Embarking on an epic voyage inspired by Roald Amundsen's historic expedition, we aim to traverse the full Northwest Passage, navigating through the intricate waterways along the Arctic islands of Canada to reach the Beaufort Sea. This challenging journey includes visits to historical sites, encounters with the resilient locals, and the search for elusive wildlife. The unpredictable pack ice adds an element of genuine expedition, emphasizing the adventurous spirit of the voyage. The itinerary is a flexible guide subject to change based on weather, sea conditions, and other factors. Additionally, the trip includes visits to remote Inuit communities, where traditional hunting practices, including whaling, may be observed, potentially causing discomfort. Passengers are encouraged to communicate any concerns to the expedition team for appropriate action.
Upon reaching Toronto Airport, register at the designated group hotel near the airport for an overnight stay. Visit the hospitality desk to obtain luggage cabin tags, receive information on pre-embarkation procedures, and details about the upcoming charter flight to Kangerlussuaq. Make sure to label your luggage with the provided tags, including your name and ship cabin number.
Accommodation: Westin Toronto Airport Hotel (or similar)
Following breakfast at the hotel, take the charter flight to Kangerlussuaq, Greenland, to board the vessel Sylvia Earle. Upon boarding, take time to settle into your cabin and attend essential safety briefings. The sail out of Søndre Strømfjord, surrounded by towering mountains, offers magnificent views. In the evening, join the Welcome Dinner to meet your expedition team and crew.
Sisimiut, Greenland's second-largest town, lies about 54 kilometers north of the Arctic Circle, offering the experience of the midnight sun during the summer. Notable for its old blue church with a gate made of whale bone, Sisimiut features a charming museum with exhibits on local history, early life in Greenland, and a reconstructed Inuit turf house. The town provides hiking trails of varying difficulty levels, leading through the town, its outskirts, and mountains, offering stunning viewpoints. Sisimiut has a rich cultural history, with Saqqaq, Dorset, and Thule cultures influencing the area over the centuries.
Ilulissat, known as the 'birthplace of icebergs,' boasts stunning ice formations. Explore the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Icefjord and witness the grandeur of Sermeq Kujalleq (Jakobshavn Glacier), the Northern Hemisphere's most productive glacier. Producing 20 million tonnes of ice daily, it feeds into the Ilulissat Icefjord and Disko Bay. Weather permitting, enjoy a Zodiac cruise at the fjord's mouth, kayak amid sea ice and icebergs, or opt for a once-in-a-lifetime 90-minute helicopter flight over the glacier for breathtaking views of colossal icebergs. Please note the helicopter excursion requires a minimum of 8 passengers.
Disko Island, with its mountainous and glaciated interior, shares similarities with Iceland. Its captivating shorelines feature black sandy beaches, unique basalt columns, hot springs, and striking lava formations. Explore Disko Bay on a Zodiac cruise to witness its intriguing geology and abundant marine life, including humpback, fin, minke, and bowhead whales.
As the voyage progresses, the expert team provides engaging talks on wildlife, geology, and the historic adventures of early explorers like Franklin and Amundsen. Approaching the coast of Baffin Island, anticipate sightings of Greenland's renowned icebergs. Keep a lookout for diverse marine life, including humpback, sei, sperm, and fin whales, along with seal species like ring and harp seals.
Explore the east coast of Baffin Island, home to hidden bays serving as feeding grounds for bowhead whales and witnessing glaciers calving into the sea. Sail through inlets and fjords surrounded by towering mountains with remarkable geology, including places like Home Bay, Isabella Bay, Sillem Island, John Ford Fjord, Sam Ford Fjord, and Scott Inlet. Weather permitting, the plan includes a visit to Pond Inlet for a warm welcome from the local community. Bylot Island, covered with mountains, icefields, cliffs, snowfields, and glaciers, provides nesting habitat for numerous bird species. Sailing along the coastline offers a chance to appreciate the diverse wildlife and landscapes within the Sirmilik National Park.
Now in the High Arctic at nearly 75° north latitude, explore Devon Island, Earth's largest uninhabited island, renowned for stunning geology featuring flat-topped mountains and glacial valleys. Visit Dundas Harbour for walks on undulating tundra and possible birdwatching. Other potential stops include Croker Bay and Maxwell Bay, where remnants of a Royal Canadian Mounted Police outpost and Hudson’s Bay Company trading post can be found, often with walruses in the bay.
On the western end of Devon Island, land at Beechey Island, a significant Canadian National Historic Site named after Frederick William Beechey. Beechey Island holds historical importance as one of Canada’s crucial arctic sites, with graves from the ill-fated Franklin expedition of 1845–46 and a visit by Roald Amundsen in 1903 during the first successful voyage to fully transit the Northwest Passage.
The upcoming days' activities are subject to unpredictable sea ice conditions. Potential plans include crossing Bellot Strait to sail Prince Regent Sound and visit Fort Ross. Other destinations may encompass Prince Leopold Island's bird cliffs, Cunningham Inlet for beluga whales shedding skin, and Coningham Bay—a polar bear hotspot with beluga whale remnants. If conditions permit, a visit to historic Cape Felix on King William Island may provide insights into Franklin’s ill-fated expedition, with remains attributed to the HMS Erebus and HMS Terror discoveries in 1848.
The expedition team will tailor daily itineraries based on sea ice and weather conditions. Visits may include places explored by Franklin and other early explorers. Zodiac explorations along coastlines and hikes through dramatic landscapes, such as the 'Smoking Hills,' will be highlights. Possible destinations:
A key hub, offering an Inuit settlement experience, archaeological sites, and wildlife encounters with caribou, musk ox, and seals.
Johansen Bay, Edinburgh Island
An uninhabited island with vibrant flora, beaches, and cliffs. Zodiac excursions into an estuary, with potential wildlife sightings and a scenic lookout walk.
Jesse Harbour, Banks Island
Home to a significant population of Lesser Snow Geese, Banks Island boasts diverse wildlife, dramatic cliffs, and ancient rock formations.
Smoking Hills, Franklin Bay
A unique natural phenomenon with smouldering cliffs emitting sulphurous gas, creating vibrant colors. An otherworldly landscape rich in geological interest.
These destinations provide opportunities for cultural encounters, scenic exploration, and wildlife observation.
Anticipation grows as we navigate the Beaufort Sea. Whether on deck or in the observation lounges, witness the captain expertly guide the vessel through these mostly frozen waterways. Look out for marine wildlife, especially Beluga whales. Upon reaching Prudhoe Bay, bid farewell to Canada and enter the United States.
Heading westward to Nome along Alaska's northern coast, where the U.S. and Russia are just 100 km apart, reflect on the adventures while scanning for marine life. Participate in the photo competition, attend final lectures, and aim to gain permission to cruise near Point Hope, Little Diomede, and King Islands in Alaska.
Bid farewell to the expedition team and crew in Nome, concluding a once-in-a-lifetime voyage. After disembarking, transfer to the airport for a charter flight to Anchorage, where you'll enjoy an overnight stay at the Hilton Hotel Anchorage (or similar).
Transfer to the airport for your continued travels.