For centuries, fortune-seekers risked their lives to find the Northwest Passage, the fabled sea route running between Europe and Asia. On this active adventure, cruise through the heart of the Northwest Passage and experience firsthand the islands, waterways, and wilds that still yield a gratifying sense of achievement for all who make the voyage. One of the highlights is Beechey Island, made famous by explorers such as Roald Amundsen and Sir John Franklin, who disappeared on his last expedition here in 1845. As recently as 2013, searchers from Parks Canada were still looking for the ships lost in the mid-19th century Franklin Expedition.
Note: This cruise is not exclusive to, nor operated by, Wilderness Travel, who acts solely as agent in booking your reservation with the ship operator. The itinerary, lecturers, and all other arrangements are subject to change at the discretion of the cruise line.
Day 1, Aug 9, 2016
Arrive in Ottowa and transfer on your own for an overnight at hotel.
Day 2, Aug 10, 2016
A group charter flight brings you to Kangerlussuaq, Greenland. Just 37 miles north of the Arctic Circle, Kangerlussuaq sits at the head of one of the longest fjords in Greenland. Musk ox and Arctic foxes inhabit the tundra-covered plain that surrounds the town. Upon arrival, transfer to the Sea Adventurer. Tonight, enjoy views of the fjord as the evening turns to twilight.
Day 3, Aug 11, 2016
Itilleq and Sisimiut
As you head north, the ship reaches the village of Itilleq, a typical Greenlandic village. Situated on a hollow, Itilleq is on an island without any fresh water. The village has approximately 130 inhabitants and offers charming views of colorful native houses along the tundra.
Day 4, Aug 12, 2016
Ilulissat Kangerlua is Greenlandic for the Iceberg Fjord. The glacier at the head of the fjord is the most productive in the Northern Hemisphere, and the icebergs it calves float down the fjord to enter Baffin Bay. As the ship approaches Ilulissat, have your cameras ready to take photos of young icebergs. The journey of these “bergs” will end years later, somewhere off the coast of Newfoundland. So significant is Ilulissat Fjord that UNESCO has designated the area a World Heritage Site. Listen to the growling of the icebergs as you cruise the fjord in Zodiacs.
Day 5, Aug 13, 2016
Saqqaq is one of the best-run small villages in Greenland. Several anthropologists have published books on the village’s original inhabitants and their hunting methods. The town gave the ancient people their name, Saqqaq. You then sail to the beautiful glacier Eqip Sermia, tracing the massive glacier face for some distance.
Day 6, Aug 14, 2016
Regardless of the time of day, you'll want to be out on deck as the ship approaches Uummannaq. The vista is simply breathtaking, with the heart-shaped mountain that gave the town its name dominating the view. Uummannaq was founded as a Danish colony in 1758 on the Nuussuaq mainland, but in 1763 it was moved to the nearby island, as seal hunting was more plentiful there.
Day 7, Aug 15, 2016
Baffin Bay is technically a sea, not a bay; it is an extension of the Arctic Ocean, the massive body of water that separates Canada from Greenland. As the ship sails westward, travelers should be on the lookout for icebergs and seabirds gliding on the wing, and whales in the water below.
Day 8, Aug 16, 2016
Pond Inlet, Nunavut, Canada
Arriving in the Canadian Arctic, the people of Pond Inlet or Mittimatalik, as it has been called by the Inuit for thousands of years, will welcome us to their town and the Artist’s Co-operative. In addition to the internationally renowned art they produce, the people of “Pond” earn their living fishing for Arctic char.
Day 9, Aug 17, 2016
In the Maxwell Bay region of Devon Island, you will go for hikes and cruise in Zodiacs as you visit a Thule site, where the ancestors of the Inuit lived. Watch for wildlife at Dundas Harbour as walrus and musk ox inhabit the area.
Day 10, Aug 18, 2016
Just offshore at the western end of Devon Island is Beechey Island. There, on a stony beach, stand three grave markers, solemn reminders of the lives lost during Sir John Franklin’s search for the Northwest Passage. Upon approach to Beechey Island, you will be treated to presentations about Franklin and his expedition. Radstock Bay has an impressive archaeological site and is beside Caswell Towers, used as a polar bear observation point.
Day 11, Aug 19, 2016
Call on Somerset Island, in Peel Sound, located above the 74th parallel directly on the Northwest Passage (close to 500 miles north of the Arctic Circle). Here you may see Peary caribou and musk ox, as well as the hundreds of thousands of birds that nest on the sheer cliffs of Prince Leopold I, off the northeast tip of Somerset. The island was discovered by Lt. W. E. Parry in 1819 and named after the county in England.
Day 12, Aug 20, 2016
Fort Ross and Bellot Strait
During the night you'll be sailing in a southerly direction, following the coast of Somerset Island, just as Amundsen did. If possible, you'll go ashore at Fort Ross, an uninhabited Hudson’s Bay Company trading post. In May 1670, King Charles II granted the lands of the Hudson Bay watershed to “the Governor and Company of Adventurers of England trading into Hudson Bay.” For nearly 200 years, the administration of Canada’s north was the responsibility of the merchants of the Hudson’s Bay Company. Sail westward through Bellot Strait, a narrow channel separating mainland North America from Somerset Island. About mid-point through the channel is the northernmost area of the continental land mass, Zenith Point.
Day 13, Aug 21, 2016
In 1845, John Franklin led an expedition of 129 British naval officers and seamen to the Canadian Arctic, tasked with finding the Northwest Passage. By 1848, they were presumed missing. Rescue missions were conducted for 32 years. The first skeletal remains attributed to the crew were discovered in 1859 by Captain Francis McClintock on the western shore of King William Island. McClintock also discovered the only written remains under a cairn erected on Victory Point. Since 1859, many skeletal remains and artifacts from Franklin’s expedition have been found at various locations on King William Island. The most recent was in 2013 when Parks Canada gathered several bones for identification and analysis, as well as about 200 small artifacts, ranging from bits of canvas and leather to nails, rivets, cans, metal containers, cast iron, and rope.
Day 14, Aug 22, 2016
King William Island
On King Williams Island, return to the site of Sir John Franklin's saga. For two winters, Franklin’s ships Erebus and Terror were beset in ice near the island. In 1848, the ships were abandoned. A decade passed before a cairn with a terse note of explanation was discovered on Victory Point. The questions raised by that discovery have inspired search expeditions into the 21st century. In 2008, remnants of copper sheeting believed to be from the ships were discovered during a six-week expedition under the auspices of Parks Canada in the area of O’Reilly Island.
Day 15, Aug 23, 2016
Coronation Gulf and Cambridge Bay
In 1821, on an earlier voyage to the Arctic, Sir John Franklin named the gulf in honor of the coronation of King George IV. Your Expedition Team will use ice charts, weather forecasts, and their years of Arctic expedition experience to make the most of time spent in Coronation Gulf.
Day 16, Aug 24, 2016
In the area around Bathurst Inlet, you’ll enjoy a hike on the tundra. Here you will fully appreciate the lush flora that flourishes briefly during the short Arctic summer. This is also the area where the first polar bear and grizzly hybrid was discovered, and you’ll be on the lookout for all three species.
Days 17-18, Aug 25-26, 2016
At the eastern end of the gulf is Dolphin and Union Strait, crossed in 1851 by Dr. John Rae, his two companions, two sledges, and five dogs. At the completion of that expedition, Rae and his companions were only 50 miles west of the beset ships of Sir John Franklin. Had Rae known, perhaps Franklin’s expedition would have had an entirely different ending. Your in-depth education program will provide the basis for on-going discussions over dinner or drinks in the bar.
Day 19, Aug 27, 2016
Your final destination is the town of Kugluktuk. You will have a chance to explore and bid the community farewell. You’ll later make your way to the airport where you board your charter flight to Edmonton. Upon Arrival in Edmonton, Alberta, transfer to your nearby airport hotel.
Day 20, Aug 28, 2016
Edmonton / Depart
Transfer on your own to the airport and depart on homeward-bound flights.