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MSFridtjofNansen - Guests

The Northwest Passage

Reykjavik to Nome, Vancouver

This 27 day expedition cruise sails from Iceland to Greenland's southern coast before making an attempt to sail through the legendary Northwest Passage.

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    From Iceland to Southern Greenland
    From Reykjavik, you’ll sail the Denmark Strait to Prince Christian Sound, a spectacular maze of channels chiseled out of granite rock and filled with ice floes and glaciers. We’ll spend two days exploring southern Greenland’s remarkable fjords and settlements, including the capital, Nuuk.In addition to experts in biology and wildlife, a professional photographer, and an archeologist, one or more Inuit cultural interpreters will be part of your Expedition Team.

    Into the Northwest Passage
    Then our adventure takes us across the Davis Strait, where we begin our attempt to transit the Northwest Passage. Over 12 days, we’ll explore the islands that dot this famously challenging sea route. Discover a range of possible sites amid the spectacular scenery, abundant wildlife, and Inuit settlements.Our route and landings will depend on the sea and weather conditions. Either way, we plan to take you on small boat (RIB) cruises among ice the floes. We’ll then traverse the first section of the Northwest Passage from the Pacific Ocean west through the Amundsen Gulf, Beaufort Sea, Chukchi Sea, and the Bering Strait.


    Rates are listed per person
    Start DateEnd DateFrom EURFrom USD
    Rates are listed per person
    Start DateEnd DateFrom EURFrom USD


    DAY 1: REYKJAVÍK, ICELANDAugust 13, 2023
    DAY 2-3: AT SEAAugust 14, 2023 - August 15, 2023
    DAY 5: IVITTUUTAugust 17, 2023
    DAY 6: NUUK, GREENLANDAugust 18, 2023
    DAY 7-8: LABRADOR SEAAugust 19, 2023 - August 20, 2023
    DAY 9-21: NORTHWEST PASSAGEAugust 21, 2023 - September 2, 2023
    DAY 22-25: AT SEASeptember 3, 2023 - September 6, 2023
    DAY 26: NOME, ALASKASeptember 7, 2023
    DAY 27: VANCOUVER, CANADASeptember 8, 2023

    Should sea ice prevent us from completing our transit, you'll still have experienced the rugged beauty of the High Arctic and have many opportunities to seek rare wildlife such as polar bears. Your expedition's end point is the multicultural city of Vancouver.?

    DAY 1: REYKJAVÍK, ICELAND - The world's northernmost capital
    Your adventure starts in Reykjavík, the northernmost capital in the world. Reykjavík is both quaint and cosmopolitan. This small city is the perfect size for a walking tour, packed full of art, culture, and history.

    Stroll along Laugavegur, the main shopping street, filled with boutiques, bars, and restaurants. Consider picking up some Icelandic knitwear, famous for its quality, style, and warmth. Then head toward the striking Hallgrimskirkja Cathedral. Art lovers can visit the Reykjavík Art Museum, the National Gallery, and the many smaller galleries and museums throughout the city.

    Learn about Icelandic history by stopping off at the National Museum, the Saga Museum, and the Maritime Museum. Bring your swimsuit to take a dip in one of the city's 18 swimming pools, many with saunas and hot tubs, too.

    MS Fritdjof Nansen will be waiting at Reykjavik's?harbor. After checking in and collecting your complimentary expedition jacket, you'll have time to settle into your cabin. After a mandatory safety drill just before departure, you can walk around and explore the ship.

    The welcome dinner in the evening ends with a toast by the captain, who will wish everyone an enjoyable expedition. You'll then meet the Expedition Team and key crew members, who will take you through an important health and safety briefing.

    Why not book a two-day or four-day Pre-Program with us? From Reykjavik (whose name means ‘Smokey Bay', due to the steam rising from the surrounding geothermal features), you'll be just hours from geysers, glaciers, hot springs and waterfalls.?Spend extra time discovering?Iceland's nearby Golden?Circle. Please ask for more information for booking.

    DAYS 2-3: AT SEA - The Denmark Strait
    Ease into your adventure as you spend today at sea on the way to the Northwest Passage.?The Denmark Strait is actually the site of the world's largest waterfall... underwater! The mixture of warm and cold currents and strong winds means that the waters here are sometimes a bit choppy.

    Relax, get to know your fellow travelers,?and check out the onboard facilities. Meanwhile, the Expedition Team will prepare you for the adventure ahead with their lecture programs on Artic wildlife and ecosystems in the Science Center.

    They will also talk about important guidelines from?AECO, the Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators. You'll learn how you can protect wildlife habitats, keep a safe distance from animals, and visit Arctic communities in a proper and respectful way.?

    Feel like staying active? Hit up the gym and get your blood pumping. Don't forget you'll have access to the sauna, an infinity pool, and two outdoor hot tubs. Enjoy drinks in the panoramic Explorer Lounge & Bar,?while settling down into a sofa and letting the rhythmic waves of the ocean roll by.

    DAY 4: PRINS CHRISTIAN SOUND REGION - 'A river of melted ice'
    Prepare to marvel at some of the most stunning views on the planet in Prince Christian Sound region. This southern Greenland sound connects the Labrador Sea with the Irminger Sea, separating the mainland from the Cape Farewell Archipelago.

    The 60-mile waterway is surrounded by granite mountains with sharp peaks, some?reaching?up to 7,200 ft. Marvel at the maze of geological patterns in the rock face, from deep cracks and crevasses to lines of black lichen that seem to seep from the stone like paint.

    The mountains' muted grays and rusted greens stand in stark contrast to the bright white of the bountiful glaciers. These slow-moving masses of ice grind their way from the enormous Greenlandic ice sheet and flow straight into the sound, calving white-blue icebergs of all sizes, shades, and shapes. You'll understand why 15th-century Italian explorer John Cabot famously described Prince Christian Sound as ‘a river of melted ice'.

    Get your camera ready and join the Expedition Team on the observation deck. Only two signs of human life remain here: The Danish weather station built by the U.S. during the Cold War at the entrance to the fjord, and the colorful houses of the 100 residents of Aappilattoq, a fishing and hunting village. When translated from local Greenlandic Inuit, Aappilattoq means ‘Sea Anemone'.

    You may spot ringed seals and bearded seals on the ice. Look up to the steep cliffs, where you might find nesting Glaucous Gulls and Black Guillemots. Minke and humpback whales may also make an appearance, although they tend to not swim into the narrow stretches of the sound, preferring the wider sections at the entrance.

    Navigating Prince Christian Sound is only possible in the summer, when the sea ice is less packed and icebergs don't block the entrance. However, our route may still be blocked by weather, sea ice, and gate-keeping icebergs.

    Even if that happens, don't worry! That's the nature of an expedition into true wilderness. Here, nature sets the rules. Instead, we may sail toward NunapIsua—a.k.a. Cape Farewell—the southernmost point of Greenland.

    Included Prins Christian Sund Exploration Day

    DAY 5: IVITTUUT - Musk oxen and a Norse settlement
    Do you like to visit ghost towns? If so, Ivittuut is for you. This former mining outpost hosts long-forgotten locations, some old and some even older. Once a busy cryolite mining station, the only inhabitants you see today are musk oxen grazing the overgrown grass around the abandoned buildings.

    In fact, Ivittuut once played a key role in history—arguably allowing the Allies to win World War II. Cryolite is a naturally occurring rare mineral used in the production of aluminum alloys. During this time of war, it was the largest cryolite mine in the world. When Denmark was invaded, the United States secretly stationed 500 troops here to prevent the supplies falling into German hands.

    This strategy prevented the German forces from using the rare cryolite to manufacture their fighter planes, giving the Allies the upper hand at a pivotal point in the war. The cryolite was instead shipped to the U.K. and used to manufacture aircraft that fought in the Battle of Britain. If it were not for this move, the outcome of the war could have been very different.

    Rewinding history to long before the miners arrived, Norsemen settled the area more than a thousand years ago. Unfortunately, no traces of them remain. Ivittuut is believed to have been the last Viking settlement in Greenland, but was also the first to be abandoned, for reasons subject only to speculation.

    Visiting Ivittuut is an unforgettable experience. The abandoned buildings and lonely cemetery contrast starkly with the surrounding natural beauty. These eerie (yet photogenic) ruins feature decaying structures and scattered, rusting machinery. It's difficult to imagine how crucial this small outpost was at a key point in history.

    Included Ivittuut Landing

    DAY 6: NUUK, GREENLAND - The Capital of Greenland
    Nuuk was settled in 1728, making it the oldest settlement in the nation. Although Greenland's capital is classed as a city, fewer than 17,000 people call it home. ‘Nuuk' means peninsula, as it is located at the mouth of a system of spectacular fjords and mountains.

    The first thing you'll notice about this low-rise settlement is its colorful houses. The red, green, blue, and yellow buildings pose a striking contrast to the icy black and white backdrop of the mountains.

    Today, Nuuk combines old and new traditions. The old picturesque buildings dotting the fjord's edge give way to ultra-modern architecture in the Greenlandic Parliament and the wave-shapedKatuaq Cultural Centre, inspired by the Northern Lights.

    Visit the oldest building in Greenland at Hans Egede's House, constructed in 1721 by the Norwegian missionary who is credited with founding the city. As you roam the city, keep an eye out for a statue and the church bearing his name.

    The red-painted Nuuk Cathedral and its typical Lutheran clock tower and steeple is worth a visit, too. Drop by the Greenland National Museum to see the Qilakitsoq mummies or admire local paintings at the Nuuk Art Museum.

    We'll also be offering a long hike through Paradise Valley and around Mt. Lille Malene as part of an optional excursion. As you follow a path formed by old reindeer tracks, you'll bask in splendid views of the Greenlandic coast and pass by a small lake and natural springs.

    There are also a range of restaurants in Nuuk to satisfy all tastes, some of which feature local delicacies such musk ox, seal soup, and snow crab. Rather just have a coffee? There are several excellent cafés serving hot drinks and snacks like burgers and Danish pastries.

    Included Nuuk Grand Experience

    DAYS 7-8: LABRADOR SEA - Crossing the Davis Strait
    The Davis Strait is named for English explorer John Davis, who led expeditions searching for a route through the Northwest Passage between 1585 and 1587. Davis was the first to note the seal hunting and whaling possibilities in the area and demonstrated that the Newfoundland cod fisheries extended this far north.

    It's time to leave Canada behind and set our course for Greenland.?While sailing across the Labrador Sea, don't miss the Expedition Team's ongoing informative lectures. Their topics may include the wildlife you might spot in Northern Labrador, Inuit culture, expedition photography, and the historic explorers of the Canadian Arctic.

    We also support a number of Citizen Science projects that you can join. These projects include Happywhale, where your photographs help identify and track the movement of specific whales across the planet, identified from their distinguishing characteristics.

    You may also join the GLOBE Observer project, which combines your observations of clouds and sky conditions with satellite data. By participating in these projects, not only will you be supporting the scientific community, you'll also be gaining a better understanding of the world around you.

    DAYS 9-21: NORTHWEST PASSAGE - All the way through the Northwest Passage
    The time has come for us to attempt a complete transit of the Northwest Passage. Since the 15th century, there have been fewer than a hundred successful attempts at sailing through the Passage.

    James Cook famously attempted it in 1776 and many may have heard about the ill-fated Franklin expedition of 1845. The first to conquer the Northwest Passage by ship was Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen on an expedition lasting from 1903 to 1906, aboard the converted herring boat, the Gjøa.

    We'll enter the Northwest Passage on our own adventure aboard a state-of-the-art expedition ship named MS Fridtjof Nansen, aiming to sail through to Alaska.

    We will land at sites linked to early exploration history, visit Inuit communities, and hope to spot Arctic wildlife such as polar bears, whales, seals, and a variety of seabirds.

    Opportunities will open for small-boat (RIB) cruising between ice floes, and in true expedition style, we'll go ashore and experience the pristine wilderness first hand.

    The captain and Expedition Leader will continuously assess the weather and sea conditions and adapt the activities accordingly, adjusting the itinerary to where the sea ice allows us to go. Like all good explorers, we respect and work with nature, never against it.

    Here are some of the places in the region that we hope to explore during landings and short walks—wind, waves, and sea ice permitting.

    Pond Inlet
    Called ‘Mittimatalik' in Inuktitut, it means ‘the place where the landing place is'. This is a traditional Baffin Island Inuit community that enjoys views of the Eclipse Sound and the mountains of Bylot Island. It's also known as a great place to see narwhal—the unicorn of the sea.

    Devon Island
    Welcome to the largest uninhabited island on Earth. The only signs of human life are at the long-abandoned settlement of Dundas Harbour, along with several archeological sites from the Thule period.

    Beechey Island
    This is the final resting place for three members of the lost Franklin expedition, which sailed into the Northwest Passage in 1845, never to return. It is customary for explorers in the region to stop and pay their respects at the graves, as Roald Amundsen did in 1903.

    Fort Ross
    Fort Ross has an abandoned Hudson's Bay Trading post located at the southern end of Somerset Island. The storehouse here is still occasionally used as a shelter by travelers, with bunk beds and shelves of canned goods.

    Gjoa Haven
    Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen wintered at this hamlet in 1903, on the expedition the ‘haven' is named after. During his time here, he learnt crucial survival skills from the local Netsilik Inuit people. This knowledge would later give him the upper hand in his famous race to the South Pole in 1911. There is an informative walking tour, a Heritage Center, and a Hamlet Center dedicated to the history and culture of the area.

    Cambridge Bay
    Located on Victoria Island, this is the largest stop for vessels traversing the Northwest Passage. It is also called ‘Iqaluktuuttiaq' (‘A Good Fishing Place') due to the Ekalluk River, which attracts Arctic char, musk oxen, and caribou.

    Many in the 500-people strong community are involved in the local artists' co-op and produce prints, tapestries, and other handicrafts. This is also home to the world's northernmost golf course, which hosts a tournament every summer.

    Smoking Hills
    Then it's into Amundsen Gulf, where we hope to observe the remarkable Smoking Hills. It's an amazing sight, with smoke billowing from the cliffs on the east coast of Cape Bathurst. Lignite (a combination of eroded shale and pyrite) spontaneously ignites when exposed to air, creating this photogenic phenomenon.

    DAYS 22-25: AT SEA - Seeing the sights while sailing the seas
    These final days at sea give you all the time you need to unwind and reflect on your adventure through the Northwest Passage. Spend a few hours by the infinity pool, soaking in a hot tub, or relaxing in the sauna. You can keep fit and active at the indoor gym and outdoor running track.

    The Expedition Team will continue their informative lecture program in the Science Center. Topics can range from wildlife to tectonic activity, glaciology, or local history and culture. They are designed to help you better appreciate the areas we sail through and inform you about upcoming landings.

    Crossing the Beaufort Sea, keep an eye on the waters here for bowhead and grey whales. We reach the northernmost point of the U.S. at Point Barrow and enter the Chukchi Sea. Through the Bergin Strait, you'll have Russia to the west and the U.S. to the east. This is the international date line, where ‘tomorrow' rests to your right and ‘today' to the left.

    As we sail through the Bering Strait, look to the sky to spot a range of seabirds. There are over 30 species to see, including black-legged Kittiwakes and different species of auklets and murrelets. Many of these winged wonders still flap around the region in late summer, so you'll get plenty of use from your binoculars.

    DAY 26: NOME, ALASKA - There's no place like Nome
    Situated on the Seward Peninsula, Nome's name went down in Alaskan history the day that ‘Three Lucky Swedes' discovered gold in Anvil Creek in 1898. Prospectors soon flocked in from the Yukon and San Francisco by steamboat.

    Even the famous sheriff Wyatt Earp followed the call of gold and opened a saloon here. Leftovers from Gold Rush era are everywhere, from abandoned dredges to turn-of-the-century steam engines and old railroad tracks. Cries of “Gold! Gold!” can still be heard today by those foraging on the banks of the Snake River and elsewhere in the area.

    The town also marked the end point of three of Roald Amundsen's great expeditions: the Northwest Passage in 1906, the Northeast Passage in 1921, and an attempt to reach the North Pole by aircraft in 1926. It seems only fitting that our expedition through the Northwest Passage would also come to an end here.

    After disembarking, you'll fly from Nome to Vancouver and spend the night in a centrally located hotel.

    DAY 27: VANCOUVER, CANADA - Cosmopolitan city in a stunning setting
    Your adventure ends in Vancouver. Set amid gorgeous mountain scenery and along the waters of English Bay, Vancouver is both a bustling seaport and cosmopolitan city. Its neighborhoods buzz with world-class farm-to-table cuisine. Chinatown and Punjabi Market have arguably the best Asian food in North America, while Commercial Drive is the home of Little Italy. Also check out Vancouver's oldest neighborhood. Gastown's Victorian buildings house some of the city's hottest restaurants, and the 547-ft high Vancouver Lookout offers incredible views. Take in the neon lights and nightlife along the Granville Street strip or just relax on one of the beaches in West End. The latter is also the gateway to the greenery of Stanley Park, filled with wide-open spaces to explore.

    A great way to experience some of Vancouver's highlights is on our optional Vancouver Excursion as a Post-Program. Enjoy a full day in Whistler, one of Canada`s most famed ski resorts, including a stop at British Columbia's highest waterfall, Shannon Falls, to enjoy a ride on the Sky Gondola. Please ask for more information for booking.

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    Included in Your Expedition
    • Overnight in Vancouver after the expedition cruise, including breakfast
    • Economy flight from Nome to Vancouver
    • Transfer from the ship in Nome to the airport in Nome
    • Transfer from the airport in Vancouver to the hotel
    Expedition Cruise
    • Expedition cruise in a cabin of your choice
    • Breakfast, lunch, and dinner, including beverages (house beer and wine, sodas, and mineral water) in restaurants Aune and Fredheim
    • Fine-dining À la carte restaurant Lindstrøm is included for suite guests
    • Complimentary tea and coffee
    • Complimentary Wi-Fi on board. Be aware that we sail in remote areas with limited connection. Streaming is not supported
    • Complimentary reusable water bottle to fill at onboard water refill stations
    • English-speaking Expedition Team who organize and guide activities, both on board and ashore
    • Range of included activities
    Onboard activities
    • Experts from the Expedition Team present detailed lectures on a variety of topics
    • Use of the ship’s Science Center which has an extensive library and advanced biological and geological microscopes
    • The Citizen Science program allows guests to contribute to current scientific research projects
    • The onboard professional photographer will give tips and tricks for taking the best landscape and wildlife photos
    • The ship has hot tubs, an infinity pool, a sauna, outdoor and indoor gyms, and an outdoor running track
    • Participate in informal gatherings with the crew, such as daily recaps and the next day’s preparations
    Landing activities
    • Escorted landings with small boats (RIBs)
    • Loan of boots, trekking poles, and all equipment needed for the activities
    • Complimentary wind- and water-resistant expedition jacket
    • Expedition photographers help configure your camera settings
    Not Included In Your Expedition
    • International flights
    • Travel protection
    • Baggage handling
    • Optional shore excursions with our local partners
    • Optional small-group activities with our Expedition Team
    • Optional treatments in the onboard wellness and spa area
    • All planned activities are subject to weather and ice conditions
    • Excursions and activities are subject to change
    • Please ensure you can meet all entry and boarding requirements
    • No gratuities are expected

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    * Rates are listed per person in USD

    DISCLAIMER: Rates are per person and subject to change.