Greenland

visit-greenland-mads-phis.k.jpgPhoto Credit: Visit Greenland, Mads Phils

Cruising West Greenland

From $5075 Per Person Double Occupancy

Cruise, 11 days, 10 nights
Dates: TBA 2019 

On this cruise, follow the old Greenlandic inshore routes along the beautiful coastline. Sail to the iceberg capital, Ilulissat, the UNESCO-protected Ice Fjord and the ethereally beautiful islands around Eqip Sermia in Disko Bay. If you are lucky - you will have the chance see whales and other wildlife. An added highlight is the chance to experience a unique Greenlandic tradition - kaffemik - when you participate in a social gathering in a local community center. Cruise package includes pre and post nights in Reykjavik, Iceland.

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Dates: TBA 2019

Day 1: Arrive Iceland

Transfer by airport bus to downtown Reykjavik. 

Accommodation in Reykjavik

Day 2: Embarkation - Depart Reykjavik

Kangerlussuaq is the base for the largest of Greenland's two international airports open to civilian traffic and acts as a hub for onward travel to western and northern Greenland. It's not a town as such, and although 512 people live here permanently most of them are employed by the airport. 


Upon arrival, transfer to the small port west of the airport where the ship, Ocean Diamond, is anchored and waiting. The Zodiacs will ferry you in small groups to the ship which is anchored about one kilometer out into the fjord.  Access to the ship is via a platform next to Magellan deck. As you eat dinner, set sail on our voyage and begin our passage up the 160 km long fjord and out into the ocean.

Accommodation on board M/S Ocean Diamond

Day 3: Sisimiut - experience Greenland's second-largest city at the foot of Nasaasaaq Mountain
 

Early in the morning, arrive at Sisimiut and after breakfast, get an idea of what modern Greenland looks like.

Sisimiut is the most northerly place you can sail to in Greenland during the winter as it is relatively free of sea ice. It is also the southernmost place where dog sledding is practiced and, with 5,400 inhabitants, is considered Greenland’s second ‘city’. People have lived around Sisimiut for about 4,500 years and it was here that the Saqqaq, Dorset and Thule cultures all came to settle from what is now Canada, living on fish, birds and mammals such as whales, seals and reindeer. 

In 1600, the first European whalers arrived in the Sisimiut region. They kept very little contact with the population and it was only after Norwegian missionary Hans Egede's colonisation of Greenland in 1721 that there was regular contact between the Inuit and Europeans. In 1756 a colony was established here by Count Johan Ludvig Holstein - who called it Holsteinsborg. The oldest part of Sisimiut’s historic quarter features town houses from this era and the oldest house in town dates back to 1756. One of the most culturally significant buildings is the blue church, built in 1775. Today, Sisimiut is an important place for education and industry, and factories here process the bulk of Royal Greenland's fishing. The fish processing plant is one of the largest of its kind in Greenland and also one of the world’s most modern.

Tour Sisimiut today, primarily visiting the historic colonial section, as well as the museum and the beautiful church. But we also pay a visit to the busy city center to see what 21st century Greenland looks like. In the afternoon we continue on our voyage further north, and by the evening we pass the Sisimiut Isortuat Fjord, the Nordre Strømfjord settlements of Attu and Ikerasaarsuk and the small town of Kangaatsiaq. During the course of the bright night we pass Aasiaat and proceed into the southern waters of Disko Bay. Next we head for Disko Island with its distinctive 1,000 m layered crags.

We are now north of the Arctic Circle. The nights here are bright and early risers can enjoy the sight of the icebergs of Disko Bay as they squeeze out of the Ilulissat Ice Fjord and dance into the cold ocean waters.

Accommodation on board M/S Ocean Diamond

Day 4:  Qeqertarsuaq on Disko Island and 'kaffemik' in a community center
 

In the shadow of Disko Island’s 1,000m tall mountains we dock in a protected natural harbour. The place is aptly named Godhavn (‘Good Harbour’) in Danish, while its Greenlandic name of Qeqertarsuaq which simply means ‘The Big Island’. 

Up until about 1950, Qeqertarsuaq was the most important town north of Nuuk, primarily because of the many whales. This bestowed the town with much wealth, making it a relatively rich place from the 16th century onward. These days, however, most of the whales are gone and the town, which is not connected to the mainland, has lost its former opulence. Walk through town to the characteristic, octagonal church, nicknamed ‘God’s Inkpot’. During our stay in Qeqertarsuaq pay a visit to a family who will treat you to a traditional Greenlandic ‘kaffemik’, which takes the form of a get-together with coffee, cake and storytelling.

Towards the end of the day, Ocean Diamond will again head out into the bay on a northbound course. In the evening, sail through Vaigat Sound between the tall mountains on Disko Island and Nuussuaq peninsular. Early in the morning, round the small cliffs at the tip of Nuussuaq and enter Uummannaq Bay. From here on, pass gigantic icebergs - each seemingly bigger than the last.

Accommodation on board M/S Ocean Diamond

Day 5: Uummannaq and a walking tour of one of Greenland's most beautifully located towns
 

When you wake up this morning, you will find yourself almost 600km north of the Arctic Circle, and in one of Greenland’s most beautiful and sunny regions. The ship has reached Uummannaq, situated on a small island. The impressive 1,175m high heart-shaped mountain that has given the town its name dominates the view (Uummannaq means ‘place where the heart is’). From the town there is an extraordinary vista comprising the island’s kilometre-high cliffs, the snow-covered peaks on Nuussuaq peninsula to the south, and out across the fjord. In the fjord icebergs of all shapes and sizes float majestically by on a course set by wind and current. As much as five active glaciers at the bottom of the fjord ensure that we will observe plenty of icebergs.

Uummannaq was founded as a colony in 1758 on the Nuussuaq mainland but shortly thereafter, in 1763, it was moved to the nearby island as seal hunting was more bountiful here. On our walk along the town’s steep streets we will visit the historic train-oil building, built in 1860. Within its yellowed walls whale and seal blubber used to be stored. Because of the awful stench the blubber was not boiled here but well outside town! Behind the train-oil storage we will find a peat hut, which was still in use only a few years ago. 

Here, the dry and settled Arctic climate delivers around 2,000 hours of sunshine and 100 millimetres of precipitation every year and Uummannaq likes to call itself the Greenlandic Riviera! At midday, meet up at the harbor and from here the ship will head back south again. 

If the wind is not too strong the captain will take us to the small settlement of Niaqornat on Nuussuaq’s north side. Just 60-70 people live here, surviving by way of hunting reindeer and fishing. As we go ashore we’ll get to see what life is like in one of Greenland’s smallest settlements.

Accommodation on board M/S Ocean Diamond

Day 6: The calving Eqip Sermia glacier and evening walking tour to the Sermermiut Plain in the capital of icebergs, Ilulissat
 

In the morning the cruise ship will have reached a magnificent natural highlight, the enormous Eqip Sermia glacier. Situated approximately 50 nautical miles north of Ilulissat, this glacier is renowned and many tourist boats come here every day. Some legendary arctic explorers had their base here including the Swiss glaciologist Alfred de Quervain, who built a winter hut here as a base for his expeditions onto the inland ice cap over a century ago. 

Sail as close to the edge of the ice as possible – but at a safe distance from the plunging blocks of ice and violent waves caused by the calving glacier. In the afternoon we will head for Ilulissat, where we berth in the evening. 

It is worth mentioning that if the sea ice is too dense between between the Ataa fjord and the Eqi glacier the captain will have to select a different route today. If this is the case the itinerary will have to be adjusted accordingly and we might, for example, pay a visit to a village in Disko Bay, inspect the abandoned coal mine at Qullissat or visit the village of Saqqaq.

Ilulissat is possibly the most marvellously situated town in Greenland. The name simply means ‘icebergs’ in Greenlandic, and the nickname of the town is rightly ‘the iceberg capital’. In Disko Bay just off the coast of Ilulissat, gigantic icebergs linger in the freezing waters. The icebergs come from the Icefjord – located a good half hour’s hike south of Ilulissat – and they are born 70km deeper in the fjord by the enormous Sermeq Kujalleq glacier. This 10km wide and 1,000m thick glacier is the most productive glacier outside of Antarctica. Whereas most glaciers only calve at a rate of approximately a metre a day, the Ilulissat glacier calves at a rate of 25m per day. The icebergs produced by the glacier represent more than 10% of all icebergs in Greenland, corresponding to 20 million tonnes of ice per day. These facts have, together with the fjord’s extreme beauty, ensured the Icefjord a place on UNESCO’s World Heritage List.

For more than the 250 years that have passed since the foundation of Ilulissat, the town has steadily grown and today it is Greenland’s third largest with more than 4,500 inhabitants. The town is very vibrant and welcoming, with a wide range of cultural attractions – according to Greenlandic standards. The polar explorer Knud Rasmussen and his good friend Jørgen Brønlund were both born in Ilulissat (Jørgen Brønlund became known as an eminent dog sled driver).

Again, we need to be aware that if sea ice makes it impossible to dock at Ilulissat, we will instead visit the settlements of Qasigiannguit and/or Aasiaat just to the south of Ilulissat.

Accommodation on board M/S Ocean Diamond

Day 7:  Ilulissat
 

Today is set aside for you to decide what you would like to do. Or, relax on board and enjoy the view.

Optional excursions:
1. Sign up for the opportunity to take a boat trip to the Icefjord (this takes about two and a half hours in total) where you can see the amazing ice-sculpted scenery at close range. The trip is definitely something out of the ordinary and a great natural experience you'll remember for a long time after - but remember to bring warm clothes!

2. Helicopter ride over the Icefjord.

Please note the excursion to the Icefjord is not included in the general tour price. If interested, please inquire. 

During the night we will set sail from the iceberg capital.

Accommodation on board M/S Ocean Diamond

Day 8:  At Sea

You last day aboard the ship will be spent at sea, allowing us to admire the stunning views of Greenland’s western coast. On the way to the mouth of Sondre Stromfjord it is possible to encounter majestic whales and other marine mammals.

Accommodation on board M/S Ocean Diamond

Day 9:  Kangerlussuaq - Iceland

During the night, we will pass through the 160km Kangerlussuaq Fjord and by the morning we will have arrived back in Kangerlussuaq itself. After breakfast on board the ship we say goodbye to the ship's staff and take the Zodiac boats to the shore.

Depending on prevailing conditions, we may offer an optional excursion onto the mighty Greenland ice sheet. The trip takes about four hours. Please note that excursion to the ice cap is not included in the general tour price. This trip can be purchased separately - for more details see price information. We do not recommend the excursion for people who suffer from bad necks or backs as the route to the ice cap is occassionally bumpy and uneven.

We fly back to Reykjavik from Kangerlussuaq.

Independent transfer to your hotel.

Accommodation in Reykjavik

Day 10:  Depart Iceland

After breakfast, depart on the airport bus to the Keflavik airport.

Or, extend your stay in Iceland. If interested, please inquire.

You Trip includes the following:

Optional meal package for cruise and optional excursion in Ilulissat can be purchased locally. 

Single Supplement: From $3942 

This package is priced LAND ONLY. If you need assistance with booking your airfare from the US/Canada, let us know and we will be happy to help you.

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