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Exploring the Iceberg Graveyard at Red Island

Happy cruisers on their way to explore the iceberg graveyard at Red Island.

Happy cruisers on their way to explore the iceberg graveyard at Red Island.

On a zodiac tour exploring the iceberg graveyard at Red Island, Greenland, Alan and I don’t expect to find the American Southwest. But red sandstone is exactly what I touch as the raft maneuvers through an arch sticking out from the island. However that’s the end of the similarity. You won’t see an iceberg graveyard in Arizona or Utah.

When the Silversea ship, Silver Explorer, sails through Scoresbysund on Greenland’s eastern coast as part of an Arctic itinerary, the zodiac ride at Red Island, or Rodeo O, is one of the highlights. The white and blue glacial ice of the icebergs contrasts against the red sandstone cliffs of the island creating a photographer’s dream—and challenge. The trick is to find the balance between the dark cliffs and bright ice.

Heading through a red sandstone arch at Greenland's Red Island. It's part of the fun on a cruise excursion to see the iceberg graveyard.

The red sandstone surprised us. Didn’t expect to see that in Greenland.

The journey begins as the zodiac motors toward the island. Fred, our expedition guide, maneuvers the raft close to the red sandstone for a closer look. Then the raft squeezes through an arch before heading toward a maze of icebergs.

Exploring the iceberg graveyard at Red Island in Greenland.

Icebergs come in all sorts of quirky shapes and sizes.

As long as you can exit and enter a zodiac safely, these guided experiences are doable for almost anyone. They’re an excellent way to bond with grandkids on a multigenerational trip.

Dr. Frederique Olivier guides us through the maze of icebergs at Red Island.

Dr. Frederique Olivier is a seasoned explorer, spending many seasons in Antarctica.

Fred, actually Dr. Frederique Olivier, not only guides zodiacs extremely well; she’s also a scientist and accomplished videographer. You may have seen her film of Emperor Penguins that is part of the award-winning BBC series Planet Earth.

An ice cave at the iceberg graveyard at Red Island, Greenland.

This glacier has formed an ice cave.

Moderate temperatures—46 degrees F—and bright sunlight create melting conditions on the icebergs and a wonderland for us. Waterfalls trickle off icy surfaces. Fred turns off the raft’s motor so that we can take it all in. Sizzle! Pop! Crack! The sound of melting ice punctuates the quiet.

Fred is particular about how closely she places the raft to the icebergs, explaining that one can roll without any indication. As if on cue, an iceberg in the distance lumbers onto its side. We hold on to the edge of the raft for a bouncy ride as waves of displaced water travel beneath the zodiac.

Why is there an iceberg graveyard at Red Island? Greenland’s massive ice sheet is melting, causing glaciers to shed pieces of ice into the ocean. The newly formed icebergs eventually float into the fjords of Scoresbysund where there are areas of no escape, like the waters surrounding Red Island.

An iceberg dwarfs a zodiac filled with cruise guests near Red Island, Greenland.

An iceberg dwarfs a zodiac filled with cruise guests.

We spend over an hour motoring through the iceberg maze. White ice in all shapes and sizes populates this frozen fun house. The exhilarating experience eventually ends as Fred guides the raft back toward Silver Explorer. Alan and I can hardly wait to return to our suite to compare the photos that we’ve taken.

Most of Greenland is covered by ice. And the rest is a red desert. An adventure cruise is a fun way to explore it.

Most of Greenland is covered by ice. And the rest is a red desert.

I can’t think of a better way to spend a sunny day in Greenland than by visiting the iceberg graveyard at Red Island. This is what expedition cruising is all about!

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Disclosure: The Amazon link to Planet Earth is for your convenience. However My Itchy Travel Feet receives a small percentage of the sale at no additional cost to you.

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