Summary : This voyage links numerous historic locations on Canada’s east coast, including a known Viking settlement, a French-built fortress, several remote mission locations, and isolated fishing ports. Journey from the more temperate climate found in the Maritimes, northwards and into the higher Arctic latitudes. Subtle changes to vegetation and wildlife species can be noticed and your expert guides will interpret and explain these changes throughout the journey. The region features strong cultural diversity. Encounter the Nunatsiavut people in small communities along the coastline of Labrador. Numerous wildlife species are found along this coastline including bears, seals, whales and both migratory and resident birds. A particular highlight of your voyage is a visit to Torngat Mountains National Park—home to the highest mountains in Canada, east of the Rockies. This is one of the jewels in the crown of the Canadian National Park network. The Inuit have strong cultural and spiritual connections to the land which you will learn about during your visit. Your expedition vessel is the perfect platform for exploring the remote bays and fjords of this spectacular wilderness as many locations can only be accessed by ship. A final highlight awaits as you venture across Frobisher Bay to Monumental Island. This is remote, small-ship expedition cruising at its best.
Activities : Birding, Child-Friendly, Culture, Hiking, Kayaking, Photography, Triple/Quad Cabins
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$3,895 to $10,095
Your adventure begins in the historic port town of Louisbourg, Nova Scotia. First visited in 1597 by the English, the town was fortified in 1713 by the French in recognition of its strategic maritime location. During the 18th century, Louisbourg was the third busiest seaport in North America.
Board the ship in the late afternoon in time for a dinner of fresh, local lobster as you sail out past the lighthouse, into the North Atlantic, and on to Newfoundland and Labrador.
This morning you are anchored off the tiny fishing community of Trout River, the access point into Gros Morne National Park. A Zodiac will take you ashore and you will be transferred by bus for a visit to UNESCO World Heritage site the Tablelands. This incredible location is noted for its unique geology and exceptional scenery. Here, the Earth’s mantle is exposed on the surface—pushed up over millions of years by the movement of tectonic plates. You will explore the boreal wetland landscape, featuring dramatic rock ridges, pitcher plants, white-throated sparrows, and may encounter the iconic moose as you explore the park. Continuing north through the park you will enjoy a visit to the Discovery Centre, before arriving at Woody Point located in majestic Bonne Bay. You'll meet the ship there, before re-boarding in the afternoon to continue your voyage northwards.
Today tells a story a thousand years in the making. Start the day with a short cruise to the rocky shoreline. A millennium ago, Viking long-ships would have been found along this same beach. L’Anse aux Meadows is one of Canada’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites. This is where Norseman Leif Erikson (son of Eric the Red) is thought to have founded “Vinland” around 1000 AD. As you explore the reconstructed sod huts and Norse ruins with the site’s resident archaeologist, you will see evidence that the Vikings discovered North America some five hundred years prior to the arrival of Christopher Columbus. In the evening, you will leave the coastline of Newfoundland and cross the Strait of Belle Isle overnight.
Battle Harbour marks your arrival into the province of Labrador. The location was one of the first British settlements on the east coast of the Americas. It was an important gateway to the rich Labrador fisheries. Venture ashore to explore the restored fishing, whaling, and commercial buildings found in this remote community. The colorful buildings make for fantastic photographic subjects amid the backdrop of breathtaking coastal views.
The ancient rocks of the Canadian Shield (the exposed portion of the Earth’s crust) cradle the small coastal hamlet of Hopedale. This remarkable geological feature, estimated to be up to 4-billion years old, greets you as you sail through narrow channels and weigh anchor off Hopedale. Venture ashore by Zodiac to visit the Hopedale Moravian Mission – built in 1782 and said to be the oldest building east of Quebec. It’s a fascinating place to learn about the influence of the early Moravian missionaries on the Inuit people of Northern Labrador. This location has been designated a Canadian National Historic Site. You will visit a local museum for a deeper insight. The local Inuit produce ornate carvings and other crafts which make memorable souvenirs.
Today you will enjoy a visit to the historic town of Hebron, once the northernmost settlement in Labrador. The Moravian missionaries established Hebron in the early 1830’s and the Germanic influence is clearly seen in the architecture. The Mission was closed and the local Inuit families relocated in 1959 but the original buildings still stand today. This is another designated National Historic Site and is considered one of the most historically significant mission-built structures in the entire province. You will hopefully meet the local caretakers, who manage this very historic location. They have a fascinating story to tell.
You will sail into Saglek Fjord, the southern gateway to the Torngat Mountains National Park Reserve, established in 2005. At this midway point in your exploration of Labrador, attention turns from history to the magnificent wilderness of the Torngat Mountains National Park Reserve. The park was established as recently as 2005 and covers more than 6,200 square miles of Northern Labrador. Bordered by Quebec on one side and the Labrador Coast on the other, it is home to Canada’s highest mountains East of the Rockies and features breathtaking fjords, remnant glacial systems, and stunning landscapes. The Inuktitut word Torngat means “place of spirits” and the Torngat Mountains have been home to the Inuit and their predecessors for over 7,500 years.
These mountains represent a deep spiritual connection to the Inuit spirit world. Polar bears hunt seals along the coast. Both the Torngat Mountains and George River caribou herds cross paths as they migrate to and from their calving grounds. Inuit continue to use this area for hunting, fishing, and traveling throughout the park during the year. There are some terrific hiking opportunities here. Explore the area on foot or along the shoreline in a Zodiac. The wildflowers are spectacular when in bloom. Bears feast on local berries found among the sedges and grasses on the raised beaches along the shores of the fjords.
Nachvak Fjord is exceptionally beautiful. The fjord is deep and narrow and stretches more than 12 miles. The rocky walls of the fjord soar almost 3,000 feet above you at several points. Many species migrate through the area during the short boreal summer. Numerous seal species may be encountered including ring, hooded, harp, and harbor seals. Minke whales have been known to linger in the fjords, while larger species, including fin and humpback, tend to stay offshore. This is an outstanding location for landscape photography with endless subjects, a dynamic color range, and interesting lighting.
As you reach the far northern stretches of coastal Labrador, you will learn of the remarkable events at Martin Bay. Here a German U-boat made the only known armed landing in North America during WWII. In 1943, U-537 sat at anchor here, while the crew man-handled ashore and established an automated weather station. This station remained undiscovered until the late 1970s when a German historian came across a reference to it in the German naval archives. The equipment was collected by the Canadian Coast Guard in the early 1980s and is on permanent display in the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa. Later in the day you will visit the Button Islands before sailing into southern Davis Strait. Named after Thomas Button who explored the area in 1612, the islands are in the middle of an upwelling of nutrients on the edge of the continental shelf. This action makes them a magnet for thousands of seabirds and other marine mammals.
Today you will sail across the mouth of Frobisher Bay and make landfall on Monumental Island, a small, steep-sided outcrop off the southeast coast of Baffin Island. Here you will be on the lookout for both polar bears and walrus that live around the island in an uneasy truce. While polar bears have been known to attack and kill young walrus they are no match for a fully grown male walrus, especially in the water. Enjoy your final Zodiac cruise here. In the evening, reflect on the last 10 days of exploration while enjoying a sumptuous farewell dinner, attended by the captain of the ship. During the night the ship will negotiate the narrow channels of Frobisher Bay on the way to your disembarkation point, Iqaluit, the capital city of Nunavut.
Bid farewell to your crew and disembark the ship by Zodiac. If time and tides permit, take a short tour of Iqaluit before transferring to the airport for your flight back to Ottawa. Upon arrival in Ottawa, an airport transfer will be provided 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.
Important Voyage Logistics:
This trip commences in the historic port of Louisbourg (Cape Breton). Access is via Sydney (Nova Scotia), 25 to 35 minutes away. It is recommended that you arrive in either Sydney or Louisbourg at least one day prior to the scheduled voyage departure date. At the conclusion of the trip you will arrive in Iqaluit, situated on Baffin Island. From here you will board a flight to Ottawa. Upon arrival a group transfer is provided to a central downtown location.
The photographer-in-residence provides presentations, critiques, informal instruction, and a Zodiac to assist with each passenger's photographic goals.
Limited to 16 participants. Kayakers will be accompanied by highly experienced kayak guides. This optional activity requires previous experience and must be booked in advanced. Please contact ExpeditionTrips for details.
Departures are family-friendly with additional programming for 'Young Explorers.' There will be hands-on activities in the field with binoculars and journals provided, a miniature laboratory, and social events including a movie night with popcorn, a game night, and on-deck wildlife identification. Families can expect to learn about the early explorers during their voyage, see hundreds of seabirds, have the chance to spot pods of whales and seal colonies, take trips by Zodiac to get up close to wildlife, and also visit traditional communities within the region. Children will receive a membership to the Young Explorers Club, an embroidered badge and certificate, and specialized pre-departure information.
Transfers to the ship on embarkation day and from the ship to the airport or local hotel on disembarkation; shipboard accommodations; assistance of resident photography guide; access to computers in the multimedia lab for image downloads, file back up, and management; emergency-trained physician onboard every voyage; onboard 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 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:
Welcome package (wine, fruit basket, natural snacks); early morning adventure concierge coffee service; in-room mini bar, single brew coffee machine, mini-stereo, and iPad with reference and fictional content; complimentary field guide to polar region visited. Inclusions subject to change without notice.
Charter flights; any international or local airfare unless otherwise specified in the voyage itinerary; airport taxes; visa and passport expenses; pre- and post-cruise hotel accommodations unless otherwise specified in the itinerary (or pre-arranged); personal expenses on board such as alcoholic beverages, bar charges, extra meals, massage, spa treatments or laundry expenses; telecommunication charges (i.e. email, satellite phone); baggage, cancellation, or medical travel insurance-related expenses; travel insurance (mandatory on all trips); optional activities (i.e. kayaking); a voluntary gratuity at the end of the voyage for expedition staff and ship crew; fuel surcharge may apply.
PHOTOS: © Daisy Gilardini, © Tony Beck, © Willy Waterton