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Northwest Passage with
Ellesmere and Axel Heiberg Islands

Northwest Passage Cruise Information

Summary : Experience the same sense of wonder felt by early explorers as they navigated the Northwest Passage’s formidable bays, inlets, and channels. This exciting itinerary will follow the natural guides of sea and ice to showcase the region’s cultural, historic, and geographic treasures, aiming to approach the farthest stretches of this rugged, rarely visited landscape. Learn about indigenous culture from Inuit guides onboard and ashore; search for iconic Arctic wildlife such as polar bears, walrus, and muskoxen; enjoy unforgettable flightseeing and heli-landings aboard one of two twin-engine helicopters; Zodiac along the face of an active glacier; and channel your inner explorer as you set out to reach Canada's most northerly islands, Axel Heiberg and Ellesmere Island. From soaring cliffs to mummified forests, spectacular glacial formations to stunning alpine vistas, expansive waterways to sheltered shores, this is a rare exploration of a mysterious, magical region in the remote Canadian Arctic few ever get to see.

NOTE: This ship is NEW for the 2021 season! As with any new vessel, we strongly suggest selecting a departure date at least six weeks after launch. Please ask for details.

Activities : Birding, Culture, Hiking, Kayaking, Dedicated Solo Cabins, Triple/Quad Cabins

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Itinerary
Day 1
Toronto, Canada

Your Arctic expedition begins in Toronto. Explore this vibrant city on your own before spending the night at your hotel*.

*See Additional Costs for mandatory transfer package information.

Day 2
Resolute, Canada / Embarkation

This morning, board your charter flight* to Resolute, Nuvanut. Upon arrival, you may have a chance to check out some of the town’s sites before being transferred to your ship via Zodiac or helicopter (depending on ship location and weather conditions).

*See Additional Costs for mandatory transfer package information.

Day 3 – 10
Exploring Canada's High Arctic

Winding your way around the remote islands of the Canadian High Arctic, you’ll navigate the same icy inlets, channels, and bays that fascinated legendary explorers of long ago as they searched for the fabled Northwest Passage, the great sea route at the top of the world. Throughout your journey, your Expedition Team will keep an eye toward immersing you in the best the Arctic has to offer, including reaching Canada’s most northerly islands: Axel Heiberg Island and the rarely visited Ellesmere Island, at the top of the world.

Remember that no two polar voyages are alike, since each expedition presents new opportunities and different weather and ice conditions. While this voyage has no fixed itinerary, the objective is to visit as many of the incredible highlights the season has to offer, using the opportunities provided by the weather and ice to give you the best experience. Each day, your highly skilled Expedition Team will read the conditions and choose the best course to set, but despite their extensive expertise in these areas, each visit brings something new to discover. That said, your expeditions will have some elements in common, including daily Zodiac cruising, land excursions, a robust education program, a community visit, and wildlife viewing opportunities. And thanks to the onboard helicopters, you’ll also discover the ultimate polar expedition experience: as stunning as polar landscapes are from your ship, they’re even more striking from the air! Conditions permitting, enjoy flightseeing (short sightseeing flights around your ship and surrounding areas) and heli-landings (flying to places not otherwise accessible for shore excursions).

While this waterway is known to European cultures as the Northwest Passage, this area has nurtured and sustained the Inuit and their predecessors who have called these shores home for almost 5,000 years. Moving through these remote landscapes you will be traveling through the ancestral homelands of this ancient culture, illuminated in person by Inuit guides onboard and ashore. Nunavut is an Inuktitut word meaning “our land” and the Nunavummiut (the people of Nunavut) are renowned for their incredible resourcefulness, hospitality, good humor, and a deep knowledge of the land and animals that has allowed them to thrive in the far north for millennia.

Ultimately, your Expedition Team will keep its eye northward, hoping to follow in the footsteps of the lucky few polar adventurers who have transited through the famous Hell Gate to reach the top of the world, the spectacular Ellesmere Island. If conditions are right, the soaring, ominous snow-capped peaks of this polar desert will come into focus upon approach. The northernmost island in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, Ellesmere is one of the most remote places on the planet, a land of deep fjords, jagged mountains, and massive ice shelves. If the expedition is fortunate enough to reach here, you will be among the rarest of polar explorers.

One of this expedition’s objectives, weather and ice conditions allowing, is to visit the famous fossil forest on Axel Heiberg Island, Canada’s second most northerly island. Dating back more than 30 million years, the large mummified stumps were discovered in 1985 after erosion swept them clean. The original forest that was here flourished, with some trees reaching as high as 115 feet and growing for 500 to 1,000 years. Birders will want to have their binoculars and cameras at the ready, as the island also affords opportunities for sightings of snow buntings, ptarmigans, jaegers, and arctic terns, among others.

There is no shortage of natural beauty, wildlife, and history in Canada’s High Arctic. Each day, you’ll discover something new and inspiring, whether it is admiration of the tundra flora to survive the rugged environment, a rare bird species soaring overhead, a polar bear on the hunt in its natural habitat, or the remains of a century-old hut.

Day 11
Resolute / Disembarkation / Toronto

After disembarking in Resolute, you’ll be transferred to your charter flight* to Toronto, where you’ll spend the night at your hotel*.

*See Additional Costs for mandatory transfer package information.

Day 12
Toronto, Canada

Today, make your way to the airport or spend the day exploring this fascinating city.

Notes

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.

NOTE: This ship is NEW for the 2021 season! As with any new vessel, we strongly suggest selecting a departure date at least six weeks after launch. Please ask for details.

Mandatory Travel Insurance:
Due to the remoteness of the areas in this itinerary, travelers must carry a minimum $50,000 of emergency medical coverage. Proof of coverage is required prior to embarkation. The travel insurance policy should also cover trip cancellation insurance, trip delay, interruption or after departure coverage, baggage and repatriation. The shipping company will not be held responsible for delays due to force majeure. Any additional costs accrued will be the responsibility of the traveler. ExpeditionTrips strongly recommends that you select a travel protection plan that includes trip cancellation and interruption coverage and at least $200,000 in medical evacuation coverage. ExpeditionTrips can assist U.S. residents with travel protection options. Other conditions may apply based on pre-existing conditions.

Kayaking:
Pre-booking required. A small group of sea kayakers will plan to go out multiple times per voyage instead of shore landings. The number of opportunities to kayak is weather dependent and will only be conducted during calm conditions. Prior kayaking experience is required and you must have the capability to do a wet exit to participate. Must be 16 years of age or older to participate. Beginners interested in kayaking should consider participating in the paddling excursions described below. Please contact ExpeditionTrips for details.

Paddling:
Pre-booking required. If you’re interested in kayaking but would like to try something less in-depth than the full kayaking program, you can still enjoy an on-water experience with a paddling excursion. Sign up for a one-time, one-hour paddle on a sit-on-top kayak, which is stable and unencumbered: perfect for anyone with little to no experience with kayaking. No experience necessary. Space is limited. Must be 16 years of age or older to participate. All sit-on-top kayaks are doubles. Please contact ExpeditionTrips for details.

Included:
Shipboard accommodations; all shore landings per the daily program; all Zodiac transfers and cruising per the daily program; flightseeing; heli-landing; experienced Expedition Leader; formal and informal presentations by Expedition Team and special guests as scheduled; photographic journal; gear to keep (expedition parka and reusable water bottle); gear on loan (waterproof expedition boots for shore landings, walking poles); all meals on board ship; snacks, soft drinks, and juices on board; beer and house wine during dinner; coffee, tea, cocoa available around the clock; daily housekeeping; miscellaneous service taxes and port charges throughout the program; luggage handling aboard ship; emergency evacuation insurance for all passengers to a maximum benefit of $500,000 per person*. Subject to change without notice.

Not Included:
Mandatory Transfer Package (see Additional Costs); international airfare; arrival and departure transfers, except where listed in the Mandatory Transfer Package; passport and visa expenses; Canadian eTA required for non-Canadian or U.S. visa-exempt passengers; government arrival and departure taxes not mentioned above; any beverages not mentioned in inclusions; meals ashore unless otherwise specified; emergency medical coverage (required); baggage, cancellation, interruption and medical travel insurance (strongly recommended); excess baggage charges; mandatory waterproof pants for Zodiac cruising or any other gear not mentioned; laundry, bar, beverage, and other personal charges unless specified; phone and internet charges; voluntary gratuity at end of voyage for shipboard staff and crew; Adventure Options not listed as included, such as kayaking and paddling; additional overnight accommodation; fuel surcharge may apply.

*Emergency Evacuation Insurance:
Emergency evacuation coverage to a maximum benefit per paying passenger of $500,000 is included in the cost of this expedition. Included coverage is applicable only while traveling with the shipping company between the first and last day of the expedition. Additional days of travel prior to the expedition and/or after the expedition, including pre- and post-packages/hotels/flights, purchased from the shipping company or from suppliers other than the shipping company, are not covered by the included emergency evacuation insurance. We strongly advise all passengers to purchase medical, cancellation and baggage insurance, and additional emergency evacuation coverage.


PHOTOS: © Acacia Johnson, © Michelle Sole, © Nicky Souness, © Quark Expeditions

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