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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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