This expedition cruise follows the same maritime course set by Norse settlers over a thousand years ago. The cruise will visit several iconic Greenlandic locations, including Skjoldungen island, Prince Christians Sound, Nuuk, Disko Bay, Eqi Glacier, Sermermiut Plain, and Kangerlussuaq. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience the beauty and history of Greenland.
We boarded our ship in Reykjavik this afternoon and headed westbound to Greenland.
Crossing the Denmark Strait, we cruise along the spectacular Greenlandic East Coast. The lecturers will give inspiring presentations on the past of Iceland and Greenland, as well as nature, wildlife, and climateology.
Skjoldungen Island is one of the most scenic areas of East Greenland. The island of Skjoldungen is located at 63 degrees north and is surrounded with steep, narrow fjords, glaciers and the crisp, clean, cool air that comes from the nearby and ever-present ice sheet. We will still find a more lush and milder landscape than you would think. In late summer of 1888, the Norwegian explorer Fridjof Nansen visited this area in order to find a good ascent point for his first inland crossing.
Skjoldungen, also known as an abandoned settlement on the southwest coast of the island. Some houses still remain from the time when up to 100 people called this place home. Continue our trip to Dronning-Marie Dal, located in the northwestern part of this area. We want to see its fascinating flora.
The mountainous terrain and Alpine peaks diminish after Skjoldungen fjord and Ilertakajik fjord. From here on, you will see that the ice shelves are formed by the ice sheets that reach all the way down to the seashore. This is a similar ice landscape to that of Antarctica.
Bernstorff Icefjord is the most productive glacier along the SE Coast, though we stay away from large icebergs.
Cape Farewell (Kap Farvel) is Greenland’s southernmost tip, and it's also known for its gale force winds, which are mostly seasonally.
The inside passage of the Prince Christian Sound is a much more scenic, but also more comfortable route. The 60-km long route runs from the Atlantic Ocean in the East to Aapilattoq, a settlement in South West Greenland's fjordlands.
Many kayakers who are adventurous have turned around due to the limited landing spots available. Another classic stop along the route is an old Prince Christian Sound weather station, which was manned by experienced meteorologists until two years ago.
We sailed early in the morning into Eriksfjord which is known as Tunulliarfik in Greenland. Anchoring off Erik the Red’s Brattahlid Settlement, which is now the Qassiarssuk Village. We can see, for example, the reconstruction of Tjodhildur’s church. This was the very first church in North America. Other ruins are found after the Norse, who disappeared around the year 1400. One can feel the history of the Norse and question why they suddenly vanished from Greenland.
Leif Eriksson (about 1000) was born in Brattahlid. He went to the west from there and explored Baffin Island, Labrador and Newfoundland before returning to South Greenland several years later. We sail away from Eriksfjord around lunchtime, close to Qooroq Isfjord.
We cruise to Nuuk by afternoon. We have a good chance of seeing the humpbacks as we enter Nuuk's Fjord.
Greenland is the world's smallest city, and many consider it a metropolis. A total of 17,500 people call this place home, which represents almost one-third of its population.
Pre-Inuit hunter groups occupied the area as early as 2200 BC. Between the years 1000 and 1350 AD Icelandic Vikings, farmers, and Inuit hunters from the Thule Culture moved southwards. Around 1350 AD the Nordic settlers vanished, while the Inuits stayed because they were better prepared to survive and hunt in harsh Arctic conditions.
The modern history of Greenland started in 1721 when Norse missionary Hans Egede established a permanent settlement and trading post near Nuuk. Egede returned to Greenland to try to convert northern Catholics to Lutheranism. However, soon after arriving, he discovered that the Norse were gone, and the mystery was still unsolved.
Nuuk was officially recognized as the capital of the country in 1979 when the Landsting was created.
We will continue northbound late at night.
Watch a documentary about Arctic Nature, or take a walk on the deck and look for migrating bird species.
The protected natural harbour is called 'Godhavn,' in Danish. In Greenlandic it's 'Qeqertarsuaq,' meaning 'The Big Island.
Godhavn, north of Nuuk was the largest town until 1950. This is due to the number of whales that were caught here and brought to shore. The town became very wealthy. With declining employment opportunities and connections with the mainland, it is now on its way to oblivion.
A traditional Greenlandic "kaffemik" is held at the local community centre. It's a fun, friendly event with music and dances as well as coffee and cake.
Greenlandic musicians played a drum made of an oval wood frame and covered in the bladder from a polar-bear. The qilaat is played differently than other drums. Instead of hitting the skin directly, you would hit the wooden frame. The modest instrument served many purposes including exorcism, entertainment and witchcraft.
In the late afternoon, the ship will head east to the huge glacier Eqip sermia located in the northeastern corner of Disko Bay. It is safe to say that this glacier, in Greenland, is one of the largest. You can see a glacier caving up close here, something that is impossible in Ilulissat. The landscape is so beautiful and unique that no words can describe it. This is a rare opportunity to experience the majesty of this world made from ice. We will depart in the evening.
Ilulissat may be the best-located town in Greenland. The town is known as 'The Iceberg Capital of the World" because the name translates to 'icebergs in Greenlandic'.
Icebergs are a product of the Icefjord located about a 30-minute hike to Ilulissat. The enormous Sermeq Kujalleq Glacier is responsible for creating these impressive frozen structures. It lies 70 km deeper in the fjord. The 10km wide glacier has the highest production outside of Antarctica. Ilulissat Glacier calved 25m per day. Most glaciers calved at around a meter/day. More than 10 million tons of icebergs are produced each year by this glacier.
Together with its extreme beauty, these facts have earned the Icefjord a spot on UNESCO’s World Heritage List.
Ilulissat has grown steadily over the past 250 years. Ilulissat, Greenland’s third-largest town, has more than 4500 residents. According to Greenlandic culture, the town has a vibrant atmosphere, is welcoming, and offers a variety of cultural activities. Both Knud Bronlund and Knud Raasmussen were born in Ilulissat.
You will have the chance to take a boat to Icefjord on this particular day. This journey lasts about 2 1/2 hours and allows you to get a close-up look at the amazing scenery sculpted by ice. This trip will be a memorable experience for many years. But remember to bring warm clothing!
There is the option to book a flighteeing trip over Icefjord if a boat or hike does not provide enough thrill.
The boat trip and the flightseeing excursion to Icefjord is not included in your tour package. The flightseeing tour must also be reserved in advance. For more information, please refer to Price Information.
We will leave Disko Bay behind us as we cruise down south from the "Iceberg Capital".
Sarfannguit is a small settlement in remote backcountry, nestled between mountains and glaciers. Its name means "the little stream". This was apt for the settlement which lies at the base of these mountains. More than 100 people live in the settlement, mainly through hunting, fishing and trapping. They are usually on the hunt for arctic Char, Reindeer, and Musk Oxen.
Sarfannguit may be remote but it is only a couple of hours away from Sisimiut - the second largest town in Greenland. Sarfannguit's proximity to Sisimiut, Greenland's second-largest town, is a major economic advantage.
The settlement provides a glimpse into the rural lifestyle of Greenland today, when modern technology and conveniences such as smart phones and internet are commonplace. Yet, locals place importance on their Inuit traditions, their customs and preserving important cultural practices.
Continue our trip to the Sondre Stromfjord, or Kangerlussuaq fjord. The first section of the fjord is a spectacular passage that offers panoramic views over high mountains and deep valleys.
We will complete our 160 km/100 miles Kangerlussuaq Fjord passage during the night. We will say goodbye to our ship staff after breakfast and then take the Zodiacs to the shore.
Kangerlussuaq is relatively isolated in Greenland due to its military past and current role as a major air hub. Kangerlussuaq offers cultural activities, but the real attraction of the area is its natural beauty.
Kangerlussuaq is a landscape that has been heavily influenced by the glacial period of the past, known as "Ice Age" and lasting 18,000 years. Many meltwater lakes and rounded mountains remain. The meltwater flows from the Greenland Ice Sheet through the moraine and into the Kangerlussuaq Fjord.
Kangerlussuaq’s climate today is heavily influenced by the fact that it's located in a sheltered area between Greenland’s Ice Sheet and the mountains, fjords and a fjord. Its stable climate, low cloud cover and approximately 300 nights of clear skies per year are a result.
We offer an optional trip to the stunning Reindeer glacier in Kangerlussuaq. This excursion lasts approximately four hours.
The excursion price is separate from the tour package. For more information, please refer to the Price Information. This excursion is not recommended for those with back or neck problems, because the road up to the ice sheets can be bumpy.
Your Arctic Adventure will be over when we fly back from Kangerlussuaq Airport to Reykjavik Airport in Iceland.