Day 1 Edmonton
We depart Edmonton for our flight to Cambridge Bay, a remote outpost above the Arctic Circle. Located on the southern shores of Victoria Island, today it is a centre for hunting, trapping and fishing. Excitement is in the air as we enjoy a welcome cocktail and cast off, bound for the fabled Northwest Passage.
Day 2 Victory Point
As we chart a course into the Northwest Passage, our onboard presentation series begins, and the legend of Sir John Franklin and his ‘lost expedition’ starts to unravel. We aim to visit Victory Point, travelling very near the actual location of the wreck of HMS Erebus & the HMS Terror.
Day 3 Coningham Bay
This morning we arrive at Coningham Bay on the shore of Prince of Wales. Here, in the heart of the Northwest Passage, we hope to encounter one of the most remarkable wildlife sites in the Arctic. This is a known hotspot for polar bears who come here to feast on Beluga whales, often caught in the rocky shallows at the entrance to the bay during low tide. It is not unusual to find the shoreline littered with whale skeletons – and very healthy looking polar bears!
Day 4 Bellot Strait
Today we transit the narrow passage of Bellot Strait – a channel separating northerly Somerset Island from continental North America. The skill of the Captain and Officers and capabilities of the ship becomes apparent during this exciting day of Arctic navigation. Nearby Fort Ross, located at the southern end of Somerset Island, is a former Hudson’s Bay Company fur trading outpost. Fascinating archaeological sites nearby tell a story of more than a thousand years of habitation by the Inuit and their predecessors.
Day 5 Beechey Island
Beechey Island holds great historic importance on our journey through the Northwest Passage. It is here that Sir John Franklin’s ill-fated expedition spent its last ‘comfortable’ winter in 1845 before disappearing. This is a thrilling location for history buffs and for many it will be the defining moment of our expedition.
Day 6 Devon Island
Cruising the coastline of Devon Island, we are now in the waters of Lancaster Sound – a rich, bio-diverse region often referred to as the wildlife ‘super highway’ of the Arctic. We plan to visit the old Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) outpost at Dundas Harbour, on Devon Island. Musk ox and Arctic hare are sometimes sighted in the vicinity and there are some great hiking options in the area.
Day 7 Mittimatalik (Pond Inlet)
We sight the wild north coast of Baffin Island and navigate through Navy Board Inlet. The vast landscapes of Sirmilik National Park tower surround us as we approach the remote Inuit community of Mittimatalik (Pond Inlet). We are welcomed ashore and visit the Natinnak Centre, where a fascinating cultural exhibit showcases aspects of daily life, culture and history of the people of the north. Inuit carvings, jewellery and other traditional craft is on display and purchasing such items from the local artisans is a great way to support the community.
Day 8 Gibbs Fjord
This morning we enter the spectacular Gibbs Fjord with towering cliffs all around us. Our expedition ship will seem dwarfed by the giant peaks and snowy glaciers as we cruise slowly along the dark waters. One past guest was known to liken Gibbs Fjord to a 'scene from a Lord of the Rings' - it's hard to disagree!
Day 9 Niginaniq (Isabella Bay)
Isabella Bay (Niginaniq) is an important summer habitat and feeding area for endangered bowhead whales. These remarkable marine mammals are able to break sea ice with the crown of their head. The area also includes a shallowshelf at the entrance to the bay that provides protection for bowheads from predatory orca whales. Polar bears, ringedseals, Canada geese, snow geese and narwhal are also found in and around the area.
Day 10 Sunshine Fjord
Sunshine Fjord straddles the Arctic Circle and offers terrific hiking opportunities. You may wish to take the extended hike, gaining some real elevation and offering wonderful views of our surroundings, or elect to take the less strenuous option along the shoreline. The sheltered waters of the fjord provide the kayakers with great conditions for paddling.
Day 11 Pangnirtung
Nestled in the heart of Cumberland Sound and the gateway to Auyuittuq National Park, the small community of Pangnirtung is beautifully situated between the mountains and the sea. This remote town is known for its arts and crafts and a visit to the local art gallery is a highlight. In addition, the Angmarlik Visitor Centre has a wonderful interpretive display featuring the lifestyle of the Thule and of the modern Inuit.
Day 12 Monumental Island
Monumental Island is a final highlight and a known location for walrus. We explore by Zodiac along the shoreline looking for these fascinating creatures. Watchful eyes may locate smaller pups within the masses. We sometimes encounter polar bears in this vicinity. This evening we celebrate with a special dinner and reflect on one our voyage across the top of the remote Canadian Arctic.
Day 13 Ottawa
By morning we are anchored off the beach from Iqaluit – the largest community on Baffin Island. We are transferred to the airport and board our flight to Ottawa where our journey comes to an end. A transfer to a downtown location is provided.