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High Arctic Explorer

Canadian Arctic Cruise Information

Summary : This exciting voyage combines the quest for wildlife with an enriching history of Canadian exploration in the Arctic. Over the course of the trip you will visit a number of Royal Canadian Mounted Police outposts, scattered along the shoreline of High Arctic Bays. The first vessel to circumnavigate North America was the RCMP patrol vessel St. Roch, and you will trace parts of her sovereignty patrols through the High Arctic, all the while hitting some of the wildlife super-spots of the High Arctic. A visit to one of the largest migratory bird sanctuaries in the world, frequent sightings of seals, beluga whale and narwhal provide great interest for wildlife lovers. A highlight will be sightings of polar bears. Frequent shore landings in the company of expert guides allow you to explore on foot, observing wildlife, Arctic flora, and points of historical interest, including a number of former Hudson's Bay Company outposts. All of this is set against a backdrop of epic mountain scenery, sweeping glaciers and skies that go on forever. This is an ideal introduction to small ship expedition cruising in the remote Canadian Arctic.

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

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Itinerary
Day 1
Edmonton, Alberta / Resolute, Nunavut

Depart from the Fairmont Hotel MacDonald on an included transfer to the charter flight. Enjoy an included charter flight to Resolute, a remote outpost above the Arctic Circle. Located on the southern shores of Cornwallis Island, the town is named after the British ship HMS Resolute which became trapped in ice and abandoned here in 1850 while searching for the lost Franklin Expedition. A weather station and airstrip here made it a strategic outpost during the time of the Cold War. On arrival, join your transfer to the beach where your expedition team will meet you and prepare you for your Zodiac ride to the ship. Once on board, you will meet the expedition team and get to know your fellow guests over a welcome cocktail. Weigh anchor and depart Resolute in the early evening.

Day 2
Maxwell Bay, Devon Island

A large bay on the south coast of Devon Island, Maxwell Bay offers some wonderful hiking opportunities ashore and great wildlife watching from the water. Muskox and caribou can be found here as well as polar bears. Harp seals, ringed seals, bearded seals and even walrus have been spotted in the various coves and inlets of the bay.

Day 3
Croker Bay and Dundas Harbor

Your voyage continues east through Lancaster Sound along the southern coastline of Devon Island. Lancaster Sound, which separates Devon and Baffin Island, has been likened to the wildlife ‘super highway’ of the Arctic. Massive volumes of water from the Atlantic to the east and Arctic Ocean to the west, and from the archipelago of islands to the north all mix here, combining to make a rich source of nutrients and food for an abundance of Arctic wildlife, which live both above and below the water. Croker Bay is home to healthy and sizable population of Musk ox and you will look for these prehistoric looking creatures when you hike ashore. This location features dramatic scenery with deep blue icebergs set against a backdrop of richly colored red peaks. The immense Croker Glacier descends into the steely waters and is a great location for a Zodiac cruise. This afternoon, plan on visiting the abandoned Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) outpost at Dundas Harbor. It was established in 1924 and operated for about a decade. It re-opened again in the 1940s for about 10 years, when the RCMP established a regular patrol presence in the region. The old buildings make great photography subjects in this wild and remote location.

Day 4
Coburg Island National Wildlife Area

Nirjutiqavvik National Wildlife Area is home to almost 400,000 seabirds including 11% of Canada’s population of thick-billed murres and 16% of Northern fulmars. Enjoy a Zodiac cruise along the bird cliffs – you will be awestruck by the sheer number of birds in the skies above! It is common to encounter marine mammals when exploring these waters, including beluga whales.

Day 5
Grise Fjord and Craig Harbour

Grise Fjord is the northernmost community in Canada and one of the most isolated communities in the world. Settled in 1953 by the Canadian government as a sovereignty exercise during the Cold War, the less than 100 people living in Grise Fjord are mostly descended from the 8 Inuit families relocated there from Northern Quebec. The scenery is stunning, the wildlife is abundant and you will be warmly welcomed by the community. Nearby Craig Harbor is the site of an abandoned RCMP outpost, established in 1922 as the RCMP sought to patrol the North and provide services to the Inuit. Staff with RCMP officers and a few special constables and their families, Craig Harbor operated for approximately 10 years before closing. It was reopened in the early 1950s during the Cold War. You will visit this historic site and learn about its important history as you hike and explore the bay and hillsides of Craig Harbor.

Day 6
Cape Hay, Bylot Island Migratory Bird Sanctuary

Located on the northern coast of Bylot Island and within the boundary of Sirmilik National Park, the bird cliffs of Cape Hay are home to thick billed murres and black guillemots, along with black-legged kittiwakes. This superb location is a prime nesting spot for several hundred thousand birds. The scenery here will take your breath away as your eyes gaze beyond the tundra, towards the soaring mountain ranges in the distance.

Day 7
Elwin Inlet / Cape Charles Yorke

Today you will navigate aboard the ship into nearby Elwin Inlet, a breathtaking fjord which is well protected and great for a Zodiac cruise or hike onshore. Cape Charles Yorke offers several great walking opportunities. Keep your eyes peeled for polar bears, which are plentiful along this coastline.

Day 8
Port Leopold / Prince Leopold Island

Having crossed Prince Regent Inlet overnight, you will approach the towering bird cliffs of Prince Leopold Island in the morning. This is an important Migratory Bird Sanctuary, home to thick-billed murres, black guillemots, northern fulmars and black-legged kittiwakes. The sea ice around Prince Leopold Island is a great place for spotting ringed seals and wherever we find ringed seals. Usually polar bears are sighted here. Nearby Port Leopold is a historic site where in 1848, English explorer James Clark Ross wintered during the search for the missing Franklin expedition. In addition to Port Leopold’s historical attraction, the shallow gravel beds along the shoreline are attractive to the beluga whales who come here to moult each Arctic summer.

Day 9
Beechey Island

Beechey Island holds great historic importance in the story of 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 that lasted almost three decades. The mystery of what happened to Franklin was partially solved in September 2014, when a joint Parks Canada and Royal Canadian Geographic Society expedition, found the long lost Franklin shipwreck, HMS Erebus in the Victoria Strait. A trip ashore at Beechey Island to visit the grave markers on a remote windswept beach is a thrilling location for history buffs and for many, it will be the defining moment of your expedition. Return to the ship in time for a special dinner attended by the captain. It’s a great time to reflect on the wildlife, history and dramatic scenery of this pristine Arctic wilderness.

Day 10
Resolute, Nunavut / Edmonton, Alberta

By morning, you will be anchored in Resolute – where you commenced your expedition a week ago. Make your way ashore by Zodiac and bid farewell to our crew. A charter flight will return you to Edmonton where your journey comes to an end. A transfer will be provided from the airport in Edmonton 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.

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. Other conditions may apply based on pre-existing conditions.

Medical Documentation:

Once you have booked your voyage to the Polar Regions, 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.

Arrival/Departure Logistics:

Please arrive Edmonton by 2 PM on the day before your voyage departure date, as attendance at a very important expedition briefing about charter flights and embarkation logistics is expected that evening. At the conclusion of your voyage, the return charter flight will arrive in the early evening and a transfer will be provided from the airport to a central downtown location. We recommend staying overnight in Edmonton and scheduling your onward travel plans for the following day.

Sea Kayaking:
$695 per person; pre-booking required
This activity is limited to 16 participants. You will be accompanied by three kayak guides. Participation in this activity requires previous sea kayaking experience. Pre-booking is required. Please contact ExpeditionTrips for details and booking information.

Included:

Transfer from the Fairmont Hotel MacDonald in Edmonton to the charter flight; transfers between the charter flight and ship pre- and post-expedition; post-expedition transfer from the charter flight in Edmonton to the Fairmont Hotel MacDonald; cabin accommodations and meals onboard 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; educational presentations and talks by polar 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:

Any international or local airfare unless otherwise specified in the itinerary; visa and passport expenses; 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 charges; telecommunication charges (i.e. email, satellite phone); a voluntary gratuity at the end of the voyage for expedition staff and ship crew (suggested amount $12-15 per day); fuel surcharge may apply.

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