Iceland is a country of dramatic contrasts: from its angular landscape of volcanoes and lava fields to huge, milky-blue glaciers that turn into icy rivers and vast, glimmering lakes. But for those who take a cruise to Iceland, one of the most important contrasts they’ll likely encounter is with the weather.
As the islands in the north of the country are located within the Arctic Circle, it should come as no surprise that summer in Iceland is a completely different affair than in most other places around the globe. For this reason, it’s important to plan the contents of your luggage carefully for boarding your cruise to Iceland to ensure you’re not caught out by the fickle weather of this land of fire and ice.
What weather can you expect for a summer cruise to Iceland?
Most cruises to Iceland depart between the months of May and September. Temperatures during this period range from lows of 40˚F (4˚C) to highs of 57˚F (14˚C), while rainfall is lowest in June and July.
However, weather in Iceland is completely unpredictable, and it’s not unheard of to experience all four seasons in one day.
Bear in mind as well that June and July see the unique phenomenon of the midnight sun, where for almost 24 hours of every day the sun is up. While this is excellent for visitors keen to enjoy the nightlife of Iceland, which is particularly famed in the capital Reykjavik, don’t be surprised if your body takes some time to adapt to sleeping in these unusual conditions.
Essential packing list for Iceland cruises
As with any country in Europe, it’s easy enough to stock up on any items that you forget to pack in your luggage when you dock in Iceland. However, this country is a very expensive place to do so.
To ensure all of your vacation budget can be spent enjoying on-shore excursions and buying beautiful souvenirs instead, make sure you pack the following clothing for Iceland:
- Layers: Long and short-sleeve shirts made from synthetic fibers are the most important part of your clothing repertoire. With the Icelandic climate so changeable, those who wear a series of light base layers, combined with thicker sweaters or fleeces, are always able to adapt. Temperatures can be hot as well as cold, so consider investing in some trousers that zip-off into shorts too.
- Waterproof jacket and pants: Although, fingers crossed you don’t need them, a light-weight waterproof jacket and pants might well be essential items of clothing on your cruise to Iceland. If the wind picks up, you’ll be more than thankful for an extra layer, while a deluge of cold rain straight into jeans is never ideal – particularly as this material takes forever to dry. Avoid this by packing waterproof pants to keep you both warm and dry.
- Swimming suit: Opportunities for bathing in hot springs abound in a country riddled with volcanic activity, so don’t forgot to pack a bathing suit. Depending on your ship, you may find it has its own pool too.
- Hiking boots: Many cruises around Iceland include on-shore excursion to appreciate the nation’s stunningly beautiful enclaves of nature. Make sure you’re fully equipped to enjoy short treks by bringing a sturdy pair of gore-tex hiking boots that’ll protect your feet from uneven ground and keep them dry.
- Small rucksack: There’s no better way to carry your belongings, whether on a sightseeing trip around Reykjavik or into Iceland’s three national parks. Store your wet weather gear, water and lunch in a small rucksack and bring a rain cover just in case.
- Formal wear: Depending on your cruise, formal dinners may important feature in your itinerary. Make sure you scrub up well by bringing formal wear to fully enjoy the onboard entertainment.
- Plug adaptor: Visitors to Iceland need to bring plug adaptors that fit socket types C and F.
- Eye mask: Make sure you can still get those 40 winks despite the sun by bringing a light-blocking eye mask.