Situated in the middle of the North Atlantic, Iceland is a natural destination for the cruise industry. Over the past few years, Reykjavik has become a destination for expedition ships and turnarounds, as well as an overnight stopover for conventional cruiseships.
Iceland’s network of scheduled flights to USA and Europe enhances its competitive situation.
The summer brings 24 hours of daylight while winter ushers in the Northern Lights, but there are many other natural treasures that Iceland has to offer, such as black sand beaches, volcanoes, epic waterfalls, geothermal areas, geysers, hot pools, lava fields and icebergs. For a not so distant journey into the past, you can visit real turf houses.
The Port of Reykjavik and Port of Akranes come under the umbrella of Faxafloahafnir which is the only port in Iceland that has valid ISO 14001 Environmental Management System and ISO 45001 Occupational Health and Safety Management System, according to Erna Kristjansdottir at Associated Iceland Ports/Faxafloahafnir.
In May 2021 calls booked to Reykjavik of which one was to Akranes. Last year there were only seven calls due to the pandemic but in 2015 there were 108 ship bringing 100,141 passengers and in 2019 190 calls and 188,630 passengers.
In Reykjavik there are two port areas. Gamla Hofnin/Old Harbour, which is 300m from the town centre, has two berths: Midbakki, which is 205m long and has a depth of 8.5m and Faxagardur, 134m/7.5m). There is a 95m2 terminal facility at the latter. There are also anchoring and tendering options here but these are rarely used.
The second area is at Sundahofn which is 6km from town. Here there are three berths: Skarfabakki, 650m long/12m depth; Vatnagardabakki, 285m/8m; and Korngardur, 184m/8m.
There are terminals at berth 312 and 315 in Skarfbakki. The former has a 180m2 terminal with 300m2 tent alongside it. There is also 360m2 store selling goods. The latter, 315, has a 95m2 terminal facility. At berth 411 in Korngadur there is a 60m2 terminal facility.
All the terminal buildings are new, except the one at Korngardur. Tourist information is available at the terminal at berth 312 in Sundahofn along with Wifi, shop and toilets. Wifi is available in all terminals. Shuttle buses are available here but are not free of charge.
The International Airport is 50km/45 minutes drive from Reykjavik and 91km/75 minutes drive from Akranes.
Prior to the pandemic turnaround calls were on the increase which has lead to internal discussions as to whether this should be developed further. These are ongoing, explains Kristjansdottir.
New for Reykjavik is the arrival of the first LNG ship last summer. “Risk assessments will be available and we will work in cooperation with relevant cruise lines,” she says.
Security inspections are mandatory before going onto a ship. ISPS check-in security desk is performed and a security desk is in each of the terminals. All gangways that are used are Lloyd’s Register certified. Waste can be inserted into containers which are ordered by ship agents when needed.
In terms of the pandemic, Kristjansdottir explains that Covid regulations within Iceland are registered at covid.is where useful information relating to the Covid epidemic in Iceland can be found. Travellers can download a tracking app on their phones which helps to analyse individuals’ travel and trace them alongside the travels of others when an infection or suspicion of infection occurs. The same Covid rules and guidelines apply for cruise passengers and airline passengers.
The Captain must send a declaration through Safe Sea net when announcing cruiseship arrival and custom clearance. The Coast Guard will also ask for a Captain Health Declaration of passengers onboard each ship, which needs to be filled out before arrival. Suspected illness or someone with symptoms who has not yet been tested needs to be announced early.
Tours from Reykjavik range from the ongoing volcanic eruption to the active geothermal area of Geysir to snorkelling between continents at Silfra to Sky Lagoon which opened on May 1 this year.
The harbour of Keflavik is a gateway into Reykjanes UNESCO Global Geopark. The park lies on major plate boundaries along the mid-Atlantic Ridge, part of the 65,000km mid-ocean ridge that encircles the earth like a seam of a baseball.
Although 90% of this mountain range lies deep below the surface of the ocean, it rises above sea-level on the Reykjanes Peninsula, making this one of the only places on earth where it is visible.
Keflavik is keen to attract cruiseships, having one quay of 140m in length, of which 55m has a depth between 7m and 8.5m and 110m of which is between 8.5m and 13m. In addition, there is unlimited anchorage 1.5nm from the tender pier.
Whilst there is no terminal, there are facilities for information, toilets and internet connection on the quay. The harbour area is fenced and access-controlled in accordance with the ISPS code.
Confirmation of an order from the harbour ensures that the ship in question has a private berth that day, explains Halldor Hermannsson, harbour master Port of Reykjanes/Keflavik Harbour.
The harbour serves the reception of all waste for a fee. Requests for this must be received within 24 hours before arrival and the type of waste needs to be specified.
Keflavik Harbour is five minutes from Keflavik International Airport which has worldwide flight connections offering 20-40 flights a day under normal circumstances.
The port is located in the middle of Reykjanesbaer, a community of 20,000 people. All major services and tourist attractions in the town are within walking distance.
Keflavik Harbour is part of the UNESCO Geo Park which is full of natural wonders, for example the ongoing eruption at Mt Fagradalsfjall (beginning in March 2021) which is just 30 minutes from the port.
Other attractions include The Blue Lagoon for its geothermal seawater healing qualities; cultural exhibitions and museums; outdoor activities, such as hiking and sea-angling in the Geopark; the geothermal area of Gunnuhver, the bridge between continents; and the local lighthouses.
(Cruise Europe, Associated Icelandic Ports)