Sailing Through the Most Beautiful Places on Earth

Day 62, 2023 North Atlantic Adventure

Wednesday, July 12, 2023; Cruising Prins Christian Sund, Greenland.

When it comes to scenery, I can’t think of any I love more than mountains and rocky coastlines. My love of mountains started in my teen years, when our family started spending vacations in the Rocky Mountains – camping and then backpacking from Colorado north to Alberta, Canada. I’ve always loved the sea, but it was my fall vacations on an island in Maine that started drawing me to rocky coastlines.

Top, family backpacking in Colorado, 1970.
Bottom, with cat Sam on Vinalhaven Island, Maine, 1993.

Prins Christian Sund (Prince Christian Sound) in Greenland is one of a few special spots on earth that combine these two loves in one stunning experience. It’s right up there with Milford Sound on New Zealand’s South Island, the deep fjords of Norway and Chile, the Antarctic peninsula and Alaska.

Milford Sound, New Zealand, 2022
Hardangerfjorden, Norway, 2023
Chilean Fjords, 2020
Antarctica, 2020
Alaska, 2010
Alaska, 2005

The abundance of icebergs almost canceled our opportunity to sail in Prins Christian Sund. The eastern approach to the sound has too much ice for safe passage by the Zuiderdam, despite the fact that we have picked up three Danish ice pilots and a specialist from Holland America’s head office.

Captain Friso announced yesterday that he would speed up and head for the southwest entrance, so we could still spend the scheduled eight hours cruising the sound. Instead of sailing through (as we did twice in 2019), we would sail about halfway in and turn around for the return journey.

That deviation didn’t disappoint. Our onboard expert geologist commented repeatedly about how lucky we were to have such a beautiful sunny day. (I guess I’m lucky; we had the same clear sunny weather on my previous two transits.) The granite mountains, complete with snow and glaciers on the high levels, towered over our ship as we sailed through the rather narrow gorge. There were too many waterfalls to count. Floating ice was all around us – much more than I remember from 2019 when we were here a month later.

Despite the desolation of this southern tip of Greenland, we came across a small village. Usually cruise ships stop to tender in some provisions for the hardy villagers, but we didn’t today. Perhaps because a smaller Seabourn ship had already stopped there earlier in the day.

I spent most of the day in the Crow’s Nest, doing a little painting and mostly chatting with friends. It is an easy trip out to the open deck to take photographs — no need for my puffer jacket if I didn’t stay too long. My biggest concern was becoming complacent about being surrounded by this beauty all day. I can live with that.