Silver Explorer: Greenland, Wrapping Up

Silver Explorer, Greenland
Last night, the Northern Lights from Silver Explorer. © 2015 Ralph Grizzle

What impressions did Greenland and Silver Explorer leave upon us? Silver Explorer reminds me of the “Little Engine That Could.” She’s small but mighty. She works hard, and the 132 guests who sail her are rewarded for her hard work.

She’s taken me to Antarctica, where she outran a storm to get us to safe passage. She’s shown me that the Caribbean can still be an adventurous and charming place. And now she has shown me the beauty and grandeur of Greenland.

Silver Explorer, Greenland
Icebergs in Ilulissat. © 2015 Ralph Grizzle

She’s done all of this in that distinct Silversea style. What is that style? Silversea is a family-owned operation, and as such, its fleet has a family feeling. The on-board ambience is professional, yet personal. I stepped aboard to hugs and handshakes with staff who I had traveled with before. It wasn’t just that I was back on board. They were still there too, still working for Silversea. That says quite a lot too, I think.

I summed up a lot of what I like about Silver Explorer in An Avid Cruiser Favorite: Luxury Expedition Cruising On Silver Explorer. Though I posted it a couple of years ago, it’s still relevant about the components that set Silversea apart in the expedition segment.

Silver Explorer, Greenland
My son and I meet a local in Saqqaq. © 2015 Ralph Grizzle

Less than two weeks ago, I penned these words here on Avid Cruiser: Sometimes the significance of a trip doesn’t truly register until days, weeks, months or perhaps even years later. Our voyage to Greenland ended only a little more than a week ago, and already I find myself thinking back to the magic of the experience. I can’t thank Silversea and its fine staff enough for what they showed us, not only in Greenland but also on board the “Little Engine That Could.”

Following are links to posts from our Greenland voyage. I hope you enjoy sharing our experiences.

Video: A Father & Son In Greenland On Silver Explorer

Silver Explorer: Greenland, Day 1, Boarding In Kangerlussuaq

Kangerlussuaq, Greenland, August 27, 2015 — My 18-year-old son and I crossed the Arctic Circle today. Our morning flight from Copenhagen brought us to Kangerlussuaq, a former World War II military base that today serves as Greenland’s main international airport. After 4.5 hours in fairly cramped seats, we trundled down the steps of the Air Greenland Boeing 737 to set foot on the hallowed ground that for centuries has captured the imagination of Arctic explorers.

Like those explorers, we had come to see Greenland ourselves on Silversea Cruises’ stalwart Silver Explorer. Our eight-day voyage will begin by dipping below the Arctic Circle late tonight before taking us north to once again cross 66° 33° north, the parallel that marks the threshold into the seemingly barren and inhospitable Arctic realm.

We gathered our luggage and made our way outside the airport terminal to a small dusty parking lot. There, a yellow Thomas school bus awaited us for the transfer to Silver Explorer.

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Silver Explorer: Greenland, Day 2, Sisimiut, Sled Dogs & Room Service

Silver Explorer: Greenland, Day 2, Sisimiut, Sled Dogs & Room ServiceSisimiut, 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.

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Silver Explorer: Greenland, Day 3, Qeqertarsuaq & A Teen’s Hike To The Waterfalls

Qeqertarsuaq, Greenland, August 29, 2015 — Alex and I aren’t the only father-son duo on Silver Explorer. Benjamin, 21, is also here with his father. They hail from Birmingham in the United Kingdom, and they appear to be having as good a time as we are having.

I can’t say whether expedition cruising on Silversea is the right kind of trip for all teenagers and young adults, but I can say that it is the right kind of trip for my son. He’s cruised on Disney’s flagships, Royal Caribbean’s big ships and Carnival’s Fun Ships, but he prefers the adventure-seeking, thought-provoking expeditions offered by Silversea. The best trip of his life thus far: Russia’s Far East last August on Silver Discoverer. That trip certainly ranks high in my book of favorites as well.

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Silver Explorer: Greenland, Day 4, Qilakitsoq & Uummannaq, Mummies & A Rigorous Hike

Silver Explorer: Greenland, Day 4, Qilakitsoq & Uummannaq, Mummies & A Rigorous HikeEach morning, over the loudspeaker, Silver Explorer Expedition Team Leader Stefan awakens us with the drowsy voice of someone who has just gotten out of bed. “G-u-t-e-n m-o-r-g-e-n,” he says, stretching out the German words and sounding as though his throat is in desperate need of clearing. His greeting makes for an amusing start of the day.

I step out on the balcony to forecast the weather. Cloudy and a bit misty but nothing too severe. Silver Explorer’s daily newspaper, Chronicles, tells me the temperature will reach 45°F (7°C) today. Time to bundle up and head ashore.

On the first day of our voyage, we were divided in four Zodiac groups, which are rotated for each excursion in order to be fair to everyone. Today, our group, number 3, departs the ship at 8:45 a.m. Our group is the first to go. At 8:30 a.m., Alex and I pull on our parkas, which Silversea provides free of charge (and to take home) for each guest, our lifejackets (specially designed for the Zodiacs) and backpacks with aluminum water bottles that Silversea has given to us.

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Silver Explorer: Greenland, Day 5, Coming Ashore In Saqqaq & A Tour Of Our Suite

Sometimes the significance of a trip doesn’t truly register until days, weeks, months or perhaps even years later. I have experienced this phenomenon with my early travels — how India still affects me today even though I traveled there 30 years ago, for example. I sensed a similar outcome today in Greenland. I felt that my time here with my son would continue to live with me for years and decades to come.

As if she knew what I was thinking, an elderly Norwegian lady looked at 18-year-old Alex and said, “Your dad is giving you a trip that you’ll have for a lifetime.” We were sitting in the Panorama Lounge enjoying cocktails (and mocktails for Alex) while piano music played, just before dinner.

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Silver Explorer: Greenland, Day 6, Ilulissat & Icebergs

Silver Explorer: Greenland, Day 6, Ilulissat & IcebergsFor me, Ilulissat should be called Elusivessat. I’ve been within six nautical miles of Greenland’s most-visited town twice, yet I’ve never stepped ashore.

Today, we were scheduled to zip to shore in Zodiacs, join a guided town tour and hike for 45 minutes to a vantage point for viewing Ilulissat Icefjord. Our tour and hike were cancelled.

Others had booked pricey helicopter flights to view the most productive glacier in the northern hemisphere, the Jakobshavn Isbrae Glacier. All of their flights were cancelled.

The reason for the cancellations? Icebergs, and lots of them, clustered between our ship and the shore.

All of that ice presented an opportunity, however. Silver Explorer’s Expedition Team quickly arranged for boats to take us on tours of the Icefjord. The boats were originally scheduled to take us on afternoon tours, but with the morning’s plans in the deep freeze, so to speak, our afternoon plans were shifted to become our morning activities.

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Silver Explorer: Greenland, Day 7, A Surprise, And Then Something Amazing Happened

Silver Explorer: Greenland, Day 7, A Surprise, And Then Something Amazing Happened

September 7, 2015, En Route To Kangerlussuaq — Boating among chockablock icebergs in Ilulissat yesterday was a breathtaking experience. Although we spent only a couple of hours in the presence of the towering cathedrals of ice, those 120 minutes were among the most moving on a trip that had touched my son and I in so many ways.

In only a week’s time, we had stood beneath magnificent waterfalls, did a rigorous trek to Santa’s Castle (who knew it was in Greenland?), tramped the grounds where ancient cultures had lived and gazed upon a cliff where eight well-preserved mummies were found. We met local people and learned something of their lives up above the Arctic Circle. Greenland and the Arctic certainly have the power to stir souls.

The fact that the sun broke through the clouds yesterday was like the icing on the cake. It was the kind of day when you breathe in deeply and give thanks for being alive. Today turned out to be the same sort of day — but even better.

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Silver Explorer Greenland | Live Voyage Report

Day 1Silver Explorer: Greenland, Day 1, Boarding In Kangerlussuaq
Day 2Silver Explorer: Greenland, Day 2, Sisimiut, Sled Dogs & Room Service
Day 3Silver Explorer: Greenland, Day 3, Qeqertarsuaq & A Teen’s Hike To The Waterfalls
Day 4Silver Explorer: Greenland, Day 4, Qilakitsoq & Uummannaq, Mummies & A Rigorous Hike
Day 5Silver Explorer: Greenland, Day 5, Coming Ashore In Saqqaq & A Tour Of Our Suite
Day 6Silver Explorer: Greenland, Day 6, Ilulissat & Icebergs
Day 7Silver Explorer: Greenland, Day 7, A Surprise, And Then Something Amazing Happened
Silver Explorer: Greenland, Wrapping Up & Video Summary

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