You’ll be following in the wake of explorers seeking the infamous Northwest Passage, and those who set out to rescue them! You’ll watch polar bears hunting seals on the ice, see beluga whales and witness huge clouds of whirling seabirds. You’ll photograph achingly beautiful fjords and mighty glaciers from tiny Zodiac boats.
And you’ll be sailing aboard a specially ice-strengthened ship – a one-time scientific vessel designed for polar research – with accommodation for up to 92 passengers. You’ll observe marine wildlife from a 360˚ observation lounge and explore the shore with expert guides.
Alberta – Resolute
Your charter flight takes you from Edmonton in Alberta to high above the Arctic Circle and the town of Resolute, a remote outpost named after a British naval ship that became trapped by ice during an attempt to rescue the Franklin Expedition. From Resolute you’ll board a Zodiac boat to meet your cruise ship, setting sail that evening.
Combine Arctic hiking with wildlife watching. Mooring at Maxwell Bay gives you the opportunity to explore Devon Island to see musk ox and caribou and watch walrus and polar bears plus harp, ringed and bearded seals from the ship.
Croker Bay and Dundas Harbour
Today you’ll cruise the Arctic’s wildlife superhighway. Lancaster Sound flows between Devon Island and Baffin Island and its rich waters attract marine wildlife in huge numbers. Croker Bay offers hikes to see musk ox as well as great icebergs set against a backdrop of colourful mountains. A Zodiac trip will take you to the impressive Croker Glacier whilst in the afternoon you’ll visit an abandoned station of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police – the world famous Mounties.
Coburg Island National Wildlife Area
Clouds of seabirds like thick-billed murres and northern fulmars wheel overhead as you Zodiac cruise through the Nirjutiqavvik National Wildlife Area of Coburg Island. An estimated 400,000 birds live here, and it’s also worth keeping a watch out for marine mammals like beluga whales.
Grise Fjord and Craig Harbour
Under 100 people – mainly descendants of Inuits – form one of the most isolated communities in the world, high up on the Grise Fjord. Expect abundant wildlife, extremely photogenic scenery and a warm welcome from the locals. Later, at Craig Harbour, you’ll discover the history of another abandoned Mounties outpost that was originally established in the 1920s and saw service during the Cold War of the 1950s.
Cape Hay, Bylot Island Migratory Bird Sanctuary
Today sees another treat for bird enthusiasts. Thick-billed murres, black guillemots and black-legged kittiwakes abound on the cliffs of Cape Hay. Hundreds of thousands of birds nest here inside Sirmilik National Park on the northern coast of Bylot Island. Equally impressive is the scenery; a vast expanse of tundra stretches away towards majestic mountain ranges.
Ittoqqortoormiit and Hall Bredning
Time to meet the locals. Ittoqqortoormiit is home to the most northerly settlement in East Greenland and the Inuit people will welcome you to their community by showing you their handicrafts, and how their traditions merge with their modern way of life. Sailing on to Hall Bredning – part of Scoresbysund – you’ll also see icebergs larger than football pitches and taller than apartment blocks. And, of course, the phenomenal Northern Lights.
Elwin Inlet and Cape Charles Yorke
More outrageously beautiful scenery presents itself in the breath-taking fjord of Elwin Inlet – perfect for Zodiac cruising and onshore hiking. Cape Charles Yorke also offers stunningly scenic walks and the chance to see polar bears along the coastline.
Port Leopold and Prince Leopold Island
After a night crossing of Prince Regent Inlet you’ll arrive at the towering cliffs of Prince Leopold Island – the natural habitat for innumerable murres, guillemots, fulmars and kittiwakes. The surrounding sea ice is home to ringed seals that, in their turn, attract a good many polar bears. Port Leopold has an involving history as well as a shallow gravelly sea bed that seems irresistible to beluga whales during the Arctic summer.
Today you’ll visit the island that played such an important part in the search for the Northwest Passage. It was here that Sir John Franklin’s expedition over-wintered before disappearing into the icy vastness. It took search expeditions almost 30 years to find the wreck of his ship in Victoria Strait and provides today’s visitors with a poignant record of Arctic endeavours, with grave markers standing on a bleak, windswept beach. In the evening the Captain hosts a special end-of-cruise dinner.
Resolute – Edmonton
Overnight you’ll sail back to Resolute to meet your charter flight back to Edmonton.