Beauty under the midnight sun: an Arctic cruise journal

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The first night in Greenland on my Adventure Canada Arctic cruise was a night of wonder. Here we were, just above the Arctic Circle, cruising down Sondre Stromfjord, one of the longest and most beautiful fjords in the world. And with the first day of summer just passed, we were sailing under the midnight sun.

That meant lots of time to stroll the decks of the Ocean Endeavour, bundled up against the buffeting winds, and watch as the spectacular scenery slid by. And as we got farther down the fjord, it got more and more spectacular. Looking out from above the bow, we watched as each pass revealed another vista, with new mountains peeking out in the distance, shining white in the evening sun.

Adventure Canada deck view

Adventure Canada deck watchers

Mountainsides descended to the sea in graceful curves, the rocks cast in sinuous patterns by ancient lava flows. Distant peaks revealed glimpses of the giant Greenland ice sheet, while delicate streams snaked their way down dark hillsides to the sea. Armed with my Nikon D500, I couldn’t stop shooting photos that reminded me of scenes from old paintings by Lawren Harris and the rest of the Group of Seven.

Mountaintop Greenland Adventure Canada

Mountain stream Adventure Canada

There was no sense waiting for sunset pictures – on these endless days, the sun doesn’t set. But it does graze the horizon as midnight approaches, and then the subtle shades of pink did appear here and there, creating soft hues of pink to set off the blues and greys of the northern landscape.

After a short rainfall, there was a call on the Endeavour’s PA system: a huge rainbow off the stern. We all rushed to the rear deck, some of us in bathrobes. By the time I arrived, the rainbow was gone. But as the clock struck midnight, with most of the other passengers asleep in their cabins, I was at the bow with a few other hardy souls. And we saw something extraordinary.

In front of us, as we approached a narrow pass in the fjord, was what appeared to be a cloud, sitting right on the water. It filled the fjord from one side to the other, lapping around the rocks like velvet, breaking out here and there into strands and arcs.

Cloud brdge Sondre Fjord

We waited to see what would happen as we sailed into the whiteness. But before we did, a strange thing happened: a tubular pipe of mist emerged out of the cloud and shot down the side of the fjord, passing the ship like a long, sinuous arm before disappearing in the distance. I stood in disbelief; I’d never seen anything like it. But I kept shooting, and here is the proof.

Cloud tube Greenland fjord

When I finally left, the cloud had completely engulfed the ship, and when we arose in the morning, we were still wrapped in a blanket of white. But the weather in the Arctic is unpredictable, and before long the cloud lifted, the sun shone, and we were ready for a busy day. It would have to be spectacular to replace the memories of our first night in the Arctic.

àOcean Endeavour stern lookout

I am a guest of Nikon Canada and Adventure Canada on this trip. However, the opinions expressed are my own. Photos in this post were taken with the Nikon D500 SLR camera.

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About Author

Paul Marshman is a retired journalist who spent 30 years as a writer and editor on Canadian newspapers, while travelling to the ends of the earth. Now he continues to travel while passing on his travel experiences to you.

2 Comments

  1. Paul, What an amazing moment! That shot of mist not like anything I’ve ever seen either. It must have been quite surreal in person – it certainly is in the photo! Thanks for capturing it for us.

    • Thanks, Roberta. Yes, it was an amazing moment indeed. The Arctic has some landscapes you don’t see anywhere else, and the weather is totally unpredictable — you never know what it’s going to do. The fog can roll in at any time, and do things you never expected, or the sun can burst through and completely transform the picture. And when it does shine, it’s there till close to midnight this time of year/

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