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Canada's Epic East Coast and Labrador

Canadian Arctic Cruise Information

Summary : Embark on an epic journey along Canada's east coast and beyond to the rugged coastline of Newfoundland and Labrador. Start by exploring the islands of Canada’s Atlantic Maritime Province, which feature a rich and diverse culture, found in small fishing communities and remote out ports. The area is well known for its Celtic traditions and the music and cuisine of the region is celebrated the world over. Historically, this is one of the most fascinating places in North America. Your exploration of the Maritimes starts and ends in the historical town of Louisburg on Cape Breton Island. The region offers a staggering abundance of wildlife, including prolific birdlife, numerous seal and whale species and even the fabled ponies of Sable Island. Beaches and lagoons provide viewing opportunities for numerous shorebirds and as you cruise towards the mouth of the St. Lawrence River, hope to see the great baleen whales such as the humpback, minke and blue whale, as well as grey and harp seals. These rich feeding grounds act as a magnet for wildlife. A ship-based exploration allows you to visit places that are otherwise inaccessible or difficult to get to for land-based visitors and achieve this all in a manageable time frame. Daily shore excursions with expert guides, a range of wonderful activities and an inspired dining menu make this an ideal way to experience this enchanting region of Canada.

Travel northwards into higher Arctic latitudes. Subtle changes to vegetation and wildlife species can be noticed and your expert guides will interpret and explain these changes throughout the journey. The region features strong cultural diversity. Encounter the Nunatsiavut people in small communities along the coastline of Labrador. Numerous wildlife species are found along this coastline including bears, seals, whales and both migratory and resident birds. A particular highlight of your voyage is a visit to Torngat Mountains National Park –home to the highest mountains in Canada, east of the Rockies. This is one of the jewels in the crown of the Canadian National Park network. The Inuit have strong cultural and spiritual connections to the land which you will learn about during your visit. Your expedition vessel is the perfect platform for exploring the remote bays and fjords of this spectacular wilderness as many locations can only be accessed by ship. A final highlight awaits as you venture across Frobisher Bay to Monumental Island. This is remote, small-ship expedition cruising at its best.

Activities : Birding, Child-Friendly, Culture, Hiking, Kayaking, Photography, Triple/Quad Cabins

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Itinerary
Day 1
Louisburg, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia

Your adventure begins in the historic port town of Louisburg, Nova Scotia, where you board your expedition vessel. First visited in 1597 by the English, the town was fortified in 1713 by the French in recognition of its strategic maritime location. During the 18th century, Louisburg was the third busiest seaport in North America. Board the ship in the late afternoon in time for a dinner of fresh local lobster as you sail out past the lighthouse into the North Atlantic, and onto the Grand Banks.

Day 2
Sable Island National Park Reserve, Nova Scotia

Located on the edge of the Grand Banks, hundreds of kilometers from the coast, Sable Island has a storied history as a graveyard of ships, with more than 350 ships falling victim to the treacherous currents and sandbars. Sporadically inhabited by sealers, shipwreck survivors and salvagers, the island is now home to fewer than six year-round inhabitants, a herd of Sable Island ponies and one of the largest gray seal colonies in the world. It is an important stopover for numerous migratory bird species as they make their way to and from the High Arctic region. Sable Island is one of Canada’s newest national parks and the long sand beaches are best explored on foot.

Day 3
Bird Island and Englishtown, Nova Scotia

Return to Cape Breton and continue your exploration of this beautiful island by stopping in Englishtown. You will have a few options here. The Atlantic Puffins and Razorbills on Bird Island might call to you, or perhaps you will want to head into the community of Englishtown. The Gaelic College in Cape Breton is a short bus ride away from the beach where you will disembark. The region can be explored by sea kayak, stand up paddleboard, Zodiac, or bicycle – all alongside your expert guides and naturalists who will share their excitement for the destination with you.

Day 4 – 5
Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island

Today you will anchor just offshore Prince Edward Island near the town of North Rustico. From here you can split off in several directions. A tour into Charlottetown or perhaps a visit to Green Gables, or spend a few hours at the island’s famous Cavendish beach. Another enticing option could be a leisurely bicycle ride along the Confederation Trail or the Coastal Drive. A round of golf on one of the islands celebrated golf courses, or a kayak paddle in Rustico Bay. You will be welcomed back to the ship for a dinner of fresh Atlantic seafood as you travel north to the Magdalen Islands. These islands in the Gulf of St. Lawrence are home to unique fishing communities with beautifully maintained waterfront houses and boats, flowing grassy plains and sandstone shorelines sculpted by the elements where you will encounter a wide diversity of bird and sea life.

Day 6 – 7
Bonaventure Island / Anticosti Island

Sculpted over time by the sea, the island is situated at the tip of the Gaspé Peninsula. The outstanding flora and fauna, including its famous colony of Northern Gannets make it a must-see location. Almost 300 different species of birds have been recorded as visiting, migrating to, or living on Bonaventure Island. An afternoon visit to the community of Percé will provide a window into the rich fishing culture of French-Canada. Zodiac cruising, sea kayaking and stand up paddle boarding are all activities that can be undertaken here, weather permitting. The next day you will sail towards Anticosti Island which is rich in marine wildlife. Plan to hike along the beaches near the eastern end of the island followed by a Zodiac cruise along the cliffs at East Point. We hope to observe several species of shorebirds and seabirds as well as whales and seals.

Day 8
Gros Morne National Park

In the heart of Gros Morne National Park, the cliffs soar up out of the water and are covered in a green blanket of tuck amore forest. At Woody Point you will be welcomed ashore by a delegation from the community before hiking up to the excellent interpretation center. From there, various guided walks will take you into the World Heritage-listed Tablelands and to the lookout for a view over much of the park.

Day 9 – 10
Francois, Newfoundland / Saint-Pierre et Miquelon

The next two days are filled with cultural experiences as you visit Francois on the south coast of Newfoundland and Saint-Pierre et Miquelon, an island representing the sole remaining vestige of France’s once vast North American empire. When entering Francois harbor, you will first greeted by one of the few remaining manned light stations anywhere on the coast of Newfoundland. Once past the light, the narrow opening leading into the steep-walled rocky fjord amazes us. Walking down the streets of Saint-Pierre et Miquelon feels like taking a stroll through a provincial French town. As a part of France, the area has much in common with Europe, but also with its Canadian and American neighbors. There's an excellent puffin colony here and, if weather permits, you will cruise in the Zodiacs to see these colorful birds.

Day 11
Louisbourg, Nova Scotia

Sail back to Cape Breton, heading again for the historic port of Louisbourg. Today is a free day to explore the town. In the afternoon, return to the ship and set sail, bound for Labrador and into the Arctic.

Day 12
Gros Morne National Park

Today you will make a second visit to the outstanding Gros Morne National Park where your Zodiacs take you ashore and you will be transferred by bus for visit to the World Heritage-listed Tablelands. This incredible location is noted for its unique geology and exceptional scenery. Here, the Earth’s mantle is exposed on the surface – pushed up over millions of years by the movement of tectonic plates.

Day 13 – 16
L'Anse aux Meadows / Battle Harbour / Hopedale

Cultural visits dominate the next few days of your expedition. L’Anse aux Meadows is one of Canada’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites and you will board the Zodiacs for a short cruise to the rocky shoreline. As you explore the reconstructed sod huts and Norse ruins with the site’s resident archaeologist, you will see evidence that the Vikings discovered North America some five hundred years prior to the arrival of Christopher Columbus. On the next day, you will explore Battle Harbour, one of the first British settlements on the east coast of the Americas. When sailing to Hopedale, where the ancient rocks of the Canadian Shield (the exposed portion of the Earth’s crust) cradle the small coastal hamlet of Hopedale. This remarkable geological feature, estimated to be up to 4-billion-years-old greet us as you sail through narrow channels. Venture ashore by Zodiac to visit the Hopedale Moravian Mission – built in 1782 and said to be the oldest building east of Quebec. This location has been designated a Canadian National Historic Site. Today you will enjoy a visit to the historic town of Hebron, once the northernmost settlement in Labrador. The Moravian missionaries established Hebron in the early 1830’s and the Germanic influence is clearly seen in the architecture. This is another designated National Historic Site and is considered one of the most historically significant mission-built structures in the entire province.

Day 17 – 18
Torngat Mountains National Park

You will spend the next two days in the Torngat Mountains National Park Reserve, established in 2005. Saglek Fjord is the southern gateway to the Torngat Mountains National Park Reserve. It is home to Canada’s highest mountains East of the Rockies, and features breathtaking fjords, remnant glacial systems and stunning landscapes. The Inuktitut word Torngat, means “place of spirits” and the Torngat Mountains have been home to Inuit and their predecessors for over 7,500 years. Polar bears hunt seals along the coast, and both the Torngat Mountains and George River caribou herds cross paths as they migrate to and from their calving grounds. There are some terrific hiking opportunities here explore the area on foot and along the shoreline in the Zodiacs. You will visit Nachvak Fjord on your second day in the Torngat Mountains National Park which is deep and narrow and stretches more than 20 kilometers. The rocky walls of the fjord soar almost 900 meters above you at several points. Numerous seal species may be encountered including ring, hooded, harp and harbour seals. Minke whales have been known to linger in the fjords, while larger species, including fin and humpback, tend to stay offshore.

Day 19 – 20
Gros Morne National Park and Woody Point, Newfoundland

As you reach the far northern stretches of coastal Labrador, you will learn more about the remarkable history of the area. Later in the day, visit the Button Islands before sailing into southern Davis Strait. The islands are in the middle of the upwelling of nutrients on the edge of the continental shelf. This action makes it a magnet for thousands of seabirds and other marine mammals. Enjoy your final Zodiac cruise the mouth of Frobisher Bay and make landfall on Monumental Island, where you are on the lookout for polar bears among the ice bergs and seasonal sea ice. Harp seals can sometimes be found on the ice floes – a tasty meals for the local bears!

Day 21
Iqaluit, Nunavut / Ottawa

Bid farewell to your crew and disembark the ship by Zodiac and, after a short tour of Iqaluit (if time and tides permit) you will transfer to the airport for your flight back to Ottawa. On arrival in Ottawa, an airport transfer is provided to a central downtown location.

Notes

Specific sites visited will depend on ice and weather conditions experienced and the itinerary will be updated throughout the voyage in order to take advantage of favorable conditions. ExpeditionTrips is not responsible for itinerary changes.

Mandatory Insurance:

All guests are required to have comprehensive travel insurance. The travel insurance must cover accidents, injury, illness and death, medical expenses, including any related to pre-existing medical conditions, emergency repatriation (including helicopter), luggage and personal effects, and personal liability. It is strongly recommended that you purchase cancellation and curtailment insurance. You must carry proof of insurance with you and produce it if requested by expedition staff. The expedition team reserves the right to cancel or suspend your participation on a trip or in certain activities that comprise part of a trip, at any time, including after the commencement of your tour, with no right of refund, if you are unable to provide proof of insurance when requested.

Medical Documentation:
Once you have booked your voyage, you will be required to complete a Medical Information Form. This form must be completed, signed and returned no later than 90 days prior to departure.

Bicycling: Included (Day 1-10)
A range of guided bike excursion options are available. Bikes, helmets, high visibility vests, and guides are included.

Fitness & Yoga: Included
Offered a various times throughout the day, as well as by private schedule. Fitness and yoga instructors offer a full suite of active movement programs.

Photographer-in-Residence: Included
The photographer-in-residence provides presentations, critiques, informal instruction, and a photographer Zodiac to assist with each passenger's photographic goals.

Sea Kayaking: Included (Day 1-10); $695 per person (Labrador and Torngat)
Kayaking is limited to 16 participants. Kayakers will be accompanied by three kayak guides at all times during the kayaking outings. This optional activity requires previous experience. Kayaking is included free of charge on the first half of the voyage in the Canadian Maritimes region. Those interested in kayaking on the second half of the voyage in Labrador and Torngat will need to book ahead and pay an additional supplement of $695 per person.

Stand-Up Paddle Boarding: Included (Day 1-10)
A fleet of stand up paddle boards are available for passenger use.

Trekking/Hiking: Included
A range of guided hiking options are available for passengers, from contemplative, relaxing shore walks to two-to-three hour treks with challenging terrain.

Included:
Cabin accommodations and meals aboard the ship; daily afternoon tea; 24-hour tea, coffee, and hot chocolate in the lounge and in all cabins (replenished daily); expertise of experienced expedition leader and professional expedition team of marine biologists, naturalists, historians, adventure guides, and photographers; daily shore excursions by Zodiac boat in small groups; optional activities including cycling, guided hikes, kayaking, and stand-up paddle boarding (Day 1-10); educational presentations and talks by experts; access to computers in the multimedia lab for image downloads, file back up, and management; emergency-trained physician onboard every voyage; onboard sauna, plunge pool, Jacuzzi, and fitness center with personal trainer and massage options (additional charges apply for massage and spa treatments); well-stocked library with polar reference books; end of voyage video, photos, and take home USB; port fees and permits to access visited areas; and gear on loan (waterproof/windproof jacket, bib pants, insulated rubber boots, binoculars, and trekking poles). Subject to change without notice.

Not Included:

International airfare; charter airfare where applicable; pre- and post-cruise hotel nights; Labrador and Torngat kayaking supplement ($695 per person); passport and visa fees; excess baggage charges; airport taxes; travel insurance; all gratuities; extra meals; items of a personal nature such as laundry, drinks; medical expenses; optional activities and trips; fuel surcharge may apply.

Photos: © Barrett & MacKay, © Ira  Meyer, © Jocelyn Pride, © Kyle Marquardt, © Parks Canada, © Tony Beck

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