The Northwest Passage

Ioffe Cruise Ship
96 Passengers
Adventure Options

This iconic voyage through the remote Northwest Passage follows in the footsteps of the early Arctic explorers such as Franklin, Amundsen and Larsen, as we explore the archipelago of islands and channels that create Canada’s high Arctic region. This is the home of the polar bear, the barrenground grizzly bear, muskox, caribou and walrus and we journey through the wild Canadian north aboard our celebrated expedition ship, Akademik Ioffe. Wildlife is the major draw card of our expedition but there is plenty of historical interest and the stories of that ill-fated expedition by Sir John Franklin more than 150 years ago are central to our journey. Franklin made his last heroic foray into the Arctic in 1845 with two ships and 129 men, never to be heard from again. We visit the last known wintering site of his ships the Erebus and Terror, and other sites along the way where traces of the expedition have been found. For lovers of remote expedition cruising this journey has it all!

Day 1 — Ottawa, Canada to Sondre Stromfjord (Kangerlussuaq)

Sondre Stromfjord is one of the world’s longest fjords cutting into the interior of Greenland. Our charter flight from Ottawa, Canada into Greenland will see us land at a former American Airbase (Bluie West Eight and Camp Lloyd), located just miles north of the Arctic Circle.  We will board our expedition vessel by zodiac and weigh anchor.  Throughout the evening and through the night we will sail down this incredible fjord, crossing the Arctic Circle, before reaching the ocean and Davis Strait.  We turn north out of the mouth of Sondre Stromfjord and cross the Arctic Circle yet again, remaining north of this point for the rest of the voyage.

Day 2 — Sisimiut

We will explore the fjord behind the town of Sisimiut before visiting the town in the afternoon. We will hope to meet a few of the traditional Greenlandic kayakers and perhaps see a demonstration of “Eskimo Rolling” by one of the former champions of the Greenland Kayaking Championships.

Day 3 — Ilulissat and Jacobshavn Icefjord

One of the wonders of the world, the Jacobshavn Icefjord spews massive tabular icebergs out into Disko Bay. Our approach to Ilulissat will be dependent upon the amount of ice in and around the mouth of the icefjord. Ilulissat was the hometown of Knud Rasmussen, one of Greenland’s most famous explorers and anthropologists, born here in 1879.

Days 4 & 5 — Pangnirtung

Our crossing of Baffin Bay will depend on the extent of the so-called ‘middle ice’.  Our goal will be to find the edge of this and then follow it around and to the coast of Baffin Island.  Our time at sea will be determined by the extent of the ice and amount of wildlife.  As we cross Baffin Bay we will keep a look out for fin, sperm, sei and humpback whales as well as the numerous species of Arctic seals and seabirds that abound in the Bay.

Day 6 — Pond Inlet

We will visit the town of Pond Inlet and make our base at the Natinnak Center, where a spectacular cultural exhibit will be the background of a display put on for us by the Elders and youth of Pond Inlet. Inuit carvings, jewelry and other local craft will be available to purchase from the local artisans.  We will take time to meet the children of Pond Inlet and marvel at their athletic abilities as they demonstrate the challenges of the Inuit Games.

Days 7 & 8 — Lancaster Sound and Devon Island

Lancaster Sound is in many ways the wildlife ‘super-highway’ of the Arctic.  A massive outlet for water from the high Arctic archipelago, there is a mixing of water here that is rich in nutrients.  Coupled with areas of open water for much of the year, Lancaster Sound is home to a diverse concentration of wildlife that can be staggering, especially given the sparseness of the region.  Our stops along the shore of Lancaster Sound will depend very much on ice conditions and weather.

Day 9 — Beechey Island and Prince Leopold Island

Beechey Island holds great importance in our quest to complete the Northwest Passage. It is here that Franklin’s ill-fated expedition spent its last ‘comfortable’ winter in 1845 before disappearing into the icy vastness, sparking an incredible series of search expeditions that finished the charting of Canada’s northern archipelago. Almost sixty years later, Roald Amundsen stopped at Beechey Island during the first successful complete transit of the Northwest Passage.

Following our visit to Beechey Island, we sail south toward Prince Regent Inlet, stopping for a view of the bird cliffs at Prince Leopold Island. A migratory bird sanctuary, Prince Leopold Island is home to thick-billed murres, black guillemots, northern fulmars and black-legged kittiwakes. Totaling several hundred thousand birds, Prince Leopold Island is one of the most important bird sanctuaries in the Canadian Arctic.

Encounters with polar bear, beluga, narwhal and the occasional bowhead whale have also been known in the summering grounds around Prince Leopold Island and Prince Regent Inlet.

Day 10 — Fort Ross and Bellot Strait

If ice conditions permit, we will sail south through Prince Regent Inlet and approach the eastern end of the Bellot Strait. Fort Ross, located at the southern end of Somerset Island, is a former Hudson’s Bay Company fur trading outpost. Ancient archaeological sites nearby tell a story of more than a thousand years of habitation by the Inuit and their predecessors. Upon leaving Fort Ross, we will attempt the passage of the Bellot Strait, entering at slack water if possible, in order to avoid a current that can be more than seven knots during the peak flow. The mixing of waters in this strait provides ample food source for marine mammals and we will keep our eyes peeled for harp seals, bearded seals and even polar bears. Upon exiting Bellot Strait we will turn south in Victoria Strait, taking a bearing for King William Island.

Day 11 — Conningham Bay

Having emerged from the exciting transit of Bellot Strait, we then cross the broad Victoria Strait and arrive at Conningham Bay on the eastern shore of Prince Edward Island. Here, in the heart of the Northwest Passage is perhaps one of the most remarkable wildlife sites in the Arctic and a known hotspot for polar bears. Beluga whales come to the shallow inlet to rub their white skins against the gravel bottom - an annual ritual. Often when the tide recedes, the whales become trapped in the shallows making them easy prey for the polar bear. It's common to find mothers and their cubs here in sizable numbers and the skeletons of beluga whales litter the shore - grim testament to the ebb and flow of life in the Arctic.

Day 12 — Victory Point, King William Island

Little is known of how the remainders of the Franklin Expedition spent its last months in the frozen Arctic. The vessels, abandoned in the ice of Victoria Strait have left no trace. A lifeboat left abandoned, bits and pieces of copper and iron, cutlery and buttons and a skeleton here and there all tell a story of a desperate race south in search of rescue that never occurred. We will visit Victory Point and continue to reflect on the quest for exploration that opened up the Arctic, while sacrificing some of its bravest explorers.

Day 13 — Cambridge Bay, Nunavut to Edmonton, Alberta

We hope to visit the community of Cambridge Bay, on the southern shores of Victoria Island.  Cambridge Bay, also known as Ikaluktutiak or “good fishing place”, is a centre for hunting, trapping, and fishing. Local Inuit have had summer camps in the locality for hundreds of years. Today ships visit the region annually bringing supplies. Amundsen spent two winters in this area, learning how to master dogsledding from the locals.  Prior to this, McClintock found solid evidence of the Franklin Expedition here in 1859, including naval artifacts, sledges, graves and letters.

We drop anchor in the harbor of Cambridge Bay and make our way ashore by zodiac. Our charter flight to Edmonton will await us here and we will board the flight for the short flight back to ‘southern’ Canada.

* Itinerary may be subject to change

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Rates Arctic 2016
Main Deck Triple
Twin Semi-Private
Twin Private
Shackleton Suite
One Ocean Suite
Photography, Kayak
Charter Air: Ottawa/Iqaluit & Resolute/Edmonton

50% Discount on Charter Air
(Prices in Red) Expires May 31st 2016
$7,995 $9,995 $11,995 $12,995 $13,995 $14,995 $1,200$600
Charter Air: Edmonton/Resolute & Resolute/Edmonton

50% Discount on Charter Air
(Prices in Red) Expires May 31st 2016
$5,195 $6,195Limited$7,995 $8,595 $9,195 $10,495 $1,200$600
Charter Air: Edmonton/Resoulte & Cambridge Bay/Edmonton

50% Discount on Charter Air
(Prices in Red) Expires May 31st 2016
$5,895 $6,995 $8,395 $9,195 $9,795 $11,995Full$1,200$600
Charter Air: Edmonton/Cambridge Bay & Iqaluit/Ottawa

50% Discount on Charter Air
(Prices in Red) Expires May 31st 2016
$8,895 $10,495 $12,595 $13,695 $14,695 $15,795 $1,200$600
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Special pricing available for families & young people:
Children under 18 receive a 25% discount, and young people ages 18-21 & in full-time education receive a 20% discount.

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.

All cabins are smoke-free. Smoking is only permitted in designated areas.
Trip cost does not include Mandatory Charter Flights listed in pricing chart.
Airfare to/from destination is not included.

Kayaking option available for $695 per person.
Adventure options must be pre-booked and paid for prior to start of the trip. Space is subject to availability. Some activities require experience.

All trips subject to possible fuel surcharge.
Mandatory Emergency Evacuation insurance is required on all trips.