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Cruise Into the Nortwest Passage

Northwest Passage

Photo courtesy of © Michelle Valberg

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Ship's Deck Plan

Le Ponant Cruise

Into the Nortwest Passage
Kangerlussuaq (Greenland) - Kugluktuk (Canada )

August 22 - September 7, 2017
17 days / 16 nights on board

  • 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 striking passage to Amundsen Gulf and our destination: Kugluktuk (Coppermine), the end of our epic journey above the Arctic Circle.map
  • To sail the Northwest Passage is to sail living history; join the ranks of the fearless adventurers who have been lured by its spirit. Half the world away is closer than you think.

Cruise Highlights:

  • - Sail this legendary route aboard a small ice-class expedition vessel
  • - Photograph birds and wildlife in their stunning natural habitat
  • - Marvel at the Ilulissat Icefjord, home to the world's fastest-moving glacier
  • - Travel to Greenland, Nunavut, and the Northwest Territories within one sailing
  • - Learn about Inuit communities, culture, and worldview first-hand
  • - See haunting artifacts of the northern explorers, HBC, and RCMP

Charter Flights

Outbound:
Toronto, ON to Kangerlussuaq, Greenland
August 22, 2017
Early morning departure
$1,400 USD per person inclusive of all taxes and fees

Inbound:
Kugluktuk (Coppermine), NU to Edmonton, AB
September 7, 2017
Early evening arrival
$995 USD per person inclusive of all taxes and fees

Round Trip:
$2,395 USD per person inclusive of taxes and fees
Pre and post hotel nights in Toronto and Edmonton are available upon request.
Overnight accommodation in Toronto and Edmonton recommended.

 
Day & Port

Day 1 - Kangerlussuaq, Greenland

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

People have lived in the Sisimiut area for 4,500 years. The first 2,000 years, the people of the Saqqaq culture occupied the area. Approx. 2,500 years ago, new people brought the Dorset culture to the Sisimiut area. They lived here for 1,500 years and were followed by the people of the Thule culture—the ancestors of the current population. All these cultures came from Canada. The people primarily lived on fish, birds, and mammals such as whales and seals. These ice-free conditions in the sea around Sisimiut, including some of Greenland’s deepest fjords, allow us to sail in waters that are home to many whales and seals.  

Day 3 - Ilulissat

Bears
Photo Credit: Michelle Valberg/Adventure Canada

Venturing 250 kilometres north of the Arctic Circle we find the stunning coastal community of 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 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 icefjord is the outlet of the Sermeq Kujalleq Glacier, one of the most active and fastest moving in the world at nineteen metres per day—calving more than thirty-five square kilometres of ice annually. Because of its relative ease of accessibility, the glacier has been the object of scientific attention for 250 years, and has significantly added to the understanding of ice-cap glaciology, climate change and related geomorphic processes. 

 

Day 4 - Uummannaq Fjord

Uummannaq Fjord in northwest Greenland is the country’s second-largest system of fjords. It empties into Baffin Bay and is characterized by its developed coastline and various bays, islands, and peninsulas. It is considered to be the sunniest spot in Greenland, and favourable weather—coupled with proximity to coastal travel routes—has made the fjord system a popular destination for Greenlandic Inuit. It has been settled and re-settled continually for the last 4,500 years. 

Day 5 - Karrat Fjord

Today we will cruise one of Greenland’s most spectacular fjords, known for plentiful marine life and awe-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 icebergs against the majestic rock faces.

Day 5-7 - Qaasuitsup Kommunia

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. Moving into 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)

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 it was not inhabited for another three hundred years with the arrival of the Hudson’s Bay Company. 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 Islands

. 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, and it was two years before search parties were launched. Aside from the bodies of the 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—until recently. In the autumn of 2014, Canadian archaeologists discovered remnants of the HMS Erebus in the frozen waters of the Northwest Passage, a discovery that has re-galvanized interest in the fabled region. 

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. The north half of the island is the proposed Tuktusiuqvialuk National Park.

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 brids may be distinct from other Brant stocks. Numbering only 4,000-8,000 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 Sachs Harbour. Musk ox, numbering over 40,000, are the most striking of the abundant wildlife on the island. 

Day 15 - Princes 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 Albet Edward, then the Prince of Wales, the strait was not navigated until the RCMP patrol of Sgt. Larsen in 1944.

Day 16 - Ulukhaktok (Holman)

Found on the west side of Victoria Island, The Hudson’s Bay Company post was opened at Prince Albert Sound in 1923, moved to Walker Bay in 1928 and finally to Ulukhaktok (Holman) in 1939. The large bluff that overlooks Ulukhaktok 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 in Ulukhaktok, as are beautifully intricate pieces carved from the horns of the abundant local musk ox population. The musk oxen 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)

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. The north half of the island is the proposed Tuktusiuqvialuk National Park.

 

 

Cruise Fares
Please contact us for additional information and availability.

Cabin Category
Cruise Fares Per Person
Category 1 - Deck Four - Interior Cabin - four lower berths - private bath

USD $ 8,995

Category 2 - Deck Four - Interior cabin - three lower berths - private bath

USD $ 10,595

Category 3 - Deck Five - Interior cabin - two lower berths - private bath

USD $ 12,295

Category 4 - Deck Four - porthole window - two lower berths - private bath

USD $ 13,795

Category 5 - Deck Five - picture window - two lower berths - private bath

USD $ 15,295

Category 6 - Decks Four, Seven and Eight - picture windows (obstructed view) - two lower berths -or- 1 double bed - private bath - refrigerator

USD $ 16,795

Category 7 - Decks Five and Eight - large picture window (partial obstruction) - two lower beds -or- 1 double bed - private bath - refrigerator

USD $ 18,295

Category 8 - Decks Five and Seven - picture window - two lower berths- private bath - refrigerator

USD $ 19,795

Category 9 - Decks Five and Seven - picture window - two lower berths - private bath

USD $ 21,295

Category 10 - Deck Seven - picture window - two lower berths - private bath - refrigerator

USD $ 22,795

Discovery Fund Fee *

$250

 

 

*Each area we visit has rich cultural experiences and wild treasures to offer. As guests, we have made a point of sourcing and supporting local projects in the areas through which we travel. A contribution from each passenger, in the form of the Discovery Fee, represents a portion of the money donated to ensure the longevity and success of educational, environmental and cultural initiatives in these regions

Book Now

 

Fares include:

ABOARD

  • The expertise and company of our expedition staff
  • Onboard educational presentations
  • Interactive workshops, evening entertainment
  • All shipboard meals, including on deck barbeques & afternoon tea, 24-hour coffee, tea and snacks
  • Hors d’ouevres & snacks during evening recaps
  • 24-hour documentary and film programming
  • Fully stocked library

ASHORE

  • Introductions to local people and customs
  • Sightseeing
  • Museum entries, park accesses, port taxes
  • Access to pristine wilderness areas
  • Zodiac tours and cruises
  • On-site archaeology workshops
  • Community programming: local performances, presentations, and demonstrations

Fares do not include:

  • Commercial flights
  • Mandatory medical/evacuation insurance
  • Personal expenses
  • Additional expenses in the event of delays or itinerary changes
  • Discretionary gratuities to ship's crew (approximately $15 per passenger per day)
  • Visas, or inoculations (if required)
  • Physician's fees confirming you are fit to travel
  • Any medical charges incurred while aboard
  • Possible fuel surcharges
  • Pre / post hotels
  • $250 USD Discovery Fund Fee

Charter Flights

Outbound:
Toronto, ON to Kangerlussuaq, Greenland
August 22, 2017
Early morning departure
$1,400 USD per person inclusive of all taxes and fees

Inbound:
Kugluktuk (Coppermine), NU to Edmonton, AB
September 7, 2017
Early evening arrival
$995 USD per person inclusive of all taxes and fees

Round Trip:
$2,395 USD per person inclusive of taxes and fees
Pre and post hotel nights in Toronto and Edmonton are available upon request.
Overnight accommodation in Toronto and Edmonton recommended.