Summary : Between ice caps and ice floes—past glaciers, icebergs, and brash ice—sail to the heart of the northern hemisphere's biggest ice producer. You will stop over at Skraeling Island, the northernmost point reached by the Vikings; return via the path taken by the famous American expedition led by Adolphus. From Greenland's west coast—with its mountains softened by glaciers, to the steep slopes of the Arctic mountain ranges, and vast high Arctic Thule tundra—you will be sailing through the polar region's most spectacular landscapes. Journey to see amazing fauna: polar bears, musk ox, and Arctic wolves.
Activities : Birding, Child-Friendly, Culture, Hiking, Triple/Quad Cabins
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Fly from Paris to Kangerlussuaq, transfer to the ship and embark the vessel. Settle in to life on board as your voyage begins.
During your cruise, we invite you to discover Sisimiut, founded in 1756 and the second largest town in Greenland. This small town is typical of Greenland, boasting bewitching panoramas: here and there, colorful stilt houses dot the undulating landscape, and the small fishing port stands as the gateway to an icy realm. As for the town center, it is home to a number of historic buildings, a small church and a museum which retraces the history of the Inuit people, as well as many craft shops. When your ship drops anchor here, you will set out to meet the locals in a typically arctic atmosphere.
The small hamlet of Qikiqtarjuaq is on the east coast of Baffin Island, in the heart of Nunavut territory. Bounded by the Davis Strait, the island of Qikiqtarjuaq, formerly known as Broughton Island, is marked by the history of whale hunting. During the 19th century, European whalers traveled around the region and began trading with the Inuits. Later on, the installation of a military post and a landing strip facilitated access to this part of the world. Located very close to the Auyuittuq National Park, Qikiqtarjuaq has very beautiful landscapes of mountains, hills and ice, and is home to many emblematic Arctic animals: whales, seals, walruses, narwhals, and polar bears.
Located on the east coast of Baffin Island, in Nunavut, Kivitoo is a simultaneously calm and unsettling place that you will explore with your naturalist-guides. This former Inuit camp lying in the heart of a heathland landscape was abandoned in 1923. Here you will pass before a broken-down cabin surrounded by metal tanks that stored whale oil at the time when cetacean hunting was in full swing. You will see walrus skulls and the graves of Inuits, revealing their past presence. Kivitoo had its days of technological glory in the 1950s, with the installation of an American radar station on top of the mountain overlooking the area.
Arctic Harbor is on the small island of Aulitiving at the entrance to Isabella Bay. A major whale hunting site, this small natural harbor still has remnants from those times, notably some whaler graves. This port of call will be the opportunity to go for a lovely hike in the heart of the Arctic tundra, and perhaps to reach the highest point of the island.
Welcome to the kingdom of the cetaceans! Here, those who love the giants of the Arctic won’t know where to look. Isabella Bay is in fact part of the Ninginganiq National Wildlife Area, one of the finest places to observe bowhead whales. From your ship, watch the sumptuous ballet performed by these impressive mammals. With undersea faults, Isabella Bay, located on the northeast coast of Baffin Island, attracts cetaceans which come here to feed. In addition to the bowhead whales, the uncontested stars of these parts, the Ninginganiq Wildlife Area is also home to ringed seals, narwhals, polar bears, king eiders, little auks, and northern fulmars.
All around you is a raw landscape of spectacular beauty. Nothing seems to want to disturb the silence. You are in the Sam Ford Fjord, on the east coast of Baffin Island. Located near the Inuit community of Clyde River, this fjord has the kind of world’s end appearance that only the Arctic lands can offer. From your ship, allow yourself to be dazzled by the series of vertiginous cliffs plunging into the waters of the fjord. These impressively high walls of rock, known worldwide to climbing enthusiasts, are reflected in the waters of the fjord, as though to completely shift perspectives and blur the lines between land and sea.
The east coast of Baffin Island is a real lacework of fjords. Among them, in the north, is the spectacular Icy Arm fjord. As you sail these parts, you’ll be dazzled by the immense cliffs. During your stop here, you will have the opportunity to hike at the feet of these mountains and within the glacial valleys. Keep your eyes open when you get back on your boat: you’ll probably get the chance to observe marine mammals such as whales, orcas, and even narwhals.
After sailing the Buchan Gulf, where you may well be joined by orcas and narwhals, you will disembark in Feachem Bay. From a small beach, home to the ruins of sod houses, set off on a hike into the heart of very beautiful landscapes. The main part of the walk will be along magnificent tundra, fairly humid, full of colorful lichens, minuscule Arctic willows, Arctic poppies, cotton-grass and soft mosses. Arriving at the top of a ridge, enjoy this very beautiful viewpoint over the glacier below. Frequented by polar bears, Feachem Bay also provides refuge for a great many birds.
A real paradise for ornithologists lies to the north of Baffin Bay, very close to Ellesmere Island. Indeed, the small Coburg Island is one of the most important sea bird nesting areas in the Canadian Arctic; Tridactyl gulls, thick-billed murres and northern fulmars have all made it their favorite spot. 60% of the island is covered with ice fields and glaciers, giving a very rugged mountainous relief. In addition to the birds, it is also home to polar bears, walruses, beluga whales, narwhals, ringed seals, and bearded seals. The Nirjutiqavvik National Wildlife Area, created in 1995 with the goal of preserving these species, entirely encompasses Coburg as well as its surrounding waters.
Located at the entrance to the Canadian High Arctic, completely to the east of Devon Island, this surprising peninsula will provide an opportunity to discover a specific ecosystem and observe the glaciers coming from the Devon ice cap. During your port of call in these parts, you will perhaps also have the chance to encounter the ice floes descending directly from the North Pole, as well as the wildlife often found here.
Alexander Bay is a narrow passage located on Johan Peninsula, on Ellesmere Island. From 1953 to 1963, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police built a police station here, considered to be the world’s northernmost. Still in place, it is now occasionally used by scientists.
Pim Island, also known as Skraeling Island, is of quite exceptional historic interest. In fact, in 1978 and 1979, artifacts of European origins (Viking) were discovered here, including around sixty remnants from the Dorset and Thule cultures: pieces of chainmail, rivets, chain links… These artifacts, dating from 1270, are perhaps the result of the bartering practiced by the Inuits, which would prove that the Vikings had been as far as the Smith Strait. Pim Island is also known for having been home to the members of the Greely expedition, during the 1883-1884 winter. They took refuge here in a makeshift shelter: Camp Clay, near Cape Sabine.
There are three kinds of poles: magnetic, geographic and geomagnetic. The Geomagnetic North Pole, the least well-known of all, comes from a mathematic model supposing that the Earth behaves like a perfect magnetic dipole, which is not in reality exact, since the Magnetic North and South Poles and the center of the Earth are not aligned. This model enables scientists to better apply the physics concepts that we know. The position of the Geomagnetic North Pole is therefore defined by calculations and changes constantly, following the movements of the Magnetic North Pole. In 1951, then located in Greenland at 78° 29’ N. and 68° 54’ W, it was reached by Jean Malaurie. It can currently be found on Ellesmere Island.
Welcome to a rather particular island. Located between Greenland (part of Denmark) and Ellesmere Island (Canada), its sovereignty has in fact been controversial since 1973, when the maritime boundaries of the Nares Strait were drawn out. Today, Denmark and Canada are still fighting over the possession of this islet, although it is hardly an El Dorado. This tiny piece of uninhabited land, covered with ice for most of the year, is not the most hospitable of places. To protect the island, which could be subject to oil drilling in the future, a collective has been set up so that everyone can declare themselves an “inhabitant” of Hans, thus putting the ecological stakes before the financial interests.
Greenland is naturally the land of eternal ice. The ice cap that covers the majority of this boreal island extends right down to the Arctic Ocean via vast glaciers that are each as majestic as the next. The most well-known and spectacular of these is without a doubt the Humboldt glacier. It is the vastest coastal glacier in the Northern Hemisphere. Advancing inexorably towards the sea, it regularly calves veritable ice cathedrals—gigantic icebergs that detach themselves from the glacier before toppling and crashing into the frozen ocean.
To the north of the region of Thule, in Inglefield Land, there is an ancient Inuit hunting camp known for having been the departure point of many European expeditions to conquer the North Pole. Here, in Etah, you will have the possibility of discovering peat house vestiges from the Thule civilization and making your way up the valley for a gorgeous walk in Greenland’s high Arctic. Today, this region is still a favorite hunting spot for Greenlanders. It is not unusual to see musk oxen here.
Small colorful houses, a few small motorboats resting on the shore, a school, a grocery store, sled dogs: here you are in Siorapaluk, Greenland’s northernmost native settlement. With some fifty inhabitants, this tranquil village made famous by Jean Malaurie in his novel The Last Kings of Thule, lives in harmony with nature's cycles. Here, hunting, fishing and skin tanning are part of everyday life, just like in many other Inuit villages. This is an authentic and typical port of call where you will probably be greeted by a joyous group of children, who are always happy to welcome visitors.
Some places in this world are so magical that their beauty cannot be described in words… Savissivik, a small Inuit village with less than a hundred inhabitants, is one such place. Rightly considered to be the biggest iceberg graveyard in Greenland, it is a stunning sight to behold. During your Zodiac outing, you will sail between these icy giants that have become stranded in the shallows. Once on land, you can hike to a viewpoint from which to enjoy breathtaking views over these icebergs, which come in an incredibly diverse range of shapes and colors. Photographers will love it. Savissivik Bay attracts many bears and is also known for having been the home of one of the world’s biggest meteorites, but the latter has now been moved to a museum in New York.
To the west of Savissivik, in Greenland, your ship will pass Cape York, a place that is brimming with history and marked by the conquest of the North Pole. Indeed, it is here, at the end of the 19th century, that the American explorer Robert Peary discovered fragments of one of the biggest meteorites ever found to this day. He had them sent back to the United States and later sold them to a New York museum, where they are still on display. Despite Robert Peary’s disputed achievements and his sometimes controversial attitude towards the Inuit populations, a memorial was erected in his honor at Cape York. Constructed in the 1930s, the memorial still stands today.
Well beyond the Arctic Circle, in the majestic landscapes of Greenland’s Northwest, you will find the village of Kullorsuaq, the last bastion of Greenland’s traditional hunters. Here is where you will find Greenland’s true character—vast mineral expanses, sumptuous mountains, impressive glaciers and, above all, the local population which still lives off fishing and seal or bear hunting. Hospitality and respect for nature are essential elements in the daily lives of these men, who live an austere life. When we drop anchor in this remote part of the world, set off to discover these friendly people who are also talented craftsmen, deftly sewing the furs and skins of marine mammals. This will be a unique and authentic experience.
This small island, lost north of Uummannaq Bay where two fjords meet, is often an opportunity for sumptuous sailing along the vertical cliffs, surrounded by drifting icebergs. Situated not far from Nugatsiaq, one of the small villages attached to the town of Uummannaq, Nuliarfik is an ancient village of the Thule civilization. When your ship calls here, you will have the opportunity to visit the vestiges of peat houses. Then, take a walk up to higher ground and, from a magnificent panoramic viewpoint, you will be able to observe this beautiful network of iceberg-filled fjords.
At the heart of Disko Bay, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Ilulissat Icefjord provides an extraordinary spectacle of almost surreal beauty, with the largest icebergs of the northern hemisphere. The sculptural icebergs continue their timeless journey, shimmering with their eternal light. Vast pieces of ice break off from the bergs and rejoin the inexorable movement of the sea. Close by lies the town of Ilulissat, the region’s principal destination. Encircled by icebergs, it has retained a unique mix of traditional Arctic life, with multicolored wooden houses, huskies, and the leather tanners who still work today using the ancient methods of their ancestors.
Your ship glides slowly along the water towards the west coast of Greenland, to enter Evighedsfjorden, just south of Kangerlussuaq. Evighedsfjorden means “the fjord of Eternity”, and for good reason, just when you think you’ve reached the end of this stretch of sea, it seems to go on forever, as though to bring even more pleasure to those sailing in it. The spectacular scenery ranges from glaciers to tundra with an abundant flora, and jagged cliffs where numerous bird species have taken up residence. Take the time to observe the white-tailed eagles and the colonies of seagulls and black-legged kittiwakes flying overhead in the area.
Disembark the vessel and transfer to the airport for your flight to Paris.
Read this itinerary as a guide only; the exact route and program varies according to weather conditions - and the wildlife you encounter. Flexibility is the key to the success of this expedition. ExpeditionTrips.com is not responsible for itinerary changes.
Bilingual Departures: All departures are French/English.
ExpeditionTrips strongly recommends Emergency Medical/Evacuation coverage for trips which includes coverage for cancellation, trip disruption, baggage and personal property. Other conditions may apply based on pre-existing conditions. ExpeditionTrips can assist U.S. residents with travel protection options.
Meals and accommodation on board the ship; round-trip flight betweeen Paris and Kangerlussuaq as per itinerary in economy class; transfers between Kangerlussuaq airport and ship; Captain’s welcome cocktail and gala dinner; coffee, juice, soft drinks and open bar (pouring wines, house champagne, alcohol except premium brands); port and safety taxes; gratuities; luggage transfer from pier to the ship and vice versa; 24-hour room service (special selection); butler service is included for guests staying on Deck 6; parka; boot rental. Subject to change without notice.
Airfare; any ground services before and/or after the cruise other than the ones included; visa and passport fees; travel insurance; personal expenses such as onboard medical consultations and drug prescriptions, spa, laundry and hair salon; other drinks not included in open bar; fuel surcharge may apply.
Photo Credit: © Servane Roy-Berton, © Nathalie Michel