John from Wildfoot travelled in August from Iqaluit on Baffin Island to Kangerlussuaq in Greenland on one of the company’s Arctic Adventure Cruises. This is a log of his experiences.
Early up this morning for the flight north to Iqaluit to board our Arctic cruise ship, 3 hours from Ottawa and a 20C drop in temperature – really noticeable the minute we disembarked, with a chill wind blowing across the airfield. The airport building is a bright yellow irregular shape structure just like the famous submarine, visible for miles, which is probably the reason – you wouldn’t want the pilot to miss it in a blizzard! The airport has one of the longest runways in the world, having been a US base in the Cold War, and is now also used for cold climate testing – the A380 came up here on proving flights, which must have been quite a sight.
Iqaluit is the capital of Nunavut with a population of about 7500 split more or less equally between native Inuit and others, mostly European origin. All signage is in English, French, Inuit (using Latin alphabet) and Inuit characters, which are unlike any I have seen before – more runic than anything else. The buildings are all shapes and sizes and colours built on piles above the permafrost and stretch around the harbour and along the ridge overlooking the town. Property prices are high here, a modest 2 bed house is about$350k and you don’t even own the land. Everything else is expensive too – it all has to be shipped or flown in and most households plan in advance and have a container load of supplies of household goods, etc., sent in once a year.
Down to a shingle ramp where the zodiacs were waiting for a choppy and wet 20 minute crossing to our ship. The Akademik Ioffe is a Russian research vessel converted to passenger use and has a mainly Russian crew. There are only 40 passengers on board out of a possible 90 or so, so there is plenty of room.
Various briefings, a decent dinner and a few drinks as we settled in to what sounds like a most promising Arctic adventure cruise.