VOV: Djupivogur, Iceland

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

It suddenly dawned on me that we had not made our plans to get a HAL transfer from the cruise port to the Boston airport. We had been warned that with the construction and closing of tunnels between the two ports that delays were possible, and taxis and Ubers might be in short supply. I had also gotten a warning from my Uber app about the same situation. I went to Guest Services, and they said that I could make reservations on the Navigator app or at the Shore Excursions desk.

Chuck and I went to the Casino, and I opened the Navigator app to make the reservation. For flights between 11:00 and 1:00, you had to choose the 8:00 transfer. Okay. I chose it and found out there was only one seat left. Bummer. I went to the Shore Excursions desk to ask to be wait-listed just in case someone cancelled their seat.

There were two people working the desk. Both were getting an earful from unhappy guests. Just great. If I had to listen to that much complaining, I would not be in the mood to be very helpful to the next person. And I am that next person. Sigh.

However, I explained my situation with waitlisting us both because we couldn’t be split up. She tapped away at the keyboard, smiled, and said “I have you both on the 8:00 airport shuttle – no waitlist needed.” I didn’t ask how. I just smiled back and thanked her profusely. Now I don’t have to stress about finding an available taxi to get us to the airport.

We had a fabulous dinner at the Pinnacle Grill, one of the upcharge restaurants on HAL. We’ve never had a bad meal in the Pinnacle Grill on other ships, but we’ve had some better than others. This one would definitely rate in the Top 10.

I had the shrimp cocktail and Chuck had the crab cakes and we split an order of candied bacon. For our main course, I had the seared scallops and Chuck splurged on the dry aged Delmonico steak. We split the key lime pie for dessert.

As in the past when we have had Pinnacle Grill meals, our evening plans went out the window once we were finished eating. We had planned to see the Step One Dance Company present “Musicology.” We had seen it on other ships and enjoyed the show. Instead, we just waddled off to our room and went face down in a food coma.

We were up at 6:00 and, having recovered from our food coma, had time for a Lido breakfast before we were to report for our HAL tour. We watched the scenic sail-in of the fjord while we ate.

The name of the HAL tour was “Rural East Iceland”, and the description was

Enjoy this intimate introduction to daily life in Iceland under the watchful eye of Europe’s largest glacier.

You’ll leave the tiny fishing village of Djúpivogur and stop at the town of Höfn. From there, continue through the picturesque mountainous region to the outlet of the Hoffellsjökull Glacier. Hoffellsjökull was at its largest around 1890, and for the next 50 years it reached all the way to the moraine ridge that now envelops the lake in front of the glacier. Back then, trucks were driven up to this ridge and filled with ice, which they transported to the town of Höfn. The ice was used for chilling fish, both at sea aboard fishing boats and on shore. Due to climate changes, Hoffellsjökull Glacier has now retreated a considerable distance, leaving a deep glacial lagoon in its wake. The area around the glacier is the habitat of several rare Icelandic plants and a great variety of birds.

Take advantage of a 30-minute stop among these tranquil surroundings to explore on your own; then you will head to a local horse farm. A refreshment of local Icelandic pastries will be served and you will have the opportunity to meet some of the farm’s residents — pure-bred Icelandic horses and a variety of domestic farm animals.


Bird sightings are likely but are not guaranteed. The birds start migrating away around mid-August. There are some inclined surfaces to negotiate and rough grass/mud/gravel paths. Not advisable for guests using a wheelchair. Suitable for guests with mobility limitations with a companion to assist. Some sights can be viewed from the coach parking area; all walking is optional. It is essential that you wear warm, layered clothing in order to fully enjoy and participate in this excursion. Outer layer should be waterproof and windproof. Bring gloves, a warm hat, and a scarf. Wear sturdy, non-skid walking shoes.”

The tour was advertised as a 5-hour excursion so I figured we would have time to look around the little village of Djupivogur after we got back. The tour time said 10:00 so I thought we would be back around 3:00 and the last tender wouldn’t leave until 6:30. Best laid plans.

First, the meeting time was 10:00 and the tour wasn’t going to start until 11:00. Okay, now I think we’ll get back at 4:00 or we might still get back at 3:00 if they are counting the tender time. Then, the Shore Excursion attendants said that the seas were a “little rough” so the process of getting people on the tenders was a “little slow”. Okay.

“Little rough” was definitely an understatement. One woman who was in line ahead of us, saw the tender process, and just said “oh hell no” and left the line to go back to her cabin. Hmmm.

I have never seen the tenders bob up and down and away from the ship’s platform so vigorously. I’ve seen wave action much less and they’ve cancelled the stop. There was no announcement about cancelling this one. On we go.

Two crew members on the platform and two crew members in the tender just kind of grabbed you and pushed/pulled you in when the tender got close to the platform. I was glad I had long legs because just as they pulled me in, the tender bobbed down so the step in was longer than anticipated.

I should have been awarded a gold medal for not falling flat on my face. You were told to wear sturdy shoes. I have a pair of thick leather tennis shoes that I call my “Frankenstein shoes” that I wear in these situations. They are certainly not fashionable, but they are the ultimate in sturdy.

Many passengers, a lot less steady on their feet than me, had on backless crocs with socks. How the shoes stayed on their feet and the people stayed upright is beyond me. I know the crew was happy when the tender process was over for the day.

Once we got to the town dock, the water was calm because we were in a small, protected bay area. The tour bus was already there waiting. It was very nice. It wasn’t full so Chuck and I each got a seat by the window. Also, there was a door in front and a door toward the back, so it made getting on and off so much faster.

I was fascinated by the ever-changing Icelandic landscape as we drove to our first stop. A lot of the drive was by the coast but just on the other side, the mountains looked like the background of the Jurassic Park movies. Our guide said that Iceland is the second biggest island in Europe after Britain.

The ride to the first stop was over an hour. He gave us a lot of information – some of which we had heard in Reykjavik but it was still interesting. He pointed out the many swans that come to Iceland in this area every summer. He said they will migrate away some time in August.

We had to go through a long tunnel just before we got to our first stop. He said the tunnel is unusual because many times the weather on one side of the tunnel is completely different from the other side. He may have been joking with us but when we exited the tunnel we were now in very sunny weather. So weird.

According to the description the first stop was supposed to be a small fishing town, but it was the Horse Farm. We stopped at the little house for a bathroom break and then rode the bus down the lane to see the horses.

The owner had riders demonstrate the different gaits the horses can have. She said Icelandic horses perform well in national and international competitions.

But she also said that not all horses are meant to be ridden. They are dinner. She prefers horse meat to beef. I started thinking about the meat soup I had in Reykjavik. What did I eat?

The Icelandic horses were smaller than horses than I am used to seeing but very sturdy and are said to withstand the cold very well. Many rural Icelanders still prefer to travel by horse rather than cars. No other breed of horse is allowed in Iceland. We enjoyed talking with the riders and petting the horses.

We also got to pet the two Icelandic sheep dogs. They were more interested in getting treats.

In addition, there was an unusual looking bird that kept flying around. The horse farm owner didn’t know the English name for it. She told us the Icelandic name, but I can’t even begin to spell it.

And the flies/gnats were back but they didn’t seem to be biting. Lesson learned – never assume.

They served us hot coffee / hot chocolate and some pastries. The description said homemade, but I think the cookies were store bought. The brownie was good though.

Our next stop the tour guide said would be the biggest glacier in Europe outside of the Arctic area. You could see two in the distance from the horse farm.

He also said that some of the glaciers in Iceland have volcanoes underneath them and they call those areas the “Battle of the Ice and Fire.” To get out there, we had to drive over a very rocky dry riverbed. I was glad I didn’t have to take my vehicle over those rocks.

We walked up to the ridge where the guide said the Glacier used to be a very long time ago. The view was stunning – almost a lunar look to the lagoon and the Glacier. We got to spend about an hour here, but I could have spent much more time just soaking in the beauty. With the sun out, we actually felt warm enough to take off the jackets.

On our way back to the ship, we stopped at the small harbor town for a rest room break. The guide said they would like to have cruise ships stop at this harbor, but it is too shallow for them. I had time to walk around and take a few photos.

I got my first picture of an Icelandic cat. He had the same expression on his face that my cat does when I am trying to take his picture – “Be gone petty humanI am in no mood to be adored at this time.”

We took the same highway back to the port, so the ride took about an hour. Therefore, what was advertised as a 5-hour excursion was more like a 7-hour excursion when you factor in the tender operation to and from the ship. So, there was not really enough time to visit the small town.

However, the tender ride back to the ship was much easier than this morning because the seas were much calmer. But it was cold and windy again.

We got back to the room only to find the dreaded notification and our now itchy spots from the bug bites.


Travel Trivia

Djupivogur, Iceland

Pronunciation: DYU-peh-vo-ger (hard “g”)

Djúpivogur is home to Langabúð, one of Iceland’s oldest commercial buildings – built in 1790. Langabúð served many purposes, being a warehouse and slaughterhouse. Today, it is home to a café, the heritage museum and an exhibition on the Icelandic sculptor Ríkarður Jónsson, who was native to the village.

The pyramid-shaped mountain named Búlandstindur near Djupivogur dominates the landscape, and according to legend, it can make wishes come true during the summer solstice.

The Búlandsnes bird sanctuary is renowned among bird lovers throughout the world, where you can observe most Icelandic birds nesting in their natural habitat close by.

Though home to less than 500 people, Djúpivogur is a major attraction, largely due to its public works of art, most notably ‘The Eggs of Merry Bay’ which sits along the coast of Berufjörður. It is also known for being a ‘Cittaslow’ town, meaning the community values a slow-paced way of life.

Author: mmmtravelmemories

A retired college administrator who loves to travel. I write to remember the experiences and, I hope, to inspire others to make their own travel memories.

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