Disko Bay - Arctic 2024
Next DepartureAug. 16, 2024
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, Air Safari, Boat, Kayaking, Lectures, Zodiac
Join a majestic adventure in Greenland and experience summer in the Arctic, complete with gigantic icebergs, settlement visits, the stunning Eqi Glacier and Greenland in a changing climate.
Travelling by sea is still the best way to experience Greenland. The places most worth seeing are situated along the dramatic coastline: small and colourful houses resting on the steep mountainsides down to a fjord, giant glaciers producing enormous icebergs, meanwhile, whales and seals play in the sea. And only a few minutes' hike away, you will find yourself totally isolated, surrounded by wilderness. The people of Greenland live along the coast in small towns and settlements – in summer, only accessible from the sea. Their culture, architecture and living conditions are enriched and limited by the harsh nature of the Arctic. On our town visits, you can meet hospitable Greenlanders and learn more about the Inuit culture.
But global warming is changing Greenland’s arctic environment at an alarming rate. On this 8-day voyage to Disko Bay and Uummannaq, we follow the tracks of scientists and decision-makers to see with our own eyes the retreating glaciers and gasp at the thought of losing them. During our third day of the cruise, we visit the Danish Research Station on Disko Island.
The expedition concept means we will utilize Zodiacs for beach landings and enjoy nature hikes to get close to receding glaciers.
We reach our northernmost point at the fabulous town of Uummannaq. Before heading southbound, we attempt to make a Zodiac landing at Eqip Sermia, a giant retreating glacier and visit Ilulissat, the 'Iceberg Capital of the World'. Our last visit is to the small Inuit settlement of Sarfannguit. Back in Kangerlussuaq, we disembark and make our way back to Iceland or Denmark.
Unforgettable experiences await you in Greenland!
Facts about Disko Bay - Arctic 2024
Iceland or Copenhagen - Kangerlussuaq
Welcome to Greenland!
Guests not participating in any excursions can take a stroll around the town on their own until embarkation time at the late afternoon.
After finishing the day’s excursion, we will transfer to the harbour and board the ship by Zodiacs that ferry us in small groups to the ship anchored about one kilometre out into the fjord. After checking in, there will be a short safety demonstration before dinner is served in the lovely dining room. We will set sail on our voyage after dinner and begin our passage through the 160 km-long fjord and out into the ocean.
NB. Your luggage will be transfered to the ship directly from the airport, so please pack any items you might need during the first day, in your carry-on. We suggest that you pack a waterproof jacket to wear as we are ferried to the ship on our Zodiaccs, which are open to the elements.
Sisimiut - experience Greenland's second-largest city
After breakfast, we arrive to the colourful 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 back 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 can include the historic colonial quarter, as well as the museum and the beautiful church. Additionally, we are planning to pay a visit to the busy city centre 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 should 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 are set to 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-metre/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.
Qeqertarsuaq on Disko Island
Below Disko Island’s 1,000-metre tall mountains, we pull into port in a protected natural harbour. The place is aptly named Godhavn (“Good harbour”) in Danish, while its Greenlandic name “Qeqertarsuaq” simply means “The Big Island”.
Up to 1950 Godhavn was the most important town north of Nuuk, the main town of Greenland, solely because of the many whales that the whaling boats towed here from Disko Bay. This bestowed the town with much wealth, starting already in the 16th century. The town is now on its way to oblivion as it gets harder and harder to find work, and because of the infrequent connections to the mainland. We walk through town to the characteristic, octagonal church, nicknamed “the inkpot of God”. During our stay in Qeqertarsuaq, we might visit the local community.
Uummannaq and a walking tour of one of Greenland's most beautifully located towns.
When you wake up this morning, you should find yourself in one of Greenland’s most beautiful and sunny regions. The ship is set to reach Uummannaq, situated on a small island. The impressive 1,175 metre heart-shaped mountain has given the town its name - Uummannaq means ‘place where the heart is’. There should be enough time to explore the city before heading back to the ship for lunch.
Uummannaq was founded as a colony in 1758 on the Nuussuaq mainland, but shortly thereafter, in 1763, it was moved to the nearby island, as seal hunting was more bountiful here. On our walk along the town’s steep streets we visit the historic train-oil building, built in 1860. Inside its yellow walls, whale and seal blubber used to be stored. Because of the horrid stench, the blubber was not boiled here, but well outside town! Behind the train-oil storage we will find a peat hut, which was still in use a few years ago.
The dry and settled arctic climate has around 2,000 hours of sunshine and 100 millimetres of precipitation per year, giving Uummannaq the right to call itself the Greenlandic Riviera!
The calving Eqip Sermia glacier and evening walking tour to the Sermermiut plain in the capital of icebergs, Ilulissat
In the morning the cruise ship should have reached a magnificent natural highlight - the calving Eqip Sermia glacier. We plan to enjoy lunch on the sun deck with this magnificent natural wonder in the background.
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.
In the afternoon we will head for Ilulissat, where we berth in the evening and go for a night walk to the Sermermiut plain.
If the sea ice is too dense between the Ataa fjord and the Eqi glacier, the captain will have to select a different route today. In this case, the itinerary will be adjusted accordingly and we might, for example, pay a visit to the abandoned coal mine at Qullissat or visit the settlement of Saqqaq.
Ilulissat - optional Airzafari ride or boat trip to the Ice Fjord
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 70 kilometres/43,5 miles deeper into the fjord by the enormous Sermeq Kujalleq glacier. This 10 kilometre/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 25 metres/82 feet per day. The icebergs produced by the glacier represent more than 10% of all icebergs in Greenland, corresponding to roughly 20 million tonnes of ice per day!
These facts, together with the fjord’s unforgettable scenery, 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 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.
The legendary polar explorer, Knud Rasmussen, and his good friend, Jørgen Brønlund, were both born in Ilulissat. On this day, you will also have the opportunity to join a boat trip to the Icefjord (price not included). The journey takes about two and a half hours in total. It's a great opportunity to take 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 have warm clothing on!
If a hike or a trip by boat does not present enough excitement, there is also an opportunity to arrange a flightseeing ride over the Icefjord (price not included).
Please note the boat and flightseeing excursions to the Icefjord are not included in the general tour price. Furthermore, the flightseeing excursion must be booked in advance. Refer to Price Information for more details. In the evening, we will cruise southward from “the Iceberg Capital”, leaving lovely Disko Bay behind us as we part.
The settlement of Sarfannguit
The settlement of Sarfannguit, which translates to "the place of the little stream” is an appropriate name for a settlement nestled at the foothills of the mountains and glaciers in the distant backcountry. The settlement’s slightly more than 100 residents live off hunting, trapping and fishing, most often in pursuit of arctic char, reindeer and musk oxen.
Although Sarfannguit is quite remote, it lies within a few hours from Sisimiut, the second-largest town in Greenland. The accessibility to such a large town provides an indispensable economic benefit to a small community like Sarfannguit.
The planned stroll through the settlement offers insight into rural life in today’s Greenland, where modern conveniences and technological advancements, such as internet and smart phones have become commonplace, yet locals still place great value on important customs and preserving their traditions and their Inuit heritage.
We are planning to continue our journey toward the fjord of Kangerlussuaq, also known as Sondre Stromfjord. Especially the first part of the fjord gives a great opportunity to enjoy an impressive passage with panoramic views of high mountains and deep valleys.
Kangerlussuaq. Optional sightseeing in Kangerlussuaq
During the night, we will have completed our passage through the 160-kilometre/100 mile 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.
Due to Kangerlussuaq’s military history and present-day role as an important air travel hub, Kangerlussuaq remains fairly isolated from Greenland’s rich cultural traditions, in comparison to other regions. While you still find cultural experiences when visiting Kangerlussuaq, the most impressive attraction is the surrounding nature, which is just beckoning to be explored.
It is not difficult for one to see that Kangerlussuaq’s landscape has largely been shaped by the last glaciation period, often known simply as the “Ice Age,” some 18,000 years ago. The mountains are rounded and soft, and many meltwater lakes remain. From the inland ice sheet, best known as the Greenland Ice Sheet, the meltwater cuts its way through the porous moraine landscape and flows into Kangerlussuaq Fjord.
Kangerlussuaq’s present-day climate is largely influenced by its well-sheltered location between Greenland’s Ice Sheet, the fjord and mountains. This contributes to its stable conditions, minimal cloud cover and roughly 300 clear nights per year.
This close proximity to the Ice Sheet, combined with the continental climate, is also of great significance to the local conditions. The dry climate, combined with warm winds that “fall” from the Ice Sheet, can result in temperatures that jump up to 30°C (86°F) in the summer, but then fall to an extreme -40°C (-40°F) in winter, making it the coldest inhabited area in Greenland.
Return by flight from Kangerlussuaq to Iceland or Denmark.
- 8-day/7-night cruise on Ocean Albatros in a shared outside double room with a private bathroom in the category chosen
- Flights: Iceland or Denmark – Kangerlussuaq round trip
- Local transport in Kangerlussuaq on days 1 and 8
- English-speaking expedition staff
- Guided walks with the expedition team
- Nature hikes and Zodiac cruises per itinerary
- Information briefings and lectures by the expedition team
- 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
- Special photo workshop
- Full board on the ship
- Dinner drink package
- Free coffee, tea, and afternoon snacks on the ship
- Welcome and farewell cocktails
- Taxes, tariffs, and landing fees
- Digital visual journal link after the voyage, including voyage log, gallery, species list, and more
- Extra excursions and activities not mentioned in the itinerary
- Single room supplement and cabin upgrades
- Meals not on board the ship
- Beverages (other than coffee and tea and dinner-drink package)
- Tips for the crew (we recommend USD 14 per person per day)
- Personal expenses
- Travel, cancellation, and senior insurance
- Anything not mentioned under ’Inclusions’
- Sisimiut - Experience Greenland'S Second-Largest City
- Qeqertarsuaq On Disko Island
- Uummannaq And A Walking Tour Of One Of Greenland'S Most Beautifully Located Towns.
- The Calving Eqip Sermia Glacier And Evening Walking Tour To The Sermermiut Plain In The Capital Of Icebergs, Ilulissat
- The Settlement Of Sarfannguit
- Ilulisat, the Iceberg Capital of Greenland
Please keep in mind, the itinerary and outdoor activities during each voyage are solely dependent on weather and operational conditions to ensure the safety and quality of experience of our guests. The route and shore landings will be determined by the captain and expedition leader and communicated to guests through regularly scheduled briefings. Albatros Expeditions reserves the right to modify the landings and locations visited during a voyage based on weather and local conditions and climate to ensure a safe and delightful experience for all our guests and staff. Our trips are expeditionary in nature, and thus changes to timings are common place due to the environment we operate in as well as wildlife opportunities and locations.