Arctic Explorer – Crossing the Circle

Canadian Arctic Cruise

  • Akademik Ioffe
  • Research Ship
  • 96 Capacity
  • 11 Days
  • View Departure>
  • Price from
  • $999,999,999

Summary : Whether it’s the Inuit culture of the Canadian North, the incredible wildlife along the fringe of the ice, or the riveting exploration history that captivates many a reader, the Arctic has an allure that grips many adventurers. At 66 degrees and 33 minutes North, the Arctic Circle marks the southernmost latitude where the sun stays above the horizon for 24-hours on the Summer Solstice. Over the course of this voyage, cross the Arctic Circle at least twice on the ship as you explore this region of the Eastern Canadian Arctic.

Activities : Birding, Culture, Hiking, Kayaking, Photography


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Day 1

Iqaluit, the capital and largest community of Nunavut, is located at the head of Frobisher Bay, on Baffin Island. With an average monthly temperature below zero degrees for eight months of the year, the permafrost inhibits the growth of large trees and shrubs. Following a walking tour of Iqaluit, your water-based adventure starts when you board the expedition vessel by zodiac.

Day 2
Lower Savage Islands

At the mouth of Frobisher Bay and the southeast tip of Baffin Island, the Lower Savage Islands are an archipelago of islands seemingly split apart by a large hammer. This maze of channels and small islets is a fantastic place to explore by zodiac. The Akademik Ioffe will drop you off and reposition to the south side of the islands. As you explore, make your way from the northeast side of the island down a series of channels as you explore en route to your vessel.

These islands are ideally situated between the rapid and dynamic flow of the Hudson Strait, the outflow from Frobisher Bay, even catching some of the Baffin current that flows south down the coast of Baffin Island from Baffin Bay. This mixing of waters makes it rich in marine life, and a great location for your first first polar bear sighting of the voyage.

Day 3
Kimmirut & High Bluff

Kimmirut, otherwise known as Lake Harbour, is located at the head of a narrow fjord flanked by rocky outcrops. Enjoy the view on deck as your Captain skillfully navigates the approach to Kimmirut. Upon anchoring, transfer ashore by zodiac for a visit to this beautiful town. The visitors center is a must in Kimmirut, and here you will be welcomed to town by community members. Enjoy the opportunity for hike and a tour of the town.

Later in the day, aim to land at High Bluff Island for a nature based excursion. An offshore island, High Bluff offers immersion into the natural world of Nunavut. Walking, hiking, photographic and kayaking opportunities abound as you make your way from the zodiacs to the onshore site. For those interested in a more challenging hike to the high point of the island, there will be an opportunity to see an inuksuk, a stone trail marker often built in the shape of a person.

Day 4
Akpatok Island

The largest island in Ungava Bay, Akpatok Island is home to one of the great seabird colonies of the Arctic. The limestone cliffs rising up to 800 feet above sea level are home to thick-billed murres (also known as Brunnich's guillemots), black guillemots and black-legged kittiwakes. Where there are sea bird colonies, you may also find peregrine falcons and Arctic fox. Given appropriate sea conditions, plan to explore the base of these cliffs by zodiac.

Day 5
Lady Franklin Island

Named for the wife of Sir John Franklin, the explorer of Northwest Passage note, Lady Franklin Island bears an interesting resemblance to Lady Franklin herself. From a distance, the island is not imposing and doesn’t stand out however, but as you approach there is an appearance of something formidable. And, as you really start to explore it, you realize that it is a force to be reckoned with. Much like Lady Franklin who almost single-handedly kept the unsuccessful search going for her missing husband for years after his disappearance. In August 2012, the Canadian government launched its latest search for Franklin and his ships.

Beyond its intrinsic value, Lady Franklin Island is also a good spot to find polar bear, caribou and gyrfalcons. Slowly approach by ship and drop the zodiacs for cruising and possibly landing on this island.

Day 6
Ice Edge in Davis Strait

While one cannot be certain where the ice edge will be, sail for the ice in Davis Strait in order to experience this dramatic transit zone. This transit zone is plentiful in Arctic sea life and you will keep your eyes peeled for bearded, hooded and ringed seals, as well as polar bears and walrus, even bowhead whales that cruise the ice edge. Spotting scopes and binoculars will be in use as you scan the ice looking for wildlife. If conditions permit, launch the zodiacs to get into the ice and explore.

Day 7
Crossing the Circle at Sunshine Fjord

Sunshine Fjord straddles the Arctic Circle. And on this day, you might sail across the Circle by ship, cruise across it in the zodiacs, and even hike across it on shore. A beautiful place to hike, with some groups going for elevation, as well as traversing the shoreline of the fjord. The sea kayakers will take advantage of often- sheltered conditions for a paddle here.

Day 8
Cape Mercy

Turn back south away from the Arctic Circle and sail toward the mouth of Cumberland Sound. Protecting the northern entrance to Cumberland Sound, Cape Mercy is an exposed headland jutting out into Davis Strait. As the Baffin Bay middle ice recedes throughout the summer, the stretch of Baffin coast from Cape Mercy to Cape Dyer is a great place to find polar bears coming ashore. Keep your eyes for these giants of the North.

Day 9
Pangnirtung, Nunavut

Nestled in the heart of Cumberland Sound and the gateway to Auyuittuq National Park, Pangnirtung is beautifully situated between the mountains and the sea. This town is known for its arts and crafts and a visit to the art gallery is a must. In addition, the Angmarlik Visitor Center has a wonderful interpretive display featuring the lifestyle of the Thule and of the modern Inuit.

Day 10
Monumental Island

Leave Cumberland Sound behind as you sail south through Davis Strait and back towards Frobisher Bay. Your last excursion is to visit Monumental Island. An offshore island in Davis Strait, it is a known spot for finding walrus. Search the shoreline for these massive animals by zodiac. When seen up close, the sheer size of these creatures creates the impression they would be slow and gracelessly, however in the water, their dynamic ability to twist and turn is inspiring to even the fastest swimmer. Watchful eyes may locate smaller pups within the masses. Taking your time in the zodiacs at this site allows for nature to take its course and your small group to witness its brilliance. Polar bears are often found here and have been known to chase the walrus off their haul out and into the water.

Day 11
Iqaluit, Nunavut

Arriving back into the capital of Nunavut, disembark here and take a transfer to the airport for your flight home.


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.

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.

Enhanced Photography Program:
Join the expedition team and specialty photographers for an extended shore excursion aimed at capturing specialty subjects with a remarkable backdrop. An onboard photographer is available to work with you throughout the voyage to help you improve your photography and encourage you to look at scenes or events in a different way in order to capture them digitally. Also available is an onboard multimedia download studio with computers, cables, and hard-drives for back-up storage and for creating DVDs of your images.


Opportunity to incorporate snowshoeing into the daily onshore program where snow pack is sufficient. Snowshoes and trekking poles provided. Traveling by snowshoes offers a new view of the Arctic! Come prepared with warm socks and comfortable clothing. Also, it’s recommended to bring a small knapsack to carry water and an extra layer of clothing. Available on a first come, first serve basis.

Sea Kayaking Option: $695 per person
Pre-booked option. If you have experience sea kayaking and are interested in doing this activity during the expedition, you will need to book this option prior to departure from home. You cannot book this activity once onboard. There is a separate document for sea kayakers that you will need to review beforehand.

Mandatory Insurance:
All guests are required to have comprehensive travel insurance which must cover accidents, injury, illness and death, medical expenses, including any related to pre-existing medical conditions, emergency repatriation (including helicopter) and personal liability. It must cover cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects. 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.

Accommodations onboard; meals; complimentary tea and coffee 24 hours per day; shore excursions; services of guides and naturalist staff; access to multimedia room and download stations; use of onboard expedition rubber boots; use of wet weather gear; transfers as applicable. 

Not Included:
International airfare; charter airfare where applicable; pre- and post-cruise hotel nights; passport and visa fees; excess baggage charges; airport taxes; travel insurance; all gratuities; extra meals; items of a personal nature such as laundry, drinks, e-mail access, etc.; medical expenses; optional activities and trips; kayaking supplement ($695 per person).