Greenland is Europe’s final frontier: its grandeur is unquestionable and yet unknown to most travelers. Sailing along Greenland’s coast is the best way to sample the rich history and diversity of this beautiful and dramatic country and to encounter an ancient culture surviving in a modern world.
|Day 1||Reykjavik||Overnight Reykjavik|
|Day 2||Embark||Denmark Strait – sea birds|
|Days 3 & 4||East Greenland||Skjoldungen, Inuit Settlements, Hiking|
|Days 5 - 7||South Greenland||Tasermiut Fjord, Cape Farewell|
|Days 8 - 13||Greenland’s West Coast||Nuuk, Sisimuit, Illulissat Icefjord|
|Day 14||Kangerlussuaq||Flight to Reykjavik, Iceland|
|Day 15||Reykjavik||End of itinerary|
The expedition ship Ocean Adventurer is designed to carry 132 travelers in comfort and has a classic style and feel. She was originally built in Yugoslavia in 1976 and has undergone several renovations; in 1999, 2002 and her most significant in 2017. The Ocean Adventurer is ice-strengthened and a beautiful small ship upon which to discover the wonders of Spitsbergen, Greenland and Iceland.
The newest ship in the Quark fleet, Ultramarine is designed to go beyond the familiar in polar exploration, to discover new places, and immerse you in the best the region has to offer. Ultramarine accommodates 199 guests and is equipped with two twin-engine helicopters to offer the most robust portfolio of adventure activities in the industry, the most spacious suites in its category, breathtaking public spaces, and more outdoor wildlife viewing spaces than other expedition ships its size. With two dining areas, four bars, a panoramic lounge, theatre, library, spa and fitness centre, Polar boutique and an ocean view sauna your days at sea can be as busy or relaxing as you decide.
Arrive in the Icelandic capital this morning and make your way to your included hotel. You will have the day to explore the city on your own. In the evening, there will be a briefing at your hotel where you can meet your fellow travellers and ask any questions you may have about your upcoming voyage.
This afternoon, you’ll board your vessel and begin your expedition. Explore the ship and become acquainted with your fellow shipmates and the expedition team. Farewell Iceland as you head out to sea.
As the ship cruises across the Denmark Strait, your Expedition Team will teach you about the wildlife and storied history of Greenland, its fascinating geology, ecology and climate, and the incredible sights you will soon explore. Staff will also keep watch for the seabirds you’ll likely see soaring above your ship, as well as the whales that can be encountered here.
The exploration of Greenland begins with East Greenland, one of the least visited and most remote parts of the island. Your days sailing along the coast will be guided by weather and ice conditions, with each day and each excursion presenting new adventures. The region features a mesmerizing maze of vast glaciers, steep mountains and breathtaking fjords.
Experience a true arctic ghost town when you visit the abandoned settlement of Skjoldungen, where inhabitants were forced to move to larger, more accessible towns in 1961. The narrow part of Skjoldungen Fjord is an ideal place to explore by Zodiac.
You might be able to participate in a hike along the rugged terrain rewards with impressive views of snow-capped mountains, deep green waters and the surprisingly colorful arctic tundra. Another possible destination is Lindenow Fjord, a great spot for Zodiac cruising. This rarely visited deep fjord is fed by a number of glaciers and offers ample opportunities superb photography. Here you may see bearded seals hauled out on the ice floes.
South Greenland offers spectacular scenery. Vistas of icy waters set against a backdrop of soaring mountains, crystal-clear waterfalls and unbelievably lush, green valleys. Scattered around the shores of the fjord systems that dominate the area are several small settlements, both ancient and present day, making South Greenland an ideal place to explore.
The magical Prins Christian Sund, a complex maze of narrow fjords and channels, is a great place for cruising. You’ll explore this stunning sound, home to calving glaciers, jagged mountains and sheer cliffs that plunge dramatically into the water. Sailing this coastline from the vantage point of your ship or a Zodiac is an exhilarating experience. If conditions allow, venturing ashore provides opportunities for all levels of hiking. Steeped in Norse history, the southern coast of Greenland provides plenty of places to learn about this ancient culture.
One such landing we hope to make is at Hvalsey, the site of Greenland’s largest and best-preserved Norse ruins. Exploring the remains of the circa 14th century church will feel like stepping back in time, as the building appears much as it did when it was abandoned in the 15th century and the surrounding fells and fjord remain similarly untouched.
The little village of Igaliku, home to about 30 inhabitants, is Greenland’s oldest sheep-farming settlement. It’s a charming place to go ashore, as sheep peacefully graze on the grass,surrounded by bloom-covered rolling valleys and snow-capped mountains. The area is also known for its storied past, as evidenced by the remarkable red sandstone ruins of the Gardar cathedral (the largest church in Greenland in the Middle Ages) and bishop’s residence, which date back to the early 12th century, when Greenland’s first bishop was appointed. Wandering the foundations, excavated in 1926, you’ll get to see a bit of history firsthand as you learn about this interesting relic of the Viking period. Together with four other historic farming communities, Igaliku is part of a newly established UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Heading north, you’ll stop at some of the quaint villages that dot the islands and fjords of Greenland’s western side. You’ll find friendly faces, local artisans and colourful houses on the wildflower- covered tundra. You’ll visit Nuuk, the capital of Greenland and home to fewer than 16,000 people. You’ll have time to wander the streets and see the Hans Egede Church and Hans Egede statue near the waterfront, both named after the missionary who founded the settlement. You’ll also visit the museum to see the famous Greenlandic mummies.
The nearby town of Sisimiut is an interesting place to visit, as there are more dogsleds here than humans. Evighedsfjorden, which means “Fjord of Eternity,” is a favoured place for us to put the Zodiacs in the water for some more in-depth exploration. This long, deep fjord has very few settlements, so you’ll come to appreciate nature in its rawest form. There will be an opportunity for hiking among the towering mountains, and you’ll have plenty of chances to photograph the colourful tundra and dramatic landscapes.
The west coast of Greenland provides many dramatic, mountainous landscapes where fjords open into the sea. You will explore the Ilulissat Icefjord, home to one of the world’s fastest-moving glaciers. Moving approximately 62 feet (19 meters) per day, the glacier provides you with a great opportunity to photograph ice crashing into the sea. Continuing along, the Amerloq Fjord offers a chance for you to stretch your legs by exploring abandoned villages and ancient Thule sites.
Another beautiful locale, and one of west Greenland’s highlights is the Ilulissat Icefjord, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Home to one of the world’s most active glaciers, Jakobshavn Glacier or Sermeq Kujalleq in Greenlandic, this is a great place to enjoy a Zodiac excursion to experience icebergs from a unique perspective not afforded by land. Venturing ashore at the nearby town, Ilulissat (which means “iceberg”), rewards with its own spectacle: young bergs floating out to Disko Bay. A hike from the town to the icefjord will allow you to view this unforgettable river of ice from the rocky shore. Given that it’s known for having more sled dogs than people, it’s not surprising that Ilulissat is the birthplace of the first European to traverse the Northwest Passage by dogsled, explorer Knud Rasmussen.
Enjoy one more Zodiac cruise to shore where you’ll board your direct charter flight back to Reykjavik, Iceland. Upon arrival in Reykjavik, you will be transferred to your hotel.
After breakfast, you can make your way home at your leisure or spend some more time in Reykjavik.