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.
Day 1: Kangerlussuaq, Greenland
Day 2: Sisimiut
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), NU
Day 1: Kangerlussuaq Sondre Stromfjord is one of the longest fjords in the world and boasts 168 kilometres 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 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 colourful 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 nineteen metres per day and calving more than thirty-five square kilometres 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 honour 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 travelled 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 forty-eight and seventy-two kilometres wide—and eighty-eight kilometres long—Smith Sound is often packed with ice and provides favourable 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, 1,150 kilometres above the Arctic Circle—Canada’s northernmost civilian community. We’ll be welcomed by the population of about 165. Our activities will centre 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 fifty thousand square kilometres. 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 Paeleozoic 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 Harbour’. 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 about 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 honour 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 Harbour). 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 275 kilometres 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 fibres in the world, used to make all manner of clothing and coverings.
Day 17: Kugluktuk (Coppermine) 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 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.
Potential Alternate Itinerary
Day 13: Parry Channel and Peel Sound
Day 14: Usqsuqtuuq (Gjøa Haven)
Day 15: Queen Maud Gulf
Day 16: Coronation Gulf
Day 17: Kugluktuk (Coppermine), NU
• Northern Fulmar• Dovekie• Thick-billed Murre• Black-legged Kittiwake• Black Guillemot• Glaucous Gull• Thayer's Gull• Iceland Gull• Northern Wheatear• Polar Bear• Musk ox• Humpback Whale
• Into the NWP Birds and Mammals 2013 (pdf)
Sailing with a maximum of 198-passengers, Ocean Endeavour is the perfect vessel for expedition cruising. Outfitted with twenty Zodiacs, advanced navigation equipment, multiple lounges and a top deck observation room, she is purpose-built for passenger experiences in remote environments. The Ocean Endeavour boasts a 1B ice class, enabling her to freely explore throughout the Arctic summer.
Launched in 1982, she has had numerous upgrades, most recently in 2010 and 2014. At 137 meters (450ft) in length, Ocean Endeavour has plenty of interior and exterior space. Enjoy multiple decks offering comfortable lounge chairs, outdoor dining, a swimming pool, sauna and even a hot tub! The spacious interiors allow for multiple workshops and presentations to occur simultaneously. Community is at the heart of Adventure Canada’s expedition experience. We gather together to learn, enjoy a drink, sing a song or share a yarn – connecting with one and other. The three lounges aboard Ocean Endeavour are fantastic public spaces for seminars, events and dialogue.
The Ocean Endeavour’s private spaces are stylish and comfortable. All cabins have private washroom facilities, a phone for internal calls, radio, TV and air-conditioning. There are a variety of cabin categories available ranging from 9-30 m2 (100-320 sq ft). Photos of most cabin categories are available under the "Dates & Prices" tab.
Ocean Endeavour’s crew is experienced, and friendly. Her shallow draft and maneuverability allow her to access isolated fiords, bays and secluded communities. The stylish vessel is at home among the glorious settings we seek. Enjoy the class and comfort of a boutique hotel, while venturing to some of the world’s last great frontiers aboard the Ocean Endeavour!
2017 Fares are per person in US Dollars:
Category 1: $8,995 Deck 4
Category 2: 10,595 Deck 4
Category 3: $12,295 Deck 5
Category 4: $13,795 Deck 4
Category 5: $15,295 Deck 5
Category 6: $16,795 Deck 7
Category 7: $18,295 Deck 8
Category 8: $19,795 Decks 5 & 7
Category 9: $21,295 Decks 5 & 7
Category 10: $22,795 Deck 7
If you'd like a single occupancy cabin, there are a limited number of single cabins in categories 3 to 7 available without a single supplement. Single cabins in categories 8 to 10 are available at 1.5x the fare quoted above.
Our small ship cruising programs allow you to experience the best of the natural world, while enjoying the comforts of our friendly floating hotel. The ship generally makes crossing between islands at night, so every morning you awake to new vistas and discoveries. Every day we offer a combination of interesting shore excursions and fun shipboard activities. You can choose which elements of the program you want to participate in.
Our excursions onshore will involve a relatively low level of exertion, but you will need a reasonable level of mobility to get up and down the gangway and climb into and out of Zodiacs (with assistance). Some of our shore landings will be 'wet', requiring waterproof boots. Once you have left the zodiac, you'll find our shore excursions accommodate both those who wish to enjoy a gentle stroll and those who prefer more active hikes. Our onboard specialists will join us on these shore excursions to provide interpretation and narration to these wonderful landscapes and experiences.
Each evening we will gather in the lounge to recount the day’s events and share memorable stories. Our onboard musician will provide some lively entertainment during happy hour and the expedition leader will outline the following day’s schedule. Our resource staff of naturalists, historians, and other guest speakers will give informative talks at various times throughout the voyage.
Meals in the ship's dining room are a great opportunity to meet new friends and recount the day's adventures. Special diets can be accommodated with advance notice. Safety is also a top priority with Eagle-Eye Tours – our team has extensive experience in the field, and all of our Voyages are run in conjunction with operators with the highest safety standards.
When the ship is underway, it is a wonderful time to join a naturalist on deck, take photos of the stunning scenery, or get caught up on some reading in the library.
We know that everyone travels for different reasons. Over the years, however, we have found one common element among the guest who choose to travel with us - a thirst of knowledge and authentic experience. Knowing this drives us to ensure the highest quality learning experience on our trips, by taking time to carefully design each trip we offer.
Expedition Costs Include• Passage aboard the Ocean Endeavour• Pre-departure materials• Special access permits, entry and park fees• Team of expedition staff• Applicable taxes• Educational program• Interactive workshops• Evening entertainment• Guided activities• Sightseeing and community visits• All shipboard meals, including on deck barbeques & afternoon tea• All zodiac excursions• Port Fees
Expedition Cost Does Not Include• $250 Discovery Fee• Commercial Flights • Charter Flights (Toronto to Kangerlussuaq and Kugluktuk to Edmonton $2,395 per person, roundtrip including taxes and fees)• Gratuities (suggested $15 USD per passenger per day)• Personal expenses• Mandatory Medical evacuation insurance• Additional expenese in the event of delays or itinerary changes• Possible fuel surcharges• Pre & post hotel accommodation• Optional excursions• Additional costs associated with payments by credit card
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