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Northwest Passage: Epic High Arctic

Northwest Passage Cruise Information

Summary : For centuries, intrepid explorers were determined to find the Northwest Passage, the fabled and often fatal route of icy channels connecting Europe with Asia. None of their stories is as enduring as that of Sir John Franklin and his crew, who never returned from their fateful 1845–46 expedition. The tragic tale has captured the imagination of history lovers ever since. On this new, 17-day voyage, journey back in time to the height of arctic exploration. As a modern-day adventurer, navigate the same waters and visit the same sites that played an important role in the discovery of the sea route—all from the comfort of your small expedition vessel, of course! Though Franklin’s legend will be a focus, spectacular scenery and unique wildlife abound on this active expedition, which also has you exploring the deep fjords, ancient glaciers and innumerable icebergs of Greenland’s west coast. Zodiac cruises and hiking excursions bring you closer to the raw beauty of lands few have set foot on and waters few have sailed.

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

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Prices from
$9,695 to $22,295

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Itinerary
Day 1
Ottawa, Canada

Arrive in Ottawa and make your way to your hotel.

Day 2
Ottawa / Resolute

This morning, board your charter flight to Resolute. Upon arrival, you’ll have a chance to walk around this small arctic town before enjoying your first of many Zodiac cruises as you’re transferred to your ship.

Day 3 – 6
Exploring Canada's High Arctic

Remote and rich in history, the Canadian High Arctic is as awe inspiring as it is informative. Named after explorer Frederick William Beechey, of the Royal Navy, Beechey Island is a Canadian National Historic Site. It’s an important stop on your voyage, as this is the final resting place of three members of Sir John Franklin’s ill-fated 1845–46 expedition to find the Northwest Passage. The graves, on a remote windswept beach, were discovered in 1851 by the crew of British and American vessels searching for signs of Franklin’s lost expedition. Radstock Bay is a popular research location for observing polar bears, which are often seen here in summer. An impressive Thule archaeological site provides insight into how these pre-Inuit people lived in the Far North.

For almost 5,000 years, the hamlet of Arctic Bay and its surrounding area has been occupied by Inuit nomads migrating from the west. Surrounded by soaring cliffs teeming with seabirds, this is a great spot to go ashore and learn about the Inuit community’s traditional way of life. The eastern end of Lancaster Sound affords numerous hiking opportunities on Devon Island. Anchor at Croker Bay, and Zodiac cruise along the face of an active glacier. From a safe distance, get close enough to appreciate the splendor of calving ice. Walrus frequent the waters here, so be sure to have your camera handy. A hike to a nearby archaeological site is another possible excursion. At Dundas Harbour, trek along a beach to a former Royal Canadian Mounted Police outpost. Encounters with muskoxen are possible here.

Canada’s most northern settlement, Grise Fjord will be your final shore visit in the Canadian High Arctic. Now home to about 150 residents, the traditional, mostly Inuit community was created in 1953, when the federal government resettled eight Inuit families from northern Quebec. Hunting and fishing are a significant part of their way of life. Visit the monument to the first Inuit settlers, as well as the remnants of the “old camp” where they lived.

Day 7 – 8
Smith Sound

Before saying goodbye to Canada, explore both sides of Smith Sound, the uninhabited passage between Ellesmere Island and Greenland.

Day 9
Qaanaaq, Greenland

Your first stop in Greenland is Qaanaaq, formerly known as Thule, one of the northernmost towns in the world (there’s a reason ancient philosophers called it Ultima Thule, or “edge of known territory”). Here, local Inuit share their culture and traditions, and the museum sheds more light on what it’s like living near the top of the world.

Day 10
At Sea

As you sail south along the west coast of Greenland, presentations by your onboard experts will prepare you for the adventures that lie ahead.

Day 11 – 15
West Greenland

With spectacular glaciers, soaring fjords and vibrant communities, the west coast of Greenland will leave you breathless. Nuussuaq (formerly known as Kraulshavn) is the only mainland community in the Upernavik Archipelago. Founded in 1923 as a trading station, it’s one of the most traditional hunting and fishing villages in Greenland .

It’s not surprising that the red-hued, heart-shaped mountain that rises up behind Uummannaq gave the traditional community its name (Uummannaq means “heart-like” in Greenlandic). As your ship approaches the shore, you’ll want to be on deck to take in the incredible view of the twin peaks towering over the vibrantly painted wooden houses dotting the rocky terrain below. The settlement was established as a Danish colony in 1758 on the mainland, but it relocated five years later because seal hunting was more plentiful here.

In the nearby archaeological site of Qilaqitsoq (also known as Qilakitsoq), visit the ruins of an ancient settlement, where the remains of eight fully dressed mummies were discovered under a rock outcrop in 1972 by a pair of hunters. The famous Greenlandic mummies, which date back to 1475 AD, are on view at the Greenland National Museum in Nuuk.

Cruising farther south rewards with spectacular views of Eqip Sermia. The jagged, blue-tinged glacier soaring out of the crystal-clear water is one of the most beautiful sights in Greenland. Zodiac cruise along its massive front from a safe distance. You may also go ashore to explore nearby.

Just south of Ilulissat, which means “iceberg” in Greenlandic, is the impressive Ilulissat Icefjord. The UNESCO World Heritage Site is home to Sermeq Kujalleq, the most productive glacier in the northern hemisphere. As you Zodiac cruise at the mouth of the fjord, you may be lucky to witness the wonders of calving ice (listen to the loud roars as the ice breaks off ).

Founded in 1741, the traditional town, which boasts more sled dogs than people, is famous in its own right: it was the birthplace of explorer Knud Rasmussen, the first to traverse the Northwest Passage by dogsled, in the early 1920s . Hikes here lead out to stunning views of the young icebergs as float out the fjord to Disko Bay . In Sisimiut, you’ll be treated to a traditional kayaking demonstration. The kayak (an Inuit word that the English borrowed) is Greenland’s national symbol and can be traced back to the country’s first immigrants, who used vessels that resemble the narrow one- or two-person boats. The town has several 18th-century colonial buildings, including the oldest surviving church in Greenland, so take time to wander through the historic area. You’ll also have a chance to hike amongst the area’s surrounding mountains.

Situated in a scenic hollow on a small island with no freshwater, the colorful community of Itilleq, which has about 130 inhabitants, is surrounded by sea, mountains and fjords. The final excursion of your arctic adventure may be a hike around Itilleq Fjord.

Day 16
Kangerslussuaq, Greenland

Enjoy one more Zodiac ride to shore, where you’ll board your charter flight back to Ottawa, Canada. Upon arrival in Ottawa, transfer to your included hotel.

Day 17
Ottawa, Canada

Today, make your way home at your leisure.

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.

Bilingual Departure: English/French

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 U.S. residents with travel protection options. Other conditions may apply based on pre-existing conditions.

Kayaking Option:
Not included in cruise rate. Minimum age 16 years. This is a pre-booked option for kayakers with some experience. Places are strictly limited so please advise at time of booking. Please contact ExpeditionTrips for additional details.

Included:
Shipboard accommodation with daily housekeeping; all meals on board ship; shore landings per the daily program; Expedition Leader; Zodiac transfers and cruising; 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 for all passengers to a maximum benefit of $500,000 per person*. Subject to change without notice.

Not Included:
Any airfare; mandatory charter air package; passport and visa expenses; government arrival and departure taxes; kayaking; any beverages that are not in the complimentary selection; mandatory waterproof pants for Zodiac cruising; baggage, cancellation and medical travel insurance; excess baggage charges; laundry, bar, beverage and other personal charges unless specified; phone and internet charges; gratuity for ship’s crew and Expedition Team members; additional overnight accommodation; arrival and departure transfer in Ottawa; 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.

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