Destination: Arctic Cruises
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Cruise this historic sea route through Canada's High Arctic, encountering many of the Arctic's iconic wildlife species including polar bears, walrus, seals and whales. This "Westward Journey" is ideal for anyone interested in the history of Arctic exploration and wants to see a variety of wildlife.Contact us about this trip Share
Sondre Stromfjord is one of the world's longest fjords cutting into the interior of Greenland. Our charter flight from Ottawa, Canada into Greenland will see us land at a former American Airbase (Bluie West Eight and Camp Lloyd), located just miles north of the Arctic Circle. We will board our expedition vessel by zodiac and weigh anchor. Throughout the evening and through the night we will sail down this incredible fjord, crossing the Arctic Circle again, before reaching the ocean and Davis Strait. We turn north out of the mouth of Sondre Stromfjord and cross the Arctic Circle yet again, remaining north of this point for the rest of the voyage.
We will explore the fjord behind the town of Sisimiut before visiting the town in the afternoon. We will hope to meet a few of the traditional Greenlandic kayakers and perhaps see a demonstration of "Eskimo Rolling" by one of the former champions of the Greenland Kayaking Championships.
One of the wonders of the world, the Jacobshavn Icefjord spews massive tabular icebergs out into Disko Bay. Our approach to Ilulissat will be dependent upon the amount of ice in and around the mouth of the icefjord. Ilulissat was the hometown of Knud Rasmussen, one of Greenland's most famous explorers and anthropologists, born here in 1879.
Our crossing of Baffin Bay will depend on the extent of the so-called "middle ice." Our goal will be to find the edge of this and then follow it around and to the coast of Baffin Island. Our time at sea will be determined by the extent of the ice and amount of wildlife. As we cross Baffin Bay we will keep a look out for fin, sperm, sei and humpback whales as well as the numerous species of Arctic seals and seabirds that abound in the Bay.
Rising straight out of the water and almost blotting out the sky, the cliffs of these fjords are incredible. We will sail along a few looking for a place to get out and stretch our legs (somewhere that does not require a rope and harness). The mouths of these fjord complexes are often rich in wildlife due to the confluence of fresher glacial melt water from the fjords mixing with the seawater of Baffin Bay.
We will visit the town of Pond Inlet and make our base at the Natinnak Centre, where a spectacular cultural exhibit will be the background of a display put on for us by the Elders and youth of Pond Inlet. Inuit carvings, jeweler and other local craft will be available to purchase from the local artisans. We will 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 rich in nutrients. Coupled with areas of open water for much of the year, Lancaster Sound is home to a diverse concentration of wildlife that can be staggering, especially given the sparseness of the region. Our stops along the shore of Lancaster Sound will depend very much on ice conditions and weather.
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. Almost sixty years later, Roald Amundsen stopped at Beechey Island during the first successful complete transit of the Northwest Passage.
Following our visit to Beechey Island, we sail south toward Prince Regent Inlet, stopping for a view of the bird cliffs at Prince Leopold Island. A migratory bird sanctuary, Prince Leopold Island is home to thick-billed murres, black guillemots, northern fulmars and black-legged kittiwakes. Totaling several hundred thousand birds, Prince Leopold Island is one of the most important bird sanctuaries in the Canadian Arctic.
Encounters with polar bear, beluga, narwhal and the occasional bowhead whale have also been known in the summering grounds around Prince Leopold Island and Prince Regent Inlet.
If ice conditions permit, we will sail south through Prince Regent Inlet and approach the eastern end of the Bellot Strait. Fort Ross, located at the southern end of Somerset Island, 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 by the Inuit and their predecessors. Upon leaving Fort Ross, we will 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 ample food source for marine mammals and we will keep our eyes peeled for harp seals, bearded seals and even polar bears. Upon exiting Bellot Strait we will turn south in Victoria Strait, taking a bearing for King William Island.
Little is known of how the remainders of the Franklin Expedition spent its last months in the frozen Arctic. The vessels, abandoned in the ice of Victoria Strait have left no trace. A lifeboat left abandoned, 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 that never occurred. We will visit Victory Point and continue to reflect on the quest for exploration that opened up the Arctic, while sacrificing some of its bravest explorers.
We hope to visit the community of Cambridge Bay, on the southern shores of Victoria Island. Cambridge Bay, also known as Ikaluktutiak or "good fishing place," is a center 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 dog sledding from the locals. Prior to this, McClintock found solid evidence of the Franklin Expedition here in 1859, including naval artifacts, sledges, graves and letters.
We drop anchor in the harbor of Cambridge Bay and make our way ashore by zodiac. Our charter flight to Edmonton will await us here and we will board the flight for the short flight back to "southern" Canada.
PLEASE NOTE: Due to the nature of expedition cruising, itineraries are subject to change due to weather, ice conditions, natural and cultural events, wildlife viewing opportunities and other logistical considerations. In general, a ship's crew will endeavor to complete the itinerary provided, but the ultimate decision lies with the ship's captain and expedition leaders.