THE UNSPOKEN GREENLANDIC RECIPE

The unspoken Greenlandic recipe is three parts function for every one part fashion and fun. Nothing has a staged made-for-tourists feel like some Arctic theme park. It is refreshing. It shows that Greenland is real and, dare I use the word, authentic.

Three parts function for every one part fashion and fun.

When I boarded Sarfaq Ittuk I looked into more Greenlander eyes than tourist eyes.

TRAVEL LIKE A LOCAL

When I boarded Sarfaq Ittuk and looked into more Greenlander eyes than tourist eyes, I knew that this coastal sailing journey also followed the Greenlandic recipe.

This Arctic Umiaq Line ferry is first and foremost transportation for locals along the west coast of Greenland. Some are traveling to special events like football championships or music festivals while others are heading home after visiting family for the holidays. But with every landscape along the route - from green sheep farms to fjords so narrow one could spot a reindeer on land with the naked eye - I could imagine it is the world’s most beautiful commute.

Thoughts of chatting with locals over a dinner of muskox and potatoes au gratin in the cafe on board dance in my head... Hearing their first-hand impressions of climate change’s impacts. Maybe picking up a few Greenlandic vocabulary words. Just drinking in their stories of daily life at the top of the world!

ARCTIC CIRCLE CROSSING

“We are soon approaching the Arctic Circle!”, the Captain announces over the speaker.

My heart starts beating faster at the exciting realization that I am the only one I know who has had such an experience. I am not much of a Sightseer who checks off monuments and national parks from a must-see list, but for the Arctic Circle I can make an exception! Back up to the top deck I race.

For half a second I actually scan for a line drawn in the sea, though of course there is no such line. Clean, crisp air hits my skin. Maybe the cleanest in the world. The roaring current against the ship’s hull somehow transfers a jolt of strength to me, too. I feel alive! I am a Greenland Pioneer!

  • For overnight passengers, there is a range of accommodations on Sarfaq Ittuk from private cabins to recently renovated shared rooms with bunk beds.
  • Three meals a day, plus an afternoon snack, are available on the coastal ferry. There is also a small store on board and wi-fi available for purchase.
  • All decks are open to take in the sights and do a bit of whale watching, and there is plenty of seating for everyone.

"I cling to my final minutes on board. I have pictures of nearly every town and iceberg from every possible angle, but it is this feeling that I want to memorize and recall decades from now. Awed. Touched. Adventurous."

 

  • Sarfaq Ittuk, the coastal ferry run by Arctic Umiaq Line, sails between Qaqortoq (South Greenland) and Ilulissat (North Greenland) from April till early January. A full route takes 4 nights northbound and 3 nights southbound.
  • Sarfaq Ittuk stops in a number of towns along its route. Passengers are welcome to disembark while in port. It is also possible to start or finish a trip in the middle of the route.
  • In summer, the Ship Guide offers short walking tours when Sarfaq Ittuk is in port.

THE END OF THE LINE

Almost two days after departing Nuuk, icebergs start passing us, first on the starboard side, then to port. Some are mammoth, larger even than the ferry itself.

As we near Ilulissat harbor, the journey flashes through my mind again. My cabin that was more like a small hotel room, the luxurious massage chair in the Aft Lounge, but most importantly the intangible experience.

I cling to my final minutes on board. I have pictures of nearly every town and iceberg from every possible angle, but it is this feeling that I want to memorize and recall decades from now. Awed. Touched. Adventurous.