Northwest Passage & Baffin Island 13 DaysAboard: Akademik Ioffe
This classic Northwest Passage voyage will take you on an iconic journey through the remote lands of Canada's high Arctic region and stunning fjords of the Baffin Island coastline. Following in the footsteps of historic Arctic explorers, on this first class itinerary you can enjoy thrilling Zodiac excursions, Inuit community visits, shore hikes and fantastic photo opportunities and wildlife observations. In the lands of the polar bear, the grizzly bear, musk ox, caribou and walrus, each day will bring a new adventure and experience as you travel through these fabled waters discovering all that makes them so remarkable.
Note: All bookings on voyages that operate domestically within Canada, are subject to a compulsory 5% goods and services tax (GST). This will be added to the cruise price on the confirmation invoice. The charter flights from Edmonton to Cambridge Bay and Iqaluit to Ottawa are also charged at US$1995
- Voyage through the fabled Northwest Passage
- Enjoy encounters with polar bears, grizzly bears and other animals
- Myriad birdlife
- Beluga and other whales and maybe narwhal
- Historical sites and associations
- Kayaking options available
- Transfers to and from ship
- Full board accommodation on board ship
- Zodiac excursions and shore landings including hikes and wildlife colony visits
- Programme of expert lectures
- Experienced Expedition Leader and professional expedition team of marine biologists, naturalists, historians, adventure guides and photographers
- 24 hour hot drinks
- Expedition gear loan package
So much to experience
Our popularitinerary Suggestions
All our itinerary holidays are fully customisable
Edmonton to Cambridge Bay
Having arrived independently to the Canadian city of Edmonton, this morning you will join your chartered flight to Cambridge Bay in Nunavut, to begin your thrilling Northwest Passage adventure. Upon arrival at this remote outpost above the Arctic Circle on the southern shores of Victoria Island, we can enjoy a walking tour before making our way to the ship for embarkation. After you have settled in to your comfortable cabin and explored your new surroundings, you will be invited to join your expedition team and fellow passengers to enjoy a welcome cocktail as we cast off to begin our exploration of some of the world’s most remote and intriguing regions.
Note: there is a flight package covering flights from Edmonton to Cambridge Bay and Iqaluit to Ottawa at a cost of US$1995pp.
Victory Point, King William Island
Our first full day on board will see us charting a course into the fabled Northwest Passage, with our fascinating programme of interesting lectures and presentations beginning. These expertly delivered talks will introduce you to the history and stories surrounding the areas you will be visiting, with a special focus on the historical polar explorations that took place here including the legend of Sir John Franklin and his “lost expedition”. Prior to the recent discovery of the HMS Erebus in September 2014, very little was known of how the Franklin Expedition spent its last months in the frozen Arctic. The vessels, abandoned in the ice of Victoria Strait are just coming to life thanks to the ongoing efforts of Parks Canada’s marine archaeological team and the recent Victoria Strait Expedition.
On Victory Point a lifeboat left abandoned, bits and pieces of copper and iron, cutlery and buttons and a skeleton here and there - all tell a story of a desperate race south in search of rescue that never came. We hope to visit Victory Point as we transit Victoria Strait, travelling very near the actual location of the wreck of HMS Erebus, all the while, learning about the quest for exploration that eventually opened up the Arctic.
This morning we will arrive along the shores of Conningham Bay on Prince of Wales Island where we will enjoy a day of Zodiac exploration in search of exciting wildlife observations. Known as one of the most remarkable wildlife sites in the Arctic, Conningham Bay plays host to a wide range of animals including Beluga whales and their known predator, the “Kings of the Arctic” polar bears. As we search through the bays the full reckoning of nature’s ways may become strikingly apparent as the whalebone littered shorelines lead us to the source…the iconic polar bears.
Bellot Strait and Fort Ross
Today’s adventures will include an exciting navigation through the narrows of the Bellot Strait - a channel separating northerly Somerset Island from continental North America - where we recommend spending some time on deck in search of the wildlife that abounds here including various species of seal and maybe even polar bears. This imposing stretch of water is well known for its fierce currents but you are in excellent hands as your experienced captain will time your passage perfectly to avoid the strongest currents, and your ship’s impressive capabilities will be more than apparent.
Having successfully navigated through the Bellot Strait we will arrive at the historic site of Fort Ross on Somerset Island on the eastern end of the Strait. Here we will enjoy a gentle walk around to discover the former Hudson’s Bay Company fur trading outpost along with fascinating archaeological sites which offer an insight into the more than a thousand years of habitation here by the Inuit and their predecessors.
Today will be one for the history lovers as we visit Beechey Island, an area of great historic significance. It is here that Sir John Franklin's ill-fated expedition spent its last 'comfortable' winter in 1845 before disappearing into the icy vastness, sparking an incredible series of search expeditions that lasted almost three decades. Accompanied by our expert historians we will take a walk through this area to discover more about the mystery of what happened to Franklin and about how the operators of your tour played such a huge part in the discovery of the long-lost Franklin shipwreck, HMS Erebus.
We will also visit the grave markers on the remote windswept beach, which pay homage to Franklin and his team, and for the history buffs amongst us this is likely to be one of the highlights of the voyage as we take a moment to reflect upon the bravery of these pioneering explorers.
Lancaster Sound and Dundas Harbour
This morning we will find ourselves at almost 75 degrees north of latitude as we cruise along the coastline of Devon Island in the waters of Lancaster Sound. We recommend spending some time on deck as we sail through this broad channel of water which has been likened to the wildlife 'super highway' of the Arctic. Massive volumes of water from the Atlantic to the east and Pacific to the west, and from the archipelago of islands to the north all mix here, combining to make a rich source of nutrients and food for an abundance of Arctic wildlife.
In the afternoon we plan to visit Dundas Harbour to visit the old Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) outpost located here. We can also enjoy some great hiking opportunities in search of the musk oxen and Arctic hares that are often found here.
As we near the far north of Baffin Island we will enter the broad channel which is home to the remote Inuit community of Pond Inlet. Here we will visit the Natinnak Centre, where a fascinating cultural exhibit showcases aspects of the daily life, culture and history of the people of the north. Inuit carvings, jewellery and other traditional crafts are on display here and purchasing such items from the local artisans is a great way to support the community.
Pond Inlet is also the main access point to the pristine wilderness of Sirmilik National Park and photo opportunities will abound as the epic landscapes of the park surround us on approach.
Today we will encounter some of the most beautiful scenery of our whole voyage as we enter the breathtaking Gibbs Fjord surrounded on all sides by majestic cliffs and snowy glaciers. As we cruise slowly through the dark waters our expedition ship will appear to be dwarfed by the giant peaks towering above us and we recommend spending the day on deck with your camera in hand. Your resident photographer will join you to offer hints and tips for capturing the perfect landscape shots.
Today we will spend some time sailing around Isabella Bay in search of wildlife sightings. Isabella Bay (Niginganiq) is an important summer habitat and feeding area for endangered bowhead whales and we hope to get some sightings of these elusive animals breaking through the sea ice with the crown of their heads. As we explore around we are also likely to see ringed seals, Canada geese, snow geese, narwhal and even polar bears in this unique wildlife location.
We will spend today exploring amongst the spectacular Sunshine Fjord, straddling the Arctic Circle at 66 degrees, 33 minutes north of latitude.
In this region there will be lots of opportunities for adventures, with thrilling hikes being a particular draw. Gentle walks along the shoreline will offer great photo opportunities and an extended hike across the tundra will result in wonderful views across the fjord. This is also a great place for kayaking and those who have chosen to participate in this optional activity can enjoy a scenic paddle through the sheltered waters of the fjord.
Today we will visit the scenic village of Pangnirtung, beautifully located between the mountains and the sea in the heart of Cumberland Sound. The area is within the western gateway to Auyuittuq National Park and we will spend some time here walking through this remote community and visiting the Angmarlik Visitor Centre which has a wonderful interpretive display featuring the lifestyle and history of the Thule and of the modern Inuit.
The last stop on our Northwest Passage and Baffin Island adventure will be Monumental Island. Situated in the Davis Strait, Monumental Island is a well-known location for walruses and we will explore by zodiac boat along the shoreline looking for these fascinating creatures and hoping especially to see smaller pups within the masses. We sometimes encounter polar bears in this vicinity and during their hunting forays, they have been known to chase walrus off their haul out and into the water. We also expect to see numerous large icebergs drifting southwards here so make sure to have your cameras ready!
As we get back on board to enjoy our final night at sea you will be invited to attend a voyage recap hosted by your expedition leader and this evening you can join the captain for a special dinner to commemorate our journey and reflect on the adventures we will have had.
Iqaluit to Ottawa
Our journey ends as you awake back along the shores of Iqaluit, the capital of Nunavut. After breakfast it will be time to disembark and bid a fond farewell to the expedition team before making our way to the airport for our flight to Ottawa. Upon arrival in Ottawa, if you are planning to spend more time here a transfer will be provided to a downtown location.
A view from Above
Built in Finland in 1989 as a Russian polar research vessel, the Akademik Ioffe, was operating as One Ocean Navigator until recently, is a comfortable, stable, ice-strengthened ship with all the facilities for modern expedition cruising. There is a mixture of suites and cabins, all with windows or portholes and some with private facilities. Public areas include dining room, lounge, bar, library with forward facing windows, multi-media room with Apple Mac computers and photo management software, presentation room, mud room, passenger lift and gift shop. There is also a wellness centre, sauna, spa, salt-water plunge pool, fitness room and infirmary. Along with plenty of open deck space, there is a top deck with 360degrees views and a small observatory with spotting scope. The ship has an open-bridge policy.
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