Summary : Cruise among floating icebergs and observe the fastest moving glacier and the amazing Jakobshavn Icefjord. Learn of the Inuit culture and their lasting traditions. Look for polar bears and thousands of birds, and marvel at the geological features in Torngat National Park and Gros Morne National Park have to offer. Visit L’Anse aux Meadows — a UNESCO World Heritage Site and set foot upon a European enclave in North America on this trip of a lifetime!
Activities : Birding, Culture, Hiking, Triple/Quad Cabins
$999,999,999 to $0
Embark the vessel and meet Expedition Team members and fellow passengers. While you cruise the 100-mile-long Kangerlussuaq Fjord, watch for Peregrine Falcon, as this fjord is home to around 130 pairs.
Located just north of the Arctic Circle, Sisimiut is the northernmost town in Greenland where the port remains free of ice in the winter; yet it is also the southernmost town where there exists enough snow and ice to drive a dogsled in winter and spring. Traveling by sled has been the primary means of winter transportation here for centuries. Meet a sled dog team and their owners, who will share about sledding and how the Greenlandic sled dog has been bred to be amongst the strongest working dogs in the world.
Sisimiut has been used by different cultures and groups for almost 4500 years. Ruins of early settlements can still be seen west of the town. The Sisimiut Museum houses part of its collection in Greenland’s oldest surviving church as well as in a peat house. For those interested in tasting some of the local delicacies, the museum has prepared Greenlandic soup, shrimps, and dried fish which you can taste while visiting the museum.
Another typical and iconic ‘vehicle’ of transportation is the qajaq (better known as ‘kayak’) and although most Greenlandic hunters or fishermen use modern boats, many still have a qajaq. You may see a qajaq demonstration in Sisimiut’s harbour.
As you continue the exploration of the Disko Bay area, stop of at one of the smallest settlements that you will come across during your voyage. Meet local people and learn more about their culture and lifestyle. There might even be some beadwork for sale as a souvenir. Before departing, enjoy a Zodiac tour of the rugged coastline and the many icebergs that get stranded here after breaking off from the Jakobshavn Glacier.
During the afternoon, cruise past Arve Prinsens Island to reach one of the glaciers north of Ilulissat. This is where Paul-Emile Victor started in 1948 to reach the icecap. The glacial front still has a length of almost 4 kilometers and calves several times a day. Witness a calving from a safe distance – be it on board Silver Explorer or in a Zodiac.
Just after sunrise, be out on deck to see the northern hemisphere’s most active glacier – Jakobshavn – often surrounded by icebergs in all shapes and sizes and in varying shades of white and turquoise. Known as the birthplace of icebergs, the Ilulissat Icefjord produces nearly 20 million tons of ice each day. While here, there may be an opportunity to see a demonstration of ancient fishing methods and enjoy some locally caught and prepared fish. Take a guided walking tour of Ilulissat and visit the local history museum. The afternoon tour continues via fishing boat navigating amongst the many icebergs at the fjord’s entrance. Alternatively, purchase an optional adventure by helicopter to see the magnificent Jakobshavn Icefjord from above (bookable on board).
Binoculars and camera in hand, head out on deck to watch for seabirds and marine mammals. Attend informative lectures that will prepare you for the upcoming ports-of-call in Canada and the adventures that lie ahead. Peruse an array of titles and topics in the well-stocked Library, enjoy a fine cognac at the Connoisseur’s Corner or indulge in any of the other special amenities offered aboard ship.
Begin in the town of Iqaluit located at the head of Frobisher Bay, an inlet of the North Atlantic extending into south-eastern Baffin Island. The Bay is so long that it was first taken to be the possible entrance to the Northwest Passage. During the morning, cruise towards Iqaluit, the capital of Canada’s newest territory, Nunavut which in the Inuktitut language means “our land”. Nunavut is the least populated, but largest of Canada’s provinces and territories, and is filled with culture and charm.
Go ashore and explore the edges of Canada’s “true north”. Depending on the tides (Iqaluit has a maximum tidal range of almost 12 meters) you will either have a dry landing on a pier or a wet beach landing.
The ship’s experts along with local guides will lead you through the Nunatta Sunakkutaangit Museum and the Nunavut Legislative Assembly Building, both housing incredible collections of Inuit artwork. Before returning to the Silver Explore, enjoy a performance of traditional throat-singing.
Today search for Ursus maritimus, the polar bear, which the native Inuit refer to as Nanuk or Nanuuq. The Lower Savage Islands are a small group of islands off of the south-eastern tip of Baffin Island, and a common location for polar bears to be found during the summer months. With plenty of land to roam while giving each other a wide berth, plus opportunity for the odd feed, it seems many bears locate here as the ice vanishes with the season’s warming temperatures.
Zodiacs will allow access through the narrow channels between the islands to search for wildlife among the unusual rocky formations.
Explore around remote Akpatok Island at the northernmost extremity of the Labrador Peninsula. Steep and sheer limestone cliffs jut out of the icy waters. Encased in snow and surrounded with sea ice in the winter months, this uninhabited island lures huge amounts of wildlife, most notably the world’s largest population of breeding Thick-billed Murres, also known as Brünnich’s Guillemots (Inuktitut name: Akpatok), estimated at well over a million birds. These auks flock to the bare cliffs of the island between June and September, and murres incubate their single pear-shaped egg on the cliff’s ledges. Glaucous Gulls can be seen soaring above looking for unguarded eggs and chicks, while Black Guillemots paddle around on the nearby sea. Akpatok Island is also a favorite summer home for polar bears as they wait for the winter ice to form.
South from Akpatok, travel along the Torngat Mountains National Park situated on the eastern side of Labrador’s northernmost point –sometimes described as the “Eastern Rocky Mountains”.
At Saglek Bay, the Torngat Mountains National Park has set up a Base Camp not just for visitors, but for rangers and the local Inuit as well. The park covers an area of 9.700 km² and is dotted with remnants of several cirque glaciers.
Saglek Fjord has an outstanding array of geological features and the steep cliffs provide some of the best exposures to the earth’s geologic history. The name of the national park goes back to Torngarsoak, who was believed to control the life of sea animals and took the form of a huge polar bear. Inuit still have a strong spiritual connection to this “Place of Spirits”. Although polar bears are often seen hunting seals on the ice we are still too early in the season, but herds of Torngat Mountain and George River caribou migrate to and from their calving grounds and Inuit use the area to hunt, fish and travel throughout the year.
Different animal groups will be making their migration and red and Arctic foxes will be looking for lemmings and voles. Harlequin Ducks, Peregrine Falcons, Barrow’s Goldeneye and Short-eared Owls are found within the park. While Minke whales tend to linger in bays, humpback and fin whales like to stay offshore.
During the afternoon, following the coastline, looking for the different whales.
A leisurely day at sea can be used to exchange notes with fellow travelers. Enjoy a lecture about Canada’s natural history. An interesting book can be good company -or just relax in the comfort of your suite and watch a movie on the in-suite interactive television.
Making your way along Canada’s scenic coast, spend some time out on deck keeping an eye out for seabirds, dolphin, seals and migrating humpback, fin or blue whales, or listen to additional presentations by the expert natural history staff in The Theater or in the comfort of your own accommodation. Enjoy a fine cognac at the Connoisseur’s Corner or indulge in any of the other special amenities offered aboard Silver Explorer.
During the morning enjoy a lecture about the Norse voyages from Greenland to Canada and the sleuthing behind the search for their landing sites while you continue southward.
An early lunch aboard Silver Explorer will give you more time to land like ancient Vikings albeit via Zodiac on the shores of L’Anse aux Meadows (“Jellyfish Bay”). After a short walk with local guides, encounter the ruins of an entire Viking village dating back to the year 1000. Norseman Leif Eriksson, son of Erik the Red, established this colony in the New World some 500 years before the likes of Christopher Columbus and John Cabot. In 1978, this village was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Much of the L’Anse aux Meadows’ archaeological site remains natural and unspoiled. Three buildings have been reconstructed near the original site in order to provide visitors insight into the lifestyles of these hardy explorers.
Via Zodiac, go ashore for a morning of discovery at Gros Morne National Park, where you can actually witness the geological past of the planet. Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for both exceptional natural scenery and distinctive geological history, Gros Morne National Park provides some of the planet’s great geology lessons. This morning step on the earth’s mantle and experience the harsh landform – the Tablelands – that gave the park its World Heritage status. Learn about the park and Newfoundland at Gros Morne’s Discovery Centre (primary interpretation center). Here you can learn more about Newfoundland’s geology, plant and animal life, marine story and human history.
Your adventure continues as you travel to the start of the Tablelands trail, where your guide will invite you to explore the landform’s unique biology and geology during a 30-minute exploration or you can accompany a guide along the 2½ mile round trip hike to the entrance of Winterhouse Brook Canyon.
The geology here comes from the time when the Iapetus Ocean closed, pushing these rocks, originally buried deep beneath the ocean in the earth’s mantle, to their present position on land.
Although almost equidistant from New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, the Iles de la Madeleine (or Magdalen Islands) belong to Quebec and most inhabitants speak French. The island Cap-aux-Meules is also known as Grindstone. The island is the gateway to the archipelago. Take a walk in Parc des Buck and you will come to a lookout point that reveals spectacular views of Cap-aux-Meules and the neighboring islands. West of the town Cap-aux-Meules is L’Etang-du-Nord, a village with the second-largest wooden church still existing in North America. Struck several times by lightning it has in part been built from wood retrieved from shipwrecks.
If you are more interested in flora and fauna you can explore the East Point National Wildlife Reserve with its typical dune environment and its bird life. There are two nature trails that will permit you to look for shorebirds and ducks that use the Reserve as an essential stopping point on their migrations.
Heading almost due east from Cap-aux-Meules, leave Canada and reach France in less than 22 hours! With barely 6,000 inhabitants living on tiny St. Pierre (10 sq. mi), this is one of the smallest French territories.
The inhabitants are predominantly descendants of Normans, Basque and Bretons and the French spoken is closer to Metropolitan French than to Canadian French. Although Basque is not spoken any longer, the influence is still felt through sport and a Basque Festival.
Go ashore in the afternoon to have a look at this European enclave. Interestingly, this small island has two museums in part dedicated to the Prohibition and the Musée Heritage is St. Pierre’s newest museum with a focus on medical artifacts from the 19th and 20th century. Another claim to fame is the guillotine, the only one ever used in North America. If you want to send any mail, the Post Office can easily be found, as the Post Office clock tower is shaped like a praying monk.
During the late afternoon continue on toward St. John’s. The onboard videographer will present the Voyage-DVD, a good opportunity to recall all the different impressions Greenland, Baffin Island and the Canadian coast had to offer.
After breakfast, disembark the Silver Explorer.
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.
Although travel insurance is not mandatory to participate in this voyage, ExpeditionTrips strongly recommends Emergency Medical/Evacuation coverage which includes coverage for cancellation, trip disruption, baggage and personal property. ExpeditionTrips can assist you with this.
Ship accommodation; all onboard meals and entertainment; butler service; complimentary beverages (select wines, champagne, spirits, bottled water, specialty coffees, juices and soft drinks); onboard gratuities (except spa and salon); parka; Silver, Medallion, Grand and Owner's Suite guests receive laundry service and dinner at Officer's table; 1 hour of internet access per guest/per day for passengers booked in Adventurer, Explorer, View, Vista, and Veranda Suites; unlimited internet access for passengers booked in Medallion, Silver, Grand, and Owner’s Suites. Subject to change without notice.
Airfare; government fees and taxes; transfers and luggage handling; passport and visa expenses; travel insurance; items of a personal nature; helicopter tour; Wifi; fuel surcharge may apply.
Photo Credit: © Creative Services at Silversea Cruises, © Daniela Plaza (polar bear, orcas, Zodiac), © Richard Sidey (hike and lake)