Exploring Greenland, Baffin and Ellesmere Islands

National Geographic Explorer Cruise Ship
National Geographic Explorer
148 Passengers

Canada’s Ellesmere Island stretches farther north than any other land in the world, save for Greenland—explore both on this epic Arctic expedition. This is a region of ancient ice, where tidewater glaciers of exceptional beauty dominate the landscape. Few humans have ever been here. It is home to hunting polar bears, muskox, and extremely rare wildlife, including narwhal. Rely on our expedition team’s experience in Baffin Island and Lancaster Sound at the entrance to the Northwest Passage to ensure peak exploration and wildlife encounters; and then strike as far north as the ice allows, tracing the rarely visited coast of northwest Greenland and Ellesmere Islands into parts largely unknown, where the only assurance is great wonder, beauty, and genuine exploration. The High Arctic in its full glory is a lifetime experience. This expedition will enable you to: 

  • Experience unbridled 21st-century exploration, as we venture to new frontiers deep into the far reaches of the ice to Zodiac cruise, kayak, and hike the tundra.
  • Trace the rugged fjords of rarely explored northwest Greenland to the massive ice cap, spotting arctic wildlife and marveling at hardy Inuit communities. Glide between soaring icebergs at the mouth of Greenland’s Ilulissat Icefjord, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
  • Follow in the wake of legendary explorers and hear their dramatic stories as we explore Lancaster Sound, the gateway to the Northwest Passage, and then venture even farther north. 
  • Observe polar bears, arctic foxes and caribou, ringed seals, humpback, minke, and beluga whales, and perhaps elusive narwhals.
  • Discover the incredible landscapes and wildlife of legendary Baffin Island on hikes and excursions by Zodiac. 
  • Encounter the legacy of the ancient Inuit, Thule, Dorset. Archaeological sites abound in the areas we visit, some unexcavated but marvelously preserved by the temperatures of the Far North. 
  • Explore the geologic phenomena of Iceland’s capital, Reykjavík. 

Brief Itinerary

Day 1 U.S./Keflavík, Iceland
Day 2 Keflavík/ Reykjavík
Day 3 Reykjavík/Kangerlussuaq, Greenland/Embark
Day 4 Greenland’s West Coast & Sisimuit
Days 5 to 10 The Canadian High Arctic
Days 11 Devon Island
Days 12 & 13 Ellesmere Island
Days 14 & 15 Farther North
Days 16 to 19 Exploring Northwest Greenland
Day 20 Qilakitsoq
Day 21 Disko Bay & Ilulissat
Day 22 Greenland’s West Coast
Day 23 Kangerlussuaq/Disembark/ Reykjavík, Iceland
Day 24 Reykjavík/Keflavík/U.S.

Day 1 — U.S./Keflavík, Iceland

Depart U.S. for an overnight flight to Keflavík (flight not included).

Day 2 — Keflavík/ Reykjavík

Transfer from Keflavík to Reykjavík, located just south of the Arctic Circle and check in to the hotel. Take a guided overview of the old town, including Hallgrímskirkja Cathedral. Or choose to explore the Blue Lagoon and soak in the geothermal waters.

Day 3 — Reykjavík/Kangerlussuaq, Greenland/Embark

Fly by chartered aircraft to Greenland. Embark National Geographic Explorer at the head of Kangerlussuaq Fjord, a picturesque waterway that stretches 100 miles.

Day 4 — Greenland’s West Coast & Sisimuit

Dozens of deep fjords carve into Greenland’s west coast, many with glaciers fed by the ice cap that covers 80% of the country. In the morning, we trace this ragged coastline, and search for humpback and minke whales. Later, at Sisimiut, a former whaling port, we visit the museum and wander amid a jumble of wooden 18th-century buildings.

Days 5 to 10 — The Canadian High Arctic

We begin our exploration of the Canadian High Arctic with a visit to the small Inuit community of Pond Inlet, Nunavut.  We will explore some of the beautiful bays and inlets along Baffin Island's northern coast and Lancaster Sound. We search for ringed seals, arctic foxes, and polar bears, as well as beluga and bowhead whales. Perhaps even see the elusive narwhal, known for the long, spiraling tooth that projects up to ten feet. Possible stops to explore are Beechey Island and the remains of the Franklin expedition’s winter quarters and Lancaster Sound for polar bears on ice.

Day 11 — Devon Island

National Geographic Explorer ploughs the waters at the entrance to the Northwest Passage, now heading towards the most easterly part of the south coast of Devon Island to Dundas Harbor, where the Canadian government established a RCMP (Royal Mounted Police) post in the 1920s. Later, we reach Croker Bay, where last year we discovered several very well preserved winter-house ruins from the Thule culture. From the 1200s and until late in the 1800s, Inuit were living in these regions hunting caribou and muskoxen—which we hope to spot along with polar bears.

Continue to Philpots Island, a geological structure consisting of ancient red granite that is part of the Ellesmere-North Greenland geological complex. It has been dated to 1.6 billion years in age! The plan is to go ashore on rocky Philpots Island for a chance to hike on the tundra and search for interesting flora and fauna, including extensive moss beds with interspersed flowering vascular plants, various bird species, Arctic hares, and perhaps even musk oxen—an impressive beast covered with an incredibly thick coat of long hairs overlying a dense layer of underfur known as qiviut (very valuable wool used in producing the lightest, finest knitted products available today). Be on deck as we head out into the open waters offshore, where there are plenty of impressive icebergs calved from a huge glacier.

Days 12 & 13 — Ellesmere Island

Heading ever northward, we make our way up the beautiful and remote east coast of Ellesmere Island. Cruise along scenic Smith Bay (a.k.a. Skog Inlet) bordered by a steep wall of mountains, with a glacial ice tongue which pours down the mountains on either side. Be up on the bridge as we search for a patch of "polar bear ice," the mixture of first-year and multi-year sea ice that is the preferred habitat of the ice bears. Our binoculars seek out any small ivory-colored dot on an otherwise white ice surface. We strain to see the dot move. Yes, it is a bear, spotted at a considerable distance. We approach, ever so slowly, stalking the polar bear much as the bear stalks seals on the ice. At the end of the bay we go ashore to hike or kayak in picturesque surroundings. Ice is always present here.

Our flexible itinerary stops may include Skraeling Island (“Skraeling” is the word that the Norse settlers of Greenland used for the Inuit.), an archaeological find that shows the Norse once traded with the native Inuit here at Ellesmere, or we might go for a Zodiac cruise in Makinson Inlet, where tidewater glaciers tumble down to the sea.

Days 14 & 15 — Farther North

On these two days we explore to 80-deg N and hopefully beyond, if the ice allows. We take full advantage of our “human resources”—our experienced captain, expedition leader and naturalists—as well as our technological resources. We chart where the ice is impenetrable and where there are leads guiding us to exciting discoveries.

Days 16 to 19 — Exploring Northwest Greenland

The remote and rarely explored coast of Northwest Greenland is our next destination—going places the Explorer has never been. The area north of Qaanaaq has the most interesting exploration history of Greenland, with many expeditions based here; timbers from Hall’s ship, the Polaris, may still exist on the beaches. Cape York is also historically significant with a monument to Admiral Peary. We visit the small community of Etah, the northern-most habitation in West Greenland, where we can interact and learn about the people of the Far North.

Explorer will be in true expedition mode every turn of the way. The former Prime Minister of Greenland, Kuupik Kleist, told us this region was one of the most beautiful and unexplored parts of all of Greenland: glaciers, fjords, inlets and islands. Wildlife galore, unlike parts of the south where it is more actively hunted. In addition, we connected with our very own Dr. Henning Thing, one of the more experienced scientists working in Greenland, and he gave us some very specific places to explore that sound wonderful. We will definitely be exploring new frontiers.

Days 20 — Qilakitsoq

Today we are back in familiar waters, stopping at Qilakitsoq, where a collection of mummies dating to 1475 was discovered in 1972 and featured on the cover of National Geographic magazine’s February 1985 issue.

Days 21 — Disko Bay & Ilulissat

Sail into Disko Bay and set out to explore a tongue of the Greenland ice cap. Take an extraordinary cruise among towering icebergs. Take a hike to the UNESCO archaeological site at Sermermiut, and view the Jakobshavn Icefjord.

Days 22 — Greenland’s West Coast

Our final day aboard will be spent in the beautifully scenic fjords north of Sondre Stromfjord. Take a Zodiac cruise, kayak, or hike across the tundra. Our undersea specialist may launch the ROV to see the marine life inhabiting the fjord floor.

Days 23 — Kangerlussuaq/Disembark/ Reykjavík, Iceland

Disembark in Kangerlussuaq in the morning followed by a tour and lunch. Fly by private charter to Reykjavík, where we check in to the hotel.

Days 24 — Reykjavík/Keflavík/U.S.

Our grand adventure takes us to Iceland’s lively capital city, Reykjavík. Have a guided tour of Reykjanes Peninsula, followed by lunch. Transfer to Keflavík for your flight home (flight not included).

* Itinerary may be subject to change

Only show rates under
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Rates Arctic 2019
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Cat 2
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Cat 4
Cat 5
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Cat 7
Cat SA Solo
Cat SB Solo
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Air
Photography
$17,840 $18,880 $19,880 $21,370 $24,660 $29,000Full$33,400Full$23,600 $24,850 $400 
Photography
$10,740 $11,480 $11,980 $12,690 $16,100 $17,600Full$20,100 $14,350 $14,970 $800 
Photography
$10,740 $11,480 $11,980 $12,690 $16,100 $17,600 $20,100 $14,350 $14,970 $800 
Photography
$10,740 $11,480 $11,980 $12,690 $16,100 $17,600 $20,100 $14,350 $14,970 $800 
Photography
$10,740 $11,480 $11,980 $12,690 $16,100 $17,600 $20,100 $14,350 $14,970 $800 
Photography
Free Charter Air Oslo/ Longyearbyen
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$15,990 $16,970 $17,740 $18,990 $21,990 $25,610 $29,470 $21,220 $22,180 $400$0
Photography
$10,990 $12,360 $12,850 $14,690 $15,990 $19,150 $22,200 $15,450 $16,070  
Photography
$10,990 $12,360 $12,850 $14,690 $15,990 $19,150 $22,200 $15,450 $16,070  
Photography
$10,990 $12,360 $12,850 $14,690 $15,990 $19,150 $22,200 $15,450 $16,070  
Photography
$10,990 $12,360 $12,850 $14,690 $15,990 $19,150 $22,200 $15,450 $16,070  
Photography
Charter air: Reykjavík/Kangerlussuaq/Reykjavík
$16,790 $17,990 $18,720 $20,100 $24,240 $27,950 $32,400 $22,490 $23,400 $1,520 
Photography
$9,520 $10,070 $10,440 $11,100 $13,080 $14,970 $17,800 $12,590 $13,050  
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Click on the tour dates in the left column to view a trip itinerary. Point MOUSE at Cabin Category to view DETAILED description.

Free Bar Tab and Crew Gratuities are included in the listed rates.

Dates shown are USA/USA however international airfare is NOT included in trip price.

Prices are per person, double occupancy unless indicated solo.  All trips may incur a fuel surcharge.

Kayaking is available as an additional activity available to all passengers and arranged onboard free of charge.

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Please note that availability is updated about once a week.
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Rates Arctic 2020
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Cat 4
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Cat SB Solo
Charter
Air
Photography
$10,990 $12,360 $12,850 $14,690 $15,990 $19,150 $22,200 $15,450 $16,070  
Photography
$10,990 $12,360 $12,850 $14,690 $15,990 $19,150 $22,200 $15,450 $16,070  
Photography
$10,990 $12,360 $12,850 $14,690 $15,990 $19,150 $22,200 $15,450 $16,070  
Photography
$10,990 $12,360 $12,850 $14,690 $15,990 $19,150 $22,200 $15,450 $16,070  
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Charter air: Reykjavík/Kangerlussuaq/Reykjavík
$16,790 $17,990 $18,720 $20,100 $24,240 $27,950 $32,400 $22,490 $23,400 $1,520 
Photography
$9,520 $10,070 $10,440 $11,100 $13,080 $14,970 $17,800 $12,590 $13,050  
Photography
$9,520 $10,070 $10,440 $11,100 $13,080 $14,970 $17,800 $12,590 $13,050  
No trips meet your criteria. Please increase the budget above to view more results.
Click on the tour dates in the left column to view a trip itinerary. Point MOUSE at Cabin Category to view DETAILED description.

Charter air rates subject to change.

Free Bar Tab and Crew Gratuities are included in the listed rates.

Dates shown are USA/USA however international airfare is NOT included in trip price.

Prices are per person, double occupancy unless indicated solo.  All trips may incur a fuel surcharge.

Kayaking is available as an additional activity available to all passengers and arranged onboard free of charge.

DeckPlan_NG-Explorer

   Category 1
Cabins feature one or two Portholes. Most cabins feature two lower single beds. Cabins 303-306 feature one queen-sized bed. All offer a writing desk, reading lamps, bathroom with a roomy glass-wall shower stall, and a TV showing the ship's position and programing.
    Category 2 with Window
Cabins feature two lower single beds (some can convert to a queen-sized bed), and one large window. They offer a writing desk, reading lamps, bathroom with a roomy glass-wall shower stall, and a TV showing the ship's position and programming.
  Category 3 with Window
Cabins feature two lower single beds (some can convert to a queen-sized bed), one large window, and two sitting chairs and a small table and ample storage. They have a writing desk, reading lamps, bathroom with a roomy glass-wall shower stall, and a TV showing the ship's position and programming.
  Category 4 with Window
Cabins feature two lower single beds and at least one large window. Cabin 217, 226 & 228 feature one queen-size bed. All cabins feature climate controls, a TV showing the ship's position and programing. Bathrooms are also generously sized with a roomy glass-walled shower stall.
  Category 5 with Balcony
These cabins feature a balcony with sliding glass doors, feature one queen-sized bed, a writing desk and chairs, climate controls, a TV showing the ship's position and programing. Bathrooms are also generously sized with a roomy glass-walled shower stall. Cabin 221 has two lower single beds that can convert to an Olympic-sized queen.
  Category 6 Suite
Spacious cabins. Those on the Veranda Deck can be converted into Triples, while Upper Deck cabin has private balcony. All feature two lower single beds that can be converted into a queen, a writing desk, chairs, and a TV. Bathrooms are generously sized with a roomy glass-walled shower stall and twin sinks.
  Category 7 Suite with Balcony
These large cabins with private balconies have two lower single beds that can convert to an Olympic-sized queen. They have seating areas and can be converted to triples. Bathrooms are generously sized with a roomy glass-walled shower stall and twin sinks.
  Category Solo A with Window
These cabins feature one lower single bed and a large window, a writing desk, reading lamp, bathroom with a roomy glass-wall shower stall, and a TV showing the ship's position and programming.
  Category Solo B with Window
These cabins feature one lower single bed and a large window, a writing desk, reading lamp, bathroom with a roomy glass-walled shower stall, and a TV showing the ship's position and programming.