Sailing on to Maniitsoq
I retired that night wondering what was in store for me on the first port day. I met some folks on the bus the previous night who had sailed on the Fram multiple times and some were quite eager to be the first on the tenders, throwing manners to the wind. In fact, at the captain’s welcome party later in the day, a show of hands indicated more than half of the guests had sailed on Fram before. Even more interesting was that a huge percentage of people had sailed to Antarctica. Don’t think you will see that on the non-expedition cruise ships. The guest loyalty definitely impressed me. It’s no surprise that mainstream cruise lines are dipping into the adventure cruising market.
Safety and Comfort
First up in the morning – after breakfast, of course- we attended a safety demonstration. Ships sailing polar regions carry special protective suits. The crew demonstrated putting these on. I actually tried one of these on a few years ago. They aren’t the easiest to get on, but they keep you afloat and warm. Following that demo, we also did a muster drill.
Some of the landings from the tender are considered wet landings as there aren’t always dedicated piers for either the tender or the ship. Hurtigruten provides muck boots for those landings. We all proceeded down to Deck 2 for our fittings according to boat groups. Because the tenders only hold up to 11 people, we were all organized into boat groups that rotated throughout the cruise. So, at the beginning, Group 1 was first to tender from the ship. Being in Group 6 meant that we had to wait a few days to be in that first position. This system seemed to work very well.
Lectures and More
Everyday is full of lectures on a variety of topics, usually pertinent to the area that we are sailing through. On the first few days, we had printed copies of the schedule, but were told at one of the sessions that keeping with good environmental practices, the schedule would be posted in the main lobby (Information Central for this cruise) or could be viewed on the TV. Well, that directive assumed that the remotes would be easy to figure out. As a non-TV viewer, I had great difficulties with the two remotes. I read the instructions multiple times, but the television did not react as I would have expected it to. I asked my room steward for assistance and he also struggled. Eventually, he got it to work and told me it was simply necessary to press the button that we had already pressed multiple times with no success. I heard at the lunch table that I was not the only person having difficulty with the television. Once I figured it out, I switched it to the radio selection hoping to have some background music. The radio station was silent. I recommend taking some mini-speakers and a playlist for in-room listening – not that a lot of time is spent in the cabin.
On two previous sailings I had visited Qarqotoq, the largest town in South Greenland. Not surprisingly, the landscape is quite similar, although the ports are much smaller. Having reached the pier by tender, I ventured on my way to explore this compact town. A local museum was recommended and there was also a viewpoint hike, which turned out to be gated. The brisk air refreshed me and my walk around invigorated me. Some local men played checkers on a make-shift board on what might be considered the town square.
The red coat brigade colored the town and I attempted to venture in other directions. What did these locals think of all of these people descending on their town? Those I met were friendly and proud of their town. The people at the museum were eager to show off their collection of objects related to their history and way of life. The locals are still seal hunters and also fish to support themselves. Having spent some time at the museum, which consisted of a few buildings, I returned to stroll along the streets of town.
Our time spent in port was short, but adequate for getting a taste of the town. Walking down one of the paths, I did encounter some locals, but few people roamed the streets.
I quickly realized that this itinerary would be a photographer’s dream and made my best attempt at capturing the essence of the ports.