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Disko Bay Exploration – Ice, whales & mountains 2023

The Disko Bay area is known for its diverse and astonishing landscape, including unique geological formations, deep fjords, springs and caves, magnificent towering icebergs and impressive glacier faces. The ocean is home to humpback, minke and pilot whales and ashore we might meet reindeer and Arctic foxes. We also plan to visit several small colourful settlements to learn more about the local cultures. Throughout the expedition we will have plenty of opportunities to hike through the serene landscapes. Perhaps we bring our lunch packs to enjoy with views of an ice-filled fjord under midnight sun.

Travelling with a small group of merely 12 passengers gives us more flexibility, more unique itineraries and more time ashore. Also, the footprints we leave behind are a lot smaller! We get to visit remote settlements, meet the welcoming people living here and in a personal way learn more about their fascinating culture. The M/S Balto has a lot of experience of and is designed to explore the most remote fjord systems and take you to secret anchorages. This is true micro cruising. 

  • Small group of 12 passengers
  • The magnificent Disco Bay
  • Numerous gigantic icebergs
  • Calving glaciers
  • Fascinating culture
  • Magical midnight sun
  • Great chance of seeing whales
  • The elegant M/S Balto
  • The trip is climate compensated
Accommodation: Hotel in Ilulissat, cabin on board the expedition ship M/V Balto. Transport: Expedition ship, Zodiac. Ship: M/S Balto. Passengers: 12 passengers. Languages: English & Swedish . Length: 8 days, 6 nights on ship. Price: From USD 8 090. Departure: 4 June 2023


Day 1: Ilulissat, Greenland

We arrive to the town by the ice fjord, Ilulissat, where we stay one night in hotel. Immediately upon arrival, we are struck by the natural beauty that surrounds us, with hills, glaciers and a bay filled with icebergs. The remoteness from our everyday life is obvious! 

Day 2: Embarkation

We explore Ilulissat, where the sled dogs outnumber the people. It is also the birthplace of explorer Knud Rasmussen and the museum in his name is well worth a visit. In the afternoon we board M/S Balto. After the safety orientation, we venture into Disko Bay, sailing in the low sun, midst a wondrous parade of icebergs and ice of all shapes and sizes in thousand shades of blue. Overnight we sail across the bay and anchor past the glacial waterfalls by Qeqertarsuaq on the south side of Disko Island.

Day 3 – 7: Expedition cruising

We enjoy breakfast with a view of the volcanic cliffs of Disko Island. Disko is unique in its geology and lush vegetation and stands out in the otherwise ice-packed bay. Greenlandic legend says it is because the island was moved here from the south by two kayaking seal hunters, and when it entered Disko bay a witch from Ilulissat cast a spell on it to ground. The island invites to beautiful hikes around hot springs and columnar basalt rocks that show the island's volcanic history. We pay a visit to Qeqertarsuaq – the settlement on the island – to explore the beautiful nature around the town and the colourful town itself. On the outskirts of the village are nice hiking paths, overlooking cliffs with caves and a bay with icebergs.


As we leave Qeqertarsuaq, we cruise close to the eastern side caves, which is also a place where we often witness humpback whale feeding. Occasionally we hear the mighty thundering of a large ice calving across the bay. We may stop by an old fishing village on the east side of Disko island and learn more about this traditional lifestyle. 

We continue up the picturesque Vaigat Strait. En route, we pass by some magnificent glacier fronts and navigate between myriads of icebergs. One of the glaciers we explore is Eqip Sermia, which is one of the most active glaciers in Greenland. It is a powerful experience to hear the explosive sound of the air being released as the glacier calves.

We hope to make a visit in the village of Saqqaq. Here, extraordinary archaeological findings of the ancient and now extinct Saqqaq culture have been made, dating back to around 2500 BCE. This makes the Saqqaq the earliest known inhabitants of Greenland, and surprisingly to science, ancestors of three Arctic peoples from Siberian Far East.

Heading back towards Ilulissat, we pass the old whaling settlement Oqaatsut. Today it is a strong fishing community with less than 50 inhabitants and colourful houses spread out on the rocks.

Day 8: Iulissat

In the morning we disembark in Ilulissat for homebound flights.

Please note: Our exact route will depend on ice, weather conditions and wildlife as well as permissions and restrictions from local authorities. The places mentioned are just examples of some of the many sites this region of Greenland has to offer. We always strive to maximize your experience. Please remember that flexibility is the key to a successful expedition!


The Package Travel Directive – protects the traveller’s rights

When you have booked a trip with PolarQuest, you are protected by the Package Travel Directive. This includes that you have the right to rebook your trip or cancel and receive a full refund, if your Government, or other relevant authorities, have implemented restrictions against travelling. This includes documented quarantine requirements in the country you are travelling to. However, free cancellation is only possible when it is less than 30 days to departure, provided the travel restrictions are still in place and clearly will affect your trip. You are also entitled to a full refund, should PolarQuest cancel the trip for any reason whatsoever.

Flying to Greenland

Greenland is an enormous island. It is wild and remote and offers fascinating culture and history. Most airports are very small, the airlines flying there are few and flights do not arrive daily. For these reasons you will most likely find it necessary to add extra hotel nights in connection to your outbound and/or inbound flights. Flight tickets to Greenland are also rather high-priced, comparing to many other destinations. But even if flying here is a little bit of a challenge, the grand nature experience that awaits you is incomparable and worth every effort. We strongly recommend everyone to book flexible flight tickets. 


Be inspired by our digital polar lectures!

To sail along Greenland’s spectacular coastline offers some of the most remarkable nature experiences. But what is it like to be on an expedition cruise in Greenland with a small, unique 12-passenger ship? Maybe you are wondering which places you can visit or what separates the east coast from the west coast? We believe that this digital polar lecture will give you a lot of answers and inspiration about our expeditions to Greenland. The presentation is be given by one of our Greenland expert and expedition leader, Gunilla Lindh.

The ship M/S Balto

  • Bar
  • Dining room
  • Salon
  • Sauna
  • Bathroom
  • Double cabin
  • Owner's cabin
  • Owner's cabin
  • Superior cabin
  • Single cabin
  • Crew mess
  • Kitchen
  • Rebecca Gustafsson - Visit Greenland

M/S Balto is named after the leading sled dog of 1925 Nome serum run. She was built for the highest ice class in Rauma, Finland, to serve as a government service vessel in the Baltic sea. During 2019-2022, she has been totally refurbished and is now one of the roomiest and most elegant small polar expedition yachts in service. M/S Balto offers a relaxed luxury accommodation for 12 guests in 7 outside cabins, all with private facilities and lower beds. The spacious cabins include 1 Owner’s cabin, 1 superior cabin, 3 double cabins and 2 single cabins. The Owner’s cabin is 30m2, has 6 windows and a queen bed, the superior cabin has two twin beds while the three double cabins has a queen bed (in 2024 one of the double cabins will be refitted to twin beds). The Owner's and superior cabin also offer a separate seating area. In all cabins you find a desk with a chair and a closet for storage.

On the guest deck you also find a cider lined sauna with a cold shower and a small changing room. The richly appointed saloon and the beautiful dining messroom feature crotch-mahogany panelling, a bar, a card table, a library, coffee and tea stations. She offers a large restaurant style open galley, where you can check on the marvels of our chefs and sample freshly baked bread. 

There are several open and semi enclosed deck spaces from where you can enjoy the stunning Arctic sceneries. You are welcomed by an international crew and the bridge is open for visitors.

The ship has been fitted with an electric diesel propulsion capable of maintaining versatile manoeuvring and survey speeds with no vibration. It is therefore ideal as film and photo platform. There is also a mud room for expedition gear and two Zodiacs for wilderness cruises and offshore experiences. M/S Balto is truly one of a kind when it comes to small polar expedition ships. Travelling with this unique 12-passenger ship offers a completely different and much more intimate experience of Greenland compared to a larger expedition ship. 

A small group of merely 12 passengers gives us more flexibility, unique itineraries and more time ashore. Also, the footprints we leave behind are a lot smaller!

The M/S Balto is designed to explore the most remote fjord systems, visit isolated Inuit settlements, take you to secret anchorages and maximise each guest’s experience in the unspoiled wilderness. This is true micro cruising. 

Cabins & prices

Cabin category Price per person
Double cabin Double bed USD 8 090
Superior cabin Twin beds USD 8 690
Owner's cabin Double bed USD 9 790
Single cabin Single bed USD 10 090

Price includes

  • 6 nights on board M/S Balto
  • 1 night in a hotel in Ilulissat
  • All meals on board
  • Coffee and tea
  • 1 Expedition Leader and 1 guide
  • Guiding ashore and talks on board
  • All excursions and activities
  • Comprehensive information material before the expedition
  • The trip is climate compensated

Not included

  • Flights to and from Greenland
  • Travel and cancellation insurance
  • The customary gratuity to the ship’s crew
  • Personal expenses such as bar and shop charges

Departures & booking

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or wish to make a reservation.

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Departure Return
4 June 2023 11 June 2023

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