Trip Summary and Itinerary Map
- 4 full days exploring the west coast of Greenland
- Includes flights between Reykjavik and Kangerlussuaq
- A compact trip for those short on time
- Travel on a recently refurbished ship
- Optional helicopter flight over the ice cap available
- Snowshoeing available when conditions allow
Day 1 - Embarkation at Kangerlussuaq, Iceland:
Upon arrival from Keflavík in Iceland, we will be transported to the small port located west of the airport, where our ship, Ocean Atlantic, will be anchored. Zodiacs will transfer us the short distance to the ship, where you will be checked in to your outside cabin. After the safety drill, you will enjoy a dinner as Ocean Atlantic sets sail through the 160km Kangerlussuaq fjord.
Day 2 - Sisimiut:
After breakfast, we arrive in the colourful town of Sisimiut, where we will get an idea of what modern Greenland looks like. With 5400 inhabitants, it is considered Greenland’s second city. People have lived around Sisimiut on and off since 2500 BC.
In 1756, Count Johan Ludvig Holstein, established a colony here and called it Holsteinsborg. The oldest part of Sisimiut’s historic quarter features town houses from this Holsteinsborg 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.
Nowadays, Sisimiut is an important place for education and industry, and local factories process the bulk of Royal Greenland's fishing. The fish processing plant is one of the largest of its kind in Greenland, and one of the most modern in the world.
Our city tour highlights include the historic colonial quarter, as well as the museum and the beautiful church. Additionally, we will pay a visit to the busy city centre for a glimpse of what daily life is like in 21st century Greenland. In the afternoon, our voyage will continue northward.
As evening falls, we will 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 will pass Aasiaat and proceed into the southern waters of Disko Bay. Next, the ship’s heading will be set for Disko Island, known for its distinctive 1000m/3280ft layered crags.
At this point, we will be north of the Arctic Circle! Here, the nights are bright and early risers can enjoy the sight of the icebergs on Disko Bay as they squeeze out of the Ilulissat Icefjord and dance into the frigid ocean waters.
Day 3 - Qeqertarsuaq on Disko Island & Equip Sermia Glacier:
Our next sojourn takes us to the southern tip of Disko Island, where Ocean Atlantic will dock in a protected natural harbour, which is named Godhavn (Good Harbour) in Danish, while its Greenlandic name, Qeqertarsuaq, means The Big Island.
Although topographically quite different from mainland Greenland due to the basalt characteristics of Disko Island’s mountains, Qeqertarsuaq maintains a long, rich history and once served as one of the country’s important economic centres. From the 16th century, the community was relatively prosperous and, in fact, considered the most important town north of Nuuk until the mid-1900s, due in part to the area’s sizeable whale hunting population.
During our visit, we will wander through town, paying a visit to the characteristic octagonal church, nicknamed “God’s Inkpot”, as well as to a local community centre that will be hosting a traditional Greenlandic “kaffemik”, which can be 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 was played by hitting the frame with a stick, not the skin itself. This modest instrument was used for a variety of purposes, including entertainment, exorcism and witchcraft.
After the missionaries arrived, drum dancing was prohibited and later replaced by part-singing of psalms and choral works, which today are renowned for their particular Greenlandic sound. Today, drum dance is used as entertainment in cultural events and on festive occasions.
As the day draws to a close, Ocean Atlantic will set a north-easterly course, bound for the enormous Eqip Sermia Glacier. Situated approximately 50 nautical miles north of Ilulissat, the Eqip Sermia Glacier is renowned for its jaw-dropping beauty. Legendary arctic explorers selected this location as a base for their studies. One such explorer, the acclaimed Swiss glaciologist, Alfred de Quervain, used the location as a base for his expeditions onto Greenland’s inland ice sheet over a century ago. We will sail as close as possible to the ice’s edge – but at a safe distance to avoid plunging blocks of ice and violent waves that often result from the calving glacier.
Day 4 - 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 5 - 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 6 - 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.
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 $2700
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.
- 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)