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A swimming polar bear

Northwest Passage - Wildlife Encounter

Example 8 Day Cruise aboard Akademik Ioffe
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Join this small ship expedition to the remote Canadian Arctic. In the nutrient-rich waters of Lancaster Sound, visit one of the largest migratory bird sanctuaries in the world. Sightings of polar bears, seals, beluga whales, and narwhal also provide great interest for wildlife lovers. Frequent shore landings in the company of expert guides allow you to explore on foot, observing wildlife, Arctic flora, and points of historical interest - including a number of former Hudson's Bay Company outposts. All of this is set against a backdrop of epic mountain scenery, sweeping glaciers, and skies that go on forever.

Day-by-Day Summary

Day 1 : Edmonton to Resolute, Nunavut | Embark
Day 2 : Barrow Strait and Prince Leopold Island
Day 3 : Fort Ross | Bellot Strait | Conningham Bay
Day 4 : Somerset Island | Fury Beach
Day 5 : Elwin Inlet | Cape Charles Yorke
Day 6 : Dundas Harbour | Croker Bay
Day 7 : Beechey Island
Day 8 : Resolute, Nunavut | Disembark | Edmonton, Alberta


  • Zodiac around Prince Leopold Island to view significant bird sanctuaries
  • Cruise through the wildlife "super highway", Lancaster Sound
  • Hike or zodiac Elwin Inlet for breathtaking views & wildlife watching
  • Explore Beechey Island, where Sir John Franklin's expedition disappeared


Akademik Ioffe

Places Visited


Trip Type

  • Small Ship

Activity Level


Trip Snapshots

A swimming polar bear A seal and its mirror reflection Whale watching is a highlight in Canada's NW Passage An old run down building with the Hudson's Bay Company sign on it. Abundant Arctic birdlife

Day 1 Edmonton to Resolute, Nunavut | Embark

Depart Edmonton on a special charter flight to Resolute, a remote outpost above the Arctic Circle. Located on the southern shores of Cornwallis Island, the town is named after the British ship HMS Resolute which became trapped in ice and abandoned here in 1850 while searching for the lost Franklin Expedition. A weather station and airstrip made it a strategic outpost during the time of the Cold War. On arrival, transfer to the beach to meet the expedition team and prepare for a zodiac ride to the ship. Onboard, explore the ship and get to know your cabin before a welcome cocktail. Weigh anchor and depart Resolute in the early evening.

Day 2 Barrow Strait and Prince Leopold Island

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Having crossed Barrow Strait overnight, approach the towering bird cliffs of Prince Leopold Island in the morning. This is an important Migratory Bird Sanctuary, home to thick-billed murres, black guillemots, northern fulmars, and black-legged kittiwakes. Numbering in the order of several hundred thousand birds, Prince Leopold Island is one of the most significant bird sanctuaries in the whole of the Canadian Arctic and makes for fantastic zodiac cruising. The sea ice around Prince Leopold Island is a great place for spotting ringed seals and polar bears. Nearby Port Leopold is a historic site where in 1848, English explorer James Clark Ross wintered during the search for the missing Franklin expedition. The shallow gravel beds along the shoreline are attractive to the beluga whales who tend to molt in this part of the Arctic each summer.

Day 3 Fort Ross | Bellot Strait | Conningham Bay

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Continuing to navigate the ship south into Prince Regent Inlet, approach the eastern end of the Bellot Strait. The historic site of 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.

Having explored Fort Ross, transit through the narrows of Bellot Strait. The aim is to enter at slack tide if possible, in order to avoid a current that roars through the passage at more than seven knots during the peak flow. Upon exiting Bellot Strait gaze south and into the heart of the Northwest Passage. If ice allows, cross Franklin Strait and visit Conningham Bay, on the shore of Prince of Wales Island. 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. It is not unusual to find the shoreline littered with whale skeletons – and very healthy looking polar bears!

Day 4 Somerset Island | Fury Beach

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Returning through Bellot Strait cruise up the eastern shoreline of Somerset Island. If possible, make a shore landing at the historic site of Fury Beach, originally named after the British naval vessel HMS Fury. The ship was lost in the sea ice, forcing her crew to abandon the vessel. There was a positive side to the story, as the crew managed to save a large amount of provisions and established a sizeable depot on shore. Years later, these provisions were found by the starving Ross expedition.

Day 5 Elwin Inlet | Cape Charles Yorke

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Continue north through Prince Regent Inlet, making landfall on the northern tip of Baffin Island. The vast Arctic landscape here stretches as far as the eye can see. Cruise into nearby Elwin Inlet, a breathtaking fjord which is well protected and great for a zodiac ride or hike onshore. Cape Charles Yorke offers several great walking opportunities. Keep your eyes peeled for polar bears, which are plentiful along this coastline.

Day 6 Dundas Harbour | Croker Bay

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Leaving the wild landscapes of Baffin Island, re-cross Lancaster Sound to Devon Island. This broad channel of water has been likened to the wildlife ‘super highway’ of the Arctic. Massive volumes of water from the Atlantic to the east, Pacific to the west, and the archipelago of islands to the north all mix here, combining to make a rich source of nutrients and food for an abundance of Arctic wildlife, which live both above and below the water.

Visit the old Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) outpost at Dundas Harbour. In the afternoon reposition the ship into Crocker Bay, home to a substantial glacial system. This part of Devon Island is home to a healthy and sizable population of musk ox; look for these prehistoric looking creatures as you hike ashore.

Day 7 Beechey Island

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Beechey Island holds great historic importance in the story of the Northwest Passage. It is here that Sir John Franklin’s ill-fated expedition spent its last ‘comfortable’ winter in 1845 before disappearing into the icy vastness, sparking an incredible series of search expeditions that lasted almost three decades. The mystery of what happened to Franklin was partially solved in September 2014, when a joint Parks Canada and Royal Canadian Geographic Society expedition found the long lost Franklin shipwreck, HMS Erebus, in the Victoria Strait.

A trip ashore at Beechey Island to visit the grave markers on a remote windswept beach is a thrilling and defining moment of the expedition. Return to the ship this evening and enjoy a special dinner attended by the Captain. It’s a great time to reflect on the wildlife, history, and dramatic scenery of this pristine Arctic wilderness.

Day 8 Resolute, Nunavut | Disembark | Edmonton, Alberta

  • 1 Breakfast
Anchor in Resolute, from where the ship departed a week ago. Make your way ashore by zodiac and bid farewell to the crew. A charter flight returns you to Edmonton where your journey comes to an end.

Akademik Ioffe

Per person starting at
The Triple Cabins.
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Main Deck Triple
Deck 3, bunk beds and a sofa bed. Shared facilities, in cabin washbasin, writing desk/chair, ample storage, bathrobes & porthole.
Twin Private Cabins.
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Twin Semi-Private
Deck 4, one lower berth and one sofa bed, a writing desk and ample storage. Semi-private facilities (one bathroom between two cabins). Opening window.
Twin Private Cabin.
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Twin Private
Deck 4 and 5. All cabins have two lower berths, a writing desk/chair and ample storage. Facilities are private and all cabins have a window.
Superior Cabins.
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Deck 6 these cabins have two lower berths, a sofa, a writing desk/chair and ample storage. Facilities are private and all cabins have a window.
The Shackelton Suite.
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Shackleton Suite
Deck 4 & 5, 1 double berth, 1 sofa bed, separate sleeping quarters, writing desk/chair, TV/DVD, IPod alarm clock. Private facilities, window & deluxe amenities.
One Ocean Suite.
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One Ocean Suite
Deck 5, 1 double berth, 1 sofa bed & separate sleeping quarters, up-graded bedding, a writing desk/chair, TV/DVD, IPod station. Private facilities with tub. Windows overlooking the bow. Deluxe amenities.


- 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.

Charter Flights: Charter flights are $1,200 round-trip. The cost of these flights must be added to your voyage price.


  • 7 Breakfasts, 6 Lunches, 7 Dinners
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headshot Kevin Moore
Kevin M

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The trip was terrific with great planning on your part. Most of the adventures were not mainstream and somewhat off the beaten path which made it especially enjoyable!! We felt taken care of and you all were readily available to respond to questions and issues. I would highly recommend your company and friends have already expressed interest based on our pictures and excitement.
Gale Cantor

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