Tuesday, 9 July 2013

We made it to Ilulissat!

Our guests on an ice cruise to Kangia Fjord

Yipee!   Ilulissat, in many ways, is the centre piece of Greenland, so  if we can't get there, it's tough to tell our guests that we are not going to one of the major highlights in all of Greenland.   Although we have excellent alternatives planned just in case we are stopped by ice, we know there will be disappointed people if we don't go.  
We cruised through miles of dense ice, chock-a-block full of icebergs!
Very early this morning Fram steadily moved her way through increasingly dense ice towards Ilulissat.  We bobbed and weaved and zigged and zagged through several miles of ice and for the first time in three voyages, we made it to Ilulissat.  And unbelievably, we arrived at our customary anchorage spot right on time.  Bravo to Captain Arild Hårvik and our other navigation officers!
When you go to Ilulissat you absolutely must visit Kangia, the Icefjord.  It is incredible.  Not for no reason is it a World Heritage Site.  Kangia Fjord is one of the most stunning displays of ice on the planet.  Sermeq Kujaleq Glacier dumps 35 million cubic kilometres of ice into Kangia Fjord every year and then that ice gets dumped into Disko Bay about 15 months later.  It is impressive.  
Plaque marking the border of the Unesco World Heritage site.
We offered our guests four different ways to see the fjord.  You could opt for a short hike of about two hours, or you could choose a long hike of 4.5 hours that follows a path paralleling the fjord.  There was also the opportunity to take a small boat to the head of the fjord and venture in amongst some of the giant bergs.  And finally,  there were several helicopter departures that flew the length of the fjord.
To get from the pier into town there was a shuttle bus running all day long.  Ilulissat itself is quite pretty. As one would expect in the major tourist town in Greenland there are cafés, gift shops, restaurants and even a micro brewery to visit.
Greenland Kayak at entrance to Kangia Fjord
After a wonderful day of ice, at 18:00 everyone was back on board Fram.  We lifted anchor and slowly came about to make our way back out through the ice. We had miles of tough sledding to get to Sisimiut.   It is now 21:00 and as I look out the window, I see that even though we have been underway for almost three hours, we have several more miles of ice to go through.  It is a gorgeous evening.  It is overcast and hardly a breath of wind stirs the surface of the sea.  There is ice 360˚ around the ship.  
Ten of our guests have opted for our program of sleeping on deck under the Arctic Sky with the mid-night sun.  There could not be a better night for it.
An hour from now we will have a fashion show in the observation lounge.  The Expedition Team and all available officers usually join in.  I'm afraid that this time the Captain will be rather busy on the bridge.