Greenland: Final Frontier for Travelers
Posted May 30, 2007 10:21 a.m. EDT
As president of Norwegian Coastal Voyage Inc., I was a guest of the Greenland government and Air Greenland last fall, and having flown over Greenland at least a hundred times, I expected to see nothing more on the ground then an endless amount of snow and ice, which is all that I could see from 30,000 feet.
Being early November, my thoughts were of being wrapped up in my thickest sweaters, heavily-lined coats and thermal underclothes. But even in the cold of November, this destination is absolutely amazing, filled with a startling natural beauty of landscapes and ice formations. The variety of unique things to do and outdoor activities and the friendliness of the local Inuit population took me by surprise, contradicting many expectations born from a lack of firsthand knowledge.
I can now easily imagine how stunning, exciting and unique the experience of a cruise along the rarely explored coast of western Greenland will be. Amazing icebergs floating into the ocean at Illusat are sights I will never forget. They combine the size of skyscrapers, the beauty of impressionistic sculptures and aquamarine colors and will leave the most jaded traveler in absolute slack-jawed awe. Seals and walruses were not afraid of the local fishing boat we took, and I imagined what a spectacle this will be in the summer with whales and orcas joining the scenery.
This experience is what led us to build the 318-berth MS Fram, an expedition ship under construction at the famous Fincanterie shipyard in Venice, Italy. I am quite sure no expedition ship has ever been built for the express purpose of exploring the magnificent coast of Greenland.
Local Inuit families invited us for coffee and relished talking about their intriguing culture and fascinating traditions, cultivated over thousands of years. Inuits speak Greenlandic, Danish and English, punctuated with many smiles.
Local roads are limited to the town’s geography and not between them, and this continent-sized island counts only one traffic light -- in the capital city of Nuuk. Snowmobiles and dog sleds are the main mode of transportation during the winter months -- boats are used in the summer months -- and a specific breed of Greenland huskies are the four-legged engines.
Local arts and crafts stores display unique craftsmanship at affordable prices. Small restaurants serve wonderfully prepared local dishes. The orientation towards outdoor activities allows Greenland visitors to experience everything from soft to medium-hard adventure trips. And the world’s second largest ice cap, upwards of 9,000 feet thick in certain areas, is accessible from most of the towns to be visited by our new ship.
Aboard the MS Fram, we will serve an array of local fish as well as other local and international foods. With the absence of an internal road system, the only one way to see this awesome arctic paradise is by ship. Especially built for exploring this fascinating destination, the MS Fram will ply Greenland waters May through September, the best months to explore this amazing land.
For the experienced traveler who may have seen much of the world but is now looking for a different place set apart from all others, Greenland is truly a last frontier.