Arctic Explorer - Crossing the Circle Cruise

Walking through vast arctic landscapes.
Daisy Gilardini
Zodiac tour to see glacier and the arctic landscape.
Daisy Gilardini
Travelers walking around the arctic landscape.
A walrus swim in the deep arctic waters.
Relax by the fire in the lounge.
Tui De Roy
Enjoy a delicious meal on the BBQ deck
The Arctic has an allure that grips many adventurers. Whether it’s the Inuit culture of the Canadian North, the incredible wildlife along the fringe of the ice, or the riveting exploration history that captivates many a reader. The Arctic Circle is also a highlight of this polar cruise. A parallel of latitude located at about 66 degrees and 33 minutes North, the Arctic Circle marks the southernmost latitude where the sun stays above the horizon for 24-hours on the Summer Solstice. Over the course of this small ship voyage cross the Arctic Circle at least twice on the ship as you explore this region of the Eastern Canadian Arctic.

Day 1


    Iqaluit, the capital and largest community of Nunavut, is located at the head of Frobisher Bay, on Baffin Island. With an average monthly temperature below zero degrees for eight months of the year, the permafrost inhibits the growth of large trees and shrubs. One might see a low to the ground Arctic willow however keep your eyes open, they don’t typically stand higher than 6” from the ground. Following a walking tour of Iqaluit, your water-based adventure starts when you board your expedition vessel by zodiac.

    Day 2

      Lower Savage Islands

      At the mouth of Frobisher Bay and the southeast tip of Baffin Island, the Lower Savage Islands are an archipelago of islands that look like they have been split apart by a large hammer. A maze of channels and small islets, this is a fantastic place to explore by zodiac. The Akademik Ioffe will drop you off and reposition to the south side of the islands. As you explore, make your way from the northeast side of the island down a series of channels looking for a way out and your ship.

      The location of these islands mean that they are ideally situated between the rapid and dynamic flow of the Hudson Strait, the outflow from Frobisher Bay and they even catch some of the Baffin current that flows south down the coast of Baffin Island from Baffin Bay. This mixing of waters makes it quite rich in marine life and be looking for your first polar bears of the voyage on this excursion.

      Day 3

        Kimmirut and High Bluff

        Kimmirut, otherwise known as Lake Harbour, is located at the head of a narrow fjord flanked by rocky outcrops. Be out on deck as your Captain navigates this challenging approach to Kimmirut. Upon anchoring, drop the zodiacs and transfer ashore for a visit to this beautiful town. A visit to the visitors center is a must in Kimmirut and it is here that you will receive a welcome to the town from community members. Have the opportunity to hike and also have a tour of the town.

        Later in the day aim to land at High Bluff Island for a nature based excursion. An offshore island, High Bluff offers immersion into the natural world of Nunavut. Walking, hiking, photographic and kayaking opportunities abound as you make your way from the zodiacs to your onshore site. For those interested in a more challenging hike to the high point of the island there will be an opportunity to see an inuksuk, a stone trail marker often built in the shape of a human.

        Day 4

          Akpatok Island

          The largest island in Ungava Bay, Akpatok Island is home to one of the great seabird colonies of the Arctic. The limestone cliffs rising up to 800 feet above sea level are home to thick-billed murres (also known as Brunnichs guillemots), black guillemots and black-legged kittiwakes. Where there are sea bird colonies, you may also find peregrine falcons and Arctic fox. Given appropriate sea conditions, plan to explore the base of these cliffs by zodiac.

          Day 5

            Lady Franklin Island

            Named for the wife of Sir John Franklin, the explorer of Northwest Passage note, Lady Franklin Island bears an interesting resemblance to Lady Franklin herself. From a distance, the island is not imposing and doesn’t stand out however, as you approach there is an appearance of something formidable. And, as you really start to explore it, you realize that it is a force to be reckoned with. All much like Lady Franklin who almost single-handedly kept the search going for her missing husband for years if not decades after his disappearance. In fact, only recently, in August 2012 the Canadian government launched its latest search for Franklin and his ships.

            More than just for its intrinsic value, Lady Franklin Island is also a good spot to find polar bear, caribou and gyrfalcons. Slowly approach by ship and drop the zodiacs for cruise and possible landing on this island.

            Day 6

              Ice Edge in Davis Strait

              While it's not certain where the ice edge will be, sail for the ice in Davis Strait in order to experience this dramatic transit zone. Much of the Arctic sea life seems to be interested in this transit zone as well and keep your eyes peeled for bearded, hooded and ringed seals as well as polar bears and walrus. Who knows, perhaps a bowhead whale will be cruising the ice edge. Spotting scopes and binoculars will be in use as all scan the ice looking for wildlife. If conditions permit, launch the zodiacs so that you can get into the ice and explore.

              Day 7

                Crossing the Circle at Sunshine Fjord

                Sunshine Fjord straddles the Arctic Circle. Who knows, on this day, you might cruise across the Circle on the ship, zodiac cruise across it in the zodiacs and even hike across it on shore. A beautiful place to hike, have various groups going for elevation as well as traversing the shoreline of the fjord. The sea kayakers will take advantage of often - sheltered conditions for a paddle here.

                Day 8

                  Cape Mercy

                  Turn back south away from the Arctic Circle and sail toward the mouth of Cumberland Sound. Protecting the northern entrance to Cumberland Sound, Cape Mercy is an exposed headland jutting out into Davis Strait. As the Baffin Bay middle ice recedes throughout the summer, the stretch of Baffin coast from Cape Mercy to Cape Dyer is a great place to find polar bears coming ashore. All eyes will be searching as you sail this region.

                  Day 9

                    Pangnirtung, Nunavut

                    Nestled in the heart of Cumberland Sound and the gateway to Auyuittuq National Park, Pangnirtung is beautifully situated between the mountains and the sea. This town is known for its arts and crafts and a visit to the art gallery is a must. In addition, the Angmarlik Visitor Center has a wonderful interpretive display featuring the lifestyle of the Thule and of the modern Inuit.

                    Day 10

                      Monumental Island

                      Leave Cumberland Sound behind as you sail south through Davis Strait and back towards Frobisher Bay. Your last excursion is to visit Monumental Island. An offshore island in Davis Strait, it is a known spot for finding walrus. Put the zodiacs into the water and search the shoreline for them. When seen up close, the sheer size of these creatures creates the impression they would be slow and slovenly, however in the water their dynamic ability to twist and turn is inspiring to even the fastest swimmer. Watchful eyes may locate smaller pups within the masses. Taking your time in the zodiacs at this site allows for nature to take its course and your small group to witness the brilliance of it. Polar bears are often found here and have been known to chase the walrus off their haul out and into the water.

                      Day 11

                        Iqaluit, Nunavut

                        Arriving back into the capital of Nunavut, disembark here and take a transfer to the airport for your flight home.

                        - Rates are quoted in U.S. dollars and represent costs per person, double or triple occupancy. Request the Twin or Triple Share Program where you are matched with a cabin mate of the same gender. Even if a cabin mate is not found for you, no single supplement will be charged.

                        - Twin and superior cabins are available for single occupancy at 1.5 times the shared price, suites for 2 times the shared price. Single supplement is not available in triple cabins.

                        - Child and Youth Prices: 25% discount for young people aged up to 17 years, and 20% off for those aged from 18-21 years who can prove they are in full-time education.

                        Please note: Specific sites visited will depend on ice and weather conditions experienced and the itinerary will be updated throughout the voyage in order to take advantage of favorable conditions.
                        Arctic, North America, Europe, Iceland, Norway, Greenland, Baffin Island, Canada, Iqaluit, Monumental Island, Davis Strait, Lower Savage Islands, Kimmirut, Akpatok Island, Pangirtung, Cape Mercy, Lady Franklin Island, Western Europe, Scandinavia
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