If you have ever considered an arctic cruise you may have heard the words, “Are you crazy?” muttered from the lips of your friends and family. When people think of a cruise they often think of tropical destinations and wearing your bathing suit while sipping cocktails. An arctic cruise is not exactly the same, but it is full of fun, memories, and more adventure than you could ever imagine. When you cruise the arctic you will find yourself immersed in a landscape that few people ever experience and discover things about the world around you that you never knew.
Adventure Canada Arctic Cruise
Adventure Canada is the leading arctic cruise excursion line for cruising the icy waters at the top of our planet. They started their travels in 1987 and have since taken thousands of adventurers across the frozen tundras of the arctic as well as Scotland, Ireland, Scandinavia, the Caribbean, Haida Gwaii, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Nunavut and Greenland. It is a family owned and operated company, with following generations leading the excursions that they grew up experiencing themselves.
There are several different types of excursions offered by Adventure Canada. The Arctic Expedition Cruises take you throughout different areas of the arctic circle depending on the cruise you pick: Heart of the Arctic, Northwest Passage, or the High Arctic Explorer. They also offer Arctic Land Tours, Pacific Northwest Expedition Cruises, South and Central American Expedition Cruises, Atlantic Canada Expedition Cruises, and European Expedition Cruises. No matter which area of the world you are looking to experience, one thing is certain: you will have the journey of a lifetime.
Adventure Canada makes one promise on all their expeditions and cruises: that each one will be completely different. The sites you see, the weather you experience, and the things you learn along the way will undoubtedly change you as a traveler. They pride themselves on their expeditions because they not only provide new experiences, but they also celebrate the world around us. By having local experts, scholars, scientists, artists, authors, and expedition specialists lead the adventures during your cruise so they can ensure that you are leaving with a wealth of knowledge and a changed heart for Mother Nature.
Cruise the Arctic with Adventure Canada
Even if you are an avid cruiser, an arctic cruise is nothing like you have ever experienced before. The Northwest Passage Expedition, which is the cruise featured here, starts in Kangerlussuaq, Greenland and goes across the frozen, icy waters of the the Davis Strait, the Lancaster Sound, Queen Maud Gulf, and Coronation Gulf ending in Kugluktuk, Canada. Out of the Northwest Passage will be this itinerary in reverse.
During this excursion you will see amazing fjords, gigantic glaciers and icebergs, arctic animals including bears, whales, seals, and many species of birds. Some may even see narwhals, musk oxen, walruses, arctic hairs, foxes, and more! You will meet with natives of the arctic landscape, learn from invaluable experts, hike icy mountains, and capture gorgeous landscape and scenery through the lens of your camera.
Where the Adventure Canada Cruise Goes
The Northwest Passage Expedition has you cruise the arctic through the waters between Greenland and Canada. It starts in Kangerlussuaq, Greenland and goes across the Davis Strait, the Lancaster Sound, Queen Maud Gulf, and Coronation Gulf ultimately ending in Kugluktuk, Canada. To take the opposite trek you’ll want to select Out of the Northwest Passage.
In order to get to your starting destination, you will have to fly into Toronto, Ontario or Calgary, Alberta (depending on the dates you choose) and then take a charter flight to Kangerlussuaq, Greenland. After your cruise is complete you will take another charter flight from Kugluktuk, Canada to Calgary, Alberta or Toronto, Ontario where you can make arrangements for your final destination home. For the Out of the Northwest Passage you will take a flight to Edmonton, Canada. The next morning you will board a charter plane to Yellowknife, but only to refuel, before flying to Kugluktuk to board the Ocean Endeavor.
Dates of the Arctic Cruise
The cruise runs from August through September and takes about 3 weeks. The current dates available are August 17th to September 3rd, 2019 and August 22nd to September 7th, 2020. They also have a cruise running September 7th to September 23rd, 2020.
On Board Adventure Canada Arctic Cruise Ship
You will make your way through the arctic on the Ocean Endeavour. This ship has several different cabin types including suites or rooms for up to 4 people. Each room has a private bath, a flat screen television, telephone, and intercom. There is a restaurant on-board the Ocean Endeavour, as well as a spa, gym, sauna, several lounges, and amazing views of the arctic that surrounds you.
- Spa – Two massage therapists available for the entire trip.
- Gym – State of the art gym with pneumatic resistance training machines.
- Sauna – Two saunas, one women’s and one co-ed.
- Lounges – Coffee, tea, cookies, snacks, books, games, bar.
What’s a trip to the icy arctic waters without fully immersing yourself in it? The best way to do that is to dive right in. Grab your swim suit and take the plunge into the freezing water that the Polar Bears call home. Don’t worry, it’s perfectly safe and you’ll be very happy you did it. It’s a great bonding experience and bragging rights to all your friends back home.
Dress up for a night of fun, pillaging, and dancing. Adventure Canada provides all the costumes and props for an entertaining theme party night. Come up with a character persona and play the role of a ferocious Viking Explorer all night!
You may have enjoyed cold drinks before, but have you ever enjoyed your drink with ice that could be over 50 thousand years old? That’s right, the staff will collect pure frozen freshwater that is thousands of years old for the beverage of your choice.
Learn from the worlds leading experts on subjects pertaining to all things arctic and more. The entire staff will impress you with their depth of knowledge and their willingness to share it with you. It would take much more than a 3 week expedition to learn all they have to share. Your best bet is to book another arctic expedition for the following year to learn more!
Enjoy a good BBQ? How about one on the high seas of the arctic?! Hangout on deck while the crew cooks a fabulous spread of BBQ favorites on the grill.
If you’re lucky you’ll get to see the Northern Lights. Truly a breathtaking experience you’ll never forget. Just this opportunity alone is enough to make the entire arctic expedition worth it.
Every culture has its delicacies and the Inuit have some arctic treats to share with you. One day a variety of locally sourced foods will be prepared for you in the traditional style, raw. You’ll have the opportunity to try caribou, musk ox, salmon, narwhal, seal, and char.
Despite the harsh conditions outside on the tundra there is incredible cuisine to be enjoyed on the Ocean Endeavour. The best part of a cruise is the endless food! On an arctic expedition ship the meal times are a little more established as opposed to having food available at all hours of the day on a big ship.
There will be 3 main meals served a day and one appetizer hour with sandwiches and soup after you come in from outside. The meals are expertly prepared and offer a variety of options at every dining. There is always a vegetarian option, pasta dish, meat entree, and soups and salads to choose from. A coffee bar is available 24 hours a day with light snacks as well.
There aren’t a lot of docks in the arctic and especially not many that can accommodate the Ocean Endeavour. Luckily, Adventure Canada has devised a very clever and safe way of going ashore. Most of the landings you will encounter will be a “wet landing” and accomplished by Zodiacs. These small rubber boats are tough and can take a beating. They hold about 10 people safely and can navigate between the ice flows and get up on the rocky shores. Once you swing your leg over the side of the Zodiac onto the beach you’ll start to really feel like you’re on a real adventure! Adventure Canada’s expert team will assure your trips to shore are safe and as comfortable as possible. All that’s left for you to do is enjoy the beauty of the arctic and have your camera READY! You never know when a seal or a whale might breach the surface.
Staff & Crew
The crew aboard the Ocean Endeavour wants to ensure that each traveler has the experience of a lifetime. These crew members are like none other, they can do it all. At one turn they will be driving the Zodiacs and the next they will be sharing a expert presentation about polar bears. They offer fun on-board games and events (even a polar plunge!) as well as presentations and lectures about the things you will see during your journey. Every single crew member on board is an expert in their own field. It’s an opportunity to talk to someone who just might be the world’s expert on a particular subject. Every day you’ll have the privilege to learn more than you ever knew about animals, plants, geology, the ocean, exploring, history, native cultures, and more! There are endless possibilities on how to enjoy your stay on the Ocean Endeavour.
Day by Day on Your Arctic Cruise with Adventure Canada
Your adventures on Adventure Canada are anything but ordinary, especially compared to any other cruises you have ever experienced. From the very first briefing you are made aware that this is an EXPEDITION and things can change quickly due to weather and changing ice flows. Your planned route may not be the one you take, but this only adds to the sense of adventure. Locations and landings may be different on every voyage, making no two trips alike, and you may even visit somewhere Adventure Canada has never been! Here is generally what you can expect on your day-to-day travels during the Northwest Passage Expedition:
Days 1 and 2 – Pre-expedition travel
First everyone had to get to Edmonton, Canada. Here you will get Adventure Canada jackets and meet your fellow passengers. There will also be your first expedition briefing of many more to come over the next 3 weeks. All the staff will be there to introduce themselves as well. You’ll be assigned a charter flight that leaves early the next morning. There will be a refueling stop in Yellowknife then one more flight to meet up with the Ocean Endeavour.
Yellowknife is the capital of these Canadian Northwest territories. It is located in the Great Salve Lake and is home to many of the government and industrial services that feed into the surrounding areas. From Yellowknife you will board a charter plane and fly to Kugluktuk. You have to stay flexible on an expedition and this first leg was no different. The ship was trapped in sea ice that was quickly closing in. The Canadian Coast Guard had to use an ice breaker ship to give the Ocean Endeavour safe passage to another port, Pond Inlet. This meant extra time to explore Yellowknife.
Day 3 – Pond Inlet (Mittimatalik)
The back up embarkation location was Pond Inlet. It took the ship almost 24 hours to navigate the ice flows to arrive safely. There’s a small dirt landing strip and a small terminal, but it’s enough to get all the charter planes in we needed. The first time you get to the arctic you get to have a crash course in Zodiac etiquette. You’ll be spending every day for the next 3 weeks getting in and out of these small boats and using them as your main source of transportation off the ship. They are amazing little boats and you’ll have a lot of fun cruising the arctic waters and making landings on shore.
Day 4 – Croaker Bay
You will continue to sail past Northern Canada’s expansive coastline filled with icy glaciers and deep fjords for the next few days. You will have several chances to get off the ship and take one of the Zodiacs to see the icy marvels up close. You may see some marine life such as whales or seals, as well as groups of birds known only to the arctic seas. If you’re really lucky you may get to see huge ice chunks calving off and falling into the cold waters. It’s rare to see, but worth the wait if you have the time.
Day 5 – Dundas Harbor
During these few days you will sail through Dundas Harbor. There are several Zodiac cruises that you can partake on, both during the day and in the evening, to be able to get close to Mother Nature’s ice sculptures and the landscape around you.
You will also be able to visit the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Camp that was once stationed there with its desolate structures still visible and tales of harsh conditions claiming their lives from 12- to 24-months at a time. You’ll find 2 grave sites there from two officers who died at Dundas Harbor. It’s still unclear how they died, but evidence shows there may have been some foul play. There are also structures from ancient inhabitants that lived there hundreds of years ago which you can explore via a short hike.
Aboard the ship you will have the opportunity to learn as you sail with on-board presentations and learning sessions as you cross Baffin Bay toward Nunavut. You will also be able to have unique experiences like yoga, the hot tub, the sauna, and more as you continue to sail.
Day 6 – Burnett and Stratton Bay Cruising
There are hundreds of bays to explore along the shores. They stretch out like fingers inviting you to come see what is inside. On this clear and sunny day it was perfect to cruise in and out of some of these bays. On this particular voyage they broke a record. The wildlife researchers on board spotted a huge pod of beluga whales. After viewing them for over an hour and doing some further counting, it was estimated there were roughly 400 belugas in that bay, the most Adventure Canada has seen in over 30 years.
You’ll also get the chance to go out in the Zodiacs and explore the floating ice flows. It’s very eerie to be out in the huge ice flows, hearing them grind together, and go past others floating so silently. The variety of different ice sculptures you see is incredible, an infinite amount of ice art strewn across the waters of the arctic, close enough to touch and interact with.
Day 7- Sirmilik National Park
Sirmilik National Park has amazing wildlife including polar bears and huge masses of birds. You will have the opportunity to take the Zodiacs out to see this huge and incredibly gorgeous area before setting sail deeper into the Baffin Island.
The disembarkation for the afternoon would be in Tay Bay. The area we made our landing was nestled in between two large cliffs that protected the beach. On the right side was a steep stretch of cliffs reaching around about a mile that curled around to unveil another beach on the other side. Standing on these cliffs you felt surrounded by the beautiful arctic mountains. The rocks had a very warm red tone color and stood out from the snow capped mountain landscape.
Days 8 – Pond Inlet
You will be surrounded by massive glaciers as you sail through these deep fjords. Here you will be able to possibly experience amazing sites such as whales, polar bears, narwhals, belugas, and more. You will have a chance to either stand out on deck and watch for these amazing animals or take one of the Zodiacs for a closer look.
During these days at sea you will experience Pond Inlet, or Mittimatalik, where you will have a chance to meet the native Inikituts for a tour of the island including traditional homes, the school, and the markets. There will also be a live cultural show where you can learn about traditional song, dance, and rituals. There may even be an opportunity to participate with them! Take this chance if you’re given it, it’s truly an honor.
Day 9 – Philpots Island
You will also travel to Philpots Island. You can hike on the beach, or take more intensive hikes up the island. The varying levels of the hikes can give you a great workout as well as present some amazing views and opportunities to see wildlife on the island. This was a great opportunity to see a large heard of Musk Ox.
Again, on-board you will have the opportunity to relax in the spa or the sauna, take a yoga class, and enjoy the different food and beverages aboard the ship all while learning about the things you are experiencing on a deeper level.
Day 10 – South Cape Fjord
South Cape Fjord is a large snow-capped fjord with a huge glacier located off Ellesmere Island. Ellesmere is the northern-most island in Canada. The ship sailed into a large snow capped fjord with a large visible glacier. This glacier had broken off a few small and large icebergs that were floating through the bay and others that had washed up on shore.
There are a few icebergs from the glacier floating by and you will be able to take a quick Zodiac cruise to see them up close. You can walk along the beach or stay on ship and watch the beautiful scenery as you float by. One of the icebergs below resembled a sea gull or a whales’ dorsal fin depending on your point of view.
Days 11- Gris Fjord Settlement
As you continue your sailing you will come across the Gris Fiord settlement, which is the northernmost town in Canada. It only has a population of 180 people. You will have an opportunity to disembark the ship and talk with those in the community about their way of life and their history.
On this particular voyage the ice was surrounding the settlement and proved to be too difficult to navigate. Several Zodiacs were dispatched and it took them over two hours to reach the shore through the ice flow. Residents of Gris Fiord were brought to the ship to perform a cultural show including throat singing, a history of the settlement, and a question and answer session. They also joined us for lunch and everyone was given a chance to visit with them.
Day 12 – Etah
Etah is another community you will see along the way, and it is the furthest north you will go on your entire arctic cruse. Here you are only about 1330 km from the North Pole. You will have a chance to hop on a zodiac to visit the Brother John Glacier as well as see indigenous animal populations like musk ox, arctic fox, arctic hair, as well as droves of arctic birds.
Remnants of hundreds of years of these northern visitors were apparent from the piles of animal bones, small shelters, and old discarded tools in the ground. During our approach into the bay two groups of musk ox were spotted on the northern slope. Both appeared to be roughly less than half way up the mountain grazing on green vegetation near the border of the snow line.
Day 13 – Melville Bay
Your journey will continue to Melville Bay. This area has some massive icebergs that have fallen off of larger glaciers. Many of these ice bergs were several times larger than our own ship and it seemed impossible to conjure the scale. Keep in mind, this is only what we could see of the ice bergs exposed on top of the water. Under the water these behemoths are many times larger than what’s readily visible. You will have the opportunity to disembark and visit the native people of the area, and maybe even try some traditional foods like raw caribou, musk ox, seal meat, and narwhal fat.
Day 14 – Tasiussaq Fjord
You will sail into Tasiussaq Fjord for another day at sea. You are a bit further south now so there is more vegetation and some ancient archaeological sites of native people who once lived in this rough terrain and climate. The rocky formations seem to stretch forever as you make your way deeper inland. There are also interesting rocks that look to be almost placed on the mountains and cliffs. The various colors of the cliffs and the reflections off the water are mesmerizing.
Near the lake about a mile from the landing was a sod home archaeology site. Every time we visit one of these it’s hard not to image what it would be like to live here. The views are spectacular, but no doubt it would be a hard life in this rugged terrain.
Day 15 – Uummannaq, Greenland
As you disembark into Greenland, you will be in the town of Uummannaq. The homes in this area are brightly colored, and surrounded by the bright blue sea and jagged icebergs which makes it look spectacular. You will have a wonderful time exploring this city. It looks so perfectly placed among the cliffs. Massive ice bergs float silently near by, keeping watch over the town as fishermen work to bring in their daily catch.
Typically this is the time in the arctic cruise that Adventure Canada hosts their Polar Plunge. It is exactly what it sounds like, too- a plunge into the icy waters of the arctic seas. It is an experience you won’t ever forget. Don’t worry, the pool, hot tub, and sauna are cranked up high and waiting for you after you’re done!
Day 16 – Ilulissat Icefjord
Your second to last full day off the ship will be to take one of the Zodiacs, or smaller boats to transport you to visit another settlement, to the Ilulissat Icefjord. Ilulissat is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is the outlet to the Sermeq Kukalleq, or Jakobshavn Glacier, ice glacier.
This area produces 10% of the Greenland’s glaciers and is one of the most active glaciers in the Northern Hemisphere. You will have a chance to get up close with the icebergs in this fjord as well as visit the town of Ilulissat which has museums, cafes, crafts, and even see hundreds of sled dogs!
Day 17- Sisimiut
The day on the ship has you traveling to the Sisimiut Coast. This colorful coastline has brightly colored houses and gorgeous vantage points. Sisimiut is Greenland’s second largest town. After spending 3 weeks in the vast arctic it will seem like a major metropolis! Here you can enjoy shopping and local artists selling crafts at the flea market. There is also a replica of a small village that serves as a museum to the past. Here you can picture yourself in the homes and buildings and feel what it was like to live during those times.
Day 18 – Kangerlussuaq
You will sail down the Sondre Stromfjord which is one of the longest in the world, to your anchor at port before you disembark. Kangerlussuaq is a former United States Air Force base and the primary entry into Greenland for most flights. Here you will say goodbye to all your new friends and disembark the Ocean Endeavour. You’ll load up your gear and climb into a Zodiac one last time.
There is a small airport about 20 kilometers from where the ship makes sea port. On the way there you’ll get about a 2 hour tour of the area and be able to hike in the cliffs. This last leg of the journey will be a charter flight to Toronto. From there you will all go your respective ways back home.
Bonus: Takeaways You May Have After Cruising the Arctic with Adventure Canada
- There’s so much more to see and explore in the arctic that you ever though possible.
- An arctic expedition always has to have a back up plan.
- Perspective on what early explorers of this territory had to endure. Many lost their lives to find the Northwest Passage.
- Getting to know the Inuit and their story may be the most rewarding.
- Arctic wildlife, geology, archaeology, and ecology knowledge.
- Survival skills that may come in handy later in life.
- Jumping into freezing water with ice bergs floating near you is a must have experience.
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A Complete Guide to an Arctic Expedition.
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