Harbor Views Port of Hamburg Germany
Skyline view Port of Hamburg
Sailing Ship Port of Hamburg Germany

Greenland is as growing as a cruise destination and an undiscovered treasure. The Island which is the 2nd largest non-continent island had approximately 55,000 visitors last year. The summer months are the peak tourism season.. Because of it's harsh climate, Greenland has some of the most dramatic landscapes including vast plains, large, jagged mountain peaks, ice capped mountains, glaciers,  icebergs all spotted with quaint colorful houses. The dog sled is one of the main modes of transportation

Increasing interest for Greenland
More and more tourists are choosing to sail along the coasts of Greenland. The most important reason for this is that cruise ship guests are seeking out different and exotic destinations. And Greenland fulfils all their notions and dreams with its breathtaking nature, unique local population and colorful culture.

The length of a cruise in Greenland, the route itself and the number of ports of call vary according to the type of ship and the company you choose to travel with. Coastal cruises typically last one week, whilst expedition cruises can last up to two weeks. Cruises visiting Greenland from New York are usually 17+ days, since most are repositioning cruises to/from Europe to New York. Greenland adds a great change of pace and discovery to a transatlantic voyage.



Encountering icebergs and whales
Those traveling by sea enjoy sailing along Greenland's coasts to see icebergs of different shapes and sizes; from small transparent ice floes to colossal 330-foot high icebergs. Do not forget that you only see about one tenth of the iceberg above the surface of the water - the rest has to be left to your imagination. You do not have to imagine the whales, however, because a sailing trip in Greenland is almost always guaranteed to include an encounter with species such as the humpback whale, fin whale and minke whale. Be sure to bring your camera to capture the amazing scenery.

Each point of disembarkation provides new possibilities
When disembarking in South Greenland's green fjords, there are good opportunities to visit the popular Viking ruins at Hvalsey and Qassiarsuk - the home of Erik the Red and Leif Ericsson from the Viking period. In the larger towns you can visit local urban museums and several towns can also present an extensive cultural program with mask and drum dancing, kayak displays and choral singing. In the small settlement of Itilleq, close to Kangerlussuaq and Sisimiut, the local inhabitants are renowned for challenging cruise ship guests to a game of football at the settlement's somewhat primitive, but certainly usable clay pitch.

From culture to nature
In the capital, Nuuk, and at the UNESCO-protected ice fjord at Ilulissat, short boat trips and helicopter flights are popular excursions. In Nuuk visitors also have the chance to write a card to Santa Claus and be photographed in front of Santa's huge mailbox. With its unique flora and fauna, the National Park in Northeast Greenland is another popular, though completely different, place to visit.

Tradition and renewal
Nuuk is Greenland's capital, where the new and the old meet in their unique Greenlandic fashion. A short walk from the colonial harbor with its beautiful old buildings brings you to 'the board', where the day's catch of seal, birds and fish is sold. Other attractions in the town include the award-winning cultural venue Katuaq, Greenland's University, the cathedral from 1849 and the National Museum, where you can spend hours learning about Greenland's ancient history.

Activities and attractions around Nuuk
Outside Nuuk is a major fjord system, which is particularly well-suited to ocean-going attractions. Whale safaris are organized that enable you to get close to the many humpback and minke whales, which from early summer to the onset of autumn frequent the waters just outside the town. In addition, helicopter trips to the ice sheet and Norse ruins are popular combination excursions, as are visits to settlements by boat. Also recommended is a visit to the art museum and the city council chamber, which is decorated by large tapestries with motifs from Greenlandic culture and nature.

Nuuk's history
Nuuk means 'the headland' and is situated at the tip of a large peninsula at the mouth of the gigantic fjord complex. Nuuk is also the oldest town in Greenland. It was founded by the missionary Hans Egede in 1728 after he had left his first settlement at the Isle of Hope all the way out in Davis Strait. Today Nuuk is a hectic city in Greenlandic terms, but that is rarely the impression that visitors get of the world's smallest capital city with just 15,000 inhabitants

Unique souvenirs & Dining

Delicious food and bargain hunting are essential elements of any vacation. On cruises in Greenland many companies make a point of serving locally inspired food of high quality and many ships purchase meat and fish locally while they are in Greenland.

Popular souvenirs for yourself or your loved ones include handcrafted products made from bone and reindeer antlers, as well as soapstone figures. The same applies to Greenlandic minerals such as the pink 'tuttupit', which changes color according to the light.

Unique goods and small shops
A cruise in Greenland provides the traveler opportunities to bring the memories of your Greenland experience home with you. Not just on film, but also in the form of souvenirs and unique goods the like of which are not found anywhere else in the world.

In Greenland there are small, enterprising businesses and workshops making handicraft products in most towns. You can often see stalls being set up along the quay when ships call at port and there is always a good chance of striking a bargain for unique articles and products that are the very essence of Greenlandic culture and nature.

Greenlandic souvenirs
Greenlandic souvenirs are not mass-produced, but are handmade works of art the like of which are not made anywhere else in the world. Each product is created and designed by a Greenlandic artist who manages to combine tradition and custom with his own ideas and talents when producing his own unique works.

Sealskin clothes from Great Greenland and from other local producers are in particular demand by cruise ship guests from countries that allow the import of such articles. Jewelry made of stones, minerals and bone are very popular - as are the Greenlandic tupilak and soapstone lamp.

Remember a CITES certificate
Remember to obtain a CITES Certificate when buying souvenirs that are made from parts of wild animals in Greenland. CITES stands for 'Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of wild flora and fauna'. This set of rules and the CITES certificate make it possible to keep tabs on the scope of the trade of certain endangered or partly-threatened species.

Closing Remarks

Already in late August and September you will get the opportunity to view Aurora Borealis or northern lights. According to traditional mythology, northern lights are "the souls of the departed playing ball with skulls of walruses in the sky". The positioning of the sun allows for dramatic photography. Greenland is a nature lovers paradise. It is a great destination for those with an appreciation for natural beauty and seeking a deep cultural and educational experience.


Area: 836,330 square miles (Washington state is 71,303 square miles).

Area under ice: More than 80 percent.

Population: 56,344 people; 80 percent Inuit.

Sled dogs: 29,000.

Language: Greenlandic. English and Danish are widely spoken.

Government: Part of Denmark, but with "home rule." Receives annual subsidy from Denmark of more than U.S. $500 million.

Chief industry: Fishing.