It was a busy Sunday for the northern Icelandic town of Akureyri. Not only was Cunard’s Queen Victoria in the harbour, but in the morning there was also the Costa Magica, which was replaced in the afternoon by the much smaller MV Astor.
Thousands of visiting passengers were drawn to the pedestrianised Hafnarstraeti shopping street determined to spend the last of their kroner before heading for Norway.
Although, with a population of just 17,000, this is the second largest town in Iceland, and the so-called capital of the north, there were only about a half-dozen souvenir shops open, and people had to queue to get in and queue again to pay.
Shopkeepers who chose to go to church at the town’s starkly plain, twin-towered Akureyrarkirkja – which contains stained glass windows from the pre-war Coventry Cathedral – missed out on the opportunity to earn some much-needed foreign currency.
Many of Victoria’s passengers set off on a succession of coaches for the 40-minute drive to Godafoss, the Waterfall of the Gods, where vast volumes of water from the Vatnajokull glacier plunge 36 feet into a canyon, and where an Icelandic chieftain threw pagan effigies into the torrent when the island converted to Christianity a thousand years ago.
Tour guides in Iceland are not the most garrulous of their kind and on our bus, the occasional announcements and references to Viking sagas did little to disturb the snores of passengers sleeping off their lunches and not much concerned about the scenery outside the windows.
After dinner, the show in Victoria’s Royal Court theatre was the Irish-inspired Celtic Heartbeat. The ship’s company of singers and dancers were enthusiastic enough, but playing along to a taped backing track, this was no Riverdance spectacular. If it had a heartbeat, it was on beta-blockers.
Then it was off to bed, ready for a day at sea on Monday and arrival in Norway on Tuesday. After three days of sunny and surprisingly warm weather in Iceland, we can only hope it will continue when we reach the land of the fjords.