Today we finally get to set foot on Greenland but we can’t see a thing through the fog – apart from the Danish warship cruising slowly past, checking us out.
The captain assures us that you can see for miles at sea level, but I’m not convinced. Eventually we head down to the tender and make our way ashore.
The mist lingers for a little while and then suddenly burns off as the sun gets higher in the sky. It’s a beautiful day after all.
Top tip: Despite being a Danish protectorate, Greenland is not part of the European Union. This means that you will not be able to use any roaming minutes or data included in your cellphone contract – even if it includes EU roaming. Expect to pay £2.50 per minute to make calls, £1.50 per minute to receive calls, £0.40 per SMS message and £5 per megabyte to use data services.
Bonus tip: Don’t activate your cellular data on land. And don’t expect to find many free WiFi networks either. You’re better off waiting until you get back on the ship to make calls and share photos.
Qaqortoq is a tiny place, especially with two cruise ships in port. Cruisers outnumber locals by about 4 to 1.
Island Princess is moored behind the Zuiderdam
There are a few shops and the supermarket is doing a roaring trade. Some of the cruisers I speak to are upset that the only coffeeshop in town has not yet opened.
Top tip: The café is in the central square near the famous fountain – and it opens at 12pm (so there’s no need to complain). They also sell beer.
There is a local fish market with two traders, one selling very large fish and the other seal meat.
Lovely fresh seal meat
The locals have also set up a series of small stands, selling polished stone jewellery in a vivid pink colour as well as beaded trinkets and polar bear claws. Behind them, local artists have made a series of carvings into the cliffs, one of the few attractions in the town.
Top tip: The local traders tend to accept payment in Danish Krone, Euros and US Dollars. There is a bank in town with a cashpoint if you need it – look for the large black building.
Despite the massive influx of cruisers, the town is surprisingly peaceful and looks beautiful in the sun. I suspect it is quite bleak here in the winter though.
Top tip: The locals offer plenty of iceberg and whale watching tours departing from the dock. Expect to pay around $100 USD per person.
There is a massive queue for the return water shuttle, but thankfully it moves quite smoothly. Once back on board we are treated to the sight of a helicopter dumping water on the local garbage dump where a controlled burn has got out of control.
I’ve seen more fire and ice in Greenland than in Iceland
Our next stop, Nanortalik, is just 75 miles from Qaqortoq, so we will arrive there around 10pm and anchor in the harbour overnight.
Just before heading to bed, I take my chances on the balcony – and finally get to see the Northern Lights. I’ve managed to tick two items off my bucket list – what a day!