An autonomous country within the Kingdom of Denmark, the huge island of Greenland lies to the Northeast of North America. In recent years this country has opened up to tourism with several companies offering Greenland cruises. Small communities of indigenous people can be found by the water's edge, whose prosperity has relied on fishing, hunting and small-scale farming, but with a tiny population of about 60,000 this is the least densely populated country in the world. Due to the vast size of Greenland and the infrastructure the best way to take a Greenland holiday is by cruise ship.
All towns and settlements of Greenland are situated along the ice-free coast, with the population being concentrated along the west coast.
Cruises tend to focus on Disko Bay and the south and southwest, and their focus is on the traditional Inuit communities, historic Viking settlements, and stunning mountain scenery, with breathtaking ice formations, and rugged fjords and mountains.
Most Greenland cruises start in Kangerlussuaq, which is usually reached by a specially chartered flight. Expedition ships such as Silversea's Silver Explorer, a Hurtigruten vessel or Compagnie du Ponant's Boreal offer Greenland cruises in the summer months.
Sometimes expedition cruise lines will schedule a one-off Northwest Passage cruise from Greenland, aiming to find a route through the moving pack-ice to the Pacific Ocean and northern Alaska disembarking in Nome. This extraordinary journey (occasionally you will also see it scheduled in the opposite direction) is particularly exciting because you can never be completely sure the journey will be successful, although in recent years the ice has clearly receded.
Cruise ships monitor the ice closely, and can call upon ice-breakers to help them through the passage if necessary. This is one of the last true adventures, following in the footsteps of Amundsen, the first explorer to find a northern route from the Atlantic to the Pacific.
Day 1 - Fly London to Vancouver. Overnight stay Vancouver
Day 2 - Fly Vancouver to Nome, Alaska. Board Hanseatic
Day 3 - Point Hope & Barrow. Visit the whaling settlement of Point Hope and whale watch in Barrow
Day 4 - At sea
Day 5-14 - Travelling the Northwest Passage from the Beaufort Sea into Lancaster Sound. Spot brown bears on Herschel Island, learn about the culture of the Inuit in Holman, see the spectacular coastline of Johansen Bay and Ross Point. Take a tour of the heritage of the Norwegian Arctic explorer Roald Amundsen in Cambridge Bay. Cruise the narrow passage of Peel Sound. All the time be on the lookout for polar bears!
Day 15 - Resolute & Beechey Island . See Resolute, ancient settlement of the Thule. Visit Beechey Island the resting place of the missing John Franklin Expedition
Day 16 - Dundas Harbor. This marks your successful journey through the Northwest Passage
Day 17 - At sea
Day 18 - Uummannaq, Greenland. Visit the quaint town of Uummannaq in the shadow of Uummannaq Mountain
Day 19 - Ilulissat (Jakobshavn), Greenland & cruising Disko Bay. Hike to the Ilulissat Icefjord. See drifting icebergs whilst cruising Disko Bay
Day 20 - Sisimiut. The chance to see whales and seals
Day 21 - Cruising in the Godthabfjord & Nuuk, Greenland. Cruise Godthabfjord one of the world's largest fjordlands. Visit Santa Claus post office near Nuuk
Day 22 - Qaqortoq & Hvalsey, Greenland. See Qaqortoq historic buildings and modern art and visit Viking ruins in Hvalsey
Day 23 - Cruising Prins Christian Sund
Day 24 - Cruising Skjoldungenfjord
Day 25 - At sea
Day 26 - Arrive Reykjavik. 1 night stay Reykjavik
Day 27 - Fly Reykjavik to London
The only time to go is during the summer time when the ice has thawed!
The temperatures will be low even in the height of summer and we recommend thermal layers, good quality sunglasses and high protection sunblock. The area will be particularly appealing to wildlife enthusiasts and photographers – bring binoculars, and ensure you have plenty of supplies of whatever photographic equipment you need, as you may not be able to find replacements locally.