​GREENLAND CRUISE

COMPLETE GUIDE TO ​EXPEDITION CRUISES IN GREENLAND

Our aim in this section is to give you all the information you need to choose your perfect Greenland cruise. Greenland is an amazing cruise destination and we know you'll love every minute!

Because you are here, you may have even booked your cruise already and want to get some more information - if so, great! We provide all sorts of information from insurance to clothing required.

To help you get started, we have written a guide below of all the most frequently asked questions we get regarding Greenland cruises. To get the most out of this page we suggest reading from the start.

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Expedition Cruise do not sell tours, we simply provide impartial advice. If you would like an exact quote from our recommended specialist click Get a Quote.

​Greenland Cruise: The Complete Guide

​Overview

The largest non continental island on earth, Greenland has attracted cruise goers for many years now. The old travellers’ saying goes “When you've seen the world, there's always Greenland.” This statement becomes far more clear when you arrive on the glacier laden island, rich in beautiful fjords and rugged mountain scenery.

Greenland is actually an autonomous country within the Danish Realm and, like a number of Arctic regions, experiences 24 hours of daylight during the high summer period. The rich cultural mix of Inuit and Danish heritage adds another element to Greenland cruises and history lovers will love the old stories of vikings and battle!

Covered by the only permanent ice sheet outside Antarctica, the Greenland ice sheets create enormous icebergs that push out to sea, forming incredible shapes that visitors marvel at.The wildlife is also something visitors marvel at with huge musk ox roaming the tundra grasslands and large sea tales soaring above the cliffs.

Whether its photography, wildlife, history or geography, there is something for everyone in Greenland. One of the least understood landscapes in the Arctic, Greenland is a must-see for anyone wishing to experience the unknown and visit a region that few people ever encounter.

If you're serious about seeing all that Greenland has to offer, there is really no better way than by boat!

​Best Time To Cruise ​Greenland

​Because Greenland is such a large country, the weather patterns do change from one side to another.

That being said, the winter is cold throughout the country with temperatures well below freezing.

Cruises rarely visit during this period and most people will visit Greenland during the warmer summer when temperatures hang around the 10 degree celsius mark.

​Summer

During May temperatures start to creep above freezing and cruises begin in earnest during June.

Early summer is a lovely time to visit due to the warmer temperatures and lack of rain. The high summer period the most popular and excellent for hiking and shore excursions. Wildlife is in full swing during this period and you'll be able to spot the sea birds, making life, musk ox and reindeer fairly easily. 

This is the period of the midnight sun and photographers will be able to make the most of the beautiful light during the night time hours.

​Winter

​Whilst the summer season is by far the most popular time to take a Greenland cruise, there are a few companies that offer winter cruises to see the beautiful Northern Lights.

The light displays are spectacular in Greenland where there is very little light pollution and photographers will have excellent opportunities for bright and clear shots. 

This is also a great time to try dog sledding!

​Types of Expedition Ships

​​Choosing the right ship to suit your needs is key.

Large luxury ships offer many comforts, but will struggle to navigate the smaller passages. There will also be longer queues for shore landings.

Smaller ships will be able to navigate smaller inlets and you will get more shore landings over your cruise time.

However, you'll feel the motion of the sea more and the facility are often far more basic than on the larger sips.


​Research Vessels

Research vessels ​are for the budget travelers. This is not say you won't still get a great cruise expereince. 

​The two main research vessels that offer Greenland itineraries are the Akademik Vavilov and the Plancius.

Both ships offer basic accommodation and facilities, but give you great extra activity options such as kayaking and fishing!

​Expedition Ships

​Expedition-style ships ​give you a balance between luxury and research. 

Although you shouldn't expect jacuzzis and numerous restaurants, you'll get comfortable accommodation and good viewing space.

The Ocean Adventurer and the Sea Spirit are two examples of expedition style ships that sail to Greenland. 


​Luxury Cruises

​For people who want only the best, then taking a luxury ship to Greenland is the way to go. 

Ships such as the Le Boreal and the National Gegraphic Explorer offer the best in comfort and luxurious facilities. Whilst there won't be cinemas and pools, you'll get gyms, jacuzzis, restaurants etc.

Keep in mind that these ships are often large and may not be able to visit certain areas that smaller ships can. 


​Greenland Cruise Cost

​​Greenland cruises, like most Arctic cruises, are not cheap. The remote region means that running costs are high.

Prices start at around US$4,000 for a basic East or West Greenland cruise itinerary. This price would mean sharing a cabin and bathroom facilities and booking well in advance. For a longer itinerary in a private cabin, expect to pay between $10,000 and $20,000.

Although budget is a major factor when deciding on your perfect Greenland cruise, it should only be one of many factors to take into consideration. Many times we see people paying just a little extra and getting a much better cruise experience for doing so!

​Other Cost Considerations

​Beside the main cruise cost, there are also a number of other cost factors to consider. 

​Solo Travelers

​Flights

​Gear

​Visa and other Misc. Expenses

Choosing The Right Cruise

The sheer beauty of Greenland means that there are many cruise itineraries on offer. This can sometimes seem a little overwhelming and making the perfect choice can take an agonisingly long time.

Luckily this is what this guide was made for - to help you choose your perfect Greenland cruise.

Choosing the right Greenland cruise to suit you is really a matter of deciding what you wish to get out of your cruise.

Most Greenland cruises are generally aimed at seeing certain wildlife, scenery or natural spectacles. Deciding what you want to see will narrow down your choices significantly.

  • ​When
  • ​How long
  • ​Where
  • ​Wildlife
  • ​activities
  • ​cabin type

When you decide to sail will greatly alter your choice of cruises. Because Greenland is covered in ice, Summer is the only time that cruises operate. 

When in Summer will depend on what wildlife you want to see. Please see our detailed page above.  

Get a Cruise Quote!

Expedition Cruise do not sell tours, we simply provide impartial advice. If you would like an exact quote from our recommended specialist click Get a Quote.

​Greenland Cruise: Wildlife

​​Although 80% of Greenland's land mass is covered by an ice cap, wildlife actually thrives.

Musk ox, polar bears, arctic foxes, lemmings, seabirds and majestic marine life make Greenland one of the best wildlife destinations in the Arctic!

To give you a better sense, below we have written the top animals you are most likely to see during your Greenland cruise.

​Types of Wildlife

​Polar Bear

Greenland Cruisewildlife polar bear

​​The most iconic of all Arctic species, the polar bear can sometimes be seen on the interface between land and sea hunting seals on the ice floats.

​​Walrus

Greenland Cruise cruise wildlife walrus

​​Walrus can be seen flopping on and off ice flows dotted around Greenland. Weighing up to a ton, these charismatic creatures are often the favourite of cruise goers in the region.

​Musk Oxen

Greenland Cruise cruise wildlife musk ox

​​​Huge and stoic, musk ox are a wonder to behold. 10,000 of these creatures can be seen in the area around Kangerlussuaq where they graze on the bare grasslands.

​Arctic Fox

Greenland Cruisecruise wildlife fox

​​​A terrifically beautiful creature to watch, the Arctic fox is common in Greenland and often stalks birds below the high coastal cliffs.

​Arctic Wolf

Greenland Cruisecruise wildlife wolf

​​​Almost solely seen in the northern parts of Greenland, the grey wolf is an elusive creature and not often seen. Mainly hunting lemmings and hare, the Greenland wolf is in sharp decline.

​​Whales

Greenland Cruisecruise wildlife whales

​​​Whales are one of the biggest reasons why people take Greenland cruises. You can look out for mink whales, killer whales, blue whales, humpback whales, sperm whales, fin whales, beluga whales, and, of course the Greenland whale!

​Arctic Seabirds

Greenland Cruise cruise wildlife puffin

​​​Huge numbers of birds grace the coastlines of Greenland including puffins, auks, guillemots, and terns. Also look out for Greenland falcons and large sea eagles.

​​Greenland Cruise: Things To Do

​Because ​Greenland is such a big country, there is a wealth of things to do and see!

Although not all Greenland cruise itineraries offer every activity, no matter what cruise you choose, you'll get some great options!

Below we have highlighted some of the most popular things to do during a cruise to Greenland.

Please keep in mind that many of these come at an exta cost and you will need to book them prior to departure. 

​The Northern Lights

things to do on a Greenland cruise - Northern lights

Although not the most famous destination to see the Aurora Borealis, Greenland is definitely one of the best! The lack of light pollution in the vastly empty country provides the perfect backdrop to witness natures spectacular illumination.​

The one drawback of course is that the Northern Lights are a winter phenomenon. However, if you're lucky you can see them in the Autumn when there is still light to go hiking and kayaking during your cruise. This is not guaranteed though and you'll want to travel in the winter to give yourself the best chance of seeing the lights.

Although mostly dark during winter, you'll have the opportunity to do winter activities instead such as dog sledding and riding snow mobiles. Cruises to Greenland during winter are not as common but certainly do happen. These are generally offered by standard cruise companies and not expedition cruise operators.

For more detailed information, please see our page on Northern Light cruise.

​Photography

things to do on an Greenland cruise - photography

Photography is definitely a major reason why people take expedition cruises to Greenland. The dramatic landscape and majestic wildlife make the large island a photographers dream. During the summer, the midnight sun creates a lovely light, giving photographers hours of dawn and dusk light to work with.

Depending on the cruise itinerary you choose, you may have the help of a photography guide on board your Greenland cruise ship. The guide will give you help with all your camera settings, where best to shoot and even post-editing help should you need it.

Even for experienced photographers, the landscape of Greenland offers certain challenges that warmer climates will not. There is also certain items you will need to bring with you such as dry bags, filters, extra batterie and a good tripod.

For more detailed information, please see our page on Arctic photography here.

​​Wildlife Watching

things to do on a Greenland cruise - wildlife watching

Wildlife watching is simply incredible in Greenland. The sea life is one of the big draw cards with numerous whale species including minke whales and orca. Walrus are also great to watch as they are very social creatures. 

Musk ox roam the tundra and make for great photo opportunities because of their slow movement. 

​​Kayaking and Zodiacs

things to do on a Greenland cruise - kayak

​​Kayking is probably the most common extra activity on a Greenland expedition cruise.

Kayak around icebergs or get close up to a passing whale!

Zodiac trips are included in the price and offer the perfect way to get close to the wildlife with one of your guides. 

​​​Helicopter tours

things to do on a Greenland cruise - helicopter

​​Quite literally a once in a lifetime expereince! Fly high over ice fjords and local villages as you get the best view in the world.

Helicopter tours are availbale over the Ilulissat Icefjord and the town of Nuuk.

Take your camera and get incredible virds-eye shots over immense glaciers and mountains. 

​​Camping, Fishing and Hiking

things to do on a Greenland cruise - camping

​​Other popular things to do during your Greenland cruise include historic walks, long hikes, camping and fishing. 

Head out onto the ice for a night you won't forget, or take a zodiac out with a guide a fish for your supper. Then prepare it the traditional way ashore. 

​Greenland Cruise Packing List

Even in summer, Greenland temperatures rarely get above 10 degrees celsius, therefore, having the appropriate clothing on your cruise is paramount. When you consider the wind, it often feels far colder than it really is and being warm will make your cruise experience far more enjoyable.

Whether you travel in the summer or winter, there are some key gear requirements that you will need. For people coming from cold countries you may already own many of these key pieces, however, for people from warmer climates, these pieces of gear may need to be purchased prior to our cruise.

Below we have written a  very quick guide on items you will need.

​Items To Consider

Clothing: ​Weather conditions in Greenland are often windy and cold. Wearing layers of clothing is the key to staying warm. We recommend bringing base layers, fleece, parka and weather proof jacket.

Footwear: ​During your Greenland cruise you'll be making plenty of 'wet' landings when going ashore. You will need a good pair of muck boots for this.

Headgear: ​Keeping your head warm is paramount to retaining your body temperature. We recommend beanies and balaclavas, depending when you sail.

Gloves: ​Your hands will freeze first, so its super important to keep them warm! We recommend inner gloves and comfortable outer gloves for your shore excursions.

​Bags and Daypacks: ​Cruising with camera gear, snacks and extra clothing requires a good backpack that can withstand the cold and windy conditions of Greenland.

Important Accessories: ​From water bottles and zip-locks to spare batteries and ear plugs, there are tons f accessories that will make your Arctic cruise that much more pleasant.

Get a Cruise Quote!

Expedition Cruise do not sell tours, we simply provide impartial advice. If you would like an exact quote from our recommended specialist click Get a Quote.

​Greenland Cruise Highlights

​Nuuk Fjord

Greenland-highlights-nuuk-fjord

​The second largest fjord in the world, Nuuk Fjord is packed with beautiful inlets, islands, waterfalls and ghostly icebergs. Look out for whales, especially humpbacks and also visit the town of Nuuk which holds the national museum of Greenland.

​Disko Bay

Greenland-highlights-disko-bay

​First settled by Erik the Red in 985AD, Disko Bay is located on the western side of Greenland and is famous for its rich history and even richer marine life. Expect to see ancient settlements, icebergs and whales.

​Scoresby Sund

Greenland-highlights-scorseby-sund

​Located in East Greenland, Scoresby Sund is the largest fjord in the world and offers visitors everything from icebergs and stunning inlets to rich Inuit history and marine life. The land around the Sund is a great place to see musk ox.

​Uummannaq

Greenland-highlights-uummannaq

​Founded in 1763, Uummannaq is a fascinating settlement and island to visit. Used as a fishing base and marble quarry, the town is most distinctive for the 1,170-meter mountain that rises behind it. Danish and Greenlandic children believe that Santa lives on the island.

​Ilulissat Icefjord

Greenland-highlights-Ilulissat-icefjord

​Ilulissat Icefjord is known for its breathtaking iceberg formation and is one of the world’s fastest moving and most active glaciers. The glacier calves 46 cubic kilometers of ice annually and is best seen and heard from a ship.

​Tasermiut Fjord

Greenland-highlights-tasermiut-fjord

​One of the most prolific big-wall playgrounds for climbers and mountaineers, Tasermiut Fjord and the surrounding area offers one of the most dramatic landscapes in the world. The surrounding settlements were also settled by Erik the Red.

​Greenland Cruise Insurance

​In our article – Arctic Travel Insurance – we have provide all the information you need to find your perfect insurance policy. Alternatively, you can get a quote straight away with our rcommended specialist below. ​

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