylight, #iceland
View from our cabin aboard the Windstar Legend as we closed the curtains close to midnight .

While the ship travels from one port to the next, you don’t have to drive. You can relax and enjoy a good book.

#cruise, #windstar, #reading, #iceland
Charlie reading on deck, enjoying a sunny day near the Arctic Circle.

The shore excursions arranged by Windstar offered us plenty of adventures: hiking a glacier (photos coming in future blog), whale watching, bird watching, hiking to a waterfall and sight seeing flights in small planes.

We also made some good friends on this small ship, which accommodates around 210 passengers. It was fun, and we have great memories. Highly recommend for 2018!

Whales in Iceland

It was a day multiple blessings and just one First World Problem. First, here are the blessings:

  1. We were on vacation in Iceland.
  2. The weather was sunny and warm (not typical).
  3. In Akureyri, we were going on a RIB (rubber inflatable boat) to observe whales in the fjord.
  4. Humpback whales feed in the Icelandic fjords in July.
  5. We had an experienced pilot and guide who have identified 150 humpback whales by name and understand a great deal about them.
  6. I kept my Sony a7IIr camera dry, and did not lose my sunglasses as we sped around the fjord.

So, what was the First World Problem?  We got so close to Jackson the humpback whale that I couldn’t get the whole whale in my frame! I caught myself exclaiming, “Oh my, we’re too close!” and heard a voice reply, “too close?”

Well, you see, I wasn’t really complaining. I was amazed. Thrilled. Grateful.

My husband was not behind a camera, and just watched the whale, seeing his eye.

#whale, #humpback, #iceland, #akureyri, #rib, #nature, #wildlife, #upclose
Jackson, the humpback whale, next to our boat. See his blow hole and part of his white dorsal fin under water.
#whale, #humpback, #fjord, #akureyri, #rib, #whalewatch, #wildlife, #nature, #windstar
I quickly zoomed my lens from 70 to 24mm to capture more of the whale and the fjord. The white dorsal fin represents one third the length of the body, to give you an idea of the whale’s length.
#whale, #humpback, #jackson, #fjord, #iceland, #rib, #akureyri, #wildlife, #windstar
When Jackson the humpback whale made a deep dive, our pilot headed back to shore.

Puffins on Vigur Island

Puffins are camera shy, as they flee when they see you coming — unlike many seabirds that I’m accustomed to in Florida. As soon as I spotted one, tried to creep a bit closer, framed the shot and focused — off it went. Most of my photos that afternoon on Vigur Island were shot a second too late. Charlie and I were a persistent team; he was holding high sticks to ward off the Arctic Terns who are apt to attack your head. He was watching the long grass in the hillside for puffin nests where the puffins briefly land to feed their chicks, and acting as my spotter.

“Over there,” Charlie whispered to me, pointing. I crept closer with camera poised, hoping to focus and shoot before the puffins took flight.

#puffins, #puffin, #vigur, #windstar, #birds, #wildlife, #seabirds, #arctic, #iceland
One, two, three, jump! Puffins take flight as humans approach.

I kept my shutter speed high and my lens wide open, trying to freeze action on a flying puffin at the very least. I was working hard to get a good puffin shot before leaving Iceland. Having seen puffin photos in all the shops, I knew how cute the little birds are!

#puffin, #inflight, #flying, #bird, #nature #wildlife, #iceland, #vigur
Puffin flies back to sea for more fish to feed the chicks hidden in the hillside.

At last our teamwork paid off, and I captured this image of a puffin with a beak full of fresh fish for the chicks. The Nikon D800 with 70-200 lens and a 1.4 teleconverter gave me a sharp image even though we were about 10 meters away.

#nikond800, #puffin, #iceland, #vigur, #bird, #wildlife, #nature, #vigurisland
Best Iceland souvenir: my own close-up of a Puffin in the act of fishing for the young.