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Travelling on the Arctic Umiaq Line in Greenland

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This is what it’s like travelling on the Arctic Umiaq Line in Greenland, without a doubt one of the most beautiful boat trips in the world.

Life on the Arctic Umiaq Line in Greenland

As I pulled back the curtains aboard the Arctic Umiaq Line an iceberg the size of a house drifted past, a blanket of mist in its wake, white waves lapping at its side.

When I looked further into the distance I saw more and more of these giants making their slow procession past my window, each one a different shape and size, each one as beautiful and unique as the one next to it.

As far a wake up calls go, looking out at hundreds of icebergs silently slipping through the waters somewhere off the coast of Greenland has got to be up there. It’s certainly something you don’t forget quickly.

Planning a trip to Greenland? Then bookmark my guides on the best places to visit in Greenland, on what the food is like and my top tips for Greenland too. I’ve also written individual desination guides to Nuuk, Igaliku, Narsaq, Qaqortoq and Uunartoq.

Travelling on the Arctic Umiaq Line in Greenland
Travelling on the Arctic Umiaq Line in Greenland

Watch what it’s really like travelling on the Arctic Umiaq Line

The afternoon we left Nuuk we went down to the harbour with what seemed like half the city. When you consider the population of Nuuk is only 17,000 people I guess it’s not that many, but it felt like the place was teeming with bodies.

However, when the Arctic Umiaq Line leaves the city it’s a big event, especially when you’re saying goodbye to loved ones and family members on board.

When we arrived we were greeted by the young smiling face of Mattias, the customer relations manager and our guide for the next two days.

With hardly any roads in Greenland and the cost of flying very expensive, the majority of families opt to take the boat down the coast. With some of the world’s most beautiful landscapes just outside your window it’s easy to understand why.

Life on the Arctic Umiaq Line

The Arctic Umiaq Line travels all the way from Nuuk to Qaqortoq in the south stopping at a number of small towns and fishing villages, and being on board you really get a sense of what life is like along the coast.

Once we had checked into our cabins and dumped our bags, we headed straight outside to wave off all the families that had gathered on the dock. It really brought a smile to my face seeing all those people say goodbye to each other and it once again highlighted the huge sense of community that people have in Greenland.

As we set sail and left Nuuk behind, Brianna, Brian and I headed up to the top deck to take in the views of the mountains and icebergs all around us. There, over the next few hours, we watched the beauty of Greenland’s coastline unfold before us.

Food on the Arctic Umiaq Line

On the Arctic Umiaq Line there’s a canteen that serves lunch and dinner. A lot of families bring enough food to eat for the two-day journey but we decided to eat on the boat to get the real experience.

Considering we were floating in the middle of nowhere the food was amazing, and for Greenland it was fairly cheap too. DKK 100 (£12/$15) bought you a main and a salad, and the desserts were pretty tasty too!

That means you don’t need any entertainment – all you have to do is look out the window or go up to the top deck.

Saying that, our first stop was at Qeqertarsuatsiaat, a tiny fishing village about five hours south of Nuuk. Again, much like in the capital, it seemed like the whole village had come out to welcome us, kids grinning and waving as we moored up.

There Mattias showed us around the village. We were only docking for 15 minutes and it only took five to walk around the place.

This place was so tiny, and like everywhere else in Greenland each house was painted a bright colour. There was one addition however – a set of reindeer antlers outside each house showing the kills made by the hunters.

Day 2 on the Arctic Umiaq Line

Our second day on the boat woke with icebergs out the window.

With an early wake-up call at 4:30, we pulled into Paamiut, another small village along the coast.

There, Mattias and I walked around at a sedate pace taking in the sights of the church and the bakery. At that time of the morning everything was shrouded in fog giving an eerie feel to the place, but after strolling around for a little bit you couldn’t help but notice how peaceful and serene everything was.

From there on the three of us drifted from our rooms to the viewing deck to the top deck, chatting and passing time with icebergs ever present as the backdrop lazily drifted past us.

At one point Mattias came running over to us to point out a huge herd of reindeer feeding on a rocky outcrop, their antlers clearly silhouetted against the right blue sky. They watched us as we sailed past almost as if they knew we were foreigners in their land.

Another moment we entered into a very narrow channel only for fog to descend upon us and I could barely see my hand in front of my face. When that happens you’ve got no choice but to go inside otherwise you’d freeze to death.

You’d think things would get tedious and boring after two days on the water with nothing to do, but that’s the true beauty of Greenland. You really don’t need any form of entertainment to be overawed.

How could you be when you’re in a place such as this?

Flying may be quicker, but then you’d miss out on all of this. I think I know which one I prefer.

How much does the Arctic Umiaq Line cost?

A couchette aboard the Arctic Umiaq Line from Nuuk to Qaqortoq costs DKK 2,225 (£270/$335) during peak seaon (1st June till the 31st August) and costs DKK 1,725 (£210/$260) during off-season (the rest of the year).

A cabin (four bed) aboard the Arctic Umiaq Line Nuuk to Qaqortoq costs DKK 3,150 (£381/$474) during peak seaon (1st June till the 31st August) and costs DKK 2,375 (£288 / $358) during off-season (the rest of the year).

Photos of the Arctic Umiaq Line

Have you ever travelled by boat in Greenland? What was your experience like? Let everyone know your thoughts in the comments below!

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Travelling by boat in Greenland

About the Author

  • Macca Sherifi

    Macca Sherifi is the founder of the multiple award-winning blogs An Adventurous World and the Great British Bucket List. Every month he inspires over 200,000 avid readers to travel the world.

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