“Expedition cruise ships can be a great resource”

August 9th, 2023

There were many discussions about sustainable cruise tourism during the trip along the west coast of Greenland. Photo: AECO

What does expedition cruise tourism look like? AECO and Hurtigruten expeditions invited local and national Greenlandic stakeholders on a trip along the west coast. Focus was on better understanding about the industry and to open a dialogue about safety, cooperation and value creation for local communities.

— I was surprised by the level of information on board and how guests are prepared before visiting cities and nature sites. It was also positive that there was so much focus on ensuring that visits are done in respect for both locals and visitors, says Sarah Woodall from Innovation South Greenland.

— I learned about the challenges in getting to our destination as a tourist and what the ships need when they work with local operators, says Suusaat Mathiassen from Avannaata Municipality.

During the trip, the group also got insight into safety on board and on land.

— I was surprised by the resources on an expedition ship, like the small hospital on board. At one point when we were far from a hospital, the ship helped a kayak tourist with an injury that otherwise would have ended badly. The vessel is also equipped with research equipment that can be used in collaboration with local educational institutions, says Gerth P. Olsen from Qeqertalik Business Council.

Cultural heritage recorded

Hans Harmsen, from the Greenland National Museum, photographed and recorded several cultural remains that has not been registered before. He was assisted by the ship’s photographer and a member of the expedition team.

— It has become clear to me that expedition cruise ships can be a great resource for monitoring and visiting archaeological sites in Greenland that are difficult to reach. This trip has really inspired me to look at the possibilities of collaboration, he says.

Collaboration with local communities and partners is an important part to ensure the best possible experience for both passengers and locals.

— It’s fantastic to see how the ship use local products and the services of local tour operators, and that they talk to local operators and entrepreneurs. It is important for cruise ships to know about the opportunities here and for local operators to understand what is required of them, says Linda Kleist from Visit Greenland.

Difference between cruises

The ship from Hurtigruten expeditions belongs to the expedition cruise segment, that is different from conventional cruises. Expedition cruises focus on understanding and learning about the destination that is visited. The staff includes experts in various fields, like geology, biology  and climate and guests get thorough information about the local communities and sites. AECO members also operate according to guidelines to ensure consideration for local communities, the environment and safety.

— As a member, it is important to operate with integrity and cooperation that adds value for both parties. We can achieve this by getting to know each other. That’s why we support the initiative to invite stakeholders onboard, says Karin Strand and Tudor Morgan from Hurtigruten Expeditions.

— AECO is very pleased with the support for this initiative, both from our local partners and our members. We may have different perceptions and wishes, but we believe knowing each other is the basis for finding good solutions, says Anders la Cour Vahl from AECO.

Photo: AECO


Linda Kleist, Visit Greenland


Gerth P. Olsen, Qeqertalik Business Council


Suusaat Mathiasen, Avannaata Kommunia


SarahWoodall, Innovation South Greenland


Anders Vahl, AECO


Karin Strand, Hurtigruten Expeditions