Trip Summary and Itinerary Map
- 9 full days exploring the coast of Greenland
- Includes flight between Kangerlussuaq and Reykjavik
- A comprehensive trip covering much of the best of Greenland
- Travel on a recently refurbished ship
- Optional helicopter flight over the ice cap available
- Snowshoeing available when conditions allow
Day 1 – Embarkation in Reykjavik:
In the afternoon, we board the Ocean Atlantic in Reykjavík and set our course westbound for Greenland.
Day 2 – At Sea:
Our lecturers onboard will make inspiring and enriching presentations about both Iceland’s and Greenland’s past history and about nature, wildlife and climatology.
Day 3 – Tasiilaq & Kuummiit:
This morning, we will approach the Island of Ammassalik and enter King Oskar's harbor with the Polhem Mountain (1003m/3300ft) to starboard. In front of us, we will see East Greenland's largest town (2000 inhabitants), Ammassalik or Tasiilaq as it is known today. Although massive ice floes surround Tasiilaq making shipping traffic impossible most of the year, it has well-functioning educational institutions and health services.
Ammassalik was established as a colony in 1894, 10 years after the famed Gustav Holm's umiaq (open skin boat) expedition. The place where the town is located originally had no permanent settlement, but it turned out to be a perfect place to live because of its natural harbor and easy access to open waters.
We visit the beautiful local museum with the old turf hut, which undoubtedly is the very best place to buy some of Greenland's best crafts.
From Tasiilaq, we spend the rest of the day exploring the dramatic fjords and landscapes of the Ammassalik district, with the Kuummiit settlement (about 400 inhabitants) as our next destination. Kuummiit is a tiny settlement where most people thrive commercially by fishing or hunting. Choose to get ashore or stay onboard and enjoy the view of some of the most scenic and dramatic mountains in Greenland just behind Kuummiit.
Day 4 – Skjoldungen:
The island of Skjoldungen is without doubt one of most beautiful areas in East Greenland. Situated at 63° N, the island is surrounded by narrow, steep fjords and glaciers, and with plenty of the cool, crisp and clean air of the ever present and nearby ice sheet. We will find a lush landscape and a milder climate than most would expect. Acclaimed Norwegian explorer Fridjof Nansen came here in late summer 1888 in search of a suitable ascension point for the first inland ice crossing.
Skjoldungen is also the name of an abandoned settlement, located on the southwest side of the island. Up to 100 people lived here until 1965, and some houses remain. We continue our journey to Dronning Marie Dal in the area's northwestern corner to get a closer view of its interesting flora.
After Skjoldungen and Ilertakajik fjord, the Alpine peaks and mountainous landscape diminish and from here, we will find that over large stretches, the ice sheet reaches all the way to the shoreline, forming cohesive ice shelfs, a type of icy landscape that some travellers who have been to Antarctica will probably recognize.
We enter Bernstorff Icefjord and see the most productive glacier on the SE coast, but we will keep a good distance from the big icebergs in these ice-infested waters.
Day 5 – Prince Christian Sound:
Kap Farvel, or Cape Farewell, is renowned not only as Greenland's southernmost point, but also for its infamous, although mostly seasonal, gale-force winds. We deliberately opt for a far more comfortable but at the same time more spectacular route, cruising via the inside passage through the Prince Christian Sound. This 60km long waterway takes us from the Atlantic in the east, to the settlement of Aapilattoq in the heart of the fjordlands of South West Greenland.
The sound has steep mountainsides, and many adventurous kayakers have had to turn around because of a very limited number of landing sites available. The old weather station of Prince Christian Sound, manned until a two years ago by sturdy meteorologists, is another classic point-of-interest along the way.
Day 6 – South Greenland: Ivittuut & Arsuk Fjord:
It is difficult to predict the exact route in South Greenland. We reach South Greenland and expect the first port of call to be the town of Qaqortoq. Later in the day we hope to reach Arsuk Fjord with the small settlement of the same name. But the important stop here is the former cryolite mine at Ivittuut, the only place in the world where this very special mineral was mined until depleted 30 years ago. Used in aluminum melting, the mineral became strategically important, and forced the Americans to set up bases in South Greenland to protect the supply during WWII.
Day 7 – Nuuk:
During the night, we will have cruised north to reach Nuuk by the morning. As we enter the Nuuk Fjord we have a fair chance of encountering the area's seasonal visitors: humpback whales.
The world's smallest capital, Nuuk is considered by many in Greenland as a mighty metropolis. A total of 17,000 people live here today, almost a third of the country’s population. The area has been inhabited since 2200BC by pre-Inuit hunters. From 1000 to 1350 AD, the Icelandic Vikings and farmers settled in South Greenland and in the Nuuk Fjord, while at the same time Inuit hunters of the Thule culture moved south from North Greenland. The Nordic settlers disappeared around 1350 AD, but the Inuit stayed, being far better equipped to hunt and survive in the tough Arctic habitat.
Modern history of Greenland began in 1721, when the Norse missionary Hans Egede founded a permanent colony and trading station near Nuuk. In fact, Egede’s main purpose to return to Greenland was to convert the Catholic northerners to Lutheranism, but soon after his arrival he realized the Norse had disappeared, a mystery yet unresolved. In 1979, the Landsting (Parliament) was established in Nuuk, and the town was finally recognized as the country's capital.
Late in the afternoon, we will leave the capital and continue our northbound journey.
Day 8 – Evighedsfjorden:
Evighedsfjord, or the Fjord of Eternity, is one of the highlights of our voyage.
We navigate along the fjord's steep mountainsides and experience spectacular glaciers, sliding slowly down to the sea.
Day 9 – Disko Island, Kaffemik and Eqip Sermia Glacier:
Under Disko Island’s 1000m high mountains we enter the protected natural habour that has the Danish name Godhavn or Good Harbour and in Greenlandic: Qeqertarsuaq which means The Big Island.
Until 1950, Godhavn the most important town north of Nuuk, solely because of the large number of whales caught and landed here. This gave the town great wealth. Now it’s on its way to obscurity with declining job opportunities and connections to mainland.
The local community centre hosts a traditional Greenlandic kaffemik, best described as a friendly gathering with coffee, cake and traditional dances and music. Musicians from Greenland originally played on a drum (qilaat) made from an oval wooden frame covered with the bladder of a polar bear. Unlike other drums, the qilaat would be played by hitting the frame with a stick, and not the skin itself. This modest instrument was used for a variety of purposes, including entertainment, exorcism and witchcraft.
During the afternoon the ship heads east towards the giant glacier Eqip Sermia in the north-easterly corner of Disko Bay. This glacier is, without overstating, one of the most impressive in Greenland. Here you can experience a glacier calve up close, which is not possible in Ilulissat. Great crevasses, deep blue glacial streams; a landscape so unique and stunning that words are simply not sufficient. An outstanding opportunity to see, hear and smell this mighty ice world. In the evening, we will prepare for departure.
Day 10 – Ilulissat:
Ilulissat is possibly the most well located town in Greenland. Its name simply means ‘icebergs’ in Greenlandic, and the town’s nickname is rightly the Iceberg Capital. In Disko Bay, which is located just off the coast of Ilulissat, gigantic icebergs linger in the freezing waters. These icebergs come from the Icefjord, which is located an half hour’s hike south of Ilulissat. These impressive frozen structures are born some 70km/43.5 miles deeper into the fjord by the enormous Sermeq Kujalleq glacier. This 10km/6 mile-wide glacier is the most productive glacier outside of Antarctica. Whereas most glaciers only calve at a rate of approximately 1m/3ft per day, the Ilulissat glacier calves at a rate of 25m/82ft per day. The icebergs produced by the glacier represent more than 10% of all icebergs in Greenland, corresponding to 20 million tonnes/22 million US tons of ice per day!
These facts, together with the fjord’s unforgettable scenery, have secured the Icefjord a place on UNESCO’s World Heritage List.
During the more than 250 years that have passed since the establishment of Ilulissat, the town has steadily flourished. Today, Ilulissat is Greenland’s third largest town, with more than 4500 inhabitants. The town is very vibrant, welcoming and lively with a wide range of cultural attractions. The legendary polar explorer, Knud Rasmussen, and his good friend, Jørgen Brønlund, were both born in Ilulissat.
Today you will have the opportunity to join a boat trip to the Icefjord (not included). The journey takes about two and a half hours in total, and is a great opportunity to take a closer look at the amazing ice-sculpted scenery. The trip is definitely something out of the ordinary and a great natural experience that you will remember for years to come – but be sure to have warm clothing on!
If a hike or a trip by boat does not present enough excitement, there is also the opportunity to arrange a helicopter ride over the Icefjord (not included). The helicopter excursion must be booked in advance.
In the evening, we will cruise southward from “the Iceberg Capital”, leaving lovely Disko Bay behind us as we part.
Day 11 – A Visit to Itilleq:
In the morning, we will wake to a picturesque sight — the settlement of Itilleq, which translates as the hollow or the flatlands, quite an appropriate name for a settlement nestled at the foothills of mountains and glaciers in the distant back-country to the east. Just over 100 residents in this settlement make their living here from hunting, trapping and fishing, mostly arctic char, reindeer and musk oxen.
Although Itilleq is quite remote, it lies within a few hours via dinghy from Sisimiut, the second-largest town in Greenland. The accessibility to such a large town provides an indispensable economic benefit to a small community like Itilleq.
A stroll through the settlement offers insight into rural life in today’s Greenland, where modern conveniences and technological advancements, such as internet and smart phones have become commonplace, yet locals still place great value on important customs and preserving their traditions and Inuit heritage.
Before lunch, we will return to our ship and continue our journey toward the fjord of Kangerlussuaq, also known as Sondrestromfjord. The first part of passage through the fjord especially gives opportunities to enjoy panoramic views of high mountains and deep valleys.
Day 12 – Kangerlussuaq & Flight to Iceland:
During the night, we complete our passage through the 160km/100 mile Kangerlussuaq Fjord. After breakfast aboard the ship, we bid farewell to the ship's staff and the Zodiac boats will shuttle us to shore.
Due to Kangerlussuaq’s military history and present-day role as an important air travel hub, Kangerlussuaq remains fairly isolated from Greenland’s rich cultural traditions, in comparison to other regions. While you still find cultural experiences when visiting Kangerlussuaq, the most impressive attraction is the surrounding nature, which is just begging to be explored.
It is not difficult to see that Kangerlussuaq’s landscape has largely been shaped by the last glaciation period, often known simply as the Ice Age, some 18,000 years ago. The mountains are rounded and soft, and many meltwater lakes remain. From the inland ice sheet, best known as the Greenland Ice Sheet, the meltwater cuts its way through the porous moraine landscape and flows into Kangerlussuaq Fjord.
Kangerlussuaq’s present-day climate is largely influenced by its well-sheltered location between Greenland’s Ice Sheet, the fjord and mountains. This contributes to its stable conditions, minimal cloud cover and roughly 300 clear nights per year. The dry climate, combined with warm winds that “fall” from the Ice Sheet, can result in temperatures that jump up to 30°C (86°F) in the summer, but then fall to an extreme -40°C (-40°F) in winter, making it the coldest inhabited area in Greenland.
In Kangerlussuaq, we offer an optional excursion to the beautiful Reindeer Glacier (not included). The duration of the excursion is about four hours. We do not recommend the excursion for people who suffer from bad necks or backs, as the gravel road to the ice sheet is occasionally bumpy and uneven.
After breakfast and checkout, your Arctic adventure will have concluded and we fly from Kangerlussuaq to Reykjavík.
NOTE: This itinerary is for guidance only. Each voyage will vary depending on ice and weather conditions, and opportunities to see wildlife. Flexibility is key and all part of the adventure of an expeditionary cruise.
About The Ship
- Choice of 8 cabins and suite categories
- Dedicated single cabins
- Multiple observation decks for spotting wildlife
- Chef-prepared meals and dining room with unreserved seating
- Fleet of 20 zodiacs
- Zodiac cruising, hiking and snowshoeing all included
- Polar library stocked with a large collection of polar books, and games
- Gym, lecture theatre, and polar boutique
Prices, Departures and Inclusions
Prices quoted below are per person based on 2 people sharing. Cabin availability changes all the time so please contact us for up-to-date details and information on specific cabin availability.
* Note: Prices are per person. Paid in USD ($) - figure above is based on today's exchange rate. Actual cost $4000
Optional Adventure Activities:
- Flight over the Ice Cap: USD$420
- Boat Trip to the Ice Fjord: USD$115
- Trip to Reindeer Glacier: USD$95
Single Supplement And Child Policy
For those travelling solo and want their own cabin, the single supplement in a twin cabin is 1.7 times the cost of a single berth. However, there is no single supplement for passengers willing to share a cabin.
At date of embarkation, the minimum age restriction of 8 years and a minimum height and weight requirement of 64lbs or 29kg and 48” or 1.2m must be met.
- Flights Kangerlussuaq to Reykjavík
- All excursions and activities by Zodiac
- Voyage aboard the vessel as indicated in the itinerary
- Accommodation during the voyage on full board basis
- All shore excursions and Zodiac activities
- Educational lectures by expert onboard polar guides
- Access to an onboard doctor and basic medical services
- Loan of rubber boots for the voyage's duration
- Comprehensive pre-departure information
- Port taxes and any entry fees to historic landing sites
- Flights to and from points of embarkation/ disembarkation
- Any additional services before and after your voyage
- Transfers not specific to the itinerary
- Travel insurance
- Optional adventure activities
- Any visa, passport and vaccination expenses
- Airport arrival or departure taxes
- Items of a personal nature: laundry, beverages, etc
- Customary staff gratuity at the end of the voyage
- Additional onboard purchases (i.e. gifts, drinks)
- Single room supplement and cabin upgrades