Northwest Passage – In the Wake of Great Explorers

  • CAD $20,360

  • 14 days / 13 nights

Northwest Passage – In the Wake of Great Explorers

nSail in the wake of the early explorers from Kangerlussuaq in Greenland to Cambridge Bay in Canada. Experience the raw and daunting beauty of the terrain that some of history’s greatest explorers had to overcome. Even today, few ships have the capability to navigate this sea passage that cuts through the remote Arctic regions of North America.

Itinerary

Day Destination Activities
1 Copenhagen
Kangerlussuaq
Fly from Copenhagen to Kangerlussuaq to board the ship
2 Sisimiut Look for humpback, fin, and minke whales, as well as seals and porpoises.
3 Ilulissat See the stunning scenery of the Ilulissat Icefjord
4-5 At Sea Crossing the Davis Strait
6 Pond Inlet, Baffin Island Look for fantastic wildlife such as polar bears and narwhal
7 Landcaster Sound
Devon Island
Go ashore at Dundas Harbour to explore an ancient
Thule site
8 Beechy Island
Radstock Bay
Explore the history and remains of the mysterious Franklin Expedition
9 Fort Ross
The Bellot Strait
Sail through the icy waters of the Bellot Strait
10 At Sea Cruising Coningham Bay
11 At Sea Cruising the James Ross Strait
12 Gjøa Haven Visit the heritage center and watch the skies for loons, geese, terns, snow buntings, and snowy owls.
13 Cambridge Bay
Victoria Island
Disembarkation and transfer to airport for your flight to Edmonton
14 Edmonton Transfer to airport for your return flight

Copenhagen/Kangerlussuaq

Starting with a flight from Copenhagen, you arrive late in the evening in Kangerlussuaq. The airport in Kangerlussuaq dates back to the Second World War. The Americans built this airstrip as staging post for flights into Europe. Today, this is the main hub for international flights into Greenland’s scattered settlements. Kangerlussuaq means ‘big fjord’ and once on board, MS Fram will sail almost the entire length of the fjord (190km) before reaching the open sea.

Sisimiut

En route to Sisimiut, we encourage you to be out on deck to scout for whales. The waters close to the settlement are frequented by several species, such as humpback and fin whales. Harbor porpoise and minke whales can be encountered along the west coast of Greenland. If we are lucky, we might also see large numbers of seals, the most common being the harp seal. Sisimiut is situated 25 miles north of the Arctic Circle. It is a modern settlement that maintains ancient traditions. Come ashore to explore the colorful town; visit the small museum, hike in the hills and shop for local handicrafts. Just across Disko Bay is the Disko Island and settlement Qeqertarsuaq. This is where the Gjøa Expedition and the second Fram expedition stopped to get dogs and other equipment on their way to the Northwest Passage.

Ilulissat

Ilulissat is set in the stunning scenery of the Ilulissat Icefjord, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Just outside the town, at the mouth of the fjord, you can often see enormous icebergs that have run aground. They originate from the Jakobshavn Glacier, one of the most productive glaciers in the Northern Hemisphere. The icebergs make their way down the 12-miles fjord before entering Disko Bay. Marvel at the changes in hue of the ice when the iceberg surface is struck by the midnight sun. Hear the icebergs’ soundtrack of cracking and rumbling as the sounds echo from one end of Ilulissat to the other. We offer a variety of options for viewing the Icefjord. A short walk through town will bring you to the head of a network of short trails that take you to the shores of the fjord. There are also options to get out on the water to see the ice and the possibility of going whale watching with local boat companies, and the opportunity to go high up for an aerial view with ‘flightseeing’ trips by fixed-wing aircraft or helicopter.

At Sea

We cross the Davis Strait, a northern arm of the Labrador Sea. This strait was named after the English explorer John Davis, who led three expeditions in the area between 1585 and 1587. He was looking for a route through the Northwest Passage, and discovered the Hudson Strait. Davis was the first to draw attention to seal hunting and whaling possibilities in the Davis Strait, and to show that the Newfoundland cod fisheries extended this far north.

Pond Inlet, Baffin Island

Explorer Sir John Ross named Pond Inlet in 1818 for John Pond, a renowned British astronomer. Today the picturesque hamlet of Pond Inlet, also called ‘Mittimatalik’ in Inuktitut, is a traditional Inuit community, located on the northern tip of Baffin Island, near the eastern entrance to the Northwest Passage. Pond Inlet is surrounded by mountain ranges, with several dozen glaciers, scenic fjords and inlets, ice caves, geological hoodoos and drifting icebergs. As we arrive, we sail through a pretty channel flanked by the peaks and glaciers of Baffin and Bylot Islands. At these latitudes the sea is frozen for most of the year, only opening up in July for a short late-summer season. This is where the search for high Arctic wildlife, such as polar bears, can begin. Pond Inlet is also a great place to see large pods of narwhal, signalling the start of our Arctic safari.

Landcaster Sound and Devon Island

Devon Island is the largest uninhabited island on Earth (Antarctica is counted as a continent). On the south coast of Devon Island lies Dundas Harbor, an abandoned settlement with an old Royal Canadian Mounted Police camp and several archeological sites. Come shore to see the ruins of some of these buildings, along with an impressive Thule site. The Thule people were the ancestors of the Inuit. Further west is Croker’s Bay, a large fjord with two tidewater glaciers at the head of the bay. The area is rich in wildlife and as with any expedition in the Arctic, the search for natural encounters is part of the experience. We may see several seal species such as walrus, beluga or even narwhal. Polar bears are frequently seen in the area and the tundra around the shore supports small populations of Arctic hare and musk ox. This is a perfect place for small boat excursions to see marine life and glaciers up close.

Beechy Island and Radstock Bay

Our first stop today is Radstock Bay, which is dominated by the striking Caswell Tower – a prominence of sedimentary rock rising from the sea. The shoreline around Caswall Tower is a good location for short walks to a prehistoric Inuit dwelling site, and Caswall Tower features a challenging hike to the summit for great views over the surrounding area. The summit is actually the location of a small station used seasonally for polar bear research. Next up is Beechy Island. This place is closely linked to the history of exploration of the Northwest Passage. The most famous voyage, one surrounded in mystery, is the British expedition led by Sir John Franklin. Two ships sailed into the passage in 1845, but neither the ships nor any of the 129 crewmembers were ever seen again. It is known that the Franklin Expedition spent the winter of 1845–1846 on Beechy Island. Three graves on the shore (plus another from one of the search parties) is proof of the unfortunate outcome for the expedition members. As you go ashore, you will see the graves and the remains of Northumberland House, a house built by the rescuers searching for Franklin and his men. The desolate location of the graves and the ruins of Northumberland House create a haunting reminder of the incredible challenges faced by explorers in this powerful wilderness.

Fort Ross And The Bellot Strait

Bellot Strait is a narrow passage serving as the route from Prince Regent Inlet to Peel Sound and Franklin Strait. To the south of the channel, you find the Boothia Peninsula – the northernmost point in mainland North America. The strait, only about one-mile wide, has fierce currents that can run up to 9 miles per hour. And there may be the added navigational challenge of ice in the water. As a result, a careful assessment of the conditions of the day is required and traveling through it must be timed to avoid the strongest currents. No need to worry, though. MS Fram was purpose-built as an expedition vessel with a 1B ice class, ship-depth sounding database, extractable forward-sounding sonar, and iceberg search lights – and the captain and his crew are experienced in sailing treacherous waters. At the eastern end of the channel is historic Fort Ross, a trading post established by the Hudson’s Bay Company in 1937. There are still two small huts ashore that are maintained by the Canadian Coast Guard that are occasionally used by the local Inuit for shelter during hunting trips. After exploring Fort Ross, we will attempt a trip through the narrows of Bellot Strait. This strait is where the waters of the Pacific and the Atlantic Oceans meet, and crossing the passage means we will be leaving the Atlantic Ocean and enter the Pacific Ocean. We will continue looking out for wildlife. Remember the more eyes keeping watch, the better the chance of spotting the polar bear, often seen in this area.

At Sea

After the safe emergence from the Bellot Strait we cross Victoria Strait and arrive at Coningham Bay. We will launch our small boats and explore the bay. We hope for wildlife sightings, as this shallow, broad bay is a known hotspot for beluga whales and polar bears.

At Sea

Enjoy being navigating through the 112-miles long and 31 to 40–mile wide James Ross Strait. It is named after British Polar explorer James Clark Ross, and Roald Amundsen sailed here on the Gjøa expedition. The strait runs between King William Island and the Boothia Peninsula, and based on the conditions, at hand we will conduct landings for hikes or small boat cruising.

Gjøa Haven

Gjøa Haven is a popular destination for fans of Arctic history. The name honors Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen, who wintered here during the Gjøa expedition. He called the place ‘the finest little harbor in the world’. Amundsen and his men spent two years at Gjøa Haven, and they were busily engaged in collecting scientific data. Hunting caribou and exploring the surrounding area varied their work routines. When Amundsen arrived, there was no European settlement here. But he was in contact with the local Inuit and he learned a lot from them about survival and travel in polar regions. The local Inuit people, the Netsilik Inuit, are direct descendants of the ancient Thule people, and they have lived in the area for over 1,000 years. The John Ross expedition of 1829–1833 had previously visited this region and the ill-fated John Franklin expedition of 1845 perished nearby, so Gjøa Haven is often visited by Arctic history buffs.

Cambridge Bay, Victoria Island

The community of Cambridge Bay is located on the southeast coast of Victoria Island. In Inuinnaqtun it is called ‘Iqaluktuuttiaq’, meaning a ‘good fishing place.’ The hamlet is located close to the Ekalluk River, which is famous for giant char. It is rich in archaeological history and blessed with abundant fish, seals, geese, muskoxen and caribou. Archaeological sites found all over this enormous island prove that indigenous peoples have been living in this part of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago continuously for the last four thousand years. Roald Amundsen visited the Cambridge Bay in 1905. In 1918 he traversed the same route back from west to east in his new ship called the Maud.

Edmonton, Canada

Fly home or extend your experience with more days to explore Edmonton. The contrast to your recent expedition through the Northwest Passage will provide a delightful and striking ending note to your journey. Edmonton is the capital city of the province of Alberta.

Dates & Prices

Start/EndNightsSailing ScheduleStarting From
Copenhagen / Edmonton (Westbound)13August 19, 2019$22,420
Edmonton / Copenhagen (Eastbound)14August 30, 2019$20,360

* Price per person based on double occupancy. Due to the dynamic nature of availability and pricing, please click here to contact us directly for sailing schedule and full pricing.

Ship Information

MS_Fram_Lounge

MS Fram

The original Fram was the most famous explorer ship of its time, and the achievements of her expeditions are unparalleled. MS Fram brings on the heritage of the original Fram, using the most advanced technology to make her exceptionally well suited for expedition voyages in Polar Regions.

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