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Written by Savi, No comments

We first visited the remote Arctic North many years ago. Svalbard in Norway was a revelation! Over the years we have had many new experiences and explored dozens of countries, but we find ourselves drawn to the Polar North repeatedly! It’s a love story in the making and I can’t wait to see where it takes us.

Keeping our fascination for remote Arctic regions in mind, we decided to go on a 16 day itinerary of Greenland, Canada, and the remote Thule region offered by Ponant this summer – read on to find out what we saw, what we learnt, and the highlights of this special trip to a remote part of this world.

Greenland is one of the hardest countries to reach and explore as flights are limited and there are no highways in the country. But it is also the most rewarding. Due to the lack of highways and limited connectivity via flights, it is easiest to explore these areas via a polar cruise. We opted for the 16 night Greenland and Thule itinerary, offered by Ponant! This itinerary includes flights from Paris to Greenland, 16 nights accommodation, all meals, and all excursions in a luxurious setting. Read on for the details and see if it is right for you 🙂

There are no highways in Greenland but beautiful panoramas await 🙂

Here are some highlights and must-do experiences from our time in Greenland, Arctic Canada, and the Thule (pronounced Thoo-lay) Region


Ship and Dining

From hiking glaciers and cruising next to icebergs to learning about Inuit traditions and visiting remote settlements, every moment in Greenland made us fall even more in love with the Arctic regions. On board our cruise ship, an intimate vessel with less than 200 people, we made lots of friends and spent each evening drinking and dining to our heart’s content. You can see all details about the ship, including cabins, restaurants, dining, spa, and entertainment in this article on Ponant’s L’Austral which I wrote some time ago. This will give you a detailed overview of the ship and its offerings. But if you have any questions, just leave them below and we will try to get back to you asap.


Stateroom with balcony on Ponant L’Austral


Visas For this voyage

If you have an Indian passport, you need visas for Canada and Greenland for this voyage. The Canada visa is straightforward. So is Greenland. If you do not have a Schengen visa, you will need to apply for it at the Denmark VFS closest to you. This will allow you to enter all Schengen states and Greenland. Even if you DO have a Schengen visa issued by any country other than Denmark, then you still need a visa for Greenland. You can apply for it at the Denmark VFS closest to you. I submitted all the documents requested at the VFS Centre in CP, Delhi and it took 6 weeks for my visa to be processed.


Incredible Highlights & what to expect

Every day in the area brings a new adventure. Everyday we went on 1, sometimes 2 excursions and saw so many surreal places! But here are some of our favourites – highlights that will give you an idea of what to expect


1. Hiking next to glaciers: Exploring Frozen Giants

Greenland is home to some of the world’s most impressive glaciers, and seeing these frozen giants up close is a once-in-a-lifetime adventure. Among the standout glaciers is the Eqi Glacier, known for its stunning walls of ice. These can be explored on guided hikes that lead you to vantage points with awe-inspiring views of the surroundings. The sensation of standing on millennia-old ice, surrounded by pristine wilderness, is an experience that stays with you forever. Another popular glacier is the Russell Glacier, which offers a unique opportunity to explore ice tunnels and crevasses under the guidance of experienced guides.

Hiking next to glaciers


2. Zodiac Cruises Next to Icebergs: Close Encounters with Arctic Ice

Greenland’s coastlines are dotted with colossal icebergs, each a masterpiece sculpted by nature. One of the most exhilarating ways to get up close and personal with these icebergs is by taking a Zodiac cruise, which were included in our polar expedition with Ponant. These sturdy, inflatable boats allow you to safely get close to the towering ice formations and admire them.

In Savissivik and Disko Bay at Ilulissat, a UNESCO World Heritage site known for its icebergs, Zodiac excursions offer an opportunity to weave through a surreal landscape of floating ice sculptures. Expect intricate ice-formations, blue waters, and wild birds by the dozen. Make sure you keep your phone or camera ready to capture the vivid colours and intricate shapes of these natural wonders.

You feel tiny compared to these icebergs. Look at that blue colour

3. Learning About Inuit Culture: An Insight into Arctic Traditions

One of the most unique aspects of this Ponant Polar excursion was the insight it offered into Inuit culture. To truly appreciate Greenland, it’s essential to learn more about the unique culture that has been thriving here for centuries. We visited several local communities in small villages such as Sisimiut, Kullorsuaq (my favourite!), and Siorapaluk to gain a deeper understanding of their way of life. The culture here is build around fishing and hunting, and it is very different from any other culture you might have seen! We loved learning about oral traditions, myths, and legends, which have been passed down through generations in Inuit culture.

The village mayor comes in a Kayak to officially welcome the ship and its passengers 🙂

4. Visiting the Northernmost Settlements on Earth: The Edge of the World

Greenland is home to some of the northernmost settlements on the planet, offering a glimpse into a life lived on the edge of the world. Places like Siorapaluk, Qaanaaq, and Thule are not only stunningly remote but also culturally rich. These communities provide a unique perspective on life in the Arctic, where hunting and fishing remain essential for survival.

Siorapaluk, in particular, stands as one of the northernmost inhabited places on Earth and has a population of less than 50 people. The only way to get here is via boat! The stark beauty of the landscapes and the isolation ensured an unforgettable experience. Exploring these settlements and interacting with the resilient locals offers a rare glimpse into a way of life that has endured in the harshest of environments. It is truly a lesson in perspective.

The northernmost settlement in Greenland – only 45 people live here

5. Seeing Polar Bears, Narwhales, and Arctic Birds: Wildlife Encounters in Thule Region, Greenland, and Canada

Greenland’s pristine wilderness and the remote Thule region is a haven for Arctic wildlife, and spotting polar bears in their natural habitat is a thrilling experience. The Arctic Circle, especially in the northern reaches of Greenland and Canada, is one of the few places where you can see these magnificent creatures in their native environment. Expedition leaders onboard our ship alerted us every time there was a polar bear or Arctic Fox in sight and provided binoculars so we could observe them safely and responsibly from the ship itself, without disturbing the animals. We spotted the maximum number of bears while sailing through Arctic Canada.

Another unique,  yet rare creature we spotted is Narwhals, often referred to as the “unicorns of the sea” due to their long, spiral tusks, can also be found in the waters around Greenland. Additionally, the Arctic skies are home to a diverse range of bird species, including puffins, guillemots, and kittiwakes. Birdwatching enthusiasts will find Greenland to be an incredible destination.

We saw a total of 7 polar bears through the voyage. Lucky 🙂
..and humpback whales right from our cabin balcony. Surreal!!

6. Midnight Sun and Northern Lights

If you visit Arctic Canada and Greenland during summer months (June-July), you can expect 24 hours of daylight here, which makes exploring it so easy and joyful! If like us, you visit during August, there are also chances of seeing the elusive Northern Lights. While we got the midnight sun and 24 hours of sunlight for more than half our cruise, we started getting a couple of hours of darkness each night towards the end of August. And on a couple of these short nights, we ended up seeing the most magical Northern Lights. We’ve included a photo but it is hard to describe the feeling of the sky lighting up as you are in the middle of the water, surrounded by mountains on all sides.

This is the view at 2a.m near Nunavut, Canada. 🙂
couple under northern lights in greenland canada on a cruise ship
And we were so lucky to witness Northern Lights on the last 2 nights of our voyage. Bliss!!

And that’s it – the end of an amazing polar expedition to Greenland and Canada with Ponant. We came back from this trip with our eyes swimming with visions of polar bears, northern lights, and rainbows in the Arctic wilderness. And I can’t wait to tell my friends and family about it and force them to experience it for themselves 😉



If you’re contemplating booking a cruise to Antarctica or Greenland, you MUST check out our writeup for the best offers right now

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