My back muscles were as tense as suspension cables. Icy water smacked me in the face and breached my booties. It was a blast.
Back at the rafting company’s clubhouse, I peeled off my wet suit and entered a typical Icelandic thawing cycle. First I defrosted from the outside in while relaxing in a (very, very) hot tub, then from the inside out with two bowls of clear, sustaining lamb consommé, a national specialty, in the peaceful dining room. During the hour-long drive back to the ship, the rumbling country roads lulled me into a trance. Then it was time to eat again.
calls at a different port almost every day on its circuit and leaves plenty of time for passengers to meet locals and taste regional specialties. In Seydisfjordur, where the ship overnights, the Italian expat chef at Nord Austur
carves freshly caught fish into exquisite sushi. On Heimaey Island, you can sip sparkling Sultuslakur rhubarb cider and tangy halibut soup with fresh green apples and chewy dates at Slippurinn
, a foraging-focused restaurant within walking distance of the cruise pier. Near the town square in Grundarfjordur, the Coca-Cola-branded Meistarinn
hot-dog cart dispenses famous, fully dressed franks, but the mega-flaky Icelandic cod fish-and-chips, followed by a hot chocolate at a nearby café, is the better move.
On board, the food and service also surpass expectations. By my second dinner in Amphora, the ship’s white-clothed fine-dining restaurant, the staff remembered my pinot noir preference (Oregonian, not French) – a benefit of the tight 1-to-1.5 staff-to-guest ratio. The person who served you dinner in Amphora might reappear in the lounge and find you thirsty just as the lights go down for the aforementioned talent show.
To be perfectly honest, I would have preferred to skip the variety act. It was a two-entrée night (crisp veal schnitzel and seared soy-lime tuna) at Amphora, following a long day on foot in the northwest port of Isafjordur, where we learned about native foods at Westfjords Heritage Museum
and stocked up on their modern equivalents (salty licorice, milk biscuits, outstanding Noi Sirius chocolate bars) at the neighborhood market. I could have turned in after dinner, but no, my wife insisted, let’s go see the show.