HIGHLIGHTS OF 2022
Happy New Year to all our friends around the world.
A new year has arrived and we are excited to see what 2023 will bring. Even though it's not that long ago that our 2022 season finished, we can't wait to get back out into Skjálfandi Bay and find out what whales will be visiting us in 2023.
But before leaving 2022 behind, we would like to take you on a journey through our highlights of last year.
We are happily looking back on a season full of incredible whale encounters, amazing guests and whale enthusiasts from all around the world, new environmental friendly building on Flatey Island, two important awards and last but not least, a fantastic team to be proud of.
But what happened in 2022?
Not even a month after our whale watching season had started over on the 1st of April, Gentle Giants received the "Motivational Education Award 2022" by The Confederation of Icelandic Enterprise (SA) in the Harpa Conference Hall in Reykjavík. One of the key elements of the award is the collaboration between companies and society on strengthening education within and outside companies as well as innovation in education within the company or in collaboration with other parties.
Our team Jóhanna, Stefán and Daniel together with the President of Iceland, Guðni Th.
We feel very honoured and proud to have fulfilled the criteria and to have won this award.
As weeks passed by, the bay became livelier by the day. More and more humpbacks returned to their feeding grounds in the cooler waters around Iceland. Occasionally, unusual sightings such as orcas, fin and sperm whales surprised us, too.
In May, our beloved old friend, the hybrid whale finally returned to Skjálfandi Bay after it hadn't been seen at all in 2021. For many years, this individual (a hybrid between blue and fin whale, which can be easily identified on its recognizable dorsal fin) has been coming back to Skjálfandi Bay in the summer, apparently following a similar "schedule" as its slightly larger relatives, the blue whales. Spotting this animal over and over again through the years, is a really special feeling!
Also in June, the blue whales passed by and enlightened many days and tours with their impressive appearance before heading further north to their actual feeding grounds.
Photos: Sarah Arndt (captain & guide)
In the beginning of June, constructions had finally finished on Flatey Island and we celebrated a grand opening of the newly built house with our guests from the luxury cruise ship "Silver Seas". With the new and long-time dreamt of house on Flatey Island, we can now offer more opportunities and events in our new environmental friendly building on this paradise of Skjálfandi Bay. The house has a dining hall for up to 70 people where it is possible to enjoy delicious high-quality meals on all occasions.
The construction team on Flatey Island with the not yet finished house in the background.
The interior of the new house on the day of the grand opening.
As weeks passed by, Húsavík got busier by the day as numbers of travellers increased, eager to sail out into Skjálfandi Bay in search for the gentle giants. Busy as it was, we added many extra departures throughout the day trying to fulfil everyone's wish to see these magnificent animals that call this bay their home during summer.
At Gentle Giants, we also strive to support the local community as well as the opportunities and activities offered to the inhabitants. This year therefore, we signed an agreement with the local Taekwondo club "Völsungur TaeKwonDo". The grant has been used to purchase new equipment for the practitioners so that they can improve their training and better prepare to participate in competitions.
In the end of September, our RIB speedboats left Húsavík harbor on a very special occasion: a wedding ceremony out on Flatey Island! After the proposal on the highest mountain of Africa, Kilimanjaro, the young couple Guilia (who worked at Gentle Giants in another year) and Franz chose this unique and magical island for their wedding ceremony. Surrounded by their families and friends, the two tied their knots up by the lighthouse, with a view over the entire bay and the island itself.
At a similar time, it was once again that time of the year that we were spoiled with special and rare whale sightings as bottlenose, sperm and pilot whales entered the bay.
Photo: Koen Hoekemeijer (guide) - A pod of pilot whales.
On the 20th of October, the annual tourism festival of North Iceland was held in Húsavík and the surrounding area. For a second time this year we were honoured at the end of the celebration, this time as the "Company of the Year". The award is given to a company that has gradually expanded over the last years and has created a strong position in the tourism market. The awarded company has worked on continuous development, product development and innovation and has its headquarter in North Iceland.
We at Gentle Giants are very proud and feel honoured to have won that recognition.
As autumn proceeded and the last tours were heading out into Skjálfandi Bay for whale watching, one boat after the other was taken out of the water to receive their annual maintenance and beauty treatments, to be all shiny and well-functioning once the next season starts on the 1st of April 2023.
As in previous years, the "Blue Family" was an incredible team and together strove to give our guests the best experience possible. Around 30 enthusiastic staff members from eleven different nationalities – maintenance team, ticket sales, captains, guides, assistants and management – all working together with the same aim.
It is sure to say that 2022 was successful and unforgettable as usual. Definitely all of us made memories which will stay with us forever.
Photo: Rui Duarte (guide) - A humpback whale waving its flippers.
Giant thanks to all of our passengers, co-operators and staff for having joined us in 2022 and for having made our season so memorable and successful!
We are now looking forward to share season 2023 with you – starting on April 1st!
- The Team of Gentle Giants Whale Watching
Top photo: Koen Hoekemeijer (guide)