A journey from Maine to Iceland

My 20-year-old daughter and I traveled from Portland, Maine to Alureyri, Iceland in the summer of 2016 on the containership Bruarfoss, owned by the Icelandic steamship line Eimskip. This blog tells the story our our journey and features a podcast, videos, and photographs. Start at the bottom to follow our trip. We’re currently in the process of adding more videos to the site.

The Basics:

When the Bruarfoss left Portland, its Iceland-bound cargo included sweet potatoes from North Carolina, M&M candies from New Jersey, ice cream from Maine, scrap metal from Pennsylvania and grapes from California.

Also on board: Maine blueberries bound for the Netherlands and a Porsche traveling from Boston to Fredrikstad, Norway.

When the Bruarfoss returns to Portland next month, its primary cargo will be frozen seafood. Refrigerated containers will be loaded onto truck chassis and delivered to cold storage warehouses in the Boston area and eventually to suppliers around the United States.

The fish is harvested in the rich fishing grounds off Newfoundland, Iceland, the Faroe Islands and Norway.

The Route

Sailing from Portland, the Bruarfoss stops in two Newfoundland ports, Argentia and St. Anthony, to pick up frozen shrimp and fish. It then sails to Iceland.

After calling on Reykjavik, the Bruarfoss sails north along Iceland’s west coast. It stops at two small ports, Isafjordur and Akureyri, primarily to pick up fish bound for Europe.

After leaving Iceland, the Bruarfoss stops in Immingham, England, and finally Rotterdman, Europe’s largest port.

The ship then returns to Portland on the same route, with the addition of a stop in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Calling on Small Ports 

The 23-year-old Bruarfoss is a miniature version of today’s modern container ship. The Bruarfoss is only 415-feet in length – about a third the length of the world’s largest container ships –  and it carries 1/25th the cargo.  The ship’s owner, Eimskip, is successful because it’s a niche shipping line that calls on the small, out-of-the-way ports typically ignored by the major shipping companies.

Eimksip Operations

Eimksip operates a fleet of 16 vessels and five shipping lines in the North-Atlantic. Its freight yard near Reykjavik serves as its hub. The company also offers freight forwarding services around the world and has operations in 18 nations. It specializes in moving frozen and refrigerated products.

Three Eimskip vessels call regularly on Portland, arriving approximately every 12 days.

Cargo from Portland can be transloaded to other Eimskip routes and partner routes for delivery in ports in Greenand, Norway, Russia, Portugal, Spain, Germany, and the Baltic nations.

Eimskip began operations in Maine in March, 2013, making Portlan the company’ s only scheduled U.S. port of call.  Previously, Eimskip company operated out of the Port of Norfolk, Virginia. The company that year also announced it plans to move its North American corporate offices from Virginia Beach to Portland.

When Eimskip moved to Portland, it provided Maine with its first direct container service between Maine and Europe in 33 years.

– Tom Bell

Moving Fish


Loading fish in Isafjordur, Iceland

The crew of the Bruarfoss loads a refrigerated container packed with frozen fish. The Bruarfoss is in Isafjordur, a small port on the northwest coast of Iceland.


The crew of the Bruarfoss loads a refrigerated container packed with frozen fish. The Bruarfoss is in Isafjordur, a small port on the northwest coast of Iceland.


The Eimskip freight yard outside Reykjavik is a busy place.



A crane operator in Reykjavik lowers a refrigerated container on to a ship.


The new cargo configuration after Rekjavik. The trucks, built in Germany, are bound for Norway. The tracks were transloaded in Reykjavik .

The Buarfoss stops in Argentia, Newfoundland


Searching for icebergs


This is a photo of the radar screen of the Bruarfoss as the ship travels along the north coast of Newfoundland. Several large icebergs are within six nautical miles of the ship. They appear as radar white blotches on the radar.

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An iceberg floats outside the entrance to the harbor at St. Anthony, Newfoundland.


St. Anthony, Newfoundland, is located in the far northwestern corner of Newfoundland. It’s a remote fishing hub and service center for western Newfoundland and southern Labrador. An iceberg, seen at the top of the photo, floats outside the entrance to the harbor.


Olafur Bjamasson scans the sea for icebergs as the container ship Bruarfoss sails in dense fog off the northern coast of Newfoundland.