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Essential Greenland: Southern Coasts & Disko Bay

Arctic Greenland Cruise Information

Summary : Enjoy an in-depth exploration of one of Greenland’s most remote regions as you cruise around this enchanting island, sailing from the icy waters of the little-visited east coast, down to the lush southern tip, and up to the charming communities and glaciers of the west coast. Spectacular, unspoiled wonders await wherever you go. Each visit to the picturesque villages and Norse ruins that dot the shoreline will immerse you in Greenland’s distinct culture and history, while the rugged landscape—dominated by dramatic fjords, imposing glaciers, towering mountains and verdant valleys—will leave you breathless.

Activities : Birding, Culture, Hiking, Kayaking, Triple/Quad Cabins

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Itinerary
Day 1
Reykjavik, Iceland

Arrive in the Icelandic capital and make your way to your included hotel.* You will have the day to explore the city on your own.

*See Additional Costs for mandatory transfer package information.

Day 2
Reykjavik, Iceland / Embarkation

This afternoon you will board your vessel and begin your expedition. Get ready for a great adventure ahead!

Day 3
At Sea

As you cruise along 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 sites you will soon explore. Staff will also keep watch for the seabirds you'll likely see soaring above the ship, as well as the whales that can be encountered here.

Day 4 – 5
Exploring East Greenland

Your 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 is a sight to behold, boasting a mesmerizing maze of vast glaciers, steep mountains, and breathtaking fjords.

One location you may visit if conditions allow is Skjoldungen, where you’ll cruise between the mountains to view glaciers deep within the fjords surrounding this island. The narrow part of the fjord provides an ideal place to put the Zodiacs in the water for a more in-depth exploration.

If conditions allow, you may also visit the site of an abandoned Inuit settlement whose inhabitants were relocated to larger, more accessible towns around 1961. Exploring ashore, you’ll experience a true Arctic ghost town, complete with abandoned buildings, furniture and even shoes! Hiking the rugged terrain rewards with impressive views of snow-capped mountains, deep green waters, and the surprisingly colorful Arctic tundra. This site is prone to insects, however, so have your spray or netting at the ready.

If you’re feeling even more adventurous, perhaps you’ll treat yourself to an optional paddling excursion (extra cost), an unforgettable opportunity to glide past icebergs and glaciers and capture photographs from a unique perspective.

Another possible destination is Lindenow Fjord, a great spot for Zodiac cruising if conditions are favorable. This rarely visited deep fjord is fed by a number of glaciers and offers ample opportunities for your camera to get a workout. You’ll also want to keep watch for bearded seals, as they’re known to haul out on the ice floes.

Day 6 – 7
Exploring South Greenland

Sailing on, you’ll explore Greenland’s fertile southern coast. Nicknamed Arctic Patagonia, this region is as rich in spectacular scenery as it is in history and culture. Here, it’s easy to see why Erik the Red gave Greenland its name: everywhere you look rewards with 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 you'll 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, where 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.

Day 8 – 13
Exploring West Greenland

Boasting spectacular glaciers, mountainous landscapes, and vibrant communities, the west coast of Greenland will leave you awestruck. Heading north, each day hope to take Zodiac excursions from the ship to explore local bays, channels, and landing sites, discovering quaint villages dotting the islands and fjords, and cruising in some of Greenland’s most picturesque places. The west coast is home to Nuuk, the charming Greenlandic capital. You’ll have time to wander the streets of the historic Old Nuuk neighborhood and see the Hans Egede Church and Hans Egede statue near the waterfront, both named after the missionary who founded the settlement.

History buffs will want to visit the national museum to view the famous Greenlandic mummies, found under a rock outcrop in 1972 by two brothers who were grouse hunting. Sisimiut is another interesting place to go ashore, as there are more dogsleds here than humans. You’ll have time to wander the town’s historic area, where several 18th-century colonial buildings still stand, including Greenland’s oldest surviving church. You’ll also be treated to a traditional kayaking demonstration. The kayak is Greenland’s national symbol and can be traced back over 4,000 years to the Inuit, who used the vessels for hunting and transportation.

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.

Surrounded by sea and mountains, the fishing community of Itilleq (meaning “crossing place”) is situated in a scenic hollow on a small island, about a mile above the Arctic Circle. Explore traditional wooden houses painted in a rainbow of colors, chat with the locals, and join a customary football (soccer) match between visitors and residents, and you’ll be experiencing Itilleq’s famous friendly vibe in no time.

Day 14
Kangerlussuaq, Greenland / Disembarkation /
Reykjavik, Iceland

Enjoy one more Zodiac ride to shore, where you'll board your charter flight back to Reykjavik, Iceland. Upon arrival in Reykjavik, transfer to your included hotel.*

*See Additional Costs for mandatory transfer package information.

Day 15
Reykjavik, Iceland

Today, you can make your way home at your leisure or spend some time exploring this artistic city.

Notes

Read this itinerary as a guide only; the exact route and program varies according to ice and weather conditions—and the wildlife you encounter. Flexibility is the key to the success of this expedition. ExpeditionTrips is not responsible for itinerary changes.

Bilingual Departure: English/German

Mandatory Travel Insurance:
Due to the remoteness of the areas in this itinerary, travelers must carry a minimum $50,000 of emergency medical coverage. Proof of coverage is required prior to embarkation. The travel insurance policy should also cover trip cancellation insurance, trip delay, interruption or after departure coverage, baggage and repatriation. The shipping company will not be held responsible for delays due to force majeure. Any additional costs accrued will be the responsibility of the traveler. ExpeditionTrips strongly recommends that you select a travel protection plan that includes trip cancellation and interruption coverage and at least $200,000 in medical evacuation coverage. ExpeditionTrips can assist U.S. residents with travel protection options. Other conditions may apply based on pre-existing conditions.

Kayaking:
Pre-booking required. A small group of sea kayakers will plan to go out multiple times per voyage instead of shore landings. The number of opportunities to kayak is weather dependent and will only be conducted during calm conditions. Prior kayaking experience is required and you must have the capability to do a wet exit to participate. Must be 16 years of age or older to participate. Beginners interested in kayaking should consider participating in the paddling excursions described below. Please contact ExpeditionTrips for details.

Paddling:
Pre-booking required. If you’re interested in kayaking but would like to try something less in-depth than the full kayaking program, you can still enjoy an on-water experience with a paddling excursion. Sign up for a one-time, one-hour paddle on a sit-on-top kayak, which is stable and unencumbered: perfect for anyone with little to no experience with kayaking. No experience necessary. Space is limited. Must be 16 years of age or older to participate. All sit-on-top kayaks are doubles. Please contact ExpeditionTrips for details.

Included:
Shipboard accommodations; all shore landings per the daily program; all Zodiac transfers and cruising per the daily program; experienced Expedition Leader; formal and informal presentations by Expedition Team and special guests as scheduled; photographic journal; expedition parka and reusable water bottle; gear on loan (waterproof expedition boots for shore landings, walking poles); comprehensive onboard materials, including a map and an informational Arctic Reader; all meals on board ship; snacks, soft drinks, and juices on board; beer and house wine during dinner; coffee, tea, cocoa available around the clock; hair dryer and bathrobe in every cabin; daily housekeeping; pre-departure materials; miscellaneous service taxes and port charges throughout the program; luggage handling aboard ship; Greenland voyages cruise passenger tax; emergency evacuation insurance for all passengers to a maximum benefit of $500,000 per person*. Subject to change without notice.

Not Included:

Mandatory transfer package; international airfare; arrival and departure transfers, except where listed in the Mandatory Transfer Package; passport and visa expenses; government arrival and departure taxes not mentioned above; meals ashore unless otherwise specified; baggage, cancellation, interruption and medical travel insurance (strongly recommended); excess baggage fees on international flights; mandatory waterproof pants for Zodiac cruising or any other gear not mentioned; laundry, bar, beverage, and other personal charges unless specified; phone and internet charges; voluntary gratuity at end of voyage for shipboard staff and crew; additional overnight accommodation; any Adventure Options such as kayaking or paddling; fuel surcharge may apply.

*Emergency Evacuation Insurance:
Emergency evacuation coverage to a maximum benefit per paying passenger of $500,000 is included in the cost of this expedition. Included coverage is applicable only while traveling with the shipping company between the first and last day of the expedition. Additional days of travel prior to the expedition and/or after the expedition, including pre- and post-packages/hotels/flights, purchased from the shipping company or from suppliers other than the shipping company, are not covered by the included emergency evacuation insurance. We strongly advise all passengers to purchase medical, cancellation and baggage insurance, and additional emergency evacuation coverage.

PHOTOS: © Acacia Johnson, © Nicky Souness © Quark Expeditions

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