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Northwest Passage – Westbound Explorer

From $8,395

  • Cruise above the Arctic Circle from Greenland to Nunavut, discovering the beautiful bays and inlets of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago
  • Trace the history of explorers on their quest to find a shipping routes between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans
  • Explore remote Inuit communities by foot and kayak
  • View massive icebergs and amazing wildlife including whales, seals, and polar bears!

For centuries, the Northwest Passage has enticed epic feats of exploration, as seafarers and explorers sought a navigable route through the frozen waterways that connect the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. Today, the ice-strengthened Akademik Ioffe is one of the few expedition ships to navigate the iconic passage, tracing Sir John Franklin’s ill-fated expedition over 150 years ago and Roald Amundsen’s successful traverse of the Northwest Passage in 1906. Following in the footsteps of these great explorers, you’ll discover a stunning archipelago of islands and channels that create Canada’s high Arctic region. Look out for an amazing variety of wildlife, from polar bears to grizzlies, musk oxen to caribou. Hear fascinating stories from the passage’s past and visit the last-known wintering site of Franklin’s ships the Erebus and Terror. For lovers of remote expedition cruising, this journey has it all!

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.

  • Dinner
  • Accomodation:Akademik Ioffe

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.

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accomodation:Akademik Ioffe

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.

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accomodation:Akademik Ioffe

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.

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accomodation:Akademik Ioffe

Day 6: Pond Inlet

Today we'll visit the town of Pond Inlet and make our base at the Natinnak Centre, where we'll enjoy a spectacular cultural exhibit with Inuit carvings, jewelry, and other crafts made by local artisans. We'll also take time to meet the children of Pond Inlet and marvel at their athletic abilities as they demonstrate traditional challenges of the Inuit Games.

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accomodation:Akademik Ioffe

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.

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accomodation:Akademik Ioffe

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.

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accomodation:Akademik Ioffe

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.

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accomodation:Akademik Ioffe

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, a grim testament to the ebb and flow of life in the Arctic.

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accomodation:Akademik Ioffe

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.

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accomodation:Akademik Ioffe

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.

  • Breakfast/Lunch

Aug 12 - 24, 2016 Aboard Akademik Sergey Vavilov

pricing

2015 Pricing, Per Person

$8,395 (Triple cabin shared bath)
$9,995 (Twin cabin semi-private bath)
$11,995 (Twin cabin private bath)
$12,995 (Superior cabin)
$13,995 (Shackleton Suite)
$14,995 (One Ocean Suite)

$695 Sea Kayaking Option (space is limited -- must be reserved at time of booking)
$1990 Charter flights from Ottawa to Kangerlussuaq and from Cambridge Bay to Edmonton (price subject to change)

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.

2016 Pricing, Per Person

$8,895 (Triple cabin shared bath)
$10,495 (Twin cabin semi-private bath)
$12,595 (Twin cabin private bath)
$13,695 (Superior cabin)
$14,695 (Shackleton Suite)
$15,795 (One Ocean Suite)

$695 Sea Kayaking Option (space is limited -- must be reserved at time of booking)
$1990 Charter flights from Ottawa to Kangerlussuaq and from Cambridge Bay to Edmonton (price subject to change)

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.

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Akademik Ioffe

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.

  • Cruise above the Arctic Circle from Greenland to Nunavut, discovering the beautiful bays and inlets of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago
  • Trace the history of explorers on their quest to find a shipping routes between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans
  • Explore remote Inuit communities by foot and kayak
  • View massive icebergs and amazing wildlife including whales, seals, and polar bears!

For centuries, the Northwest Passage has enticed epic feats of exploration, as seafarers and explorers sought a navigable route through the frozen waterways that connect the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. Today, the ice-strengthened Akademik Ioffe is one of the few expedition ships to navigate the iconic passage, tracing Sir John Franklin’s ill-fated expedition over 150 years ago and Roald Amundsen’s successful traverse of the Northwest Passage in 1906. Following in the footsteps of these great explorers, you’ll discover a stunning archipelago of islands and channels that create Canada’s high Arctic region. Look out for an amazing variety of wildlife, from polar bears to grizzlies, musk oxen to caribou. Hear fascinating stories from the passage’s past and visit the last-known wintering site of Franklin’s ships the Erebus and Terror. For lovers of remote expedition cruising, this journey has it all!

DAILY 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.

  • Dinner
  • Accomodation:Akademik Ioffe

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.

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accomodation:Akademik Ioffe

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.

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accomodation:Akademik Ioffe

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.

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accomodation:Akademik Ioffe

Day 6: Pond Inlet

Today we'll visit the town of Pond Inlet and make our base at the Natinnak Centre, where we'll enjoy a spectacular cultural exhibit with Inuit carvings, jewelry, and other crafts made by local artisans. We'll also take time to meet the children of Pond Inlet and marvel at their athletic abilities as they demonstrate traditional challenges of the Inuit Games.

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accomodation:Akademik Ioffe

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.

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accomodation:Akademik Ioffe

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.

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accomodation:Akademik Ioffe

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.

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accomodation:Akademik Ioffe

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, a grim testament to the ebb and flow of life in the Arctic.

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accomodation:Akademik Ioffe

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.

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accomodation:Akademik Ioffe

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.

  • Breakfast/Lunch

Akademik Ioffe

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.

Dates and Pricing

Aug 12 - 24, 2016 Aboard Akademik Sergey Vavilov

pricing

2015 Pricing, Per Person

$8,395 (Triple cabin shared bath)
$9,995 (Twin cabin semi-private bath)
$11,995 (Twin cabin private bath)
$12,995 (Superior cabin)
$13,995 (Shackleton Suite)
$14,995 (One Ocean Suite)

$695 Sea Kayaking Option (space is limited -- must be reserved at time of booking)
$1990 Charter flights from Ottawa to Kangerlussuaq and from Cambridge Bay to Edmonton (price subject to change)

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.

2016 Pricing, Per Person

$8,895 (Triple cabin shared bath)
$10,495 (Twin cabin semi-private bath)
$12,595 (Twin cabin private bath)
$13,695 (Superior cabin)
$14,695 (Shackleton Suite)
$15,795 (One Ocean Suite)

$695 Sea Kayaking Option (space is limited -- must be reserved at time of booking)
$1990 Charter flights from Ottawa to Kangerlussuaq and from Cambridge Bay to Edmonton (price subject to change)

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.

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