The Northwest Passage: From Greenland to the Bering Sea

Le Boreal Cruise Ship
Le Boreal — A
199 Passengers

Set sail aboard the commanding Le Boreal on an epic - and rare - voyage from east to west across the entire, remote and wildly historic Northwest Passage.

- Cruise for 21 nights aboard the luxury, all-balcony expedition ship Le Boreal.
- Travel in the company of a world-class seasoned Expedition Team for a deeply enriching and captivating journey.
- Contrast the most historic and remote islands, fjords and harbors along the legendary passage, taking in moving stories of voyages won and lives lost in the name of conquering a trade route between the Atlantic and the Pacific.
- Sail the full extent of the Northwest Passage, from Greenland to the Canadian Arctic provinces to Alaska and ending in Anadyr, Russia's Far East.
- Explore the West Coast of Greenland, where you may meet with local Inuits in their homes or alongside their dog-sled teams, visit a traditional hunting village and learn the traditional art of leather tanning.
- Marvel at geological wonders from the "Smoking Hills" of Franklin Bay to the dramatic Ilulissat Icefjord, a UNESCO World Heritage Site teeming with icebergs.
- Delve into the Northwest Passage as the world's greatest polar explorers once did, with stops along the way that may include Pond Inlet, Lancaster Sound, Beechey Island, Sommerset Island and Gjoa Haven.
- Discover the rarely-visited Yukon Territory, where whaling once thrived and an abundance of wildlife still reigns supreme.
- Enjoy the convenience of charter flights to Kangerlussuaq and from Anadyr that begin and end in North America.

Brief Itinerary

Day 1 Arrive Montreal, Quebec
Day 2 Kangerlussuaq | Edge of Indlandsis
Days 3 to 7 Western Greenland | Where Amundsen Began
Days 8 to 16 Nunavut & the Canadian Arctic Archipelago | The Heart of the Northwest Passage
Day 17 Cape Bathurst | Smoking Hills, Northwest Territories
Day 18 Herschel Island & the Yukon Territory | A Haven in the Farthest Reaches
Days 19 & 20 Beaufort Sea & Point Barrow | Sea of the “White One”
Days 21 & 22 Bering Sea | Along the Alaskan Coast
Day 23 Nome, Alaska | Vancouver, Canada
Day 24 Depart Vancouver

Day 1 — Arrive Montreal, Quebec

Arrive in Montreal, Quebec’s festive European-style city. Transfer to your hotel before meeting your local guide for an afternoon walking tour. Tonight, gather for a welcome cocktail reception and dinner to celebrate the start of your adventure.

Day 2 — Kangerlussuaq | Edge of Indlandsis

Arrive by charter flight this afternoon in Western Greenland at Kangerlussuaq (Søndre Strømfjord in Danish), located on the tip of its namesake fjord and once a strategic allied stronghold during World War II. Upon arrival, have lunch and check in with the expedition staff to pre-register and receive your stateroom keys. Later, arrive at the pier to board your luxurious expedition cruiser, Le Boreal. Tonight, join your award-winning expedition team and crew for a welcome cocktail reception.

Days 3 to 7 — Western Greenland | Where Amundsen Began

In 1906, polar explorer Roald Amundsen became the first person to successfully cross the entire Northwest Passage. Start your voyage exactly where Amundsen did — along the stunning West Coast of Greenland and north into Baffin Bay, which you explore for 5 days. Your enrichment and lecture program also begins, offering the first of many opportunities to delve deeper into the story of this dramatic and remote region.

Located just north of the Arctic Circle, Sisimiut is both the northernmost city in Greenland able to maintain a year-round, ice-free port as well as the southernmost town with sufficient snow for dog sledding through the winter and spring. Visit the local museum with its interactive exhibits on Inuit culture and Greenlandic colonial history, as well as a local dog musher and his dog-sled team.

Ilulissat | Disko Bay

Cruise into Disko Bay, a wide inlet off the Baffin Sea first explored by Erik the Red in AD 985, when he established the first Norse settlements in Western Greenland. Discover the Ilulissat Icefjord, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, at the sea mouth of one of the fastest and most active glaciers in the world, Sermeq Kujalleq. The scene is spectacular with giant icebergs, floating growlers and bergy bits (large chunks of glacial ice), and the sounds of the calving ice-stream. Take a walking tour of the village of Ilulissat, including a visit to the local history museum and meet with villagers in their multicolored homes to learn about life in this often-harsh Arctic region. Enjoy a husky dog-sled demonstration and learn about the centuries-old methods of leather tanning still in practice today.

Uummannaq |  Karrats Fjord

Cruise up stunning Uummannaq and Karrats Fjords. Sheltered by high, glaciated mountains, the Uummannaq Fjord is very well sheltered and typically provides very favorable weather for exploring. It is often referred to as the “sunniest spot” in Greenland and this attractive fjord system has provided safe haven to numerous Inuit migrations which have settled and re-settled over the past 4,500 years.


Visit the Northern Inuit village of Upernavik. You are welcomed by a traditional drum-dance and enjoy a locally guided walking tour of the village, including the local church and museum. Continue with an expedition cruise into southern Melville Bay.

Melville Bay – Kap York  |  Expedition Cruising

Continue discovering Melville Bay along the Northwest coast of Greenland.  
Enjoy excursions on Zodiacs through this remote area of far Northwestern Greenland, and among thousands of small icebergs and bergy bits. Conditions permitting experience a landing at Kap York (Savissivik) a small Inuit settlement maintaining traditional hunting and fishing traditions. Grasp the full meaning when you spend time with local villagers who still maintain a traditional way of life, living off of the narwhal and seal populations common to the region.

Days 8 to 16 — Nunavut & the Canadian Arctic Archipelago | The Heart of the Northwest Passage

Pond Inlet, Nunavut |  Clearance Into Canada

Located on the Northern end of Baffin Island, Pond Inlet is the noted gateway to the fabled Northwest Passage. After clearing customs formalities for Nunavut, set off for a shore excursion to an area originally inhabited by the Thule (ancestors of the Inuit). Visit the Nattinnak Visitor’s Center or Toonoonik Sahoonik Co-op, where you can shop for artisan carvings made from local red and green soapstone, beautiful wall hangings and other handcrafted goods.

Lancaster Sound | Beechey Island, Nunavut

Situated between Devon Island and Baffin Island, Lancaster Sound forms the eastern entrance to the Parry Channel and the Northwest Passage. It’s also home to a rich abundance of Arctic cod, which in turn draws copious populations of sea birds and marine mammals. Beluga and endangered bowhead whales, the narwhal with its spiraling tusk, ringed and bearded seals, the enchanting polar bear, and mustached walrus, as well as northern fulmars, black guillemots and Arctic terns — all are among the fantastic wildlife which may come into view on exciting Zodiac excursions and landings.

This morning, a landing is planned at Beechey Island. Historic moments in Arctic exploration define this island, best known for providing a safe haven to British explorer Sir John Franklin in 1845. Look east toward Resolute Bay at the huge silhouette of Cape Riley and imagine what Captain Franklin saw here in Erebus Harbor, were he took shelter for two years before his ill-fated attempt to conquer the Northwest Passage. See the wooden grave markers for three of Franklin’s men, now bleached by the sun, and visit the cenotaph memorial erected in memory of the lost explorer. It is an unforgettable experience.

Somerset Island | Prince Leopold Island And Fury Beach, Nunavut

Cruise south into Prince Regent Inlet along Somerset Island. Today will be an exploration day.  Conditions permitting, continue exploring with excursions to Prince Leopold Island in Lancaster Sound as well as Fury Beach, site of the historic shipwreck of the HMS ‘Fury’ in 1825.

Somerset Island | Bellot Strait

Visit historic Fort Ross, a former trading post established and run by the Hudson Bay Company.  The site now is an occasional shelter for Inuit caribou hunters as well as scientists and researchers. This afternoon, cruise through the narrow Bellot Straits separating Somerset Island from the Boothia Peninsula. This evening, the ship enters Peel Sound and makes its way through Franklin Strait.

Cruising James Ross Strait | King William Island Nunavut

Today is an exploration day as Le Boreal cruises through James Ross Strait which separates the Boothia Peninsula and King William Island, site of many of the remains of the historic Franklin expedition party.  

Gjoa Haven | King William Island Nunavut

Arrive early morning in Gjoa Haven. During his first attempt to transit the Northwest Passage on ‘Gjøa’, Roald Amundsen used this natural harbor as a respite while waiting for ice conditions to improve. For two years, he lived with the Netsilik Inuits, learning their skills for survival and more efficient travel, which would later prove invaluable in his successful South Pole expedition. Today, Gjoa Haven has a population of 1,200 and still bears the historic significance of playing a key role in polar exploration.
Transit the narrow Simpson strait as the ship heads into Queen Maud Gulf.

Victoria Strait And Queen Maud Gulf | The Ghosts Of The Franklin Expedition

Cruise through Queen Maud Gulf and the Victoria Strait. Today’s excursions are subject to ice, weather and current local conditions of on-going research recovery as you near the location of the HMS ‘Erebus’, one of the ships from Sir John Franklin’s last expedition. The ship was abandoned during the Franklin Expedition in 1848 and rediscovered in a submerged state in September 2014 after a long search. Conditions permitting, be witness to history as this research and recovery work is anticipated to be on-going.

Dease Strait | Coronation Gulf, Northwest Territories
Le Boreal makes its way through the Northwest Passage cruising through Dease Strait, which separates Victoria Island from the mainland of the Northwest Territories. Explore by Zodiacs in the morning and afternoon (conditions permitting) in order to take advantage of the best expedition landing experience. Later, cruise into Coronation Gulf.

Holman Village | Amundsen Gulf, Northwest Territories

Visit Holman Village (Ulukhaktok), a hunting, trapping and fishing village located on the west coast of Victoria Island at the entrance to Prince Albert Sound. The village was named after J.R. Holman, a member of the 1853 Inglefield expedition searching for the lost Franklin party. The village witnessed significant development due to mineral exploration, and in recent years, with the establishment of the Holman Eskimo co-op, residents of the hamlet have developed the local economy with the production of arts and crafts, particularly Holman prints.
Later this afternoon, cruise through the Amundsen Gulf en route to Cape Bathurst.

Day 17 — Cape Bathurst | Smoking Hills, Northwest Territories

Today you see the spectacular “Smoking Hills,” cliffs of bituminous shale that combust and endlessly burn. This rare geological phenomenon has likely been occurring for millennia, with layers of the relatively unstable mineral jarosite covering these hills. When the mineral comes into contact with cold air, it becomes red-hot and produces a thick, black smoke — a fantastic site not unlike the smoky fumaroles produced by volcanoes.

Day 18 — Herschel Island & the Yukon Territory | A Haven in the Farthest Reaches

During a long mapping expedition in 1826, Captain Franklin was the first European to lay eyes on this unique island at the northernmost point of the Yukon Territory. Named by Franklin, Herschel Island is a landmark in the West Arctic and has since served alternately as a whaling station, relay station and refuge for travelers. The island teems with wildlife that includes the migrating bowhead whale, walrus, moose, musk ox, Arctic fox and 94 species of birds. It is also one of the only places on earth where you may see a grizzly bear, black bear and polar bear, the last of which live along the ice edge in summer. Evidence of the island’s whaling culture and Thule Inuit predecessors remains near the shoreline, though it may not be for much longer; the island is subject to extreme coastal erosion and scientists predict the shoreline will disappear under the waves within 50 years.

Days 19 & 20 — Beaufort Sea & Point Barrow | Sea of the “White One”

Navigating The Beaufort Sea | Pt. Barrow, Alaska,  USA

Typically dense with ice floes and fog, the Beaufort Sea opens up a 60-mile-wide coastal pass from August to September. Continue sailing in the comfort of your luxury expedition cruiser, participating in eye-opening lectures led by the expedition team. Be on the lookout across the sea for bowhead and beluga whales, the latter of which sustain one of the largest populations in the world here. Still hunted on a sustenance quota basis by local Inuits, the sociable creatures often travel in numbers and are said to be quite “chatty,” with their trills, clicks and squeals audible above the surface. Le Boreal cruises into the U.S. and clears at Point Barrow, Alaska. Your voyage continues through this narrow passage between North America and the ever-changing Arctic ice cap.

Days 21 & 22 — Bering Sea | Along the Alaskan Coast

Le Boreal cruises into the Bering Sea, one of the world’s most productive fishing grounds. From the ships upper decks or your own private balcony, you may spot any number of breeding seabirds and whales (bowhead, blue, fin, sei, orca and even the rare North Pacific Right whale), all here for the feast. Lecturers continue their series of stimulating discussions on board.

Bering Sea | Little Diomede, Alaska

Continue cruising through the Bering Sea to Little Diomede, an island that sits between Alaska and Russia at the edge of the International Date Line. Disembark for a Zodiac cruise of the island, where the Ingalikmiut people still maintain a traditional lifestyle of hunting, fishing and egg gathering. In line with customs and necessity, the Ingalikmiut also use seal, walrus and polar bear hides to make clothing, parkas, hats and mukluks, as well as trade currency for bartering.
This afternoon, cruise past Fairway Rock, a haven for vast colonies of seabirds and haul-out for the common large walrus.

Bering Sea | Gambell Island, Alaska

Visit St. Lawrence Island, where the distinct Yup’ik Eskimo culture and dialect, similar to that found in Siberia, is a reminder of the cultural transition from East to West across the former “Land Bridge” of the Bering Strait. Whalebones, fish-drying racks and umiaks (traditional walrus skin boats) are part of the landscape. View traditional dances which also bare similarities to those of their Siberian cousins.

Day 23 — Nome, Alaska | Vancouver, Canada

Arrive this morning in Nome, Alaska, the famed Gold Rush town and ending point of the annual Iditarod Race. After breakfast, disembark Le Boreal and enjoy a city tour of Nome including a dog sled demonstration, panning for gold and lunch at St. Joseph’s church in Nome. Time permitting, you may stroll historic Front Street before boarding your charter flight to Vancouver.

Arrive this evening for an overnight stay at your hotel, conveniently located within Vancouver's International Airport (YVR). Situated directly above the U.S. departures terminal, the hotel is only a two-minute stroll from the luggage carousels.

Day 24 — Depart Vancouver

After breakfast, you are assisted with baggage transfer and check in for your return flights home.

SPECIAL NOTE: Charter flights from Nome to Vancouver on September 11 are currently scheduled to arrive between 8:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. local time. The flight schedule is subject to change; it is not recommended that you book return international flights from Vancouver on September 11.

* Itinerary may be subject to change

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Charter Air: Oslo/Longyearbyen
Charter Air: Montreal/Kangerlussuaq & Nome/Anchorage
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   Owner's Balcony Suite — Deck 6
484 sq.ft. (45 sq.m.) + 97 sq.ft. (9 sq.m.) private balcony
Twin Beds or 1 King Bed
Includes Butler Service
   Prestige Two-room Balcony Suite — Deck 6
400 sq.ft. (37 sq.m.) + 86 sq.ft. (8 sq.m.) private balcony
Twin Beds or 1 King Bed. Two toilets, two wardrobes.
Includes Butler Service
   Premier Two-room Balcony Suites — Deck 5
400 sq.ft. (37 sq.m.) + 86 sq.ft. (8 sq.m.) private balcony
Includes Butler Service
Twin Beds or 1 King Bed. Bathroom features double sink vanity.
   Prestige Balcony Suite — Deck 6
290 sq.ft. (27 sq.m.) + 54 sq.ft. (5 sq.m.) private balcony
Twin Beds or 1 King Bed. Two toilets, two wardrobes.
Includes Butler Service
   Superior Balcony Stateroom — Deck 6
200 sq.ft. (18.5 sq.m.) + 43 sq.ft. (4 sq.m.) private balcony
Twin Beds or 1 King Bed
   Premier Balcony Stateroom — Deck 5
200 sq.ft. (18.5 sq.m.) + 43 sq.ft. (4 sq.m.) private balcony
Twin Beds or 1 King Bed
   Deluxe Balcony Stateroom — Deck 4
200 sq.ft. (18.5 sq.m.) + 43 sq.ft. (4 sq.m.) private balcony
Twin Beds or 1 King Bed
   Classice Balcony Stateroom — Deck 3
200 sq.ft. (18.5 sq.m.) + 43 sq.ft. (4 sq.m.) private balcony
Twin Beds or 1 King Bed