You will remember a cruise in Greenland for a very long time. It reminded me very much of Antarctica but without the penguins! I went with Hurtigruten on their specialist ice cruising vessel MS Fram which operates five star adventure cruises in both polar regions.
Your trip to Greenland starts an hour before you land. So see if you can, get a window seat as you fly over the ice cap which is sea of glaciers, lakes and mountain peaks thrusting out from the snow like Pyramids from the sand to fully enjoy the spectacle.
MS Fram cruises along deep fiords, past massive icebergs, visiting towns and villages where life seems to have been unchanged for a very long time. Brightly coloured houses seem to hang on to cliffs by their fingernails but they hold communities where everyone is literally so very pleased to see you.
When you visit the world’s largest island in the summer the sun shines for 24 hours a day. So if you can’t sleep you just get up and watch the scenery and perhaps the whales passing by. We took a hike under the midnight sun with the calling of the Raven and Arctic Fox to keep us company.
The Inuit have hunted and fished here for centuries and although modern life is encroaching they still carry on their traditions with the Greenland sledge dogs tied up outside the houses in the summer waiting for the snow to come so they can pull their owners to work or visit friends.
Numerous excursions from helicopter rides over glaciers, to whale watching trips, local people coming on board to sing and dance for you and hikes of various difficulties and length to waterfalls and even Santa’s Hut are all on offer.
Greenland has some of the most staggering scenery anywhere from sandy deserts in the hills to frozen lakes and snow capped mountains but it is the icebergs that will mesmerise you more than anything else.
Indeed I chose to go on the excursion to the ice fiord and what an experience it was. I can’t recommend this two hour boat trip enough. We also visited the main settlement in the west, Ilulissat. We were very lucky to get there as the ice had just about melted enough for us to break through to enter the harbour. Last season 13 ships tried but couldn’t get through.
Ilulissat has souvenir shops and excursion trips but it also has a fabulous black church that looks striking against the ice and blue sky plus the largest glacier in the world outside Antarctica.
It is important to remember that although Fram is a lovely ship with an excellent crew, great food and service you are on an expedition cruise in remote areas of the world. Landings can be at a jetty in a harbour or on sandy or rocky beaches and if it’s too windy may not be made at all.
Having said that the rewards of a wet landing can be immense. The people of the tiny settlement of Ukkusissat came onboard to entertain us with singing and dancing and explaining their traditional costume. This was followed by us visiting them and seeing their way of life, talking to the children and being welcomed with a genuine warmth and affection. Many times I had no idea what they were saying and they not me but we managed to have a great time whilst we were there. The Inuit love to chuckle and laugh and that evening was no exception.
You will need to take sun cream and insect repellent as in many places on land the mosquitoes can be really irritable but it’s a small price to pay for such a superb cruise.
Silver Travel Advisor recommends Hurtigruten