This voyage combines two outstanding locations: Canada’s wild and remote Baffin Island and the glaciated western coast of Greenland. We will explore deep fjords, immense icebergs and small coastal villages while encountering the special wildlife of the Arctic, including birdlife, marine mammals and polar bears.
We depart Ottawa this morning on our scheduled flight to Iqaluit, Nunavut, on Baffin Island. Upon Iqaluit we take a walking tour of the town and board our expedition ship, in the afternoon. After settling into our cabins and exploring the ship, we enjoy a welcome cocktail and cast off, setting sail for the remote Canadian Arctic and West Greenland.
Located in Davis Strait, Monumental Island is a known location for walrus. We explore by zodiac along the shoreline looking for these fascinating creatures, and keep an eye out for polar bears as well.
Nestled in the heart of Cumberland Sound, the village of Pangniqtuuq (Pangnirtung) is beautifully situated between the mountains and the sea. This remote community is a well-known centre for traditional and contemporary arts and crafts, including carvings, prints and colorful textiles. The Angmarlik Visitor Centre features a wonderful interpretive display sharing the lifestyle and history of the Thule and the modern Inuit.
Marking the northern headland of Cumberland Sound are the dramatic cliffs of Cape Mercy. As the Baffin Bay ice recedes throughout the summer, this stretch of the Baffin coast is a great place to find polar bears coming ashore. We explore this region, planning to hike the shoreline ridges, paddle the bays and zodiac cruise through the ice on the lookout for Arctic wildlife.
Sunshine Fjord straddles the Arctic Circle at 66 degrees, 33 minutes north of latitude. Depending on the weather we may cruise across the Circle on the ship, by zodiac, or maybe cross it on foot. Whichever way, it’s a thrill to be above the Arctic Circle. Sunshine Fjord offers terrific hiking opportunities, from long routes that offer wonderful views of our surroundings to less strenuous options along the shoreline. For the sea kayakers, the sheltered waters of the fjord provide great conditions for paddling.
Ice conditions along the Baffin coastline will dictate our navigation today. This is a fascinating transition zone to explore due to the rich and varied wildlife species we expect to encounter along the ice edge. We keep a lookout for bearded, hooded and ringed seals and walrus. Polar bears are often found in the vicinity – with such a rich abundance of food sources in close proximity, these are rich hunting grounds. It is also not uncommon to see bowhead whales cruising along the edges of the ice. If conditions allow, we launch the zodiacs and explore through the ice floes on the lookout for wildlife. Eventually we push into the broad expanse of the Davis Strait charting an easterly course towards Greenland. From this point onwards, huge icebergs will be present, making for incredible photographic subjects in the soft Arctic twilight.
Qeqertarsuaq is situated at the head of Disko Bay. The Inuit name for this location translates literally as ‘large island’. After the main landmass of Greenland, this is the territory’s second largest island. It is a place of great historic and geological interest. Eric the Red, the 9th century Norse Viking, is believed to have used this island as a base for hunting, fishing and exploration. Mineral deposits containing native iron and hot springs are another feature of the area. We explore the southern coast and visit the island’s principal settlement of Qeqertarsuaq, home to a small, hardy community.
If one word could sum up today’s experience it would be ‘ice’. Even our expedition team members, with years spent exploring the Arctic and Antarctica, will take a moment to reflect on the awesome ice sculptures that surround the ship in all directions. 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 meters per day, around 50 cubic kilometers of ice annually! Our approach to Ilulissat is always dependent on the amount of ice in and around the mouth of the fjord. Our Captain and officers are skilled ice navigators and our ship has one of the highest ice ratings of any vessel exploring Arctic waters.
We will explore the fjord behind the town of Sisimiut before going ashore to explore. Characterised by colorful local houses, the town’s backdrop is a towering granite peak. 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, as is walking around town with your camera capturing the picture-postcard setting.
Today we sail into one of the longest fjords on the planet. Overlooking the fjord sits the town of Kangerlussuaq, a key outpost on the west coast of Greenland. An exciting day lies ahead as expert guides take us to view and experience the vast expanse of the Greenland ice cap. Covering roughly 80% of the surface of Greenland, the ice sheet measures approximately 1.7 million square kilometers. It’s the second largest ice sheet on earth, second only to continental Antarctica. Our trip takes us through fabulous scenery and there’s a good chance of seeing muskox, reindeer and local birdlife. Our expert local guides will take us walking on the actual ice cap – a huge thrill for many of us. Later this afternoon, we return to the ship and tonight our chefs will have prepared a special farewell dinner attended by the ship’s Captain. It’s a wonderful time to celebrate and reflect on a remarkable journey through the heart of the Arctic.
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 Ottawa. A transfer is provided from the airport to a central location downtown.
Included in the price of this voyage:
- Comprehensive pre-voyage information package including details to help you prepare for your trip in the Canadian Arctic
- Transfers from the airport to your hotel upon arrival. Transfers to the ship on embarkation day and from the ship to the airport or local hotel on disembarkation
- Shipboard accommodation in your selected cabin category with daily housekeeping. Cabins feature outside views with windows or portholes that open on each deck
- High quality, eco friendly, Canadian made natural amenities in every cabin
- All breakfasts, lunches and dinners on board throughout your voyage with daily afternoon tea
- 24 hour tea, coffee, hot chocolate in bar lounge plus in cabin tea, coffee, hot chocolate replenished daily
- Experienced Expedition Leader and professional expedition team of marine bioligists, naturalists, historians, adventure guides and photographers
- Daily off-ship excursions by Zodiac boat breaking into small groups for shore landings
- Guided hikes and walks on shore of various durations for guests of all abilities
- Visits to wildlife colonies, historic sites, places of outstanding natural beauty and community visits
- Educational presentations and talks by polar experts in their field (ie. marine biologists, naturalists, historians etc). Onboard or on shore
- Resident photography guide available to assist all guests
- Access to computers in the multimedia lab for image downloads, file back up and management
- An emergency trained Physician onboard every voyage
- Dedicated hospitality team including Hotel Manager, four chefs, professional bar staff and Adventure Concierge staff
- Onboard sauna, plunge pool, Jacuzzi and
fitness centre including personal trainer and massage options (charge applies for massage and spa treatments)
- Sea Kayaking programme available (additional charge of $695pp) – must be reserved at the time of booking your voyage and you must have some prior paddling experience
- Access to well stocked library full of polar reference books
- End of voyage video, photos and take home USB Port fees and all permits to access visited areas
Not included in the price of this voyage:
- A 5% GST will be added to the voyage for domestic Canadian itineraries
- Any international or local airfare unless otherwise specified in the voyage itinerary
- Charter flight from/to Ottawa fee U$ 1995
- Visa and passport expenses
- Pre or post-cruise hotel accommodation unless otherwise specified in the itinerary (or pre-arranged)
- Pre or post-cruise transfers unless otherwise specified in the itinerary (or pre-arranged)
- Personal expenses on board such as alcoholic beverages, bar charges or laundry expenses
- Telecommunication charges (ie. email, satellite phone)
- Baggage, cancellation or medical travel insurance related expenses (travel insurance is mandatory on all voyages)
- A voluntary gratuity at the end of the voyage for expedition staff and ship crew (suggested amount – $US12-15 per day)