Category: 11 – Cruise 13 – Fire, Ice & Greenland Explorer (Page 1 of 2)

JFK Airport Transfer Adventures

The POD trip to Terminal 5 is quick, efficient and smooth, unlike our JFK airport transfer. But more about that later.

The only problem so far is that I managed to break the wheel on one of our big suitcases yesterday. That’s going to make the walk to the New York ferry terminal fun on Friday morning…

Check-in at Special Assistance desk in Heathrow Airport, isn’t particularly efficient. Despite completing all the paperwork accompanying Linda’s mobility scooter in advance, we have to go through the whole rigmarole again. On the plus side, we get to fast track the security queue when it’s done.

No lounge today

Having lost Executive Club Silver status, we no longer have access to the BA Club lounge. Although my Amex Gold card includes four free Priority Pass credits, we decide not to bother today.

Instead we find a nice quiet corner on Level 2 and sit to enjoy an early morning coffee.

A map of Heathrow Terminal 5 showing where to find some quiet seats while you wait for your flight
There is a quiet seating area located between the escalators on Level 2

Boarding the 777

People with mobility issues are allowed to board the plane first. This is particularly useful as we are sat in the very last row of the Boeing 777.

The two-seat set-up of this particular row gives us a tiny bit more room – and no neighbour’s elbows. Nice.

The buttons on my in-flight entertainment system are broken. And the in-flight mapping system goes down after an hour and never comes back.

The flight to JFK

The flight is smooth and uneventful. We even nap for an hour or so. Not that it feels like it. 

Disembarkation and immigration

We are the last off the plane – which makes sense as we’re in the last row. Once off the plane, we simply follow the other special assistance passengers. 

Normally, immigration at JFK takes us at least an hour, standing in a hot, dingy corridor waiting to have passports and visas checked. This time we are through in a matter of minutes. Nice.

Transfer from JFK to the hotel

This is the point where the journey gets “interesting”. I have pre-booked a JFK airport transfer with Booking.com in a ‘large SUV’ for just £51.40. That’s about half the price of a yellow taxi or an Uber ($100+)…

A picture of the Booking.com confirmation of our JFK airport transfer
These are the same JFK airport transfer details the driver received – but he still headed for the wrong Holiday Inn Express!

According to my confirmation email, the transfer service is provided by Carzen, a Chinese company.

After collecting our luggage I send a text as instructed and receive a response from our driver. Perfect. I told him where to meet us – and again the driver responded to say he would be with us in a few minutes.

However…

The car details supplied via the Booking.com were wrong. The confirmation email told us to expect a black GMC Denali. Instead the driver arrived in a white Volkswagen. It takes us quite a while to find our car. At least there is plenty of boot space for our luggage and the scooter.

As we headed towards Manhattan it became clear that the driver didn’t actually know which Holiday Inn Express we are staying in. It took a bit of to-and-fro to get him pointed towards Wall Street. 

That said, we didn’t make any wrong turns, double-backs or unexpected toll roads. So although somewhat mysterious (will we get there?) the journey was actually straightforward and fast.

Would I recommend a Booking.com transfer? Yes. But you may find the process smoother if you have a US data plan just in case you need to call the driver – or help point them in the right direction.

As for the Holiday Inn Express Wall Street, I’ll write the review after we finish our stay…


Please note that we use sponsored links on this blog. Although we may earn a referral fee or bonus points on some of these products and services, we never recommend anything we wouldn’t use ourselves.

Rating the Holiday Inn Express Wall Street

During our brief sojourn in New York City we stayed in the Holiday Inn Express Wall Street. Here’s what we thought:

The low-down

Cost: £220.40 for two nights
Fair cost: £100 per night
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
How accurate are the website pictures? 4 out of 5

Key considerations

I spent ages choosing a hotel, making and cancelling several bookings as the prices fluctuated wildly in the months in the run-up to our visit. Here are the factors that influenced my final decision

  • Proximity to Pier 11 – to catch the ferry from Manhattan to Red Hook Cruise Terminal
  • Price
  • Accessibility
  • Breakfast

Eventually I booked the Holiday Inn Express Wall Street via Booking.com because the price, including breakfast, was ridiculously low compared to other nearby options. So low, I suspect it may have been a mistake <shrug>.

Location

Just off actual Wall Street, the hotel is located in the oldest part of Manhattan – the Financial District. Although handy for the ferry terminal at Pier 11 (more on that tomorrow) there isn’t much touristy stuff in this area.

This may not actually be a bad thing. My New Yorker friend believes this is a much more civilised, safer part of the city than say, Times Square.

On the flip side, with the exception of Battery Park and Ground Zero, there’s not a lot to see in this district. Not ideal when travelling with a scooter and trying to avoid the subway.

A picture of the Continental Hotel from the John Wick movies
John Wick fans may recognise this nearby building which provided the externals for the Continental Hotel

Check-in

Once inside and enjoying the air conditioning, check-in wasn’t too bad. The young man checking us in was very polite and efficient. 

Initially we were offered a room on the 5th floor. We asked the man for something higher and he countered with the 19th. 

‘Yes please!’ said we. 

‘Are you ok with a bath?’ he asked, looking doubtfully at Linda’s scooter.

‘Oh yes, I’d quite like a bath,’ said Linda.

Tap tap tap.

‘Fine, your room is on the 7th floor.’

Huh?

The room

Our room is not on the 19th floor. It does not have a bath. I offer to call down to reception to have us moved, but Linda says no. So we make the best of what we have.

It is quite small, quite dark, quite brown, quite cold and quite noisy. At least we know the air conditioning works. In fact, we can hear the air conditioning units for the whole building through our (closed) window.

A picture of the view from our room at the Holiday Inn Express Wall Street
The view from your Holiday Inn Express Wall Street room may be underwhelming

The bed is nice and comfortable, the bedding clean and crisp. I like it. Linda says the bed is more comfortable than the one at the Thistle yesterday.

The bathroom is large, but the walk-in shower design means that the whole room gets soaked. I hate that.

The wall mounted air conditioner is very effective and it takes a few attempts to find a comfortable temperature. It is also ridiculously loud – particularly when it fires up in the middle of the night.

—-

Top tip: Take some ear plugs. Or ask to be moved to a higher floor – there are 27 to choose from.

Breakfast

One of the big draws for the Holiday Inn Express, other than its location, is the free breakfast. 

The food choice is relatively ok. Bagels, bread and English muffins for toasting. Hot options include omelettes, pork sausages, turkey sausages and cubed potatoes. There’s three cereals, fresh fruit and yoghurts. Annoyingly, the pancake machine is out of action for our entire stay.

The breakfast is good and filling – a definite plus.

Check out

This is the point at which everything starts to go wrong. The weird layout of the building means that there’s a tight turn into the elevator with a scooter, particularly on the ground floor. Factor in three suitcases and it’s almost impossible to fit anyone else in.

As we leave, there are already three people in the elevator. We do manage to squeeze everything in – and then the alarm goes off. For no reason at all. The elevator refuses to move. We’re stuck on the seventh floor.

Our fellow passengers disembark in annoyance. Eventually I manage to reset the alarm and the lift shoots us up to the 25th floor. By the time we finally make it back to the lobby, we have acquired another six passengers. It’s cramped, uncomfortable and bad tempered.

Check-out itself is simply a matter of throwing our keycards in a bowl and sprinting for the door. We have less than ten minutes to make out ferry to the Red Hook Cruise Terminal

The run

Pier 11 is just a six minute walk from the Holiday Inn Express Wall Street. Pulling three suitcases across New York’s poorly maintained roads in 30ºC heat makes it feel like a six-hundred mile run – and that’s before a wheel falls off the other suitcase.

A map showing the walking route from the Holiday Inn Express Wall Street to Pier 11
It’s a short walk/run from the Holiday Inn Express Wall Street to Pier 11

We reach Pier 11 and I hesitate as I find my bearings. It costs us 30 seconds – long enough for the ferry team to close the access gate and stop us boarding. It’s now a one-hour wait for the next ferry.

Top tip: Walk down the Pier, past the ticket office/café and you will find Slip C on the right-hand side. 

Bonus tip: Download the NYC Ferry app and buy your tickets in advance. It will save you time queuing at the dock.

I say we made it in time. Linda disagrees. I guess the fact we’re still sitting on the dock proves she is right.

Other options

During our last NYC visit, we stayed just around the corner at the Wall Street Inn. I quite liked the slightly dated charm of the hotel, but the cost (prices fluctuated between £350 and £750 in the months running up to our trip) and the poor quality breakfast counted against it.

The good news is that there are plenty of other hotels in the Financial District – most hugely over-priced. Other cruisers on our adventure stayed at the Doubletree by Hilton or the AC Marriott which are also close to Pier 11.

Overall

The Holiday Inn Express is quite bland and faceless – it is part of chain after all. However, the breakfast and slightly closer position to Pier 11 means we think it just beats out The Wall Street Inn.

Halifax and the Five Fishermen Restaurant

The first stop on our latest journey is Halifax, Nova Scotia. Having been here once before, we’ve already seen the number one dark tourism site, The Fairlawn Cemetery.

This time, we decided to stick to the centre of the city, specifically the Five Fishermen Restaurant. 

Along the boardwalk

Halifax has clearly chosen to capitalise on the cruise market. Every ship is greeted by a kilted piper, helping them to claim the ‘most welcoming port in the world’ title.

Disembarkation is smooth, and the cruise terminal has a very useful tourist information desk. You can ask these local experts anything – including which public bus to catch to any destination – and they will help you out with a free city map.

Leaving the terminal, turn right and start walking to reach the city centre. Once past the statue of Samuel Cunard (yes, he of cruise line fame), you will reach a boardwalk lined with trendy restaurants and varsity. Further down you can find food stands, handicrafts and a couple of museums – including a weird blue-and-white corvette retired from the Canadian Navy.

A picture of the retired Canadian Navy corvette anchored at Halifax boardwalk
An arctic paint job

Top tip: Lobster rolls are much cheaper here ($25 CAD) on the boardwalk than in any of the American states ($50 USD).

It’s all uphill from here

The Five Fishermen restaurant is not far from the end of the boardwalk – but it’s all uphill. And the hill is quite steep. 

A map showing the walking route from the Halifax Cruise Terminal to the Five Fishermen Restaurant
The walk from the Cruise Terminal to the Five Fishermen isn’t too bad really

Thankfully it is Sunday so there’s not much traffic or pedestrians around, making it quite easy to get around with the mobility scooter.

Why visit the Five Fishermen Restaurant?

The Five Fishermen Restaurant isn’t all that much to look up, but it has a unique place in dark tourism history. Back in 1912, this shiplap building was occupied by Snow & Company Undertakers. In the aftermath of the sinking of the Titanic, this was where victims were processed – either to be sent back to their families or for burial in the Fairlawn Cemetery. 

The Five Fishermen Restaurant in Halifax, Nova Scotia
The Five Fishermen Restaurant used to be a funeral home

Five years later, the undertakers was again overwhelmed after the infamous Halifax Explosion which killed nearly 2,000 local people. Photographs published in the Halifax local newspaper of the time show coffins stacked in the street as undertakers rushed to deal with the sheer number of dead.

Unsurprisingly, some claim the Five Fishermen is haunted…

Back to the ship

Thankfully, the journey back to the ship is all downhill. Better still, there’s a Tim Horton’s on the way. We stop in for a doughnut and milkshake each, shocked again by the amount of sugar in each – far more than we get in the UK branches!

Despite the constant rattling and bumping being quite uncomfortable, we opt to make the return trip along the wooden planked boardwalk. Along the way we spot a seal just off shore, stealing fish from a local fisherman. He seems quite amused, like this is not the first time he has had this problem.

We also manage to grab a geocache (GCZ4QV) near the cruise terminal, dropping off the travel bug we collected in Puerto Rico last year. Oops.

Did we get passport stamps in Halifax?

I asked at tourist information whether we could have passport stamps. The helpful gent behind the desk says that normally you can get one from the immigration/post office. But they are not open on Sundays. 

So no, we did not get our passports stamped.

Overall

Halifax is a perfectly pleasant city and well worth a visit if you are in the area. Linda says she would be tempted to make a specific trip to visit, particularly when she’s fully mobile again.

You don’t see that every day…

A picture of the helicopter doing the late night medivac
The view from our balcony last night.

There was an emergency medivac late last night and the helicopter flew right over our balcony. You have to admire the skill of the pilot, the bravery of the two medics who were winched out of the helicopter – and hope that the patient is making a good recovery.

Cruising into Corner Brook

Our arrival into Corner Brook was delayed by several hours because of last night’s medivac and the detour required. We finally dock around 11:30am.

This will be our last dockside disembarkation for a while and using the gangway from Deck 4 makes the process very simple. There’s a few huts set up on the dockside selling souvenirs made from moose antlers and the like. A gang of local people is handing out tourist maps and helping herd cruisers towards the free shuttles into town.

Having checked the map before departure, we decide to do the 15 minute walk ourselves. Immediately we encounter a few issues, such as the huge ‘gap’ in the road bridge which is large enough to trap a mobility scooter wheel. Thankfully we spotted it before Linda hit it. We also discover that the many drop kerbs are very poorly maintained, making for an uncomfortable and bumpy ride.


Top tip: Mobility scooter riders may like to take a cushion to help make the bumpy journey a little more comfortable.


Corner Brook itself is a quaint little town, pleasant but not entirely remarkable. I asked one of our fellow cruisers if this was like traditional small town America. He agreed, before adding, ‘but the people are more polite.’

A view of the road into Corner Brook
The somewhat uninspiring view as you walk into town

There are a handful of hiking trails and a couple of caves to explore – but not much for those with accessibility issues. We can’t get up the hill to check out the Captain Cook memorial for instance. 

Instead we visit Remembrance Square outside the town hall to look at the War Memorial. It’s a little unusual, featuring a caribou flanked by a World War I soldier and another from the Afghan War. 

A picture of the Corner Brook War Memorial
The Corner Brook War Memorial

Afterwards, we take a trip to the roof of the Corner Brook town hall – three whole storeys above street level. There is a rooftop garden, some views across the town and the Humber Arm. There’s also supposed to be a geocache here, but it has gone missing and not yet been replaced.

Back on the street, we continue up Main Street, taking in the atmosphere and checking out the local shops. It’s remarkably hot and sweaty, so when we get to the end of the street, we head back for the ship.

Thankfully we’re back on board by the time a major thunderstorm breaks over the town. There is thunder, lightning and torrential rain – much to the joy of the local taxi drivers who are making a fortune ferrying cruisers back to the ship.

To be honest, Corner Brook doesn’t have enough to make it a major tourist destination. But that’s part of its charm. We’ve enjoyed our brief stay and would be tempted to return one day – when Linda is fully fit again.

Did we get a passport stamp?

I asked about passport stamps at the Town Hall, much to the bemusement of the two receptionists. No, no passport stamps.

Skipping St Anthony

One of the problems with visiting ‘wilderness’ destinations is that they are rarely suitable for people with accessibility issues. So when we anchored outside St Anthony this morning, we faced a dilemma.

St Anthony is a very small town, population circa 2200, located in the extreme north of Newfoundland (so small it only has one Tim Hortons restaurant). It’s a functional place with little of interest for tourists other than unpaved hiking trails across the rugged landscape. There are just three geocaches nearby, none of which are mobility-scooter accessible.

After a lot of hemming and hawing, we decided not to disembark. There is simply not enough to do in town to justify the hassle of tendering into port. And it seems we made the right decision.

A picture of Linda and Ben with St Anthony visible in the background
This was as close as we got to St Anthony – but the view of the whales was better from the ship anyway

Tender nightmare

When visiting a small port, the queues to catch a tender from ship to shore tend to be quite long. Usually, you collect a ticket and wait until your number is called. By about 10am the queues have shortened and tickets are no longer required.

Not so in St Anthony. Today we were still hearing announcements for tender tickets and queues at 2:45pm. And the last return tender was scheduled for 5pm. We could see the queue for people hoping to return to ship from our balcony – fellow cruisers claimed it was a two-hour wait. Anyone leaving the ship this afternoon would have had a matter of minutes on shore before having to come back.

What is there to do in St Anthony?

  • Iceberg and whale watching
  • Coastal hikes and walks
  • Grenfell House, former home of St Anthony hospital founder Sir Wilfred Grenfell
  • Some generic shops

Unfortunately, even the Newfoundland and Labrador tourist board struggles to promote the St Anthony.

For a town with little to offer, this seemed far more trouble than it was worth. Sorry St Anthony.

Staying onboard Island Princess

Rather than add to the madness, we spent the day sat on the sun loungers in the Lotus Pool area on Deck 14. This allowed me to catch up on some work and make good progress on my third novel, Misrepresented.

Better yet, we were able to watch whales frolicking off-shore as we relaxed, which was very cool.


Top tip: A pair of binoculars is a cruise essential. Without them we would not have been able to watch the whales or to fully admire the beauty of the Newfoundland landscape.


Apeman BC70 binoculars

Linda spent a long time researching binoculars before buying me a pair of Apeman BC70 binoculars. These are compact, lightweight and can be easily thrown into a backpack for travelling on- or off-shore. The Apeman BC70 seems to be hard to come by these days, but the same model is available under various brandnames – including OYU like the ones shown here.

These are excellent for whale watching, iceberg viewing and scanning coastlines and city skylines.

Well-worth a few dollars/pounds.

Bad news after leaving St Anthony

As we pulled away from St Anthony, the Captain made a ship-wide announcement. Our next two ports, Qaqortoq and Nanortalik, have been cancelled because both harbours are blocked by icebergs. Our ship will not be able to get into port safely.

In a change of itinerary, the Captain has negotiated a visit to Nuuk, the capital of Greenland, instead. It’s a 900+ nautical mile journey almost due north, travelling at just 10 knots.

We’ve never been to Nuuk, which is cool, but I doubt it has the same tiny village charm of the smaller ports. We had been really looking forward to our return visit.

But as one of our fellow cruisers noted, ‘It’s an adventure!’. Given that the captain has never been to Nuuk either, I think he may be right.


Please note that we use sponsored links on this blog. Although we may earn a referral fee or bonus points on some of these products and services, we never recommend anything we wouldn’t use ourselves.

Happy Birthday Island Princess

More by luck than anything else, our trip coincides with the 21st birthday of our ship, the Island Princess. Which is a great excuse for a party.

After dinner this evening, there is a large birthday celebration on Deck 5 which is pretty cool. Thousands of guests and crew have crammed into the central plaza to sing Happy Birthday, eat cake and to celebrate heritage of Princess Cruise’s third oldest ship.

As usual, the chefs have outdone themselves, creating an enormous birthday cake and a replica of the ship – also in cake. It’s an astonishing spectacle. Some guests complain that the food on Princess Cruises is pretty average, but we are always thrilled by the sheer creativity of the kitchen team.

A picture of an incredibly detailed, accurate cake version of the Island Princess
An incredibly detailed, accurate cake version of Island Princess

So in celebration of 21 years plying the seven seas, here’s some facts and general geekery about Island:

  • This is the second Princess ship to bear the name Island Princess. The first changed hands many times before finally being scrapped in 2014.
  • The current iteration of Island Princess was ordered way back in 1999 at a cost of USD $330 million and started her first voyage on 12th July 2003.
  • Much smaller than her newer sisters, Island Princess has a maximum guest capacity of 2,214, and a crew of 900 keep us comfortable.
  • At ‘just’ 91,627 GT, Island is the smallest ship in the fleet by more than 15,000 tonnes. 
  • Island is one of two Coral Class ships in the Princess fleet. She and sister ship Coral Princess are the only ones small enough to travel through the ‘old’ Panama Canal locks.
  • Like most other cruise ships, there is no deck 13.
  • Island was built in at the Chantiers de l’Atlantique yard in France. Since then, all Princess ships have been built in either Italy or Japan.
  • When she was launched, Island Princess was fitted with two faux gas turbines. They looked like jet engines strapped to the sides of the funnel.
  • Originally intended to ply the profitable Caribbean routes, Island Princess has a retractable glass roof over the Lotus pool on Deck 14. We have never seen it open!
  • Island first arrived in Europe in 2015. Since then she has undertaken several world cruises of 110 days or more.

After serving hundreds of thousands of guests and circumnavigating the globe several times, Island Princess is showing her age. You can see the wrinkles and dents if you look hard enough – but that’s part of her charm. She’s a well-loved ship with an outstanding crew who more than make up for the lack of glitz found on her bigger, younger sisters. There’s a laidback, fun vibe that the newer ships lack – and that’s what keeps pulling us back to Island

Happy birthday old girl – we hope you see many more. And just in case she is reaching the end of her Princess tenure, book your own Island Princess cruise soon.


Please note that we use sponsored links on this blog. Although we may earn a referral fee or bonus points on some of these products and services, we never recommend anything we wouldn’t use ourselves.

Not Much in Nuuk

With a population of approximately 19,000 people, Nuuk is a very small city. It is also undergoing a significant period of growth, with new apartment blocks going up everywhere.

Island Princess docks in the port, which is the other side of a hill from the rest of Nuuk city. It’s about one mile walk each way, although one of the local tour firms has laid on shuttle buses ($22 per person, tickets valid all day). Tickets must be purchased in advance the day before you dock.

Once we have made the hike into town, it becomes clear there won’t be much to do today. It’s Sunday and virtually everything is closed. There are a handful of tourist stores, some cafés and the national museum down on the waterfront. Bizarrely, the local stonemason is also open for business.


Top tip: The Nuuk Tourist Office on the corner of Imaneq and Kuussuaq in the centre of town is much cheaper than the stalls in the unit next to the dock. 

Bonus tip: It is illegal for US and Canadian residents to import seal skin or fur goods which is a shame because the locally-made gloves and slippers look amazing.


Meandering down the Main Street, we pass Greenland’s only shopping mall. Sadly, even the cathedral is closed – this time for renovation. I take a quick hike up the hill to take a panoramic picture of the city from next to the statue of Hans Egede, the missionary who brought Christianity to Greenland.

A picture of Nuuk Cathedral and beyond
The view across Nuuk

We also have a quick look at the statue of Sedna which is only visible at low tide. There are many legends about Sedna, Mother of the Sea, most of which involve her father throwing her out of his kayak before chopping off her fingers to loosen her grip. Those fingers went on to become all the seals in the Arctic Sea.

Although it would have been cool to see the Qilakitsoq Mummies in the Greenland National Museum, we have to give it a miss. The building is clearly not designed for wheelchairs or scooters, so there’s little chance of us navigating the exhibits.


Top tip: Most of Nuuk is closed on a Sunday.

Bonus tip: The National Museum is free to visit on Sundays.


On the way back to the ship, we’re lucky enough to pass the farmer’s market where one can buy ox, seabirds, narwhal, seal and all kinds of local delicacies. But we don’t.


Top tip: Take a second battery for your mobility scooter. The uphill journey into town uses a lot of power.


A picture of Nuuk cemetery
The graveyard is quite some distance from Nuuk Cathedral

I like the laidback vibe of the city and would happily visit again. Linda said she quite liked it too, but she is sceptical that there is anything else to see or do. The locals that we met were very friendly, happy to wave a greeting even if they did not speak English.

The only weird thing was where were the people of Nuuk today? The streets were largely deserted apart from other cruisers.


Top tip: It may be mid-summer, but the temperature topped out at 5ºC today. Make sure to take some gloves, especially if you will be riding a mobility scooter.


Did we get passport stamps in Nuuk?

No. There are no stamps at Nuuk port and the police station is only open four days per week (definitely not Sundays). I asked at the tourist shop and they offered to sell me postage stamps – not quite what I had in mind.

Gutted. I REALLY want a Greenland stamp for my passport.

Greenland port cancellations – important warning

Greenland port cancellations are a very real risk this summer because of… ice. We experienced a last minute itinerary change, leading to cancellation of port visits in Qaqortoq and Nanortalik. And it’s not just Princess Cruises that are affected.

Why are there so many Greenland port cancellations this year?

Every spring, the polar ice cap melts slightly, releasing icebergs into the Arctic Sea. Normally, these enormous chunks of ice then glide peacefully along the East coast of Greenland and off into the Atlantic, melting along the way. Polar ice is joined by glacier ice in this annual migration south.

This year, strong northerly winds have pushed the ice back inshore, clogging up many of the inlets and harbours on the southerly and easterly coast of Greenland. Unfortunately, this means that ports like Qaqortoq and Nanortalik are inaccessible to large cruise ships like Island Princess and MSC Virtuosa.

A view of the dense ice field outside Qaqortoq which is causing Greenland cruise cancellations
A view of the ice field outside Qaqortoq

It’s just ice, right?

According to a presentation by the Ice Pilots on board our ship, the conditions are rated on a scale of 0-10 to indicate ice thickness. Zero denotes no ice, 10 is frozen solid. Both Nanortalik and Qaqortoq are currently rated 7.

Surely a modern(ish) cruise ship can cope with a little (lot) of ice? Having been to Halifax once on this trip already, the answer is categorically, NO.

A gif of the Titanic sinking after hitting an iceberg
Just no.

Island Princess is rated to cope with conditions of 3. And many newer ships are rated lower still. Even if the ships did make it into port, they risk being crushed and/or trapped as the ice continues to move around the hull.

A picture showing how far the impenetrable ice pack extends from the Greenland coastline
The bright green line shows how far the impenetrable ice pack extends from shore (blue line) and the towns (red dots)

It’s not hull thickness that matters

Interestingly, the thickness and shape of the hull are less important than expected. According to the pilots, the spacing between hull supports is what matters; the smaller the gap, the stronger the hull and the higher the ice rating. 

As such, only polar explorer-type ships will be able to enter Nanortalik, Qaqortoq and Prince Christian Sound for the foreseeable future. And even that is at the discretion of the ice pilots onboard each ship.

What now?

As things stand, the eastern and southern coasts of Greenland will remain inaccessible until the wind and currents change, hopefully carrying the ice back to sea. The ice pilots have said that it is entirely possible this may not occur until very late in the season – or maybe not at all this year.

If you are on a cruise to Greenland this year, be prepared for a port cancellation announcement before your arrival. If you have not yet left, and Greenland is on your bucket list, you may want to contact your travel agent to check your cancellation or postponement options. 

Will my cruise line warn me of problems in advance?

No. Greenland port cancellations will only be announced once they are officially unavoidable. Despite the problem being expected to last weeks or months, no notification will be made until well after your cruise has already begun.

As for us, we were lucky that the captain was able to arrange a consolatory stop in Nuuk on the western coast of Greenland. Maybe we will have to come back again one day.

Next year…?

Princess will be sailing an 18-day Greenland & Canada itinerary twice in 2025 from New York on Island Princess including a new port, Paamiut. If departing from the UK, you have two chances with a 16-day Iceland & Greenland itinerary on Emerald Princess. Note, that this is a newer, larger ship – which means that should the ice be problematic next year, the odds of getting into port are even lower.


Please note that we use sponsored links on this blog. Although we may earn a referral fee or bonus points on some of these products and services, we never recommend anything we wouldn’t use ourselves.

How to fix cold showers on Island Princess

No hot water in your cabin stateroom? Here’s how to fix cold showers on Island Princess:

Method 1: Fix It Yourself

  1. Twist shower head to face wall and pull shower curtain closed – you don’t want to flood your bathroom.
  2. Turn on shower and set temperature to 38ºC or hotter.
  3. Leave shower running for one minute.
  4. Flush the toilet.
  5. Enjoy your hot shower!
Step 2 of how to fix cold showers on Island Princess - set temperature to 38ºC or warmer
Set temperature to 38ºC or higher

We have no idea why this works, but after four days of cold water, this seems to have fixed the problem for us. No more cold showers on Island Princess for us.

Enjoy!

Method 2: Get Help

  1. Call Guest Services from your cabin stateroom phone or use CrewCall on the Medallion app.
  2. Report an issue with no hot water.
  3. Vacate your cabin for several hours while Maintenance engineers tinker around inside the walls of your bathroom

We strongly recommend trying Method 1 first if only to save yourself some time and inconvenience.

Note: We don’t know if this technique works on other ships or cruise lines. Your mileage may vary.


Please note that we use sponsored links on this blog. Although we may earn a referral fee or bonus points on some of these products and services, we never recommend anything we wouldn’t use ourselves.

« Older posts

Please note that Journey Into Darkness does not select, endorse or control the advertisements shown above. See our Affiliate Disclosure page for more info.