Please note that my “live” voyage reports are slightly behind schedule due to internet connectivity issues and a busy schedule that includes Zodiac landings in remote villages, hikes, local performances, fascinating lectures, scenic cruising through iceberg-choked fjords, gourmet dining, complimentary beverages (yes, including champagne) and conversations with a friendly group of like-minded travelers.
Sisimiut, Greenland, August 28, 2015 — If breakfast ranks among your favorite meals, you’d enjoy waking up on Silver Explorer. Breakfast is not only varied (featuring an extensive menu) but also can be delivered to your stateroom or suite. This morning, as Silver Explorer docked in Sisimiut, we opted for room service, choosing to have breakfast in our suite instead of getting dressed to trot down to the restaurant.
What a great way to start the day, clad in bathrobes and being served Eggs Benedict (for Alex) and Buckwheat Pancakes (for me). At the hour indicated on the breakfast card that we put outside our door last night, our butler Sumit gently knocked, entered with a tray of covered dishes, spread a linen tablecloth across our coffee table and with a dash of elegance, arranged the plates, cups and saucers.
The style with which Silver Explorer’s butlers serve breakfast — or lunch or dinner for that matter — underscores one of the things that sets Silversea apart in the expedition segment. While you may not be convinced that you need a butler, after having had one (and having put your butler to good use), you will never want to go back to a butlerless cruise.
They key, of course, is to use your butler. You’re doing him a favor and yourself a favor by allowing your butler to help make your trip comfortable. Think about it. No one who applies for the position of butler wants timid guests, afraid to ask for something that would make their trips more enjoyable.
Let your butler draw a bubble bath for you, pour a glass of champagne to serve with the canapés that he brought to your room, get your computer connected and online, bring popcorn to your room so that you can enjoy one of the many complimentary on-demand movies — in bed.
Certainly a room attendant can do many of the things that a butler can do, but a butler adds a certain flair to it all — and you deserve that, don’t you?
Following that sumptuous breakfast, Alex and I disembarked for a guided town tour. Sisimiut sits just north of the Arctic Circle and is the northernmost town in Greenland where the port remains free of ice in the winter. As Greenland’s second largest town, Sisimiut registered a population of around 5,600 inhabitants in 2013.
Our guide Jacob had moved here from Aalborg, in Denmark, nine years ago. He told me that he prefers the easy way of life here, and despite what you might think, he enjoys winter over summer. The snow, he said, reflects light so that Sisimiut is not cloaked in darkness during the deepest of winter. “If the ground is not covered in snow by November,” he said, “people begin to get a little grumpy.” Snow can cover the ground as early as September.
Sisimiut gets enough snow and ice to drive a dogsled in winter and spring. Hence, we saw many Greenlandic sled dogs, also waiting for winter, on our walk today. These beautiful (and some not so beautiful) beasts rank among the world’s strongest dogs.
Sisimiut has a fair amount of traffic, including taxis, and an airport. I was surprised to see crosswalks, some being newly installed. Towns and villages are not connected by roads in Greenland, so the only traffic is local traffic. Because Greenland is part of the bike-friendly Kingdom of Denmark, the locals also use bikes. Jacob, in fact, pedaled off when he was done taking our group around town.
Sisimiut also has restaurants, bars, churches, a museum, a few grocery stores and a butcher (where the meat of mammals that are unthinkable as food are available for purchase — seal, seabirds, whale). During summer, the town also has mosquitoes, lots of them, so come prepared.
We tasted some of the local delicacies at the Sisimiut Museum, which houses part of its collection in Greenland’s oldest surviving church as well as in a peat house. Silversea had arranged the sampling free of charge for its guests, and Alex and I tasted Greenlandic soup, shrimp, whale and dried fish. The Greenlandic soup was tasty, the shrimp as you’d expect, the whale fatty with a lingering taste (and not a pleasant one) and the dried fish like cardboard. Still, it was good to try it all, served by two exceptionally gracious hosts. Thankfully, lunch was being served until 2 on Silver Explorer.
We stopped by a local crafts shop on our way back to the ship. Craftsmen were carving bones, presumably from whales and other marine life, into rings, necklaces, knife handles and more.
Shortly before Silver Explorer departed Sisimiut, we enjoyed a kayak demonstration that Silversea’s expedition staff had arranged. The qajaq (or “kayak”) remains a traditional mode of transportation in Greenland, although most hunters or fishermen use modern boats for hunting. The demonstration, which lasted a good 15 minutes, was incredible, as the rower performed a variety of eskimo rolls, where he turned the kayak over (bottoms up) and uprighted himself, his face rosy-cheeked from the frigid seawater.
From Crossing the Arctic Circle yesterday to touring Sisimiut today, our trip was off to a good start. Tomorrow, we will drop anchor in Qeqertarsuaq (the Greenlandic language makes good use of the consonant “q”), where we’ll zip ashore on Zodiacs and take a long hike to some waterfalls. Tonight? Maybe we’ll do room service once again. Why not? A couple of Black Angus steaks and baked potatoes in our suite, with a movie, of course, sounds like it may be just the ticket as we end our day here on Silver Explorer. And I have no doubt that serving us dinner will make Sumit one happy butler indeed.