Canada’s Remote Arctic: Northwest Passage to Ellesmere and Axel Heiberg Islands
Here, at the top of the world, nature has created unique wonders in astonishing variety. Our game-changing new expedition vessel Ultramarine, equipped with two twin-engine helicopters and 20 quick-launching Zodiacs, enables you to explore this breathtaking environment from brand new perspectives. You’ll experience the same sense of wonder felt by early explorers as they navigated the region’s formidable bays, inlets and channels.
On this exciting itinerary, we follow the natural guides of sea and ice to showcase the region’s cultural, historic and geographic treasures, aiming to approach the farthest stretches of this rugged, rarely visited landscape. Ultramarine’s unprecedented range of adventure options, including activities such as helicopter flightseeing, gives you an unrivalled polar experience. You’ll be able to view the magnificent wildlife that make their home in this forbidding region: sea mammals, polar bears, muskox, and possibly even the elusive arctic wolf. From soaring cliffs to mummified forests, spectacular glacial formations to stunning alpine vistas, expansive waterways to sheltered shores, Canada’s Remote Arctic provides the definitive experience of a mysterious, magical region few ever get to see.
Day 1 Arrive in Toronto, Canada
Your Arctic expedition begins in Toronto. Explore this vibrant city on your own before spending the night at your well-appointed hotel.
Day 2 Fly to Resolute and Embark
This morning, board your charter flight to Resolute. Upon arrival, you may have a chance to check out some of the town’s sites before being transferred to your ship via Zodiac or helicopter (depending on ship location and weather conditions).
Days 3 to 10 Exploring Canada’s High Arctic
Cruising around the remote islands of the Canadian High Arctic aboard Ultramarine, the newest ship in our fleet, you’ll navigate the same icy inlets, channels and bays that fascinated legendary explorers of long ago. Designed to give polar adventurers unprecedented access to the hardest-to-reach places on the planet—and equipped with two onboard twin-engine helicopters for unparalleled access to areas only Quark Expeditions can bring you—this one-of-a-kind ship, in its inaugural year, will take you beyond the familiar in polar exploration. Throughout your journey, your Expedition Team will keep an eye toward immersing you in the best the Arctic has to offer, including reaching Canada’s most northerly islands: Axel Heiberg Island and the rarely visited Ellesmere Island, at the top of the world.
Remember that no two polar voyages are alike, since each expedition presents new opportunities and different weather and ice conditions. While this voyage has no fixed itinerary, our objective is to visit as many of the incredible highlights this season has to offer, using the opportunities provided by the weather and ice to give you the best experience. Each day, your highly skilled Expedition Team will read the conditions and choose the best course to set, but despite their extensive expertise in these areas, each visit brings something new to discover. That said, our expeditions will have some elements in common, including daily Zodiac cruising, land excursions, a robust education program, a community visit and wildlife viewing opportunities. And thanks to our onboard helicopters, you’ll also discover the ultimate polar expedition experience: As stunning as polar landscapes are from your ship, they’re even more striking from the air! Conditions permitting, you’ll enjoy ultra-immersive activities like flightseeing (short sightseeing flights around your ship and surrounding areas) and heli-landings (flying to places we could not otherwise access for shore excursions), two breathtaking options that are unique to Ultramarine and give you an awe-inspiring polar experience like no other.
While this waterway is known to European cultures as the Northwest Passage, this area has nurtured and sustained the Inuit and their predecessors who have called these shores home for almost 5,000 years. Moving through these remote landscapes you will be traveling through the ancestral homelands of this ancient culture, illuminated in person by Inuit guides onboard and ashore. Nunavut is an Inuktitut word meaning “our land” and the Nunavummiut (the people of Nunavut) are renowned for their incredible resourcefulness, hospitality, good humor, and a deep knowledge of the land and animals that has allowed them to thrive in the far north for millennia.
Ultimately, your Expedition Team will keep its eye northward, hoping to follow in the footsteps of the lucky few polar adventurers who have transited through the famous Hell Gate to reach the top of the world, the spectacular Ellesmere Island. If conditions are right, the soaring, ominous snow-capped peaks of this polar desert will come into focus as we approach. The northernmost island in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, to fly up to explore the Devon ice cap, one of the largest in the Canadian Arctic. History buffs will also be intrigued by the chance to visit an abandoned Hudson’s Bay Company trading post at Fort Ross, at the southern end of Somerset Island, and pay their respects to the ill-fated Franklin expedition of 1845–46 at the gravesite of three crew members on Beechey Island, one of Canada’s most significant Arctic sites.
You may have the opportunity to cruise in a Zodiac along the face of an active glacier near Croker Bay and possibly even witness the wonders of calving ice, at a safe distance. Listen closely for the steady crackle and loud roars as pieces of ice break off and crash into the water below. You’ll also want to be on the lookout for the walrus that are often seen in the area.
There is no shortage of natural beauty, wildlife and history in Canada’s High Arctic. Each day, you’ll discover something new and inspiring, whether it is admiration of the tundra flora to survive the rugged environment, a rare bird species soaring overhead, a polar bear on the hunt in its natural habitat, or the remains of a century-old hut.
Day 11 Disembark in Resolute, Canada & fly to Toronto
After disembarking in Resolute, you’ll be transferred to your charter flight to Toronto, where you’ll spend the night at your included hotel.
Day 12 Depart Toronto
Today, make your way to the airport to catch your homeward flights, or spend the day exploring this fascinating city.
MANDATORY TRANSFER PACKAGE INCLUDES:
- One night’s pre-expedition hotel accommodation in Toronto
- Group transfer from the Toronto hotel to the airport on Day
- Charter ﬂights between Toronto and Resolute
- Group transfers between the Resolute airport and the ship
- Group transfer from Toronto airport to the hotel on disembarkation day
- One night’s post-expedition hotel accommodation in Toronto
Important reminder:Embracing the unexpected is part of the legacy—and excitement—of expedition travel. When traveling in extremely remote regions, your expedition staff must allow the sea, the ice and the weather to guide route and itinerary details. This itinerary is a tentative outline of what you’ll experience on this voyage; please be aware that no specific itinerary can be guaranteed.
The new Ultramarine 200-passenger polar ship is being purpose-built for safety and far-off exploration. The vessel boasts specialized exploration tools, cutting-edge safety measures and an incredible 70-day cruising range to focus on hard-to-reach places, while at the same time providing a high-end onboard experience. Set to launch in 2021, she is being built by Croatia’s award-winning Brodosplit, the largest shipyard in the country, and is designed by LMG Marin, Europe’s leading naval architect.
Year Built: 2020
Crew Members: 140
Length: 420 feet
Beam: 70 feet
Draft: 16.4 feet
Cruising Speed: 16 knots