Northwest Passage: Franklin's Legend

An Arctic Voyage Aboard the Sea Adventurer

Northwest Passage: Franklin's Legend route-map

Trip Details at-a-Glance

Cost From: $11,995  
Length: 20 days
Arrive: Copenhagen, Denmark
Depart: Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Lodging: 2 nights hotels, 17 nights aboard 117-passenger expedition vessel
Meals: Meals on board throughout your voyage including coffee, tea, and cocoa available around the clock
Activity: Small Ship Cruising, Sea Kayaking, Wildlife & Natural History
Trip Level: 18-day expedition cruise, cultural explorations and walking tours, Zodiac cruises


  • Explore the highlights of Greenland and the Canadian Arctic
  • Iconic Arctic wildlife: musk ox, caribou, polar bears, Arctic fox, and more
  • Colorful Greenlandic villages and traditional Inuit handicrafts
  • Ilulissat, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the most productive ice fjord in the Northern Hemisphere

Choosing the Right Trip

We work hard to help you choose the right trip for you, paying attention to your individual interests, abilities, and needs. If you have questions about the level of comfort or any of the activities described in this itinerary, please contact us.


We are proud to have an exceptionally high rate of repeat travelers. For more information, we would be happy to put you in touch with a client who has traveled with us.

Departure Notes

Once you have signed up on the trip, we send a complete packing list, relevant health information, and required travel documents.

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.


Day 1, August 18
Copenhagen, Denmark

Arrive in Copenhagen and overnight at hotel.

Day 2, August 19
Kangerlussuaq, Greenland

A group charter flight brings us 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, August 20
Itilleq and Sisimiut

As we 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. In Sisimiut, we will be treated to a traditional kayaking demonstration. Kayak is an Inuit word the English borrowed to describe a small vessel propelled by paddles, seating one or two people. There will be time to explore the town where 18th century buildings from Greenland’s colonial period still stand. Take the time to wander through the historic area by passing under the arch formed by two giant bowhead whale bones.

Day 4, August 21

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 we cruise the fjord in Zodiacs. We'll offer a hike along the lovely boardwalk down to a stunning viewpoint of the bay, or a helicopter ride to the foot of the glacier. If you have a little time left, enjoy a local microbrew at a pub, or shop for local handicrafts.

Day 5, August 22
Eqip Sermia

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. We then sail to the beautiful glacier Eqip Sermia, tracing the massive glacier face for some distance.

Day 6, August 23

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. On your walk through the town, visit the historic oil warehouse built in 1860 and look for the peat hut, behind the warehouse, which was still in use up until a few years ago. In the afternoon we’ll visit Qilaqitsoq, where five Greenland mummies were discovered in 1972. Four women and a child are thought to have drowned and remain buried in a dry and cool cave for the last 600-700 years. The mummified remains are kept in Nuuk, the capital of Greenland.

Day 7, August 24
Baffin Bay

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, August 25
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. We will have time to take photos, explore the hamlet, and hike the nearby tundra to a local Thule site before returning back to the Sea Adventurer.

Day 9, August 26
Devon Island

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. The abandoned settlement you'll visit was once a Royal Canadian Mounted Police depot. This depot is still considered active, as every year a detail of Mounties arrives to tend the graves of their fallen comrades.

Day 10, August 27
Beechey Island

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, we 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, August 28
Somerset Island

We'll 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 we 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, August 29
Fort Ross and Bellot Strait

During the night we'll be sailing in a southerly direction, following the coast of Somerset Island, just as Amundsen did. We plan to 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. We 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, August 30
Victory Point

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, August 31
King William Island

On King Williams Island, we 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. Weather and ice conditions permitting, we may attempt to visit the community of Gjoa Haven.

Day 15, September 1
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. You will go ashore to hike or cruise in Zodiacs in search of wildlife. If weather conditions permit, visits will be made to historic sites. The people of Iqaluktuuttiaq, also known as Cambridge Bay and the largest community on Victoria Island, will welcome our ship and guests to their culture through dance and song. Travelers will have time to explore the community of 1,400, a commercial hub for the region.

Day 16, September 2
Bathurst Inlet

In the area around Bathurst Inlet, we’ll enjoy a hike on the tundra among the spectacular fall colors. Here we 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 we’ll be on the lookout for all three species.

Days 17-18, September 3-4
Amundsen Gulf

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. Our in-depth education program will provide the basis for on-going discussions over dinner or drinks in the bar.

Day 19, September 5
Kugluktuk (Coppermine)

Our final destination is the town of Kugluktuk. We will have a chance to explore and bid the community farewell. We’ll later make our way to the airport where we board our charter flight to Edmonton. Upon Arrival in Edmonton, Alberta, we transfer to our nearby airport hotel.

Day 20, September 6
Edmonton / Depart

Depart on homeward-bound flights or spend some more time in the Edmonton area.

Note: This cruise is not an exclusive Wilderness Travel departure. The itinerary, lecturers, and other arrangements are subject to change at the discretion of the ship operator.

2015 Cruise Collection Brochure

We’ve searched the world to find the finest small ships and most active adventures, from Greenland to New Zealand to the great rivers of Europe.

Download our online digital brochure to view on your computer or mobile device, or as a PDF! Or request a printed copy to be sent by mail, or by calling 800-368-2794.

What the Trip is Like

This trip is level 1, Easy. For most activities, a relatively moderate level of exertion is required. You will need to climb into and out of Zodiacs for excursions ashore and walk over sometimes rough terrain including uneven, rocky beaches. Flexibility is a must, as itineraries are subject to change, and landings may be tidal or weather dependent.

Explanation of Trip Levels



Aug 18-Sep 6, 2015  SOLD OUT

Aug 9-28, 2016  Sea Adventurer

Trip Cost

Prices are for 2016

Cruise Rates by Cabin Category
Per person, double occupancy

CategoriesCruise Price
Triple $11,995
Lower Deck Twin $13,995
Main Deck Porthole Twin $14,995
Main Deck Window Twin $15,995
Superior Twin $17,995
Deluxe Twin $18,995
Suite Twin $20,995
Single Lower Deck $23,792
Single Main Deck Porthole $25,492
Single Main Deck Window $27,192
Single Superior $35,990
Kayaking: $595
Transfer Package: $1950

Trip Payment Schedule*

At time of reservation: 20% of trip cost
130 days prior to departure: Balance

*Please note that this differs from our regular catalog departures.

Cancellation and Transfer Fee Schedule*

Minimum fee: $1000 per person
179-120 days prior to departure: 20% of trip cost
119 days or less: 100% of trip cost

*Please note that this differs from our regular catalog departures.

Deck Plan


Trip Cost Includes:

  • Shipboard accommodation with daily housekeeping
  • Pre-expedition hotel night in Copenhagen and post expedition night in Edmonton
  • Meals on board throughout your voyage including coffee, tea, and cocoa available around the clock
  • All shore landings per the daily program
  • Leadership throughout the voyage by our experienced Expedition Leader
  • A daily program of lectures by noted naturalists, historians, and scientists
  • All Zodiac transfers and cruising per the daily program
  • Photographic Journal on DVD documenting the voyage
  • A pair of waterproof expedition boots on loan for shore landings
  • An expedition parka to keep
  • Hair dryer and bathrobe in every cabin
  • Comprehensive pre-departure materials, including a map and an informative Arctic Reader
  • All miscellaneous service taxes and port charges throughout the program
  • All luggage handling aboard ship
  • On embarkation day, transfer from your hotel to the ship
  • On disembarkation day, group transfer from the ship to the airport
  • Emergency Evacuation Insurance for all passengers to a maximum benefit of US$100,000 per person
  • Greenland voyages Cruise Passenger Tax

Trip Cost Does Not Include:

International airfare, mandatory charter flights from Copenhagen to Kangerlussuaq and from Kugluktuk to Edmonton, passport and any applicable visa expenses, government arrival and departure taxes not mentioned above, any meals ashore, baggage, cancellation, interruption, and medical travel insurance, excess baggage charges, laundry and other personal charges, telecommunications charges, voluntary gratuity at the end of the voyage forvshipboard staff and crew, any overnight accommodation required due to flight connections, optional kayaking activities and Ilulissat Icefjord Glacier helicopter excursion.

Arrival & Departure Information

Arrival & Meeting Place
Date: Day 1—Aug 18,2015
Flight arrival time: anytime
Overnight:  Hilton Copenhagen Airport Hotel (included in cruise price)

Date: Day 2—Aug 19,2015
Charter flight from Copenhagen to Kangerlussuaq (Flight times TBA)
Embarkation: Sea Adventurer/Kangerlussuaq 3:00pm

Suggested arrival airport
Copenhagen, Denmark(CPH)

Kugluktuk, Canada
Date: Day 19—Sep 5,2015
Disembarkation: morning
Charter flight Kugluktuk to Edmonton Canada(flight times TBA)
Overnight: Edmonton Hotel(included in cruise price)

Date:  Day 20—Sep 6, 2015
Flight departure time: Anytime

Suggested departure airport
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Expedition Details

A valid passport is required for traveling on this trip.  Be sure to check the expiration date.  Your passport must be valid for six months after the conclusion of your trip.  It is a good idea to carry photocopies of your passport photo page in case your passport is lost or as an additional piece of identification, as well as two extra passport photos.

No visa is required for US Citizens traveling to Greenland or Canada.

We recommend checking the Center for Disease Control at should you have any international health concerns.

No vaccines are required for this trip.

Sea Adventurer

The 117-guest Sea Adventurer is a superb oceangoing vessel equipped with stabilizers and an ice-hardened hull that allow her to navigate easily in the most rugged natural environments. The vessel is outfitted with satellite navigation and communication equipment. A fleet of Zodiac landing craft permits us to land anywhere nature or curiosity dictates. Each cabin has an ocean view, individually controlled heat/air conditioner, an in-room music system, and en suite bathroom. Facilities on board the Sea Adventurer include a dining room, lounge, library, gift shop, laundry, and small gym. The Sea Adventurer is staffed by a crew of 79.