Arctic Explorer - Crossing the Circle
The Arctic has an allure that grips many adventurers. Whether it’s the Inuit culture of the Canadian North, the incredible wildlife along the fringe of the ice, or the riveting exploration history that captivates many a reader. The Arctic Circle is also a highlight of this trip. A parallel of latitude located at about 66 degrees and 33 minutes North, the Arctic Circle marks the southernmost latitude where the sun stays above the horizon for 24-hours on the Summer Solstice. Over the course of this voyage we will cross the Arctic Circle at least twice on the ship as we explore this region of the Eastern Canadian Arctic.
This new 10-night itinerary has something for everyone: wildlife viewing, culture, spectacular scenery and opportunities for zodiac cruising, hiking, kayaking and photography. For art enthusiasts the Inuit art in Pangnirtung is coveted worldwide by serious collectors.
Iqaluit, the capital and largest community of Nunavut, is located at the head of Frobisher Bay, on Baffin Island. With an average monthly temperature below zero degrees for eight months of the year, the permafrost inhibits the growth of large trees and shrubs. One might see a low to the ground Arctic willow however keep your eyes open, they don’t typically stand higher than 6” from the ground. Following a walking tour of Iqaluit, our water-based adventure starts when we board our expedition vessel by zodiac.
At the mouth of Frobisher Bay and the southeast tip of Baffin Island, the Lower Savage Islands are an archipelago of islands that look like they have been split apart by a large hammer. A maze of channels and small islets, this is a fantastic place to explore by zodiac. The Akademik Ioffe will drop us off and reposition to the south side of the islands. As we explore, we will make our way from the northeast side of the island down a series of channels looking for a way out and our ship.
The location of these islands mean that they are ideally situated between the rapid and dynamic flow of the Hudson Strait, the outflow from Frobisher Bay and they even catch some of the Baffin current that flows south down the coast of Baffin Island from Baffin Bay. This mixing of waters makes it quite rich in marine life and we will be looking for our first polar bears of the voyage on this excursion.
Kimmirut, otherwise known as Lake Harbour, is located at the head of a narrow fjord flanked by rocky outcrops. We will be out deck as our Captain navigates this challenging approach to Kimmirut. Upon anchoring, we will drop the zodiacs and transfer ashore for a visit to this beautiful town. A visit to the visitors centre is a must in Kimmirut and it is here that we will receive a welcome to the town from community members. We will have the opportunity to hike and also have a tour of the town.
Later in the day we aim to land at High Bluff Island for a nature based excursion. An offshore island, High Bluff offers immersion into the natural world of Nunavut. Walking, hiking, photographic and kayaking opportunities abound as we make our way from the zodiacs to our onshore site. For those interested in a more challenging hike to the high point of the island there will be an opportunity to see an inuksuk, a stone trail marker often built in the shape of a human.
The largest island in Ungava Bay, Akpatok Island is home to one of the great seabird colonies of the Arctic. The limestone cliffs rising up to 800 feet above sea level are home to thick-billed murres (also known as Brunnich;s guillemots), black guillemots and black-legged kittiwakes. Where there are sea bird colonies, we may also find peregrine falcons and Arctic fox. Given appropriate sea conditions, we plan to explore the base of these cliffs by zodiac.
Named for the wife of Sir John Franklin, the explorer of Northwest Passage note, Lady Franklin Island bears an interesting resemblance to Lady Franklin herself. From a distance, the island is not imposing and doesn’t stand out however, as you approach there is an appearance of something formidable. And, as you really start to explore it, you realize that it is a force to be reckoned with. All much like Lady Franklin who almost single-handedly kept the search going for her missing husband for years if not decades after his disappearance. In fact, only recently, in August 2012 the Canadian government launched its latest search for Franklin and his ships.
More than just for its intrinsic value, Lady Franklin Island is also a good spot to find polar bear, caribou and gyrfalcons. We will slowly approach by ship and drop the zodiacs for cruise and possible landing on this island.
While we cannot be certain where the ice edge will be, we will sail for the ice in Davis Strait in order to experience this dramatic transit zone. Much of the Arctic sea life seems to be interested in this transit zone as well and we will keep our eyes peeled for bearded, hooded and ringed seals as well as polar bears and walrus. Who knows, perhaps a bowhead whale will be cruising the ice edge. Spotting scopes and binoculars will be in use as we all scan the ice looking for wildlife. If conditions permit, we will even launch the zodiacs so that we can get into the ice and explore
Sunshine Fjord straddles the Arctic Circle. Who knows, on this day, we might cruise across the Circle on the ship, zodiac cruise across it in the zodiacs and even hike across it on shore. A beautiful place to hike, we will have various groups going for elevation as well as traversing the shoreline of the fjord. The sea kayakers will take advantage of often- sheltered conditions for a paddle here.
We turn back south away from the Arctic Circle and sail toward the mouth of Cumberland Sound. Protecting the northern entrance to Cumberland Sound, Cape Mercy is an exposed headland jutting out into Davis Strait. As the Baffin Bay middle ice recedes throughout the summer, the stretch of Baffin coast from Cape Mercy to Cape Dyer is a great place to find polar bears coming ashore. We will have all eyes searching as we sail this region
Nestled in the heart of Cumberland Sound and the gateway to Auyuittuq National Park, Pangnirtung is beautifully situated between the mountains and the sea. This town is known for its arts and crafts and a visit to the art gallery is a must. In addition, the Angmarlik Visitor Centre has a wonderful interpretive display featuring the lifestyle of the Thule and of the modern Inuit.
We leave Cumberland Sound behind as we sail south through Davis Strait and back towards Frobisher Bay. Our last excursion is to visit Monumental Island. An offshore island in Davis Strait, it is a known spot for finding walrus. We will put the zodiacs into the water and search the shoreline for them. When seen up close, the sheer size of these creatures creates the impression they would be slow and slovenly, however in the water their dynamic ability to twist and turn is inspiring to even the fastest swimmer. Watchful eyes may locate smaller pups within the masses. Taking our time in the zodiacs at this site allows for nature to take its course and our small group to witness the brilliance of it. Polar bears are often found here and have been known to chase the walrus off their haul out and into the water.
Arriving back into the capital of Nunavut, we disembark here and take a transfer to the airport for our flight home.
* Itinerary may be subject to change
|Per Person USD|
Rates Arctic 2015
Main Deck Triple
One Ocean Suite
All activities included in trip price (hiking, cycling, paddle boarding, kayaking & photography).
20% Discount (Prices in Red)
Family promotion: Children (16 & under) pay only $1,500; Youth (17-20) pay 75% of cruise price — With accompanying adult.
Charter Air: Kangerlussuaq/Ottawa
20%Discount (Prices in Red)
Group Flights available: Ottawa/Iqaluit & Kangerlussuaq/Ottawa ($1,100 savings over charter air alone!)
Charter Air: Ottawa/Kangerlussuaq & Cambridge Bay/Edmonton
- Very Limited Availability -
Rates are per person, based on twin-share. Single Supplement for twin cabins is 1.5 times the twin rate & single supplement for suites is double the suite rate.
Mandatory Emergency Evacuation insurance is required on all trips.
Optional activities (Must be pre-booked):
Kayaking $695 per person
Expedition Field Photography (Jul 22) $45
Photographic Symposium (Aug 2nd) $45
Trip cost does not include Mandatory Charter Flights listed in pricing chart.
There is always a possibility of an added fuel surcharge if marine oil prices raise significantly.
Adventure options must be pre-booked and paid for prior to start of the trip. Space is subject to availability. Some activities require experience.