GREENLAND 71° NORTH

On this unique voyage along western Greenland’s shores, we will navigate along some of the most breathtaking areas in North Greenland, reaching as far north as the Upernavik district, which borders the mystical, isolated Melville Bay and serves as our northerly turning point.
The nature that abounds in these far reaches of Greenland is simply breathtaking, the silence is loud and you often feel completely alone.
It is within this serenity that we will cruise alongside glacial landscapes, whales, the ever-present Northern fulmar sea bird and a multitude of otherwise inaccessible settlements. This is a first-class expedition cruise aboard 4-star cruise ship, Ocean Diamond. With long-standing roots in Greenland, we have used our inherent knowledge of the region to create an exclusive journey to locations unbeknownst to other operators.
Navigating along Greenland’s old inter-coastal routes, we can indulge in the multitude of beautiful natural wonders. Naturally, we will experience many classic highlights during our voyage, including “the iceberg capital” of Ilulissat and the nearby UNESCO-protected Icefjord, the beautiful basalt mountains of Disko Bay and the amazing island of Eqip Sermia in Disko Bay. While overnighting in Iceland, we will have an opportunity to experience the island nation’s unique nature, as well as centuries-old history and culture.
All cabins and suites aboard Ocean Diamond are spacious, exterior and offer a private bath/toilet.

Expedition in Brief:
  • Spot whales, seals and other arctic wildlife
  • Majestic beauty of Disko Bay islands
  • Visit historic Saqqaq (2500 BC - 800 BC)
  • Cultural Kaffemik experience
  • ‘Iceberg Capital’ Ilulissat
  • UNESCO-protected Icefjord
  • Eqip Sermia Glacier

Dates: Aug 14 – Aug 24, 2018 (11 days)

PRICES FROM: US$ 4.470 pp - Limited availability!

Itinerary:

Day 1: Iceland - Kangerlussuaq. Embarkation.
Kangerlussuaq is the base for the largest of Greenland's two international airports, and acts as a hub for onward travel to western and northern Greenland. Although the airport hums with civilian travel, it is a quiet town with only 512 permanent residents, most of whom are airport employees. There is also an excellent supermarket, a post office, a restaurant and Polar Lodge, which houses Albatros Travel’s Greenland office. This hotel is located just 100m from the airport building.
Upon arrival, we will be transported to the small port located to west of the airport, where our ship, Ocean Diamond, will be anchored and waiting. The Zodiacs will ferry us in small groups to the ship, anchored about one kilometer out into the fjord. Each of us will wear a lightweight life jacket and there will be assistance with boarding and disembarking the dinghy. Access to the ship is via a platform next to Magellan deck. Once on board, we will each be shown to a suite and the crew will review the safety procedures prior to dinner. As we sit down to our first chef-prepared dinner at sea, Ocean Diamond will set sail, passing through the 160-kilometer fjord and cruise out into the ocean.
 
Day 2: Sisimiut - experience Greenland's second-largest city at the foot of Nasaasaaq Mountain
Early in the morning, we arrive to Sisimiut. After breakfast, we will gain a better idea of what modern Greenland looks like.
Sisimiut is the most northerly place in Greenland that is accessible by ship during the winter because 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. In fact, Sisimiut was the first home of the Saqqaq, Dorset and Thule cultures after they migrated from present-day Canada. In order to survive this impressive journey and establish a new settlement, they lived on fish, birds and mammals such as whales, seals and reindeer.
In 1600, the first European whalers arrived in the Sisimiut region, but they maintained very little contact with the population. It was only after Norwegian missionary, Hans Egede, colonized Greenland in 1721 that regular contact developed 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 “Holsteinsborg era” and the oldest house in town dates back to 1756. One of the most culturally significant buildings is the Blue Church, which was 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 world’s most modern.
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 center for a glimpse of daily life 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 1,000-meter 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 Ice Fjord and dance into the frigid ocean waters.
 
Day 3: Qeqertarsuaq on Disko Island and 'kaffemik' in a community center
Our next sojourn lies on Disko Island, where Ocean Diamond will dock in a protected natural harbour, which is reassuringly named Godhavn (‘Good Harbour’) in Danish, while its Greenlandic name, Qeqertarsuaq, simply means ‘The Big Island’.
Although insulated from mainland Greenland by the shadow of Disko Island’s 1,000-meter tall mountains, Qeqertarsuaq maintains a long, rich history and once served as one of the country’s important economic center. From the 16th century, the community was relatively prosperous and was, in fact, considered the most important town north of Nuuk until the mid-1900s, due in part to the area’s sizable whale population. As dominant industries evolve with the passing of time, so too has Qeqertarsuaq’s affluence of yesteryear.
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 center that will be hosting a traditional Greenlandic “kaffemik”, which can be best described as a friendly gathering with coffee, cake and storytelling.
 
Day 4: Upernavik, the gateway to Northern Greenland
Our route lies far into the sea, but Svartenhuk’s black mountains remain within sight, when gazing toward the eastern horizon. The surrounding waters are a well-known passage for large whales, and all on-board will certainly keep an eye open for these majestic creatures. Little storm birds, known as the fulmar petrel, will likely remain our loyal companions, keeping us entertained as their flight pattern floats between the ship’s lee and windward, allowing the bird to maintain optimal speed and dynamics.
Our next destination is the municipality of Upernavik, a town of 3,000 inhabitants that was founded in 1772 as a Danish colonial station. Upernavik’s story, as well as the story of western Greenland, spans more than 4,500 years to a time when groups of hunter-gatherers travelled along the coasts of Alaska through Canada and into Greenland.
In Upernavik, you will discover the northernmost open-air museum in the world and its well-preserved buildings that date back to the colonial days. Commercially, Upernavik relies on a mixture of Greenlandic’s indigenous hunting culture and a modern, high-tech fishing industry. Here, the traditional dog sled and modern snow scooter work side by side. We will go ashore to experience the town, as well as the small, but fascinating museum.
 
Day 5: Uummannaq with hiking. Visit to the settlement Niaqornat
In the morning, we will awake still in the high north, and some 500 kilometers north of the polar circle, in the stunning Uummannaq fjord. Here, Ocean Diamond will moor just off the island and town of Uummannaq. Later in the afternoon we will visit a picturesque settlement, Niaqornat, located on the peninsula of Nuussuaq.
After a leisurely morning with crisp air and inspiring vistas over Uummannaq fjord’s many mountainous peaks and glaciers, we will pay a visit to Uummannaq, possibly Greenland’s most ideally situated settlement. Uummannaq was originally established as a colony on the Nuussuaq mainland in 1758, but shortly thereafter in 1763, it was moved to the nearby island, which offered more abundant seal hunting. Our walk along the settlement’s steep streets will lead us to a historic building constructed in 1860, which once housed boilers to extract oil from the blubber of whales. The resulting production was shipped throughout Europe to light the streets, and served as an important contribution to the oil trading economy in both Greenland and Europe.
Niaqornat is one of Greenland’s most beautiful and sunlit regions. In fact, the dry, stable Arctic climate delivers around 2,000 hours of sunshine and a negligible 100 millimeters of perception annually. Perhaps this is the Greenlandic Rivieria!
Stepping aboard our ship’s fleet of Zodiacs, we will cruise into the coast, only to be welcomed by the jubilant greetings of productive, lively locals. Perhaps during our time ashore, we will spot a few residents, who are willing to pose for a photo in their national dress.
In the afternoon, we will all rally at the harbour, return to our ship by Zodiac and continue our voyage to the south.
 
Day 6: Beautiful Saqqaq, adventurous Eqi & the calving glacier of Eqip Sermia
The next leg of our voyage leads to the settlement of Saqqaq. Like all communities in Greenland, Saqqaq lies in close proximity to the sea because it serves as both a vital and plentiful natural resource supporting life in Greenland, but also as an important means of transport. Saqqaq, which translates to “the sunny side”, earned its name due to its location on the southerly, “sunny side” of the mountainous peninsula, which offers panoramic views of the beautiful Disko Bay Islands and even stranded icebergs bobbing in the bay.
Although there are no guarantees that our day’s visit will sunny, the town is still beautiful and historic with roots dating back to the Saqqaq-culture, who were the first nomads to reach Greenland via a passage over Canada between 2500 BC to 800 BC. In more recent times, the settlement is best known for the experiments of botanist, Hannibal Fencker, who conducted research in Saqqaq from 1942-1970. He constructed a variety of impressive greenhouses designed to cultivate sub-tropical plants, cabbage, potatoes and an abundance of floral varieties.
Around lunchtime, we will set off for Eqi. In the late afternoon, our ship will reach a magnificent natural highlight – the enormous Eqip Sermia Glacier. Situated approximately 50 nautical miles north of Ilulissat, the Eqip Sermia Glacier is renowned and many visitors visit daily to behold her awesome beauty. Some 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 cap over a century ago.
We will sail as close as possible to the ice’s edge – but at a safe distance to dodge the plunging blocks of ice and violent waves that result from the calving glacier.
 
Day 7: Ilulissat, the capital of icebergs and walking tour to the Sermermiut Plain
Ilulissat is possibly the most well placed town in Greenland. The 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 a half hour’s hike south of Ilulissat. These impressive frozen structures are first born some 70km deeper into 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 meter 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 tons of ice per day! These facts, together with the fjord’s extreme beauty, 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 with more than 4,500 inhabitants. The town is very vibrant, welcoming and lively with a wide range of cultural attractions, according to Greenlandic standards. The legendary 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).
Please note, if the presence of sea ice prevents us from safely docking in Ilulissat, we will instead visit the settlements of Qasigiannguit and/or Aasiaat, located just to the south of Ilulissat.
 
Day 8: Ilulissat - Time to explore or optional helicopter ride or boat trip to the Icefjord
Today is reserved for your own independent exploration, but we have a few recommendations to help you chart the proper course.
One option is to set off on the same hiking route as yesterday, and walk up to the deserted ancient settlement of Sermermiut. It is a 30- to 40-minute walk from the harbour, and is a good opportunity to see the village in the daylight.
On this day, you will also have the opportunity to join a boat trip to the Icefjord. The journey takes about two and a half hours in total, and presents an opportunity to gain 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 remember warm clothes!
If a hike or a trip by boat does not present enough excitement, there is also an opportunity to arrange a helicopter ride over the Icefjord.
Please note the boat and helicopter excursions to the Icefjord are not included in the general tour price. Furthermore, the helicopter excursion must be booked in advance. Refer to Price Information for more details.
During the night, our captain will navigate southward from “the iceberg capital”, leaving lovely Disko bay in our wake.
 
Day 9: At sea
Our last day aboard the ship will be spent at sea, allowing us to admire the stunning views of Greenland’s western coast. Hopefully, on our way to the mouth of Sondre Stromfjord we will encounter majestic whales and other marine mammals.
 
Day 10: Kangerlussuaq. Fly to Iceland.
During the night, we will complete our passage through the 160-kilometer Kangerlussuaq Fjord. After breakfast aboard the ship, we will bid farewell to the ship's staff and the Zodiac boats will shuttle us to shore.
Depending on prevailing conditions, we may offer an optional excursion onto the mighty Greenland Ice Sheet or to the beautiful Reindeer glacier. The duration of the excursion is about four hours. Please note the excursion is not included in the general tour price. Refer to Price Information for more details. We do not recommend the excursion for people who suffer from bad necks or backs, as the route to the ice cap is occasionally bumpy and uneven.
As our time in Greenland concludes, we will fly from Kangerlussuaq to Reykjavik.
 
Day 11: Reykjavik, Iceland. Departure.
After breakfast and checkout, your arctic adventure will come to an end. We hope to see you again soon!

This expedition includes:

• English-speaking guides
• Flights Reykjavík – Kangerlussuaq round trip
• Local transport in Kangerlussuaq on day 1
• City tours in Sisimiut, Qeqertarsuaq, Uummannaq and Ilulissat
• Museum visits in Sisimiut, Qeqertarsuaq and Ilulissat
• Church visits in Qeqertarsuaq and Ilulissat
• 'Kaffemik' visit in Qeqertarsuaq
• Visits to settlements in Niaqornat and Saqqaq
• Briefings and talks by tour leaders
• 9-day cruise in a shared outside double suite with bathroom/toilet
• Full board on the ship
• Coffee, tea and water on the ship
• Taxes and tariffs
• Hotel accommodation in Reykjavík on day 10

This expedition excludes:

• Extra optional excursions
• Single room supplement and cabin upgrades
• Meals not on board ship
• Beverages other than coffee, tea and water
• Tips for ship crew (approx. 13.5 USD per day per participant)
• Personal expenses
 
Optional Excursions
Day 8: Helicopter in Ilulissat & Sailing among icebergs in Ilulissat
Day 10: Reindeer Glacier, Kangerlussuaq
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