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The Northwest Passage

Northwest Passage Cruise

Summary : Travel in the company of a world-class Expedition Team for a deeply enriching and captivating journey. Sail the full extent of the Northwest Passage, from Greenland to the Canadian Arctic provinces, and ending in Nome, Alaska. Discover the most historic and remote islands, fjords and harbors taking in stories of forging a trade route between the Atlantic and Pacific. Explore the West Coast of Greenland, where you may meet with local Inuit in their homes or alongside their dog-sled teams. Marvel at geological wonders from the "Smoking Hills" of Franklin Bay to the dramatic Ilulissat Icefjord, a UNESCO World Heritage Site teeming with icebergs.

Activities : Birding, Culture


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$999,999,999 to $0

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Day 1
Montreal, Canada

Arrive in Montreal and transfer to your hotel before meeting your local guide for an afternoon walking tour. In the evening, gather with your Expedition Team for a welcome cocktail reception and dinner to celebrate the start of your adventure.

Day 2
Montreal / Kangerlussuaq, Greenland

Arrive by charter flight to Kangerlussuaq in Western Greenland, once a strategic allied stronghold during World War II. Weather and time permitting, visit the edge of the Greenland ice sheet (indlandsis), a vast body of inland ice covering 80 percent of the continent. En route, be on the lookout for native wildlife, such as musk ox, reindeer, Arctic foxes, falcons and eagles. Board the vessel and join the Expedition Team and crew for a welcome cocktail reception.

Day 3 – 7
Western Greenland

In 1906, polar explorer Roald Amundsen became the first person to successfully cross the entire Northwest Passage. Start your voyage exactly where Amundsen did — along the stunning West Coast of Greenland and north into Baffin Bay, which you explore for six days. Based on ice, weather and sea conditions, your captain and expedition crew determine the day’s best sightseeing opportunities, which may include:

Sisimiut: Located just north of the Arctic Circle, Sisimiut is both the northernmost city in Greenland able to maintain a year-round, ice-free port as well as the southernmost town with sufficient snow for dog sledding through the winter and spring. Visit the local museum with its interactive exhibits on Inuit culture and Greenlandic colonial history, as well as a local dog musher and his dog-sled team.

Disko Bay & Ilulissat: Cruise into Disko Bay, a wide inlet off the Baffin Sea first explored by Erik the Red in 985 AD, when he established the first Norse settlements in Western Greenland. Discover the Ilulissat Icefjord, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, at the sea mouth of one of the fastest and most active glaciers in the world, Sermeq Kujalleq. The scene is spectacular with giant icebergs, floating growlers and bergy bits (large chunks of glacial ice), and the sounds of the calving ice-stream. Take a walking tour of the village of Ilulissat, including a visit to the local history museum, and meet with villagers in their multicolored homes to learn about life in this often-harsh Arctic region. Enjoy a huskie dog-sled demonstration and learn about the centuries-old methods of leather tanning still in practice today.

Kullorsuaq: Located at the southern end of Melville Bay, Kullorsuaq is the northernmost village in the Upernavik Archipelago, and one of the northernmost settlements in Western Greenland. Founded in 1928 as a trading station, Kullorsuaq received its first migrants some 4,000 years ago as well as the migration of all southbound Inuits that followed. It stands today as one of the most traditional hunting and fishing villages in Greenland. Grasp the full meaning when you spend time with local villagers who still maintain a traditional way of life, living off of the narwhal and seal populations common to the region.

Melville Bay: Enjoy excursions on Zodiacs through this remote area of far Northwestern Greenland, and among thousands of small icebergs and bergy bits.

Day 8 – 16
Canadian Arctic Archipelago

Cruise west across Baffin Bay and into the Canadian Arctic Archipelago of Nunavut, where you begin your journey to the heart — and history — of the Northwest Passage. The Expedition Team continues to share a captivating lecture program to enhance your own discovery. Winds your way through legendary channels and inlets, while your crew and Expedition Team determine the best route based on ice, weather and sea conditions. Exciting excursions await and are likely to include:

Pond Inlet: Located on the Northern end of Baffin Island, Pond Inlet is the noted gateway to the fabled Northwest Passage. After clearing customs formalities for Nunavut, set off for a shore excursion to an area originally inhabited by the Thule (ancestors of the Inuit). Visit the Nattinnak Visitor’s Center or Toonoonik Sahoonik Co-op, where you can shop for artisan carvings made from local red and green soapstone, beautiful wall hangings and other handcrafted goods.

Lancaster Sound: Situated between Devon Island and Baffin Island, this body of water forms the eastern entrance to the Parry Channel and the Northwest Passage. It’s also home to a rich abundance of Arctic cod, which in turn draws copious populations of sea birds and marine mammals. Beluga and endangered bowhead whales, the narwhal with its spiraling tusk, ringed and bearded seals, the mighty polar bear, and mustached walrus, as well as northern fulmars, black guillemots and Arctic terns — all are among the fantastic wildlife that you may encounter.

Beechey Island: Historic moments in Arctic exploration define this island, best known for providing a safe haven to British explorer Sir John Franklin in 1845. Look east toward Resolute Bay at the huge silhouette of Cape Riley and imagine what Captain Franklin saw here in Erebus Harbour, were he took shelter for two years before his ill-fated attempt to conquer the Northwest Passage. See the wooden grave markers for three of Franklin’s men, now bleached by the sun, and visit the cenotaph memorial erected in memory of the lost explorer.

Gjoa Haven: During his first attempt to transit the Northwest Passage, Roald Amundsen used this natural harbor as a respite while waiting for ice conditions to improve. For two years, he lived with the Netsilik Inuits, learning their skills for survival and more efficient travel, which would later prove invaluable in his successful South Pole expedition.

Victoria Island: Cruise along the south coast of Victoria Island through Queen Maud Gulf, Dease Strait and Coronation Gulf. Expedition stops may include: bird sanctuary Jenny Lind Island, where you may also see populations of musk ox; the village of Cambridge Bay; and remote Edinburgh Island.

Day 17
Franklin Bay

In the Northwest Territories at Franklin Bay, see the spectacular “Smoking Hills,” cliffs of bituminous shale that combust and endlessly burn. This rare geological phenomenon has likely been occurring for millennia, with layers of the relatively unstable mineral jarosite covering these hills. When the mineral comes into contact with cold air, it becomes red-hot and produces a thick, black smoke — a fantastic site not unlike the smoky fumaroles produced by volcanoes.

Day 18
Hershel Island / Yukon Territory

During a long mapping expedition in 1826, Captain Franklin was the first European to lay eyes on this unique island at the northernmost point of the Yukon Territory. The island teems with wildlife that includes the migrating bowhead whale, walrus, moose, musk ox, Arctic fox and 94 species of birds. It is also one of the only places on earth where you may see a grizzly bear, black bear and polar bear, the last of which live along the ice edge in summer. Evidence of the island’s whaling culture and Thule Inuit predecessors remains near the shoreline.

Day 19 – 20
Beaufort Sea / Point Barrow, Alaska

Typically dense with ice floes and fog, the Beaufort Sea opens up a 60-mile-wide coastal pass from August to September. Continue sailing in the comfort of your luxury expedition ship, participating in eye-opening lectures led by the Expedition Team. Be on the lookout across the sea for bowhead and beluga whales, the latter of which sustain one of the largest populations in the world here. Still hunted on a sustenance quota basis by local Inuits, the sociable creatures often travel in numbers and are said to be quite “chatty,” with their trills, clicks and squeals audible above the surface. Clear U.S. customs at Point Barrow, Alaska and continue through this narrow passage between North America and the ever-changing Arctic ice cap.

Day 21
Little Diomede

Continue sailing through the Bering Sea to Little Diomede, an island that sits between Alaska and Russia at the edge of the International Date Line. Enjoy a Zodiac cruise of the island, where the Ingalikmiut people still maintain a traditional lifestyle of hunting, fishing and egg gathering. In line with customs and necessity, the Ingalikmiut also use seal, walrus and polar bear hides to make clothing, parkas, hats and mukluks, as well as trade currency for bartering.

Day 22
Gambell / St Lawrence Island

Today, conditions permitting, visit St. Lawrence Island, where the distinct Yup’ik Eskimo culture and dialect, similar to that found in Siberia, is a reminder of the cultural transition from East to West their prehistoric ancestors made across the former “Land Bridge” that is now the Bering Strait. Whalebones, fish-drying racks and umiaks (traditional walrus-skin boats) are part of the landscape. View traditional dances, which also bare similarities to those of their Siberian cousins.

Day 23
Nome, Alaska / Vancouver, Canada

Arrive this morning in Nome, Alaska. Celebrate the success of your voyage through the Northwest Passage with your newfound friends. After breakfast, disembark ‘Le Boreal’ and enjoy a tour of this famed Gold Rush town that serves as the finish line for the annual Iditarod Race. Enjoy a dog-sled demonstration, panning for gold and lunch at St. Joseph’s church. Time permitting, stroll historic Front street before boarding your charter flight to Vancouver. Arrive this evening for an overnight stay at your hotel, conveniently located above the U.S. departures terminal.

Day 24
Vancouver BC, Canada

After breakfast, transfer to the airport with baggage assistance for your return flight home.


Read this itinerary as a guide only; the exact route and program varies according to ice and weather conditions - and the wildlife you encounter. Flexibility is the key to the success of this expedition.

Mandatory Travel Insurance:
As a requirement of participation on this expedition, all passengers must purchase emergency evacuation/repatriation insurance at a minimum coverage of US$50,000. ExpeditionTrips strongly recommends at least $100,000 Emergency Medical/Evacuation coverage for trips which includes coverage for cancellation, trip disruption, baggage and personal property. ExpeditionTrips can assist you with this.

One night pre-cruise hotel in Montreal, Canada, one night post-cruise hotel in Vancouver BC, Canada; accommodation and meals on the ship; arrival transfer to the starting hotel regardless of day of arrival; transfer to the hotel on the day of debarkation; fully guided sightseeing as noted in the itinerary including park and entrance fees; local bottled water during sightseeing; complimentary standard bar drinks, beer, house wine, soft drinks, coffee drinks, juices and bottled water (excluding premium wines and Champagnes) while on board; handling of two pieces of baggage per person for international flights (other conditions/restrictions may apply for internal routes); hotel taxes; cabin categories 6-8 include butler service; parka; and gratuities throughout. Subject to change without notice.

Not Included:
International airfare; charter flights; passport or visa expenses; laundry; meals, beverages or sightseeing not included in itinerary; premium wines, liquors and champagnes; communication charges and optional activities; all items of a personal nature; travel insurance; excess baggage charges; airport departure tax; fuel surcharge may apply.

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