Greenland: If you are contemplating travel on cruise ships near Greenland, you should be aware that search and rescue capabilities are limited due to long distances between populated areas. Currently, the combined search and rescue ship capacity is less than would be needed to cope with incidents involving even one of the large cruise ships that frequent the area. Search-and-rescue ships offer basic transport and basic medical care, but are not capable of advanced life-support. There are uncharted waters in some fjords, and water temperatures can be frigid even during summer months. Emergency medical facilities outside of Nuuk are limited in number and types of services offered. Eastern Greenland is even more remote, and services are even more limited. If you are thinking of such a trip, please carefully consider these factors and check the operational records and the experience of captains and crews operating vessels in Arctic waters when selecting cruises off the shores of Greenland.
If you wish to explore Greenland by land, we strongly encourage you to hire experienced guides. Trekking in the coastal areas generally requires no official permission, but any travel into the huge National Park in northeastern Greenland and any treks across the central ice fields do require official permission. Please check with your tour operator to make sure that the company has received the necessary permission for such trips. Given the similarity of landscape, long periods of darkness, and the potential for fast-changing weather, persons unfamiliar with the area can become disoriented easily and risk long-term exposure to the elements. While the mountains in Greenland are of moderate altitude, they are technically difficult; familiarity with ascent and descent routes is a must. While the authorities will rescue individuals in difficulty, land search and rescue capabilities are limited and subject to weather restrictions. In some circumstances, you may be billed for the cost of rescue services.
Given the remoteness of Greenland, you should strongly consider obtaining travel insurance that could pay any expenses relating to illness, injury, or death. Although emergency medical assistance is mainly free of charge, even to tourists, all additional services will have an extremely high cost. Queen Ingrid’s Hospital, the main hospital in Nuuk, offers a full range of medical services, but medical facilities in outlying towns and settlements are very basic. In most cases, evacuation to Nuuk would be required. Most medicines are available in Greenland, and medical staff will suggest appropriate alternatives if necessary. Expect emergency medical evacuations from Nuuk to Denmark or Iceland to be very costly. Evacuations from remote interior regions will cost significantly more. The cost of funeral services in Greenland is significantly higher than in Denmark.