This is a trip I've wanted to do for a long time. There are not very many land tours to Greenland and those that do exist are prohibitively expensive. Likewise cruises. So when I stumbled over this cruise, I jumped on it as it included enough days in and around Greenland for a good look at the sights as well as continuing on to Canada's Atlantic Provinces, another section of the world with few opportunities for tourists. It also allowed me to spend a couple days in Copenhagen, Denmark, before the cruise began.
Before even setting out, I learned that one can't get directly to Greenland by air from the United States: the only scheduled flights originate in Denmark or Iceland...so one has to get to either of those countries first. Hence my stopover in Copenhagen—which was a pleasant interlude in good weather. After flying from Denmark to Kangerlussuaq, Greenland, we were met at the airport and immediately transferred to the ship...by zodiac! The Silversea cruise line is one I look at and drool, as they travel to some very out-of-the-way places; but they bill themselves as a "luxury, all-inclusive" experience. Which means big bucks. With 10 small ships, ranging from 100 to 600 passengers in "all-suite" accomodations, they are the cruise line of choice for older people with lots of money. Well, I'm 'older' and I'm cheap, so I probably won't be sailing with them again. My cabin was average size and layout —definitely not what I'd call a 'suite'; breakfast and lunch were buffets (granted, they had extensive choices and were very good); laundry and spa services had additional charges. So it was a very nice experience: good food (including one dinner with new friends Richard and David at the outdoor grill); comfortable cabin with unlimited Coca-Cola; really interesting port stops with good guides; and I finally saw the Northern Lights!
Greenland has been inhabited off and on for at least the last 4,500 years by Arctic peoples whose forebears migrated there from what is now Canada. Norsemen settled the uninhabited southern part of Greenland beginning in the 10th century, having previously settled in Iceland. These Norsemen would later set sail from Greenland and Iceland, with Leif Erikson becoming the first known European to reach North America nearly 500 years before Columbus reached the Caribbean islands. The Norse colonies disappeared in the late 15th century, and in the early 18th century, Danish explorers reached Greenland. Greenland became Danish in 1814, and was fully integrated in the Danish state in 1953 under the Constitution of Denmark. In 1979, Denmark granted home rule to Greenland, and in 2008, Greenlanders voted in favor of the Self-Government Act, which transferred more power from the Danish government to the local Greenlandic government. Local matters of policing, law, economic activity, aviation, border controls, and financial affairs are handled by the Greenlandic parliament, while the Danish government retains control of foreign affairs and defense. Denmark also retains control of monetary policy, providing an initial annual subsidy of DKK 3.4 billion, which is planned to diminish gradually over time.
Greenland is the world's largest non-continental island and the third largest country in North America; it is 81% covered by the largest ice sheet outside of Antarctica. All towns and settlements are along the ice-free coast, and several scientific stations are situated on the ice sheet itself. There are very few native land mammals, including polar bears, reindeer, musk ox, and lemmings; the surrounding sea is rich with hundreds of species of fish and marine mammals, including seals, walrus, and whales. Fishing accounts for the majority of economic activity and exports.
We visited two native Inuit villages and the capital, Nuuk, and approached the end of a glacier by zodiac. Bouncing around the choppy Davis Strait in a zodiac and getting up close and personal with icebergs and walruses was a memorable high point of the cruise. Not exactly loaded with tourist activities, Greenland is nevertheless a fascinating place to visit and fantasize about life at 35°F (2°C).
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6 Sep 2016.........Pittsburgh PIT— Washington Dulles IAD — London Heathrow LHR — Copenhagen CPH
9 Sep..................Copenhagen CPH — Kangerlussuaq, Greenland SFJ
9 Sep..................Kangerlussuaq, GR: Embark Silversea Silver Explorer
10 Sep..................Kangaamiut, GR; Evighedsfjord, GR
11 Sep..................Nuuk, GR
12 Sep..................Cruising Davis Strait
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