Northwest Passage – In the Wake of the Great Explorers
- Sail in the wake of the great explorers on this rarely-traveled expedition
- Learn about exploration history and incredible nature
- Spot magnificent wildlife, including good chances to see polar bears and walrus
- Visit traditional villages
Vancouver – Hotel
Bustling Vancouver is surrounded by a picturesque range of mountains, making it a popular tourist destination all year round. Vancouver is a relatively young city with both cultural and nature attractions that appeal to every type of traveler.
The Expedition Begins
Vancouver / Nome – Flight & Embarkation
After breakfast, you will fly to the gold rush town of Nome, Alaska, where our epic voyage begins. The colorful local history of this Arctic frontier settlement is on display at the Carrie M. McLain Museum. Embarkation on MS Roald Amundsen.
Sailing Spectacular Seas
At sea – Bering Sea
We sail through the Bering Strait, before heading into the Chukchi Sea. Our expedition team will start their lecture program preparing you for the days ahead.
As we reach Point Barrow, the northernmost point of the USA, we enter the Beaufort Sea. We will keep a sharp eye open here for Bowhead and Grey whales and we might also start seeing sea ice.
We continue into Amundsen Gulf, where we hope to observe the remarkable Smoking Hills – an amazing sight of smoke billowing from cliffs on the east coast of Cape Bathurst. The phenomenon rises from erosion that has unearthed locally present lignite – a combination of shale and pyrite – that spontaneously ignites when exposed to air.
Heart of the Northwest Passage
We intend to sail into the heart of the Northwest Passage. Since the late 15th century, the search for this fabled seaway through the Canadian Arctic was the holy grail for hardy explorers. There are records of almost 40 expeditions that sailed these waters. The first recorded attempt was the voyage of John Cabot in 1497. The most famous journeys here were James Cook’s failed attempt to sail the passage in 1776, and the ill-fated Franklin expedition of 1845.
The first to successfully navigate the Northwest Passage by ship was Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen on an expedition that lasted from 1903 to 1906.
Ice conditions vary from year to year – one of the reasons this voyage is still one of a kind. Subject to favorable conditions, we hope to show you some of the following places: Ulukhaktok, a settlement on Victoria Island in the Canadian Arctic archipelago. Due to its remote location, the 460 people living here have had little to do with the rest of the world and remain traditional in many aspects of their daily life.
Cambridge Bay, located on Victoria Island, is called “Iqaluktuuttiaq” in Inuinnaqtun, meaning a “good fishing place.” The settlement is near the Ekalluk River, which is famous for giant char. The area is rich in archaeological history and blessed with abundant fish, seals, geese, muskoxen and caribou. Gjøa Haven, which honors Norwegian explorer, Roald Amundsen, who overwintered here in 1903/04 and 1904/05 during the Gjøa expedition. He was in contact with the local Netsilik Inuit people, from whom he learned a great deal about survival and travel in polar regions. Fort Ross, a trading post established in 1937. There are two small huts here that are maintained by the Canadian Coast Guard. Beechey Island, closely linked to the exploration history of the Northwest Passage. The most notorious voyage was the British expedition led by Sir John Franklin. Two ships sailed into the passage in 1845, but neither the vessels or any of the 129 crew were ever seen again. It is known that the Franklin Expedition over-wintered on Beechey Island in 1845-1846.
Dundas Harbour, an abandoned settlement on the south coast of Devon Island, with an old Royal Canadian Mounted Police camp and several archaeological sites. Come ashore to see the ruins of some of these buildings, along with an impressive Thule site. Pond Inlet, a traditional Inuit community, located on the northern tip of Baffin Island, near the eastern entrance to the Northwest Passage. Also called ‘Mittimatalik’ in Inuktitut, the picturesque hamlet is surrounded by mountain ranges, several dozen glaciers, scenic fjords and inlets, ice caves, geological hoodoos and drifting icebergs.
We continue our journey sailing through amazing waters with unique nature and hopefully enough ice for excellent wildlife spotting.
Crossing the Davis Strait
We cross the Davis Strait, named for the English explorer John Davis, who led three expeditions in the area between 1585 and 1587. Davis was the first to draw attention to the area’s seal hunting and whaling possibilities, and that Newfoundland cod fisheries extended this far north.
Birth of Icebergs
Ilulissat – Full Day
Ilulissat lies amidst the stunning scenery of the Ilulissat Icefjord, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Outside town, at the mouth of the fjord, you often see giant icebergs that originate from nearby Jakobshavn Glacier, one of the most productive glaciers in the Northern Hemisphere.
The included activity for today is Ilulissat – Walk to the Icefjords
Modern Settlement with Ancient Traditions
Sisimiut – Half Day
Some 25 miles north of the Arctic Circle, Sisimiut is a modern settlement that maintains ancient traditions. Come ashore to explore this colorful town, visit the small museum, hike in the hills and shop for local handicrafts.
Day 22 – 23
At Sea – Labrador Sea
Get ready to cross the southern part of the Labrador Sea as we set our sights on Newfoundland and Labrador in Canada
Corner Brook is located at the mouth of the Bay of Islands and Humber River and is the second largest city in the province and local to the core. Explore the city center or enjoy its many walking trails along the Humber River, decorated at this time of year with vibrant autumn leaves.
Relax after an exciting adventure as the expedition comes to a close. Spend time with the expedition team and take advantage of any final lectures as well as connect with your fellow guests.
Halifax – Disembarkation
The British established Halifax, Nova Scotia, in 1749. Enjoy views from atop the Citadel, on a hill overlooking the city. This colorful gateway town is both hip and historic and well worth an extra day or two before you head back home.
EVERYTHING YOU NEED FOR AN ADVENTURE
- A rich program of included activities on all voyages designed to immerse you in the destinations you visit, including onshore exploration with the expedition team
- Professional English-speaking expedition team – an international, handpicked team of highly educated experts in various academic fields with profound knowledge of the region we sail in
- Complimentary wind- and water-resistant jacket
- Loan of boots, trekking poles, and equipment needed for optional and included activities
ENGAGING ONBOARD ACTIVITIES AND EDUCATION
- In-depth lectures on science, history, biology, geography, geology or culture that provide context to your voyage and help you understand the destinations you will experience
- Explorer Science program, with educational and Citizen Science activities that let you learn about the sights you’ll see while contributing to research
- Introductory photo lecture, including camera adjustments and tips and tricks
- Photos and film/video footage from the voyage shared in the Expedition Logbook
- Casual opportunities to engage with the expedition team and other guests, including a welcome event, daily gatherings to recap the day and prepare for the day to come
- Opportunities to dine and interact with the expedition team and officers
- Destination-focused onboard library
- Port presentations providing destination insight
- A farewell event
PREMIUM ONBOARD COMFORT
- All meals including beverages (beer and wine, sodas and mineral water in all ship restaurants)
- Coffee and tea included throughout the day
- Early riser and afternoon treat offered in addition to breakfast, lunch and dinner
- A la carte restaurant (only for suite guests)
- Gym, outdoor hot tubs and sauna with windows
- Free Wi-fi onboard for all guests. Be aware that we sail in remote areas with limited connection. Streaming is not supported.
- No gratuities expected
NOT INCLUDED IN YOUR EXPEDITION:
- International flights
- Optional shore excursions with our local partners
- Optional small-group adventures with our expedition team such as kayaking, long hikes (availability pending weather conditions and safety)
- Travel protection plan
- Luggage handling