Arctic Explorer

Ocean Endeavour Cruise Ship
Ocean Endeavour
198 Passengers
Adventure Options

This adventure begins at the entrance to the Northwest Passage. After departing Quaasuittuq (Resolute), we’ll visit the final resting place of the ill-fated Franklin Expedition at Beechey Island and search for polar bears and walrus in far north Baffin Island. At Mittimatalik (Pond Inlet), our hosts will welcome us with throat-singing and Inuit games, before we explore Baffin’s mighty fjords. We’ll seek bowhead whales in Niqinganiq (Isabella Bay); the world’s first Inuit-initiated whale sanctuary. Crossing Davis Strait, we’ll be met by Greenland’s stirring icescape. There, we’ll zip among the freshly calved bergs off Ilulissat in our Zodiacs, marvel at Uummannaq’s heart-shaped mountain, and hike around Itilleq Fjord. Spectacular Sondre Stromfjord makes a glorious finale to our trip.

• Call at Niqinganiq (Isabella Bay); a bowhead whale sanctuary & the world’s first Inuit-managed reserve of its kind
• Marvel at the Ilulissat ice fjord, where 90% of the north Atlantic's icebergs are born
• Visit the site of the famous Greenlandic mummies’ discovery outside Uummannaq
• Hike gorgeous Arctic landscapes
• See the final resting place of the Franklin Expedition

Brief Itinerary

Day 1Quaasuittuq (Resolute), Nunavut, Canada
Day 2Beechey Island
Day 3Ikpiarjuk (Arctic Bay)
Day 4Croker Bay
Day 5Mittimatalik (Pond Inlet)
Day 6Northeast Baffin Fjords
Day 7Niqinganiq (Isabella Bay)
Day 8Karrat Fjord
Day 9Uummannaq Fjord
Day 10Ilulissat
Day 11Itilleq Fjord
Day 12Kangerlussuaq, Greenland

Day 1 — Quaasuittuq (Resolute), Nunavut, Canada

Resolute Bay is also known as Qausuittuq "place with no dawn". Resolute Bay is truly the land of the midnight sun as the sun shines twenty-four hours a day from about April 29 to August 13 each year. From archaeological excavations, it has been concluded that there have been at least three stages of occupation at Resolute Bay. The Dorset culture was the first, followed by an early phase of the Thule culture, in which the artifacts found show strong Alaskan affinities. These were probably both short periods of occupation, possibly by only a few families. A late or developed phase of the Thule culture was of longer duration, with a considerably larger population.

Resolute Bay was named after HMS Resolute, one of the ships in the Franklin search expedition commanded by Captain H.T. Austin. An airfield was established at Resolute Bay in 1947 during construction of a joint US-Canadian weather station. In 1953, Inuit from Inukjuak, Québec and Mittimatalik (Pond Inlet) were relocated to Resolute by the Canadian government.

Day 2 — Beechey Island

In 1845 Sir John Franklin took his expedition of 129 men in two ships into the Wellington Channel. Not a soul returned from the fateful expedition. It was two years before search parties were launched. Aside from the bodies of three souls buried here, only relics were found as clues to the disappearance. The three graves found at Beechey island left no indication as to the fate of the rest of the British party, until recently. In the autumn of 2014, Canadian archaeologists discovered remnants of the HMS Erebus in the frozen waters of the Northwest Passage, a discovery that has re-galvanized interest in the fabled region.

Day 3 — Ikpiarjuk (Arctic Bay)

Ikpiarjuk, on the northern part of the Borden Peninsula on Baffin Island, has been occupied in some capacity for over 5,000 years. The bay itself is surrounded by high hills on all sides; the Inuktitut name translates to “the pocket” and reflects this. To the southeast, the flat-topped King George V Mountain dominates the skyline. Arctic Bay is home to the annual Midnight Sun Marathon, one of the northernmost athletic contests in the world.

Day 4 — Croker Bay

This morning we'll take the Zodiacs out in Croker Bay. John Ross, who explored the bay in 1818, named it for John Croker, who was then the First Secretary of the Admiralty; a position he held for more than twenty consecutive years. Ross was re-examining the observations that William Baffin had made two hundred years before. Upon reaching what is now known as Crocker Bay, Ross went no further, for he was misled by a mirage that appeared to show mountains at the end of the strait. He named the apparent mountains "Crocker Hills". The mountains Ross saw proved to be nonexistent; perhaps an Arctic optical illusion. We hope to get close to one of the glaciers that empty into the bay and, as ever, you should keep your eyes open for wildlife.

Day 5 — Mittimatalik (Pond Inlet)

Mittimatalik (Pond Inlet) is a bustling Arctic community surrounded by one of the most beautiful landscapes in the eastern Arctic. We will have a chance to explore the town, including its excellent library and other facilities, and meet many local citizens who will gladly share their culture. We will be treated to a cultural presentation at the Community Hall; arts and crafts may be available here. Mittimatalik is a famous region for viewing marine mammals, including the elusive narwhal.

Day 6 — Northeast Baffin Fjords

Today will be an expedition day in the truest sense as we navigate the multitudinous fjords of northeast Baffin Island. Baffin’s fjords are striking, their extreme depth and narrow width affording stunning perspectives on geological processes. The Ocean Endeavour is the perfect vessel for exploring these hidden treasures of the north, as her maneuverability allows her to access regions that would be impassable to larger vessels. We will be on alert for changing weather and ice conditions and use our judgement as to which route along the coast will be the most spectacular. As ever, our elite team will be on deck for the duration, searching for wildlife and contextualizing the mighty landscape through which we travel.

Day 7 — Niqinganiq (Isabella Bay)

Niqinganiq is a 336,000-hectare marine region on Baffin Island that is a crucial feeding area for threatened bowhead whale. This is also the world's first Inuit-initiated and maintained marine mammal sanctuary. The area includes two deep offshore troughs rich in copepods, a main food source for the bowhead whale.

Day 8 — Karrat Fjord

Today we will cruise one of Greenland's most spectacular fjords, known for plentiful marine life and inspiring landscapes. Seals use the long leads created by high winds in this region to hunt the rich waters of the fjord. The cliffs within the fjord should give us good opportunities to see colonies of dovekies. Time spent on deck today should result in some good wildlife sightings, not to mention unbeatable photographic opportunities of the majestic rock faces.

Day 9 — Uummannaq Fjord

Uummannaq Fjord in northwest Greenland is the country’s second-largest system of fjords. It empties into Baffin Bay and is characterized by its developed coastline and various bays, islands, and peninsulas. It is considered to be the sunniest spot in Greenland, and favorable weather—coupled with proximity to coastal travel routes—have made the fjord system a popular destination for Greenlandic Inuit. It has been settled and re-settled continually for the last 4,500 years.

Archaeological excavations at Qilakitsoq, due south of Uummannaq Island, revealed the existence of the ancient Saqqaq culture. Recent evidence indicates that these groups settled Greenland between 2500 BC and 800 BC, and further, that they migrated from Sibera to arrive in Uummaanaq. It is thought that this migration gave rise to both modern Native Americans and the Inuit.

Our time in Uummannaq will be spent cruising and exploring. Our expert resource staff will be on deck to help spot wildlife and contextualize the dramatic scenery surrounding the Ocean Endeavour.

Day 10 — Ilulissat

Venturing 150 mi. (250 km) north of the Arctic Circle we find the stunning coastal community of Ilulissat. Ilulissat translates literally into "iceberg", and there couldn't be a more fitting name. Our visit will include time in the colorful town and a chance to hike out to an elevated viewpoint where we can observe the great fields of ice.

We will also cruise in our fleet of Zodiacs in the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Ilulissat Ice fjord. The Ice fjord is where we find the Sermeq Kujalleq Glacier, one of the most active and fastest moving in the world at 62 ft. (19m) per day and calving more than 15 sq. mi. (35 sq km) of ice annually.

Day 11 — Itilleq Fjord

The west Greenland coastline is a rich mixture of fishing communities, tiny islands and complex coastal waterways. We will be making an expedition stop here to explore the Greenlandic landscape. The community at Itilleq is always excited at our arrival and we have a long-standing tradition of a little friendly sporting competition with the locals. Today may be a chance for you to stretch your legs and challenge our friends at Itilleq—or to cheer on the our squad (who may well need all the help they can get!).

Day 12 — Kangerlussuaq, Greenland

We will make our journey down spectacular Sondre Stromfjord, and early risers will have a chance to experience its beauty. Sondre Stromfjord is one of the longest fjords in the world and boasts 100 mi. (168 km) of superb scenery! Kangerlussuaq, the town at its eastern mouth, means 'the big fjord.' Although the fjord crosses the Arctic Circle, like the oceans here, it does not freeze. Locals can thank ocean currents for this, making this part of Greenland a center for whaling and fishing all year. The United States built an air base at Kangerlussuaq in WWII due to the relatively mild weather and strategic proximity to Europe. Although the military base closed in 1992, the strip is now Greenland's main international and domestic airport.

The area is distinguished by fantastic nature and rich biodiversity. There is nowhere else in Greenland where it is so easy to go so far into the interior and the world’s largest ice cap can be reached in less than an hour. The landscape features enormous glacier formations, which have plowed deep into the dramatic tundra. On the plain between the fjord and the inland ice you may find Greenland's biggest herds of musk ox, reindeer, arctic foxes as well as the highest concentration of peregrine falcons in Greenland and more than 250 species of plants.

* Itinerary may be subject to change

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Charter Air: Kangerlussuaq/Toronto

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