Up Close and Personal with an Iceberg

Up Close and Personal with an Iceberg

  • Day 9, Voyage of the Vikings 2019
  • Wednesday, Aug. 7, Nanortalik, Greenland

It’s true. Not only can icebergs have a blue or gray hue, but they also can sport a streak of pure blue ice. I saw it myself when our small tour boat (really just a Boston Whaler with an enclosed cabin) circled an iceberg near the Nanortalik harbor.

We were thrilled to see clearing skies as we entered the port and by late morning there were patches of blue sky. Once again, the tendering process went smoothly. With several tenders lowered, the only bottleneck was at the single tender dock.

Once ashore, Eloise and I saw a sign for iceberg boat tours and signed up. The hour-long tour cost $130, which seemed a bit steep, but when else would we have the opportunity? I think the tourist office was smart to advertise it as an iceberg tour – we were certain to see one as they hang around for months – rather than whale watching. We weren’t so lucky to see seals or whales.

In addition to slowly circling the iceberg, our pilot Henry took us across to another deep inlet where we hoped to see whales. Our only sighting was some brief activity in the water – really, just splashing – by what I am guessing were dolphins. But we had a nice tour of the magnificent landscape of southern Greenland.

Nanortalik is a village of about 1,300 people, full of colorful houses underneath the backdrop of stunning mountains. The Zuiderdam is the third of about 16 ships expected to visit here this season. Most of the passengers who weren’t on ship excursions wandered the main street.

At the entrance to the harbor is an open-air museum – a dozen buildings from the earliest days when whalers and settlers arrived. I paid 25 in Danish krona (a little less expensive than paying with US dollars) to walk around and explore. The display included examples of tradition garb – which I saw more than one resident wearing about town.

The museum grounds proved to be a good vantage point for sketching the Danish church. Earlier in the day the local choral group performed several concerts there. I hear choral singing is one of their popular community activities.

A Royal Arctic Line ship also was in port today. It visits the coastal towns of Greenland every three weeks from Denmark to deliver food and supplies. Today’s visit was of particular interest to the residents, as the entire village was out of toilet paper. (I was glad I had a supply of tissues with me.) The grocery shelves and produce coolers also were barren.

I made it back on board in time for the 4 p.m. happy hour in the Crow’s Nest, which is called Explorations Central on this ship. Holland America has eliminated the large library and coffee bar on most ships and added it to the Crow’s Nest on deck 10 forward. The shore excursions desk and future cruise consultant office are up there, too. This is the place to come to buy cappuccinos and lattes, among other specialty coffee drinks. I have broken my morning latte habit as the coffee bar is outside my morning routine now.

Our favorite evening venue, the Billboard Onboard piano bar, was closed tonight, but I added to my small casino earnings. I put $20 on my card and it has grown to almost $50. I put $10 in a machine and if I hit it “big” meaning more than $3-$5 over, I quit. Cheap entertainment.