Quick Before It Melts: A Cruise Blog

I was flying back from an assignment in Turkey in June 2016.  I follow the route of the plane on the monitor attached to the back of the seat in front of me as I read my book.  I saw we were approaching the East Coast of Greenland so opened my window shade, probably to the annoyance of the people around me watching movies, and I was blown away.  Below me was an ocean filled with ice, glaciers reaching to the sea and an ice shelf with a giant crack in it, about to fall into the Denmark Strait to create a huge iceberg.

Suzi and I had talked of doing several things this summer, a drive to the Canadian Maritimes while the Canadian dollar was low, or a visit to Eastern Oregon to see the great American eclipse.  We had also talked about a Holland American cruise we had seen on line that made stops in Greenland as well as Iceland, the Faroe Islands and Scotland.  Looking out the window at the crumbling ice sheet and calving glaciers and knowing how quickly some of my favorite glaciers were melting in Alaska I decided “Next summer, Greenland.”   When I got home I told Suzi we had to go to Greenland “quick, before it melts.”  (A suggestion I made for a slogan to the Alaska Visitors’ Association that they didn’t take.)  (The Pictures below are three that I took that day, as is the one at the head of this page.)

We also both wanted to return to Iceland.   After our first trip there, 49 years ago I read some of the Icelandic Sagas and a few histories of the Norse westward expansion.   I realized that I had not understood the significance of what I had seen.  I also wanted to see Southern Greenland which, for 500 years supported a Norse settlement until it didn’t.  Finally, the theory of Plate Tectonics was only really developed in papers written in the mind 1960s.  In the years after we visited Iceland I read a lot more about our evolving understanding of how the earth moved and realized that I had visited “Action Central” for observing continents drifting apart and didn’t realize it.  I wanted to go back soon after we first visited.  But 49 years ago, we were finishing up grad school, then we were having kids and building radio stations.  There were other places in the world to see so we never got back to Iceland and never got to Greenland or the Faroes at all.

But travel there was moving up on the agenda.  Living in Alaska and confronting the issues of global warming daily we wanted to hear from people in other Northern environments on how this was affecting them.   This cruise seemed like the way of doing several things we wanted to do at once, revisit Iceland, see the southern settlements of Greenland and visit the Faroes.   We recognize the limits of cruise travel, the inability to break up the schedule and follow some new lead.  Living in a cruise ship community we understand that many people getting off a ship at one time can alter your perception of a small community.  But we felt, with enough reading before-hand to prepare us to make the most of limited stops it would work for us.  Plus, Prinsendam is a relatively small ship, it was the right choice.  Anyway, I love ships.  In a way, I was born to them.  One of my Grandfathers ran away to sea as a teenager and I grew up with stories of North Atlantic storms. Interesting ports and sometimes even of “The pleasures of the Harbor.”  Three years earlier we had taken a long cruise on the same ship, visiting places as diverse as Carnival in Rio, Manaus, 1,000 KM up the Amazon, Chilean fjords, and Antarctica.  You can see a lot from the deck of a ship.  We loved that experience.   We loved this experience too.

The blog posts that follow are my thoughts and photos (I burned through three cameras which now must go to the Camera Hospital) from the cruise.  Please click on the name for the link to the post.  I hope you enjoy them.

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