Summary : Sail from Nome, Alaska to Halifax, Nova Scotia in the wake of early explorers, visiting several sites in Greenland along the way. This long-ranging "ultimate" expedition showcases the raw, daunting beauty of the terrain that some of history’s greatest explorers encountered. Even today, few ships have the capability to navigate this sea passage, which cuts through remote Arctic regions of North America. As you make your way through icy waters, gaze on vast expanses of pristine wilderness from the deck of an industry-leading hybrid powered expedition ship. Call at some of the world’s northernmost communities and learn about Inuit culture with visits to remote settlements. Explore legendary inlets and channels and scout for whales, a variety of bird species, and musk oxen.
Activities : Birding, Child-Friendly, Culture, Hiking, Kayaking
$26,999 to $38,861
Bustling Vancouver, B.C. is surrounded by a picturesque range of mountains, making it a popular tourist destination year-round. Vancouver is a relatively young city with both cultural and natural attractions that appeal to every type of traveler.
After breakfast, you will fly to the gold rush town of Nome, Alaska, where you will embark the ship to begin your epic voyage. The colorful local history of this Arctic frontier settlement is on display at the Carrie M. McLain Museum.
Sail through the Bering Strait before heading into the Chukchi Sea. Your expedition team will start their lecture program, preparing you for the days ahead.
The ship will reach Point Barrow, the northernmost point of the USA, and enter the Beaufort Sea. Keep a sharp eye open here for bowhead and grey whales. You might also start seeing sea ice.
Continue into Amundsen Gulf, where you may observe the remarkable Smoking Hills—an amazing sight of smoke billowing from cliffs on the east coast of Cape Bathurst. The phenomenon rises from erosion that has unearthed locally present lignite (a combination of shale and pyrite) that spontaneously ignites when exposed to air.
The goal is to sail into the heart of the Northwest Passage. Since the late 15th century, the search for this fabled seaway through the Canadian Arctic was the holy grail for hardy explorers. There are records of almost 40 expeditions that sailed these waters. The first recorded attempt was the voyage of John Cabot in 1497. The most famous journeys here were James Cook’s failed attempt to sail the passage in 1776, and the ill-fated Franklin expedition of 1845. The first to successfully navigate the Northwest Passage by ship was Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen on an expedition that lasted from 1903 to 1906.
Ice conditions vary from year to year—one of the reasons this voyage is still one of a kind. Subject to favorable conditions, visits to the following locations may be possible:
-Ulukhaktok, a settlement on Victoria Island in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. Due to its remote location, the 460 people living here have had little to do with the rest of the world and remain traditional in many aspects of their daily life.
-Cambridge Bay, located on Victoria Island, is called “Iqaluktuuttiaq” in Inuinnaqtun, meaning a “good fishing place.” The settlement is near the Ekalluk River, which is famous for giant char. The area is rich in archaeological history and blessed with abundant fish, seals, geese, muskoxen, and caribou.
-Gjøa Haven, which honors Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen, who overwintered here in 1903/04 and 1904/05 during the Gjøa expedition. He was in contact with the local Netsilik Inuit people, from whom he learned a great deal about survival and travel in polar regions.
-Fort Ross, a trading post established in 1937. There are two small huts here that are maintained by the Canadian Coast Guard.
-Beechey Island, closely linked to the Northwest Passage's history of exploration. The most notorious voyage was the British expedition led by Sir John Franklin. Two ships sailed into the passage in 1845, but neither the vessels nor any of the 129 crew were ever seen again. It is known that the Franklin Expedition over-wintered on Beechey Island in 1845-1846.
-Dundas Harbor, an abandoned settlement on the south coast of Devon Island, features an old Royal Canadian Mounted Police camp and several archaeological sites. Come ashore to see the ruins of some of these buildings, along with an impressive Thule site.
-Pond Inlet is a traditional Inuit community located on the northern tip of Baffin Island near the eastern entrance to the Northwest Passage. Also called 'Mittimatalik' in Inuktitut, the picturesque hamlet is surrounded by mountain ranges, several dozen glaciers, scenic fjords and inlets, ice caves, geological hoodoos, and drifting icebergs.
Regardless of location, you'll continue to sail through amazing waters with unique nature and hopefully enough ice for excellent wildlife spotting.
Cross the Davis Strait, named for the English explorer John Davis, who led three expeditions in the area between 1585 and 1587. Davis was the first to draw attention to the area’s seal hunting and whaling possibilities.
Ilulissat lies amidst the stunning scenery of the Ilulissat Icefjord, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Outside of town, at the mouth of the fjord, you often see giant icebergs that originate from nearby Jakobshavn Glacier, one of the most productive glaciers in the Northern Hemisphere.
Some 25 miles north of the Arctic Circle, Sisimiut is a modern settlement that maintains ancient traditions. Come ashore to explore this colorful town, visit the small museum, hike in the hills, and shop for local handicrafts.
The capital of Greenland is the political and social center of the nation, and the oldest town in Greenland, founded by the Danish-Norwegian missionary Hans Egede in 1728. The city’s location is lovely, set at the mouth of one of the largest and most spectacular fjord systems in the world.
Ivittuut is a stronghold for musk oxen. The settlement was built on top of the so-called Norse Middle settlement where Vikings settled 1,000 years ago. Archaeologists believe it was the last settlement established by the Vikings in Greenland, and the first to be abandoned in the area.
It is time to say goodbye to Greenland. Head across another stretch of open ocean, this time the southern part of the Labrador Sea, heading towards Newfoundland and Labrador in Canada.
Red Bay, Labrador, a coastal community with a population of less than 200, is a classic outpost of Atlantic Canada. In 2013, Red Bay Basque Whaling Station was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Wander around the former whaling town and learn about its interesting history.
Corner Brook is located on the west coast of Newfoundland and has approximately 20,000 inhabitants. The area was first surveyed by Captain James Cook in 1767. Explore the charming town center or enjoy its many walking trails amidst vibrant autumn leaves.
Every great adventure must come to an end. Enjoy your remaining time with the expedition team, recap your expedition cruise, and reflect on shared experiences.
Your expedition ends upon disembarkation from the ship. The British established Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1749. Enjoy views from atop the Citadel on a hill overlooking the city. This colorful gateway town is both hip and historic and well worth an extra day or two before you head back home.
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.
Although travel insurance is not mandatory to participate in this voyage, 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. Other conditions may apply based on pre-existing conditions. ExpeditionTrips can assist U.S. residents with travel protection options.
Medical Declaration Form:
All travelers must complete a confidential medical declaration form, signed by a doctor, stating that they are fit to travel. This form will be available in advance of travel, and must be filled out, brought on board, and personally delivered to the doctor upon embarkation. Boarding may be denied if this form is not presented at the time of embarkation.
U.S. and Canada
Multilingual Departures: English/German (All Departures)
Explorer Science Program: Included
Participate in lectures and activities to cultivate greater knowledge about the regions explored; conduct experiments or examine specimens in the Science Center with the assistance of professional biologists and geologists; or choose to assist with current research.
Young Explorers Program: Included
A dedicated staff member will lead age-appropriate lectures and field research with your Young Explorer on topics ranging from science, polar history, photography, and navigation. The focus is on education, fun, and participation. Designed for ages 7–13 (although all ages can join in!).
From Explorer Photography School to kayaking, there are several supplemented activities to choose from. Some are pre-bookable. Most are booked once on board. Please contact ExpeditionTrips for details and rates.
One-way economy flight Vancouver/Nome; one pre-cruise hotel night in Vancouver including breakfast; transfer hotel/airport in Vancouver; pre-cruise transfer airport/ship in Nome; shipboard accommodations; Young Explorers program for children; introductory photography lecture; onboard science center and Explorer Science program; expedition logbook; Wi-Fi (limited access; streaming not supported); complimentary wind- and water-resistant parka; gear on loan (waterproof rubber boots, trekking poles, and equipment needed for optional and included activities); most meals onboard the ship; early riser and afternoon treats; house beer and wine with lunch; soda and mineral water in all restaurants; water, tea, and coffee. Inclusions subject to change without notice.
Expedition Suites include a separate check-in; welcome package on embarkation day; suite breakfast and a la carte meals in restaurant Lindstrøm; mini bar replenishment; fleece blanket/throw; espresso maker; turn-down service; and laundry service. Subject to change without notice.
International flights; transfers not detailed in the inclusions; passport and visa fees; travel protection plan; luggage handling; a la carte menu selections not detailed in the inclusions; alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks except as mentioned; mini bar replenishment (except for suites); optional excursions and small-group adventures; optional small-group Explorer Photo program; items of a personal nature such as laundry and spa/wellness treatments; gratuities; fuel surcharge may apply.
PHOTOS: © Thomas Haltner (Ilulissat Eisfjord), © Harald Maikisch (Sisimiut), © Mads Pihl (Ilulissat Zodiac riders), © Mark McDermott (Ilulissat plants), © Petra Wöbke (whale tail), © Hurtigruten