70th Anniversary for the Northwest Passage
Traveling between Cambridge Bay and Iqaluit this 12-night celebratory voyage departing on 25 August 2014 will retrace the deep-sea route followed by the RCMP vessel St Roch, when the ship completed the first-ever transit of the legendary Northwest Passage in only one season. 2014 marks the 70th anniversary of the transit commanded by Corporal Henry Larsen and we are honored that Corporal Larsen's daughter, Doreen Larsen Riedel, will join us for this historic journey.
Along with the anniversary celebrations passengers can expect to be truly inundated and overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of marine mammals, polar bears and birdlife that appear during the voyage. They will literally ‘feel the history’ when we stop at the atmospheric Beechey Island, where the Franklin expedition over-wintered before disappearing forever; traces of the courageous men and their unsuccessful rescuers remain. Remote local communities, such as Cambridge Bay and Pond Inlet, will introduce passengers to both the modern and ancient aspects of the Inuit culture with opportunities to check out the local Inuit carvings, jewelry and other crafts available to buy from the local artisans.
Our journey of discovery begins in Edmonton as we board our charter flight to Cambridge Bay and the Arctic. We board our flight at 5434’N and disembark north of the Arctic Circle. From the airport in Cambridge Bay, we transfer to the beach and prepare to embark our zodiac inflatable boats for the shuttle out to the ship.
Cambridge Bay, also known as Ikaluktutiak or ''good fishing place'', is the 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.
Little is known of how the Franklin Expedition spent its last months in the frozen Arctic. The vessels, abandoned in the ice of Victoria Strait, have left no trace. An abandoned lifeboat, 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 - a rescue that never occurred. We visit Victory Point and continue to reflect on the quest for exploration that opened up the Arctic, while sacrificing some of its bravest explorers.
Marking the western shoreline of Peel Sound, the coastline of Prince of Wales Island is broken by numerous bays and coves. As we explore this region, we drop anchor in one or two of these bays and launch the zodiacs. A hike on the tundra, wildlife watching and photography will all be part of the attraction to this area as we learn about the history and wildlife of the area and the very important role that the culture played in both.
We 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 an ample food source for marine mammals and we will keep our eyes peeled for harp seals, bearded seals and even polar bears as we sail through. On exiting the strait, we will stop at Fort Ross, on the southern tip of Somerset Island. Fort Ross 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 at this site by the Inuit and their predecessors
As we sail North out of Prince Regent Inlet, we pass by the incredible cliffs of Prince Leopold Island. A migratory bird sanctuary, Prince Leopold Island is home to thick-billed murres, black guillemots, northern fulmars and blacklegged kittiwakes. Totaling several hundred thousand birds Prince Leopold Island is one of the most important bird sanctuaries in the Canadian Arctic. Bird life will be on the wane here as we approach the end of the Arctic summer however we will keep our eyes open for the late season inhabitants of this colony.
We continue North across Barrow Strait on our way to the 75th North parallel and Beechey 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. Roald Amundsen stopped at Beechey Island during the first successful complete transit of the Northwest Passage almost sixty years later.
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 very rich in nutrients. Coupled with areas of open water for much of the year, Lancaster Sound is home to a diversity and concentration of wildlife that can be staggering, given the sparseness of the region be travelled. Our stops along the shore of Lancaster Sound will be very dependent upon ice conditions and weather.
We visit the town of Pond Inlet and make our base at the Natinnak Centre there. A spectacular cultural exhibit at the Natinnak Centre will be the background of a display put on for us by the Elders and youth of Pond Inlet. Inuit Carvings, Jewellery, and other local craft will be available to purchase from the local artisans here. Take time to meet the children of Pond Inlet and marvel at their athletic abilities as they demonstrate the challenges of the Inuit Games.
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 very rich in nutrients. Coupled with areas of open water for much of the year, Lancaster Sound is home to a diversity and concentration of wildlife that can be staggering, given the sparseness of the region be travelled. Our stops along the shore of Lancaster Sound will be very dependent upon ice conditions and weather.
We will visit the town of Pond Inlet and make our base at the Natinnak Centre there. A spectacular cultural exhibit at the Natinnak Centre 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 here. Take time to meet the children of Pond Inlet and marvel at their athletic abilities as they demonstrate the challenges of the Inuit Games.
A small town of approximately 1300 residents on the South coast of Pangnirtung fjord, Pangnirtung (or Pang as it is commonly known) is located on a coastal plain on the border of Auyuitiuq National Park. A gateway to this crown jewel of Canada’s northern parks, Pangnirtung is also known for its carving and weaving. A visit to Pangnirtung will include the Auyuitiuq National Park office and interpretation centre as well as the weaving studio and art gallery.
A cliff towering from the ocean, Monumental Island is host to numerous bird species and is known to be an excellent place to spot both the gyrfalcon and the Peregrine falcon. From time to time, walrus have been known to haul out here in great numbers and we will keep our eyes peeled as we approach in the hope that we experience the sight and smell of a large haul out.
We drop anchor off the beach in Iqaluit and make our way ashore by zodiac. Depending on flight times, we may have a chance to explore the capital of Nunavut before making our way to the airport.
* Itinerary may be subject to change
|Per Person USD|
Rates Arctic 2014
Main Deck Triple
One Ocean Suite
Charter Flight - Edmonton-Cambridge Bay
Free Air/hotel Package!
(or $1000 Discount)
See prices in Red.
Rates are per person, based on twin-share. Single Supplement for twin cabins is 1.5 times the twin rate. Mandatory Emergency Evacuation insurance is required on all trips. Optional Kayaking $695 per person. Price does not include charter flight cost which is $925 one way where applicable.
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.