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Northwest Passage – Icebreaker Expedition

Northwest Passage Cruise

Summary : On this special icebreaker expedition of the Northwest Passage, you’ll witness first-hand the haunting beauty of the northern wilderness, wildlife and culture. Be prepared to encounter every type of arctic wildlife, including whales, seals, polar bears, and sea birds and have a chance to immerse yourself in northern culture with visits to Canadian Inuit and Russian Yupik and Chukchi communities. In addition to awe-inspiring scenery, you’ll see memorials and artifacts from the early voyages of exploration, including the Franklin graves at Beechey Island. The Kapitan Khlebnikov is one the few vessels offering aerial sightseeing flights and landings by – an essential included option offering a unique perspective of the Arctic.

Activities : Birding, Culture, Hiking, Triple/Quad Cabins


Please inquire about extra savings available for booking multiple consecutive journeys aboard the Kapitan Khlebnikov.

Prices from
$999,999,999 to $0

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Day 1
Ottawa, Canada

Canada’s national capital and home to the Canadian Parliament, Ottawa sits along the beautiful Rideau Canal and has a vibrant downtown. Arrive and make your way to the hotel in time for the early evening pre-departure briefing.

Day 2
Ottawa / Resolute, Canada

Board a morning charter flight from Ottawa to Resolute, and watch as boreal forest changes to tundra and then to ice. By evening you’ll be above the Arctic Circle and aboard the icebreaker Kapitan Khlebnikov.

Day 3
Redstock Bay / Beechey Island

Radstock Bay is an impressive archaeological site and is situated beside Caswell Towers, which is used as a polar bear observation point. Here you’ll also find one of the best Thule sites in the Arctic which gives insight into how the pre-Inuit people survived and lived.

Just offshore at the western end of Devon Island is Beechey Island. There, on a stony beach, stand three grave markers; solemn reminders of the lives lost during Sir John Franklin’s search for the Northwest Passage. Upon approach to Beechey Island, be treated to presentations about Franklin and his expedition.

Day 4
Prince Leopold Island / McClure Strait

Prince Leopold Island is located within Lancaster Sound and is home to an impressive migratory bird sanctuary classified by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Cruise by Zodiac to explore along the cliffs of sandstone and limestone that rise up 800 feet (244 m) above sea level surrounding the island to spot some of the 375,000 migratory birds here. These include thick-billed murres, northern fulmars, black-legged kittiwakes and snow buntings, to name but a few. This is also a good environment to sight polar bears.

Day 5 – 7
At Sea

During these sea days as the ship is icebreaking, you can partake in helicopter flightseeing and looking for opportunistic landing possibilities on the top of Prince of Wales Island and Victoria Island. Witnessing this powerful icebreaker navigating the ice pack and feeling the vibration is a spectator sport in itself.

Day 8
Aulavik National Park

Mercy Falls is part of Aulavik National Park, a polar desert located on Banks Island in the Northwest Territories. Known for its access to the Thomsen River, one of the most northerly navigable rivers in North America, this park is one of the most remote and least visited in all of Canada and protects approximately 4,630 square miles (12,000 sq. km) of Arctic Lowlands at the northern end of the island.

Day 9
Banks Island

At Sachs Harbour, the most northerly permanent settlement in the Northwest Territories, go ashore to visit the people of this very small community. The community was named after the ship ‘Mary Sachs’ of the Canadian Arctic Expedition of 1913. In 1929, a permanent settlement was established when three Inuit families settled here to trap.

In 1953, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police set up a detachment post and people lived a very traditional lifestyle hunting musk ox, caribou and polar bear. Today the community’s economy is based primarily on hunting and trapping and to a lesser degree on tourism.

Day 10
Smoking Hills

The western end of the Canadian portion of the Northwest Passage is the focus of today’s activities. Located close to the Beaufort Sea, near the mouth of the Amundsen Gulf, the Smoking Hills are quite a sight to behold; a vast deposit of lignite (carbon-rich shale and sulfur-rich pyrite), which ignites spontaneously when the minerals are exposed to air through erosion.

The hills have been smoking for centuries. In 1850, Robert McClure, searching for Franklin, sent a shore party to investigate the smoke thinking it could be from fires built by Franklin or his men. The shore party discovered smoke rising from vents in the ground. They returned to the ship with a sample of the smoldering rock, which, when placed on McClure’s desk, burned a hole through it.

Day 11
Mackenzie Delta / Franklin Bay

Be on the lookout for snow and brant geese, tundra swans and beluga whales while in the vicinity of the Mackenzie Delta. The estuary, formed at the mouth of the Mackenzie River where it empties into the Beaufort Sea, is classified as a delta. For 7,000 years, sediment brought down river has built up to create a vast surface area where wildlife congregates.

Day 12
Herschel Island

Explore this unique island situated between land and sea. Its dry polar climate is home to a unique collection of arctic plants, animals and sea life, including the largest colony of black guillemots in the western Arctic. More than 1,000 years ago, Herschel Island was occupied by the Thule people, ancestors of today’s Inuit.

Day 13
Beaufort Sea

As Kapitan Khlebnikov steams westward across the Beaufort Sea, be on the watch for marine mammals in the water below and seabirds swirling about the ship. Should pack ice be encountered, the on-board helicopters will take you aloft to watch as the powerful ship crushes through to open water.

Day 14
Point Barrow, Alaska, / Cross the International Date Line / Chukchi Sea

Today continue past Point Barrow, an important geographical landmark, marking the limit between the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas. The waters off Point Barrow are on the bowhead whale migration route, which attracted attention in the late 1980s when three grey whales were trapped in the pack ice here. Cross the International Date Line, and leap one day into the future, as you continue along the Chukchi coast.

Day 15 – 16
Chukotka Peninsula, Russia

Clear into Russia in Provideniya. Later today be treated to cultural presentations when you visit the tiny village of Uelen, known for its talented carvers who work in walrus ivory. At Cape Dezhnev, the most easterly point of the Asian continent, the architecture of the buildings that remain is distinctively Russian.

Take to the Zodiacs to Puffin Island where two species of the comical bird cohabit. On the shores of Ittygran Island, the ribs of whales, planted in the tundra by people long ago, still stand on lowland known as “whalebone alley.” The final shore landing planned is a visit to Novoye Chaplino, where the locals, dressed in traditional attire, will demonstrate their skills as wrestlers and ropers of reindeer, if the herd is nearby.

Day 17
Anadyr, Russia / Cross the International Date Line

Disembark Kapitan Khlebnikov in Anadyr, Russia. Transfer from the ship to the airport for a charter flight to Anchorage, Alaska, where you will spend the night. During the flight you will cross back over the International Date Line, so when you turn in for the night in Alaska, the date will be September 22nd again!

Day 18
Anchorage, Alaska

After breakfast, depart for 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.

Mandatory Travel Insurance:
All guests are required to have comprehensive travel insurance coverage. Due to the remoteness of the areas in this itinerary, travelers must have a minimum $50,000 of emergency medical coverage. Proof of coverage is required prior to embarkation. 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 the travel insurance policy covers trip cancellation insurance, trip delay (interruption or after departure coverage), baggage and repatriation. ExpeditionTrips can assist you with this.

Shipboard accommodation with daily housekeeping; all meals on board ship; beverages on board, including a selection of house wines, beer and spirits; group scheduled helicopter flightseeing and excursions; shore landings per the daily program; group scheduled helicopter flightseeing and excursions; Zodiac transfers and cruising per the daily program; downloadable photographic journal; a pair of waterproof expedition boots on loan for shore landings; an expedition parka – yours to keep; coffee, tea, cocoa available around the clock; hair dryer and bathrobe in cabins; pre-departure materials; miscellaneous service taxes and port charges; luggage handling aboard ship; emergency evacuation insurance to a maximum benefit of $100,000 per person*; Russian invitation letter for visa application provided after final payment. Subject to change without notice.

Not Included:
Any airfare; mandatory airfare package; passport and visa expenses; government arrival and departure taxes; any beverages that are not in the complimentary selection; meals ashore; mandatory waterproof pants for Zodiac cruising; baggage, cancellation and medical travel insurance; excess baggage charges; laundry and other personal charges unless specified; phone and internet charges; gratuity for ship’s crew and Expedition Team members; additional overnight accommodation; helicopter flying time in excess of that offered for the group; fuel surcharge may apply.

*Emergency Evacuation Insurance:
Emergency evacuation coverage to a maximum benefit per paying passenger of $100,000 is included in the cost of this expedition. Included coverage is applicable only to travel between the first and last day of the expedition purchased. Additional days of travel prior to the expedition and/or after the expedition 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.

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