Day 5 |
Sep 11, 2010

Skjoldungen Fjord, Greenland

By Robin Aiello, Marine Biologist lecturer

Co-ordinates: N63º27’53.4” W041º45’42.6”

Weather: Clear skies with lots of sun
Air Temperature: 7ºC

Our morning started very early – at 12:34am to be exact – with an announcement from Robin on the Bridge that there were the Northern Lights on the horizon. I was very impressed to see nearly everyone out on deck to watch this phenomenon. It certainly did not disappoint – nearly a quarter of the starboard horizon was lit up by the green lights that are typical of the Aurora borealis. The brightness would wax and wane, but it was wonderful to see!! By about 1:30am most of us, me included, were tucked back in bed!

I love Greenland!! After two days at sea, it was wonderful to see the dramatic coast of eastern Greenland come into view as we sailed towards the entrance to Skjoldungen fjord. By 7:00am, nearly all of us were up and out on the decks to watch our approach. With the bright sun and slight breeze, it was nice and warm.

The fjords of Greenland, in my opinion, are the most dramatic and stunning fjords in the world. The passages are narrow and the sides are steep. Many of the mountains that we sailed past are over 1500m tall, and many of them are capped with snow. They are rugged, stark and so very dramatic!!!

Most of the slopes are barren rock, but in some places there is very low-lying vegetation. Being so late in the autumn season, this vegetation, primarily birch, has turned colours and there were patches of maroon red that were absolutely beautiful.

Everywhere we looked there were glaciers draped down the valleys – only some actually made it all the way to the sea. The Captain deftly maneuvered the ship around the many icebergs that were scattered throughout the fjord.

There was one particularly large iceberg that the Captain sailed around so we could get a good close-up view of it. We then sailed up to one of the glaciers with a dramatic calving front and the Captain positioned the ship so we got some awesome views. His glacier was quite active too, so we saw (and heard) some good calving, with large chunks of ice cascading down.

It was so sunny and warm that the Hotel Department opened the Outdoor Grill and the Captain positioned the ship stern-to the glacier, so we had the most beautiful views during our lunch!

After lunch the ship repositioned to a larger glacier and we lowered the Zodiacs for a Zodiac tour of the glacier front. It was amazing! This glacier was most dramatic, with massive crevasses and ice pillars looming up above us. The deep blues (almost violet) of the caves contrasted with the stark white of the outer surface. We had such a beautiful cruise, and to top it off, the Hotel Department had a Zodiac out roaming around to serve us champagne and chocolates to celebrate our first day in Greenland.

Once back onboard, the ship continued its cruise of the fjord. Skjoldungen is U-shaped so instead of going back the way we came, the ship continued to sail through the rest of the fjord and out the other entrance. We just couldn’t get enough of the beautiful scenery, and the decks were full of guests until we entered open ocean and the seas grew larger again. But, by this time dinner was being served – which was a pe