Into the Northwest Passage 2017

Ocean Endeavour Cruise Ship
Ocean Endeavour
198 Passengers
Adventure Options

The Northwest Passage represents the pinnacle of Arctic exploration. On this trip, like the explorers before us, we’ll experience the quaint villages, dramatic fjords, and calving glaciers of Greenland, working our way north to spectacular Kap York. Then, crossing Smith Sound, we’ll visit Aujuittuq (Grise Fiord), Canada’s northernmost community, and pay respects at the Franklin Expedition graves at Beechey Island. Melville, Banks, and Devon Islands offer opportunities to spot Peary caribou, polar bear, walrus and musk ox—and visits to ghostly RCMP and Hudson’s Bay Company posts. Prince of Wales Strait affords a passage to Amundsen Gulf and our destination: Kugluktuk (Coppermine), the end of our epic journey above the Arctic Circle.

To sail the Northwest Passage is to sail living history and the history of the Inuit who have called this remarkable place home for countless generations. This is your chance to join the ranks of the fearless adventurers who have been lured by its spirit and legend.

• Sail this legendary route aboard a small, ice-class expedition vessel
• Visit ancient sites of the Thule and Dorset people with our on-board archaeologist
• Photograph birds and wildlife in their stunning natural habitat
• Marvel at the Ilulissat Icefjord, where 90% of the north Atlantic’s icebergs are born
• Learn about Inuit communities, culture and worldview first hand
• Visit Aujuittuq (Grise Fiord) Canada's Northern most civilian community
• See haunting artifacts of the northern explorers, HBC, and RCMP

Brief Itinerary

Day 1 Kangerlussuaq, Greenland
Day 2 Sisimiut, Greenland
Day 3 Ilulissat
Day 4 Karrat Fjord
Day 5 Melville Bay
Day 6 Kap York
Day 7 Smith Sound
Day 8 Aujuittuq (Grise Fiord), NU
Day 9 Coburg Island
Day 10 Devon Island
Day 11 Beechey Island
Day 12 Bathurst Island
Day 13 Melville Island
Day 14 Banks Island, NT
Day 15 Prince of Wales Strait
Day 16 Ulukhaktok (Holman)
Day 17 Kugluktuk (Coppermine), Nunavut, Canada

Day 1 — Kangerlussuaq, Greenland

Sondre Stromfjord is one of the longest fjords in the world and boasts 100 miles (168 km) of superb scenery. Kangerlussuaq, the town at its eastern head, means ‘the big fjord.’

We begin our adventure by sailing down this dramatic fjord as the sun sets before us.

Day 2 — Sisimiut, Greenland

The second-largest town in Greenland, Sisimiut has been inhabited for the last 4,500 years, first by the the Saqqaq, the Dorset, and then by the Thule (the ancestors of today's Inuit). Their descendants form the majority of its present-day population of some 6,000 inhabitants. It is the largest business centre north of Nuuk and the fastest-growing town in Greenland.

Day 3 — 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 along a boardwalk 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 Icefjord.

The Sermeq Kujalleq Glacier is one of the most active and fastest moving in the world at 62 ft (19 m) per day and calving more than 13 sq. mi (19 sq km) of ice annually. The glacier has been the object of scientific attention for 250 years.

Day 4 — Karrat Fjord

Today we will cruise one of Greenland’s most spectacular fjords, known for plentiful marine life, plentiful icebergs 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 and talus slopes 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 5 — Melville Bay

To the north of the Upernavik Archipelago, Melville Bay opens to the southwest into Baffin Bay. Its Kalaallisut name, Qimusseriarsuaq, means “the great dog sledding place”. Ice does not clear from the bay each summer and it is totally isolated and uninhabited. Because of local winds and extensive ice, Melville Bay is the site of dramatic landscape views. We will make an expedition stop in here today, and experience the landscape firsthand.

Day 6 — Kap York

The rugged coastal environment at Kap York is rich in wildlife and part of an extensive network of traditional hunting grounds. During the spring and summer months the skies and cliffs are dotted with millions of birds, primarily auks and murres. This district boasts the largest seabird population in northwest Greenland. Whalers and explorers often entered these waters; Admiral Robert Peary’s family raised a monument in honor of his achievements on the cape. Sailors’ and ships’ logs record multiple climbs of the cape in order to survey the ice conditions in Qimusseriarsuaq (Melville Bay).

Day 7 — Smith Sound

We will spend a day exploring this fabled body of water that served as the main route for explorers and adventurers searching for the North Pole. Adolphus Greely, Sir George Nares and Elisha Kent Kane all traveled these waters with varying degrees of success. The Sound was named by William Baffin after Sir Thomas Smythe, promoter of voyages to find a Northwest Passage.
Between 30 & 45 miles (48 - 72 km) wide—and 55 miles (88 km) long—Smith Sound is often packed with ice and provides favorable conditions for wildlife viewing.

Day 8 — Aujuittuq (Grise Fiord), NU

Aujuittuq means ‘place that never thaws.’ It is an apt name for this peaceful hamlet, 715 miles (1,150 km) above the Arctic Circle—Canada’s northernmost civilian community. We’ll be welcomed by the population of about 165 inhabitants. Our activities will center in the village where we will have a chance to meet members of the community and learn about their way of life.

Day 9 — Coburg Island

At the entrance to Jones Sound is Coburg Island, whose spectacular seabird cliffs are a designated National Wildlife Area. Thirty thousand pairs of black-legged kittiwakes and 160,000 pairs of thick-billed murres crowd the rocky ledges on this island, which is itself almost completely covered by an ice cap.

Day 10 — Devon Island

Devon Island is the largest uninhabited island on earth and comprises over twenty thousand square miles (50,000 sq km). It was first sighted by Europeans in 1616, though they never set up a base here until the arrival of the Hudson’s Bay Company, 300 years later. The island's geology consists of reddish Precambrian gneiss and Paleozoic siltstones and shales; these, combined with its harsh climate, have drawn comparisons with the planet Mars.

Day 11 — Beechey Island

In 1845 Sir John Franklin took his expedition of 129 men and 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. In the autumn of 2014, Canadian archaeologists discovered remnants of the HMS Erebus in the frozen waters of the Northwest Passage, a discovery that re-galvanized interest in the fabled region. In the fall of 2016, further searching led to the discovery of Franklin’s second ship: the Terror.

Day 12 — Bathurst Island

Good soil conditions and a rare wetland environment produce abundant vegetation here, making Bathurst a major calving area for the endangered Peary caribou. Here we also find the Polar Bear Pass National Wildlife Area, a migratory route for polar bears from March to November. We hope to encounter both as we explorer the southern shore of this rarely-visited island.

Day 13 — Melville Island

British explorer Sir William Parry first visited Melville Island in 1819. Not only did he discover the island; ice forced him to spend the winter in 1820 at what is now called ‘Winter Harbor’. The island is named for Robert Dundas, second Viscount Melville, who was First Sea Lord at the time.

Melville Island is one of two major breeding grounds for a small sea goose, the western High Arctic Brant. DNA analysis and field observations suggest that these birds may be distinct from other Brant stocks. Numbering only 9,000 birds, this is one of the rarest goose stocks in the world.

Day 14 — Banks Island

In 1820, Sir William Parry named Banks Island in honor of British naturalist and botanist Sir Joseph Banks. Two federal Migratory Bird Sanctuaries were founded in here in 1961. The island is home to two thirds of the world’s population of lesser snow geese, and also supports barren-ground caribou, polar bears, and birds like robins and swallows. The first grizzly-polar bear hybrid found in the wild was sighted here in April 2006, near Ikaahuk (Sachs Harbor). Musk ox, numbering over 40,000, are the most striking of the abundant wildlife on the island.

Day 15 — Prince of Wales Strait

Prince of Wales Strait is part of the Arctic Ocean, extending northeastward for 170 miles (275 km) from the Amundsen Gulf to Viscount Melville Sound and separating Banks and Victoria Islands. It was discovered in 1850 by Irish explorer Robert McClure, who came within sight of Viscount Melville Sound before heavy ice forced him to turn back.

Named after Albert Edward, then the Prince of Wales, the strait was not navigated by modern vessels until the RCMP patrol of Sgt. Larsen in 1944.

Day 16 — Ulukhaktok (Holman)

Found on the west side of Victoria Island, a Hudson’s Bay Company post was opened at Prince Albert Sound in 1923, moved to Walker Bay in 1928 and finally to Ulukhaktok in 1939. The large bluff that overlooks the town was the source that provided the slate and copper used to make ulus—traditional Inuit knives—and gives the community its name. Printmaking is popular here, as are beautifully intricate pieces carved from the horns of the abundant local musk ox population. The musk ox also provide the community with qiviut, one of the warmest and most luxurious fibers in the world, used to make all manner of clothing and coverings.

Day 17 — Kugluktuk (Coppermine), Nunavut, Canada

Located at the mouth of the Coppermine River, southwest of Victoria Island on the Coronation Gulf, Kugluktuk is the western most community in Nunavut. Coppermine reverted to its original Inuinnaqtun name—Kugluktuk, meaning “place of moving waters”—on January 1st, 1996. The Coppermine River itself is designated a Canadian Heritage River for the important role it played as an exploration and fur trade route. Copper deposits along the river attracted the first explorers to the area.

Today we will disembark the Ocean Endeavour and make our way to the airport to meet our charter flights home.

Note: This is our proposed itinerary. It is highly probable that weather, sea, and ice conditions will not allow us to travel this exact route. Our expedition leader and the Ocean Endeavour's captain will determine our exact route day by day.

* Itinerary may be subject to change

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   Category 10 | Suite
Deck seven: Forward-facing picture windows, unobstructed view; double bed, private bath with full tub, refrigerator. Approximately 310 sq ft
   Category 9 | Junior Suite
Deck five: Picture windows, unobstructed view; queen bed, sitting area, private bath, refrigerator. Approximately 270 sq ft
Deck seven forward: Forward-facing picture windows, unobstructed view; double bed, private bath with full tub, sitting area, refrigerator.. Approximately 270 sq ft
   Category 8 | Superior Twin
Deck five: Two picture windows, unobstructed view; two lower berths, sitting area, private bath, refrigerator. Approximately 210 sq ft
Deck seven forward: Forward-facing picture windows, unobstructed view; queen bed, private bath with full tub, refrigerator. Approximately 180 sq ft
Deck seven midship: Picture windows, partially obstructed view; queen bed, private bath, refrigerator. Approximately 190 sq ft
   Category 7 | Select Twin
Deck five: Picture windows, unobstructed view; two lower berths, private bath, refrigerator. Approximately 190 sq ft
Deck eight: Oversized windows, partially obstructed view; queen bed, private bath, refrigerator. Approximately 145 sq ft
   Category 6 | Comfort Twin
Deck four: Two porthole windows, unobstructed view; two lower berths, private bath, refrigerator. Approximately 175 sq ft
Deck seven: Picture window, partially obstructed view; two lower berths, private bath, refrigerator. Approximately 135 sq ft
Deck eight: Picture windows, obstructed view; queen bed, private bath, refrigerator. Approximately 160 sq ft
   Category 5 | Main Twin
Deck five: Picture window, unobstructed view; two lower berths, private bath. Approximately 115 sq ft
NOTE: Cabin 5047 is a 4-passenger Family Room.
   Category 4 | Exterior Twin
Deck four: Porthole window, unobstructed view; two lower berths, private bath. Approximately 100 sq ft (Twin) / 90 sq ft (Single)
NOTE: Cabin 4029 is a 6-passenger Family Room.
   Category 3 | Interior Twin
Deck five: Interior cabin, two lower berths, private bath. Approximately 125 sq ft (Twin) / 110 sq ft (Single)
   Category 2 | Triple
Deck four: Interior cabin, three lower berths, two private baths. Approximately 200 sq ft
   Category 1 | Quad
Deck four: Interior cabin, four lower berths, private bath (separate shower room and powder room). Approximately 240 sq ft
   Specialty Cabins
Cabin 5047 is a Category 5, 4-passenger Family Room
Cabin 4029 is a Category 4, 6-passenger Family Room