This unique and exciting voyage takes guests to the northernmost reaches of Greenland, a region of the Arctic like no other. Guests will explore the footsteps of polar explorers, visit the once famously disputed territory of Hans Island, search for polar bears, bowhead whales, and narwhals, and see the largest glacier in the Northern Hemisphere. This is an unforgettable adventure that will allow guests to experience the beauty and wilderness of the Arctic.
We boarded our chartered plane in the late afternoon in Reykjavik (Iceland) bound for Kangerlussuaq, Greenland.
After arriving in Kangerlussuaq, we'll be taken to the port west of the Airport where Ocean Albatros is anchored. After check-in, Zodiacs take us to the boat where you will find your room. Enjoy a delicious meal with breathtaking views after the safety drill. We will be sailing through 160 kilometers of the Kangerlussuaq Fjord.
We will visit the vibrant town of Sisimiut after breakfast to get a feel for modern Greenland. Greenland’s second-largest town, Sisimiut has 5,400 residents.
In 1756, Johan Ludvig Holstein established here a colony and named it "Holsteinsborg". In the oldest part of Sisimiut’s historical quarter, you can find townhouses dating back to this "Holsteinsborg", such as Blue Church built in 1775.
Sisimiut has become an important center for industry and education, with local factories processing the majority of Royal Greenland’s fish. This fish processing facility is the biggest of its type in Greenland and among the world's most advanced.
The highlights of our city tour can include the colonial district, the museum, and the stunning church. After lunch, we will travel northward.
We pull in to a natural harbor protected by the 1,000-metre high mountains of Disko Island. The Danish name for the place, Godhavn (meaning "Good Harbour") is perfect. The Greenlandic "Qeqertarsuaq", which means simply "The Big Island", sums up its Greenlandic description.
Godhavn, located north of Nuuk (the main Greenland town), was the largest town in Greenland until 1950, mainly because the whales were towed by the whaling ships from Disko Bay. The town was enriched by this activity, which began in the 16th Century. As it becomes harder to get a job and as the connections with the mainland become more and less frequent, the town will soon be forgotten. The octagonal, characteristic church is a must-see in town. It's nicknamed the "inkpot of God". We may visit the community during our time in Qeqertarsuaq.
The Captain will set a direct course to Hans Island and Nares Strait based on constantly updated ice charts. We will spend a few days on the sea to ensure we can get past any pack ice. The days at sea are not wasted, as there is always a chance to spot minke and fin whales. The little arctic Fulmar is always following us, moving along with speed and agility from lee to windward. In the lecture room, our staff will present a variety of lectures on Greenlandic culture and nature.
We cross Melville Bay at night, which is marked by the calving of glaciers. Due to dangerous winter ice and the distance from Denmark to the south, the Thule District polar Inuit were separated from West Greenland for 130 years. The Inuit of Canada have an even closer connection with them and speak a dialect which is different from southern Greenlandic.
Uummannaq, a Nuussuaq colony, was established in 1758, on Nuussuaq's mainland. However, shortly after, in 1763 it was relocated to the island nearby, where seal hunting is more abundant. We visit the historic Train-Oil Building, which was built in 1860. Whale and seal blubber was once stored inside its walls. The blubber wasn't boiled in town because of its horrible smell. We can find an old peat hut behind the oil storage for trains. It was in operation a few decades ago.
Uummannaq, with its dry and settled climate and 2,000 hours per year of sun and around 100 millimetres in precipitation gives it the right to be called the Greenlandic Riviera.
Cape York, a promontory of rocky terrain that is used to mark the border between Melville Bay (the bay where Melville Bay meets the Thule region), and the legendarily beautiful Thule. The area, which is surrounded by glaciers that calve armadas of massive icebergs and is one of the most beautiful in Greenland, has a stunning landscape. Since thousands of years the area was used by Inuit nomadic waves, who came to the area to collect iron from a famous meteorite that fell on the ice around 10,000 years ago. The meteorite tools were superior to those made by Inuit hunters, who used stone or bone. Savissivik, the name of a nearby settlement (meaning "Place of Iron") refers to the significance of this discovery. Cape York's Greenlandic nickname ("Place of Beads") also reflects the value of trading with other cultures.
Early explorers were confused by the Inughuit's technological ability. Robert Peary was the first Westerner to discover the meteorite. He orchestrated its theft, transportation to the USA and subsequent sale, making him a huge profit while destroying the lives of Inuits who depended on the resource. A large granite obelisk, marked with a star and P on its north side, is erected to commemorate his infamous presence. New York, Copenhagen and Qaanaaq have displayed fragments of the meteorite.
Our exact itinerary will depend on the wind, ice, and swell. However, you can choose to cruise in a Zodiac at Melville Bay where the sea and land meet under the Peary monument, or visit the tiny settlement of Savissivik.
We are now in the Nares Strait - the gateway to the Arctic Ocean - a place that is little known. The Nares Strait, a narrow channel separating Greenland from Ellesmere Island in Canada is an important waterway. The Beaufort Gyre, which is a powerful current in the Arctic Ocean that flows from north to south, causes the Nares Strait to experience a constant, near-constant, current. This brings sea ice even at the height of the summer into Melville Bay. The situation is further complicated by the fact that some of the biggest glaciers (such as Petermann Glacier) regularly release kilometer-long chunks of ice into the strait.
The Nares Strait is an important route for Inuits and their ancestors, despite the harsh conditions. The strait was used by all Greenlanders (except the Norse), to cross either by dog-sled or boat during the winter. The Norse may not have reached the far north but their artifacts were traded by Inuit nomadic groups for walrus ivory and narwhal horn, hinting at ancient trading networks.
The Nares Strait was the scene of one of world's most heated political conflicts in recent years. Canada (on behalf Greenland), and Denmark claimed Hans Island after borders were drawn between both countries in 1972. The dispute continued for years, and Canadian ships would leave behind Canadian Club and flags. Danish vessels, on the other hand, would raise the Danish flag, remove the Canadian Club and leave the bottle, earning the conflict the nickname, "the Whisky War". The situation was unchanged for fifty years, until the 14th of June 2022 when both countries decided to split the island in half, creating a border that is absurdly far away and unlikely.
We plan to leave the Nares Strait during the night. We enter Inglefield bay, passing some of Greenland’s largest bird cliffs. Ocean Albatros is anchored by the Captain off Qaanaaq - the only town of northwest Greenland.
In 1953, the Americans established their base in the vicinity of the Thule trading post. The Inuits were all transferred here. To date, around 600 people are living in Qaanaaq. The city is served by Air Greenland weekly flights, and by cargo ships twice a year.
We can walk around the city, depending on the weather. You will find a small museum, and a well-stocked supermarket.
After leaving Qaanaaq at night, we sailed southwards to the Upernavik region. Melville Bay can be treacherous, even during summer. The Captain and the Expedition Leader must chart an accurate course to navigate through it. Melville Bay, although remote, is usually calm and sheltered, making it a great place to observe wildlife. Seals, whales, and countless seabirds can all be found in this area. Ocean Albatros' onboard amenities are perfect for a relaxing day at sea. Ocean Albatros' patented XBow(r), which offers comfort in any weather condition, is also equipped with two hot tubs as well as a sauna and a spa that provides luxurious facials, massages, and other treatments. Our knowledgeable Expedition Team onboard will give lectures about Arctic culture, wildlife and natural history, among other things, during our day at Sea.
Upernavik covers a territory that is almost the same size as Great Britain. Around 3000 Inuit hunter people live in Upernavik and the 10 smaller settlements. Upernavik is an amalgamation of the old hunter culture and modern high-tech fisherman. Dog sleighs and modern snowmobiles are examples of old and new.
It was originally founded by the Danish as a colonial settlement, but its surrounding area and villages have a history dating back over 4500 years. Hunters and gatherers traveled along the coastlines of Alaska and Canada, and eventually Greenland.
We can visit both the small city and open-air museum if everything goes according to the plan.
The nights are becoming darker and you might want to get dressed up, head out on the deck, and look for aurora borealis, the Northern Lights.
You should wake up in one of Greenland’s most sunny and beautiful regions. Uummannaq is located on a tiny island. Uummannaq is named after the impressive mountain (1,175 metres high) that has a heart shape. You should have enough time to visit the town before returning to the ship to eat lunch.
Ilulissat, located in Greenland's most picturesque town. Named 'Icebergs', the name in Greenlandic simply means "icebergs". The town is also known as 'The Iceberg Capital of the World.
The Ilulissat Icefjord, located just south of the town of Disko Bay, is responsible for sending huge icebergs to its cold waters. The Sermeq Kujalleq glacier, which is 30km deep in the fjord, produces these impressive structures. The 10km-wide glacier has the highest production outside of Antarctica. Ilulissat Glacier moves at 25 meters per day. Most glaciers only produce icebergs at the rate of a metre every day. The fjord has been inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List because of these facts and its breathtaking scenery.
Ilulissat has grown steadily over the past 250 years. Ilulissat, Greenland’s third-largest town, has more than 4500 residents. Knud Raasmussen, the legendary Arctic Explorer was born in Ilulissat.
If the weather permits, during the visit you can join an optional boat excursion to the Ice Fjord. This journey lasts about 2 and half hours and is a wonderful opportunity to see the ice sculptured landscape up close.
There is an option to fly over Ice Fjord in a fixed-wing aircraft if a boat trip or hike does not provide enough thrill.
The price of the tour does not include the cost of boat or flight excursions. Please refer to Price Information.
We will cruise to the south in the evening and leave Disko Bay.
As we near Kangerlussuaq, Fulmars are likely to be seen along with auks and Guillemots. This final day on the sea is a great opportunity to share your experiences, edit pictures and reflect upon our journey in the Arctic.
The lecturers will give inspiring presentations about our journey. In the evening you can join our Captain, officers and photographer on board for a Farewell Cocktail Party. All guests will receive a copy of all the images and media after their departure.
We will be sailing up Kangerlussuaq Fjord, a 160 km/100 miles long fjord. We will say goodbye to the crew of the ship after breakfast on board the ship.
Kangerlussuaq is relatively isolated, compared to other Greenland regions, due to its military past and current role as a major air hub. Kangerlussuaq offers cultural activities, but the natural beauty of the area is what you'll remember most. This small airport town was built by the American Military in the 1950s and has kept some of the Cold War feel. We board our flight back from Kangerlussuaq to Reykjavik in Iceland, ending your Arctic adventure.