Our Greenland Cruises: An Introduction

Welcome to our Greenland cruises destination page.

If you’re interested in visiting Greenland then look no further. Secret Atlas offers the smallest group sizes on expedition cruises in Greenland with just 12 guests.

Greenland is an incredible place to explore with its endless wilderness, breathtaking landscapes, giant icebergs and local culture.

We offer a richer way to encounter the majestic nature of Greenland on a small ship experience free from the crowds of larger vessels.

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Our Greenland Cruises

Small Ship

with 16 Guests

Days

9 Days

Months

September

Scoresby Sund & East Greenland

Small Ship Expedition Cruise with 16 Guests

Explore Scoresby Sund the world’s longest natural fjord system on the east coast of Greenland. Fly from Iceland to Greenland and then join a small expedition ship to spend the next 8 days exploring. On this expedition, we will venture deep into the fjord system and explore the breathtaking scenery, hike in the untouched wilderness, and visit a remote Greenlandic community.

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Disko Bay Photo Expedition

Expedition Micro Cruise with 12 Guests

Join an authentic photography expedition to explore Disko Bay and the wild north west coast of Greenland. Photograph the largest icebergs on the planet, remote wildernesses, glaciers and local cultures. This voyage takes place on a Greenlandic expedition vessel with just 12 guests. Led by our experienced expedition team and local Greenlandic guides our focus is on exploring and finding you that perfect shot.

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Expedition Micro Cruise

with 12 Guests

Days

11

Months

August 2023

Compare Greenland Cruise Experiences

Secret Atlas

  • Smallest Group sizes available in Svalbard and Greenland
  • Room for all our guests in Zodiacs
  • All our guests can explore ashore at the same time
  • Minimal waiting time to go ashore
  • 1 guide for every 6 guests
  • Visit places larger ships can’t reach
  • Longer ashore in an unhurried way
  • Maximum flexibility to explore
  • Authentic expedition style
See Our Micro Cruises

Secret Atlas

See Our Small Ship Cruises

Other Operators

  • Larger group sizes in all polar destinations
  • Guests wait in a groups for Zodiacs
  • Guests go ashore in groups. Some sites have restricted numbers
  • Up to an hour wait time to go ashore
  • Average 1 guide for every 10 guests
  • Can’t access all sites 
  • Shore landings are regimented 
  • Set itinerary
  • Luxury rather than expedition

What Can I See on a Greenland Cruise?

disko bay greenland cruise

Icebergs

Roughly 80% of the Greenland land mass is covered by Ice. Where the icecap reaches the fjords and the sea huge pieces of ice calve into the icy waters creating one of Greenland’s most beautiful sites.

Scoresby Sund cruise

Nature & Wilderness

Greenland is home to some of the largest areas of unspoilt wilderness on the planet. Majestic fjords, mountains and glaciers are just some of the highlights you will encounter.

east greenland cruise

Wildlife

Greenland is home to a vast array of wildlife in the sea and on the shore. Due to its size, wildlife sightings are not as frequent as other Arctic destinations, but you will likely encounter wildlife on your voyage.

greenlandic culture

Greenlandic People & Culture

A voyage to Greenland would not be complete without meeting the local people and experiencing the local cultures in the towns and villages.

Plan Your Greenland Cruise

The Secret Atlas blog has a wide variety of articles to help you plan your Greenland cruise.

Which Expedition Cruise is right for me? 5 Myths About Visiting the Arctic on a Small Ship

Greenland Cruise Information

Departure Ports

Ilulissat & Iceland

Airports

Ilulissat (JAV), Akureyri (AEY)

Time Zone

GMT -03:00 (WGT)

Time Of Year

June – August

Onboard Languages

English & German

‘The luxury of being alone in nature and getting close to animals is worth it.  This trip is also great for slowing down and reconnecting with the wild.  Smaller groups meant no waiting to go ashore. We anchored and the landing craft was ready to go. It is a much more adventurous feeling on a small ship and you are really immersed in nature.’

Julia, Secret Atlas Guest

Greenland Cruises FAQ

Plan Your Greenland Cruise

When is the best time of year to take a cruise to Greenland?

The cruising season in Greenland starts in June and finishes in late September. Earlier in the season the east coast of Greenland is blocked by ice and our trips visiting this area operate during August and September when sea ice is at its lowest level.

If you would like to visit Scoresby Sund on the east coast we offer a unique expedition during late August called Scoresby Sund & East Greenland Explorer.

On the west coast of Greenland the weather in Disko Bay is usually very stable during the summer months between June and August. If you would like to experience 24- hours of sunlight with some amazing photography oppurtunities please see our Disko Bay Photo Cruise page.

Where do your cruises to Greenland depart from?

All our expedition cruises in Greenland depart from different ports depending on the cruise.

Our Scoresby Sund and East Greenland cruise departs from Akureyri in Iceland which offers great international connections and saves travellers the expense of a flight to Greenland.

Our Disko Bay Photo tour departs from Ilulissat in north-west Greenland which is served by direct flights to Iceland or other destinations in Greenland.

What is an Expedition Micro Cruise?

Expedition micro cruise is a term we use to describe an expedition cruise with no more than 12 guests in total. Our cruises take place on custom built expedition vessels built for safe travel in the polar regions. All our vessels offer good comfort levels, private cabins and great food with the huge added bonus that you will be experiencing Greenland with just a handful of guests.

The focus on our trips is exploring and we will aim to make daily landings by Zodiac landing craft to explore the shore. You will be accompanied by a knowledgeable expert guide who will tell you about the areas you visit. When you have been apart of a small group experience we guarantee you will never want to go back to cruising on larger vessels.

Why is an Expedition Micro Cruise or Small Ship Cruise the best way to explore Greenland?

Unlike larger vessels with higher passenger capacities, our voyages are personal and unique in their approach. Travelling with a small group of guests means more time and flexibility exploring and less time waiting to go ashore.

Our small expedition vessels will get you closer to nature and landscapes that you came than larger ships can due to their smaller size, offering you a great deal more intimacy.

Our Expedition Micro Cruises and Small Ship Adventures give you the opportunity to experience the polar regions first hand on a real adventure without the crowds of people on larger ships. Our goal is to make you part of the adventure.

How does a small ship experience in Greenland compare to other cruises?

Non-expedition cruises on regular cruise ships don’t offer shore landings and often only visit a couple of Greenlandic towns which means they miss out on lots of the adventure. The average size of a cruise ship doing non-expedition cruises takes 2000 passengers.

A number of companies offer expedition cruises in Greenland with landings on larger vessels. The average number of passengers these ships take is over 200. In our opinion that is too many people to be landing at sensitive places in the Arctic.

Many companies advertise small ship cruises to Greenland but their definition of a ‘small ship’ varies and can range from anything from 250 guests down to 12 guests. The experience between travelling with 250 guests and 48 or 12 guests is huge. Our Expedition Micro Cruises and Small Ship Cruises to Greenland are the way they should be, intimate and low impact.

During Your Greenland Cruise

What wildlife will I see on my cruise to Greenland?

Greenland has a wealth of wildlife but unlike other destinations such as Svalbard it is harder to see. If your main aim is to encounter wildlife we recommend Svalbard, Antarctica or South Georgia over Greenland.

If you aim is to explore and untamed wilderness and experience Greenlandic culture our trips are perfect for you and there is a good chance you will encounter wildlife.

Wildlife we have seen on previous voyages includes whales, Musk Ox, Arctic foxes and hares, seals and a avriety of birds.

Please note it is very difficult to see a polar bear in Greenland although it is possible on cruises to East Greenland. If seeing polar bears is highly important to you we recommend Svalbard as the chances are much higher.

What places will I visit on a cruise to Greenland?

A part of the adventure of an expedition cruise is to spend time exploring the wilderness which means every trip is different. Our route is decided on the day of boarding and is chosen by the expedition leader and the captain in line with the prevailing weather and ice condition.

On a typical cruise, you can expect daily shore landings to visit sites of natural interest or local cultures and to undertake short wilderness hikes.

Our guides will ensure that you see the very best that Greenland has to offer.

Will it be cold on my cruise to Greenland?

The temperature in Greenland varies depending on the month of travel. During the summer months when we operate our Greenland cruises the temperature is usually much warmer than people expect for the Arctic.

In Scoresby Sund the average temperature is:

July: High 9°c / Low 3°c

August: High 8°c / Low 3°c

If the sun is shining it is possible to be out hiking wearing just a t-shirt.

The sun in Greenland is very strong and good sun protection and a hat is highly advised.

Know More

Is an Expedition Micro Cruise or Small Ship Suitable for me?

Our cruises are suitable for the vast majority of people and we aim to make them as accessible as possible. We ask that our guests have a good level of mobility as it is a requirement that you can safely step down from the vessel into the landing craft and then exit the landing craft on the beach. Due to the remote areas we visit and the distance from medical assistance, we advise that you have a reasonable level of fitness and are in good health. During the shore landings, we have 2 guides which enable us to split the group if we have some keen hikers and some other guests with more limited range.

Who joins your Greenland cruises?

We don’t have any age restrictions on our trips and we pride ourselves on having diverse guests from all over the world with a passion for exploring. In the past we have had young professionals eager to explore, middle-aged solo travellers, looking for their next adventure, through to retirees looking to see Greenland in a more in-depth way. Our trips are friendly and inclusive for all our guests.

Can I join your cruise as a solo traveller?

Yes, you can and every year we welcome solo travellers onboard where you will find a warm and welcoming atmosphere.

We offer accommodation options for single cabins or sharing a cabin with travellers of the same gender.

Sustainability

How do you ensure your cruises don’t have a negative effect on the environment?

That’s a great question and one we want to answer honestly.

The vessels we work with don’t burn heavy fuels which are particularly detrimental to the environment and run on standard marine diesel. As a part of our commitment to the environment, we climate compensate all of our emissions by planting trees with our sustainability partner in Greenland. The cost of this is covered within the fares our guests pay and we don’t charge an additional fee for this.

Secret Atlas don’t sell flights but we are aware our guests have to fly to our destinations to board our cruises. As a part of our climate commitment, we will match the offset costs for any guests who would like to offset their flights with us. This is offered at the time of booking.

During our cruises, we follow very strict guidelines as set out by AECO (Association Of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators) to ensure minimal impact on the wildlife and places we visit. This includes following strict rules about not disturbing wildlife in its natural habitat. We employ highly experienced expedition leaders to run our expeditions in accordance with the rules and safety code laid out by AECO. The principal rules are:

  1. Leave no lasting signs of your visit
  2. Do not pick flowers
  3. Do not take anything with you
  4. Do not disturb animals and birds
  5. Leave cultural remains alone Cultural remains are protected by law and a zone of 100 meters around the remains is also considered a protected zone. Watch where you are walking and standing. Walk around and not in between obj
  6. Take the polar bear danger seriously
  7. Respect local culture and local people
  8. Be safe

Our expedition leaders are highly trained in safety and following these rules and brief guests at the beginning of each departure. They ensure the safety of the guests throughout the cruise and that the AECO rules are followed.

As a member of AECO we take great efforts to ensure our trips don’t have any negative impact on the wildlife or environment. You can find out more here.