Reykjavik – Big Rocks and Little Service

4 Jun

We have arrived in Iceland’s capital, Reykjavik, and I am not impressed. The city is pretty enough, but it really is just another western city. Except for the fact that, starting from the ship, I have to walk one hour to even reach the inner city.

However, Iceland is a volcanic island, and the entire beach between port and city has been fortified with big blocks of rock. As a geologist I can read the various volcanic rocks like a nerdy adventure book. That makes my walk a pleasurable tour through different volcanic provenances, with colourful varieties of basalt, glass, and metamorphosed dykes.

dyke through volcanic rock in Reykjavik

Just a dyke with perfectly hexagonal crystalasation, mawing through volcanic rock like it’s nobody’s business.

This geological toyland is far from the landscape of smoking rocks and spitting geysers that I expected to find, but it certainly sparks more interest in me than the cold streets of yet another European city. Even though we landed in Reykjavik early in the morning this is only a short port day, between the long and fruitless “training” in the morning, and the uninspired early start in late afternoon. We may never know what rid the devil to give us two separate training sessions today, instead of blocking them into one comprehensible unit. But having only three instead of six hours to explore the road to Iceland’s capital sure did not improve anyone’s mood. Particularly since it takes one hour to walk into town, and another to get back. The landscape easily beats the tender boredom from yesterday, but it falls way short of providing motivation for a job that is riddled with boredom and stupidity.

Sometimes I try to judge my ship life as a whole, and I am always stopped short in my trail of thought by annoying passengers or even more annoying managers. We only get one fifteen minute break during our night shift, which is barely enough to run up to the passenger buffet, fill one plate with nutrients and sugars, and gobble it down. And lately even those trips have become a disappointment. Never mind the tremendously insufficient buffet choices, with its complete lack of fresh fruit. Tonight even the pizza was cold!

The port of Reykjavik at night

The port of Reykjavik at night – who could possibly get grumpy at a sight like this one?!

As representatives of ABC Cruises we are supposed to attend to our passengers’ complains, and sell every bug as a feature of a wholesome cruise experience. But issues like cold or limited food options make it rather difficult for us to advertise this casino-style buffet table as a five-star restaurant choice. The Chinese restaurant in my home street has hotter food than this poor-man’s shrimp funeral, and they don’t even have any competition!

When I started this cruise photography job, more than a month ago, it was still a magical new adventure. After four weeks of drudgery and multi-dimensional complaining the spell has lost its power, and I only save myself from one port to the next. Is this what it’s like to work for a big company? I hope not.


For all my justified rambles, Reykjavik is quite pretty. Have a look:

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