Around 6:00 a.m., National Geographic Explorer approached the mouth of Ilulissat Fjord, and the landscape of ice and sea was quite stunning with the early light and good visibility. We slept a little later until the morning address from expedition leader Andreas at the more reasonable hour of 7:00 a.m. After some tricky navigation of reversing into the harbor, we safely secured the lines and headed out for a day of adventure in Ilulissat, literally meaning “the icebergs.”
In the morning, we divided up for two different ice cruise departures. We headed out in local boats to explore the fjord filled with icebergs that broke off the Jakobshavn Glacier some 40 km away. The icebergs are often too tall or large to float down the fjord out to sea, so they are “grounded out,” or stuck on the bottom, until they are pushed out by the pressure of more ice further up the fjord. We had amazing views of the intricate ice sculptures, and guests in many of the boats encountered several feeding humpbacks in the open waters around the ice. It was a diverse and rewarding morning.
Arriving back at the ship, some guests had a little free time before lunch. Others took the early morning to explore the town of Ilulissat with its population of 4,670. Lunch awaited us on board before we headed back out on our own or with our expedition naturalists. The naturalists offered a guided walk out to Kangiata Illorsua, the Icefjord Centre with interpretation of the unique landscape in this UNESCO World Heritage site.
We returned to the ship just before 6:00 p.m. We threw the lines and set sail west to Canada in the late afternoon. Almost immediately, we encountered the whales some of us had seen earlier on the ice cruise. We slowed the ship, canceled recap, headed to the outer decks, and spent almost an hour observing these wonderful creatures feeding in the summer evening light. Humorously, a local water skier was also out enjoying the calm waters and sunshine. On the overhead speaker, expedition leader Andreas shared a prelude to the sail plans for tomorrow, and we tucked back inside for another scrumptious meal.
After a long, activity-filled day, we still had one more evening presentation on Smartphone Photography from photo instructor Nathan. The talk was a good send off after a brilliant second full day in Greenland. We will catch up on a bit of rest as we transit the Davis Strait into tomorrow.