Join us in Greenland and the Canadian High Arctic to travel the famed Northwest Passage!
This iconic voyage through the remote Northwest Passage follows in the footsteps of the early Arctic explorers such as Franklin, Amundsen and Larsen, as we explore the archipelago of islands and channels that create Canada’s high Arctic region. This is the home of the polar bear, the barrenground grizzly bear, muskox, caribou and walrus and we journey through the wild Canadian north aboard our celebrated expedition ship, Akademik Ioffe. Wildlife is the major draw card of our expedition but there is plenty of historical interest and the stories of that ill-fated expedition by Sir John Franklin more than 150 years ago are central to our journey. Franklin made his last heroic foray into the Arctic in 1845 with two ships and 129 men, never to be heard from again. We visit the last known wintering site of his ships the Erebus and Terror, and other sites along the way where traces of the expedition have been found. For lovers of remote expedition cruising this journey has it all!
13-day Canadian Arctic cruise with options for hiking and kayaking.
- Cruise above the Arctic circle from Greenland to Nunavut exploring the fascinating bays and inlets of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago.
- Trace the history of the explorers on their quest to find a shipping trade route between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.
- Opportunities to view massive icebergs, whales, seals, polar bears, walrus, musk oxen, and a variety of Arctic bird species.
- Visit a number of Inuit communities and explore their land on foot and by kayak.
Duration: 13 days Start Location: Ottawa End Location: EdmontonDownload Detailed Itinerary
Day 1 : Ottawa, Canada to Sondre Stromfjord (Kangerlussuaq)
Our journey of discovery begins in Ottawa as we board our charter flight to Kangerlussuaq and the Arctic. Kangerlussuaq, or Sondrestrom, is a settlement in western Greenland in the Qeqqata municipality located at the head of the fjord of the same name. It is Greenland's main air transport hub and the site of Greenland's largest commercial airport.
Sondre Stromfjord is one of the world’s longest fjords cutting into the interior of Greenland. Our charter flight from Ottawa, Canada into Greenland will see us land at a former American Airbase (Bluie West Eight and Camp Lloyd), located just miles north of the Arctic Circle. We will board our expedition vessel by zodiac and weigh anchor. Throughout the evening and through the night we will sail down this incredible fjord, crossing the Arctic Circle, before reaching the ocean and Davis Strait. We turn north out of the mouth of Sondre Stromfjord and cross the Arctic Circle yet again, remaining north of this point for the rest of the voyage.
Day 2 : Sisimiut
We will explore the fjord behind the town of Sisimiut before visiting the town in the afternoon. We will hope to meet a few of the traditional Greenlandic kayakers and perhaps see a demonstration of “Eskimo Rolling” by one of the former champions of the Greenland Kayaking Championships.
Day 3 : Ilulissat and Jacobshavn Icefjord
One of the wonders of the world, the Jacobshavn Icefjord spews massive tabular icebergs out into Disko Bay. Our approach to Ilulissat will be dependent upon the amount of ice in and around the mouth of the icefjord. Ilulissat was the hometown of Knud Rasmussen, one of Greenland’s most famous explorers and anthropologists, born here in 1879.
Days 4 - 5 : Baffin Bay
Our crossing of Baffin Bay will depend on the extent of the so-called ‘middle ice’. Our goal will be to find the edge of this and then follow it around and to the coast of Baffin Island. Our time at sea will be determined by the extent of the ice and amount of wildlife. As we cross Baffin Bay we will keep a look out for fin, sperm, sei and humpback whales as well as the numerous species of Arctic seals and seabirds that abound in the Bay.
Day 6 : Pond Inlet
We will visit the town of Pond Inlet and make our base at the Natinnak Centre, where a spectacular cultural exhibit will be the background of a display put on for us by the Elders and youth of Pond Inlet. Inuit carvings, jewellery and other local craft will be available to purchase from the local artisans. We will take time to meet the children of Pond Inlet and marvel at their athletic abilities as they demonstrate the challenges of the Inuit Games.
Days 7 - 8 : Lancaster Sound and Devon Island
Lancaster Sound is in many ways the wildlife ‘super-highway’ of the Arctic. A massive outlet for water from the high Arctic archipelago, there is a mixing of water here that is rich in nutrients. Coupled with areas of open water for much of the year, Lancaster Sound is home to a diverse concentration of wildlife that can be staggering, especially given the sparseness of the region. Our stops along the shore of Lancaster Sound will depend very much on ice conditions and weather.
Day 9 : Beechey Island and Prince Leopold Island
Beechey Island holds great importance in our quest to complete the Northwest Passage. It is here that 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 finished the charting of Canada’s northern archipelago. Almost sixty years later, Roald Amundsen stopped at Beechey Island during the first successful complete transit of the Northwest Passage.
Following our visit to Beechey Island, we sail south toward Prince Regent Inlet, stopping for a view of the bird cliffs at Prince Leopold Island. A migratory bird sanctuary, Prince Leopold Island is home to thick-billed murres, black guillemots, northern fulmars and black-legged kittiwakes. Totalling several hundred thousand birds, Prince Leopold Island is one of the most important bird sanctuaries in the Canadian Arctic.
Encounters with polar bear, beluga, narwhal and the occasional bowhead whale have also been known in the summering grounds around Prince Leopold Island and Prince Regent Inlet.
Day 10 : Fort Ross and Bellot Strait
If ice conditions permit, we will sail south through Prince Regent Inlet and approach the eastern end of the Bellot Strait. Fort Ross, located at the southern end of Somerset Island, is a former Hudson’s Bay Company fur trading outpost. Ancient archaeological sites nearby tell a story of more than a thousand years of habitation by the Inuit and their predecessors. Upon leaving Fort Ross, we will attempt the passage of the Bellot Strait, entering at slack water if possible, in order to avoid a current that can be more than seven knots during the peak flow. The mixing of waters in this strait provides ample food source for marine mammals and we will keep our eyes peeled for harp seals, bearded seals and even polar bears. Upon exiting Bellot Strait we will turn south in Victoria Strait, taking a bearing for King William Island.
Day 11 : Conningham Bay
Having emerged from the exciting transit of Bellot Strait, we then cross the broad Victoria Strait and arrive at Conningham Bay on the eastern shore of Prince Edward Island. Here, in the heart of the Northwest Passage is perhaps one of the most remarkable wildlife sites in the Arctic and a known hotspot for polar bears. Beluga whales come to the shallow inlet to rub their white skins against the gravel bottom - an annual ritual. Often when the tide recedes, the whales become trapped in the shallows making them easy prey for the polar bear. It's common to find mothers and their cubs here in sizeable numbers and the skeletons of beluga whales litter the shore - grim testament to the ebb and flow of life in the Arctic.
Day 12 : Victory Point, King William Island
Little is known of how the remainders of the Franklin Expedition spent its last months in the frozen Arctic. The vessels, abandoned in the ice of Victoria Strait have left no trace. 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 occurred. We will 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 13 : Cambridge Bay, Nunavut to Edmonton, Alberta
We hope to visit the community of Cambridge Bay, on the southern shores of Victoria Island. Cambridge Bay, also known as Ikaluktutiak or “good fishing place”, is a centre for hunting, trapping, and fishing. Local Inuit have had summer camps in the locality for hundreds of years. Today ships visit the region annually bringing supplies. Amundsen spent two winters in this area, learning how to master dogsledding from the locals. Prior to this, McClintock found solid evidence of the Franklin Expedition here in 1859, including naval artifacts, sledges, graves and letters.
We drop anchor in the harbour of Cambridge Bay and make our way ashore by zodiac. Our charter flight to Edmonton will await us here and we will board the flight for the short flight back to ‘southern’ Canada.
DATES: Best time to go: August Departures: Aug 12 - 24, 2015
(All prices are per person in US$):
$8,395 (Triple cabin shared bath)
$695 Sea Kayaking Option (space is limited -- must be reserved at time of booking)
Single supplement: 1.5 of the twin occupancy cabins and 2 for the suites (single supplements not available for the triple share cabins. If you are willing to share a cabin, we will do our best to match you up with a roommate of the same gender and will waive the single supplement fee.
Early Booking Offer - discount of US$1000 per person for bookings made before 30 September 2014.
Designed for polar research, the Akademik Ioffe is modern, comfortable, safe and ice-strengthened. From small group sessions to briefings for all passengers, we have public spaces onboard the ship ideally suited for each and every need. A separate bar and lounge, as well as a library provide ideal places to sit and relax or catch up on some reading. A selection of movies and documentaries can also be watched in the lounge.
Enjoy the sumptuous meals prepared for you by our culinary team in our dining room, which can host all clients in a single seating with ample room.
Other facilities include the theatre style presentation room, gift-shop, fitness room, massage room, sauna and plunge pool.
Properties shown are representative of the accommodations we use on this trip, may not be inclusive of all accommodations we use, and are subject to change.
Expert leadership is the key to an exciting, unforgettable experience. Our trips feature gifted leaders for whom leading trips is a true vocation. Besides showing you wonders you’d never find on your own, they make sure everything runs smoothly and safely without a hitch. They are knowledgeable about all aspects of your trip, and take great pleasure in sharing their insights with you. More than just guides, they positively elevate your experience by being teachers, companions, and the best of friends. You’ll be in good hands with them every step of the way. The following guides may lead this trip:
Aaron Lawton developed the Polar program for One Ocean Expeditions (our partner in the Polar Regions), bringing a strong commitment to conservation in the Polar Regions to his work in operations development. An avid paddler, Aaron has been paddling or rowing some form of human-powered boat for most of his life. His experience encompasses wilderness guiding and instruction by canoe and sea kayak, varsity rowing and most recently a passion for Hawaiian-style outrigger canoe racing. Thousands of miles on the water have given him an appreciation and awareness for the subtle changes in the ocean due to local weather and global climate patterns. Aaron is truly Canadian having lived in the mountains of the Yukon Territory, among the wheat fields of Manitoba, in the orchards of Southern Ontario and along the briny coast of Nova Scotia, all by the ripe old age of twelve. Continuing this passion for new places, Aaron has worked in the outdoor industry on six of the seven continents. Over the last decade, Aaron has been expedition leader or kayak guide on about a hundred trips to the Canadian Arctic, the Antarctic Peninsula and Svalbard. In 2001, Aaron and his wife Cathy embarked on a 10-night unassisted sea kayak expedition along the Antarctic Peninsula. Aaron holds a degree in forestry from the University of British Columbia. This has led to a real appreciation for and understanding of ecology and the connectivity of ecosystems.
Andrew is the Managing Director of One Ocean Expeditions Inc. (our partner in the Polar Regions) and brings his passion for polar regions and their conservation into any discussion he can. An adventurer in his own right, Andrew is an accomplished ocean racing sailor. He led a team that won a race across the Atlantic Ocean in a 30-foot sailboat; he has sailed around Cape Horn in a Southern Ocean gale and competitively raced yachts and high performance dinghies all over the world. Andrew is also a published photographer and an avid snowboarder, spending his quiet time in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Andrew grew up on Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia, Canada and has brought his East Coast sense of humor with him all along the way. After earning a degree from Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada, he played a strategic planning role for a major Canadian player in the transportation industry. With around five years in the corporate world under his belt but searching for a life of meaning, Andrew decided to "run away to sea". What started as a three-month commitment to manage a ship transformed itself into a very successful entrepreneurial career in expedition cruising where he could apply his experience and his passion. With a reputation for innovation and attention to detail, Andrew has become well known in the expedition cruise industry for the high quality expedition cruise programs he develops. He is also noted for his attention to vital areas of safety and his commitment to environmental protection.