Summary : This iconic voyage explores Greenland's culture and natural beauty before crossing Baffin Bay to the stunning fjords of the Baffin Island coastline and the remote Northwest Passage. Follow in the footsteps of legendary Arctic explorers like Franklin, Amundsen, and Larsen, exploring Canada’s High Arctic region. Learn more about Sir John Franklin's expedition over 170 years ago. Scout for polar bear, whales, seals, Arctic fox, muskox, caribou, and walrus. Take a hike, cruise in a Zodiac or opt to sea kayak. Learn from educational presentations, the ship's photographer-in-residence, and an Inuit community visit.
Activities : Birding, Child-Friendly, Culture, Hiking, Kayaking, Triple/Quad Cabins
$13,195 to $21,495
Depart Ottawa this morning on a charter flight to Kangerlussuaq, situated on the west coast of Greenland. (See 'Additional Costs.') Upon arrival, enjoy a short tour before boarding the ship in the afternoon. After settling into your cabin and exploring the vessel, meet your expedition team and fellow passengers. Excitement is in the air as the ship casts off and guests enjoy a 'welcome' cocktail while cruising along Sondre Stromfjord, bound for the fabled Northwest Passage.
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. Meet a few traditional Greenlandic kayakers and watch a demonstration of incredible skill as they navigate in their small watercraft. A local museum adds another interesting diversion.
Truly one of the wonders of the world, the Jacobshavn Icefjord—a UNESCO World Heritage site—releases gigantic tabular icebergs into Disko Bay. The glacier that creates these stunning monoliths advances up to 131 feet per day, creating around 12 cubic miles of ice annually. The approach to Ilulissat is dependent on the amount of ice in and around the mouth of the fjord. Your captain and officers are skilled ice navigators and your ship has one of the highest ice ratings of any vessel exploring Arctic waters.
Leaving the rugged coastline of Greenland, your crossing of Baffin Bay is highly dependent on the extent of the so-called ‘middle ice.' Probe northwards seeking out the edges of the middle ice and plan to follow the line of ice until you reach the coast of Baffin Island. Your time at sea will be determined by the extent of the ice and amount of wildlife encountered. As you transit Baffin Bay, be on the lookout for fin, sperm, sei and humpback whales as well as the numerous species of Arctic seals and seabirds that inhabit these waters. Fascinating presentations on board will focus on the wildlife, history, geology and culture of the Arctic.
Nearing the far north of Baffin Island, enter a broad channel—home to the remote Inuit community of Mittimatalik (Pond Inlet). A highlight is a visit to the Natinnak Center, where a fascinating exhibit showcases aspects of the daily life, culture, and history of the people of the north. Inuit carvings, jewelry and other traditional crafts are on display. Purchasing such items from the local artisans is a great way to support the community. The children of Pond Inlet will demonstrate the skills and challenges of traditional Inuit games. Skills and physical agility developed by such games were often those necessary for everyday survival in the harsh Arctic environment.
You are now at almost 75° degrees north of latitude, cruising the coastline of Devon Island and the waters of Lancaster Sound—a rich, biodiverse region often referred to as the wildlife ‘super highway’ of the Arctic. 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 to visit the old Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) outpost at Dundas Harbor, situated on the southern shores of Devon Island.
A large bay on the south coast of Devon Island, Maxwell Bay offers some wonderful hiking opportunities ashore and great wildlife watching from the water. Muskox, caribou, and polar bears can be found here. Harp seals, ringed seals, bearded seals, and even walruses have been spotted in the coves and inlets of the bay.
Beechey Island holds great historic importance on the 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 would span decades. The mystery of what happened to Franklin was partially solved in September 2014, when a joint Parks Canada and Royal Canadian Geographic Society expedition found the long-lost Franklin shipwreck, HMS Erebus, in the Victoria Strait.
Having crossed Prince Regent Inlet overnight, approach the towering bird cliffs of Prince Leopold Island in the morning. The island is home to thick-billed murres, black guillemots, northern fulmars and black-legged kittiwakes. Numbering several hundred thousand birds, Prince Leopold Island is one of the most significant migratory bird sanctuaries in the entire Canadian Arctic and makes for fantastic Zodiac cruising. The sea ice around Prince Leopold Island is a great place for spotting ringed seals; and wherever one finds ringed seals, they usually find polar bears. Nearby Port Leopold is a historic site. In 1848, English explorer James Clark Ross wintered there during the search for the missing Franklin expedition. In addition to Port Leopold’s historical attraction, the shallow gravel beds along the shoreline are attractive to beluga whales that molt in this part of the Arctic each summer.
The ship navigates south into Prince Regent Inlet and approaches the eastern end of Bellot Strait. 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. Having explored Fort Ross, attempt a transit through the narrows of Bellot Strait. 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.
Having emerged from Bellot Strait, cross the Victoria Strait and arrive at Coningham Bay on the shore of Prince of Wales Island. Here, in the heart of the Northwest Passage, hope to encounter one of the most remarkable wildlife sites in the Arctic. This is a known hot spot for polar bears—they come here to feast on beluga whales often caught in the rocky shallows at the entrance to the bay. It is not unusual to find the shoreline littered with whale skeletons—and very healthy-looking polar bears.
Heading further into the Northwest Passage, the mystery of Sir John Franklin and his ‘lost expedition’ is beginning to unravel. Prior to the recent discovery of the HMS Erebus in September 2014, very little was known of how the Franklin Expedition spent its last months in the frozen Arctic. The vessels, abandoned in the ice of Victoria Strait, are just coming to life thanks to the ongoing efforts of Parks Canada’s marine archeological team and the recent Victoria Strait Expedition. On Victory Point a lifeboat left abandoned with bits and pieces of copper, iron, cutlery, and buttons tells the story of a desperate race south in search of rescue that never came. Hope to visit Victory Point and the Victoria Strait, 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. For the last night of the expedition, enjoy a celebratory dinner attended by the captain of the ship and reflect on an epic voyage.
Cambridge Bay is a remote outpost on the southern shores of Victoria Island and a center for hunting, trapping and fishing in the region. The Inuit have had summer camps in the vicinity for hundreds of years. Amundsen spent two winters in this area, learning how to master dog sledding from the locals prior to his attempt on the South Pole. Say farewell to the crew as you disembark and make your way ashore by Zodiac. A special charter flight will return you to Edmonton.
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 (including helicopter) and baggage, together with (for all insurances) any coverage extensions required for the region and activities of the travel. The policy must also cover injury, illness and death, medical expenses, including any related to pre-existing medical conditions, personal effects and personal liability. 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. It is recommended that you arrive at least one day prior to the scheduled voyage departure date. This gives you a buffer in the event of any unexpected travel delays between home and trip departure time. At the conclusion of your voyage, you'll fly from Cambridge back to Edmonton via a charter flight that arrives early in the evening. Upon arrival in Edmonton a transfer will be provided from the airport to a central downtown location. It is recommended that you book an overnight stay in Edmonton and schedule your onward travel plans for the following day.
Limited to 30 guests. Pre-booking required. Must have prior sea kayaking experience. All intending kayakers must complete a questionnaire outlining their paddling experience and also 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.
An onboard photographer is available throughout the voyage to help you improve your photography skills. Attend presentations, receive hands-on tips and advice, and use the onboard multimedia studio to edit your images.
Transfer to the ship on embarkation day; transfer from the ship to the airport upon disembarkation; shipboard accommodations; experienced expedition leader and professional expedition team of marine biologists, naturalists, historians, and adventure guides and photographers; dedicated hospitality team; daily off-ship excursions by Zodiac; guided hikes and walks onshore; visits to wildlife colonies, historic sites, places of outstanding natural beauty, and community visits; educational presentations and talks by polar specialists; access to computers in the multimedia lab for image downloads, file back up, and management; emergency-trained physician on every voyage; use of onboard library, sauna, plunge pool, Jacuzzi, and fitness center; 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 bar lounge and in all cabins (replenished daily); port fees and permits to access visited areas. 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.
Charter flights or any international or local airfare unless otherwise specified in the voyage itinerary; visa and passport expenses; pre- or post-cruise hotel accommodations unless otherwise specified in the itinerary (or pre-arranged); pre- or post-cruise transfers unless otherwise specified in the itinerary (or pre-arranged); meals and transfers in arrival/departure cities; massages from registered therapist; personal expenses on board such as alcoholic beverages, bar charges, spa treatments or laundry expenses; telecommunication charges (i.e. email, satellite phone); baggage, cancellation, or medical travel insurance-related expenses (travel insurance is mandatory on all voyages); voluntary gratuity at end of voyage for expedition staff and ship crew.
PHOTOS: © David McEown, © Mark Robinson, © Nate Small, © Carolyn Monastra, © One Ocean Expeditions