arctic

Classic Northwest Passage

Eastward Journey

Cambrigde Bay, Canada to Kangerlussuaq, Greenland

24 August – 5 September 2018

Westward Journey

Kangerlussuaq, Greenland to Cambridge Bay, Canada

 12 – 24 August 2018

Southward Journey

Cambridge Bay to Iqaluit,Canada

1 – 13 September 2018

Overview

This iconic voyage explores the remote Northwest Passage and stunning fjords of the Baffin Island coastline before crossing Baffin Bay to Greenland where we will marvel at the beauty of the icebergs calving off of the Greenland icecap. We follow in the footsteps of the early Arctic explorers such as Franklin, Amundsen and Larsen, exploring the archipelago of islands and channels that create Canada’s high Arctic region.

East

Day 1 – Edmonton (Alberta) to Cambridge Bay (Nunavut)

We depart Edmonton this morning on our special charter flight to Cambridge Bay, a remote outpost above the Arctic Circle. Upon arrival, enjoy a walking tour of the town and board our expedition ship in the afternoon. After settling in to our cabins and exploring the ship, we meet our expedition team and fellow passengers. Excitement is in the air as we enjoy a welcome cocktail and cast off, bound for the fabled Northwest Passage.

Day 2 – Victory Point, King William Island

Little is known of how the Franklin Expedition spent its last months in the frozen Arctic. The vessels, abandoned in the ice of Victoria Strait, have left no trace. An abandoned lifeboat, bits and pieces of copper and iron, cutlery and buttons and a skeleton here and there all tell a story of a desperate race south in search of rescue – a rescue that never occurred. We visit Victory Point and continue to reflect on the quest for exploration that opened up the Arctic, while sacrificing some of its bravest explorers.

Day 3 – Conningham Bay

This morning we arrive at Conningham Bay on the shore of Prince of Wales. Here, in the heart of the Northwest Passage we hope to encounter one of the most remarkable wildlife sites in the Arctic. This is a known hotspot for polar bears who come here to feast on Beluga whales, often caught in the rocky shallows at the entrance to the bay during low tide. It is not unusual to find the shoreline littered with whale skeletons – and very healthy looking polar bears!

Day 4 – Bellot Strait and Fort Ross

Today we transit the narrow passage of Bellot Strait – a channel separating northerly Somerset Island from continental North America. The mixing of waters in this strait provides an abundant food source for marine mammals and we keep our eyes peeled for harp seals, bearded seals and even polar bears. Fascinating archaeological sites nearby tell a story of more than a thousand years of habitation by the Inuit and their predecessors.

Day 5 – Beechey Island

Beechey Island holds great historic importance on our journey through the Northwest Passage. It is here that Sir John Franklin’s ill-fated expedition spent its last ‘comfortable’ winter in 1845 before disappearing into the icy vastness, sparking an incredible series of search expeditions. This is a thrilling location for history buffs and for many it will be the defining moment of our expedition.

Day 6 – Lancaster Sound and Dundas Harbour

Cruising the coastline of Devon Island, we are now in the waters of Lancaster Sound – a rich, bio-diverse region often referred to as the wildlife ‘super highway’ of the Arctic. We plan on visiting the old Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) outpost at Dundas Harbour, situated on the southern shores of Devon Island. Muskox and Arctic hare are sometimes sighted in the vicinity and there are some great hiking options in the area.

Day 7 – Mittimatalik (Pond Inlet)

We sight the wild north coast of Baffin Island and navigate through Navy Board Inlet. The vast landscapes of Sirmilik National Park surround us as we approach the remote Inuit community of Mittimatalik. We are welcomed ashore and a highlight will be a visit to the Natinnak Centre, where a fascinating cultural exhibit showcases aspects of daily life, culture and history of the people of the north.

Day 8 – Gibbs Fjord

This morning we enter the spectacular Gibbs Fjord with towering cliffs all around us. Our expedition ship will seem dwarfed by the giant peaks and snowy glaciers as we cruise slowly along the dark waters. One past guest commented that Gibbs Fjord ‘was like something out of Lord of the Rings’ – and we think you’ll agree!

Day 9 – At sea in Baffin Bay

As we sail the waters of Baffin Bay, our team of onboard experts will continue to educate us on the history and wildlife of the region while our naturalists keep watch looking for fulmars and dovekies, pilot whales and perhaps even orca. As we approach Greenland, we also increase our likelihood of spotting some of the big baleen whales like the fin and sei whales.

Day 10 – Ilulissat, Greenland and the Jacobshavn Icefjord

The Jacobshavn Icefjord – a UNESCO World Heritage site – spews gigantic tabular icebergs out into Disko Bay. The glacier that creates these stunning monoliths advances at over 40 metres per day, creating around 50 cubic kilometres of ice annually. Our approach to Ilulissat is always dependent on the amount of ice in and around the mouth of the fjord.

Day 11 – Sisimiut, Greenland

We will explore the fjord behind the town of Sisimiut before going ashore to explore this beautiful location in the afternoon. Characterized by colourful local houses, the town features a towering granite peak as a backdrop. We hope to meet a few of the traditional Greenlandic kayakers and to see a demonstration of ‘Eskimo rolling’ by one of the former Greenland kayak champions. A small museum is another interesting diversion.

Day 12 – Sondre Stromfjord

One of the worlds longest fjords, Sondre Stromfjord towers above the ship on either side as we sail up it. Our goal is not the end of the fjord, but rather some of the small side fjords along it that we can zodiac into and explore on foot or by kayak. We expect some fantastic hiking opportunities with hikes geared to all fitness levels.

Day 13 – Kangerlussuaq, Greenland

Our journey through the Arctic is all but complete as we disembark the ship and make our way to the airport. A charter flight returns us to Canada’s capital city of Ottawa. On arrival we bid farewell to our fellow passengers and our voyage comes to an end. A transfer is provided from the airport to a central location downtown.

 

West

Day 1, Ottawa to Kangerlussuaq, Greenland.

We depart Ottawa this morning on our charter flight to Kangerlussuaq, situated on the west coast of Greenland. Upon arrival we enjoy a short tour before boarding the ship in the afternoon. After settling in to our cabins and exploring the vessel, we meet our expedition team and fellow passengers. Excitement is in the air as we cast off and enjoy a welcome cocktail while cruising along Sondre Stromfjord, bound for the fabled Northwest Passage.

Day 2, Sisimiut

We will explore the fjord behind the town of Sisimiut before going ashore to explore this beautiful location in the afternoon. Characterised by colorful local houses, the town features a towering granite peak as a backdrop. We hope to meet a few of the traditional Greenlandic kayakers and to see a demonstration of ‘Eskimo rolling’ by one of the former Greenland kayak champions. A small museum is another interesting diversion.

Day 3, Ilulissat and the Jacobshavn Icefjord

If one word could sum up today’s experience it would be ‘ice’. Truly one of the wonders of the world, the Jacobshavn Icefjord – a UNESCO World Heritage site – spews gigantic tabular icebergs out into Disko Bay. The glacier that creates these stunning monoliths advances at over 40 metres per day, creating something in the order of 50 cubic kilometres of ice annually. Our approach to Ilulissat is always dependent on the amount of ice in and around the mouth of the fjord. Ilulissat was the hometown of Knud Rasmussen, one of Greenland’s most famous early explorers.

Days 4 & 5, Baffin Bay

Leaving the rugged coastline of Greenland, our crossing of Baffin Bay is highly dependent on the extent of the so-called ‘middle ice’. We probe northwards seeking out the edges of the middle ice and plan to follow the line of ice until we reach the coast of Baffin Island. Our time at sea will be determined by the extent of the ice and amount of wildlife we encounter. Our onboard experts deliver fascinating presentations on board focusing on the wildlife, history, geology and culture of the Arctic.

Day 6, Pond Inlet

Nearing the far north of Baffin Island we enter a broad channel – home to the remote Inuit community of Pond Inlet. A highlight is a visit to the Natinnak Centre, where a fascinating cultural exhibit showcases aspects of daily life, culture and history of the people of the north. Skills and physical agility developed by such games were often those necessary for everyday survival in the harsh Arctic environment.

Days 7 & 8, Lancaster Sound and Devon Island

Leaving the wild landscapes of Baffin Island, we cross Lancaster Sound to Devon Island. We are now at almost 75° degrees north of latitude. This broad channel of water has been likened to the wildlife ‘super highway’ of the Arctic. Musk ox and Arctic hare are sometimes sighted in the vicinity and there are some great hiking options in the area.

Day 9, Beechey Island

Beechey Island holds great historic importance on our journey through the Northwest Passage. It is here that Sir John Franklin’s ill-fated expedition spent its last ‘comfortable’ winter in 1845 before disappearing into the icy vastness, sparking an incredible series of search expeditions that would span almost three decades.

A trip ashore at Beechey Island to visit the grave markers on a remote windswept beach, is a thrilling location for history buffs and for many will be the defining moment of our expedition.We cross the Barrow Strait into Prince Regent Inlet, stopping to view the bird cliffs at Prince Leopold Island.

Day 10, Fort Ross and Bellot Strait

Continuing to navigate the ship south into Prince Regent Inlet, we approach the eastern end of Bellot Strait. The historic site of Fort Ross, located at the southern end of Somerset Island, is a former Hudson’s Bay Company fur-trading outpost. Having explored Fort Ross, we attempt a transit through the narrows of Bellot Strait.

Day 11, Coningham Bay

Having emerged from Bellot Strait, we cross the Victoria Strait and arrive at Coningham Bay on the shore of Prince of Wales Island. Here, in the heart of the Northwest Passage, we hope to encounter one of the most remarkable wildlife sites in the Arctic. This is a known hotspot for polar bears. They come here to feast on beluga whales often caught in the rocky shallows at the entrance to the bay. It is not unusual to find the shoreline littered with whale skeletons – and very healthy looking polar bears.

Day 12, Victory Point, King William Island

Heading further into the Northwest Passage, the mystery of Sir John Franklin and his ‘lost expedition’ is beginning to unravel. Prior to the recent discovery of the HMS Erebus in September 2014, very little was known of how the Franklin Expedition spent its last months in the frozen Arctic. On Victory Point a lifeboat left abandoned, bits and pieces of copper and iron, cutlery and buttons and a skeleton here and there all tell a story of a desperate race south in search of rescue that never came. We hope to visit Victory Point and the Victoria Strait, travelling very near the actual location of the wreck of HMS Erebus, all the while learning about the quest for exploration that eventually opened up the Arctic.

Day 13, Cambridge Bay (Nunavut) to Edmonton, Alberta

Our journey is all but complete as we approach the community of Cambridge Bay. This remote outpost is a centre for hunting, trapping and fishing. The Inuit have had summer camps in the vicinity for hundreds of years. Amundsen spent two winters in this area, learning how to master dog-sledding from the locals prior to his attempt on the South Pole. We say farewell to our crew and make our way ashore by zodiac. A special charter flight returns us to Edmonton.

 

South

Day 1, Edmonton (Alberta) to Cambridge Bay (Nunavut)

We depart Edmonton this morning on our special charter flight to Cambridge Bay. Located on the southern shores of Victoria Island, today it is a centre for hunting, trapping and fishing. Upon arrival, enjoy a walking tour of the town and board our expedition ship in the afternoon. After settling in to our cabins and exploring the ship, we meet our expedition team and fellow passengers. Excitement is in the air as we enjoy a welcome cocktail and cast off, bound for the fabled Northwest Passage.

Day 2, Victory Point, King William Island

As we chart a course into the Northwest Passage, our onboard presentation series begins, and the legend of Sir John Franklin and his ‘lost expedition’ is beginning to unravel. The mystery of what happened to Franklin was partially solved in September 2014, when a joint Parks Canada and Royal Canadian Geographic Society expedition, found the long lost Franklin shipwreck, HMS Erebus in the Victoria Strait. We aim to visit Victory Point, travelling very near the actual location of the wreck of HMS Erebus, all the while learning about the quest for exploration that eventually opened up the Arctic.

Day 3, Conningham Bay

This morning we arrive at Conningham Bay on the shore of Prince of Wales Island. Here, in the heart of the Northwest Passage we hope to encounter one of the most remarkable wildlife sites in the Arctic. This is a known hotspot for polar bears who come here to feast on Beluga whales, often caught in the rocky shallows at the entrance to the bay during low tide.It is not unusual to find the shoreline littered with whale skeletons – and very healthy looking polar bears!

Day 4, Bellot Strait and Fort Ross

Today we transit the narrow passage of Bellot Strait – a channel separating northerly Somerset Island from continental North America. The mixing of waters in this strait provides an abundant food source for marine mammals and we keep our eyes peeled for harp seals, bearded seals and even polar bears. The historic site of Fort Ross, located at the southern end of Somerset Island, is a former Hudson’s Bay Company fur trading outpost. Fascinating archaeological sites nearby tell a story of more than a thousand years of habitation by the Inuit and their predecessors.

Day 5, Beechey Island

Beechey Island holds great historic importance on our journey through the Northwest Passage. It is here that Sir John Franklin’s ill-fated expedition spent its last ‘comfortable’ winter in 1845 before disappearing into the icy vastness, sparking an incredible series of search expeditions that last almost three decades. This is a thrilling location for history buffs and for many it will be the defining moment of our expedition.

Day 6, Lancaster Sound and Dundas Harbour

We are now at almost 75° degrees north of latitude. Cruising the coastline of Devon Island, we are now in the waters of Lancaster Sound – a rich, bio-diverse region often referred to as the wildlife ‘super highway’ of the Arctic.

Day 7, Mittimatalik (Pond Inlet)

We sight the wild north coast of Baffin Island and navigate through Navy Board Inlet. The vast landscapes of Sirmilik National Park surround us as we approach the remote Inuit community of Mittimatalik. We are welcomed ashore and a highlight will be a visit to the Natinnak Centre, where a fascinating cultural exhibit showcases aspects of daily life, culture and history of the people of the north.

Day 8, Gibbs Fjord

This morning we enter the spectacular Gibbs Fjord with towering cliffs all around us. Our expedition ship will seem dwarfed by the giant peaks and snowy glaciers as we cruise slowly along the dark waters.

Day 9, Isabella Fjord

Isabella Bay (Niginaniq) is an important summer habitat and feeding area for endangered bowhead whales. These remarkable marine mammals are able to break sea ice with the crown of their head. The area also includes a shallow shelf at the entrance to the bay that provides protection for bowheads from predatory orca whales. Polar bears, ringed seals, Canada geese, snow geese and narwhal are also found in and around the area.

Day 10, Sunshine Fjord

Sunshine Fjord straddles the Arctic Circle. This location offers terrific hiking opportunities and we have a number of great routes in mind. You may wish to take the extended hike, gaining some real elevation and offering wonderful views of our surroundings. Or choose to take the less strenuous option along the shoreline. The sheltered waters of the fjord provide the kayakers with great conditions for paddling.

Day 11, Pangnirtung

Nestled in the heart of Cumberland Sound and the gateway to Auyuittuq National Park, Pangnirtung is beautifully situated between the mountains and the sea. This remote town is known for its arts and crafts and a visit to the local art gallery is a highlight.

Day 12, Monumental Island

Situated in the Davis Strait, the rocky dome of Monumental Island can be seen from a distance. We explore by zodiac along the rocky shoreline and hope to encounter polar bears in this vicinity. In good weather a complete circumnavigation of the island in the zodiacs is possible. We often encounter large icebergs drifting southward towards Labrador and Newfoundland on the currents of the Davis Strait. As we near the end of our journey we enjoy an entertaining voyage recap from the Expedition Leader.

Day 13, Iqaluit – Disembarkation, Return flight to Ottawa

By morning we are anchored off the beach from Iqaluit – the largest community on Baffin Island. We say goodbye to our crew and make our way ashore on our final zodiac ride. We are transferred to the airport and board out scheduled flight to Ottawa. On arrival in Ottawa our journey comes to an end. A transfer is provided to a downtown location.

 

Dates & Prices

Charter flights

Charter flights from Edmonton to Cambridge Bay and Kangerlussuaq to Ottawa USD 1,995 pp only booked through us with your expedition cruise.

 

DatesNightsAdventure OptionsVesselPrices from
12 Aug 2018
24 Aug 2018
12
Sea KayakingWalking / HikingWhale WatchingAkademik Vavilov

$9,595

24 Aug 2018
05 Sep 2018
12
Sea KayakingWalking / HikingWhale WatchingAkademik Vavilov

$9,595

01 Sep 2018
13 Sep 2018
12
Sea KayakingWalking / HikingWhale WatchingAkademik Ioffe

$9,595


 

Inclusions

Included in the price of this voyage:

‐ Itinerary/pre-departure information

‐ Extensive program of relevant educational presentations

‐ Advice from experienced team of naturalists and resident photographer

‐ All Zodiac excursions

‐ On board Welcome Reception, Welcome Dinner and Farewell Dinner (hostel by the Captain)

‐ All meals during the voyage prepared by onboard professional chefs, afternoon tea with fresh snacks, Coffee, tea and hot chocolate throughout the day

‐ Onboard medical officer

‐ Access to our special programs on board (such as hiking, photography, etc)

‐ Use of multimedia station. We have a multimedia room where you can download

your photos at the end of the day if you wish.

‐ Transfers from the designated meeting point to the ship

‐ Transfers from ship to the meeting point/or airport

Not included in the price of this voyage:

‐ International and Domestic Airfares (unless otherwise stated in your invoice)

– Visa and passport fees, airport departure taxes

‐ Pre-cruise/ post-cruise hotel accommodation

‐ Personal laundry charges, personal expenses (Postage, telephone calls, drinks, medical expenses)

‐ Meals / accommodation / transfers in welcome/departure cities

‐ Trip interruption / cancellation insurance

‐ Travel medical insurance including medical evacuation (mandatory)

‐ Gratuities to staff and crew

 

Sea Kayaking

We are very proud to offer one of the best sea kayaking programs ever!!! Whether you are an experienced kayaker or you want to try it for the first time, this activity will allow you to enjoy another side of this magnificent destination.

Price per person: U$S 695

Read more about Sea Kayaking in the Polar Regions

Whale Watching

In the Polar Regions the sun shines 24/7 allowing krill and other crustaceans to grow in abundance. Whales take full advantage of this feast before the “big freeze” forces them to head to the Tropics. Humpbacks float along our zodiacs, Orcas set the heart racing and the curious minke whales never fail to delight.  And ‘don’t rule out seeing Blue whales or the less common beaked whales!

Read more about Whale watching

Hiking

Where possible we tailor the options to offer our contemplative walk (for those wanting to stay close to shore and not hike up slope), our mid range hike and our longer hikes. The longer hikes can range from two to three hours in duration, and may involve challenging terrain without the assistance of trails.  If you are unsure about your ability to participate in any activity, please discuss your concerns with our hiking guide and opt for the most suitable option.  There are always options for shorter walks, often up to excellent viewpoints, or along a beach.

Read more about Hiking in the Polar Regions 

 Polar Gear

Should you wish to simplify packing, we are proud to offer a full complement of  outdoor expedition gear for you on board.

Free of charge foul weather gear package including jacket, bib pants and wellington boots. The package also includes roll-top waterproof knapsacks, Bushnell® or Nikon binoculars and walking poles to use during the voyage.

Wellness Program

We have a Wellness program on the ship which includes a gym, sauna, hot tub, massage room and plunge pool for icy dips if you so wish! Early morning stretching and yoga sessions followed by healthy breakfast are a great way to start your expedition day.

Proof of our Polar Commitment

When traveling with Ice Tracks Expeditions, you will discover how much we care about the places and people we visit. We demonstrate this by finding ways to give back as well as taking away so many incredible memories.

Read more about our Giving Back Program.

Family Friendly Voyage:

Both departures will incorporate “hands on” activities in the field, with binoculars and journals provided specially for youngsters. They wil be able to use a mini lab in which specimens can be viewed under a microscope, plus a programe of social events including movie night and popcorn, games night and on-deck identification of wildlife.

Also, the staff organising the presentations will have versions of their talks on wildlife, photography and history designed for a young audience with the aim of stimulating and engaging them in the wonders of the Polar Regions.