North-West Greenland is the land of the midnight sun and the dog-sleds. The Disko Bay area offers amazing Arctic experiences with giant icebergs, seas and fjords that offer fantastic sailings with wildlife and spectacular landscapes to see. The colourful villages cling to rough, rocky hills at the foot of the mountains surrounding the inland ice. Whilst in North-West Greenland we will attempt to make daily landings for you to get a close and personal encounter with the authentic Greenland.
When conditions allow, excursions, kayaking, hikes or other activities on land and sea may be offered. Participation on any hike requires a good level of fitness, and that you are accustomed to hiking in uneven terrain.
Safety is always the first priority and the final sailing schedule will be decided by the ship’s Captain during the voyage. Below we list some of our possible landing sites, the final itinerary will be introduced during daily briefings.
Sisimiut has a population of about 5,200 inhabitants and is the second largest town in Greenland. The main trade is fishing, and the town accommodates a large fleet of trawlers, a shipyard and a fish factory. Sisimiut is the southernmost of the towns on the western coast of Greenland where sleigh dogs can be found. It is set in rolling countryside and the town centre lies at the foot of a steep hill.
On board you will get an introduction presentation of Sisimiut, to prepare you discovering the town on your own with the help of a city map. The Sisimiut Museum is a culture-historical local museum and its specialty is the Greenland trade, industry and shipping. The museum is housed in beautiful old buildings originating from the colonial period, situated close to the harbour. A local handicraft workshop is located close to the pier. A visit there holds opportunities to watch the artists make jewelry and arts from bone, leather and metal. They also exhibit and sell their works, and purchase is by cash only. In Sisimiut we offer a variety of optional excursions like hikes of various levels and a boat tour. If you prefer to stay in town we also arrange a sightseeing tour and a meal with Greenlandic specialties in a local restaurant.
Qeqertarsuaq is situated on the old volcanic island of Disko, and is the only town on the island. The town is set in wonderful surroundings at the foot of impressive Basalt Mountains. The Arctic Station is situated here, which is a part of the Copenhagen University studying Flora and Fauna in Greenland. During a landing our Expedition Team will take you on a guided walk over Rødeelv (the Red River) towards Blæsedalen (the Valley of the Winds). Walk through characteristic mountain heath to see flora specific to Disko Island. The hike starts from the landing site, passes by the stunning 900m high Skarvefjeld (Mountain of the Cormorant) and ends at the waterfall. During the walk you will have spectacular views to the seaside, where huge icebergs have stranded in the shallow waters. To learn more about life in Greenland you may join our optional excursion which includes a town walk with a local guide telling about the town itself, its history and inhabitants. If conditions allow this might also be the first opportunity to go kayaking with our Expedition Team, or maybe you prefer the optional ice cruising boat tour?
Qasigiannguit, also called “Pearl of the Disko Bay” is home to approximately 1.300 inhabitants. It is the second oldest town in Greenland and was founded in 1734. The oldest house is still in use, and friends for archaeology and history should definitely pay a visit to the local museum. Fishing and hunting are still the main source of income and the local fish factory is specialized in halibut and shrimps. The area of Qasigiannguit is rather green tundra and offers great outdoor activities. We would usually dock at the pier very close to the town centre.
You may stroll around the settlement on your own, or you can participate on our excursion which includes a settlement walk, entrance to museums and a visit to the church where the local choir will sing for you.
The town of Uummannaq is situated in scenic surroundings at the foot of the 1,170 meter tall, heart-shaped mountain on an island. The municipal borough of Uummannaq has a population of about 2,650 of whom 1,400 live in the town and the rest in the remaining 7 Settlements in the borough. Hunting and fishing are the main trades in the town, and the most important species of fish is the halibut. The halibut-processing factory is the town's major source of employment. There will be PolarCirkel boat transfer from the ship to Uummannaq.
The introduction on board will give you an overview of this charming town with the magnificent church built of huge granite blocks and the old turf house that was lived in until 1989. The town museum displays include replicas of the costumes of the famous Qilakitsoq mummies and collections of traditional arts and crafts, as well as a special exhibition about the expedition of the German meteorologist Alfred Wegener. Both the church and the museum have an entrance fee of approx 20 DKK. Uummannaq surprises with its charm and vivid atmosphere with dog yards, marina and cafes.
During our stay the Expedition Team will lead you on a hike along the “heart shaped mountain”.
The walk starts adjacent to the harbor and ascends through Uummannaq town, and veers off. Behind Uummannaq town is Santa Claus’ cabin which, it is said, he uses to build up his strength for the stressful Christmas month and your ‘wish lists’ can be left here for him! Be warned, as the last part of this hike navigates through some steep terrain and for those not accustomed to hiking in hilly places, you may wish to sit and enjoy the views overlooking Uummannaq and Santa’s cabin. During the hike you get a sense of how small the Island is and you will be surprised by the rich flora of this area. From the cabin you will have a marvelous view of the sea towards Nuussuaq Peninsula.
When you join our optional excursion in Uummannaq you will meet one of the locals who will tell an interesting story about everyday life in Greenland. The story will be in Greenlandic, and translated to English and Scandinavian. You are welcomed to interact by asking questions. One alternative is to take our PolarCirkle boat-excursion that includes a landing at Qilakitsoq where the mummies from the Thule era are were found.
We will be calling Ukkusissat in the evening. This settlement is set in wonderful scenery nestling between the magnificent mountains of the municipal borough of Uummannaq. There are about 150 inhabitants in the settlement, all of whom make a living from hunting and fishing. Ukkusissat was named after a nearby soapstone deposit which has been mined by Inuit craftsmen for centuries, using the much sought-after soft stone to produce oil lamps, pots and pans. Ukkusissat was also a starting point of Alfred Wegeners expedition with horses.
Going ashore in Ukkusissat requires the use of the ship's PolarCirkel boats.
The locals await us at the pier when we arrive, and they will entertain us onboard with song and dance, before proudly welcoming us to their village. You may stroll around on your own, and please drop by the community house where they offer coffee, homemade cakes, local souvenirs and a nice chat.
Illorsuit lies north of Ukkusissat at the mouth of the Uummannaq Fjord. There are
only around 90 people living in the settlement- showing a decreasing rate in population for the past few years. It is a traditional hunting and fishing community. You may find that many houses dry whale meat and fish on the front porch- right next to the laundry. It is a place rarely visited by tourists so we are probably as much an attraction to the locals as their village is to us? We will land in Illorsuit with our PolarCirkel boats and make an included settlement visit.
Upernavik is “the place of spring”, where for centuries; the locals have migrated in spring to take advantage of the rich hunting grounds. The settlement lies at N72° 47 and W 56° 10 in the Melville Bay in north-west Greenland. The town has approximately 1100 inhabitants. As all is of small size, everything is in walking distance. Well worth a visit is the northernmost open air museum. Climate change is evident here: The sea does not freeze for many months until February/March these days and then only for a short period of time. Many of the local population still goes hunting and fishing- keep your eyes open when walking through town for a polar bear or seal skin! Wildlife is abundant in the area.
We try to get as far north as Upernavik- or might be stopped by the ice earlier and enjoy cruising.
If we reach Upernavik and the conditions allow, we will make a town visit using our PolarCirkel boats.
Qullissat is an old, now abandoned mining settlement on Disko Island. It was originally not a traditional Inuit settlement. It was founded in 1924 as a coal mining town, and in its heydays had 1.200 inhabitants. The coal mine attracted a multinational population, with Danes, Swedes and Brits working in the mines beside Greenlanders. The mine operated for 48 years until 1972, when the economic base of the settlement collapsed, leading to its abandonment.
Sometimes, hunters still use the houses of Qullissat while others use them as holiday homes. It is very nice to walk through the settlement on your own. We will set our PolarCirkel boats on the water and make a landing.
The glacier Eqip Sermia has a terminus about 5km long that calve icebergs into the open ocean. Today you have an outstanding possibility to experience a glacier and sense the greatness of nature. We will use the ship's tender boats to go ashore in this beautiful area near by the glacier. Whilst ashore you will have spectacular views to the glacier, and if you sit down on a silent spot you might hear the cracking noises from the ice. If you feel like being more active, you may take a small hike on your own in the area.
Icebergs are called Ilulissat in Greenlandic, and it comes as no surprise to anyone who has been here that this is the town’s name. This is the third largest town in Greenland with a population of about 5,000. Ilulissat is set in marvelous surroundings at Ilulissat Isfjord that in 2004 was inscribed to the UNESCO World Heritage List. Here enormous icebergs run aground at the mouth of the fjord, just outside of town. They originate from the Jakobshavn Glacier, one of the most productive glaciers in the northern hemisphere. Ilulissat is the metropolitan centre of the Disko Bay area and this aspect will be the theme of the town visit, together with the town's long-standing history. The most important trades in Ilulissat are fishing and tourism. The conditions determine whether MS Fram can use the PolarCirkel boats.
Ilulissat holds the busy life of a bigger town and also the house where Knud Rasmussen was born. In the museum you find the extensive collection from Knud Rasmussens expeditions and the history of Ilulissat. During our stay the Expedition Team will take you on a guided hike to the abandoned settlement of Sermermiut, which is situated 1.5 kilometres south of the town.
We also offer variety of optional shore excursions including hikes, town walk and a boat tour to the ice fjord. Based on availability of a plane or helicopter, a flight excursion might be offered last minute on board.
In the early afternoon we reach the small settlement Itilleq. Itilleq means “the hollow” and was first founded in 1847 on another island, but was later moved one kilometer east to its present location. The village is located about 50km south of Sisimiut in the head of the Itilleq Fjord. Around 130 people live here, who are mainly engaged in hunting and fishing. The island has no freshwater, and for this reason Itilleq makes use of a desalination facility. The church here has and interesting history: It was built in Thule (Umanak- North Greenland) in 1930 and was moved to Itilleq in 1963.
As its name suggests, the village is situated in a hollow, majestically surrounded by high mountains and glaciers. It can truthfully be called the Arctic Circle Village as the Arctic Circle is indeed found only 200 metres to the south. In Itilleq you will be invited for a “kaffemik” which means that you are welcome to visit a local home, talk with the host, and have a piece of cake and a coffee, but we request that you only stay 20 minutes. It is expected to remove your shoes before entering a home. Arts and crafts are for sale in the village (cash only). Please feel free to visit the library and the school. When conditions allow, we might set up an optional kayak excursion for those interested in exploring the Arctic Circle area from the seaside.
Watch out for a soccer game- Itilleq vs. MS Fram! We need players- and supporters!