Greenland: An Overview

Greenland is the largest island on earth and is part of the North American continent. With a total land area of 836,000 square miles and a population of under 60,000, Greenland is one of the least inhabited places on earth. 

There are very few roads on Greenland and the main way to explore the rugged beauty is from the sea. During the summer months, the coast becomes navigable as the sea ice retreats opening up passages into countless iceberg filled fjords.

If you are looking for a low impact way of travelling consider a small ship cruise to Greenland on an expedition micro cruise with just 12 guests.

Expedition micro cruises offer a way to get up close to Greenland’s natural beauty. Travelling on a small expedition vessel minimises the impact on the local culture and the environment more than the larger cruise ships that visit the area.

small ship cruise to greenland voyage map

Greenland Highlights


Nature & Wildlife

From raw, untouched landscapes to ice-filled fjords and an abundance of diverse wildlife, Greenland is home to some of the most awe-inspiring nature on the planet.

The waters around Greenland are home to 15 whale species during the spring and summer months including Hump Back Whales which are frequently sighted. The Narwhal, with its single unicorn tusk, and the white beluga whale are some of Greenland’s more unusual marine creatures.

On the land it is possible to see polar bears (south and east coasts), musk oxen, caribou, arctic foxes, hares, and the rare arctic wolf.

A wealth of birdlife can also be seen including puffins, ravens, auks, guillemots, terns, kittiwakes, owls and buntings.

A great way to experience Greenland’s nature is on a small expedition vessel that causes less disturbance than a large cruise ship.


One of the main reasons people visit Greenland is to witness the thousands of beautiful icebergs that can be seen floating along the fjords and coast. 80% of Greenland’s landmass is covered by an ice sheet which forms glaciers. As the glaciers retreat, huge pieces of ice calve off into the water and drift out to sea.

Greenland’s icebergs, among some of the largest on earth, are a truly breathtaking sight. These floating ice sculptures, some hundreds of feet tall, make the perfect photography subject. A cruise on a small expedition vessel is certain to get you close to the ice for that perfect shot.

As the Arctic warms at a faster pace, Greenland’s glaciers are a hotbed for scientific study to understand the warming effects on the ice.


Local People and Culture

A huge highlight of visiting Greenland is meeting the people that call this land their home. From the capital city of Nuuk to the small, remote settlements that dot the coastline, the Greenlandic people are warm and welcoming.

Greenland has a population of under 60,000 inhabitants making it one of the most sparsely populated places on earth. The population of Nuuk is 17,000, making it one of the world’s smallest capitals.

Consider visiting remote Greenlandic settlements on an expedition micro cruise. It offers a low impact way to experience the local culture as you will be with a group of just 12 travellers. A perfect alternative to large cruise ships.

Wildlife | Top 3 to spot on an expedition micro cruise to Greenland

Arctic Fox

Also known as the polar fox or snow fox, the Arctic fox is capable of surviving extreme temperatures. In the winter it can endure winter temperatures down to 70 below zero. Remarkably, the Arctic fox does not hibernate and is active year-round. Its fur produces the best insulation of any mammal. Arctic Foxes can be seen in the coastal areas all around Greenland. 

Humpback Whale

There are an estimated 3,000 humpback whales in the waters around Greenland during the summer months. The best time to see them is from May until October when they migrate south. The humpback is a sociable whale and they fish together. As the whale dives its tale often appears out of the water creating a great photo shot. The best chance of seeing humpback whale is from the water and sitings are frequent on our Greenland expedition micro cruises. 

Musk Oxen

Herds of Musk Ox live along the coastal areas of Greenland and are a common sight when hiking ashore. Whilst the exact number of Musk Oxen in Greenland is currently unknown, their populations are increasing as they have no natural predators. An adult male can grow up to 410kg in weight. Musk Ox are naturally quite docile and it is possible to approach them, but potentially dangerous due to their horns.


What is an expedition micro cruise?

An expedition micro cruise is an alternative to the large cruise ship experience. The cruise takes place on a small expedition vessel with just 12 guests. Our expedition fleet includes motor vessels, expedition sailing vessels and tall ships. All our vessels offer good comfort levels, private cabins and great food with the huge added bonus that you will be experiencing Greenland with just a handful of guests.

The focus on our trips is exploring. Where possible we will make landings by Zodiac landing craft to explore the shore. You will be accompanied by a knowledgeable expert guide who will tell you about the areas you visit. When you have been apart of a small group experience we guarantee you will never want to go back to cruising on larger vessels.

small ship cruises to svalbard

Why is an expedition micro cruise the best way to experience Greenland?

A small expedition vessel offers the perfect way to experience the beautiful scenery of Greenland with a small, like-minded group of travellers. Our voyages are personal and unique, and we do this by limiting the group size to 12 guests. A small group gives us more time and flexibility to explore and less time waiting to go ashore.

We visit remote communities in a respectful and mindful way that is impossible for larger ships when they land 300 passengers in a small settlement.

Due to their smaller size, our expedition vessels will get you closer to the nature that you came to experience than larger ships can due to their smaller size.

Micro expedition cruises give you the unique chance to experience Greenland on a real adventure. Say goodbye to the large number of people on cruise ships, and be part of a small vessel experience.

small ship cruises in svalbard

What’s the difference between an expedition micro cruise to Greenland and a Greenland small ship cruise?

The definition of a ‘small ship’ varies drastically between different operators and can vary from anything from 12 passengers to over 300. Many companies advertise small ship cruises to Greenland and we advise to check how many other passengers will be on your vessel before booking.

The experience between travelling with 12 passengers and 300 passengers is enormous. We came up with the term micro expedition cruise to describe an a cruise on a small expedition vessel with just 12 passengers, no more. We believe these are the most ethical small ship cruises to Greenland as they provide a much lower impact than large cruise ships.

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New to Expedition Micro Cruises?

Read our Guide

Greenland Expedition Micro Cruise Gallery

Our experiences in Greenland