Arctic Indulgence: Sipping Bubbles on a Glam Greenland Cruise
Arctic Indulgence: Sipping Bubbles on a Glam Greenland Cruise - Sailing Through Iceberg Alley
One of the highlights of a Greenland cruise is sailing through Iceberg Alley. This sea route takes you along the island's scenic southwest coast, an area dense with mammoth icebergs that have calved off the mighty glaciers. During the summer months, hundreds of icebergs float down from the Greenland Ice Cap through Disko Bay before drifting out into the Labrador Sea. The sight of these majestic frozen giants is an incredible experience.
As your expedition ship navigates Iceberg Alley, you'll want to spend as much time as possible out on deck viewing the icy spectacle. The diversity of shapes and sizes is astounding. Some icebergs resemble magical frozen castles with spires and turrets. Others look like drifting abstract sculptures or massive diamonds sparkling in the Arctic sun. The intricate blue hues in the ice are dazzling, ranging from pale aquamarine to a deep twilight blue.
You'll have plenty of great spots on deck to photograph the icebergs from different angles. Don't miss the opportunity to capture them against backdrop mountainscapes or with reflections in the calm, mirror-like water. The icebergs take on an entirely different grandeur at night, lit up eerily by the midnight sun.
Up on the top deck, scans for wildlife sightings are a constant activity. Keep your binoculars handy to spot seals, whales, Arctic foxes, and seabirds around the icebergs. And if you're lucky, you may witness calving - when chunks of ice split off and crash into the sea. The sound is like thunder and the splash enormous.
Small expedition ships are best for navigating Iceberg Alley since they can weave through tight spaces between the bergs. Kayaking amid the frozen drifts is another memorable experience offered on Greenland sailings. Gliding silently by the towering icy walls in a one-person kayak is humbling and magical.
During your transit through Iceberg Alley, interesting presentations by the onboard expedition staff will give you a deeper understanding of these frozen giants. Topics may cover how icebergs form, drift ocean currents, climate impacts, iceberg structure, and wildlife ecosystem relationships.
What else is in this post?
- Arctic Indulgence: Sipping Bubbles on a Glam Greenland Cruise - Sailing Through Iceberg Alley
- Arctic Indulgence: Sipping Bubbles on a Glam Greenland Cruise - Dog Sledding Across the Tundra
- Arctic Indulgence: Sipping Bubbles on a Glam Greenland Cruise - Visiting Colorful Villages Along the Coast
- Arctic Indulgence: Sipping Bubbles on a Glam Greenland Cruise - Delicious Local Cuisine on Board
- Arctic Indulgence: Sipping Bubbles on a Glam Greenland Cruise - Polar Bear Spotting from the Deck
- Arctic Indulgence: Sipping Bubbles on a Glam Greenland Cruise - Kayaking Among the Fjords
- Arctic Indulgence: Sipping Bubbles on a Glam Greenland Cruise - Seeing the Northern Lights Over the Ocean
Arctic Indulgence: Sipping Bubbles on a Glam Greenland Cruise - Dog Sledding Across the Tundra
Gliding across Greenland's icy tundra behind a pack of energetic sled dogs is an iconic Arctic experience and highlight of many cruises. On busy days in Disko Bay, you may see dozens of dog sledding teams training for the annual Arctic winter races. From the deck, you'll hear the dogs howling excitedly as the mushers ready their teams.
Dog sledding originated centuries ago with the Inuit as a practical means of winter transportation and remains an integral part of Greenlandic culture. When you choose to take a dog sledding excursion ashore, you'll gain an appreciation for the skill required to handle these powerful packs. With a shared sled holding two passengers, plus the musher, you'll be whisked across the terrain while the eager dogs strain against their harnesses.
Sailing around Disko Bay and up the west coast, you'll have opportunities to sled at Arctic outposts like Ilulissat, Sisimiut, and Uummannaq. Wrapped in provided extreme weather gear, you'll stay comfortable despite the windchill as your sled whooshes along at about 15 mph. The hissing of the blades on the snow and occasional dog yelps are the only sounds except for your pounding heart. Trust the musher's experience to navigate any hairpin turns and obstacles.
After instruction, you may even get the chance to drive the sled yourself for a short stretch. The terrain is beginner-friendly, but controlling a pack of super-athlete dogs takes skill. Each husky-mix pulls with about 10 times the strength of an average human, so holding tight to the sled ropes is critical. Let the dogs set the pace and use the anchors to slow down gradually.
Exhilarated after surviving your first run zipping across the Arctic, you'll have a newfound appreciation of mushing as a challenging sport. Be sure to spend time petting and thanking your hardworking canine team for the incredible ride. Some operators even let you play with adorable Greenlandic sled dog puppies back at their facilities.
Arctic Indulgence: Sipping Bubbles on a Glam Greenland Cruise - Visiting Colorful Villages Along the Coast
Dotting Greenland’s craggy coastline are picturesque villages where you can experience traditional Inuit culture. When sailing the west coast, don’t miss the chance to step ashore and immerse yourself in daily village life that has continued much the same for generations.
In the UNESCO-listed Ilulissat, the island’s third largest town, wander past colorful wooden homes and visit the kayak-building workshop. Chat with the skilled craftsmen as they construct the traditional seal-hunting boats entirely by hand using materials from the land. Meander down to the harbor to watch Inuit fishermen heading out for the day and take in the bustle of village activity against the stunning Disko Bay backdrop.
Further north, the remote settlement of Uummannaq, with its iconic heart-shaped mountain, offers an even more intimate glimpse into a traditional hunting and fishing community. As your expedition ship anchors in the natural harbor, Inuit villagers will arrive by boat to welcome visitors. Friendly local guides provide walking tours to showcase Uummannaq’s natural beauty and teach about their ancestral way of life. Visit the small church, outdoor fish racks, and handicraft market to interact with artisans carving horns and antlers.
In the tiny town of Illoqqortoormiut, be inspired as you meet youth keeping their heritage alive through song and dance. Costumed performances on the tundra showcase drum dancing passed down for generations. Elders share wisdom, oral histories, and chants passed down through the ages. Watch throat singing displays and join in traditional drumming as a way to connect with Inuit spirituality.
A highlight for many Arctic cruisers is time in the UNESCO-designated Aasivissuit, a deserted 19th-century Inuit settlement filled with the ruins of turf houses. As you contemplate the sustainable existence of hunting communities long ago, Inuit guides give unique insight into the daily routines and survival skills of their ancestors. They demonstrate traditional tools like harpoons and ulu knives and explain customs around whale hunting.
Arctic Indulgence: Sipping Bubbles on a Glam Greenland Cruise - Delicious Local Cuisine on Board
Indulging in Greenlandic cuisine is a highlight of sailing the Arctic region. Onboard chefs expertly prepare locally-sourced dishes that provide a tasty treat for passengers - as well as offer insight into traditional Inuit food culture. Using fresh-caught seafood, foraged greens, and game hunted ashore, the meals showcase the bounty of the land and sea.
According to cruisers who have dined their way around Greenland, the local specialties are outstanding. From silky smoked halibut and char tartare to sweet muskox stew, the indigenous ingredients shine. Seared narwhal medallions and minke whale carpaccio are rare indulgences. Chefs often fuse contemporary techniques with Arctic flavors, such as delicately poaching Arctic char in brown butter.
Caribou appears frequently on menus and exploring various preparations is a must. Savor tender caribou fillets brushed with juniper berry sauce or slow-braised caribou osso bucco-style with root vegetables. For those feeling more adventurous, campfire-style BBQ caribou ribs deliver robust, earthy flavors.
When sailing during late summer, Arctic hare, ptarmigan, reindeer, and goose brought back by expedition landings make their way to the dinner table. Foraged berries like crowberry and bakeapple are used in creative desserts. By late September, muskox, seal, and even polar bear may show up as cruise operators obtain hunting permits from local communities.
On Arctic foodie cruses, guest chefs like New Nordic pioneer Claus Meyer have been known to come aboard to offer cooking demos and special tasting menus. Lectures teach about indigenous foraging and preservation methods. Mixology classes feature creative cocktails made with local berries and herbs.
Meals often begin with a spread of Greenlandic appetizers to sample. Cured and sliced narwhal blubber has a tender melt-in-your-mouth texture. Dried capelin recall salty ocean essence. For the daring, kiviaq - fermented auk stuffed inside a hollowed out seal - offers extreme funky flavors.
To appreciate the true Arctic dining experience, courageous cruisers book special cultural culinary shore excursions. You may be welcomed into a village home to share in a traditional Inuit meal. Sip piping hot seal or whale broth as locals discuss their family hunting traditions. Taste drying fish, herbs, and muktuk - raw whale skin and blubber. Lifting the veil on time-honored food customs rewards with new perspectives on local life.
Arctic Indulgence: Sipping Bubbles on a Glam Greenland Cruise - Polar Bear Spotting from the Deck
One of the most thrilling aspects of an Arctic cruise is the chance to spot majestic polar bears in their natural habitat. From the comfort of your ship's deck, you can scan for these enormous white carnivores without disturbing them. With some luck and persistence, you may witness them hunting, swimming, or ambling across the tundra.
Polar bear sightings bring immeasurable excitement on any Greenland expedition. The world's largest land carnivores, polar bears are both adorable and lethal - an irresistible combination. Found across the Arctic, about 15,000 roam Greenland's remote northeast coast. As the sea ice where they hunt continues melting earlier each spring, more bears come ashore looking for food.
This increases the odds you'll see them from onboard. Reports indicate the chances have significantly improved in recent years, especially when sailing sections like Scoresby Sound. Fellow cruisers share accounts of multiple sightings per day in places like Milne Land. But nothing is guaranteed with wildlife. Some crossings log no bear observations, while others report over twenty.
Patience and persistence are key for success. Plan to spend hours bundled up on deck scanning with binoculars. Set up a comfortable observation point with your camera and lens ready. The crew and expedition staff will work hard to spot bears and alert passengers over the PA when one is sighted. But having many extra sets of eyes scanning maximizes opportunities.
When a polar bear is spotted, excitement instantly spreads as people rush for viewing positions. The bridge will maneuver the ship closer but regulations prevent disturbing the bears by approaching too near. Using the zoom on long camera lenses or binoculars, you can still take in plenty of details as the bear ambles along, seemingly oblivious.
Seeing a polar bear gracefully swim across a frigid fjord is an exceptional thrill. If conditions allow safe zodiac deployment, you may even view them up close on excursions led by trained field guides. But for many cruisers, observing polar bears roaming free and undisturbed from the comfort of the deck is the ideal wildlife encounter.
Patience can pay off with remarkable experiences like watching a mother polar bear lead her cubs. Some travelers get lucky and witness rare sights like bears sparring over a whale carcass. On ultra-fortunate voyages, the ship may sail through bear “traffic jams” when a large concentration gathers to feed. Photos snapped by cruisers of massive males blocking the landing spot provoke equal parts awe and anxiety.
Arctic Indulgence: Sipping Bubbles on a Glam Greenland Cruise - Kayaking Among the Fjords
Slipping through frigid Arctic waters in a one-person kayak delivers an up-close perspective of Greenland's breathtaking fjords that can't be matched. Unlike viewing the rugged landscape from the ship's deck, paddling puts you at sea level, where the sights, sounds, and solitude have a powerful impact. As expedition cruisers attest, kayaking among the fjords is a soul-stirring experience that connects you intimately with the unique wilderness.
Gliding silently by mammoth icebergs, you'll appreciate their towering magnitude and chance to admire the intricate details of shape, texture, and color variations up close. Getting near the actively calving glaciers allows you to hear dramatic chunks of ancient ice crashing down thunderously. Carefully navigating the kayak through brash ice floating down fjords gives new respect for the power of the grinding glaciers.
The solitude out on the water contrasts profoundly with the buzzing activity of landings. Fellow cruisers describe the absolute peacefulness of dipping your paddle among house-sized bergs with no sound except for the occasional drip of melting ice. The relaxing paddling rhythm clears your mind, allowing you to soak in the tranquil Arctic beauty that surrounds you.
Arctic Indulgence: Sipping Bubbles on a Glam Greenland Cruise - Seeing the Northern Lights Over the Ocean
One of the most magical experiences on an Arctic cruise is witnessing the dazzling northern lights illuminate the night skies. Unlike viewing the aurora from land, seeing this astronomical phenomenon shimmer above the open ocean provides an added level of grandeur and amplification. Fellow cruisers who have been fortunate enough to experience the celestial light show at sea describe it as utterly spellbinding.
The combination of crisp Arctic air, lack of light pollution, and open ocean vistas creates ideal conditions for northern lights viewing while sailing coastal Greenland. Being rocked gently aboard a ship gazing upward with no obstructions provides a phenomenal perspective of the aurora dancing across the heavens unencumbered. The dark, reflective ocean surface accentuates the vivid colors undulating above like a giant cosmic mirror.
Veteran expedition travelers advise dressing as warmly as possible before heading out on deck for a northern lights vigil. Apply lessons learned during daytime wildlife viewing - set up a comfortable observation point, stash hand and foot warmers nearby, and bring along a thermos of hot beverage. Vigilant passengers report catching the first hint of green flickers along the horizon before the phenomenon intensifies.
As excitement builds, join fellow aurora chasers around the ship to admire nature's spectacular light show in shared wonder. Watching the northern lights shimmer above the ship and reflect below on the glassy sea creates an almost trance-like experience cruisers describe as unforgettable. Seeing them illuminate majestic icebergs and glaciers with an ethereal glow takes the experience to an even higher level.
On especially lucky and prolonged displays, passengers share stories of the entire deck lighting up with cameras attempting to capture the magic. Hearing the clicking shutters, joyful laughter, and ooohs and aaahs of your fellow northern lights revelers heightens the communal spectacle. Back inside, enthusiastic aurora hunters eagerly swap stories and photos reliving the events late into the night.