After a slow and foggy leg from the very bottom of Greenland, Le Boréal makes port in the misty capital of this land, Nuuk.

By virtue of its ties with Denmark (the currency is Danish Kroner), Nuuk is the most northerly capital of Europe even though it appears more a part of North America. With a population of just 15,000-odd, this makes Nuuk one of the smallest capitals by population.

A small band of us opt for an energetic walk from the port across town to the National Museum which, although small, is packed with valuable and interesting stuff from the last few hundred years including mummies, canoes, artefacts and photography. There’s time for a few postcards and a walk around the few shopping spots downtown. New Nuuk is a vast contrast from the dainty old Scandinavian inspired settlement down near the waterfront and museum. Instead of quaint, brightly painted bungalows, there are drab Soviet-style housing blocks in rows that stand in contrast to the cheerful village atmosphere of the old town.

A modern commuter bus takes us back to the container wharf where Le Boréal is tied up and we head out into the gloom once again. Around 4pm Capt Garcia calls from the bridge that more whales are sighted.

“Bonjour, votre commandant ici. Whales to port and starboard,” he calls excitedly on the PA, “humpbacks, four or five at least, they are everywhere!”

After a delay to observe the whales, we continue north to cross the Arctic Circle sometime during the night.

You can read the naturalist guides’ reports at: > expeditions

Rod is travelling aboard Ponant’s Le Boréal as a guest of Travel the World and flying Air Canada