The company that is organising the ‘Extreme Greenland’ cruise is the American company Quark Expeditions, which specialises in tourist cruises to both poles. The return to the sea of the Kapitan Khlebnikov icebreaker is its more recent biggest achievement. The vessel will make four trips during its 75-day circumnavigation of the Arctic Ocean.
One way of reaching its remote lands is to sail between layers of ice on board the Kapitan Khlebnikov, the legendary Russian icebreaker. This is the passenger vessel that has crossed the Northwest Passage the most times. In 2016 it is embarking on a new adventure: a voyage to Greenland. The expedition will last 21 days and will be the first time that a “tourist cruise” has sailed through the Lincoln Sea and the Kennedy Channel to the north of the island. The vessel has all the comforts of a cruise ship, including a heated swimming pool and sauna, but that’s where its similarities to a traditional relaxing holidays come to an end. The purpose of the voyage is to attempt to explore one of the most inhospitable places on the planet; the kingdom of ice. The ‘Extreme Greenland’ cruise will be covering the least known parts of Greenland, including its northernmost point, Cape Morris Jesup, if weather conditions allow.
The circular route will sail along what is known as ‘iceberg alley’, where blocks of ice are not measured in metres, but in football pitches. The expedition has several planned stops on land, ranging from scientific stations such as Station Nord to explorations on foot or using special footwear to practice ‘snowshoeing’. The white landscape is interrupted occasionally by colourful houses. These are the towns of Ittoqqortoormiit and Tasiilaq. The first is one of the most remote towns on Greenland. It has just over 500 inhabitants, who live by fishing and hunting. The second is located one hundred kilometres to the south of the Arctic Circle and is the starting point for lots of different activities, from sleigh excursions to kayaking trips.