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.
- Amsterdam Thoughts: Amsterdam was our port of embarkation: We’ve spent a lot of time here and it was a good place for us to “Jet lag.”
- Amsterdam Canals: A precursor of “Scenic Cruising” along Amsterdam’s Canals.
- Rising to Sea Level: Through the North Sea Canal, we’re off on Prinsendam.
- Shetland, No Ponies: Lerwick, Shetland Islands, our first port of call.
- Torshavn, Faroe Islands: I have wanted to visit here for years.
- The King’s Farmer: The story of a man who is the 17th generation of farmers to work the same piece of land in the Faroe Islands.
- Isolation Depends on your Point of View: Thoughts on what it means to live in an isolated community plus pictures of “Scenic Cruising” in the Faroe Islands.
- Aluminum and Fish, Eskifjordur, Iceland: A walk through a changing fishing town in Eastern Iceland.
- Where North America and Europe Drift Apart: A visit to Northern Iceland where the earth is pushing North America and Europe apart. We also enjoy the hot springs. Akureuri is the port of call.
- Waterfalls, Tunnels and Sustainable Fisheries: A visit to the Westfjords, Isafjordur is the port of call.
- Pizza Delivery and Old Whalers’ Drawings: The fantastic mountains of Prins Christian Sund, Greenland.
- Prins Christian Sund Redux: More pictures from this unreal Greenlandic landscape.
- “Nearer My God to Thee,” and Icebergs: Nanortalik, Greenland’s Southernmost town.
- A Fountain in the Center of South Greenland: Qaqortoq, Greenland
- Stone and Man in Qaqortoq, Greenland: A scavenger hunt for art carved in stone.
- 500 Years and Gone: Hvalsey Church, old Norse ruins in Greenland.
- An Accidental Cruise Port: Appilattoq Greenland, we visit a village and the village visits Prinsendam.
- Become Ocean: Prins Christian Sound and thoughts of climate change.
- Cold Mist, Hot Mist and the Mother of Parliaments: Iceland’s Golden Circle.
- Reykjavik: A Hop on Hop off bus tour.
- Unexpected Sea Day: Caught between an Azores high and an Icelandic Low, we miss two ports of call.
- A Cathedral Sets its Viking Sails: Kirkwall in the Orkney Islands is a mix between Celtic and Nordic.
- Orkney Wireless Museum: Old Radios and fine stories.
- A Fortunate Alternate: We decide to skip Edinburgh to visit Dunfermline.
- Three Forth Bridges: Photos of three crossings of the Firth of Forth.
- Final Sail Out: Leaving our last port of call.
- Cruise Coda: Thoughts on cruising.