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The Northwest Passage – Greenland to Alaska

Arctic Northwest Passage Cruise

Summary : Set sail for the Far North, well beyond the Arctic Circle, to a legendary, highly coveted maritime route: the Northwest Passage, the only possible shipping route between the Atlantic and the Pacific. In Winter, this “roof of the world” is transformed into a majestic white desert; whilst in Summer, for a few short weeks, the temperature rises enough for the ice to melt. Life reappears, nature is reborn, the mythical route is finally free and we can breathe in the unique scent of great adventure. During your cruise, you will first sail along the west coast of Greenland to discover charming Inuit villages and some of the largest icebergs in the Arctic. You will then sail across Baffin Bay to begin your unforgettable journey westward. On Beechey Island, retrace the steps of the Franklin expedition, before marveling at the sublime canyon at Fury Beach. Next, admire the incredible wildlife at Fairway Rock, home to many marine mammals and sea birds. This is an exceptional crossing that promises thrills and unforgettable memories.

Activities : Birding, Child-Friendly, Culture, Hiking, Triple/Quad Cabins

PRICING

Inquire about special offers for honeymooners, wedding anniversaries, and groups. Subject to change.

Prices from
$26,400 to $75,530

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Itinerary
Day 1
Paris, France / Kangerlussuaq, Greenland

Board your flight in Paris to Kangerlussuaq and then transfer from the airport to the ship.

Day 2
Sisimiut, Greenland

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.

Day 3
Disko Bay, Greenland

To the east of Baffin Bay, discover Disko Bay, scattered with countless icebergs produced by the Ilulissat Icefjord, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. From your ship, admire the majestic ballet of these ice giants as they slowly drift across the dark waters. This site is a natural marvel of Greenland, and is also renowned as an observation point for the region’s many humpback whales. The encounters with wild fauna and stunning landscapes in the heart of this spectacular and fragile nature will be pure moments of wonder for you.

Included Excursion: Sermermiut and the Ice Fjord
From the wharf, your coach will drive you through Ilulissat to the south. Upon arrival, a guided walk of about 45 minutes will lead you to the idyllic Sermermiut valley that lies out towards the ice fjord.

Optional Excursions (extra fee): Iceberg Cruise
Board small local boats directly from the ship. First, you will cruise along the coast to discover Ilulissat and its colored houses, and then get to the open-sea to reach the ice fjord, the Isfjord. The small boats will slide on the calm waters of the Disko Bay, by clearing its way between the small ice packs.

Day 4
Tugtutoq

The small uninhabited island of Tugtutoq, a former Inuit encampment, is located in the Upernavik region. The power of this place lies in its soft landscapes, which conceal many archaeological treasures nestling in the wild tundra. After a stop on a beautiful beach, you will have the opportunity to walk around ancient peat houses from the Thule civilization, built according to a traditional method. The graves of a cemetery, dotted here and there between the rocks, seem to remind visitors of the presence of ancestors in these places marked by the Thulean culture.

Day 5
Kullorsuaq

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. 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.

Day 6
Savissivik, Greenland

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 birthplace of icebergs in Greenland, it is a stunning sight to behold. During your Zodiac outing, you will sail between these icy giants. 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.

Day 7
Pond Inlet, Canada

On Baffin Island, located in northern Canada at the mouth of the famous Northwest Passage, there is a small Inuit settlement at the very bounds of infinity. To get there, cross the Arctic Circle, the imaginary line that separates man from lands of mystery and wonder. It’s not so much the way of life that sets Pond Inlet’s inhabitants apart, so much as the setting. Snow-capped mountains, fjords and glaciers combine in a dazzling natural environment that fills space and expands time. Some discoveries change you forever: this is one of them.

Day 8 – 10
Beechy Island / Fury Beach / Qariaraqyuk / Fort Ross / Bellot Strait

Beechey Island, at the eastern end of Resolute Bay, will call to mind some of the most important moments of Franklin’s expedition. Sir John set off in 1845 in search of the mythical Northwest Passage and was forced to take shelter in Erebus Harbour for two long years, while he waited for the ice floes to recede and allow him a way through. It is a spectacular location; seeing the three wooden grave markers, bleached by the sun (indicating the burial places of at least three of Captain Franklin’s men) and visiting the memorial that has been erected in memory of Franklin and his men can only reinforce the hushed sense of reverence. If the surrounding wilderness impresses us, the ochre and yellows of the rocky desert soften the landscape.

The ice floe gradually appears as you approach Somerset Island, in the heart of the Northwest Passage. In a Zodiac dinghy, you will land on Fury Beach, a place with a rich history where the English explorer William Edward Parry ran aground in 1825. He left materials and supplies here in order to help the next expeditions that would pass by this site. During your hike around the majestic canyon of Fury Beach, you’ll be dazzled by the surprising landscape: the turquoise green water and sheer cliffs are reminiscent of the Grand Canyon or the High Atlas in Morocco. If fortune smiles on you, you will perhaps come across a family of polar bears roaming the enormous ice floes. A sublime hike; a sense of wonder is guaranteed.

Located at Hazard Inlet (Somerset Island), the abandoned village of Qariaraqyuk is home to the ruins of one of the largest Thule archaeological sites in the High Arctic. The foundations of several constructions as well as many whale bones found on the site bear witness to the village’s past activity and its inhabitants’ incredible capacity to adapt to such isolated lands. Qariaraqyuk had a population of 300 people who subsequently left the village for reasons that remain unknown. The Thule civilization is the last Paleo-Eskimo civilization from which all the Inuits we know today are descended.

Discover Fort Ross, the last trading post established by the Hudson's Bay Company. Constructed in 1937, it was used as a fur and whaling trading post at the same time. Fort Ross, located on a small island at the entrance to the Bellot Strait, is still home to this former store as well as the house for the manager and staff. The interior of these two buildings has been damaged over time and by the presence of polar bears. After a short walk towards the summits of the island, you will be able to enjoy a breathtaking panoramic view over the Bellot Strait and surrounding area.

A key stage in the Northwest Passage, the Bellot Strait, crossed by strong currents, promises you an unforgettable sailing experience. The entrance to the strait is dominated by the Ross Cairn. The buildings of Fort Ross also stand not far from here. Separating Somerset Island from the Boothia Peninsula, the strait was discovered in 1852 by Captain William Kennedy of the Royal Navy, and the Frenchman Joseph-René Bellot, during an expedition in search of Sir John Franklin. Discover a magnificent décor covered in snow, fragmented by large ice floes. As you sail between them, keep an eye out for polar bears.

Day 11
Gjoa Haven, King William Island

Discovered by the Scottish explorer John Ross in 1830, King William Island was named in honor of the reigning British King. In September 1903, Captain Roald Amundsen was the first to drop anchor at Gjoa Haven, the only inhabited part of the island, where a few Inuit were the only sign of human life. The Norwegian sailor decided to overwinter here for two years, to attempt to find the location of the mysterious Magnetic North Pole. Roald Amundsen interacted with the local Inuit to learn how to survive in these extreme conditions and freezing temperatures. Discover this small hamlet in the Nunavut region, located just above the Arctic Circle. Do not miss this unique opportunity to explore these forgotten lands.

Day 12
At Sea

During your day at sea, make the most of the many services and activities on board. Treat yourself to a moment of relaxation in the spa or stay in shape in the fitness center. This day without a port of call will also be an opportunity to enjoy the conferences or shows proposed on board, to do some shopping in the boutique or to meet the ship photographers in their dedicated space. As for lovers of the open sea, they will be able to visit the ship’s upper deck to admire the spectacle of the waves and perhaps be lucky enough to observe marine species. A truly enchanted interlude, combining comfort, rest and entertainment.

Day 13
Edinburgh Island, Johanssen Peninsula

Fall under the charm of small and uninhabited Edinburgh Island, in Nunavut. Blueberries, crowberries, arctic willow, cranberries: vegetation rules the roost here, with no fewer than 19 types of dwarf shrubs, berries and flowers identified. In autumn, these species are adorned with shimmering colors that produce a magnificent picture. The tundra, dotted with red and yellow touches, competes in its beauty with the superb ochres of the sandy beaches and the dark tones of the surrounding cliffs. At the end of a walk towards the heights of the island, enjoy a superb panorama with a view over lakes, sea and basalt mountains. An enchanting place, frequented by caribous, peregrine falcons, reindeer, Arctic foxes and hares.

Day 14
Ulukhaktok

Set off to meet the inhabitants of Ulukhaktok (Holman) for an unforgettable moment in the midst of a welcoming community. With some 500 inhabitants, this hamlet located on the west of Victoria Island has learned how best to adapt to an at-times harsh environment and a difficult climate. As you visit this village in the Canadian Far North, admire the prints and other objects created by the very rich local craftsmanship. Traditional singing and dancing are also part of the daily life of this commune, to the great delight of fans of Inuit culture. The village is one of those places in which you can share an authentic experience in a remote land.

Day 15
Minto Inlet

Located to the east of the Amundsen Gulf, in the eastern part of Victoria Island, Minto Inlet is an integral part of the history of the Copper Inuits. The representatives of this people, also called the Kitlinermiut, are the descendants of the old Thule. Hunter-gatherer nomads during more than three millennia, they knew how to flawlessly exploit the copper deposits in the regions where they set up camp, which is what earned them their name. Arrows, knives, spears, ulus (blades) and harpoons: all these objects made with a deft hand and used day-to-day by this small community. During your visit, you will have the opportunity to visit their territory, in a landscape of tundra frequented by many caribou.

Day 16
Franklin Bay

This large bay is located in the Northwest Territories, in Canada. It was given its name in 1826 by the naturalist John Richardson, in honor of the British polar explorer Sir John Franklin. Franklin Bay always offers fine occasions to come across marine mammals. During your cruise here, you will also see the famous smoke column show at Smoking Hills, which are cliffs made of sulfur and lignite in beautiful yellow, ochre and brown colors.

Day 17
At Sea

During your day at sea, make the most of the many services and activities on board. Treat yourself to a moment of relaxation in the spa or stay in shape in the fitness center. This day without a port of call will also be an opportunity to enjoy the conferences or shows proposed on board, to do some shopping in the boutique or to meet the ship photographers in their dedicated space. As for lovers of the open sea, they will be able to visit the ship’s upper deck to admire the spectacle of the waves and perhaps be lucky enough to observe marine species. A truly enchanted interlude, combining comfort, rest and entertainment.

Day 18
Herschel Island

The Canadian Arctic Archipelago is composed of a myriad of islands and reveals landscapes you will only see at this far end of the world. Come and discover the small Canadian island of Herschel, a frozen paradise located in the Beaufort Sea, within the Ivvavik National Park. During an expedition in 1826, Sir John Franklin was the first European to lay eyes on these unique places and their inhabitants, the Inuvialuit, the Nordic cousins of the Inuit. It was during this trip that he named the island after one of his friends, John Herschel, a brilliant British astronomer and scientist. Herschel Island is a landmark in the West Arctic and has since served alternately as a whaling station, a relay station and a refuge for travelers.

Day 19 – 20
At Sea

During your day at sea, make the most of the many services and activities on board. Treat yourself to a moment of relaxation in the spa or stay in shape in the fitness center. This day without a port of call will also be an opportunity to enjoy the conferences or shows proposed on board, to do some shopping in the boutique or to meet the ship photographers in their dedicated space. As for lovers of the open sea, they will be able to visit the ship’s upper deck to admire the spectacle of the waves and perhaps be lucky enough to observe marine species. A truly enchanted interlude, combining comfort, rest and entertainment.

Day 21
Inalik, Little Diomede, Alaska / Fairway Rock

You’ve now arrived in the heart of the Bering Sea, between Alaska and Russia. Your ship sets sail for Little Diomede, an American island inhabited by an Inuit community numbering fewer than a hundred people. You will disembark at Inalik, a village gripping the steep slopes of this lost piece of rock. Here, around twenty dwellings are curled up against each other, mounted on stilts and accessible by small staircases. You will be warmly welcomed by the Inupiak, who will be keen to introduce you to their culture, traditions and day-to-day life. Only 3 kilometers away, on the other side of the International Date Line, is the island of Big Diomede, belonging to Russia.

Your ship moves slowly towards Fairway Rock, a small rocky island lost in the middle of the Bering Strait. This little piece of pebble, located off the Russian coastline and the Diomedes Islands, rises a hundred meters above the water. It is home to many species of marine birds that the naturalist-guides will help you to identify: Tridactyl gulls, thick-billed murres, Atlantic puffins and cormorants have set up home on the cliffs of Fairway Rock. Spotted seals and walruses have also found their place here and make a warm welcome committee. If you’re lucky, you will perhaps spot the blow of a humpback whale from the deck of your ship. A magical encounter with the local fauna.

Day 22
At Sea

During your day at sea, make the most of the many services and activities on board. Treat yourself to a moment of relaxation in the spa or stay in shape in the fitness center. This day without a port of call will also be an opportunity to enjoy the conferences or shows proposed on board, to do some shopping in the boutique or to meet the ship photographers in their dedicated space. As for lovers of the open sea, they will be able to visit the ship’s upper deck to admire the spectacle of the waves and perhaps be lucky enough to observe marine species. A truly enchanted interlude, combining comfort, rest and entertainment.

Day 23
Nome, Alaska / Seattle, Washington

Disembark the vessel and transfer to the airport for your flight to Seattle.

Notes

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.

Bilingual Departures: All departures are French/English.

Travel Insurance:
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.

Travel Insurance:
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.

Included:
One-way flight Paris/Kangerlussuaq, one-way flight Nome/Seattle; transfer from Kangerlussuaq airport to ship, transfer from ship to Nome airport; shipboard accommodations; parka; gear on loan (boots); Wi-Fi onboard ship; all meals onboard ship; 24-hour room service onboard ship; most beverages onboard ship; gratuities onboard ship. Butler is included for guest staying in Deck 6 Suites. Subject to change without notice.

Not Included:
Airfare other than listed as included; optional excursions; 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; premium alcohol; fuel surcharge may apply.

Photo Credit: © Servane Roy-Berton, © Nathalie Michel, © Lorraine Turci, © Ponant

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