Summary : Explore the spectacular land and seascapes of the Canadian Arctic; observe an outstanding variety of marine birdlife and sea mammals; and visit indigenous art galleries that showcase the talents of remote peoples, whose rich output is a major focus of this unique and engaging expedition. Since the mid-1980s with the establishment of numerous art cooperatives in northern Canada, there has been a concerted effort to preserve and promote the beautiful and distinctive sculptures and artwork created by the Inuit people on Baffin Island, many of which are inspired by—and reflect—the wild and craggy environment in which they live and work.
Numerous fissures and fjords indent the southern coastline of this substantial island (the fifth largest in the world), which also boasts a mountainous backbone with peaks up to 6,561-feet high. Waters flow from the Atlantic into the vast expanse of Hudson Bay, passing through the Hudson Strait, which separates southern Baffin Island from northern Quebec. The waters are rich in marine life and support a staggering abundance of Arctic wildlife. Some of the largest bird colonies on Earth can be found here and several sites are estimated to be home to more than a million nesting birds in the summer months.
Activities : Birding, Child-Friendly, Culture, Hiking, Kayaking, Photography, Triple/Quad Cabins
$7,995 to $15,195
Depart Ottawa this morning on a scheduled flight to Iqaluit, the provincial capital of Nunavut, situated on the southeastern coast of Baffin Island. (See Additional Costs for charter flight information.) Upon arrival, enjoy a walking tour of this historic settlement before boarding your expedition ship in the afternoon. After settling into your cabin and exploring the ship, meet your expedition team and fellow passengers. Excitement is in the air as you enjoy a welcome cocktail and cast off to explore one of the most remote regions on Earth.
Located in the Davis Strait, the rocky dome of Monumental Island can be seen as you approach. Explore the rocky shoreline by Zodiac and hope to encounter polar bears in this vicinity. In good weather a complete circumnavigation of the island is possible, and you should see your first large icebergs as they drift south towards Labrador and Newfoundland on the currents of the Davis Strait. Walruses have also been encountered in this area, so keep a close lookout on the shoreline for this iconic species. Over the next few days and throughout the voyage your onboard experts will educate and entertain with a series of presentations about Inuit culture and traditions, as well as the environment, wildlife, and history of Baffin Island.
The tiny community of Kimmirut is home to just 400 people and was once a Hudson’s Bay Company Trading post. A particular focus of your visit is the local art scene. After cruising into a narrow channel, travel ashore by Zodiac where you'll enjoy a warm welcome from the locals. This community is well known for its arts and crafts including stone carvings, sealskin clothing, jewelry, and fine bead work among other items. Many of Kimmirut's residents are renowned carvers whose art is collected worldwide. The small Soper Gallery is housed in an old wooden cottage and run by the Quliruakut Arts and Crafts Society. But it’s not all art: among the animals native to the area are caribou, Arctic wolves, walruses, seals, Arctic hare, and whales, as well as numerous bird species including peregrine falcons, ptarmigan, snow bunting, and snowy owls. There are some great sea kayaking opportunities in this area and your guides will be keen to head out for a paddle.
Cape Dorset offers so much for visitors, no matter what their interest, and two-days allows time for a thorough exploration of the hamlet and surrounding areas. The community is home to more than 1,300 residents and is Baffin Island’s best-known art center, referred to as the ‘Capital of Inuit Art’, with almost a quarter of the hamlet's residents actively engaged in the visual arts. Much of their artwork reflects the wilderness and environment of Baffin Island, with objects such as whales, narwhals, seals, walruses, bears, wolves, foxes, and more, providing a focus for artistic expression. These artworks reflect the deep connection the Inuit people have to one another, past generations, the land, and nature, as well as a spiritual connection to the Earth. The celebrated Art Co-operative is the best place to view these striking works and observe the artists at work.
Cape Dorset also boasts superb Arctic landscapes and is home to migratory caribou, seabirds, whales, seals, and walruses which can be found in the vicinity. There are some excellent hiking opportunities through rolling hills to secluded waterfalls and lakes, providing great views and opportunities to observe the local wildlife or watch ice floes slowly drift by.
Overnight the ship will sail into the western reaches of Hudson Strait and today promises some exciting excursions. A Zodiac cruise at the small outcrop of Walrus Island allows a close encounter with these fascinating animals. Returning to the ship, make your way north to the small hamlet of Coral Harbor, situated on Southampton Island. This area has a fascinating history. In more recent times, early whalers plied the nearby waters hunting for bowhead whales and in the 1920s, the Hudson's Bay Company established an outpost here.
Today the island is an important migratory bird flyway, visited by species including the common eider and lesser snow goose. Ptarmigans, snowy owls, peregrine falcons, and gyrfalcons are also spotted in this vicinity. On land, caribou are abundant, and both the red fox and Arctic fox are sometimes spotted. The hamlet is also known for the production of intricate wall hangings, each telling a unique visual story.
Located at the northwestern tip of the Ungava Peninsula, the Digges Islands mark the juncture of the Hudson Strait and northeastern Hudson Bay. Their rocky cliffs are ideal for seabirds. Just to the east is the headland at Cape Wolstenholme, located at the most northerly point of the Province of Quebec. Here the cliffs soar to 984 feet and are home to one of the largest colonies of thick-billed murres on Earth. There are also several walrus colonies in the area. Polar bears can be found throughout this region—you might encounter them from a safe distance while cruising in the Zodiacs. Continue sailing east around the northern tip of Quebec and enter remote Erik Cove for an afternoon excursion. The remnants of a Hudson's Bay Company store lie on the southern shore. Enjoy a walk with your guides along the waterfront, soaking up the beautiful scenery and learning something of the area’s early history.
Overnight the ship will sail northeast across the Hudson Strait and this morning you'll find yourself once again on the southern shores of Baffin Island. Shaftesbury Inlet is a narrow and strikingly beautiful fjord. Spend time on deck as the captain navigates the ship into this narrow channel. This inlet is characterized by steep shorelines and high tides, with tide height changing as much as 30 to 39 feet daily. Plan to visit ashore at the mouth of a small river and hike up the river valley, eventually reaching a lake. This is a wonderful place to stretch your legs as your naturalists and guides share their love of the Arctic with you.
Akpatok Island is a large uninhabited island situated in Ungava Bay off Quebec's northern coastline. Ringed by steep cliffs, it is home to a staggering abundance of birdlife. Thick-billed murre, black guillemot, glaucous gulls, and peregrine falcon all nest here. It's also a well-known location for walruses and polar bears; the latter are often observed climbing the steep cliffs. Ice floes frequently surround parts of the island and these attract both seals and walruses, making this a popular hunting ground for polar bears. In the late summer the bears retreat to the land, scavenging whatever protein source they can find until the ice re-forms, and the more abundant food sources return. The island has historically been a traditional hunting ground for Inuit people attracted by walruses, polar bears, and whales. Plan to cruise along the shoreline in Zodiacs for close-up views of huge numbers of birds nesting on the cliffs. Hopefully you'll spot some polar bears scouting the landscape.
To the north of Akpatok, the extraordinary Lower Savage Islands are bisected by narrow channels that provide spectacular Zodiac cruising opportunities. The islands are ideally situated between the dynamic flow of the Hudson Strait. This mixing of nutrient rich waters makes for a diversity of marine life. You'll rejoin the ship on the other side of the island group. Tonight, as you near the end of your journey, enjoy an entertaining voyage recap from the expedition leader. Celebrate with a special dinner attended by the captain of the ship and reflect on the culture, art, and landscapes of this inimitable region.
This morning find yourself anchored off Iqaluit. Say goodbye to your crew, make your way ashore in a Zodiac, and transfer to the airport for your scheduled flight to Ottawa. (See Additional Costs for charter flight information.) On arrival in Ottawa your journey comes to an end. A transfer is provided to a downtown location.
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. ExpeditionTrips is not responsible for itinerary changes.
Mandatory Travel Insurance:
As a requirement of participation on this expedition, all passengers must obtain a valid and enforceable policy of travel and baggage insurance including full coverage for medical, dental, accident, repatriation/evacuation and baggage, together with (for all insurances) any coverage extensions required for the region and activities of the travel. Passengers must be able to provide evidence of insurance to the shipping company upon request. Other conditions may apply based on pre-existing conditions. ExpeditionTrips strongly recommends at least $200,000 Emergency Medical/Evacuation coverage for polar trips which includes coverage for cancellation, trip disruption, baggage, and personal property. ExpeditionTrips can assist U.S. residents with travel protection options.
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.
This trip commences in Ottawa, Canada's elegant capital city. It is recommended that you arrive in Ottawa the day before your voyage departure date to provide a buffer in the event of any unexpected travel delays between home and trip departure time. From Ottawa, you'll fly north to Iqaluit and after a tour of the town, you'll transfer to the ship for embarkation via Zodiac. At the conclusion of your voyage, the return flight from Iqaluit to Ottawa will arrive in the early evening. A transfer will be provided from the airport to a central downtown location. It is recommended that you stay overnight in Ottawa and schedule your onward travel plans for the following day.
Fitness & Yoga: Included
Offered at various times throughout the day, as well as by private schedule. Fitness and yoga instructors offer a full suite of active movement programs.
The photographer-in-residence provides presentations, critiques, informal instruction, and a Zodiac to assist with passengers' photographic goals.
Kayaking: pre-booking required
Limited to 30 guests. If you have experience sea kayaking and are interested in this activity during the expedition, please book this option prior to departure from home. You cannot book this activity once onboard. All intending kayakers must complete a questionnaire outlining their prior paddling experience and attend several compulsory onboard meetings prior to the first kayak excursion. Provided equipment includes full Gore-Tex drysuits, kayak specific PFDs, neoprene booties, a waterproof deck bag, pogies, and a single or double kayak. Please contact ExpeditionTrips for details.
A range of guided hiking options are available for passengers, from contemplative, relaxing shore walks to two-to-three-hour treks with challenging terrain.
Transfers to the ship on embarkation day and from the ship to the airport or local hotel on disembarkation; shipboard accommodations; experienced expedition leader and professional team of marine biologists, naturalists, historians, adventure guides, and photographers; emergency-trained medical physician onboard every voyage; daily off-ship excursions and guided hikes; visits to wildlife colonies, historic sites, places of outstanding natural beauty, and community visits; educational presentations and talks; use of library, sauna, plunge pool, Jacuzzi, and fitness center; access to computers in the multimedia lab for image downloads, file back up, and management; end of voyage video, photos, and take-home USB; gear on loan (waterproof/windproof jacket, bib pants, insulated rubber boots, binoculars, and trekking poles); all meals onboard the ship; daily housekeeping; daily afternoon tea; 24-hour tea, coffee, and hot chocolate in the lounge and in all cabins (replenished daily); port fees and permits to access visited areas. Inclusions subject to change without notice.
Additional Inclusions for Suites:
Exclusive check-in service on day of embarkation; deluxe welcome package (wine, fruit basket, natural snacks); single brew coffee machine; mini-stereo; private in-room One Ocean Adventure Concierge service; in-room dining menu; early morning in-room café service; evening après dinner drink service; premium in-room mini bar replenished daily (including spirits); complimentary 1-hour massage/spa experience. Inclusions subject to change without notice.
Any international or local airfare unless otherwise specified in the itinerary; visa and passport expenses; pre- or post-cruise hotel accommodation and transfers unless otherwise specified in the itinerary (or pre-arranged); optional paid activities such as sea kayaking; personal expenses onboard such as alcoholic beverages, bar charges, massage, spa treatments or laundry charges; telecommunication charges (i.e. email, satellite phone); baggage, cancellation or medical travel insurance related expenses; a voluntary gratuity at the end of the voyage for expedition staff and ship crew; fuel surcharge may apply.
PHOTOS: © Graham Charles; © David McEown; © Ira Meyer; © Carolyn Monastra; © Mark Robinson; © Roberto Serrini; © Nate Small