For the first time ever on a cruise, I booked an organized shore excursion. I went on The Golden Circle tour, which included what the cruise line describes as the ‘Big Three’ of Reykjavík – Gullfoss (the Golden Waterfall), the Geysir area, and the Thingvellir National Park. The tour was one of three throughout the cruise line designated Must Do, and it was a popular one, with passengers filling up six buses, I think. My bus drove first to Thingvellir National Park. Unfortunately, we were only provided 30 minutes to walk from one parking lot to another. I would have liked (a lot) more time there.
We then drove to Gullfoss. We were given about 35-40 minutes to walk to the waterfall before lunch at the visitors center. Again, I felt it was not enough time to walk both available paths. Breathtaking waterfall, though, and the sit-down lunch was very good, too, with soup and fish (salmon?).
After lunch, we drove to the Geysir area. Again, we were given about 30 minutes to walk around before we had to be back on the bus.
So, the tour was advertised as lasting 8-8 1/2 hours. The tour started at around 10:00, and we had seen the Big Three by 15:00. The only other item on the tour description was a short comfort stop at the village of Hveragerði. As far as I could tell, the ship was no more than an hour's drive away from where we were at 15:00, the Geysir area. So, besides driving, what would we be doing for the next three hours?
Well, the bus took what I think is the long way back to Reykjavik. We saw some nice scenery, with commentary from the tour guide. Not bad, but I still would have traded that time for more time at the Big Three. Then, we actually drove past where the ship was docked and went to the Perlan (Pearl) Museum. The museum is made up of former water tanks, sits on a hill, and has a fourth-floor observatory that provides a 360-degree view of Reykjavik and the surrounding area. Nice. However, the guest elevator/lift was out of service, and I decided not to walk up and down via the stairs. We were only given 20 minutes there, anyway. So, instead, I walked around the building, which I enjoyed. Nonetheless, I again would certainly have been happy if we had not gone to a place that did not appear in the tour description. I would have traded the time there and the time it took to get there and back to the ship in favor of more time at natural phenomena.
Read jlajr's full Black Watch cruise review
Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines