Day 1 – Embarkation in Reykjavik:
In the afternoon, we board our vessel 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 – 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 4 – Prince Christian Sound:
Kap Farvel, or Cape Farewell, is renowned not only as Greenland's southernmost point but also for mostly seasonal, gale-force winds. We deliberately opt for a far more comfortable but 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 very recently by sturdy meteorologists, is another classic point-of-interest along the way.
Day 5 – Eric the Red’s Stronghold - Qassiarsuk:
Early in the morning we sail into Eriksfjord, which in Greenland is called Tunulliarfik. We throw anchor off Erik the Red's Brattahlíð settlement, where the village of Qassiarssuk can be found today. Here we see a reconstruction of Tjodhildur's church, which was the first church on the North American continent. There are also other ruins from Norse people, who disappeared in the 1400s. Here one can really feel history and stop to wonder why the Norse people suddenly disappeared from Greenland.
It was from here that Erik and Tjodhildur's son Leif Eriksson went west and discovered Baffin Island, the Labrador coast and Newfoundland. They returned to South Greenland a few years later. Around lunchtime we sail out of Eriksfjord close to Qooroq Isfjord.
Day 6 – Nuuk:
We cruise north to reach Nuuk in the afternoon. As we enter the Nuuk Fjord we have fair chances of encountering the area's seasonal visitors: the 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, almost a third of the country’s population. The area has been inhabited since 2200 BC by pre-Inuit hunters. From 1000 to 1350 AD, 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.
Greenland’s modern history began in 1721, when the Norse missionary Hans Egede founded a permanent colony and trading station near Nuuk. Egede’s main purpose 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. We will leave the capital at night and continue our northbound journey.
Day 7 – At Sea:
Listen to a lecture from our expedition staff, watch a film about Arctic nature, or go out on deck to catch glimpses of migrating birds and hopefully some whales.
Day 8 - Disko Island:
Under Disko Island’s 1000 meter high mountains, we enter the protected natural habour that has the Danish name Godhavn or Good Harbour or in Greenlandic ‘Qeqertarsuaq’ which means ‘The Big Island’. Until 1950, Godhavn was 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.
The local community center hosts a traditional Greenlandic “kaffemik”: 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 found in the north-easterly corner of Disko Bay. This glacier is 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 and a landscape so unique and stunning: words are simply not sufficient - this is an outstanding opportunity to see, hear and smell this mighty ice world. In the evening, we prepare for departure.
Day 9 – Ilulissat:
Ilulissat is possibly the most well located town in Greenland. Its name simply means ‘icebergs’ in Greenlandic, and the town’s nickname is The Iceberg Capital. In Disko Bay, which is located just off the coast of Ilulissat, gigantic icebergs linger in the freezing waters; they come from the Icefjord, which is located half an 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. At 10km/6 mile wide, the 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.
More than 250 years have passed since the establishment of Ilulissat and the town has steadily flourished. Today, it 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 here.
Today there is an 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 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). This excursion must be booked in advance.
In the evening, we will cruise south and away from “The Iceberg Capital” and Disko Bay.
Day 10 - The settlement of Sarfannguit:
Sarfannguit translates into "the place of the little stream” which is an appropriate name for a settlement nestled at the foothills of the mountains and glaciers in the distant backcountry. The 100 residents survive on hunting, trapping and fishing, most often in pursuit of arctic char, reindeer and musk oxen.
Although Sarfannguit is quite remote, it lies within a few hours from Sisimiut, the second-largest town in Greenland. This accessibility to such a large town provides an indispensable economic benefit to this small community. A stroll through the settlement offers an insight into rural life in today’s Greenland. Modern conveniences and technological advancements, such as the internet and smart phones have become commonplace; locals however still place great value on important customs and preserving their traditions and their Inuit heritage.
We will continue our journey toward the fjord of Kangerlussuaq / Sondre Stromfjord. The first part of the fjord gives a great opportunity to enjoy an impressive passage, offering panoramic views of high mountains and deep valleys.
Day 11 – Kangerlussuaq:
During the night, we will have completed our passage through the 160-kilometer/100 mile Kangerlussuaq Fjord. We will bid farewell to the ship's staff after breakfast and the Zodiac boats will shuttle us to shore.
Due to Kangerlussuaq’s military history and its present-day role as an important air travel hub, it is 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 clear 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 a porous moraine landscape and flows into Kangerlussuaq Fjord. The climate is largely impacted by its well-sheltered location between Greenland’s Ice Sheet, the fjord and mountains; this contributes to its stable conditions, minimal cloud presence and roughly 300 clear nights per year.
There is an optional excursion to the beautiful Reindeer Glacier, the duration of which is about four hours. Please note the excursion is not included in the general tour price, and we do not recommend this excursion for people who suffer from bad necks or backs, as the gravel road to the ice sheet is occasionally bumpy and uneven.
As our time in Greenland concludes, we will fly from Kangerlussuaq to Reykjavík Airport, Iceland where your Arctic adventure comes to an end.
Please 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.
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