IN THE WAKE OF ERIC THE RED – FROM GREENLAND TO ICELAND
Join us on an expedition cruise from Kangerlussuaq to Reykjavík, which follows the same maritime course set by Norse settlers over a thousand years ago. In the Disko Bay, we will experience local folk dancing in Qeqertarsuaq and sail to the renowned Eqi Glacier.
Join us on an expedition cruise from Kangerlussuaq to Reykjavík, which follows the same maritime course set by Norse settlers over a thousand years ago. In the Disko Bay, we will experience local folk dancing in Qeqertarsuaq and sail to the renowned Eqi Glacier. At the Sermermiut Plain we will have the chance to admire the World Heritage Site of the Ilulissat Icefjord and the dazzling icebergs in the late evening sun. Further to the south along the western coast of Greenland, we will visit the capital of Greenland, one of the smallest in the world. Before heading north again along the spectacular east coast of Greenland, we will marvel at the narrow cliffs of the picturesque Prince Christian Sound and the charming silence of the undisturbed Skjoldungen Island. An enriching experience of Nordic culture and Arctic nature!
Day 1 KANGERLUSSUAQ FLIGHT AND EMBARKATION.
In the afternoon we board our chartered flight in Keflavik, Iceland or Copenhagen, Denmark, bound for Kangerlussuaq in Greenland (both flight options are available, please contact us for more information).
Upon arrival in Kangerlussuaq, 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 160-kilometer Kangerlussuaq fjord.
Day 2 SISIMIUT – EXPERIENCE GREENLAND’S SECOND-LARGEST CITY AT THE FOOT OF NASAASAAQ MOUNTAIN
After breakfast, we arrive to the colorful town of Sisimiut, where we will get an idea of what modern Greenland looks like. With 5,400 inhabitants, it is considered Greenland’s second ‘city’. People have lived around Sisimiut on and off since 2,500 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 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 center 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 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/3,280 feet 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, ‘KAFFEMIK’ IN A COMMUNITY CENTRE AND EQIP SERMIA GLACIER
Our next sojourn lies on the southern tip of the Disko Island, where Ocean Atlantic will anchor 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 the 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 center 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.
As the day draws to a closing, Ocean Atlantic will set a north-easterly course bound for a magnificent natural highlight – 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 CAPITAL OF THE ICEBERGS, ILULISSAT
Ilulissat is possibly the most well located 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 born some 70km/43,5 miles deeper into the fjord by the enormous Sermeq Kujalleq glacier. This 10km/6 miles-wide glacier is the most productive glacier outside of Antarctica; Whereas most glaciers only calve at a rate of approximately a metre/three feet a day, the Ilulissat glacier calves at a rate of 25m/82 feet per day. The icebergs produced by the glacier represent more than 10% of all icebergs in Greenland, corresponding to 20 million tons/22 million us tons of ice per day!
These facts, together with the fjord’s unforgettable scenery, have secured the Ice fjord 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 4,500 inhabitants. The town is very vibrant, welcoming and lively with a wide range of cultural attractions, according to Greenlandic standards.
Day 5 AT SEA
Listen to a lecture from our experienced expedition staff, see a film about Arctic nature – or go out on deck to catch glimpses of migrating birds and hopefully some whales.
Day 6 NUUK
During the night, we have cruised north to reach Nuuk in the morning. As we enter the Nuuk Fjord we have fair chances of encountering the area’s seasonal visitors: Humpback whales!
The world’s smallest capital is in Greenland considered by many a mighty metropolis – a total of 17,000 people live here today, almost a third of the country’s population.
The area has been inhabited back to 2200 BC by pre-Inuit hunters. From year 1000 to 1350 AD, the Icelandic Vikings and farmers settled in South Greenland and in the Nuuk Fjord, while at the same time Inuit hunters of the Thule culture moved south from North Greenland. The Nordic settlers disappeared around 1350 AD, but the Inuit stayed, being far better equipped to hunt and survive in the tough Arctic nature.
Modern history of Greenland began in 1721, when the Norse missionary Hans Egede founded a permanent colony and trading station near Nuuk. In fact, Egede’s main purpose to return to Greenland was to convert the Catholic northerners to Lutherans, but soon after his arrival he realized the Norse had disappeared, a mystery yet unresolved.
In 1979, the Landsting (Parliament) was established in Nuuk, and the town was finally recognized as the country’s capital.
In the afternoon, we will leave the capital and continue our southbound journey.
Day 7 IVITTUUT; FORMER CRYOLITE MINE AND POSSIBLE MUSCOX SIGTHING
We reach South Greenland and expect the reach Arsuk Fjord with the small settlement of the same name. But the important call here is the former cryolite mine at Ivituut, the only place in the world where this very special mineral was mined until depleted 30 years ago. Used in aluminum melting, the mineral became strategically important, and forced the Americans to set up bases in South Greenland to protect the supply during WW 2.
Day 8 QASSIARSUK, ERIC THE RED SETTLEMENT
Early in the morning we sailed into Eriksfjord, which in Tunisia is called Tunulliarfik. We throw anchor off Erik the Red’s Brattahlíð settlement, where the Qassiarssuk village is today. Here we see, among other things, a reconstruction of Tjodhildur’s church, which was the first church on the North American continent. There are also other ruins after the Norse people, which disappeared in the 1400s. Here one can really sense the path of history and wonder why the Norse people suddenly disappeared from Greenland.
It was from Brattahlíð that Erik and Tjodhildur’s son Leif Eriksson, about 1000, went west and discovered Baffin Island, the Labrador coast and Newfoundland, before returning to South Greenland a few years later. In the afternoon we sail out of Eriksfjord close to Qooroq Isfjord.
Day 9 PRINS CHRISTIAN SUND, WEST ENTRANCE CRUISSING
Kap Farvel, or Cape Farewell, is renowned not only as Greenland’s southernmost point, but also for its infamous, although mostly seasonal, gale-force winds.
We deliberately opt for a far more comfortable but at the same time more spectacular route, cruising via the inside passage through the Prince Christian Sound. This 60 km long waterway, from the settlement Aapilattoq in the heart of the fjordlands of South West Greenland to the Atlantic in the east.
Day 10 SKJOLDUNGEN, SOUTH ENTRANCE / MARIEDAL
The island of Skjoldungen is without doubt one of most beautiful areas in East Greenland. Situated at 63° N, the island is surrounded by narrow, steep fjords and glaciers, and with plenty of the cool, crisp and clean air of the ever present and nearby ice sheet. Still, we will find and experience a lush landscape and a milder climate than most would expect. Acclaimed Norwegian explorer Fridjof Nansen came here in late summer 1888 in search of a suitable ascension point for the first inland ice crossing.
Skjoldungen is also the name of an abandoned settlement, located on the southwest side of the island. Up to 100 people lived here until 1965, and some houses remain. We continue our journey to Dronning Marie Dal in the area’s northwestern corner to get a closer view of its interesting flora.
Day 11 AT SEA. CROSSING THE DENMARK STRAIT.
Our lecturers onboard will make inspiring and enriching presentations about both Iceland’s and Greenland’s history, nature, wildlife and climatology. A captain’s farewell drink and a slideshow of our voyage will also be presented this evening.
Day 12 REYKJAVÍK, ICELAND. DISEMBARKATION.
As our time in Greenland concludes, we slowly approach the Icelandic Capitol, Reykjavík, and your Arctic adventure will have concluded.
Ocean Atlantic is the perfect vessel for expedition cruising in Antarctic waters! Newly renovated in 2016 and with an international ice class rating of 1B, she is one of the strongest ships operating in Antarctica. Her high maneuverability, shallow draft and strong engines allow for extended voyages into isolated fjords, creating exciting adventures for any Antarctica traveler.
Ocean Atlantic is newly renovated (2016) with elegant common areas and accommodation for 198 passengers.
The ship was built in 1985 and underwent an extensive rebuild in 2010. With a length of 140m she has ample space on the multiple decks for several lecture halls, a relaxed restaurant serving 4-star international cuisine, professionally staffed bars and observation platforms – and even a pool.
All common areas on the Erickson Deck feature large panel windows, enabling passengers to quickly spot passing whales and photographic sights from the comfort of indoor lounges.
All private cabins are stylish appointed and feature individual bathroom facilities, phone for internal calls, individual temperature controls and TV. Ideal for relaxation, the vessels’ accommodation ranges in size from 11 – 35 m2 and are designed with either portholes or windows.
Daily shore landings at penguin rookeries, research stations and other Antarctic wonders are made possible by her fleet of 20 Zodiacs.
Year of construction 1985
Year of refurbishment 2016
Passenger capacity 198