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Walrus and her pup

Epic 80°N: Exploring Greenland, Baffin & Ellesmere Islands

Example 23 Day Cruise aboard National Geographic Explorer
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Join this 23-day voyage on the National Geographic Explorer and journey deep into the far reaches of the Arctic, a land where polar bears roam and hardy Inuit communities maintain their traditional way of life. Canada’s Ellesmere Island stretches farther north than any other land in the world, save for Greenland—explore both on this epic Arctic expedition. This is a region of ancient ice, where tidewater glaciers of exceptional beauty dominate the landscape. Few humans have ever been here. It is home to hunting polar bears, muskox, and extremely rare wildlife, including narwhal. Glide between soaring icebergs at the mouth of Greenland’s Ilulissat Icefjord, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Trace the coast into parts largely unknown, where the only assurance is great wonder, beauty, and genuine exploration.

Day-by-Day Summary

Day 1 : Reykjavík
Day 2 : Fly to Kangerlussuaq, Greenland | Embark Ship
Day 3 : Greenland’s West Coast | Sisimiut
Days 4-6 : Baffin Island
Days 7-9 : Exploring the Canadian High Arctic
Day 10 : Devon Island
Days 11-12 : Ellesmere Island
Days 13-14 : Farther North
Days 15-18 : Exploring Northwest Greenland
Day 19 : Qilakitsoq
Day 20 : Ilulissat
Day 21 : Greenland's West Coast
Day 22 : Kangerlussuaq | Disembark | Reykjavík, Iceland
Day 23 : Reykjavík | Keflavík


  • Venture to new frontiers, Zodiac cruise, kayak, and hike the tundra
  • Trace fjords of rarely-explored northwest Greenland to the massive ice cap
  • Encounter the legacy of the ancient Inuit, Thule, and Dorset cultures
  • Explore the geologic phenomena of Iceland’s capital, Reykjavík
  • Follow in the wake of legendary explorers and hear their dramatic stories
  • Observe polar bears, arctic foxes, caribou, seals, and humpback whales


National Geographic Explorer

Places Visited


Trip Type

  • Small Ship

Activity Level


Trip Snapshots

Walrus and her pup Taking a zodiac tour to see icebergs in the arctic. A polar bear and her playful cub. Arctic Birds Hiking through the Antarctic landscape.

Day 1 Reykjavík

Arrive in Reykjavík, located just south of the Arctic Circle. Check-in to your Reykjavik Hotel. Take a guided overview of the old town, including Hallgrímskirkja Cathedral. Or choose to explore the Blue Lagoon and soak in the geothermal waters.

Day 2 Fly to Kangerlussuaq, Greenland | Embark Ship

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Fly by chartered aircraft to Greenland. Embark National Geographic Explorer at the head of Kangerlussuaq Fjord, a picturesque waterway that stretches 100 miles.

Day 3 Greenland’s West Coast | Sisimiut

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Dozens of deep fjords carve into Greenland’s west coast, many with glaciers fed by the ice cap that covers 80% of the country. Trace this ragged coastline, and search for humpback and minke whales. At Sisimiut, a former whaling port, visit the museum and wander amid a jumble of wooden 18th-century buildings.

Day 4-6 Baffin Island

  • Ship
  • 3 Breakfasts, 3 Lunches, 3 Dinners
European explorer William Baffin first explored the Baffin Bay area in the 15th century in search of the Northwest Passage. Yet the region may have had human inhabitants as early as 4,000 years ago, with later Dorset and Thule occupations right up to recent historical times. Using the crew's years of experience in the ice, explore some new and old places along the jagged coastline. Stretch your legs on good hiking trails at Qikiqtarjuaq, an Inuit name meaning “Big Island.” It is home to your Inuit guide, Kisa, who proudly gives a tour of his village. Next, head to Coronation Fiord where 5,000-foot cliffs are set near Coronation Glacier, and stop at Niaqurnak Point, a former Inuit camp where glacial tongues extend to the water’s edge. Walrus haul outs can be found here and it’s a good place to spot polar bears and whales. Plan to stop at Buchan Gulf, another good hiking area with picturesque cliffs and a Thule site nearby, and Isabella Bay, an important marine habitat where deep troughs create ideal conditions for bowhead whales—up to 100 at a time have been recorded in this location.

Day 7-9 Exploring the Canadian High Arctic

  • Ship
  • 3 Breakfasts, 3 Lunches, 3 Dinners
Carved by Ice Age glaciers, Lancaster Sound is the eastern gateway to the Arctic Archipelago. European explorers like William Baffin first ventured here in the 15th century to search for the Northwest Passage. The sound has been a favorite Inuit hunting and fishing location for hundreds of years. Your days here are spent searching for ringed seals, arctic foxes, walruses, and polar bears, as well as beluga and bowhead whales. You may even see the elusive narwhal, an arctic whale known for the long, spiraling tooth that projects up to ten feet from its upper jaw. Plan to explore Milne Bay for possible narwhal sightings, Prince Regent Inlet, a good place for polar bears on ice, and Beechey Island where the remains of the winter quarters of the Franklin Expedition are seen.

Day 10 Devon Island

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
On this day, your ship ploughs the Arctic waters at the entrance to the Northwest Passage, now heading towards the most easterly part of the south coast of Devon Island to Dundas Harbor. This location is where the Canadian government established a RCMP (Royal Mounted Police) post in the 1920s. Later, reach Croker Bay. Just last year, the crew discovered several very well-preserved winter-house ruins from the Thule culture. From the 1200s and until late in the 1800s, Inuit were living in these regions hunting caribou and muskoxen—which you can hope to spot along with polar bears.

Continue to Philpots Island, a geological structure consisting of ancient red granite that is part of the Ellesmere-North Greenland geological complex. It has been dated to 1.6 billion years in age! The plan is to go ashore on rocky Philpots Island for a chance to hike on the tundra and search for interesting flora and fauna, including extensive moss beds with interspersed flowering vascular plants, various bird species, arctic hares, and perhaps even musk oxen—an impressive beast covered with an incredibly thick coat of long hairs overlying a dense layer of underfur known as qiviut (very valuable wool used in producing the lightest, finest knitted products available today). Be on deck as you head out into the open waters offshore, where there are plenty of impressive icebergs calved from a huge glacier.

Day 11-12 Ellesmere Island

  • Ship
  • 2 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 2 Dinners
Heading northward, make your way up the beautiful and remote east coast of Ellesmere Island. Cruise along scenic Smith Bay (a.k.a. Skog Inlet) bordered by a steep wall of mountains, with a glacial ice tongue which pours down the mountains on either side. Be up on the bridge and search for a patch of "polar bear ice," the mixture of first-year and multi-year sea ice that is the preferred habitat of polar bears. At the end of the bay, go ashore to hike or kayak in picturesque surroundings. Ice is always present here.

The following day, enter Buchanan Bay, and turn into Alexandra Fjord to reach the area of Skraeling Island. (“Skraeling” is the word that the Norse settlers of Greenland used for the Inuit.) This is the site of an important archaeological find. Norse artifacts show that the Norse traded with the natives here on Ellesmere Island, far north of their settlements on Greenland. Last summer, quite unexpectedly, the crew discovered the remains of a summer encampment of natives, they think of the Thule Culture (the third of the three Inuit cultures to occupy this area). They saw rings of stones that held down the edges of skin tents against the wind, and stone chambers that might have been constructed for storage. Perhaps the Inuit camped at this very site as they traded with the Norsemen, exchanging skins and walrus ivory for European goods, especially metal.

Day 13-14 Farther North

  • Ship
  • 2 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 2 Dinners
During these two days, explore 80ºN and hopefully beyond, if the ice allows. Take full advantage of the crew's “human resources”— including the experienced captain, expedition leader and naturalists—as well as the ship's technological resources. Chart where the ice is impenetrable and where there are leads guiding travelers to exciting discoveries.

Day 15-18 Exploring Northwest Greenland

  • Ship
  • 4 Breakfasts, 4 Lunches, 4 Dinners
The remote and rarely explored coast of Northwest Greenland is the next destination on this Arctic adventure—going places the Explorer has never been. The area north of Qaanaaq has the most interesting exploration history of Greenland, with many expeditions based here; timbers from Hall’s ship, the Polaris, may still exist on the beaches. Cape York is also historically significant with a monument to Admiral Peary. Visit the small community of Etah, the north-most habitation in West Greenland, where you can interact and learn about the people of the Far North.

The Explorer is in true expedition mode every turn of the way. The former Prime Minister of Greenland, Kuupik Kleist, told the crew this region was one of the most beautiful and unexplored parts of all of Greenland: glaciers, fjords, inlets, and islands. Wildlife galore, unlike parts of the south where it is more actively hunted. In addition, connect with National Geographic's very own Dr. Henning Thing, one of the more experienced scientists working in Greenland, who can suggest new frontiers to explore.

Day 19 Qilakitsoq

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Today you are back in familiar waters, stopping at Qilakitsoq, where a collection of mummies dating to 1475 was discovered in 1972 and featured on the cover of National Geographic magazine’s February 1985 issue. 

Day 20 Ilulissat

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Sail into Disko Bay to explore the UNESCO site of Ilulissat Icefjord. Take an extraordinary cruise among the towering icebergs and visit the Inuit fishing village of Sermermiut.

Day 21 Greenland's West Coast

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Your final day aboard is spent in the beautifully scenic fjords north of Sondre Stromfjord. Take a Zodiac cruise, kayak, or hike across the tundra. The undersea specialist may launch the ROV to see the marine life inhabiting the fjord floor.

Day 22 Kangerlussuaq | Disembark | Reykjavík, Iceland

After lunch, disembark in Kangerlussuaq. Fly by private charter to Reykjavík, where you check in to either the Natura Hotel or the Hilton Nordica.

Day 23 Reykjavík | Keflavík

  • 1 Breakfast
Your grand adventure takes you to Iceland’s lively capital city, Reykjavík. Have a guided tour of Reykjanes Peninsula, followed by lunch. Transfer to Keflavík for your flight home. Or you may wish to extend your stay in Iceland for further adventures. 

National Geographic Explorer


Per person starting at
National Geographic Explorer's Category 1 Cabin.
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Cat 1
Main Deck with one or two portholes. #301-308
National Geographic Explorer's Category 2 Cabin.
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Cat 2
Main Deck with window. #317-320, 335-336.
National Geographic Explorer's Category 3 Cabin.
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Cat 3
Main Deck with Window #313-316, 321-328, 337-340,342, 344, 346, 348, 350.
National Geographic Explorer's Category 4 Cabin.
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Cat 4
Upper and Veranda Decks with Window. # 103-104, 107-108, 201-202, 204-207, 210, 212, 217, 226, 228.
National Geographic Explorer's Category 5 Upper Deck Cabin.
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Cat 5
Upper Deck with Balcony. #209, 211, 214, 216, 218, 220-222, 224.
National Geographic Explorer's Category 6 Cabin.
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Cat 6
Veranda Deck Suite #101-102; Upper Deck Suite with Balcony #213.
Luxurious Catagory 8 Suite
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Cat 7
Upper Deck Suite with Balcony. #215, 219, 230.
National Geographic Explorer's Category SA and SB.
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Cat SA
C Deck Solo - Cabins 309-312, 329-334. Single cabins with window.
National Geographic Explorer's Category SA and SB.
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Cat SB
Upper and Veranda Decks with Window. #105-106, 203, 208.


Travelers under the age of 18 save $500 per person.

Costs Include:
  • Accommodations
  • Meals indicated
  • Excursions
  • Services of Lindblad Expeditions’ Leader, Naturalist staff and expert guides
  • Use of kayaks
  • All port charges and service taxes

Not Included:
  • Air transportation
  • Personal items such as alcoholic beverages, emails, laundry, voyage DVD etc.
  • Gratuities to ship’s crew at your discretion


  • 22 Breakfasts, 21 Lunches, 22 Dinners
Payment & Cancellation Policies
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Jessica L

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Our guide and driver were very good with their knowledge and were very helpful with our questions. It was a very pleasant visit that would have been impossible to do on our own. Hotels and restaurants were fantastic. The special places we got to go to, like the kitchens, were great. Enjoyed the entire trip!
Meyer Smolen

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