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The Fabled Northwest Passage

Greenland and Canadian Arctic Cruise

Summary : Be one of few people to follow in the footsteps of Roald Amundsen – the first person to successfully sail through the legendary Northwest Passage. Discover the cultures of remote Greenlandic towns and meet a sled dog team and their owners. Cruise alongside spectacular icebergs and see one of the world’s fastest moving glaciers while in the company of expert naturalists as well as an onboard environmentalist, historian, geologist, conservation biologist, photographer and oceanographer. Enjoy an abundance of wildlife including possible sightings of polar bears, musk ox, caribou, bears, lemmings, Arctic hares, large seabird colonies, snowy owls, whales and walruses. Observe the winter camp and final resting place of the Franklin Expedition. Learn about the native Inuit and Pre-Dorset peoples and hike across barren tundra and and ancient seabeds while hunting for million-year-old fossils.

Activities : Birding, Culture, Hiking


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Day 1

Embark the vessel, meet the Expedition Team members and attend a Zodiac and safety briefing.

Day 2
Sisimiut, Greenland

Located just north of the Arctic Circle, Sisimiut is the northernmost town in Greenland where the port remains free of ice in the winter; yet it is also the southernmost town where there exists enough snow and ice to drive a dogsled in winter and spring. Traveling by sled has been the primary means of winter transportation here for centuries. Meet a sled dog team and their owners, who will share about sledding and how the Greenlandic sled dog has been bred to be amongst the strongest working dogs in the world.

Day 3
Ilulissat, Greenland

Just after sunrise, be out on deck to see the northern hemisphere’s most active glacier – Jakobshavn – often surrounded by icebergs in all shapes and sizes and in varying shades of white and turquoise. Known as the birthplace of icebergs, the Ilulissat Icefjord produces nearly 20 million tons of ice each day. While here, there may be an opportunity to see a demonstration of ancient fishing methods and enjoy some locally caught and prepared fish. Take a guided walking tour of Ilulissat and visit the local history museum. The afternoon tour continues via fishing boat navigating amongst the many icebergs at the fjord’s entrance. Alternatively, purchase an optional adventure by helicopter to see the magnificent Jakobshavn Icefjord from above.

Day 4
Uummannaq, Greenland

In the iceberg-laden waters surrounding the remote community of Uummannaq it is common to see whales, so be sure to join the Expedition Team out on deck. Known for its huge basalt mountains, this small hunting and fishing village rests at the foot of heart-shaped Uummannaq Mountain, a name that translates to mean “in the shape of a seal’s heart”. Together take a guided walking tour of town to see their granite church and learn how village life revolves around the halibut/fish-processing factory. The more energetic will have the opportunity to hike to the “summer residence of Santa Claus”.

Day 5
Crossing the Davis Strait

Gather in The Theatre to hear fascinating tales of adventure and learn about the region’s endemic wildlife and remarkable nature. Knowledgeable lecture staff are experts in a variety of scientific fields. Other onboard options include spa treatments, a workout in the Fitness Center, and exquisite dining.

Day 6
Pond Inlet, Nunavut, Canada

Located on the northeastern shore of Baffin Island, across from Bylot Island, the hamlet of Pond Inlet is known as Mittimatalik to the locals. This region was inhabited long ago by the Thule who left behind numerous archaeological artifacts, little vestiges of the past. After completing local immigration formalities, go ashore to explore Nattinnak Centre, Pond Inlet’s visitors’ center, or maybe visit the Toonoonik Sahoonik Co-op to find carvings made from local red and green soapstone, beautiful wall hangings, and other unique items.

Day 7
Devon Island, Nunavut, Canada

Excitement mounts as today officially begins the journey across the Northwest Passage. Cruise to shore and explore the abandoned settlement of Dundas Harbour, called Talluruti in Inuktitut. Enjoy the quiet expanses of barren tundra while the onboard historian describes various attempts to settle the area over the years. Watch for grazing muskoxen and rough-legged hawks that nest on the cliffs.

In the afternoon, cruise along the tidewater glacier at Croker Bay and observe the sedimentary rock formations behind it. Watch for walrus, polar bear and caribou – all of which have been spotted here in the past.

Day 8
Prince Leopold Island / Somerset Island

Marvel at the tall cliffs of Prince Leopold Island, one of the top birding sites in the Arctic. As the Captain skillfully navigates the vessel along the coast south of Lancaster Sound, observe the area’s bird species including a large rookery of Thick-Billed Murre, Black-legged Kittiwake and Northern Fulmar.

In the late morning, step ashore at Somerset Island’s Port Leopold to see the abandoned trading post where English explorer James Clark Ross wintered during his search for the missing Franklin expedition.

Day 9
Beechey Island / Cornwallis Island

An important landmark for vessels entering Canada’s High Arctic, Beechey Island is best known as the location where the lost Franklin expedition spent its first winter (1845-46) and, subsequently, where search parties found the gravesites of at least three of Franklin’s men. Observe the three weathered wooden grave markers and visit the memorial to Franklin and his men.

Late in the afternoon, land on the southern coast of Cornwallis Island to visit Canada’s penultimate northernmost community at Resolute, named after the HMS Resolute, a British ship that had been sent to search for the lost Franklin expedition. The Inuktitut name for Resolute is Quaasuittuq, meaning “the place with no dawn”. Join the Expedition Team to search for whales in the bay and hike along an old seabed to discover fossils dating back 400 million years.

Day 10 – 21
Quest for the Northwest Passage

For hundreds of years, explorers sought to find a route through Canada’s Arctic archipelago to speed travel between the Atlantic and Pacific, Europe and Asia. Succeeding at one of the world’s most severe maritime challenges, Amundsen’s route takes us through deep channels north of the Arctic Circle on a journey that begins just north of Baffin Island and ends in the Beaufort Sea, north of Alaska. In true expedition style, a flexible itinerary allows the Captain and Expedition Leader to take local conditions into account and plan the best route. Here are some of the places we may visit:

Peel Sound – Watch for polar bears and possibly anchor at King William Island in the same bay where Amundsen put his ship, the Gjoa, into the “finest little harbor in the world” and remained here for two years.

Queen Maud Gulf – Land on Jenny Lind Island and look for musk oxen, polar bears, snow owls and reindeer.

Cambridge Bay – Visit with some of the 1,400 inhabitants and experience Inuit culture with a drum and dance performance while learning about the Pre-Dorset people that first occupied this area.

Banks Island – Visit Aulavik National Park near Sachs Harbor. The area has the highest concentration of muskoxen on earth. Keep an eye out for caribou, arctic foxes, lemmings and arctic hares. Ornithologists amongst will delight in sightings of snowy owls, rough-legged hawks, gyrfalcons, and Peregrine falcons who feed on the lemmings.

Cape Bathurst – Encounter the Smoking Hills discovered by Franklin during his 1826 expeditions. These hills contain strata of hydrocarbons (oil shales) that have been burning for centuries. The clouds of smoke have given the region its name.

Tuktuyaaqtuuq –Formerly called Port Brabant, the community was renamed in 1950 and was the first place in Canada to revert to the traditional Native name. Explore Pingo National Landmark, where many mounds of earth-covered ice can be seen including Ibyuk pingo, Canada's highest (and the world's second-highest), at 161 ft (49 m).

Hershell Island – Join local Canadian Rangers and learn about the former whaling station while walking on rolling tundra. Look for porcupine caribou and muskox while our ornithologist points out some of the 94 bird species that have been spotted on the island.

Upon reaching Barrow, Alaska become one of the very few people to have ever successfully cruised through the Northwest Passage.

Day 22 – 23
At Sea

Enjoy two leisurely days at sea. Binoculars and camera in hand, head out on deck to watch for seabirds and marine mammals. Peruse an array of titles and topics in the well-stocked Library, enjoy a fine cognac at the Connoisseur’s Corner or indulge in any of the other special amenities offered aboard ship. Expedition lectures in The Theater are broadcast so that if you prefer, you can enjoy them from the comfort of your own room.

Day 24
Nome, Alaska

Arrive in Nome in the morning and disembark the vessel.


This itinerary is subject to change. ExpeditionTrips.com is not responsible for itinerary changes.

All ocean-view suite accommodation; all onboard meals and entertainment; butler service; complimentary beverages served throughout the ship (an assortment of wines, champagne and spirits); all onboard gratuities (except spa); port charges and handling fees; Silver Suite guests receive laundry service and dinner at Officer's table; Grand and Owner's Suite guests receive laundry service plus dinner at Officer's table and 4 hours Internet service per voyage segment and 2 hours worldwide phone use per voyage segment.

Not Included:
Airfare; government fees and taxes; transfers and luggage handling; passport expenses; items of a personal nature; fuel surcharge may apply.

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