Summary : This iconic voyage explores the remote Northwest Passage and stunning fjords of the Baffin Island coastline before crossing to Greenland and its marvelous icebergs. Following the path of the legendary early Arctic explorers, journey through the archipelago of islands and channels of Canada’s high Arctic region. Wildlife abounds here – from polar bears to muskox, caribou, and walrus. History buffs will love the strong historical element: learn about Sir John Franklin's expedition of over 170 years ago.
Activities : Birding, Child-Friendly, Culture, Hiking, Kayaking, Photography, Triple/Quad Cabins
$12,695 to $19,795
Depart Edmonton this morning on a charter flight to Cambridge Bay. Upon arrival, enjoy a walking tour of the town and board the 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, bound for the fabled Northwest Passage.
As the captain charts a course into the Northwest Passage, the onboard presentation series begins and the legend of Sir John Franklin and his ‘lost expedition’ begins to unravel. The mystery of what happened to Franklin was partially solved in September 2014, when a joint Parks Canada and Royal Canadian Geographical Society expedition found the long lost Franklin shipwreck, HMS Erebus, in the Victoria Strait. One Ocean Expeditions played a pivotal role in the search by transporting underwater search equipment as well as scientists, historians, researchers, dignitaries, and sponsors of this history-defining mission. Aim to visit Victory Point, traveling very near the actual location of the wreck of HMS Erebus, all the while learning about the quest for exploration that eventually opened up the Arctic. Just two years later, in 2016, the wreck of Franklin's second ship, HMS Terror was located less than fifty miles from HMS Erebus, thus ending one of marine archaeology's most enduring mysteries. However, the discovery of the two ships leaves many unanswered questions as to the fate of Franklin and his men. The story continues to unravel.
This morning you will arrive at Conningham Bay on the shore of Prince of Wales. This is one of the most remarkable wildlife sites in the Arctic and a known hot spot for polar bears who come here to feast on Beluga whales. It is not unusual to find the shoreline littered with whale skeletons and very healthy looking polar bears!
Today you'll transit the narrow passage of Bellot Strait, a channel separating northerly Somerset Island from continental North America. The aim is to enter at slack tide if possible, in order to avoid a current that roars through the passage at more than seven knots during peak flow. The mixing of waters in this strait provides an abundant food source for marine mammals. Keep your eyes peeled for harp seals, bearded seals, and even polar bears. The skill of the captain and officers and the capabilities of the ship become apparent during this exciting day of Arctic navigation. The historic site of Fort Ross, located at the southern end of Somerset Island, is a former Hudson’s Bay Company fur trading outpost. Fascinating archaeological sites nearby tell a story of more than a thousand years of habitation by the Inuit and their predecessors.
Beechey Island is of great historic importance on your journey through the Northwest Passage. It is here that Sir John Franklin’s ill-fated expedition spent its last ‘comfortable’ winter in 1845 before disappearing into the icy vastness, sparking an incredible series of search expeditions that lasted almost three decades. A trip ashore at Beechey Island to visit the grave markers on a remote windswept beach gives one pause to ponder the bravery (or foolhardiness) of these pioneering explorers, as they sought a way through the barren, frozen landscape.
You are now at almost 75° degrees north of latitude. Cruise the coastline of Devon Island in the waters of Lancaster Sound—a rich, bio-diverse region often referred to as the wildlife ‘super highway’ of the Arctic. These massive volumes of water from Baffin Bay to the east, Beaufort Sea to the west, and from the archipelago of islands to the north, combine to make a rich cocktail of nutrients supporting an abundance of Arctic wildlife. Plan on visiting the old Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) outpost at Dundas Harbor, situated on the southern shores of Devon Island.
Gaze on the wild north coast of Baffin Island as the ship navigates through Navy Board Inlet. The vast landscapes of Sirmilik National Park surround you as the ship approaches the remote Inuit community of Mittimatalik. You'll be welcomed ashore and a highlight will be a visit to the Natinnak Center, where a fascinating cultural exhibit showcases aspects of daily life, the culture, and history of the people of the North. Inuit carvings, jewelery, and other traditional crafts are on display. Purchasing such items from the local artisans is a great way to support the community.
This morning enter the spectacular Gibbs Fjord with towering cliffs all around. The ship will seem dwarfed by the giant peaks and snowy glaciers as it cruises slowly along the dark waters. One recent guest commented that Gibbs Fjord was like something out of "Lord of the Rings."
Leaving the rugged coastline of Baffin Island, your crossing of Baffin Bay allows time to slow down and reflect on the beauty and experiences you have shared. Your team of on-board experts will continue to educate you on the history and wildlife of the region while your naturalists keep watch, looking for fulmars and dovekies, pilot whales, and perhaps even orcas. As you approach Greenland, the likelihood of spotting some of the big baleen whales also increases.
If one word could sum up today’s experience it would be "ice." Even your expedition team members, with years spent exploring both the Arctic and Antarctica, will take a moment to reflect on the awesome ice formations found here. Truly one of the wonders of the world is the Jacobshavn Icefjord—a UNESCO World Heritage site—which expels gigantic tabular icebergs into Disko Bay. The glacier that creates these stunning monoliths advances at over 130-feet per day, creating approximately 1,765-cubic feet of ice annually. The approach to Ilulissat is always dependent on the amount of ice in and around the mouth of the fjord.
You will explore the fjord behind the town of Sisimiut before going ashore to explore this beautiful location. Characterized by colorful local houses, the town features a towering granite peak as a backdrop. Hopefully you will have a chance to meet a few of the traditional Greenlandic kayakers and to see a demonstration of ‘kayak rolling’ by one of the former Greenland kayak champions. A small museum is another interesting diversion.
One of the world’s longest fjords, Sondre Stromfjord towers above the ship as you approach. The plan is to venture into some of the small side fjords by Zodiac and explore on foot or by kayak. Major geologic and geomorphologic features will surround you and you'll hopefully find muskox along the shores of the fjord as well. Soaring high above you might see the white-tailed sea eagle riding the thermals off the ridges. Expect some fantastic hiking opportunities with hikes geared to all fitness levels. On this, your last night of the expedition, enjoy a celebratory dinner attended by the captain and reflect on your epic voyage.
Your journey through the Arctic is all but complete as you disembark the ship in Kangerlussuaq and make your way to the airport to board a charter flight returning to Ottawa, where you will bid farewell to your fellow passengers and the voyage comes to an end. A transfer is provided from the airport to a central 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.
All guests are required to have comprehensive travel insurance. The travel insurance must cover accidents, injury, illness and death, medical expenses, including any related to pre-existing medical conditions, emergency repatriation (including helicopter), luggage and personal effects, and personal liability. It is strongly recommended that you purchase cancellation and curtailment insurance. You must carry proof of insurance with you and produce it if requested by expedition staff. The expedition team reserves the right to cancel or suspend your participation on a trip or in certain activities that comprise part of a trip, at any time, including after the commencement of your tour, with no right of refund, if you are unable to provide proof of insurance when requested. Other conditions may apply based on pre-existing conditions. 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 Edmonton, Alberta's provincial capital city. It is recommended that you arrive in Edmonton 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 Edmonton, you'll fly to Cambridge Bay in Nunavut where you will transfer to the ship via Zodiac. At the conclusion of your trip, you will fly from Kangerlussuaq (Greenland) to Ottawa, Canada. A transfer will be provided from the airport to a central downtown location. Because the flight arrives in the early evening, it is recommended that you make your ownward 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.
Sea 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: © David McEown, © Mark Robinson, © Nate Small, © Carolyn Monastra