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Iceland & Greenland Adventures - Part I

Author: Linda V. (More Trip Reviews by Linda V.)
Date of Trip: July 2005

It has been rainy all day, and we've gotten stuck in lots of ice. We had hoped to get to Ittoqqortoormiit late morning, but luck wasn't with us today.

Spent most of the day eating, being a lounge lizard and going out to see the ice. It was amazing. The boat was completely surrounded as far as the eye could see. How the heck will we ever get out of this mess? The captain forced the boat to simply push these large ice floes out of the way to try and gain a path through it.

Frank went out in the zodiac earlier today to get some photos (at the captain's request) of us pushing through ice. They were mostly just posed pictures - we didn't actually slam through it. Nina and I were out on the bow so we could be in the pictures. We stuck out feet through the hole in the ship so we can tell it's us.

I caught a lecture by Helena with a slideshow of Ittoqqortoormiit and the surrounding area. These were taken at various times of the year. Looks great. There are a few buildings - a gift shop/travel office, and a post office. At this point I hope we'll still be able to get ashore - we'll see. One of the slides looked like congealed grossness. Helena warned us not to step in this stuff while walking around. It's seal blubber and will stick to your shoes like gum. Yuck! Enu got up and tried to teach us how to pronounce Inuit words and phrases. The only ones we were good at were - hello - which is "hello" in Inuit and goodbye - which is "bye" in Inuit.

In the afternoon, Roger gave a talk and shared slides of Arctic wildflowers. We saw many of them yesterday. The pictures were great, but put me in a dark room, and I'm snoozing!

While Darlene and I were up on the bridge area at 5PM, the captain made an announcement informing everyone that there were a series of explosions on the Underground and a bus in London. We're not sure how many were killed. Reports vary saying 2-50 were killed with 150 seriously injured. The transportation system in London is crippled right now. This was an Al Qaeda terrorist attack - stupid idiots. We're staying tuned as more news develops. About 2/3 of the passengers on the ship are British, so this is very worrisome for them. Many have friends and family in London.

Guess I'll go hang out in the lounge some more . . .

-- later --

Well bummer. The ice did not cooperate. We tried 3 or 4 different routes to try to get to the village. No luck. The ice pack was just too thick. Our captain sure gave it his best shot. Now our hostages (I mean guests) have to stay on board. Helena had hoped to go to her Greenland home. Scorseby, Emil, Enu and the dogs will have to come back with the ship next week when the next cruise sails. What a drag for them. It was a wait and see game all day.

We had a briefing at 7PM and found that we've given up on Greenland and will have no more chances for landings there. I really wanted to go to the town and buy souvenirs and stuff. Just like Antarctica...we never made it to Port Lockroy so we were never able to buy anything there either. The villagers really could have used our tourist dollars. Morten shared a story about his first cruise to East Greenland. He went in late August, and they were never able to even get into the Sound or land on Greenland. At least we've had 5 outings so far. The plan is to try to get out of this ice and hopefully make it to Iceland for visits to deserted areas. Maybe we'll get a close look at puffins and other wildlife. What can you do? We'll be at sea for probably the next two days. We have 4 full days left of our trip. We might only get to sit around, look at ice, and eat the rest of the time (whine, whine).

They certainly do feed us well. The chef - Ranier - is great. We've spent a lot of time talking with him. He's from Denmark and is so nice and has a great sense of humor. His wife and kids live in Portugal and he'll be on the ship till the end of the month. He kind of does "substitute" chefing on various ships. The waiters are all Filipino and are so friendly. We asked if they ever get a chance to go ashore. No, they pretty much have to work all the time. When they do have spare time, they usually try to sleep. When they're not serving us, they have to vacuum and do other chores around the boat.

This evening they showed "Whale Rider" in the lecture hall. The DVD machine kept getting stuck and going to the blue screen of death. We could hear the poor Greenlandic sled dogs outside crying. Poor things. They love when we come out and pet them. Oh well...time to call it a night.

July 8, 2005 Friday; 10:22 p.m. The Explorer - Day 8; Vacation - Day 10 North Atlantic Ocean, Denmark Strait

"Big floes have little floes all around them, and all the little diatoms couldn't do without them, forty million shimplets feed upon the latter, and they make the dovekies, and the whales and seals much fatter." -- Apsley Cherry Gerrard (abridged)

I'm sitting in the lounge riding the waves. The sea has gotten pretty rough (or else I was used to the peacefulness of the Sound and crawling through the ice). I had to put on ½ a scopolamine patch and am carrying a barf bag with me just in case. I've also been dashing outside to the 4th floor periodically to get fresh air and watch the horizon. It's sunny and beautiful right now. We should have a fabulous sunset if the sun actually dips below the horizon.

Anyway...woke up to rainy skies. We had only traveled 12 nautical miles in the past 12 hours or so and had quite a way to go to get out of the pack ice. After breakfast we went to Morten's lecture, "Polar Bears - Part Deux." Something about going into "the womb" causes me to nod off. Between naps we learned about threats to polar bears - like indigenous hunting, pollutants, loss of ice, etc. Some countries (I think it's Canada...) allow the indigenous people to sell off the right to kill a polar bear to big game hunters. That makes me mad. During the lecture we could hear the dogs crying. Their "home" is on top of the pool right outside the lecture room. Poor things -- they get lonely and want to be pet. After the lecture, we went out there and gave the dogs some attention.

I sent an e-mail to Elaine from the ship for her birthday. While I was composing it at the computer, Roger began another lecture on Arctic birds, "The Miracle of Migration." He shared the story of the incredible feats completed by birds during their bi-annual migration. I managed to stay awake for that one.

We ate all day long. Unbelievable. I was going to nap but never got around to it. A National Geographic documentary, "Arctic Kingdoms" was shown at 3PM. What an excellent program on wildlife in the high Arctic. They captured all sorts of animals on film including polar bears and narwhals, beluga whales, and sea birds. It was so interesting. After most of the passengers left the room, the "making of" portion of the DVD began. That was also excellent. The film makers had to spend two summers on the ice capturing all these amazing moments with the animals. They had to endure some harsh conditions and were unable to shower. They lived on an ice shelf. At one point, the ice shelf began to separate and float out to sea, and they only had a few minutes to tear down camp. They had to pack their things on snowmobiles and use floating ice to get themselves to a new ice shelf attached to the land.

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