Exploring the Northwest Passage is an iconic Arctic experience. You will follow in the footsteps of the early Arctic explorers such as Franklin, Amundsen and Larsen, while exploring the archipelago of islands and channels that make up Canada’s High Arctic region.
We offer three voyages to this remote, beautiful part of the Arctic – each itinerary following a different direction (East, West and South) with varying journey lengths – but each takes in the stunning fjords of the Baffin Island coastline, ice-bergs calving off the Greenland icecap, as well as the chance to spot polar bears, the barren ground grizzly bear, musk ox, caribou and walruses in their native habitats – not to mention a plethora of marine and birdlife!
The following itinerary details the Classic Northwest passage – eastbound, just to give you a taste of what a Northwest passage trip has to offer! Please do contact us for more information about the westbound and southbound journeys.
You will leave Edmonton, Canada this morning on a special charter flight, landing in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut – a remote outpost above the Arctic Circle. Explore this intriguing town on a walking tour before boarding the ship in the afternoon. After settling in to our cabins and exploring the ship, we meet our expedition team and fellow passengers. After you have settling into your cabin and explored the ship, you will meet up with fellow passenger and the expedition team to enjoy a welcome cocktail as we cast off, and head eastwards, bound for the fabled Northwest Passage.
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 re?ect on the quest for exploration that opened up the Arctic, while sacri?cing some of its bravest explorers.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
On every trip you do with us, we ensure that you are accompanied by exceptional local experts and guides with intimate knowledge of the flora, fauna and cultural history of the area.
...with a whale expert! Outings onboard zodiacs, or from the bow of the ship: here is the chance to see these majestic giants up close and personal as they float asleep like semi-submerged submarines, fluke, 'spy hop', breach, hunt and feed.
There will be numerous opportunities to photograph and capture truly wonderful moments. From multimedia presentations to group workshops on the outer decks or in a Zodiac, our on board photographer will offer advice and instruction.
For our latest discounts and exclusive deals see our special offers page.
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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:
- 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.